The Bombay Canteen 3rd Independence Dawaat In Support of Miracle Foundation India         

by Shrutee K/DNS

Mumbai August 2017: This Independence Day, let’s celebrate the joy of being Indian. And what better way than The Bombay Canteen3rdAnnual Independence Day Dawaatto raise a toast to our amazing culinary heritage with an unforgettable meal for a cause. A feast of regional Indian specialties at our annual Independence Dawaat on August 15, 2017, only for lunch from 12 noon to 3:30 pm and this year’s fundraiser is in support of Miracle Foundation India.  The Miracle Foundation India is a non-profit organization that brings life-changing care to orphaned children and helps them thrive in real time with a measurable, repeatable and systematic method to ensure that orphans are educated, fed, loved and safe. So block your calendar and make a plan with friends to celebrate all things Indian with a feast from around the country for a very noble cause. And since this lunch is also about celebrating freedom, we encourage you to pay what you like at the end of your meal. Remember, everything you donate, goes to the Miracle Foundation India for the incredible work they do to take care of orphaned children.

On the menu this year – a sumptuous meal of regional delicacies all served on a banana leaf in a community style dining experience. Its India on a platter with Chef Thomas Zacharias and his team putting together this feast inspired by dishes from across twelve states, including Mangalorean Chicken Curry, Punjabi Smoked Red Pumpkin Bharta, Lucknavi style Soy Kheema Mutter, Kashmiri Simla Mirch & Petha Korma, Kerela Mandeli Fry, seasonal vegetable pulao and much more. All this with a selection of unusual chutneys and accompaniments, served up with chilled Aam Panna from UP and delicious Maharashtrian TilGud Cake and Tiranga Barfi to round off the meal.

Sameer Seth, Founder & CEO, The Bombay Canteen said, "We are really excited to be supporting the Miracle Foundation through our 3rd Independence Day Daawat. The work they do to support orphaned children is inspiring. It has been amazing to learn about how they go about shaping the lives of these kids in a systematic and sustainable manner, and hope that through the Daawat more people learn about their fantastic work."

Caroline Boudreaux, Founder of Miracle Foundation said, “We are thrilled to be a part of the Independence Day Dawaat at the Bombay Canteen. The support we receive at this event will give children without parents all they need to thrive: Delicious and nutritious food, education, clean water, healthcare, safety and love. In partnership with the Bombay Canteen, we are empowering children to reach their full potential and become independent adults—as the country celebrates its independence.”

Get your flags out, paint the city in tricolour, and swing by to celebrate all things Indian this Independence Day, with good food for a good cause! 

Date: On August 15th, Tuesday 2017.
Independence Dawaat at Lunch only from 11.30am to 3:30pm.
First come, First Serve
You can also donate on:

About Our Cause: Miracle Foundation India is a non-profit organization that brings life-changing care to the world of children without parental care in India. Our mission is simple. Miracle Foundation India stands for children without parental care and helps them thrive in real time. We've created a measurable, repeatable and systematic method to ensure that children without parental care are educated, fed, loved and safe. At the same time, we explore every avenue to reunite them with their parents or relatives, when possible. Our method: 

Ensures organizations meet the 12 Rights of the Child and rise to international standards

Guides leaders to resettle children with a caring, responsible relative or family—and help them stay together

Transitions orphanages into Centers for Excellence where children thrive instead of reside

Started in 2011, the organization is dedicated to empowering children without parental care to reach their full potential. Today, we support thousands of children without parents, from the hinterlands of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh to the far-flung areas of Tripura.

Our goal is for every child to live in a loving family; to become a healthy, happy, income-producing person—and experience a true sense of belonging.

          Swipe launches KONNECT at Rs. 4,999 Exclusively on Snapdeal        

by Shrutee K/DNS 

India, 4th August 2017: Swipe Technologies, India’s leading mobile internet technology company, is all set to unveil brand new member in its popular KONNECT Series - Swipe KONNECT Power.  The slim and sturdy smartphone sports 5” HD IPS display and boasts enormous 3000 mAh battery.  The compelling feature rich Swipe KONNECT Power is competitively priced at Rs. 4,999 only. It will be available exclusively on Snapdeal from 7th August 2017.

Swipe KONNECT Power is driven by a powerful 1.5GHz quad core processor that runs on Android 6.0 OS for lag-free multi-tasking smartphone experience. It comes with 2 GB RAM plus 16 GB internal memory, expandable up to 32 GB and OTG support enhances the storage options. The new 4G VoLTE-ready KONNECT Power features 5” HD IPS display that allows users to enjoy cleaner & sharper visuals at the highest resolution. Besides, this device has a very sleek body that makes the phone very stylish in its looks. That’s not all. For the photography enthusiast, KONNECT Power comes with 8MP Rear Camera and 5MP Front Camera. The camera app also comes with lots of features to enhance the photography. The new phone gives an extended company to the user with its 3000 mAh battery, which is installed keeping in mind the daily lifestyle and usage patterns of young smartphone users.  Commenting on the launch of KONNECT Power, Mr. Shripal Gandhi, Founder and CEO of Swipe Technologies said: “Fulfilling aspirations of demanding Indians at affordable price is what differentiates Swipe from other smartphone players.  Our latest creation is yet another affordable device under the KONNECT series – KONNECT Power. It is designed for the aspiring youth of the country who requires long lasting battery that too with 2GB RAM yet the phone is light on pocket.”
Vishal Chadha, Sr.Vice President – Business said: “As part of our commitment to the vision of Digital India, we are keen to bring our consumers access to compelling technology products at great value. With Swipe Konnect Power, we are confident that this newest exclusive addition to our smartphone assortment will be well received by our customers”
Swipe KONNECT Power comes with a gorgeous design, and it has a smoother touch experience as well as comfortable grip. Customers will be able to enjoy a greater multimedia experience, as they can capture stunning photos and videos in virtually any lighting condition.
About Swipe Technologies:
Swipe Technologies is an innovation-centric mobility solutions company, having started its operations in July 2012. Within a short span of time, Swipe has become the leading tablet and Smartphone maker in India.   Swipe was started with an aim to bring exciting devices in the growing Indian market and today, it is the leading consumer brand with key innovations across products, pricing and customer support. Founded by technocrat Mr. Shripal Gandhi, Swipe raised $5 million in May 2014 from the Venture Capital firm Kalaari Capital. In the last three years, Swipe has won a number of accolades including the “Top 50 Inspiring Entrepreneurs of India” by The Economic Times, the “Most Innovation-driven Company in India” by World Brand Congress, and the “Most Innovative Start-up” by Franchise India, the “Best Integrated Campaign” by the World Brand and Congress& the “Best Youth Brand Tablet” by CNBC. Also, Swipe’s young founder Mr. Shripal Gandhi has been recognized as the “CNBC Young Turks” for his breakthrough strategies and innovation in the field of mobile communication technologies. For details, logon to

          The "CityTree" - 'Air pollution is one of the world's invisible killers.' (no replies)        
'..the "CityTree", a mobile installation which removes pollutants from the air, has been popping up in cities around the world, including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong.'

'(CNN) Air pollution is one of the world's invisible killers.

It causes seven million premature deaths a year, making it the largest single environmental health risk, according to the World Health Organization.

In urban areas, air quality is particularly problematic. More than 80% of people living in areas where pollution is monitored are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. And given that by 2050 two thirds of the global population will be urban, cleaning up our cities' air is a matter of urgency.

One well-established way to reduce air pollutants is to plant trees, as their leaves catch and absorb harmful particulates.

But planting new trees is not always a viable option.

That's why the "CityTree", a mobile installation which removes pollutants from the air, has been popping up in cities around the world, including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong.

Moss is in the air

Each CityTree is just under 4 meters tall, nearly 3 meters wide and 2.19 meters deep, available in two versions: with or without a bench. A display is included for information or advertising.

Berlin-based Green City Solutions claims its invention has the environmental benefit of up to 275 actual trees.

But the CityTree isn't, in fact, a tree at all -- it's a moss culture.

"Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants," said Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions.


So far, around 20 CityTrees have been successfully installed, with each costing about $25,000.


Wu also argued that the CityTree is just one piece of a larger puzzle.

"Our ultimate goal is to incorporate technology from the CityTree into existing buildings," he said.

"We dream of creating a climate infrastructure so we can regulate what kind of air and also what kind of temperature we have in a city." '

- By Chris Giles, This 'tree' has the environmental benefits of a forest, June 8, 2017


' Ban Internal Combustion Engines by 2030'

'..committed to 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.'

'The future of shipping is, without a doubt, silent and emission free.'

(Global Infrastructure Upgrade) - Mexico's former president: Global infrastructure needs an upgrade

'Thorium reactor: cleaner, safer and sustainable nuclear energy within sight'

'..reductions in air pollution and lower costs .. moving to low-carbon electricity generation..'

Crowdfunding Focus Fusion (since May 6, 2014) - 'Focus Fusion: Clean Energy For All'

(Fusion Power) - LPP Focus Fusion 1; '..FF-1 results are right now far ahead..'

June, 2017 - 'Renewable sources of energy have generated more electricity than coal and gas in Great Britain..'

          '..Russia .. cyberpower proved the perfect weapon .. political sabotage..' (no replies)        
' “We’d have all these circular meetings,” one senior State Department official said, “in which everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen.”


Mr. Putin, a student of martial arts, had turned two institutions at the core of American democracy — political campaigns and independent media — to his own ends..


..The Russians clearly had a more sophisticated understanding of American politics, and they were masters of “kompromat,” their term for compromising information.


..the hackings of the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon..


What seems clear is that Russian hacking, given its success, is not going to stop. Two weeks ago, the German intelligence chief, Bruno Kahl, warned that Russia might target elections in Germany next year. “The perpetrators have an interest to delegitimize the democratic process as such,” Mr. Kahl said. Now, he added, “Europe is in the focus of these attempts of disturbance, and Germany to a particularly great extent.” '

'..the White House’s reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks.


..President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia moved beyond mere espionage to deliberately try to subvert American democracy and pick the winner of the presidential election.


..A low-cost, high-impact weapon that Russia had test-fired in elections from Ukraine to Europe was trained on the United States, with devastating effectiveness. For Russia, with an enfeebled economy and a nuclear arsenal it cannot use short of all-out war, cyberpower proved the perfect weapon: cheap, hard to see coming, hard to trace.


The United States had two decades of warning that Russia’s intelligence agencies were trying to break into America’s most sensitive computer networks. But the Russians have always managed to stay a step ahead.

Their first major attack was detected on Oct. 7, 1996, when a computer operator at the Colorado School of Mines discovered some nighttime computer activity he could not explain. The school had a major contract with the Navy, and the operator warned his contacts there. But as happened two decades later at the D.N.C., at first “everyone was unable to connect the dots,” said Thomas Rid, a scholar at King’s College in London who has studied the attack.

Investigators gave it a name — Moonlight Maze — and spent two years, often working day and night, tracing how it hopped from the Navy to the Department of Energy to the Air Force and NASA. In the end, they concluded that the total number of files stolen, if printed and stacked, would be taller than the Washington Monument.

Whole weapons designs were flowing out the door, and it was a first taste of what was to come: an escalating campaign of cyberattacks around the world.


The Russians were also quicker to turn their attacks to political purposes. A 2007 cyberattack on Estonia, a former Soviet republic that had joined NATO, sent a message that Russia could paralyze the country without invading it. The next year cyberattacks were used during Russia’s war with Georgia.


Mr. Obama was briefed regularly on all this, but he made a decision that many in the White House now regret: He did not name Russians publicly, or issue sanctions. There was always a reason: fear of escalating a cyberwar, and concern that the United States needed Russia’s cooperation in negotiations over Syria.

“We’d have all these circular meetings,” one senior State Department official said, “in which everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen.”


Last year, the attacks became more aggressive. Russia hacked a major French television station, frying critical hardware. Around Christmas, it attacked part of the power grid in Ukraine, dropping a portion of the country into darkness, killing backup generators and taking control of generators. In retrospect, it was a warning shot.


..CrowdStrike’s nicknames for the two Russian hacking groups that the firm found at work inside the D.N.C. network. Cozy Bear — the group also known as the Dukes or A.P.T. 29, for “advanced persistent threat” — may or may not be associated with the F.S.B., the main successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B., but it is widely believed to be a Russian government operation. It made its first appearance in 2014, said Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s co-founder and chief technology officer.


Only in March 2016 did Fancy Bear show up — first penetrating the computers of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and then jumping to the D.N.C., investigators believe. Fancy Bear, sometimes called A.P.T. 28 and believed to be directed by the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence agency, is an older outfit, tracked by Western investigators for nearly a decade. It was Fancy Bear that got hold of Mr. Podesta’s email.


It was bad enough that Russian hackers had been spying inside the committee’s network for months. Now the public release of documents had turned a conventional espionage operation into something far more menacing: political sabotage, an unpredictable, uncontrollable menace for Democratic campaigns.


Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder and editor, has resisted the conclusion that his site became a pass-through for Russian hackers working for Mr. Putin’s government or that he was deliberately trying to undermine Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy. But the evidence on both counts appears compelling.


Mr. Putin, a student of martial arts, had turned two institutions at the core of American democracy — political campaigns and independent media — to his own ends. The media’s appetite for the hacked material, and its focus on the gossipy content instead of the Russian source, disturbed some of those whose personal emails were being reposted across the web.


In late 2014, hackers working for Kim Jong-un, the North’s young and unpredictable leader, had carried out a well-planned attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment intended to stop the Christmastime release of a comedy about a C.I.A. plot to kill Mr. Kim.

In that case, embarrassing emails had also been released. But the real damage was done to Sony’s own systems: More than 70 percent of its computers melted down when a particularly virulent form of malware was released. Within weeks, intelligence agencies traced the attack back to the North and its leadership. Mr. Obama called North Korea out in public, and issued some not-very-effective sanctions. The Chinese even cooperated, briefly cutting off the North’s internet connections.

As the first Situation Room meetings on the Russian hacking began in July, “it was clear that Russia was going to be a much more complicated case,” said one participant. The Russians clearly had a more sophisticated understanding of American politics, and they were masters of “kompromat,” their term for compromising information.


..code was put out in the open by the Russians as a warning: Retaliate for the D.N.C., and there are a lot more secrets, from the hackings of the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon, that might be spilled as well. One senior official compared it to the scene in “The Godfather” where the head of a favorite horse is left in a bed, as a warning.


As the year draws to a close, it now seems possible that there will be multiple investigations of the Russian hacking — the intelligence review Mr. Obama has ordered completed by Jan. 20, the day he leaves office, and one or more congressional inquiries. They will wrestle with, among other things, Mr. Putin’s motive.


Did he seek to mar the brand of American democracy, to forestall anti-Russian activism for both Russians and their neighbors? Or to weaken the next American president, since presumably Mr. Putin had no reason to doubt American forecasts that Mrs. Clinton would win easily? Or was it, as the C.I.A. concluded last month, a deliberate attempt to elect Mr. Trump?

In fact, the Russian hack-and-dox scheme accomplished all three goals.

What seems clear is that Russian hacking, given its success, is not going to stop. Two weeks ago, the German intelligence chief, Bruno Kahl, warned that Russia might target elections in Germany next year. “The perpetrators have an interest to delegitimize the democratic process as such,” Mr. Kahl said. Now, he added, “Europe is in the focus of these attempts of disturbance, and Germany to a particularly great extent.” '

- Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane, The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S., December 13, 2016

Context '[Russia] may become a threat to the world. That is the worst thing that could happen to Russia.' - Yegor Gaidar

'..Russian strategy of hybrid influence and destabilization .. German Council on Foreign Relations.'

'German intelligence says Russia is trying to destabilize German society..' - '..war that Moscow is waging against the West..'

'[Putin is doing] anything that can and will expand Russian influence to U.S.S.R.-era levels of power.'

'..Zero tolerance for Russian intrusions .. Estonia .. policy of publicly naming or prosecuting spies..'

'..the Soviet Union was cut off from Western financial markets and was effectively under permanent sanctions..'

          Unlocking your nonprofit's data insights: Linking Ad Grants and Google Analytics        

So you’re a savvy nonprofit that has mastered Ad Grants? Read on! 

You’re a group of community leaders who know the impact of data. And who know that technology can help you leverage that.     

Like many other businesses, it’s critical for nonprofits to translate clicks on ads into a meaningful action on their nonprofit’s website. These actions could be donations, event registrations, file downloads, volunteer sign-ups or form completions — whatever it is that you’re compelling users to do.

Nonprofits like yours, however, often come to us with an important question: “How do we know if our Ad Grants account is actually resulting in these increased actions?” Great question!Our answer is simple, yet we hope it’s powerful too: Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is your go-to tool for providing insights into user behavior, which can be used to inform Ad Grants, as well as website optimization. By syncing data and using AdGrants & Analytics in tandem, you can boost the quality of traffic reaching your site and increase the chance of visitors completing a meaningful action on your NGO’s page. Best of all, Analytics can be used by nonprofits at no charge.

To get started, we strongly recommend defining your team’s marketing objectives. (If you haven’t set up goals yet, check out Smart Goals, which were designed with groups like nonprofits in mind.)

Then, link your Google Analytics account to your Google Ad Grants account to see your data. (Find out how to do so here: Link Analytics and Ad Grants). In doing so, you’ll unlock insights into your Ad Grants campaign. For instance, what happens after someone clicks on your Ad Grants ad and lands on your site? How does it differ by geographical region? Or how does user behavior differ between services offered?

Going forward, you can also track your nonprofit’s marketing goals in Google Analytics to understand how traffic from your Ad Grants campaigns is converted to meaningful action on your website. To do so, import your goals into Ad Grants as conversions.

Now, you’ll be able to see traffic quality data such as bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration for campaigns, ad groups, and keywords within Ad Grants. By adding goals as conversions, you’ll get the data you need to understand which text ads showing for keywords resonate best with your target audience.

Why, you might ask, is all this important for your nonprofit?

Take Science Buddies, a nonprofit that was one of the earliest adopters of the Google Ad Grants program, joining in 2003. Science Buddies then received 171,000 unique visits in 2004 via Ad Grants, with this number increasing by 4.5X to 773,000 unique visits in 2005. By 2006, Google Ad Grants had doubled the traffic to the website altogether. “Ad Grants really put us on the map!” said Kenneth Hess, President and Founder of Science Buddies.

The takeaway here is that the more you optimize, the better chance you have of improving your quality score — a key metric in an Ad Grants account! And more importantly, the better chance you have of authentically connecting with users who are trying to change the world along with with your nonprofit and you. 

Sign up for Google Ad Grants here.

For more information on how to get started and country availability, please visit our Ad Grants Help Center. To see if your nonprofit is eligible to participate, review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines. Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more — all at no charge. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofit’s story. Learn more and enroll here. 

Science Buddies’ statements are made in connection with receiving in-kind donations as a participant in the Ad Grants program.

          Six Questions With Steven Anthony, Founder/Managing Partner of Global Sports Management        
Steven Anthony is an accomplished Senior Executive, Entrepreneur and Board Member, with more than fifteen years success across the banking, finance, and hospitality industries. Anthony is a graduate of Dillard University where he received his B.A. in Business Administration & Management and he also holds a Master’s degree from Georgetown University in Real Estate. He and...
          When artificial intelligence and human resources intersect        
Indeed, the founder and CEO of artificial intelligence engine developer Recognant is a teacher -- of robots, not people -- and not the factory floor ...
          Economy Candy Founder Moishe Cohen's Sweet Lower East Side Legacy        

Moishe Cohen, the man we have to thank for Economy Candy, the sugar haven on New York City’s Lower East Side, died last week at 97. Cohen opened the Rivington Street shop in 1937, when he was 19, and the store quickly made a name for itself with its cheap candy, enormous selection, and haimish atmosphere. That reputation has lasted, and Economy Candy is a regular stop for tourists and New Yorkers alike, who are all won over by the place’s old-school charm.

The store, which is now run by Moishe’s grandson, Mitchell Cohen, announced the death on its Facebook page: “It is with great sadness and fond memories that we share with the Economy Candy family that we lost Morris ‘Moishe’ Cohen, the Original Candy Man at the age of 97.” The comments below the post, many of which were written by former Economy Candy employees, are a moving testament to Moishe’s character. “The man was my boss and also like a father to us,” one comment said. “Thanks for taking care of me and making me the man I’ve became,” said another. Two employees from the 1970s fondly remembered getting to drive Cohen’s Lincoln continental for pickups and deliveries.

Continue reading "Economy Candy Founder Moishe Cohen's Sweet Lower East Side Legacy" at...

          Protecting Our Houses of Worship: Guest Column by Security Expert / Retired NYPD Detective Sergeant         


Founder & Chief Executive Officer

  • Integrated Security Services

  • According to the Washington Post, “it’s been a bad 2017 for Jews.” During the month of January, 48 bomb threats were called in to Jewish community centers across the country. Also last month, a neo-Nazi made national news by promising to hold a march in Whitefish, Montana to intimidate the town’s small Jewish population.

    This, of course, was followed by another unprecedented press conference by our President during which two reporters were moved to ask Mr. Trump about the rise in anti-Semitism. Many of us were aghast at the President’s rude and dismissive response, and his unwillingness to address the question seriously. The fact is, the country is experiencing an alarming increase of anti-Semitic incidents, and this has been trending upward since 2015. A security report issued by the Department of Homeland Security on protecting houses of worship stated that the United States has approximately 345,000 religious congregations representing 230 denominational groups and roughly 150 million members. Despite being sanctuaries from the troubles of the world, houses of worship have also been targets as violence has spiked across the country in recent years. The killing of nine people at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina was the largest mass shooting in a house of worship since 1991, when nine people were shot at the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist temple in Waddell, Arizona, northwest of Phoenix.

    [Under relentless pressure, the President subsequently denounced anti-Semitism.]

  • Empathy and action: Muslims unite to help fix vandalized Jewish cemeteries

  • The intent of this column is to generate awareness and provide a short guide which contains security practices for religious institutions, parishioners and our non religious communities to help deter threats, mitigate hazards and risks, and minimize the damage caused by an incident in or around a house of worship, including mass casualty events.

    I preface with the word “short” because there is a wide range of methods from programmatic and procedural considerations to technological enhancements that religious facilities and their leadership may consider implementing based upon the most likely threats to their facilities and their available resources. Basic security principals would suggest taking a blended approach to security and safety with the goal of hardening the facility to deter, detect and/or delay a criminal occurrence before it happens. The next steps are equally important and this is where lives are saved and mass casualties are reduced. Selecting the appropriate response to a threat or armed intrusion will help facilitate a safe transition into an effective recovery and restoration of services mode.

    Identifying Your Threats & Vulnerabilities

    Identifying and evaluating a known or potential threat to a given facility is the first step of a security assessment. The results of which will guide the process of developing a security plan. A proper readiness plan will aim to deter a threat or mitigate a threat by reducing the religious facility’s vulnerability to those threats.

    Natural Hazards vs. Targeted Violence

    As stated before, all life safety solutions should be designed using a blended approach to managing risk. Protecting a religious facility means your emergency management plan(s) must address an all-hazard approach to both natural hazards, e.g., infectious diseases and illnesses, fire, and seismic and weather-related events (hurricanes, tornadoes, flash floods) as well as targeted attacks. Spontaneous and pre-planned attacks are likely to occur by individual(s) who use firearms; improvised explosive devices (IEDs); vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs); chemical, biological, or radiological attacks; or arson in order to inflict a number of casualties and damage to religious facilities.

    Protective Measures

    As previously mentioned earlier, a house of worship environment is managed by creating layers of protective measures in collaboration with state and local partners that allow religious institutions to deter, detect and delay threats. These layers also allow an institution to consider a threat as soon as possible and to more effectively respond to, further deter, eliminate or mitigate that threat.

    • Technological sensors such as CCTV surveillance cameras or alarms (fire, smoke, wind, and intrusion detection) will trigger informed decision-making.

    • Barriers, such as locked doors or fixed barriers or uniform security personnel should be in place to deter or delay a threat and afford more time for effective decision making.

    • Having the correct inbound and outbound communication network in place will influence a number key decisions. Time, or the lack of time, is a principle disrupter of effective decision-making. Sound communication strategies such as emergency email blasts, voice activated alert systems, and silent alert systems help to improve response to and during a crisis. An effective communication protocol should expand the window of time available to leaders to make sound decisions.

    Additional Measures to Consider:

    • Reporting Procedures

    • Establishing Collaborative Planning Teams

    • Starting an Emergency Operations Plan

    • Define Roles and Responsibilities

    • Notification Procedures

    • Evacuation Lockdown and Shelter‐In‐Place Policies and Procedures

    • Plans for Diverse Needs of Children and Staff

    • Necessary Equipment and Supplies

    • Common Vocabulary

    • Emergency Drills

    Call us at (212) 808-4153, or write us to tell what you think or how we can be of more assistance and remember, always dial 911 first in an emergency!

  • Integrated Security Services

  • About Alan Schissel

  • Cool Justice Editor’s Note: By way of disclosure, Cool Justice is an occasional denizen of Integrated’s Hartford office and once in a while even does a little work …


  • Hartford PI Stars in Network Real-Life Manhunt Show

  •           Resistance at Standing Rock: Dispatches from the Front Lines        


  • Water Protector Legal Collective Files Suit for Excessive Force against Peaceful Protesters

  • Veterans to Serve as ‘Human Shields’ for Dakota Pipeline Protesters

  • Oceti Sakowin encampment on Oct. 6, 2016. The proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux is Oceti Sakowin, (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win) meaning Seven Council Fires.

    Story and Photos by John Briggs

    Cool Justice Editor's Note: OK to repost, courtesy of John Briggs and The Cool Justice Report.

    Corporate – Government Alliance Versus the American People

    Native Americans from tribes across the country have gathered on the windswept plains of North Dakota to pray with Mother Earth to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from pumping 500,000 gallons of oil a day beneath the Missouri River. The natives know the pipeline will most certainly leak or break, as have most U.S. pipelines, fouling the water for the Great Sioux Nation and 18 million non-Natives downstream.

    The standoff -- which began in April -- continues as a new U.S. administration ascends to power with a president-elect who campaigned denying human-caused climate change and threatening the Paris Climate accords. This remains the overriding reality despite a mini walk back by Donald Trump pledging an open mind to The New York Times this week.

    Standing Rock illuminates the brazen alliance that has developed between corporate and government interests. Viewed from the front lines, the law has been turned into a fig leaf for repression and suppression. Only the discipline and spiritual clarity of the water protectors and the native elders has kept people from being killed or seriously injured since April when the movement began.

    The fused police-DAPL force is doing everything it can to incite a violent reaction from the resisters so as to crack down, clear the camps, imprison, or even gun down the natives. More than one commentator has found the atmosphere at Standing Rock similar to what led to the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890 when 300 Sioux were murdered by government troops who mistook their prayerful Ghost Dance for a war dance.

    A great deal is at issue at Standing Rock. The Sioux and their numerous native and non-native allies face a militarized force whose composition tells us something dark about the complex façade that U.S. democracy has become and suggests the proto-fascist zombi lurking beneath. More deeply, Standing Rock also emblemizes a struggle that is taking place at this moment in human history between two distinct modes of human consciousness.

    One mode is the familiar anthropocentric (human-centered) consciousness that the dominant culture most of us were born into favors—a consciousness that assumes reality is a collection of objects to be extracted, owned, and branded. Humans are the focus of this consciousness, meaning that our concerns about climate change focus primarily on the fate of our own species.

    Distinct from this anthropocentric mind-set is a second, ancient and spiritual mode of awareness that understands that the earth and its landscapes are not objects; they are relationships, including the tangle of relationships that gave us birth. This ancient mode of consciousness is potential in everyone, but for most it has been buried beneath the piles of conceptual objects that we have come to believe constitute our reality.

    The Indigenous Peoples gathered at Standing Rock are guided by this ancient, holistic, earth-mind consciousness, and so they understand that humans are not the most valuable living objects on the planet: we are not in control of the planet; it is not our job to manage nature; rather, our sacred task is to work with Mother Earth and other beings as members of Earth’s family. If we don’t, Mother Earth will make us face this spiritual truth one way or another.

    Guided by their ancient, earth-mind awareness, Native Americans have taken up a role as “water protectors.” “Mni Wiconi, Water is Life” is the slogan of the Standing Rock movement.

    Every day scores of Sioux from North Dakota, South Dakota and nearby states, along with Paiute, Shoshoni, Diné, and a sampling of other Natives from the 300 or so tribes whose flags fly at the Standing Rock encampments set out to pipeline construction sites in a convoy to engage in “actions” on the “front lines.”

    There the protectors sing and pray in the face of physical harassment and arrests by heavily armed police fused with a corporate security force.

    DAPL and their overlord company, Energy Transfer Partners, have lavished campaign contributions on politicians in North Dakota and the U.S. Congress so that they could use the state’s eminent domain powers to force purchase of land for the pipeline all across North Dakota, beginning in the Bakken fields in the northwest corner of the state where the fracked crude oil is extracted. Similar eminent domain arrangements were achieved in other states through which the 1,200-mile line traverses before reaching a river port in Illinois. The company promised Congress and the public that the pipeline would carry oil for 100 percent domestic use only, but it is clear from reporting done by the website The Intercept that the oil will be sold on international markets.

  • Though Promised for Domestic Use, Dakota Access Pipeline May Fuel Oil Exports

  • The DAPL line, now virtually complete except for permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to fill in the link that crosses under the Missouri River, passes just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The DAPL construction runs through sacred burial and archeological grounds that the Lakota people were given free access to by treaties with the U.S. Government in the 19th Century. In mounting their resistance to the pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux have been turned into “trespassers on their own land.”

    In late August, the tribe’s lawyers filed a stop work petition in federal court detailing areas where sacred sites would be disturbed if construction continued on its planned trajectory. The federal judge routinely forwarded a copy of the filing to DAPL. Over Labor Day weekend, when the company would not have been expected to work, pipeline crews leapfrogged to the disputed sacred and preemptively bulldozed them under. Too late, the judge granted the Sioux an emergency restraining order, but, then in a curious move, allowed construction in some areas where sacred sites have been discovered. DAPL has ignored a request from the Obama administration not to work in buffer areas on either side of the river. No fines have been imposed for intentionally bulldozing the disputed sacred sites.

  • The Legal Case for Blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline

  • Burial ground at center of police confrontations is known historical site

  • In recent live-stream videos from the front lines, DAPL-police snipers can be seen perched on top of a sacred mound called Turtle Island, their high-powered rifle crosshairs trained on the water protectors who are standing in prayer in the frigid lake below.

    North Dakota wants the federal government to pick up the tab for the massive expenditures required to keep the Native Americans under their guns. Alternatively, the CEO of Energy Transfers, Kelcy Warren, has offered to pick up the millions-of-dollars tab.

  • ETP CEO Kelcy Warren Says They Have Offered to Pay Protest Related Expenses

  • Native media have documented that DAPL has already been supplying military-style equipment, drones, armored vehicles, riot gear, water canons, concussion grenades and other armaments. The tax-payer-funded and corporate-sponsored front lines phalanx is led by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, which has local jurisdiction, reinforced by North Dakota State Troopers, North Dakota National Guard units, sheriffs and police from six nearby states—all interpenetrated by DAPL security (while the FBI lurks in the background). A contingent of Hennepin County, Minnesota, Sheriffs’ Deputies were recalled following protests back home. Residents in the state of Ohio are writing letters and calling legislators to express their distress that their law enforcement has been enlisted into this repressive force.

  • Hennepin Co. sheriff's deputies leave Standing Rock protest

  • Native media’s live stream videos show DAPL security teams in mirror-visor helmets and black ops body armor with no identification, mingling with the police, sometimes directing them when and who to mace or pepper spray. They point out media making video for arrest. The big fossil fuel company evidently has plenty of experience dealing with protestors around the world. In their blank, reflecting visors we can see the soulless Darth Vader face of the government-corporate proto-fascist state the U.S. is becoming.

    Of course, this struggle with the Wasi’chu (Lakota word for the white man, meaning literally “takes too much”) is an old story for Native-Americans. In the 18th and 19th centuries it took the form of the Sioux nations trying to hold back the tsunami of colonizers flooding into their ancestral lands, occupying and despoiling them. The big difference now is that the fire-power of the state (think Custer’s 7th Cavalry or present day militarized police) has been fused with vast profit centers dependent for their existence on plundering the earth in the name of energy-squandering lifestyle survival.

    The provocations the water protectors endure take many forms. There is the psychological pressure of constant surveillance: the heavy police presence on the roads around tribal and reservation lands, the DPLA helicopter and a small plane that circle constantly above the encampments; there is the Bureau of Indian Affairs station set up on a knoll to suck out data from the cell phones of anyone in the area. There is the pepper spraying and tasing of water protectors who are praying. There is the more recent blasting of the protectors with freezing water canons in sub zero weather. There is the constant threat of weapons pointed at them. One twitching trigger finger could set off a slaughter.

    The water protectors are unarmed. The resistance movement does not allow guns in the encampments. One day, at one of the front line actions, an armed man showed up with a pistol and began firing. Possibly he was paid by DAPL to create an incident. The Natives are aware of paid provocateurs or agitators passing through the camps, pulling dirty tricks, looking to start something. Antimedia reported about the man with the gun: “According to an official statement from the tribe, the man fired several shots from his gun before being peacefully apprehended by tribal police. Witnesses at the scene say he pointed his gun at several protesters. The man was clearly trying to provoke violence that could later be used to demonize protesters who have so far remained peaceful.”

    The news site added, “The Morton County Sheriff’s Department circulated a false report claiming the man was shot, presumably by protesters… [As images show], the man was not harmed. The Sheriff’s Department has since retracted that report. Anti-Media’s attempts to obtain clarifying comments from Morton County Sheriffs were ignored.”

  • Dakota Access Caught Infiltrating Protests to Incite Violence, Funding Trolls Online

  • On a hill overlooking Oceti Sakowin, the largest of the Standing Rock encampments, an old army tent houses the field office of the rotating teams of lawyers who come to Standing Rock to help out. They use donations made to the resistance to bail out protectors who have been arrested; they try to negotiate with the police so the protectors can be allowed to pray. The constant arrests on trumped-up charges are an ongoing harassment—people maced or beaten, violently thrown to the ground and zip-tied. Often activists are charged with trespass and “riot” on the Morton County Sheriff’s novel legal theory that if several people are arrested for trespass that must signify that they were engaged in a riot.

    All this naturally requires court time and money to defend, incarceration in usually unpleasant conditions, including dog kennels. (Though the white allies who are arrested seem to get better treatment.)

    Arrests are to be expected as a consequence of civil disobedience. But some arrests are directed at chilling speech. One lawyer who came to Standing Rock from the Oregon-based Civil Liberties Defense Center, an activist defense nonprofit primarily involved in climate protests, told Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks Network that often after the day’s action was over, police would stop the last cars in the caravan. They would then make “snatch and grab” arrests, impounding the cars of people who had come to support the water protectors but had no expectation that they’d be arrested when the action was over and the police told them to leave. They have to pay heavy fines ($900) to get their cars back. She said the arrests and impoundment fines for their cars are unlawful. “The intention with those types of actions is to scare out-of-towners from being comfortable coming to these actions. So they’re trying to chill the rights of others to come and participate in these protests.”

  • Environmental Lawyer Explains Standing Rock Legal Issues

  • The authorities regularly characterize the natives as terrorists, and local radio spreads false rumors of farm animals being slaughtered and stolen, reported vandalism—the kind of thing you would expect from psychologically projected homesteader fears about savage Indians of earlier centuries.

    Yes, Magazine on Oct. 31 reported: “The county sheriff is claiming the water protectors were violent and that police were stopping a riot. But hours of live video feed from people caught in the confrontation showed instead a military-style assault on unarmed people: police beating people with batons, police with assault rifles, chemical mace, guns firing rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, tasers.”

  • Why Police From 7 Different States Invaded a Standing Rock Camp—and Other Questions

  • The UN has sent human rights observers. According to Salon, Nov. 16, 2016: “The U.N. special rapporteur said that American law enforcement officials, private security firms and the North Dakota National Guard have used unjustified force against protesters.

    “ ‘This is a troubling response to people who are taking action to protect natural resources and ancestral territory in the face of profit-seeking activity,’ [Maina] Kiai [U.N. special rapporteur] said in his statement, which was issued by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and was endorsed by several other U.N. experts.

  • Native Americans facing excessive force in North Dakota pipeline protests – UN expert

  • “At least 400 activists have been detained and often have been held in ‘inhuman and degrading conditions in detention,’ Kiai added. Some indigenous protesters have said they were treated like animals and even held in dog kennels.

  • Dakota pipeline protesters say they were detained in dog kennels; 268 arrested in week of police crackdown

  • “ ‘Marking people with numbers and detaining them in overcrowded cages, on the bare concrete floor, without being provided with medical care, amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment,’ the U.N. expert said.

    “ ‘The excessive use of State security apparatus to suppress protest against corporate activities that are alleged to violate human rights is wrong,’ he continued, noting that it violates U.N. guidelines on business and human rights.

    “Amnesty International USA, which has repeatedly criticized authorities for not respecting the rights of protesters, issued another statement on Tuesday noting that U.S. authorities had put up roadblocks to prevent journalists and human rights observers from documenting the protests and the official response.”

  • U.N. experts call for halt in Dakota Access pipeline, blast “excessive force” against protesters

  • Living on Earth reporter Sandy Tolan reflected: “You know, at times I felt I was back reporting in the West Bank, and not the Northern Plains…”

  • Standing With the Standing Rock Sioux

  • The Bundy crew was the cowboys, not the Indians

    Compare the government response at Standing Rock with the response occasioned by Ammon Bundy and his gang of armed militants when they occupied Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for over a month in January 2016. Imagine if the Bundy gang had been pepper sprayed, beaten, hit with water cannon, tased. But the Bundy crew were taking over the refuge to proclaim their belief that public lands should be given free to the profit-making private ranching business. In other words, the Bundy crew was the cowboys, not the Indians.

    The mainstream corporate media has largely ignored the stand-off at Standing Rock. Rallies have taken place around the world at places like Tokyo, Stockholm, and Auckland, but the sad truth is many foreigners have heard more about Standing Rock than Americans have. Not surprising. The news editors, working for corporate media conglomerates, choose what they believe we should know and what fits the larger corporate agenda, and so they devote massively more play to Brad Pitt, to the gossipy politics of who’s-on-first, and to whatever the latest glittering consumer thing is than they do to climate change and issues highlighted by the poor and the powerless, like Standing Rock. What coverage that does exist is usually cursory and misleading.

    Fortunately, alternative media have been on the scene and active at Standing Rock. As someone who taught journalism for more nearly 20 years, it has been refreshing for me to see what the alternative press is accomplishing.

    Amy Goodman of the webcast Democracy Now brought the prayer-resistance movement to national attention over the summer. She was arrested and charged with riot in absentia for her live reports of water protectors being set upon by dogs. The charge was later dismissed in court.

    Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks Network has done searching interviews and incisive commentary from the scene.

    But my absolute favorite news source at Standing Rock is Myron Dewey’s Digital Smoke Signals. Dewey does updates every day, which he posts on Facebook. I highly recommend anyone who has a Facebook account to “follow” him. I went to Standing Rock on Oct. 4-11 with two friends and I have since been able to keep up with developments on the ground through Dewey’s Facebook broadcasts. He posts live stream unedited clips that constitute what he calls an ongoing “documentation” of what is happening day-to-day at the movement.

    Here is Dewey at night standing on a hillside next to the Oceti Sakowin encampment. His face appears in the glow of his screen. Then he’s panning and zooming in on a large grassfire as he’s telling us about it. His finger appears in the screen and points out where the fire started. He says the helicopter which constantly circulates over the camp suddenly disappeared 20 minutes before they saw the first flames. He zooms to the area where he and the person he is with first spotted the fire. He says, “It looked like someone using a drip torch.” He says they called 911, but it’s been over an hour and the Morton County Fire Department hasn’t shown up. He tells the people in the camp, his audience, not to worry, though. It looks like the fire was started by DAPL employees to scare them or hurt them. But the Oceti Sakowin is full of Indians who supplement their income by wild-land firefighting, work that also benefits Mother Earth; he mentions that he is himself a “hotshot” firefighter [one of the elite crews]. He and his fellow firefighters can tell by the wind direction that the fire won’t harm the camp.

    Now here’s Dewey on a bright morning walking along the road by Oceti Sakowin. A young man appears on screen, and Dewey asks him who he is and why he’s here. He’s from the Paiute nation. “I’m here to protect the water,” he says. Dewey asks him to sing a Paiute song. The young man closes his eyes and sings.

    In another nighttime broadcast find we ourselves looking through a car windshield, headlights illuminating the highway, centerlines whizzing by. We hear voices talking in the backseat. The car drives on and on. We’re just watching the road. Then ahead is a police roadblock. The police van looms. Dewey gets out with his camera and calls over to the officers, asks them where they’re from, inquires about where the road blocks are, what are the open routes. At one level it’s a mundane exchange between a citizen and police, but you experience the edginess of the situation. More deeply, you feel the riskiness and pathos that is involved any human interaction. Dewey firmly exercises his right to have these protect-and-serve police respond to him civilly; he is cordial and respectful in a way that reinforces to them and to his viewers that he is after all not their enemy but a fellow human being. Dewey asks more questions and the lead officer says he doesn’t want to be filmed; Dewey offers to turn his camera away from them and onto himself. The distant officers disappear from the screen and Dewey’s face fills it. The contact officer walks nearer; we can hear his voice. Dewey can’t resist a joke, though. He asks the officer if he’s sure he doesn’t want to become famous by putting his face on Dewey’s screen? You realize these are just guys doing their job. Dewey understands that, but he also wants to educate them about the water protectors’ mission. He never misses an opportunity to educate his adversary, as well as his own people about the larger dimensions of the Standing Rock resistance. When he gets back in the car, someone in the back seat says “Let’s get out of here; this is enemy territory.” Dewey laughs, turning the car around, “It’s not enemy territory.”

    I believe you learn more about Standing Rock by watching Dewey’s unedited video than you ever could from watching any number of dramatically produced, commercially constricted reports on CNN, complete with the drumb-drumb latest crisis theme music.

    Dewey explains to his viewers that what they’re seeing is a “documentation” that’s not edited. “It’s not scripted. It’s not acted out.”

    After a month of watching Dewey’s daily reports I realize more fully than I ever have before how ghastly and vacuous mainstream news reporting is: a production where facts have been emptied of the humanity of real encounters, replaced by the shallow performances of reporters and news sources, slick, clichéd phrasing, behavior slotted into ready made categories, events analyzed and even predigested. The news about reality comes to us compartmentalized in trays like tasteless microwave dinners. Rarely is the reader or viewer allowed to simply experience the event unfolding through the reporter’s eyes or camera. The stories are crafted and slickly packaged. Their very polish and stimulating presentation sabotages their meaning and replaces it with a meaningless, artificial understanding.

    Note that I am not saying that the news these days is politically biased. Some obviously is, but the left or right bias charge is a serious red herring, a mis-direction. In fact, in mainstream media’s very effort to appear neutral and unbiased means events are chopped up and pieced together to fit the templates of a few hackneyed forms of storytelling: the winner-loser story, the conflict story, the individual overcoming obstacles story, the facing bad choices stories, he-said, she-said stories, scandal stories, hypocrisy stories. You’ve seen them all, repeatedly.

    Most of these templates come plated with a cynicism, skepticism, superiority, or sentimentality that grabs our attention by adding a dash of disgust. The current journalistic manner of telling stories reduces and dismisses the story in a way that sometimes makes the commercials and pop-up ads come as a relief. None of the common journalistic templates or attitude has much to do with real life as it’s lived in the moment. It’s not what people really experience in their lives. Instead, it’s how they’ve been conditioned to wrap up experience afterward in a dramatized way that leaches out the nuance, that leaves out the moment-to-moment uncertainty, or as the Lakota call it, the Wakan, the deep mystery of relationships that permeates every event. And that’s what Dewey’s broadcasts have in abundance. You get to see him interacting with the people who show up on his screen. You get to feel his humanity and the mystery of everyday relationships taking place at Standing Rock that he brings to light. It’s certainly not dramatic or melodramatic. It’s not interesting or stimulating in the usual way. It does seem really important.

    So when Dewey sits in his parked car and does an update video on “10 things to know about DAPL” (Nov. 18, 2016), there’s no editing and no script, meaning that you get to see him thinking through what those top 10 things might be. Some points he makes are incisive and comic, others not so much. But the not-so-much ones can lead you to thinking about gray areas, the imprecise observations we all make. He asks a guy who just got in the car to help out with his list and the guy, William Hawk Birdshead, goes immediately serious on him until Dewey says, “I was trying to keep it light.” So the Birdshead says, “Laughter is good medicine.” Suddenly they’re off. Dewey mimics the shifty-eyed look of the FBI guys lurking around the area and denying they are FBI, the DAPL security characters trying to look all steely and tough. We learn that in the encampments they say that “DAPL dresses up like Ninja Turtles.” You can tell that it’s DAPL undercover because those guys never drive rez cars, which are rusted and dented. Nobody is spared. Dewey describes the water protectors just arriving from California as dudes who’ve “got their animal spirits on… They’re all furred up. They’re coming in all mystical and crystals.” He and his buddy laugh, which Dewey says is laughter “in a good way,” because the whole thing going on at Standing Rock is deadly serious but you need laughter, because that’s good medicine for healing. And healing and praying are about “getting reconnected with the Earth.”

    This points to a major difference between anthropocentric prayer as most of us know it and earth-mind prayer. In the prayer that most people are familiar with, an individual seeks intercession for human needs with a transcendent being. The Native prayer is about healing not getting. The prayer is a community ceremony or song or ritual to maintain or restore the balance between and among beings, both animate and inanimate. Prayer is to all my relatives, all my relations, the birds, the water, the wind, the buffalo, my family, even those who oppose me as enemies. Mitakuye Oyasin is an important Lakota phrase that means “all my relations.” When you’re watching a Dewey update from Standing Rock you’re experiencing Mitakuye Oyasin in action. It’s newscasting as a kind of prayer, in the earth-mind sense. Whether he’s engaging in laughter or educating about the spiritual importance of water, you can see that what he’s getting at is healing relationships. Watching and listening, you get to be part of that healing.

    What Dewey does goes way beyond advocacy journalism.

    Our traveling companion for our visit to Standing Rock, Lakota elder Tiokasin Ghosthorse, also provides a good way to keep up with developments through the interviews he conducts for his weekly syndicated broadcast from WPKN in Bridgeport Conn. and WBAI in New York City. On Oct. 31, 2016, Tiokasin interviewed a young man who was seized on Oct. 27 when a frontline camp was destroyed by police. Trenton Joseph Castillas Bakeberg, in the bloodline of Crazy Horse, was praying in a sweat lodge when the militarized police swept through the camp. They yanked him out of the sweat lodge and arrested him. The young water protector told Tiokasin:

    “I pray that we’ll be able to keep a state of prayer and peace, as we have been… Although there’s some people on our side are more likely to tend toward violence. But there’s also people on our side to stop them. Don’t start a fight. That’s what it’s all about, keeping it peaceful because the elders told us in the beginning that all it takes is one single act of violence, one person attacking a police officer and they’ll unleash the fear on all of us. This wrath that we have with our military overseas, we’re beginning to see it now in the heart of our own country. All for the greed and the corporate interests of this government. They say we’re a democracy but it’s not showing anymore. The people didn’t want this pipeline, but this foreign entity that they call a corporation, Energy Transfers, is saying, we don’t care. We want this money. We need this for economic stability of the country and that somehow trumps the interests of our communities and our nation as a whole….We’re standing up to this corporate machine with prayer and love.”

  • Forcibly removed from prayer at Standing Rock

  • Against a heavily armed, corporatized democracy designed to ensure that only powerful business and political elites rule the land and possess the wealth of its objects, the Native-American people at Standing Rock stand in defense of Mother Earth armed with songs, prayers, and an understanding that Earth’s objects are us, and we are them. They are our relatives. It seems better armament than most of us Wasi’shu possess. Webster defines fascism as “a political system headed by a dictator in which the government controls business and labor and opposition is not permitted.” It’s an incendiary word, and readers might think ill of me for introducing it here. Certainly we are not a fascist state yet. But for the prayer-resistance at Standing Rock, the clear alliance between corporate and government interests to quell their opposition under color of the law has a fascist flavor.

    It should not surprise anyone that the new US president reportedly holds stocks that directly fund the Dakota Access Pipeline and that the DAPL CEO Kelcy Warren gave the Trump campaign a substantial donation.

  • Trump's Personal Investments Ride on Completion of Dakota Access Pipeline

  • This is how the proto-fascism works. Ironically (or perhaps absurdly), Trump may have been elected by people hoping he would somehow counter the tightening grip of multinational corporations on their lives. One might wish for that to happen.

    At a deep level, Standing Rock may suggest that such absurdities as a Trump presidency occur because our mode of consciousness is impaired or inadequate to the situation it has created on our planet at this historical time. Too many of us have gone dead to the natural world we come from. Our obsessive anthropocentric mode of consciousness has reduced nature and reality at large to a bunch of things we have names for—things that feed our greed. Fortunately, many Indigenous people have retained an acute and ancient consciousness that we are those rocks and trees and clouds, and birds and water that we see outside our windows, and that restoring our relationships with them is incumbent on us.

    John Briggs is emeritus distinguished Professor of Writing and Aesthetics from Western Connecticut State University. He was the English Department’s journalism coordinator for 18 years and was one of the founders of Western’s Department of Writing, Linguistics, and Creative Process. He is the author of several well-known books on chaos theory, fractals and creativity. He lives in the hilltown of Granville, Mass., where served as a Selectman for five years and as reserve police officer for 10 years.

    When people at Standing Rock talk about the black snake they mean the pipeline, referring to an old Sioux legend about a black snake that will threaten the end of the world. The Lakota prophet Black Elk said that in the seventh generation, the Sioux tribes would unite to save the world.

    Media covering the Standing Rock resistance movement:

  • Digital Smoke Signals

  • Myron Dewey, Facebook

  • The Antimedia

  • Democracy Now

  • The Intercept

  • The Guardian

  • Censored News

  • Unicorn Riot

  • Living on Earth

  • The Indigenous Environmental Network

  • Status of Standing Rock court claim

  •           Burn After Reading        

    Who’s Who
    What’s What

    In the World of CIA Fronts, Partners, Proprietaries & Contractors


    The Almost Classified Guide to CIA Front Companies, Proprietaries & Contractors
    ISBN: 978-1-365-11196-9

    Cool Justice Editor's Note: Following are excerpts from author Madsen's introduction and the body of the work. Additional suggested reading: News story about Madsen's book via the Washington, D.C. based Justice Integrity Project [link at the bottom of this post].


    From the Introduction

    One of the most pervasive uses of companies as intelligence partners was under the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD. During the Cold War, the CIA, often with the approval of corporate executives, infiltrated their agents to work as journalists in newspapers, radio and television networks, wire services, and magazines. The following pages in this book are rife with examples of this penetration of the Fourth Estate – all too many in the opinion of this journalist. The CIA admitted to at least 400 journalists on the agency’s payroll at the height of MOCKINGBIRD. The CIA traditionally understates its capabilities, especially when its covert activities become publicly known. Moreover, the end of the Cold War did not stop the practice of the CIA in infiltrating the media and slant news reports to its wishes.


    An insightful look behind the veils of secrecy into the CIA’s use of fronts, proprietaries, and partners calls into question the purpose of the CIA. Created by President Harry S Truman to serve as a central collector and repository of intelligence, the CIA became much more than that. A few weeks after the United States witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy in the middle of downtown Dallas, Truman penned an op-ed piece that appeared in several newspapers around the country. In it, Truman shared his regret for having created the CIA in 1947:

    “I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—CIA . . . For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.

    "I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue.”


    The 21st century’s CIA’s partners are more likely to be found among high-tech companies marketing the latest and greatest mobile applications and data mining programs than among banks, law offices, and advertising agencies. However, in the post-World War II era, the CIA’s top and middle echelons were normally found operating through cover as typewriter-pecking journalists, traveling Madison Avenue admen, corporate lawyers, and chain-smoking oilmen. In the 1970s and 80s, CIA contractors and partners began showing up in the high-tech field, with database, local area networking, and on-line information retrieval systems attracting the most interest by Langley.


    As this book went to press, the smart phone game application Pokémon Go fad was sweeping the planet. Unbeknownst to many of the on-line game’s avid fan’s was the connection of the game’s developers to the CIA’s venture capital firm IN-Q-TEL. All users saw their geo-location and other smart phone data being swept up by a CIA partner firm.


    Amazon, Inc. [CIA contractor]. Company provides cloud computing services for the CIA. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

    American Historical Society. [CIA partner]. Many society officials were OSS/CIA officers.

    American Press Institute. [CIA front]. Operating out of Columbia University, the institute’s director in the 1950s was a CIA officer.

    AmeriCares. [CIA partner]. A non-profit organization that is often the “first in” at refugee situations. Founded by tycoon J. Peter Grace, a board chairman of the CIA front, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) and a trustee of another CIA front, the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism, AmeriCares was involved in funding the Nicaraguan contras. The group has also provided the CIA with recruiting opportunities at mass refugee sites, particularly in Latin America and Asia.

    Bechtel Corporation. [CIA contractor]. Bechtel is a large construction company that has included former CIA director Richard Helms, CIA pseudonym “Fletcher M. Knight,” among its executive ranks. Bechtel was active in providing corporate cover for the OSS in the Middle East during World War II. Bechtel has been a consummate service company for various CIA operations, including support for the CIA-inspired coup against the Syrian government in 1949, the Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadeq in 1953, and President Sukarno of Indonesia in 1965. From the 1960s to the 1970s, Bechtel provided cover for CIA agents in Libya under both the regime of King Idris and his successor, Muammar Qaddafi. Sometimes called a “secret arm” of the CIA, Bechtel’s executives included those who would join President Reagan’s Cabinet, including Secretary of State George Schultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

    Before World War II, Steve Bechtel formed a military-industrial complex partnership with John McCone. McCone later became the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and later, director of the CIA. The CIA has used Bechtel to provide cover for non-official cover CIA operatives abroad.

    Blackstone Investment Group. [CIA front]. With offices in Washington, DC and Moscow, arranged for the purchase of KGB documents following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Among the documents sought by the front company were any related to illegal CIA activities during the Cold War, including the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Bourbon and Beefsteak Bar and Restaurant. [CIA front]. Opened in 1967 in King’s Cross in Sydney, Australia. Served as a rendezvous point for CIA, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and organized crime figures. Its proprietor was Bernie Houghton, a CIA operative with links to Nugan Hand Bank, CIA weapons smuggler Edwin Wilson, and CIA clandestine services officers Theodore Shackley, Rafael Quintero, and Thomas Clines.

    Center for Democracy. [CIA front]. Administered under the aegis of Boston University, the center maintained offices in Boston, Washington, DC, Guatemala City, and Strasbourg, France. Involved in CIA operations in eastern Europe, Central America, and Africa.

    Colt Patent Firearms Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Hartford, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

    Daddario & Burns. [CIA partner]. Headed by former OSS officer Emilio Daddario, a Democratic Representative from Connecticut, the Hartford-based law firm provided services to the CIA.

    DC Comics. [CIA partner]. Worked with the International Military Information Group (IMIG), a joint CIA/Pentagon unit at the State Department, to disseminate propaganda comic books, featuring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, in Serbo-Croatian and Albanian, to youth in the Balkans during the military conflicts in that region.

    Disney Corporation. [CIA partner]. CIA agents who were adept at creating front companies and shell corporations in Florida, worked closely with Disney in preparation for the construction of Disney World near Orlando, Florida. OSS veteran “Wild Bill” Donovan and CIA shell company expert Paul Helliwell helped create two fake Florida cities, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, as well as a number of shell corporations, to keep secret the plans for Disney World. This kept land prices low because real estate speculators were unaware of the prospective value of the land in a desolate area of central Florida.

    Emory School of Medicine. [CIA partner]. Located in Atlanta, Georgia. Involved in the CIA’s MK-ULTRA behavioral modification project.

    Enron Corporation [CIA partner]. Houston-based firm that was used by the CIA to provide commercial cover for its agents around the world. There were at least 20 CIA employees on Enron’s payroll. Andre Le Gallo, a former official of the CIA’s Operations Directorate, went to work as a corporate intelligence officer for Enron.

    Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). [CIA front]. Officially established by American Trotskyists, the group was penetrated by CIA operatives. The FPCC New Orleans office was a CIA front that provided cover for the anti-Fidel Castro activities of Lee Harvey Oswald, Clay Shaw, and David Ferrie, among others. The New Orleans FPCC office was located at 544 Camp Street and shared the same building entrance with Guy Banister Associates, Inc., a private detective agency, the address for which was 531 Lafayette Street and around the corner from 544 Camp Street.

    In December 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the FPCC ceased all U.S. operations.

    General Electric Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

    General Foods Corporation. [CIA partner]. Advertising account at CIA’s Robert Mullen Company handled by an active CIA employee.

    Google, Inc. [CIA partner]. Developed as a result of a research grant by the CIA and Pentagon to Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science. The CIA referred to the research as the “google project.”

    Greenberg Traurig. [CIA partner]. Washington, DC “connected” law firm.

    Guy Banister Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New Orleans private detective agency headed by former FBI agent Guy Banister. The detective agency coordinated the activities of various anti-Castro Cuban groups in New Orleans, including Banister’s own Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, as well as the Cuban Revolutionary Council, the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front, Friends of Democratic Cuba, and the Crusade to Free Cuba Committee.

    Banister and Associates shared office space with the CIA’s New Orleans front, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, headed by Lee Harvey Oswald.

    Hale and Dorr. [CIA partner]. Boston-based law firm that provided cover for CIA’s Independence and Brown Foundations.

    Halliburton. [CIA contractor]. Based in Houston, it is the world’s largest oil service company. Recipient of a number of CIA sole-source contracts for services worldwide.

    Harper and Row, Inc. [CIA partner]. Manuscripts submitted to the New York publisher that dealt with intelligence matters, particularly CIA operations, were turned over to the CIA for censoring edits before publication.

    Hewlett Packard Corporation. [CIA partner]. Sold computers to Iraq for Saddam Hussein’s missile program with the knowledge and approval of the CIA.

    Hill & Knowlton. [CIA partner]. Public relations firm that teamed with the CIA on a number of operations. Hill & Knowlton’s numerous offices abroad provided cover for CIA agents. One known Hill & Knowlton office that was a CIA front operation was in Kuala Lumpur.

    Kerr-McGee. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating overseas.

    Kissinger Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New York-based international consulting firm founded by former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft is a co-owner. The firm provided support to the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation and the Bilderberg Group. Much of the 1982 seed money for Kissinger Associates was provided by Goldman Sachs.

    Knight Foundation. [CIA partner]. Also known as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Based in Miami, the foundation provides funding for various CIA-connected media operations in the United States and around the world.

    Kroll Inc. [CIA partner]. Founded in 1972 by Jules Kroll, who had links to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence. Based in Manhattan. French domestic law enforcement believed Kroll’s Paris office was a CIA front. Kroll handled the security for the World Trade Center after the 1993 terrorist bombing and continued to be responsible for security up to, during, and after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Kroll employed former FBI assistant director for counter-terrorism John O’Neill, who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center.

    Lincoln Savings and Loan. [CIA partner]. Based in Irvine, California and headed by notorious swindler Charles Keating, Jr., involved in laundering funds for the Iran-contra scandal.

    Lone Star Cement Corporation. [CIA partner]. Based in Stamford, Connecticut and linked to the Bush family, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad. Involved in the Iran-contra scandal.

    Mary Carter Paint Company. [CIA front]. A money-laundering operation for the CIA. Involved in casinos in the Bahamas.

    Monsanto. [CIA partner]. The firm contracted with former CIA official Cofer Black’s Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), a subsidiary of the CIA-connected Blackwater USA, later Xe Services, to monitor animal rights groups, anti-genetically modified (GM) food activists, and other groups opposed to Monsanto’s agri-business operations worldwide.

    National Enquirer. [CIA partner]. The tabloid’s founder, Generoso (Gene) Pope, Jr., worked for the CIA’s psychological warfare unit and the agency’s Italy branch in 1950. In 1952, Pope acquired The New York Enquirer broadsheet and transformed it into a tabloid, renaming it The National Enquirer. This transformation bore the imprimatur of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program.

    Newsweek. [CIA partner]. Magazine reporters and stringers fed information to the CIA. Newsweek’s stringers in southeastern Europe and the Far East were CIA agents. When Newsweek was bought by The Washington Post Company in 1961, cooperation between the magazine and the CIA increased. It was a participant in the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program. Much of the staff of Newsweek was absorbed into a new online publication, The Daily Beast, which continues to disseminate CIA-influenced articles. See Washington Post.

    Nieman Foundation. [CIA partner]. Located at Harvard University, the foundation awarded Nieman Fellowships, some on behalf of the CIA, for foreign journalists to study at Harvard. The journalists were subjected to CIA recruitment efforts prior to their returning to their home countries.

    Pamela Martin & Associates. [CIA partner], Escort firm run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called “DC Madam.” During her 2008 trial for mail fraud, Palfrey attempted to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act in order to discuss her relationship with the CIA. The U.S. Court refused Palfrey’s request and she was convicted and later said to have committed suicide before her sentencing hearing in Washington, DC. One of her clients was Randall Tobias, the head of the CIA-connected USAID. Another was Louisiana Republican senator David Vitter.

    Paris Review. [CIA front]. Literary magazine edited by George Plimpton. Published works by Jack Kerouac and Samuel Beckett. The magazine’s co-founder, Peter Matthiessen, relied on his affiliation with the magazine as his CIA cover.

    Quaker Oats Company. [CIA partner]. Worked with the CIA and Atomic Energy Commission to place trace amounts of radiation in breakfast cereal served to boys at the Fernald School for the mentally retarded in Waltham, Massachusetts.

    Radio Corporation of America. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Iran, Philippines, Japan, and West Germany. Provided technical assistance to CIA-financed clandestine and propaganda radio stations worldwide, including Radio Free Europe. RCA founder David Sarnoff was a major supporter of CIA operations, including propaganda dissemination around the world. RCA chairman and chief executive officer Thornton F. Bradshaw was active in the operations of the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation.

    Reily Coffee Company. [CIA partner]. Also known as William B. Reily Coffee Company and based in New Orleans, this company employed Lee Harvey Oswald and a number of other U.S. government employees, many of whom were suspected CIA officers.

    Robert M. Mullen Company. [CIA proprietary]. A Washington, DC public relations firm, it was used as a front for CIA activities. E. Howard Hunt, the CIA agent, worked for Robert Mullen when he was arrested in the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington in 1972. The Senate Watergate Committee reported that “the Mullen and Company has maintained a relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency since its incorporation in 1959. It provided covers for agents in Europe (Stockholm), Latin America (Mexico City), and the Far East (Singapore) at the time of the Watergate break-in.”

    Rockefeller Foundation. [CIA partner]. Used by the CIA to direct scholarships and grants to the Third World and Eastern Europe. Rockefeller Foundation money was funneled to the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), created in 1948. The chairman of ACUE was OSS chief William J. Donovan and the vice chairman was Allen Dulles. One of ACUE’s board members was Walter Bedell Smith, the first CIA director.

    Summa Corporation. [CIA partner]. Owned by Howard Hughes, Summa is believed to have skimmed gambling profits from the Sands, Desert Inn, Frontier, Silver Slipper, Castaways, and Landmark casinos in Las Vegas and Harold’s Club in Reno for the CIA and the Mafia. Provided financial cover for the CIA’s Glomar Explorer project.

    Teneo Intelligence. [CIA partner]. Branch of Teneo Holdings, which is headquartered in New York. Teneo Holdings’s intelligence branch includes former CIA officials. Teneo is closely linked to former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. Teneo Intelligence has offices in New York, London, Rome, Brussels, Dubai, Bogota, New Delhi, and Tokyo.

    Texas Commerce Bank (TCB). [CIA partner]. Houston-based bank founded by the family of James Baker III. Texas Commerce Bank was used to provide commercial cover for CIA agents. After serving as vice president for Texas Commerce Bank in Caracas from 1977 to 1979, Jeb Bush joined his father’s presidential campaign in 1980. Serving with Bush on the campaign was Robert Gambino, the CIA deputy director of security who gave Bush his orientation brief at Langley in 1977.

    Kenneth Lay, the chairman of Enron, which had its own links to the CIA, served on the board of Texas Commerce Bank. Texas Commerce Bank was acquired by Chemical Bank in 1987.

    The bank provided major loans to Howard Hughes’s Summa Corporation. See Summa Corporation.

    United Fruit Company [CIA partner]. Involved in 1954 CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz government in Guatemala. Published the Latin America Report, a publication that was a CIA front used for clandestine activities. The CIA transferred weapons to United Fruit employees in Guatemala who were involved in undermining the Arbenz government. The joint CIA-United Fruit plan was code named OPERATION FORTUNE. Company provided an airfield in Guatemala for the CIA’s training of Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

    U.S. Rubber Company. [CIA partner]. Headquartered in Naugatuck, Connecticut and later called Uniroyal, provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad. Included those operating under the cover of the Dominion Rubber Company of Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. Rubber Company.

    U.S. Youth Council (USYC). [CIA front]. Founded in 1945 and based in New York. Some 90 percent of its funds came from the CIA. USYC received funding from the Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs (FYSA), a CIA front. The USYC was composed of American Youth Hostels, Camp Fire Girls, 4-H, American Unitarian Youth, National Catholic Welfare Conference, National Students Assembly, YMCA and YWCA.

    Wackenhut. [CIA contractor]. Wackenhut, a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based security firm, stood accused of providing the CIA with specialized services around the world, including Chile, Greece, and El Salvador. Its Venezuelan branch, Wackenhut Venezolana, C.A., was accused in 2002 of involvement in the CIA’s coup against President Hugo Chavez. William Casey served as Wackenhut’s outside counsel before becoming CIA director in 1981.

    Wackenhut eventually merged into the global security firm G4S.

    Washington Post. [CIA partner]. The Washington Post was part of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD, the agency’s media influence project. Post publisher Phil Graham was a close friend and associate of MOCKINGBIRD chief Frank Wisner, Sr. and CIA director Allen Dulles. Wisner assisted Graham in acquiring The Washington Times-Herald and WTOP radio, creating a sizable CIA-influenced media operation in the nation’s capital.

    W. R. Grace. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Latin America. Provided donations to CIA front foundations.

  • News story about Madsen's book via The Justice Integrity Project

  •           Carry On Watson art suitcases        
    I met Catherine Bell, founder of Carry On Watson, at a friend's Christmas party recently and was so impressed with her beautiful suitcases featuring artworks that are real head-turners. Why own a boring suitcase, when you can carry one of these beauties. And never again wonder which luggage is yours at the baggage collection!

    Read more »
              Thailand Police seizes Assets of Late Alleged Mastermind behind AlphaBay        

    Thailand Police officials have seized almost $21 million worth of assets ranging from cryptocurrency to fleet of cars. These assets belonged to the alleged late founder of the dark web marketplace AlphaBay, one of the two largest markets which were taken by the FBI this month. He died by committing suicide on July 24th in ...

    The post Thailand Police seizes Assets of Late Alleged Mastermind behind AlphaBay appeared first on Deep Dot Web.

              Selective Amnesia of Reagan’s Legacy        

    Amazingly and audaciously, the mainstream media and liberal pundocracy has created a narrative that President Obama’s newly found centrism is molded in the inspirational optimism of President Reagan.  This narrative seems confusing, when many liberals excoriate Reagan’s economic policy as the grim reaper of capitalism coming to instill all the inequities of the free market.

    Reagan, like the Tea Party, believed heavily in the primacy of the individual over the government and limited self-government constrained by the Constitution.  
    Reagan, in his “A Time for Choosing” speech, echoed these sentiments by saying, “A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.”

    On the flipside, President Obama in his State of the Union Address enunciated the greater need for “investment” (i.e. government spending and subsidies) wrapped in the rhetorical trappings of American exceptionalism and greatness.   This deceptive rhetoric attempted to mask the policy that undergirded Obama’s State of the Union address which called for more dubious government subsidies for green energy and an increase in spending for high-speed rail boondoggles.  If American citizens were groping and longing for high-speed rail,  wouldn’t it be flourishing by now after nearly 30 years since the French launched their Paris-Lyon TGV line?

    If there is no demand for these industries, how else can government make them appealing, but by way of force, coercion or wasteful subsidizing hoping to create a market for these currently unwanted and inefficient products?

    Are we to forget the GM bailout,  Dodd-Frank financial regulation and an intrusive government intervention into our healthcare system?  Do President Obama’s policies even close to matching his own rhetoric in the State of the Union, let alone Reagan’s?

    These pontificators may be well-intentioned, but it is more than condescending to attempt to link President Obama with the former President merely based on oratorical flourishes and Reaganesque-style optimism.  Their ideas on the proper function and role of the government stand in stark contrast.

    As AEI’s Steven Hayward insightfully notes, Reagan believed that modern liberalism unequivocally left him.  

    Reagan's invocation of Paine, as well as his quotation of John Winthrop's "City upon a Hill" sermon, expresses the core of his optimism and belief in the dynamism of American society, a dynamism that can have unconservative effects. But he explained his use of Paine in conservative terms way back in his 1965 autobiography, Where's the Rest of Me? "The classic liberal," Reagan wrote, "used to be the man who believed the individual was, and should be forever, the master of his destiny. That is now the conservative position. The liberal used to believe in freedom under law. He now takes the ancient feudal position that power is everything. He believes in a stronger and stronger central government, in the philosophy that control is better than freedom. The conservative now quotes Thomas Paine, a longtime refuge of the liberals: 'Government is a necessary evil; let us have as little of it as possible.'"

    Maybe It is time for President Obama to return to some of Founder's writings in order to rediscover his inner centrism.  He can begin with Thomas Paine.


              Washed Out / Memoryhouse- 04/27/12 @ Urban Lounge (as usual)        

    Sincerest Apologies: The content I captured of this event is pretty much horrendous and unlistenable, my cell phone sucks! I flew solo yet again, because our trusty co-founder Isaac was abducted by three magnificently shaped and very voluptuous female body builders and forced to gently rub luminous bronzer all over them. Plus, I was too lazy […]

    The post Washed Out / Memoryhouse- 04/27/12 @ Urban Lounge (as usual) appeared first on Bearded Gentlemen Music.

              The Startup Founder Effect: The Genetics of Success        
    By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. The ‘Founder Effect’ was discovered by Ernst Mayr in 1942 (Wikipedia) as part of his seminal work on population genetics.  It basically states that many of the traits that you might see in a given sub-population of individuals can be attributed to the genetics of the first individuals that inhabited the […]
              3 Apps and Gadgets to Help You Be More Efficient        
    Trying to maximize your time so you can monetize your business ideas? Jessica Abo has advice from the founder of TechSesh.
              Comment on Drinking with the Animals by Al Barrett        
    Thank you Heavens Family for the wonderful support you are providing for our project in Maasailand, Kenya, (Maasai Threads of Hope Sewing Center) and our missionary Deb Deren. It is much appreciated after 20 years of ministry; it is great to have collaboration like this from another ministry. You are filling a gap we have been desperately trying to do so long. God Bless all you do. Al Barrett, Founder Threads of Hope Missionary Ventures International
              New Resource for African-American Genealogy: IAAM Center for Family History        

    The International African American Museum (IAAM), opening in early 2020 in Charleston, SC, will include a Center for Family History dedicated to helping researchers trace African-Americans in their family trees.

    It sounds like a long time to wait, but the center's website is already available, with a growing collection of obituary, funeral and marriage records, as well as research tips in a Learning Library and a blog by professional genealogist Robin Foster.

    Toni Carrier, founder of the LowCountry Africana website, is developing the IAAM Center for Family History. Staff will assist researchers in finding resources about their families and help with DNA testing.

    The $75 million museum and research center will be located at Charleston's former Gadsden’s Wharf, where almost half of all enslaved Africans first arrived in America via the Transatlantic Slave Trade. You can see artist's renderings of the museum here.

              [Article] Contributors        
    Wolfgang Frey “Passivhaus 101: Sustainable Architecture from the Inside Out” The founder of the PH movement worldwide believes that Passive Houses are anything but passive. “Their ability to actively produce, consume, and manage their own energy belies an intricate sustainable system that utilizes our natural resources with very little carbon footprint,” he says. At the Demography Congress 2015, Frey received awards from three German Federal Ministries.
              Ninkasi N10 Anniversary 22oz        
    Ninkasi N10 Anniversary Imperial Blended Ale

    Ninkasi N10 Anniversary Imperial Blended Ale

    N10 is a very special beer, blending together five cornerstone recipes each telling its own story about our brewery, says founding brewer and co-founder Jamie Floyd. This beer is big, flavorful and heavy-hitting.

    N10 is crafted..

    Price: $24.99

              Ray Dalio, manager of the world's largest hedge fund, says buy gold on rising North Korea risk        
    Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio says in a LinkedIn blog post market "risks are now rising" and recommends gold.
              A very happy week was spent with...        

    This is my cousin, Linda. She is the oldest of the cousins on my mum's side and we first met when I was 7 (in 1961) in my granny's house in Ireland.  Linda had never visited England before so she came to spend 5 days with me in April; we had such an enjoyable time.

    In the photo above I'm wearing an  embroidered wool waistcoat from a charity shop which Linda bought me.  I'd seen this same waistcoat on a rummaging expedition with the OH last year and didn't buy it. I'd been regretting it ever since!

     Linda and I spent a whole day charity shopping and a couple of hours on another day. We went to the Ampthill and Great Denham charity shops and quite a lot of the Bedford ones.  There were still seven charity shops in Bedford we didn't have time to visit  so that's for Linda's next trip. Did Linda find anything? Yes! She found some beautiful cardigans;  some trousers, a sweater and some shoes. I found a pair of jeans; some colourful trousers; a skirt and some pictures for Ruby Super.

    We went for dinner at my daughter's one evening and also managed to fit in two six mile walks on two different days. On one of our walks, Linda marched up the drive marked 'Private Property' and in the photo above is at the door of Clapham Park House which was:

    'Originally built in 1873 for the Howard Family, founders of the Britannia Works in Bedford, Park House is a magnificent striking piece of Victorian architecture in a French Gothic style.' (From the Rightmove website).

    We went to London for the day on Saturday where we saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Treasury. This was taken in Parliament Square. We also went to the Tower of London.

    We set out to visit the Perspehone bookshop in Bloomsbury but got there too late...

    We went to Harrods at Linda's request and splashed out on some pastries - I'd scoffed mine by the time I took this photo. Linda's is still in the bag...

    I'd never been to Harrods before. I was wondering why the sales assistant was staying so close to my side in the women's wear department as I was stroking a white suede and fur coat. Then I looked at the price tag - £35,000!!

    We spent the rest of the day in Chelsea where we paid a flying visit to my eldest grandson at work and then met up with my brother and went out for a meal.

    On Sunday the family came for the dinner.

    These are the colourful trousers I bought in a Bedford charity shop and all the other items I'm wearing are also charity shopped. 

    I took Linda to the airport last Monday and was very sad to see her go. I always wanted a sister when I was growing up and feel that I have a sister in Linda. 
    Life resumed as normal on Tuesday with a stint at the Food Bank.

    Everything charity shopped. Purple velvet jeans; Red Cross 1.99. Grey waistcoat is from Gap and patterned shirt is from M&S. 

    Boots - Christmas present from daughter.

    Beads present from OH but charity shopped as are the earrings, bangles and watch.

    On Wednesday I invigilated at the university where I used to teach. I shall be doing more invigilation in May and in June shall be poll clerking on election day. All the little extra cash is most welcome as I still have another 2.5 years before I get my state pension...

    Everything, except the boots, is from a charity shop. The tunic, which has a French label was 1.99 at the Red Cross - the collar has a row of hook and eyes fastening as do the sleeves. I chose to leave them open as the beige (gah!) trim made a nice contrast and went with the beige M& S trousers. The waistcoat was from the 99p rail in Barnardo's. All jewellery is charity shopped except the earrings which are from Sainsbury's. The headscarf is a recent acquisition (must stop buying them - the picnic basket where I store them is filling up) from the 3:16 shop for 1.00.

    On Thursday I did the usual food shopping and went for a 6 mile walk. My youngest grandson is staying every Thursday evening now as my daughter has taken up boxing and has a late training session. I take both grandsons to and from school on Friday so it is just as easy for him to stay overnight with me.

    This is the tunic/dress I bought in the Killybegs charity shop for 2 euros. It's by Apricot and I loved the red orange flower display around the bottom. Everything is charity shopped including the boots, but the grey leggings are from Sainsbury's Tu range.

    All jewellery charity shopped including this necklace which I also bought in the same Killybegs charity shop as the tunic but about two years ago. It's a bit of a treasure trove that charity shop...

    I went on a bus walk with the Ramblers on Friday and we walked from Henlow to Langford and back again; about 6.5 miles. I kept my jacket on the whole time as although it was a nice bright day the wind was chilly. 

    This is the Holy Trinity Church in Clapham, London and the site for the origins of The Bible Society.

    I walked again on Saturday; only this time it was in London and the 34th 'Unlock'  London walk. You can read about the 'Unlock' walks HERE in more detail, but they are essentially fund raising walks for urban charities, visiting a range of different churches in different parts of London.

    This year the walk was in Battersea and Clapham. It's the third consecutive year I've done this walk and it's always very interesting. It attracts those of a religious persuasion (not me!) and walkers.

    This is St. Mary's on the Thames path near to Battersea bridge. It wasn't one of the seven churches on the walk but I rather liked it.

    Battersea Bridge built in 1890

    We ate our lunch here. Behind this bridge (Battersea Railway Bridge, built in 1863) was a helicopter landing pad; the helicopters were arriving and taking off about every ten minutes.

    I wondered about this building  in Comyn Road, SW11 - it looks like a boring red brick red modern building, but if you look carefully there are a couple of old fashioned, possibly Victorian, dresses sculpted on the front of it. Was it originally the site of a factory? An orphanage? A school? I wish I knew - and Google wasn't any help.

    This beautiful flowering tree was in the sub tropical section of Battersea Park but I have no idea what it was.

    This Victorian Gothic church is called St. Nectarios; it's near Lavender Hill and is now a Greek Orthodox church containing the most beautiful icons.

    We walked about 7.5 miles on the walk and if I include my walk to and from the station it was more than 8 in total. We returned to King's Cross by bus and I just managed to snap this sculpture; behind Marble Arch, from the top deck front seat of the bus. It was almost like being back at school again!

    On Sunday I went to see my son

    Everything charity shopped except the boots which were a Christmas present several years ago; the necklace and earrings were donated to me by my daughter.  The Next corduroy blazer bought from Red Cross for 1.99 about a year ago.

    White jeans bought in Derry and the spotted top was bought on my rummages with Linda, in the Ampthill Barnardo's.

    I was quite excited as it seemed warmer and sunnier on Sunday. I thought I might begin the winter to summer wardrobe swap over but changed my mind as the day went on and it got colder and colder...

    Monday was a bank holiday but it was business as usual at the Red Cross. I started at 10 am instead of 9.30 am but finished at the same time. Did I buy anything? Yes, I did. 2 more necklaces (naughty me!) one turquoise and one an orangey yellow colour. A yellow top and a cardigan both 1.99 each. Two books for my friend Hilary; whom I'm hoping to visit in Devon at the end of May or in June.

    This is the Desigual tunic/dress I bought in  the Red Cross in Derry. The top underneath is from Primarni; the leggings were bought retail at Sainsbury's and the Mary Jane's are from a local shoe outlet. I had left them behind in the caravan and made sure I brought them back with me as I hoped we may soon start to have a summer...

    All jewellery charity shopped and the head scarf was one of 3 bought at the 3:16 charity shop.

    My crochet blanket is coming along nicely, but I'm not getting that much reading done. I never do when I'm crocheting. I did manage to read the last of my 'Furrowed Middlebrow' birthday books and have now read four in this imprint. I've enjoyed them all but none have gripped me in the way many books have and I doubt I shall be buying anymore. They are also very tightly bound and you have to 'crack' the spine or fold the pages back severely to read the books properly. I still have two new Persephone books (also birthday books) to read and then there's all those books on TBR pile...

    I really want to start the winter to summer swap over but I daren't - it's too damn cold. Here's hoping it warms up soon!

              America Votes [Audio]        
    Speaker(s): Professor Craig Calhoun, Professor Michael Cox, Dr Pippa Malmgren, Professor Sir Robert Worcester | With just a week to go to the US presidential election, this panel of experts will assess the state of the race, look back at Barack Obama’s first term, what a second term would bring, or what "President Romney" would mean for the US and the wider world. Craig Calhoun is director of LSE. Michael Cox is Founding co-director of LSE IDEAS. Pippa Malmgren is the president and founder of Principalis Asset Management, former financial market advisor in the White House and member of the National Economic Council. Robert Worcester was the founder of MORI and is an honorary fellow of LSE.
              Inglewood Open Studios
Tour Celebrates Its Tenth Year! Saturday, November 12 & Sunday, November 13, 2016. 12pm-5pm        

    Inglewood Open Studios Celebrates its Tenth Year! Saturday, November 12th and Sunday November 13,2016 12pm - 5pm

    For Immediate Release:  

     Inglewood Open Studios
Tour Celebrates Its Tenth Year!
    Saturday, November 12 & Sunday, November 13, 2016. 12pm-5pm
LOS ANGELES, CA – Inglewood has become the fastest growing artist community in Los Angeles. It is also the fastest growing city, undergoing daily changes for and around the NFL stadium, Hollywood Park Casino, along new Metro lines and downtown Inglewood. The tenth annual Inglewood Open Studios tour will showcase the impressive depth and talent of this community on the weekend of November 12-13, from 12:00 to 5:00pm both days. As always, Inglewood Open Studios remains an artist run event, co-organized by local non profit Inglewood Cultural Arts (ICA).

    On both Saturday November 12 and Sunday, November 13, Inglewood artists will open their studios to the public, inviting visitors to personally tour their private working spaces and enjoy art created in all media--drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed-media, photography, print making, installation, video and performance.

    To mark our 10th year anniversary, co-founder Renée Fox will curate a group show of 2016 Inglewood Open Studios artist participants at Residency gallery, a new gallery in Inglewood, managed by Rick Garzon. With its second exhibition about to open, Residency has already had reviews in Contemporary Art Review la (also known as CARLA) and Artillery. The group show will serve as stop #1 on the tour route, and, as a preview of art that can be seen on the tour. Group show dates: Saturday, November 12 through Wednesday, November 16 with a closing reception on November 16 from 6-9PM.

    An official map with Inglewood Open Studios location details will be available online, at Residency gallery and at all artist studio locations on the tour. For additional information on Inglewood Open Studios, including the printable tour map, please visit Free shuttle transportation will also be provided by the City of Inglewood.

    Participating Artists -
    Inglewood Open Studios participants include both established and emerging artists. The 2016 Inglewood Open Studios artists are listed in alphabetical order:

    Adrienne Adar
    Susan Amorde
    Brian Biedul
    Martin Bruinsma
    Kelly Brumfield-Woods
    Darel Carey
    Matthew Carey
    Anne Cheek La Rose
    Joyce Dallal
    Bibi Davidson
    Beth Dubber
    Martin Durazo
    Renee Fox
    Sue Francis
    Calida Garcia Rawles
    Michael Giancristiano
    Nancy Jo Haselbacher
    Shelly Heffler
    Astrelle Johnquest
    Michael Massenburg
    Christopher L. Mercier
    David Newcombe
    Lindsey Nobel
    Kenneth Ober
    Toni Reinis
    Joan Robey
    Alexandra Rose
    Dawn Rosenquist
    Karen Sikie
    Stan Smith
    ZinShu Spock, 
    Ernie Steiner
    Holly Tempo
    Sidney Tuggerson, Jr.
    Ginger Van Hook
    Luke Van Hook
    MonaLisa Whitaker
    Exceptional Children's Foundation (29 artists)

    Inglewood, CA -

    Photo by Ginger Van Hook©2012
    Inglewood, CA -
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook©
    Inglewood is nestled in the center of Los Angeles County. Bordered by the LAX International Airport, it is in close proximity to Otis College of Art and Design and is surrounded by the cities of Culver City, El Segundo, Marina Del Rey, Westchester, and Torrance.

    Inglewood Cultural Arts -
    Inglewood Cultural Arts, Inc. (ICA), functions as fiscal receiver and co-organizer for the Inglewood Open Studios. ICA is an independent, multidisciplinary nonprofit arts organization serving residents of Inglewood and surrounding communities. ICA's mission is to enhance the quality of life in the community by providing diverse cultural arts programs. 

    Van Hook Foundation-
    Van Hook Foundation (VHF) is the media sponsor for the Inglewood Open Studios and may be contacted for additional information. 
    VHF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in Inglewood and located at the Beacon Arts Building Gallery 1D.
    The Van Hook Foundation’s mission is to promote the merging of fine art and science through the curating, jurying, installation and mounting of artistic, educational and scientific exhibitions for the public and to Promote Visibility of the Local Arts Communities in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.,,,

    For additional information, please contact press liaison Ginger Van Hook at

              The Art of Lovin' Trees --- Featuring Joel Tauber        

    The Art of Lovin’ Trees-- 
    Featuring Artist Joel Tauber
    Story dedicated to Joel and Alison
    in celebration of their joyous engagement on November 9th,

    Written and Researched by Enilde Van Hook
    Story Consult and Editing by Luke Van Hook

     America is having a love affair with trees and California is second to none in leading its appreciation of trees. Digging deep into the roots of this story, I have followed and researched the tree culture specifically in Los Angeles where our love of trees has spawned a unique pop tree culture relating to art. Our popular tree culture today includes but is not limited to tree sculptures, tree paintings, tree photographs, tree videos, tree poetry, tree songs, tree jewelry, tree movies and even tree love affairs. 

    Tree Earing created by Joel Tauber for his Sick-Amour Tree in Pasadena, California.
    Additional Tree Jewelry created by Joel Tauber to adorn the Sick-Amour Tree includes leaf jewelry, as well as the male earing and the female earing that hang from the tree below.  
    Photos of tree jewelry courtesy of  Susanne Vielmetter Gallery 5795 West Washington Blvd., Culver City, California 90232 (323-933-2117)

    Sick-Amour Tree in the parkinglot of the Pasadena Rose Bowl, protected by barriers installed by Joel Tauber in his quest to save his beloved tree. Tree wearing the earings looks hot!  Photo courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Gallery.
    Leaf sculpture by Joel Tauber
    Female tree earing by Joel Tauber.
    Male tree earing created by Joel Tauber, photo courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Gallery, 2008

    For the record, our love of trees goes way back to the dawn of time when we were swinging in the trees, however, our love has grown and matured since then. The Greek and Roman heritage of literature and art bestows us with intoxicating stories of their Gods having entanglements with humans. Some of their deities were known as protectors of trees and nature such as Dionysus the Greek god of agriculture, fertility, wine and merriment. He was later renamed Bacchus by the Romans and reported to be the Tree God. Back in the day when artists carved trees into stone and marble relief sculptures to worship in the temples of their mythological gods, people celebrated the sacredness of trees, grapevines and sometimes the unions of gods and mortals. There was Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees who married Vertumnus, the god of fruits and gardens. Digging deep enough, one is sure to find stories of deities mating with trees and spawning children of the harvest for instance.

    In modern literary circles there are a number of great imaginative family favorites written about trees, like “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. Then there’s the infamous story of how Robinson Crusoe lived in a tree-house, and of utmost importance to our American history of trees, we propagate the very memorable legend of ‘Johnny Appleseed’.

    In our contemporary times we have a legend in the making too. I have been fortunate to witness the emergence of a new ‘Johnny Appleseed’ and interestingly enough, the story involves a recent romantic love affair between one special tree and a mortal that is well worth pursuing the story. Sometime in the fall of in 2007, I met Joel Tauber. This is the artist who I believe was struck by a mythological bolt of lighting, so to speak, pertaining to one of the Greek or Roman deities’. Joel Tauber is said to have fallen head over heels in love with one particular Sycamore Tree in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. My chance meeting with this now famous mortal under the influence of an enchanted mystical spell, has led me to research the mysteries intrinsic in the charms of trees. I too have been struck with the frailty of trees, their vulnerabilities, and their enormous strengths and inspiration. This together with my own personal experiences with trees has prompted me to come out of my shell and discuss the subject in all seriousness.

    My own personal background is not in trees. I am simply a tree-lover from childhood. For a little over ten years, my professional background was in radio as a disc jockey and on-air personality. I listened to music, reviewed songs and kept tabs on the pop music culture. I worked in the Los Angeles market as well as Santa Barbara, California; Eventually I moved to expand my work experience in neighboring radio markets like Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe and Gardnerville/Minden, Nevada. It was through traveling that I saw some of the most beautiful trees along the routes through Northern California and Northern Nevada!
    While I drove from one radio market to another over the years, I watched the trees go by at the various speed limits along the highways of my life’s journeys. Thus you will understand when I tell you that often I see art and life, for that matter, through a series of moving images in my head which include a music bed. 
    I was eleven years old when in 1970, Joni Mitchell wrote and released a song called ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ whose lyrics surpassed the test of time and is currently in airplay by a glut of new groups. The lyrics began with “…They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum and they charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see ‘em.” One of the barometers I use to gage the influence of any particular song, music or artwork that I come into contact with is if it will surpass the test of time, among other important criteria. This song became one of my favorite songs of all time. The lyrics made so much sense to me.
    When I met Joel Tauber, I was introduced to the enormous scope of his Sick-Amour Tree-Baby Project. It was then that I suddenly started hearing Joni Mitchell’s song in my mind again, only this time, as I got in my car, Counting Crows was performing the song. When I started doing more research on the song that I could not get out of my head, I was struck by how many artists had re-recorded the song and barely changed anything about the words. There is Amy Grant, who upgraded the dollar amount from $1.50 to $25 when singing about how much the museums charged people to enter. Additionally there is Green Day, Sarah McLachlan, Charlie Barker, Bob Dylan, Moya Brennan, Ireen Sheer, Donnie Eidt and a host of so many others that have recorded ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ it was simply overwhelming!
    I think the importance of the lyrics to this one particular song is that it reveals the fact that people love trees and hate parking lots. The message is that if it weren’t for our trees, we could be living in a frying pan! The impact of this single song is that it reveals what is really going on in people’s minds. There is a reason why so many artists are flocking to re-record the lyrics in their own way.

    Not only are trees involved in the music arena, trees as subjects, are very involved in politics as well. Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin at the time, took a leading role in developing the celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd 1970 as a way to commemorate our environmental concerns. Arbor Day is presently celebrated as well with the first ceremonial tree planting in Washington D.C. on April 27th in 2001, all evidence that goes to prove the people of our planet do care about what happens to our trees.

    Trees stand as a testiment and memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King

    Dr. Martin Luther King is memorialized with trees along Expositon Blvd. across from the Los Angeles Coliseum and down the street from the University of Southern California.
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Online sources on the subject of trees are rich in number. For instance, eighteen years ago, here in Los Angeles, a multi racial group of volunteers planted 400 Canary Island Pine trees along seven miles of road on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. Today, this living homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to thrive and keep the dream alive for his followers. The founder and President of is Mr. Andy Lipkis and he keeps tabs on the trees to make sure all 400 trees stay healthy.

    Mayor Antonio Villarigosa is the person to thank for the ‘Million Trees Initiative’ he signed into effect in May of 2006 and Los Angeles residents can learn how they too can receive up to 7 free trees to plant on their property. Visit the website at to learn the details.   Also in Portland, Oregon there is and in Bellingham Washington you will find There is also the International Society of Arboriculture called ISA and can be accessed by visiting You will also find a great deal of valuable advise on the growth and care of trees at and check out Tree Care Industry Association TCIA as well.

    Mark Dion created an art piece titled "Library for the Birds of Antwerp" which is also a good example of how art is vitally connected with our tree culture and how it connects Mark Dion to his PBS special where he removed a dead tree from the forest and recreated its living components in a city scape in Washington.  From the "20th Century Artbook Phaidon Press 1996", the caption reads: "Using props from the natural and man-made world, Dion has constructed an installation that explores contemporary attitudes to science and the environment. He has created a fictional and hybridized situation in which the trappings associated with knowledge, learning and classification--such as books and photographs--are juxtaposed with natural elements including birds and wood.   The representation of nature is a fundamental subject in Dion's art, and here he takes on the role of sociologist/anthropologist and blurring the boundaries between authentic and fake, representation and parody. By adopting the persona of a scientist and by satirizing man's obsession with categorization, Dion questions the values of the Western world.  His subject matter is heavily influence by popular culture.  In Dion's world we might witness Mickey Mouse as an explorer, or Clark Kent interviewing Dr. Frankenstein." (Photo and contents are used in this story for purposes of artistic review.)

    In the art world, an artist named Mark Dion was featured in a documentary film report that aired in 2007. To view the video one may visit on the Internet by going to and find Mark Dion as he took the subject of trees and made an art piece that explored what would happen if one were to take a tree after its death, take it out of its familial context of natural forest, and re-create the ecosystem in an environment that would otherwise be a hostile urban setting, needless to say, a cityscape. Just outside of Seattle Washington, he states, a Hemlock fell on February 8th, 1996…and so begins an elaborate experiment that pits optimism against reality." The PBS special is very detailed and you will enjoy the depth of research and work that Mark Dion went to to take a tree out of the forest and recreate the setting in the city.  The difference between the artwork presented by Mark Dion and  the artwork presented by Joel Tauber is in the nature of the life of the tree. Mark Dion works with a dead tree and its living components, and Joel Tauber creates life out of a tree seed and duplicates it all over his community.

    Thus I’ve discovered for myself that when I researched the subject of trees, I discovered Joel Tauber wasn’t alone! However, instead of creating an experiment in ecology, Joel Tauber goes further than Mark Dion does with this concept of eco-systems and their frailties. Joel Tauber begins a journey that could eventually repair the eco-systems that man has destroyed. This is where Joel Tauber takes the lead in the art world and becomes not only the realist but the optimistic hope for trees in desecrated forests all over the country.
    Joel Tauber’s work as a living project of art in 2008 has resonance and his story is well worth telling again and again. He is certainly not the first, nor the last to get involved in the love of trees, but he is the first in contemporary times to have been associated with a mythological and mystical occurrence of reproducing tree babies out of just hugging one lonely tree.

    The last time I saw a man hugging a tree, he was hugging the tree for all the wrong reasons. At the MOCA, Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art, some years back I was viewing an exhibition that was in town by the Utah born artist now working in Los Angeles, Paul McCarthy. While this work of art depicted a very raw and unsettling sculpture of ‘tree-lovin’ it had nothing whatsoever to do with the love of any tree. The work displayed a timely political statement about our government rather than the love for trees, but bear in mind that the thought involved images from man’s intimate involvement with trees both in the biblical sense and in the sense of man’s raping of the planet. Joel Tauber’s work counteracts the devastation of many years of neglect for our trees with a very basic recipe for the renewal of our commitment to our green-leafed friends. Now, when I see the image of Joel Tauber hugging his Sycamore Tree in Pasadena, I get a whole new perspective for the love for our planet, our trees and our environment as a whole.

    "The Garden" by Paul McCarthy from The 20th Century Art Book, 
    Phaidon Press Limited, page 280. Photo is used for purposes of artistic review.
    The caption in the book reads as follows: " 'The Garden'  is a full-scale tableau of an outdoor, woodland scene, complete with leafy trees, shrubs and rocks.  This tranquil picture of nature is rudely interrupted by the presence of a middle-aged, balding man with his trousers round his ankles, engaged in a wholly unnatural act. From one side of the installation, his actions are not immediately apparent, being partially hidden by the tree trunks and foliage, but the sound of mechanical activity draws the viewer in to discover the shocking sight of a man copulating with a tree.  This robotic figure, with its endlessly repetitive movements, is both comical and crude, and is intended by McCarthy to question notions of acceptable public behavior and sexual morality.  McCarthy is a lecturer at UCLA as well as an artist. His sculptural installations evolved out of his earlier performance work which focused on his own body engaged in extreme and disturbing acts."

    To further explain this romantic entanglement between a tree and a mortal, I cite some important historical facts. Back in 2005, Joel Tauber was in the parking lot of the Pasadena Rose Bowl, when he spotted a particularly lonely and neglected Sycamore Tree. There are hundreds of thousands of trees in Pasadena, and a great number of them thrive very well on the grounds of the Rose Bowl, should you ever drive through this luscious community of tree and rose-lovers, you will see. But Joel Tauber focused his attention on one specific lonely tree. He started to note more and more how cars would hit the bark of the tree and scrape it, injuring the tree repeatedly. Joel Tauber became a witness to this tree’s life. Taking compassion and friendship upon this particular tree, Tauber began to film the area of the parking lot where the tree was growing. He got the idea to put up solid barriers to protect it from cars and also carried water in large plastic bags to irrigate the tree. Soon, Tauber found himself as a one-man band, orchestrating a symphony of activities leading to editing mass quantities of tree footage, fighting City Hall, and embarking on a quest to save this tree from infertility using tried and true guerilla tactics that would make tree-huggers stand and salute. To personally view the Sick-Amour project, along with the giant scale tree sculpture installation exhibited at Susanne Vielmetter Gallery in 2007, you may visit

                   Recently, I had the privilege and opportunity to discuss Joel Tauber’s work with Susanne Vielmetter and she was delighted to tell me what a wonderful sense of humor that Tauber exhibits in all of his works of art. Susanne Vielmetter reviewed the Underwater project with me as well as the Flying Project which Tauber presented.
    She explained how deep down, she feels Tauber is on a quest for meaning in his work and that he has a keen sense of humor that unifies and makes his ideas successful. She states that he uses the comical and the tragic in the Tree-Baby project to address the issues of urban living in our time and very subtly pokes fun at the problems innate in urban planning. The real irony of a small Sycamore tree dying of thirst in a parking lot of a beautiful park in a paradise-like valley, alongside the 110 Pasadena Freeway where 80% of the territory is plastered with concrete and the water below runs along asphalt channels of the Los Angeles River is not lost on Tauber, she explained. To contrast, Susanne Vielmetter cited that parks in Europe allow for weeds to grow naturally on landscapes that are not covered with concrete. Joel Tauber’s projects were initially presented at the Susanne Vielmetter Gallery located at 5795 Washington Blvd., in Culver City, California. The response Susanne Vielmetter’s Gallery received was incredibly exciting, even though at first, some folks thought Joel Tauber was a nut; he went on to prove just how serious he really is about changing the landscape of our environment, one tree at a time.

    Joel Tauber has a large body of video artwork, photographs and developing tree babies, (the children of a mortal and a Charmed Sycamore Tree) and one may also visit
    As I learned more and more about Joel Tauber’s project, I realized how blessed we all are that tree-lovin’ is not a singular act of love or even a fleeting love of art. I realized how connected we all are to our environment and how the idea of having a special friend ‘the tree’, any tree in any state, in any country for that matter is a beautiful connection to have. The connection that Joel Tauber has to his Sycamore Tree is in synch with the love that the country is experiencing during our new millennium. We have all become acutely aware of the fragility of life; we realize now more than ever that we must respect our dependence on our environment and value our trees.

    The first thing that struck me about Joel Tauber was that we had the love of trees in common. He seemed a bit shy, unassuming and humble yet I was later to learn the enormous power he wielded for this one frail and neglected tree in the parking lot of the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California. I was truly inspired by the level of involvement and commitment he had demonstrated for his own beloved Sycamore Tree which he had turned into a full-blown art-project including video, photography and sculptured jewelry. (He did it all!) He named this work the Sick-Amour Project mainly because he said he felt this tree was ill from the lack of love and the inability to have tree babies to fulfill its legacy. I had never personally met someone with such an extreme love and dedication to one particular tree. In our local newscasts, I had heard stories of people who became very emotional when a land developer was about to cut down a tree they considered a relic of their community; in which case people got very nasty about the issue and would chain themselves to the trees or surround the location with demonstrators that would shut down the jobsite. That’s when the news crews would come in with their cameras and boom mikes and the news helicopters would hover in circles above the trees trying to capture the ‘event’ that was creating all the uproar. A very recent example of this type of community behavior is written about on the front pages of the Los Angeles Times where Eric Bailey, a Times Staff Writer, wrote an extensive story about the tree-issues pertaining to Scotia, California where activists are protesting the logging of the Great California REDWOODS! Read the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times, August 24th, 2008 or visit online to learn how the tree-sitters are doing today.

    But Joel Tauber is a different type of activist. He doesn’t consider himself an activist at all. He merely states, humbly, just for the record, that he loves this one particular Sycamore Tree and it is an outrage to him to see how his new best friend is being suffocated under a six-inch blanket of black tar and asphalt. Better yet, Joel Tauber does something about it. Not with a crew of forty thousand demonstrators, not even with a crew of forty residents. He does this on his own, quietly challenging the laws of the city of Pasadena and humbly takes responsibility for the care and nurturing of his new best friend. I was touched. At once I began to marvel at his potent idea.

    The art of loving our trees has grown roots in the higher levels of the art world as well. For instance, if one were to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum both at the Getty Villa which recently re-opened in Malibu and at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, you will find the love of trees has grown branches on all the hillsides surrounding both properties. There are lucky Sycamores and fortunate Pines; there are Pomegranate trees, Apple trees, Pear trees, Jacaranda trees and trees that just look good in a vista overlooking the ocean. Millions of dollars went into the development of artistic gardens which envelope the California landscape against a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean on one edge and the rolling hills of Malibu on the other.

    Over in the area of the Miracle Mile, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is celebrating an enormous renovation of its facilities and you guessed it, there are aisles and isles of gigantic palm trees lining the walkways to the entrance of the museum in concert with a unique and flamboyant architecture that has drawn the attention of the art-world with the generosity of Eli and Edythe Broad of the Broad Foundation. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum is the new wing at the LACMA and is considered the largest space in the country devoted exclusively to contemporary art. With a ‘living art display’ dedicated to the iconic palm trees, not native to California, Robert Irwin has developed a plein-air walkway through ‘Palm Gardens’ as one makes their way to the entrances of the museum.

    Lush green trees thrive all over Pasadena, California, home of the Rose Bowl where Joel Tauber fell in love with a Sycamore Tree.  Photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2008

     The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California  is also home to some of the most exquisite antiquities in its museum history which includes sculptures amid a forest like atmosphere. Currently at the Norton Simon Museum, among its many exhibitions, one may enjoy the artwork of Ruth Weisberg, Dean of the Gayle Garner Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. Opening on October 17, 2008 the Weisberg exhibition at the Norton Simon runs through March 2, 2009. Additionally a lecture by the artist is planned where Weisberg discusses: Guido Cagnacci and the Resonant Image on Sunday November 16, 2008.  The Norton Simon Museum of Art is located at 411 West Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, California. Ruth Weisberg was instrumental in selecting the work of Joel Tauber to be permanently planted on the Main University Campus of USC on January 24, 2008 where a tree planting ceremony was held and attended by numerous members of USC faculty, staff, students and guests. The location of the new tree-baby, child of the Sick-Amour Project, currently exists on the Exposition side of the campus between Gate one and the Fischer Gallery, across the street from the Museum of Natural History. 

    In Pasadena, where lovers of trees line every street of the city as the landscapes are lush with all types of trees and where these wonderful healthy trees keep cool the throngs of tourists who visit the Rose Bowl every year, is also home to the Norton Simon Museum and the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Both locations are areas where tree-lovin’ may be experienced alongside some of California’s best-known artworks. Visit the NORTON SIMON MUSEUM at located at 411 West Colorado, Pasadena, California 91105 or visit the PASADENA MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA ART at at 490 East Union Street, Pasadena, California.

    In San Marino, California, the art of trees, gardens and succulents has found a worthy haven at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens spanning an area of 120 acres dedicated to the fine arts founded by Henry E. Huntington in 1928 as the very first public art gallery in Southern California. Along with English portraits and French eighteenth-century furniture, one will delight in tours of the unique garden paradise established for the pure love of the botanical arts.

    On the hillside along the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles, one may also enjoy walking along the elegant landscapes of the Skirball Cultural Center and Museum grounds and witness the serenity of the trees as Weeping Willows slope their leaves to the ground, and gentle breezes sway the branches of Sycamores, Oaks and Birch trees. Visit the Skirball Museum online at, or enjoy a personal walk along the grounds and explore the tributes to culture at 2701 North Sepulveda, Los Angeles 90049.

    Trees at the Skirball Museum and Cultural Center thrive and enjoy the mild California climate.

    In San Diego, one enjoys walking through a vast museum complex housing 15 unique museums in Balboa Park, not to mention to the collection of rare cactus and enormous Eucalyptus trees (just to name one tree type out of numerous ones) which shade the paths leading from one museum to another.

    Each of the locations I have mentioned or described here is where I personally walked through, witnessed, and or photographed sophisticated artistic tree landscapes of the California terrain.

    The Roots of my personal anxieties: Why I care.

    The impact of my meeting Joel Tauber coincided with an important event that took place for me way before I knew about his Sick-Amour Tree project and was what eventually led me to throw myself into this frenzied study of trees over this summer. Thus I do not necessarily consider myself struck by any of the Greek or Roman gods. I believe my influence came with a special awareness of the frailty of trees with this personal story:

    A little over one year ago, on June 30th, 2007 I was walking our dog Sasha, around the block for one of our frequent walks. I rounded the corner to the next block when I was taken aback as I witnessed a set of ‘city’ crewmembers slaughtering what appeared to be a California Oak tree. I had grown quite fond of that particular Oak on my many walks while I was writing my first novel. As a matter of fact, I had used that model of tree to describe a forest of these trees in a chapter in my first fiction novel. I especially love the sculptured texture of the Mighty gnarly Oaks. This tree had been the one to rekindle my relationship with the trees of my imagination. My stomach got queasy when I saw how it was being destroyed. I would have thrown-up, but I got a hold of my emotions and took Sasha home. Not only did I return to the scene of the slaughter, but I brought my camera to document the death and dismemberment of this great oak; I was so distraught that I returned again to the site, without my camera this time, and begged the men to stop for a moment while I sought out the seeds for this tree. To my surprise, the men stopped and helped me search for the seeds.

    When I got home, I had no idea what to do with the seeds. I called a couple of nurseries until a gentleman at a nursery in Marina del Rey explained to me that I had to wait until the pods dried up and slit to get at the seeds and plant them. So, I waited until the pods were black and wrinkled. I split them according to the directions I had gotten from this kind anonymous arborist. (He suggested a process much like that which squirrels have for cracking the pods.) I photographed the seeds and compared them with the larger seed of an apricot fruit tree and the seed of a maple tree.

    Once properly documented, I planted them in a small brown pot. Two weeks later, the first seed came up. A few days later another seed appeared to take root. On the one-year anniversary of the re-birth day of this Great Knurly Oak tree, July 20th, 2008, I documented how large the great twin oaks had become. The highest little bitty branch was about fourteen inches tall. I estimated this tree had grown a little over an inch every month. A compassionate act of kindness yielded a new life on the impulse of grief. The impulse of grief affected not only me; there is an entire world of tree-lovers mourning the losses of their favorite tree friends in surrounding communities.

    What about the subconscious feelings innate in developing a relationship with a tree? For instance, what draws people to want to save a particular tree? 

    I can really only speak to my own experience in that my relationship with trees started when I was a child.

              The Art of Reading Leads to the Art of Writing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the UCLA campus in Westwood! by Enilde Van Hook        

    When is a library, not a library? When it’s a Book Festival where the books come out to play! The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books celebrated its 13th year of book promotions on the UCLA campus with an estimated attendance of over 140,000 people who love to read books!
    Here is where the traditional library, once thought to be a stuffy, hush-hush, nerdy and quiet setting transforms itself into a megalomaniac fair of books and stories and documentaries just waiting to come alive. Books become the roller coaster of emotions, the merry-go-round of ideas, the bumper cars of change and the Ferris wheels of fiction.

    In this day and age, the traditional library has undergone a radical change in our culture…it has gone outside, yes outside the box, outside the building and outside under yonder shade trees to re-invent itself. Unlike the regular library, where one checks out a book and must return it within a specific amount of time, this type of literary environment goes beyond just borrowing a book. This activity steps into the realm of personal libraries. This is where the reader amasses his or her own library collection of favorite authors, books, books on tape, digital recordings of books, even recordings for the blind and dyslexic by going outside the comfort of indoor lighting and venturing into the elements of nature.

    The weekend of April 26th and 27th, under weather conditions reaching over 90 degrees in Westwood, the Pacific Ocean breeze quietly slipped in and around the leaves of Ficus trees, Great Oaks, Pines, and luscious landscaped lawns of one of our most prestigious institutions of higher learning; on the campus of UCLA, surrounded by noble buildings of great learning and ample gardens of exquisite greenery, what promised to be adventure at first, had indeed become an obsession for learning, an unquenchable thirst for more information about one’s world…who was in it in the past? Who’s in it now? Where’s the planet going? Who killed who? Or Whom? What artist leapt to his death from the bridge of misunderstanding? The answers were all there waiting to be revealed once you ventured out into the Festival of Books to bring home some new friends! This was my third year visiting the LA Times Festival of Books.

    As I came upon the first of the booths, I saw a long line of people, fanning themselves in the hot sun with only partial shade for some while others brought lawn chairs, umbrellas and water bottles or coolers and bared the heat while reading the LA Times or a comic book they’d purchased while sipping lemonades from the local vendors. “Get your lemonade!” a man shouted from the center of another line of readers waiting for an author. As I made my way down the narrow aisles of celebrity book fans I looked up in time to see that Valerie Bertinelli was about to emerge and I could already see a wave of nervous cameramen and camerawomen with their trigger fingers anxiously poised above their focused lenses. I felt in good company. I too was about to sign copies of my book today. The Kingdom Of Nuts and Bolts, was being released to the reading public and I was headed over to join the authors at booth 715 sponsored by THE GREATER LOS ANGELES WRITER’S SOCIETY.

    I was invited to join the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society recently and have discovered the treasures of its membership as well as the benefits to career and community. The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to mentoring writers of all levels in the craft and business of writing. The society works to provide continuing education and a forum for the marketing of a writer’s work. The society is guided by a philosophy of “writers mentoring writers of all disciplines” and their website ( details their variety of resources, welcoming writers from all over California and the country to learn more about the craft.

    I knew I had gotten to the right booth when I saw the buttons they were passing out. “What’s Your Story?” As I was about to take the hot seat of an author…I kid you not; the seat was hot because the sun cast its rays upon the storytellers’ table; I thought to myself again, ‘I’m in fine company!’ I had heard that Gay Talese, Julie Andrews and Tommy Lasorda were telling their stories and here I was, a humble little writer of my first fiction novel about to tell my own.
    I resorted to taking pictures to relax my own photo-happy-trigger finger. I always enjoy a good shutterbug moment and this was no exception. So, I took pictures of the authors I was with, while I signed a few books myself.

    I met Leslie Ann Moore, the author of Griffin’s Daughter, and I learned she wrote romantic fantasy (which I overheard her telling a reader that she had won an award). I visited her website at and was inspired by her story that she is a veterinarian, writer and belly dancer too!

    I also met Mike Robinson the author of Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray (which personally as a photographer, I liked the title.) I learned that Mike Robinson is the author of seven novels and two collections. Mike also sold a number of short stories to print and electronic magazines, anthologies and podcasts. Visit Mike’s website at and learn that he too is stalking BIG FOOT!

    On Saturday, another author I had the opportunity to meet at the GLAWS booth was Matt Pallamary. We sat together as our fans lined up to talk to us about our books. (Maybe our lines weren’t as long as Valerie Bertinelli’s for her book “Losing it: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time” but we had a following, nonetheless!) Matt has written his memoirs detailing his spiritual journeys to Peru where he worked with shamanic plant medicines. His most recent book is titled Spirit Matters and his website is This was a serendipitous place to be sharing space with Matt Pallamary as I had the rare opportunity to discuss some of my own spiritual stories from my early childhood in Argentina. The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts is a story about a five-year-old boy named Miguelito, who can see things that others can’t and this makes him special and extra inventive. He has a special magic friend named Hector (made out of nuts and bolts) who teaches him to fix things. The story, a comedy, is set in Buenos Aires, Argentina using the popular genre of South American writers, that of Magical Realism. The story explores an imaginative spirit world set in the 1930’s and is told from the perspectives of a fly, a witch, a seagull, an angel, a demon and two little brothers. The paperback version is available through
    and coming soon to so check the website in mid May for available stock.

    Several new, emerging and established writers joined us at the Festival of Books in the GLAWS booth #715. Among them was Joan A. Friedman, a Ph.D. who is an identical twin, herself, and has over thirty years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of twin-related issues. Her new novel, Emotionally Healthy Twins is a comprehensive guide on how to raise twins who are self-realized and distinct individuals.

    Dr. Joan Friedman posed for a photo-op alongside two of the movers and shakers of GLAWS; Tony Todaro, one of its original founders (Sci-Fi aficionado) and an established strategic consultant (Todaro Communications) as well as John Weiskopf, the author of The Ascendancy.

    The Ascendancy is an appropriate story for today’s times, as John Weiskopf has created a new world mythology at a volatile point in history. His latest novel brings modern day imagination to the old story of Jack in the Beanstalk. The premise of this novel is that a beanstalk starts growing out of the rubble of the World Trade Center and the protagonist Jack Tott, a twenty-six-year-old musician, believes that if he climbs the beanstalk, he will somehow find the means to help save his dying sister. This book is available through

    I met Sandra Walter, the author of The Creator State ( a story where actors discover a unique state of consciousness and art changes reality. Pictured here to the right is the author of Akira's Army by Keith Kowalczyk as he tells the story of Ray Quincy who becomes a prisoner of war while on his family vacation on a small South Pacific Island (a novel available through Also pictured in booth #715 are Tony Todaro, Neil Citrin, and John Weiskopf.

    I also had an opportunity to talk to Robin Reed who was also releasing her first novel called Xanthan Gumm. Robin Reed writes in the science fiction genre about hard working creatures called ‘Humans’ who labor to make stories that are loved throughout the Galaxy. One young alien dreams of going to the ‘Forbidden Planet Earth’ to perform in the movies and wants to become famous like his idol, E.T. This book is available through

    On Sunday at the LA TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS, I had the distinct privilege of sitting at the author’s table with Film Educator and author Charles Domokos. His work in education especially in the cinema and film-editing field has a long history of contributing extremely technical post-production knowledge to film students at USC School of Cinematic Arts, Loyola Marymount and Los Angeles City College. His book titled: Non-linear Editing: The Cutting Edge provides the foundation for the college-level media student to make the leap into the world of film and HD-based professional post-production, as practiced in the Hollywood media community. His book is available through; Barnes& or

    While sitting under the canopy of a nearby Elm tree, our booth enjoyed a little more shade and relief from the heat on Sunday, just enough to share our experiences and challenges of our publishing our first books. Charles and I also shared some of our inspirations to write and joked around that in our booth alone, we had the resources for taking my story of The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts and turning it into a movie using stop-frame animation to create a Hollywood environment for my animated critter made of nuts and bolts and feathers named ‘Hector’. We figured we had a whole production team from writing the screenplay to filming, editing and strategic marketing with Tony Todaro!

    Speaking of Tony Todaro, one of the founders of GLAWS, I learned he is a prolific fiction writer as well. He is now working on a final draft of his next novel, “What Comes Around” a story set in a future city by the name of San Angeles, a metropolis divided by rivers and gangs after the ‘Big One’ (the big anticipated earthquake Angelino’s often fear, has already happened in this story) has rearranged the real estate and politics of the Southland. Just a little sneak preview of his upcoming book, finds Fed Corp Special Crimes investigator Major Xander Hunt in the midst of two murder mysteries to solve: the death of prominent physicist Allan Dunwharton, and after a series of battles and attempted assassinations, (perhaps even his own death). Hunt has kept his aging body alive with a concoction of drugs and nanobots, despite decades of damage as a black-ops agent, and the terminal cancer eating at his guts. (Imagine here the actor Sean Connery as the wise, aging officer in the Untouchables, though Hunt thinks of himself as the younger version of a Kevin Costner character.) Tony Todaro is a strategic marketing consultant with a long history in the music business and now shares his expertise with his fellow authors in GLAWS!

    With a philosophy of “writers mentoring writers of all disciplines” GLAWS holds monthly informative meetings, often with nationally-known guest speakers, offers critique groups, advice in the craft and business of writing, conducts special events including writers conferences and seminars, and promotes its vision through many businesses and social opportunities.
    In April I had the opportunity to attend one of the membership meetings to hear the science fiction and fantasy writer, Tim Powers, author of Anubis Gates and winner of the Philip K. Dick Award. He spoke at length about the essence of “plot” or what actually happens in a story. He encouraged writers to think of the question ‘why’ and then dig deeper and ask no, ‘why, really?’; ‘why really is the character motivated?’ He also gave us an overview of what it is like to be a writer at work. He stated that he had cultivated a sense of both guilt and fear. “Afterall, I play with the cat while truckers have jobs…” In a brief moment I had to talk with him before he got on the podium, he stated that I should write down imaginary bets… but not to do it in my head. He urged me to write thoughts down directly onto the keyboard. In his presentation, he also shared some of the advantages to writing down your ideas and character traits onto index cards and spreading them around your workspace. Maybe one day, if you are experiencing ‘writers block’; maybe the landlord comes around knocking, blows open your door and tromps all over the index cards mixing them up every which way; well, he said, ‘you never know when that might have helped your plot strategy a little!’ TIM POWERS chuckled.

    The headline of today’s blog stated that the Art of Reading leads to the Art of Writing. I strongly believe this because I can attest to the significant verbal, literary and visual growth that a child can attain while immersed in a supportive community reading program. That, in and of it-self is where the art of reading leads directly to the successful art of writing. Exposure to the arts at a young age in a person’s life greatly enhances the chances this experience will foster a love of story telling as well as an appreciation for the authors and artists of these works that influence the mind at a critical stage in our development.
    I am an example of an After School Reading Program child. My first exposure to library books came about at approximately the age of 8 when I stated participating in the Duarte Public Library After School Reading Program and simultaneously the Monrovia Public Library system in California.

    I personally see this important correlation between early reading and early writing because I began to keep a diary at the age of twelve after reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I went on to improve my reading skills by practicing my writing skills in my journal and reading even more each month until I had practically consumed all the books I could in the children’s section of the Duarte Library. I seem to recall that by the age of thirteen I was already into the adult section where I promptly fell in love with science fiction and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. (At the time, I made no physical distinction between the right or left section of the Duarte Library but I did get into trouble with my mother who discovered one day that one of my books had an identifying label from the adult section of the library…I no longer remember what the name of that book was, because I didn’t get to read it…only that it had a harmless picture of a cat on the cover and I distinctly recall how disappointed and rather humiliated I was when I had to return the book to the librarian and admit that I had rules at home I had to follow that superceded library freedoms.)

    My consolation was that I was a rebellious child so after that, I no longer checked out the adult books to take home—I just spent my free time reading the contraband stories, sitting cross legged on the floor between the stacks by the light of a window where a beautiful oak tree cast intermittent sun, shade and childhood inspiration; Under these conditions, I finished reading Pearl Buck’s novel The Good Earth. I can’t stress enough the importance of reading in a young person’s life. I admired writers without even knowing what they looked like. Often I didn’t see pictures on the covers. I just knew their voices by the way they would write their sentences. I feel I learned about life, lived through the characters and had adventures I couldn’t even dream of having all through the art of reading a wonderful book.

    By the time I was sixteen, I had obtained my first job away from home. The Duarte Public Library hired me to work as a ‘page’ part time while I attended high school. I was able to devote even more time to filing and flipping through the pages of my most beloved writers and fondest friends. I recall taking a whole summer to finish the novel Hawaii by James Mitchner. These books were my education and entertainment away from the classroom and the schoolyard. By the age of eighteen, I was working for the USC Bookstore during freshman year of college and the Doheny Library by my sophomore year of college.

    Now fast forward to the present day in 2008. I have written and self-published five books of poetry and recently released my first novel, The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts here at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the campus of UCLA. Was it an accident that I developed into a writer? (In my particular case, I am also a photographer and an artist.) ( ( I don’t think this is a random event. I think there are no accidents in the universe. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe in cause and effect. I believe that if you want to end up with a delicious cake, you need to prepare the recipe with proper ingredients. The ingredients leading to the successful art of writing requires nothing short of fresh time, young minds, good books and positive parental and community encouragement to read. The art develops naturally as the heat of age ripens the stories into cupcakes of our culture for everyone to enjoy!

    I attended the Duarte Festival of Authors in October of 2005 in Westminster Gardens, in Duarte California just to visit with and enjoy a moment listening to Ray Bradbury as the featured keynote speaker, presented by The Friends of the Duarte Library.

    We also support the Monrovia Arts Festival Association which is undergoing a change of name this year. In addition to the changes featured in Monrovia Library Park, with the new Library construction, Monrovia Arts Festival Association is about to be renamed the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts to better define the role of the arts in the community of Monrovia.
    The Monrovia Arts Festival Association will continue to serve the arts and artists as well as the after school art programs in Monrovia as well as surrounding communities and schools. I firmly believe, the younger a child is exposed to the arts, in terms of reading, writing, painting, sculpture, photography, film, digital media, comic book art and art history just to name a few of the variety of arts, the more creative a child will grow into adulthood and the more rewarding our communities will be to thrive in.
              Global Voices: Why Canada should do business with Africa        
    Nola Kianza is a man on a mission. The founder and CEO of the Canadian Council on Africa is travelling across Canada, meeting politicians and fellow businessmen to deliver a message: “Africa is not just about aid. Africa is the […]
              anahita ~ tourmaline (three:four records, 2017)        

    "Out of the crystal clear and warm cosmic perennial waters comes forth another sparkling jewel from Anahita (Tara Burke (Fursaxa) and Helena Espvall (Espers). Two elves dancing amidst gnarled branches of ancient trees and fragrant herbs, concocting a magical potion for the mind of floating medieval cello spheres and melancholic ceremonial madrigals under the blinking eye of a pale moon and far off constellations of shooting stars." 
    Bart De Paepe, founder of the belgian tape label Sloow Tapes


    released May 12, 2017, Anahita is Tara Burke and Helena Espvall. 

    Recorded in the summer of 2010 and 2011 at the Hestian Den. 
    Engineered by Derek Moench.  Mastered by Julien Grandjean at Jetlag

    Brandon Wright poses at his tea farm in Japan.

    One of Brandon Wright’s career goals is to ultimately build a traditional Japanese wood tea house in Oklahoma City.

    The East Central University alumnus currently resides in Uji, Kyoto, Japan and is the founder of the Tai-an Tea Company. Three weeks after graduating from ECU in 2014, Wright moved to Japan to start his own organic Matcha green tea company.

    “I am very proud of graduating from ECU,” said Wright, who left the university with a degree in exercise science and was an Ada resident. “ECU taught me numerous skills that has helped me prepare for my career path such as organization, teamwork, presentation skills, time management, communication skills, problem solving, adversity and dedication skills.”

    Wright also has an office in Oklahoma City, but spends much of his time in Japan, monitoring his tea farm.

    Matcha is a Japanese tea made from powdered green tea leaves, which are grown and dried in specially designed processes, after which they are ground to create a fine powder. Matcha is traditionally used in the Japanese tea ceremony and to flavor food.

    Considered benefits of Matcha is that is highly nutritious, contains antioxidants, amino acids, fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins.

    “If anyone consumes a cup of organic Matcha every morning, it will improve the way they feel mentally and physically,” Wright said. “Matcha is nature’s pre-workout, detoxifier, focused energy, and best of all, it helps fight diseases. Matcha is Japan’s best-kept secret that has been a factor in their long-life expectancies and overall health.”

    Wright’s exposure to Matcha green tea came in 2005 during a three-week high school exchange program.

    “I took part in a Japanese tea ceremony lesson and I knew at that moment, this is what I would do for my career,” said Wright. “Matcha is 100 percent plant-based nutrition grounded into fine powder and consumed as tea. Matcha contains zero fillers, chemicals, GMO’s or pesticides.”

    Wright’s future plan is to stay in Japan for 5-10 more years, but to ultimately build a traditional Japanese wood tea house in Oklahoma City.

    “We want to bring cultural diversity to Oklahoma, using an amazingly healthy organic

    Japanese green tea,” Wright said. “This is great culturally and for overall health.”

    Wright says that his company ships organic Matcha directly from Tokyo to, which allows it to be shipped overseas safely and quickly. The company’s first Matcha line is called “Seijaku,” which translates to an enlightenment.

    “We truly believe if you consume our Matcha, you can reach your own version of complete silence or peace within yourself,” said Wright. “Matcha was first given to the Monks and Samurai because it was said to give them focused energy during meditation and alertness during battle.”

    According to Wright, ECU had a hand in him making his dream come true.

    “This has been a very hard three years in Japan. My company is 100 percent registered in Oklahoma, but my home office is located in Japan because I live here,” Wright said. “Therefore, I must follow Japanese laws and regulations and the Japanese are 1,000 percent more detailed about business development. I have had many setbacks since starting this journey, but I never gave up because of what ECU taught me.”

    Wright credited ECU instructors in the Kinesiology Department such as Matt McGaha, Jason Prather, Jillian Bailey, Jillian McCarty and Jeff McGaha with preparing him for his business journey.

    “The teachers, staff and faculty at ECU were all amazing. Anytime I needed to speak to a teacher about anything, they were always there for me,” said Wright. “Everyone from the teachers, library, Wellness Center, financial aid, cafeteria workers and janitors were all down to earth and truly loved their jobs and helping all students, ECU is an amazing school and I will always be very proud of where I came from.”

    For more information on the Tai-an Tea Company go to the website at or Facebook page at Tai-an Tea Co. The Amazon direct shortcut to the product page is: The Facebook page features daily posts and information regarding Matcha or Japanese tea history.


    For Immediate Release: 

    Contact: Brian Johnson or Amy Ford

                                    East Central University Communications and Marketing

                                  580-559-5650 or or 405-812-1428 (cell)

              Ladies’ Athletic Tank        

    New sporty tank! Moisture wicking, racerback straps and bonus – attached sports bra included! *Note, fit seems to be a little snug so perhaps order a size up. Size specs here  Garment details: 94% polyester/6% spandex mesh, ladies’ fit, racerback style straps, gathered detail at the neckline and longer length in back for added coverage. Color Power Blue

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              Ladies’ Athletic Cross Back Shirt        

    Who said workout clothes had to be tight and spandex? We in the Founders Athletic Department selected this easy-wearing ladies tee because of its loose fit and soft cotton blend fabric. Wear it at the gym or while doing yard work. Fashionable cutout back detailing even make it a fine option for a quick run to...

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              Founders Sun Hat        

    We all love spending time outdoors, but for long days at the beach or dancing in the streets at Founders Fest, we might need a little cover. Enter the Sun Hat. Its wide brim shades your face so you can enjoy more time in the sun. Founders Brewing Co is embroidered across the front. Product...

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              DKML Mug        

    DKML, the fourth release in our Barrel Aged Series, is what could be the first malt liquor worthy of a glass. Therefore, we customized this mug with the DKML name and Founders logo. The face graphic from the label hints at what to expect when enjoying this brew, and kicks you where you most expect it. Product...

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              DKML Golf Ball 3-Pack        

    Our latest barrel aged release, DKML, is a malt liquor worthy of a glass…and golf balls! This three pack of Callaway Warbird 2.0 golf balls are printed with Founders Brewing Company on one side and DKML on the other, in the hopes that these balls will help you hit your shot where you most expect it....

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              Rubaeus CANdle        

    Rubaeus is Founders’ way of celebrating the joys of summer year-round. And for those times when drinking one doesn’t quite fit your schedule, we’ve partnered with a specialty candle maker to help us enjoy the fragrance of Rubaeus in another way. Poured into a recycled can, these candles are ideal for at home use to...

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              Filter Less Risk More Artist Series Tee        

    In honor of our year-long celebration of our 20th Anniversary this year, we’ve added the 20th logo to our black logo tee, along with artwork from one of our Zero Regrets Artist Series prints. Get inspired to “Filter Less, Risk More” in your own life. We invite you to learn more about our stories and...

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              Roots Canvas Tote Bag        

    Part of our Zero Regrets Artist Series, this design by Woosah is a beautiful rendition of our brewery building and an ode to our hometown of Grand Rapids. Titled Staying True to Your Roots, the illustration includes the sun above and Grand River flowing below. The colors of the tri-tonal artwork are perfectly highlighted on...

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              Golf Polo        

    Whether you wear it for golf, to your next homebrewers association meeting, or perhaps even the office, we hope you enjoy the latest Founders embroidered polo. Garment details: 3.8oz 100% polyester with moisture-wicking performance fabric and subtle jacquard texture. Flat knit collar and 3-button placket. Open hem sleeves.

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              2017 Founders Fest/Umphrey’s McGee Lapel Pin        

    In celebration of our 10th Annual Founders Fest, we teamed up with our headliner, Umphrey’s McGee, and Masthay Studios to create this one of kind commemorative pin. Only 300 were made so snag yours before they’re gone! Pin size: 2″ tall with two fasteners.

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              2357 is a prime number        

    I shared this on Facebook 2 years ago: 2/8/15

    The first 4 prime numbers are 2, 3, 5, 7.

    2357 corresponds to 23 and 57 which when combined become "I Am 57" as follows:

    I (9) Am (14) = 23 conjoined with 57 = 2357

    "I Am 57" (2357) touches close to home for me as I turned 57 earlier this week on 2/5/15.

    Here are a few more numerical correspondences:

    23 cycles of 2357 days prior to 2/5/15 brings us back to 9/03 in the year 1866 - exactly 130 years prior to the day my father passed in 1996.

    9/03 is always 23 "I (9) Am (14)" days from 8/11 the Divine Birthday.

    23 "I Am" cycles of 2357 days from 9/03/96 - the day my father passed - brings us to 2/5 in the year 2145 which will be the 187th anniversary of my birth. 2/5 is always 187 days from 8/11 in non-leap years.

    Another way my father fits in here is that 23 X 57 = 1311 which was the address - 1311 Chicago Avenue - here in Evanston where my father and mother first lived after they were married in 1951.

    18 cycles of 1311 days prior to my 57th birthday 2/5/15 brings us back to 6/28/50 which was EXACTLY one year prior to the day my father an mother were married in 1951.

    Years later I lived at 1400 Chicago Ave which was EXACTLY 89 from 1311 Chicago Ave.

    The 89th block north of State & Madison in downtown Chicago is the block that begins at Dempster St and ends at Greenwood Street in Evanston. 1400 Chicago Avenue sits on the NW corner of Greenwood and Chicago Ave. Right next door to the north of 1400 Chicago Ave is 1406 Chicago Ave which - years ago - was Pembridge Hall where my mother first came to on the day she arrived at Northwestern as a junior college transfer student on 9/10/48. That was the same day she met my father on a blind date. He wouldn't leave her alone for if he didn't I wouldn't be typing this post.

    Across the street from 1400 Chicago Ave - on the SE corner of Greenwood & Chicago - was a house that my father lived in with his fraternity buddies after he graduated from NU in 1949.

    What does this all mean? These are simple examples of the powerful numerical correspondences that fill our daily lives.

    89 was mentioned above. 89 is the prime of Leo (356) = 89 prime X 4 which is the astrological sign for the Divine Birthmonth of August whose ruling planet is the Sun and which corresponds to the Human Heart.

    Does 89 have anything to do with Northwestern?

    On August 11, 1853 the founders of Northwestern University - my and my parents alma mater - purchased 379 beautiful acres along the shores of from Dr. John Foster.

    379 is a prime number that's the sum of 23 "I (9) Am (14)" and 89 which is the prime of Leo (356) = 89 prime X 4.

    Back to 1311 Chicago which is located on the 89th block north of State & Madison Streets...

    23 "I Am" X 57 (2357) = 1311

    In the digits of pii you will find that the first appearance of 8989 - that's 89 prime X 101 prime - occurs at EXACTLY the 1311th digit of pii - do NOT include 3. in the count just the decimals.

    As mentioned above, 1311 Chicago - where my parents first lived - is 89 from 1400 Chicago where I once lived.

    From 1400 Chicago Ave - located on the north side of Greenwood which is the 89th block north of State & Madison in downtown Chicago - I moved to 1106 Greenwood - located 3 blocks east. And from there we moved to our current address 3242 Harrison.

    3242 - 1106 = 2136 = 89 prime X 24

    The gentleman whose most responsible for changing the streets of Chicago to a logical grid pattern that begins at State & Madison Streets in downtown Chicago was Edward Brennan. He lived at 6446 N Wayne Ave in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.

    6446 - 3242 = 3204 = 89 prime X 36

    6446 - 1106 = 5340 = 89 prime X 60


              Happiness is a Warm Goat Cheese        
    Hadass and LouiseMaking chevre
     The lovely Louise May (she of chicken-at-city-hall fame) taught a cheese-making class at The Food Studio last night, and I was privileged to attend.

    Louise has a herd of goats on her farm that she milks herself, and she demonstrated making cheese from commercially available (i.e., pasteurised) local goat's milk, licensed under the Manitoba Dairy Act, as well as raw milk from her farm, which is not.

    The Manitoba Dairy Act prohibits the sale of raw dairy in Manitoba, which is very unfortunate for those of us who would prefer it. A farmer may use it for herself or her dependants, but she can't legally even give it away to anyone else, let alone make a living from it. There are many reasons to consider raw milk far superior to pasteurised milk, which is severely denatured. While I understand the public health concerns, it seems to me that a good inspection policy should be able to shut down any farm that operated in unsanitary conditions. It is quite insane that fast food is legal in Manitoba but raw milk is not. Definitely a campaign to consider once Louise is done with the urban chickens!

    In any case, we learned how to make chevre, ricotta and feta, all of which turn out nicely with commercial milk, and mozzarella, which in general does not. We were able to compare the milk-curdling capabilities of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice (the apple cider won in terms of flavour). We learned about mesophilic starter culture and vegetable rennet (not made from baby calf stomach lining, yay).

    Gorgeous chevreCurdling milk The Queen of Cheese Making (and source of all the recipes we learned) is Ricki Carroll, founder of the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. She was mentioned in Barbara Kingsolver's wonderful book (and the beginning of my journey into making stuff rather than buying it): Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (affiliate link).

    Ricki's recipes are available online, but also neatly compiled into a book, Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses (also an affiliate link). 

    Because nothing is ever perfect, I did have one complaint - I would have liked Louise to have given us a handout. With so many different kinds of cheese on the go, it became quite confusing to keep track of what goes into what. While I intend to acquire the book (or download my favourite recipes if I am feeling cheap), it would have been easier to make notes on a handout while they were fresh in my mind.

    In conclusion, a lovely time was had by all, there was much laughter and discussion as well as some serious learning. If you are interested in artisanal cheese, Louise's classes are a great way to get into it.

    Addendum: Louise's recipes can be found at

              Jason Levinthal to acquire 4FRNT Skis        

    Jason Levinthal, the ski-world-renowned founder of Line Skis and J Skis, has entered into an agreement to acquire the widely-acclaimed 4FRNT Skis Inc., based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Levinthal is credited with pioneering the twin tip ski movement in the late 1990s and for the past four years has focused on developing J […]

    The post Jason Levinthal to acquire 4FRNT Skis appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

              Dombeck receives Ansel Adams Award for leadership in protecting National Forests        

    WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck will receive the Ansel Adams Award from The Wilderness Society Thursday night for his major role in protecting the national forests.

    "Mike was a game-changer,” said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society. “He restored balance to the management of our 155 national forests, making clean water, recreation, and fish and wildlife priorities, as the law requires. He was the main architect of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which prevented logging and road building across 58.5 million acres of our national forests. It was the capstone of a quarter century of sterling public service with federal land management agencies.”

    A native of Wisconsin with a Ph.D. in fisheries biology, Dombeck served three years as acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management before President Clinton appointed him Forest Service chief in 1997. No other person has lead both of this nation’s largest land management agencies.

    Since leaving the government in 2001, Dombeck has been a University of Wisconsin System Fellow and a professor of global conservation at the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He also directs the Smith Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Conservation Biology.

    “Mike was, in my view, the most independent chief that the Forest Service has had since Gifford Pinchot himself,” said Dr. Jerry Franklin, a University of Washington professor often described as “the father of modern forestry.” Pinchot was the first chief, serving from 1898 to 1910. “Mike broke out of the mold and did really innovative things. He did that by design and force of will,” said Franklin, a long-time member of The Wilderness Society’s Governing Council.

    “As our country grows, we continue to chip away at our wild places, losing acre by acre, day after day,” said Dombeck. “Protecting the remaining roadless areas of our national forests is perhaps this nation’s last opportunity to keep our few remaining wild places intact.

    “They are important habitats and anchor points for native plants and animals in the face of a changing climate. These remote areas provide some of the last best hunting and fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities with at least a measure of solitude. In today’s fast-paced society, these are the places where future generations might experience the land as their forefathers did. It has been a privilege for me to have a career working with people who care deeply about the health of the land. They are the ones who have earned this award.”

    The award that Dombeck will receive is named for the celebrated photographer who, until his death, was an outspoken advocate for safeguarding the nation’s natural heritage. “It is noteworthy that Mike is the third winner from Wisconsin,” Meadows pointed out. The award was presented to Congressman David Obey (D) in 2000 and to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson in 1990. Nelson served the state as a governor and U.S. Senator and spent the final 24 years of his life as counselor of The Wilderness Society.

    Other winners of the Ansel Adams Award include former Congressman Mo Udall (D-NM), former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, President Jimmy Carter, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-ME), Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus.

    The Wilderness Society is the leading public-lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.

    For a hi-res photo of Dombeck, contact

    May 18, 2010

              New beginnings in historic old building for phone company        
    AFTER starting life in 1998 in a spare bedroom at founder Vivian Woodell’s home, the Phone Co-op is set to move into a landmark building in Chipping Norton’s Market Place.
              Unleashing the potential of Toronto’s next ‘tech hub’        
    I first met Andray Domise, co-founder of Techsdale, in 2014 when he was running for Toronto City Council, and I volunteered to canvas for his campaign. The battleground was Ward 2, better known as the Toronto community of Rexdale in the northwest edge of the city. It’s quite the distance from my home downtown. It […]

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              Corporate Responsibility Practitioner Roundup: Totem Power        

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    The post Corporate Responsibility Practitioner Roundup: Totem Power appeared first on CR Magazine.

              Lee and Leahy Move to Protect Email with Due Process        

    FreedomWorks supports the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017 by Senators Mike Lee and Patrick Leahy to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of every American by amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. This outdated law was written before most people even knew what the word internet meant, and well before the world of cloud-computing and online data storage. This legislation is in dire need of an upgrade, and Sens. Lee and Leahy should be applauded for taking the lead on this important issue.

    Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, federal agencies do not need a warrant to search emails and other digital communications that are over 180 days old. But under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, Americans are explicitly protected from having their physical property compromised without due process. These same protections should apply in the digital world as well. Additionally, the Fourth Amendment clearly protects Americans against unreasonable search and seizure and requires probable cause prior to issuing a warrant. ECPA’s outdated standards for warrantless searches do not comport with the Fourth Amendment’s protection against warrantless searches.

    FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon issued the following statement:

    “In the digital world, Americans deserve the same privacy protections that we have for our papers and personal information in the physical world. Senator Lee’s efforts to reform ECPA’s outdated standards will restore the protections that our founder’s enshrined in the Constitution. I’m glad to see Sens. Lee and Leahy's continued leadership on this important issue.”

              We’re being analysed        
    A new era of data analysis is dawning, and it’s because people are sharing so much information about themselves. Christian Rudder is one of the founders of the popular online dating site OkCupid. People under 50 can go to the site, enter information about themselves and then make contact with prospective dates and mates according … Continue reading We’re being analysed
              Photo Flash: MTH Theater at Crown Center Presents AN EVENING WITH GEORGE GERSHWIN        

    The MTH Theater at Crown Center has announced casting for AN EVENING WITH George Gershwin, its third Main stage production of the season. Artistic Director Sarah Crawford will direct a four- person ensemble featuring Lauren Braton, Jacob Aaron Cullum, Molly Hammer, and Justin McCoy. This original revue is conceived, written and hosted by MTH founder George Harter, with original arrangements and music direction by Brad Cox. The production will also feature the 10 musician People's Liberation Big Band, founded and led by Cox.

    George Gershwin is among the most prolific and influential American composers of the 20th Century, known not only for popular songs for stage and screen, but classical works for the concert hall as well. The original revue, produced by special arrangement with the Estate of George and Ira Gershwin, will highlight the life and music of a composer who redefined American songbook. Songs include "Embraceable You," "I Got Rhythm," "Swanee," "Rhapsody in Blue" and many other Gershwin classics. In an added twist of innovation, the set list will be entirely accompanied by a traditional American Big Band.

    Performances run August 10 through August 27, 2017 at The MTH Theater at Crown

    Photo credit: Tim Scott

    high res photos

    Justin McCoy, Molly Hammer, Jacob Aaron Cullum

    Justin McCoy, Molly Hammer, George Harter, Lauren Braton, Jacob Aaron Cullum

    Justin McCoy, Molly Hammer, Lauren Braton, Jacob Aaron Cullum

    Jacob Aaron Cullum

    Justin McCoy

    Lauren Braton and the People's Liberation Band

    Jacob Aaron Cullum

    Lauren Braton

    Justin McCoy, George Harter, and Jacob Aaron Cullum

    Lauren Braton

    Jacob Aaron Cullum and Breanna Hayes

    Molly Hammer

    Justin McCoy

    George Harter

    Brad Cox

    People's Liberation Band

              BWW Review: LIMINAL STATE at 2017 KC Fringe Festival        

    "Liminal State - A Travel's Guide" now in performance at Musical Theatre Heritage's Main Stage in Crown Center as part of the 2017 Kansas City Fringe Festival is absolute experimental theater. Directed by Fishtank Theatre Founder Heidi Van and Logan Black, the directors offer an experiential hour spent in a state of being between what the audience knows and what the performers and directors want them to feel.

    If all this seems a little too mystic, I suspect that is because that was the intent. Honesty, this viewer didn't get it. That doesn't mean that there isn't a bunch to chew on from this presentation. There is value. "Limanal State" is deliberately conceived, impressively scored, inventively lit, delicately performed, and detailed in a most intimate way.

    The audience enters the theater and elements of the performance are already in progress. Sparse settings and set pieces in various states of being refer to more than we can know. Seven women dancers / actors flow around the stage, occasionally connecting with each other before spinning off in various orbits as if they were electrons circling a nuclear center. It would seem random if the movements were not so obviously calculated.

    The women are dressed in spandex white tops and flowing black bottoms slit up the sides to reveAl White tights. Around their necks are translucent hats, scarves, costume acoutrements - call them what you will - that can be used as props during the performance. The actors are Lindsay Adams, Jamie Turner, Emily Sukolics, Mackenzie Goodwin, Aimee Nelson, Stephanie Laaker, and Bethany Elliot.

    The show is divided into a number of scenes. Some depict birth, some life, some coming of age, some age, some death, and some show the essence of existence in between. There is no dialogue or leading character. Different ladies take the lead in different sections of the piece. A deliberateness to the performances demonstrates the seriousness and intent.

    Prior to the beginning of the exhibition, the directors explain just enough of what is going to be displayed to make the audience wonder. They say it has it roots in an idea that manifested during the U.S. post World War II occupation of Japan and the Japanese cultural reaction to thousands of new American personnel suddenly in their midst. One wonders about the possibility of a statement about current political turmoil or a comment about the introduction of nuclear weapons into 1945 Japan, but l cannot be sure what were the creator's intents.

    There is a tendency, especially on the part of my twisted mind, to say something flip about "Liminal State." Instead, I am reminded of exercises in movement and improvisation that I experienced while briefly a student at the Goodman in Chicago only in this case the exercise is taken to the next level.

    If there is a place for proper experimental theater, than Fringe is it. I didn't get it, but that doesn't mean that you (as an audience member) won't. Find your own bliss and level of involvement. "Liminal State" closes Saturday night at MTH.

              A Big Band Accompanies George Gershwin to the MTH Theater at Crown Center        

    The MTH Theater at Crown Center has announced casting for AN EVENING WITH George Gershwin, its third Main stage production of the season. Artistic Director Sarah Crawford will direct a four- person ensemble featuring Lauren Braton, Jacob Aaron Cullum, Molly Hammer, and Justin McCoy. This original revue is conceived, written and hosted by MTH founder George Harter, with original arrangements and music direction by Brad Cox. The production will also feature the 10 musician People's Liberation Big Band, founded and led by Cox.

    George Gershwin is among the most prolific and influential American composers of the 20th Century, known not only for popular songs for stage and screen, but classical works for the concert hall as well. The original revue, produced by special arrangement with the Estate of George and Ira Gershwin, will highlight the life and music of the composer who redefined The Great American Songbook. Songs include "Embraceable You," "I Got Rhythm," "Swanee," "Rhapsody in Blue" and many other Gershwin classics. In an innovative twist, the set list will be entirely accompanied by a traditional American Big Band.

    Performances run August 10 through August 27, 2017 at The MTH Theater at Crown Center. For tickets contact the MTH Theater Box Office at 816.221.6987 or visit

              DOJ announces takedown of Dark Web market where Utah teens obtained fatal doses of synthetic drug        
    By Tal Kopan WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice and its international partners announced Thursday a takedown of a massive Dark Web marketplace that was allegedly one of the world’s biggest sources for the sale of drugs and illicit materials, striking a blow to the cybercriminal underground. In shutting down AlphaBay and arresting its alleged founder, Alexandre Cazes, the Justice Department also is going after the assets of Cazes, who is charged with running the sophisticated anonymous market and was […]
              Zuker getting into the twee seaside amenity business        


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              Hélène Rochas: O Último Adeus da Diva de Rochas Femme/ Hélène Rochas: The Last Farewell of Femme Rochas' Diva        

    Hélène Rochas by Andy Warhol. Always a fine diva!

    Foi anunciada este fim de semana o falecimento de um dos ícones da moda, beleza e elegância Parisiense e mundial: Hélène Rochas, de 84 anos, ex-modelo e empresária da Maison Rochas, símbolo master do luxo couture na década de 60 e uma das marcas mais atemporais no mundo da perfumaria e da moda. Madame Rochas foi a esposa de Marcel Rochas, fundador da maison e um dos estilistas mais influentes nos anos de pós guerra, que vestiu divas do Cinema Clássico Hollywoodiano como Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford e Katharine Hepburn. A morte de Hélène foi divulgada com discrição e espera pela família já que seu último adeus foi em 06 de Agosto.

    É com pesar que recebemos a morte de Hélène, a esposa amada e empreendedora do renomado estilista, que foi eternalizada no quadro acima de Andy Warhol em 1975, foi a musa inspiradora para a criação do maravilhoso perfume Rochas Femme em 1943 e uma das mulheres mais elegantes, respeitadas e influentes da moda. Rochas sempre será lembrada quando recordamos do casal Hélène e Marcel Rochas porque, acima de tudo, o amor pela perfumaria e pela moda os uniu, logo, foi natural a criaçao de um perfume emblemático que evocasse o espírito feminino de Rochas e fosse lembrado como a declaração de amor de um homem para uma mulher. Sua partida traz à memória o quanto ela era apaixonada por perfumes, o quanto mereceu ser a diva de Femme, o quanto ela foi corajosa ao dirigir a empresa após a morte do seu marido em 1955 e vendê-la para outro grupo empresarial nos anos 70. Ao se apaixonar e casar com Hélène, Marcel Rochas disse "vou criar um perfume para você", um perfume Femme, que representa o espírito da mulher da marca, mulheres à frente do seu tempo, por isso Hélène citava que esta magnífica fragrância era como uma música de vanguarda.

    Hélène Rochas é um Ã­cone fashion, assim como é Coco Chanel. Mulheres raras, inspiradoras e perfumadas como elas nunca serão esquecidas, tornam-se eternas através de suas fragrâncias, de suas atitudes e experiências de vida. Ao sentir Femme e seu poder de elegante sedução, lá estará a musa Rochas, o perfume criado para ela pelo master Edmond Roudnitska em parceria com Marcel Rochas e Albert Grosse, com frasco luxuoso e exclusivo de Marc Lalique, e posteriormente, em 1989 revisitado por Olivier Cresp. Hélène Rochas será sempre lembrada como a mulher que construiu um império de beleza e glamour, sempre será a perfumada Femme Rochas, a memorável MaDame Rochas.

    por Cristiane Gonçalves

    English Version

    This weekend it was announced the death of the fashion icon Hélène Rochas, 84 years, ex-top model and business woman of Rochas Maison,  which was the master symbol  of the luxurious couture in the decade of 60 and one of the most timeless brands in the world of Fashion and Perfumery. Madame Rochas was the wife of Marcel Rochas, the founder of the maison and one of the most influential fashion designers in the post war times, who designed for great divas of the Classical Hollywood Cinema such as Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and Katharine Hepburn. The death of Hélène was published in a discrete and long waiting way because she died on August, 6th.

    We regret to have this painful new about Hélène's farewell, the beloved and entrepreneur wife of Monsieur Rochas. She was eternalized in the painting of Andy Warhol in 1975 (above), was the inspiring muse for the creation of the wonderful Rochas Femme perfume in 1943 and one of the most elegant, respected and influential woman in the Fashion and in the Parisienne scène. Rochas Maison will always be remembered when we remind of the couple Hélène and Marcel Rochas, because, above all, the love for Perfumery and Fashion joined them, thus, it was natural the creation of an emblematic perfume that would evoke the feminine spirit of Rochas, besides, this fragrance could represent the love declaration of a man to a woman. Her farewell brings to the memory how she was passionate for perfumes, how she deserved to be the diva for Femme, how she was brave in directing Rochas Maison after the death of her husband in 1955 and, later, sell the company for other business owner in 70's. When Marcel fell in love and get married to Hélène, he said "I am going to create a perfume for you", a perfume Femme that represents the spirit of the house, and women who are ahead  their times, then it is possible to understand why Hélène said that this delightful fragrance was like an avant garde music.

    Hélène Rochas is a Fashion icon as well as Coco Chanel is. Rare, inspiring and fragrant women are never forgotten, they become eternal through their fragrances, attitudes and life experiences. When Femme is smelt with its power of elegant seduction, Rochas muse will be there, this timeless scent created to her by the master perfumer Edmond Roudnitska in partnership with his clients Marcel Rochas and Albert Grosse, the scent of magnificient beauty through its luxury and exclusive flacon designed by Marc Lalique, and later, revisited by perfumer Olivier Cresp. Hélène Rochas will always be remembered like the woman that built an Empire of beauty and glamour, she will always be the fragrant Femme Rochas, the memorable MaDame Rochas.

    By Cristiane Gonçalves

              Eco Tour, Season 2, Episode 5        
    Andrew Lovett speaks with the co-founder of Go Green Travel Green.
              Eco Tour - Episode 4        
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              Annual Mormon Book Review        

    Carrying on from last year's review of David Robert's Devil's Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy, here is a second review of another Mormon-centered book. Enjoy!

    Jared Farmer. On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008. 455 pages. Cloth: Alkaline Paper. $29.95.

    From the early days of the inception of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS), the Mormons were concerned with place-making. Joseph Smith, the religion’s founder, initially identified Jackson County, Missouri as the “center place,” where the Garden of Eden had once stood. However, the devout were soon thrown out of the state by the governor, and moved on to Nauvoo, Illinois. Later, after Smith was assassinated, the new Mormon leader, Brigham Young, turned his gaze farther west and in 1846-1847 led a party of followers to Utah, which he claimed as “Deseret”—their Zion. There, the Saints found their “place apart” from the rest of the world.

    Jared Farmer’s 2008 book On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape adroitly traces Mormon place-making in Utah. His story is ostensibly about Mount Timpanogos, a landmark known as “Timp” that unites the skyline above Orem and Provo. But the history involves much more than the mountain. It is a microcosm of Angloamerican settlement in the west. Using a singular landmark, Farmer delves into the importance of creating place out of space. He asks why Mount Timpanogos usurped the importance of the historically and agriculturally significant Lake Utah, and how the Mormon settlers manipulated their turbulent history with the Ute Indians in order to make myths and claim places as their own. The book deals with two centuries of history, as well as the interaction between varied cultures and the sometimes contradictory dogma of the LDS Church. Though complex, On Zion’s Mount is a wonderfully executed book—well written, insightful, and an excellent example of how to use local history to illuminate greater historical narratives.

    The book is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different step in the climb to the veneration of “Timp.” The first, “Liquid Antecedents,” deals with the early history of the Ute Indians and the Mormons. It also concentrates on how bodies of water were significant to residents and settlers in the Utah Valley. This section is compelling, as Farmer explains just how distinct the freshwater Lake Utah was in the arid Great Basin. The lake was a natural landmark for the Utes, who relied heavily on its plentiful supply of fish. In the mid-1800s, it became a landmark for the Mormons, who arrived predisposed to seek out monuments in their new “holy land.”

    Despite the Mormons’ intention to find a locale that was disconnected from the rest of the world, the Utah Valley, where the first waves of Mormons settled, was not a “place apart.” It was populated with Ute Indians, who had lived in the area for centuries. The wellspring for many of these Utes was Utah Lake, a freshwater reservoir southeast of the Great Salt Lake. The Indians there called themselves Timpanogos Nuche—“Rocky River Fish Eaters.” They identified themselves in connection with the body of water. The Mormons entered into an unstable relationship with the Timpanogos; an association characterized by violent fits, uneasy alliances, and contradictory feelings. This fluctuating friendship came with a bond to Utah Lake.

    Both the Timpanogos and the Mormons emphasized the importance of place. The Utes classified bands by “geographic food names” like “Lake People” and “Fish-Eaters.” (25) The Saints were concerned with place as it related to Millenialism. While other religions affected by the Second Great Awakening believed in a prediction of when Christ would return, the Mormons were concerned with where. (36) When the Mormons arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, the hot springs, streams, and of course the Great Salt Lake all contributed to the Saints’ belief that they had found their promised land. In the waters they took healing baths, baptized their children, and fished. These same waters had been frequented by the Utes for decades, if not centuries.

    From their introduction onward, relations between the Mormons and the Timpanogos were rocky. In 1849, the former noticed that livestock was missing, and rallied a group to ride south and confront Little Chief, a Ute leader who lived on the shores of Utah Lake. The chief turned the Saints towards some “mean Ewtes,” who they subsequently slaughtered for stealing.(62) Three days afterward, a band of Mormon men decided to relocate their families to Utah Lake. The Saints settled in the midst of hostilities between bands of Utes. In order to secure their own safety, the settlers at Utah Lake as well as the LDS leadership engaged in unsteady diplomacy and occasional fights with different Indian contingents.

    To complicate the already problematic situation, Mormons arrived in Utah with preconceptions of Native Americans. In fact, Indians were integral to the burgeoning religion’s discourse. According to LDS dogma, Indians were descendants of the “Lamanites,” once followers of Christ who traveled to America before the Babylon captivity. In the New World, the hostile sect broke away from their brothers, the “Nephites.” For this, God cursed the Lamanites with dark skin. The ill-fated group waged war on the Nephites and erased any fragments of Christianity from the land. The last Nephite scribe, Moroni, was the impetus for the Mormon religion. He came to Joseph Smith in a dream and told him where to find the scriptural record of this lost history. With his revelation of the sanctity of the Lamanites, Smith incorporated proselytizing to Indians into the Book of Mormon. The descendants of the Lamanites who converted would be saved during the Second Coming. More importantly, they would assist Christ in destroying the earth as soldiers of the apocalypse. This created a contradictory idea of Native Americans: “They were cursed to be inferior yet promised to be superior. They were destined to save the world, yet they couldn’t save themselves.”(57) Furthermore, dealing with real-life Utes proved harder than the LDS leadership imagined.

    The tension in Saints’ beliefs between “Indian-as-brother and Indian-as-other” continued to influence their interactions with natives around Utah Lake.(61) Young was wary of the amicable relations between his followers and the Timpanogos and wished that the two groups not mix. In 1850, following the murder of an Indian man, the Mormons and the Utes engaged in the “Indian War.” Later, LDS leadership chastised natives for engaging in slave trade with a New Mexican. Though in Mormon thought there were some redeemable Indians, by 1860 Young was determined that the Utes ought to be displaced. He wrote to Washington, D.C.: “It is our wish that the Indian title should be extinguished, and the Indians removed from our Territory (Utah) and that for the best of reasons, because they are doing no good here to themselves or any body else.”(82) By the latter half of the 1860s most of the Timpanogos people moved to the Uinta Basin, estranged from the place upon which they based their identity.

    Following the removal of the Utes, Utah Lake experienced a surge and then a decline in popularity that mirrored the fate of other regional waterways. In the late 19th century, tourists came to the area to take in the healing waters of the hot springs, the Great Salt Lake, and Utah Lake. Additionally, the latter continued to be a distinguished fishery. However, this fame did not last. In the first half of the 20th century, fires destroyed a number of Salt Lake resorts. Overfishing and the introduction of nonnative species affected Utah Lake. The Great Depression and WWII furthered the destruction of water sport popularity. The federal government opened the Geneva Steel plant on Utah Lake; its smokestacks and pollution diminished the reservoir’s beauty and water quality. Even after the plant closed in 2001, the lake had lost its reputation. Residents considered it dirty, shallow, and full of undesirable fish. Furthermore, during the twentieth century Utahans rethought their sense of identity. Instead of revering the hydrological geography of Utah, its residents had turned their gaze upward to the peaks.

    The second section of the book, “Making a Mountain: Alpine Play,” discusses how Utahans built Mount Timpanogos into a landmark. Farmer makes great use of the exclusion of certain places as well as their later inclusion. Using topographical resources from the four western surveys, as well as mormon settler drawings and maps, Farmer shows how Timpanogos went from being an undefined ridge in the Wasatch Range to a distinct massif that overshadowed both the larger Mount Nebo to the south and the historically significant Lake Utah to the west.

    As in the first three chapters, Farmer employs LDS beliefs to form the basis of his argument. The Saints’ theological sense of place included an emphasis on mountains. Settlers viewed their new homeland through religion; mountains pervade world religions as the geographical pathway to God. Peaks were of special importance to Mormons, since Joseph Smith purportedly prophesied that they would “become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.”(150) When the Saints arrived in Deseret, they labeled many geographic sites with biblical names, including Mount Nebo, the highest peak in the Wasatch range. However, in the 1880s Mormons began to secularize their environment. This shift was motivated by the United States Congress, which outlawed theocracy and polygamy. During what Mormons call “The Great Accommodation,” the Saints rethought the peaks in a patriotic light.

    The King Survey was the first to identify “Tim-pan-o-gos Peak” in 1869.(164) However, no one considered it a defining aspect of the region, and many could not even see it; the massif was just a part of the jagged wall between Provo and American Fork Canyons. It wasn’t until the early decades of the 20th century that residents of Provo “began to visualize a mountain.”(167) The view of Timpanogos from Provo changed as the town relocated to the east of its original home at old Fort Utah. Spurred by the historic importance of mountains to the Mormons as well as the “European vogue of alpine aesthetics,” it was not unnatural for the residents of Provo to revere a nearby peak.(141) By 1910, the town described itself in relation to the mountain.

    The King Survey did more than just identify Mount Timpanogos—the survey also pronounced it (erroneously) the highest peak in the Wasatch Range. In reality, that title belongs to Mount Nebo. However, the claim persisted even after the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey corrected the record, and tourists began arriving to climb the “highest mountain in the Wasatch.”(175) With the boosterism of Eugene “Timpanogos” Roberts, Brigham Young University’s athletics director, and the national increase in the popularity of hiking, “Timp” became a recreational landmark. Roberts led yearly hikes to the top of the massif, and along with the claim that they were climbing the highest peak in the Wasatch, boosters “endlessly repeated claims that the Annual Timpanogos Hike ranked as the biggest hike in America, the greatest community hike in the world, and the largest ‘pilgrimage’ to any mountain over 10,000 feet.”(202) The peak, as well as its ascent were powerful symbols of community strength.

    Though the hike was discontinued in the 1970s, the peak remained emblematic of Provo. The Forest Service designated Timpanogos as wilderness. They banned the grazing of domestic animals and introduced mountain goats to the area in 1981. Meanwhile, Provo and Orem transformed from farming communities into suburbia and Robert Redford bought and built up Sundance. These changes emphasized the dichotomy between wilderness and urban areas. With the growth in population of the two cities and the ski resort, Timpanogos increased in importance. In 1996 the mountain’s significance was solidified in Mormon minds when the LDS Church built Mount Timpanogos Temple. Farmer ends this section with a rumination on environmentalism. Despite all the reverence for place, Mormons are not conservationists, and do not engage in preservation of their landmark. “Sense,” he concludes, “is not the same as sensibility.”(238)

    The final section of the book, “Making a Mountain: Indian Play,” investigates how “Timp” was marked with cultural meaning. Farmer examines the place name as well as the legends that surround it. In the nineteenth century, white Americans like Henry Schoolcraft and Lydia Sigourney advocated the use of Indian place-names, despite the usual miscommunication, misappropriation, or blatant invention of “native” words. The American government continued the trend by accepting Indianist names of states. In Utah, “Timpanogos” was a long-remembered name in the Provo region. The Indians themselves were displaced to the Uinta Band, and though the name had originally designated a river, the waterway had been renamed “Provo River.” For locals, associating the mountain with a Native word “gave the landmark a heightened semblance of antiquity and authenticity.”(281)

    Ironically, to further this authenticity, Eugene “Timpanogos” Roberts provided the mountain with a fake Indian legend. “The Story of Utahna and Red Eagle, an Indian Legend of Timpanogos” retold a familiar Angloamerican tale of the Indian Princess—the “dark-skinned Sappho” throwing herself from a precipice in response to a suitor.(287) These stories, all of which have suspect providence, used Native American tragedies to deepen American antiquity.(297) In a land without any ancient city walls or moldering castles, a sense of historic depth was created through legend. Additionally, the legends of leaping maidens alleviated whites’ guilt on displacing the Indians across the continent. The tales emphasized either brutish men that the women could only escape by committing suicide or savage societies that forced women to neglect her chosen lover. Either ended with the implicit message: the race of Indians is uncivilized. More importantly, the destruction of these Native maids was self-imposed. In an age when America was dealing with the morality of Indian Removal, it was more convenient for white storytellers that the natives to make the choice of self-destruction.(314)

    The Legend of Timpanogos gained further footing by its performance in Utah. People repeated the story of Utahna and Red Eagle, and the tale influenced an opera, a ballet, and an oratorio. Locals further promoted the fake history by dressing up in war paint and moccasins and climbing the mountain “as Indians.” The mountain was seen as the embodiment of a Native woman; like the “Sleeping Ute” in Colorado, “Timp’s” ridge resembles a slumbering Indian maid. The Mormon use of Indianist music, storytelling, and fashion to create the Legend of Timpanogos was paradoxical in that they paid homage to a romanticized version of the people that they had forced out of the Utah Valley—the Timpanogos’ ancestral home. These cultural performances replaced history with both fiction and selective memory. Modern residents of Utah formed their own heritage; no matter that their memory is based on a fallacy.

    But of course it does matter, which is Farmer’s point. Mormons produced a heritage that all but erased the Utes, just as it effaced the importance of Utah Lake. Instead of concentrating on their forebears’ efforts to colonize a “place apart,” which would necessitate emphasis on their interactions with the Indian inhabitants, Saints overwhelming focused their attention on the successive journeys westward. LDS theologians went so far as to modify the meaning of a Lamanite, so that Amerindians lost their scriptural status.(370) When they did incorporate Native Americans into their heritage, they did so with Indianist fictional stories that obscured history with romanticism. In this way, Farmer’s book acts as a historical monument, countering the heritage attached to Mount Timpanogos. Using “Timp” as a framework for his study, Farmer is able to resurrect the forgotten history of the Timpanogos Nuches and Lake Utah.

    On Zion’s Mount is an outstanding cultural, local, environmental, and religious history. Farmer engages readers with his lucid prose even as he presents the tangled story of Mormons, Utes, and the western landscape. Such excellent writing is especially important when one is reminded of some of the recently popular books on Mormon history: Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven and David Roberts’ Devil’s Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy.19 Krakauer and Roberts are both professional journalists and authors; their work is aimed at the populace rather than the academy. And yet Farmer rivals these works in its composition and surpasses them in its historic breadth and depth. More importantly for scholars, his argument illuminates the American inclination to transform its landscape and pinpoints those transformations in culture and historic memory. Overall, Timpanogos’ jagged ridge proved an excellent vantage point from which to view Utah’s past.
              WikiLeaks’ Assange appeals UK extradition ruling        
    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will on Tuesday start his appeal against a British court ruling that he can be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape. The 40-year-old Australian will take his legal battle to the High Court in London for a two-day hearing, in the hope of reversing the Febr...
              WikiLeaks’ Assange to appeal extradition in July        
    LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will fight a British judge’s decision to extradite him to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault in a two-day hearing in July, it was announced on Wednesday. The hearing at the High Court in London will take place on July 12-13, the court said. Assa...
              Live58 Celebrates First Founder’s Dinner        
    Live58’s First Annual Founder’s Dinner was celebrated on Sunday October 9th, 2016 during an intimate gathering. During the night we honored the vision of our organization’s founder Tony Neeves who created Live58 in order to awaken and mobilize the local church to follow the heart of God and serve the poor and the oppressed. This
              Mark Sham (Suits & Sneakers)        
    5FM — An entrepreneur and aspiring story teller, Mark Sham is the founder and Suits & Sneakers. On 5Talks we'll be chatting about the importance of self-development and how to remain relevant in an unpredictable workplace by unlocking their entrepreneurial spirit. Though a huge advocate for formal education, Sham claims his success is not a by-product of the classroom or a textbook, but of experience and informal learning.
              Ezlyn Barends (DreamGirlsSA)        
    5FM — Founder of the Dad Fund, through this organisation, Ezlyn created the DreamGirls International Outreach and Mentoring Programme in South Africa. Described as a sisterhood of young female professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders who actively mentor and guide teen girls in underprivileged communities to be successful in their pursuit of higher education and in life in general. The society focuses on encouraging young girls to attend universities and colleges as a means to be able to contribute positively and meaningfully to society.
              High Tech Fashion Takes the Catwalk at FashionWare Hosted by Living in Digital Times at Augmented World Expo 2014        

    FashionWare Runway Show Features the Latest in Design, Smart Fabrics, Technologies and Accessories; Robin Raskin, Founder of Living in Digital Times, to Moderate Wearables Expert Panel

    (PRWeb April 21, 2014)

    Read the full story at


    Company history: Back in 2013, the founders of LessonsGoWhere (LGW) realised that lesson seekers were unaware of more than 80% of class providers who have no online presence in Singapore. Furthermore, enrolling for a class...

    The post LessonsGoWhere appeared first on Demystify Asia.

              Tribute to Lis        
    Tribute to Lis
    #tributetolis #daringbakers #daringkitchen
    This is the most difficult post I have written.

    Lis the co-founder of the Daring Kitchen die suddenly a few days ago.

    My first challenge (eclairs)

    I first joined the Daring Bakers in August 2008 a little in trepidation and in awe of the baking skills shown in the forums. I remember my first challenge I made cherry flavoured eclairs and after I posted the results I received such encouraging and kind comments I was so impressed and inspired to continue improving my skills. The forums were full of people all dedicated to baking and to making a loving community joined together by Lis and Ivonne (the co-founders of the Daring Bakers). Lis was such a inspiring person she was the driving force of the evolution of the Daring Bakers into the Daring Kitchen (consisting of the Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks challenges).

    Over the years I got to know Lis very well, her wicked down-to-Earth humour had me in stitches on so many occasions her kind gentle manner and warm soul always shone through she was such an inspiration and a force of nature in the baking world.

    When I hear the news of her sudden passing away I was in shock and literally broken hearted. I'm so sad over the news.

    To be honest I'm finding this too difficult to write.

    Lis was instrumental in my becoming a better baker and cook, her spirit will always be remember and honoured by me. From now on whenever I make pavlova I will think of her since she was intrigued and fascinated by the Australian version.

    Here is a link to her obituary 

              Single quote that summarizes state of USA        
    A blogger called MichiganFarmer has quoted "Our totalitarian government has, by stealthy encroachment, taken our basic rights away and is forcing us to buy them back as privileges, permits, and licenses. This is not freedom.". Lets break this down.

    Source -

    totalitarianism, a modern autocratic government in which the state involves itself in all facets of society, including the daily life of its citizens. A totalitarian government seeks to control not only all economic and political matters but the attitudes, values, and beliefs of its population, erasing the distinction between state and society. The citizen's duty to the state becomes the primary concern of the community, and the goal of the state is the replacement of existing society with a perfect society.

    Encroachment is a term which implies "advance beyond proper limits"

    Human rights refers to "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. Examples of rights and freedoms which are often thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to work, and the right to education.

    Permit may refer to:

    *Work permit
    *Learner's permit
    *Permit to travel
    *Construction permit
    *Home Return Permit
    *One-way Permit

    Does any of this sound like a free society? - What happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? We all need shelter, water and food and even these basic rights have been violated.

    Shelter - Need building permit + Ton of fees

    Food - development permit for over an acre of land in California + requires water, hunting licenses and fishing licenses.

    Water - illegal to drill a well in California for your own needs without using a C-57 licensed driller specializing costing you about $6000-20,000.


    I thought that this is the one exact sentence that shows us the state of our country and it's distance from the founders. Jefferson believed that the people would have to occasionally rise up and wash out the government and start over.

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson

    Each day that goes by with the government is becoming more cradle to grave, anti free-market and anti-capitalist. The people want the government to allow us to have our own energy independence. The people are sending a clear message to the politicians and they are not listening. It's time to continue the Revolution Ron Paul started. Government is too big, too costly and is strangling it's working class by the neck to support a welfare state. Something will change in time. I have personally lost faith in our system, it's politicians and activist judges. It is no longer functioning to it's original purpose. I can only trust that God is putting us through this turmoil to bring us a reformer.

    To the liberals - YOU cannot put enough solar panels on your car to make it function- plus the power to charge batteries has to come from somewhere- either more solar or wind power.

    WE NEED DOMESTIC OIL RIGHT NOW. There is a gap between technologies that may be viable and the available infrastructure such as the state with hydrogen. Live in reality - most liberals would rather see our internal destruction with our economy before we drill more oil on our lands and make more refineries.
              Book Love! Totó quiere la manzana/ Toto's Apple by Mathieu Lavoie        

    new charming picture book:
    Toto's Apple by Mathieu Lavoie
    Mathieu is co-founder of Comme des Géants publishers in Montreal,
    (take a look at their published books!)
    and you'll find a little about the process of making the book on Minerva Reads

    what can i say about the book?
    i simply love it!
    the main character and the beautiful illustrations
    caught me at the very first moment.
    ( yes! i'm a worms fan since Scarry's Lowly Worm!! )
    love the design, with solid bold colors and lots of white
     that goes perfectly together with the simple story,
    and a short and plain text.
    besides, the story is really good too!
    the book is about a very creative and stubborn worm,
     that wants an apple and all the adventures he's going through
    while attempting to achieve that dream apple.
    it's such a charming and naïve worm...
    so full of silly ideas and failing plans
    that make me smile.
    (don't miss how he disguises himself!!)
    even the end of the story is wonderful and unexpected.
    well hope you enjoy it!!!

    happy week!

    libro bonito y gracioso a la vista!
    Totó quiere la manzana
    (tengo la versión en catalán,
    En Totó vol la poma)
    de Mathieu Lavoie.
    el autor es cofundador y editor en Comme des Géants,
    una editorial muy guay de Montreal, publican unos libros preciosos!
    además he encontrado un post en este blog Minerva Reads
    sobre el proceso de creación del libro que está muy bien.

    qué te voy a contar sobre el libro?
    me ha encantado! el gusanito protagonista me enamoró al instante,
    porque soy una fan total de los gusanitos desde que
    conocía a Gusi de Richard Scarry.
    Las ilustraciones y diseño tan limpio,
    con esas masas sólidas de colores y tanto blanco funcionan a la perfección
    acompañando una historia muy sencilla y con poquito texto.
    además la historia es buenísima,
    cuenta la historia de Totó que es un gusano muy intrépido y creativo,
    y sobre todo testarudo, que se ha encaprichado de una manzana
     y pasa las mil y una para conseguirla.
    no te pierdas sus disfraces y cómo consigue disfrazarse,
    genial ;)
    tiene unas ocurrencias muy buenas y sus planes casi siempre fallan,
    digo casi siempre porque al final...
    bueno, no lo cuento, lo tendrás que descubrir,
    el final también es muy bueno.
    ya me contarás si te ha gustado :)

    feliz semana!! 

              GUNTHER Portfolio twitter Weekly Updates #Solar #PV – 2014-08-08        
    RT @danahull: No check for $500M? RT @TedGaines: Delivered a gold shovel to @TeslaMotors today to show them CA ready to break ground on the… -> RT @pv_tech: QCells founder Anton Milner pops up in Philippines with unsubsidised 6MW PV project #Solar -> RT @pv_tech: QCells founder Anton Milner pops up in Philippines with […]
              Spotlight: Talking sustainable fashion with Fitico Sportswear        

    While fair fashion is increasingly in demand and the awareness of responsible wardrobe becomes more evident in today’s customers shopping patterns, new sustainable brands come across variety of challenges in a bid to establish themselves. Sophie Thalhammer, the founder of …

    The post Spotlight: Talking sustainable fashion with Fitico Sportswear appeared first on Vienna.

              Eco-September Issue (part 2)        
    4. Eco-Fashion brands
    I can say that its not easy to find eco- clothes that just bright my eyes. Most of the sustainable clothes are made of natural fabric, it means there are a huge tendency to look like yoga clothes. t-shirt, sweater and pants that look very comfortable but not necessary attractive to a fashionista criteria.
    But surprisingly, I found some nice stuffs. Yeahhh! Let's check this out.

    The fashion designer of Thieves desires to harmonize the ethical commitments to sustainability with her passion for design

    Alisson Parris is in my top top brands!
    The founders’ commitment to eco-responsibility, the line uses sustainable, organic and/or repurposed fabrics without sacrificing style. The line also uses recycled PET satin, made from recycled soda bottles, to line many of its pieces.

    Label is Natalie and Shawna brand and they are deeply committed to creating clothing from an ethical standpoint, utilizing, wherever possible, organic, renewable or reclaimed fibers for their garments. All production is by local contractors, with t-shirt designs drawn and printed by hand.
    (I like this label, the collection has good key clothes and it's very young and fresh fashion. Easily to find in any urban outfitters stores.)

    I live Mr Larkin. It's so feminine, so classic and chic!
    In the website, it says that it's an eco project and the brand just participate at green fashion show in ny.

    Loyale Clothing is a girlie and young collection. There are plaid shirts and dress, cutie short dresses and a very romantic bikini.

    Loyale is a fashion-forward, sustainable clothing company that aims to make the simple act of getting dressed in the morning world

    Leila Hafzi is definetely the kind of clothes to go to the red carpet. Glamourous, sexy and chic, I can imagine Angelina Jolie wearing it and making a green manifest. Awesome!

    The highlight thing at Sterwart Brown is the knitting sweater! Love it!

    I definetely LOVE Rani Jones. It's a brand that really understand what fashion is! Even the fashion catalogue, isn't the green brand stereotype with nature and yoga atmosphere. It's nice to see eco- brands like that and realize that you can be green and fashion at the same time! uhuuu rane jones rulesss!

    Sans is the green conceptual fashion brand. I love it! I dont need say anything, just look at their clothes and you'll understand me what i'm talking about.

    Goodone is fresh and young! A lot of colorfull and patchwork hoods! very nice!

    Kaight is a blog and also sell clothes online! Good stuffs!

    Gorman fashion is very feminine and they are worried about the carbon neutral.

              Activities: Marine Mammal course in Belize!        

    Ecology, Behavior & Conservation of Marine Mammals, A Unique Field Course in the Drowned Cayes, Belize

    DATES: May 26 - June 8, 2010 (inclusive of travel)

    Caryn Self-Sullivan, Ph.D., Bruce A. Schulte, Ph.D., Katherine S. LaCommare, M.S.
    LOCATION: Spanish Bay Conservation & Research Center at HP Adventure Lodge,
    COSTS: $2595 includes, housing, meals, field trips, ground & water transfer fees, research & materials fees; DOES NOT include airfare, books, tips, or credit hours
    DEADLINES: Early Registration ($50 Discount) & and Deposit due March 1st, 2010
    MINIMUM / MAXIMUM CLASS SIZE: 8-24 students

    Want to be a Marine Mammal Biologist? Or a Behavioral Ecologist? Here's your chance to join our research team for two intense weeks of total immersion into the world of Animal Behavior, Antillean manatees, bottlenose dolphins in Belize! You will become totally immersed into island living, the study of ethology (animal behavior) and the biology of manatees and dolphins through lectures and learning activities, literature review, debate, projects, and field research. This unique field course combines an overview of the ecology, behavior, and conservation of sirenians and cetaceans with hands-on manatee & dolphin research in the Drowned Cayes, Belize. You'll spend 3-4 hours on the water each day learning about the environment as we explore a labyrinth of mangrove islands, seagrass beds, and coral patches searching for elusive manatees and charismatic dolphins. You'll collect behavioral and environmental data and learn about photo-id techniques; you'll develop a Fact Sheet or Activity Booklet about a related topic to be published by the Hugh Parkey Foundation for Marine Awareness & Education and/or Sirenian International. Extra-curricular activities include diving or snorkeling at Turneffe Atoll, and exploring an ancient Maya City.

    This unique course has a work load equivalent to 4 university credit hours and is divided into 4 major components: lectures and learning activities (~1 hour per day), independent reading and assignments (~2 hour per day), data collection in the field (~4 hours per day), project development (~1 hours per day) and debate/group discussion of reading materials (~1 hours per day).

    Want credit towards your degree? No problem! Sign up for independent study with an advisor at your school and pay the appropriate fees. The course has 70 contact hours and is comparable to a 4 credit university course. Just have you advisor contact Dr. Self- Sullivan ( to discuss the requirements for credit. Remember, if you are interested in getting independent study credit for this course at your school, you must make arrangements IN ADVANCE with BOTH your advising faculty and the course instructor. Credit hour fees must be paid directly to your school and you must fulfill any Study Abroad requirements at your school.

    COURSE CONTENT OVERVIEW (Lectures & Learning Activities)

    - The Order Sirenia: Manatees and Dugongs of the World
    - The Order Cetacea: Whales and Dolphins of the World
    - The Local Research Project: Manatee & Dolphins of the Drowned Cayes
    - Animal Behavior: Ethology and Behavioral Ecology - The Scientific Perspectives
    - Ecology - Interactions between Manatees, Dolphins, and their Environment
    - Marine Mammals under Human Care in Zoos and Oceanariums
    - Marine Mammal Science: Research Design, Data Collection Methods,
    - Analysis of Data, and Interpretation of Results
    - Marine Mammal Conservation and Advocacy: The Status of Extant Marine Mammal Species


    We recommend two books (optional) as primary resources on manatees and dolphins:
    - The Florida Manatee: Biology and Conservation, by Roger L. Reep and Robert K. Bonde, University Press of Florida
    - The Bottlenose Dolphin: Biology and Conservation, by John E. Reynolds, Samantha D. Eide, and Randall S. Wells, University Press of Florida

    A selection of primary literature will be sent to you in electronic format in advance of the course. Students are required to print out these articles and bring them with them to Belize.There is also a library of books and archived journals, including Society of Marine Mammalogy, Animal Behavior, and Conservation Biology journals, in our library onsite in Belize.


    The course fee of $2595 includes all transportation, course, field trip, and living expenses from your arrival at the PWG airport in Belize on May 26th to your departure on June 8th. You are responsible for tips, insurance, and round-trip airfare to Belize (BZE).


    To register for course, please visit

    For more information on the course, please email or

    For more information on the instructors, please visit and

    For more information on the facilities, please visit

    Download a Course Flyer at

    Caryn Self-Sullivan, Ph.D.
    President & Co-founder, Sirenian International
    Visiting Assistant Professor, Georgia Southern University
    Mobile: 540.287.8207 | Fax: 540.242.9196
    Email: or

              Cupid Would Have Loved Candy Hearts        

    Romantic American colonists certainly did. They had their own form of text messages hundreds of years ago, no internet required. Instead, they used candy messages — they would give gifts of homemade hard candy with messages etched into the surface to their sweethearts. Years later the founder NECCO and his brother, who developed the process […]

    The post Cupid Would Have Loved Candy Hearts appeared first on Eat Out, Eat Well.

              North Carolina FC Has Come a Long Way in Two Years. But Is Raleigh Ready to Be an MLS Town?        
    Last week, the team made its pitch to league officials—including a $150 million downtown stadium Steve Malik moves quick. Less than two years ago, in the fall of 2015, the enthusiastic, blunt-spoken founder of Cary's Medfusion bought the Carolina RailHawks, an eight-year-old soccer team plagued by mismanagement and scandal and trying to shake off perpetually mediocre attendance.…
              Watch: Skiing the peak seen on every Coors Light, Colorado’s Wilson Peak        

    Fun fact: the mountainous design on every Coors Light bottle and can is based off of real, skiable peaks in Colorado’s San Juans. And Wilson Peak, the most prominent mountain seen right in the middle of Coors’ design, was recently skied by two very ambitious dudes, Adam Moszynski (co-founder of Aspen-based Corbeaux Clothing) and Noah […]

    The post Watch: Skiing the peak seen on every Coors Light, Colorado’s Wilson Peak appeared first on Freeskier Magazine.

              Cross factor        

    Reality TV show producers are getting really desperate for topics. On the face of it, this would seem unlikely, given that reality is infinitely interesting, but to run out of ideas you have to redefine “reality” in a novel way. You have to take the word “reality” to mean “Start from an absurd premise. Gather a few people with moderate to severe psychological problems. Put them under pressure until they break.”

    Granted this sounds like the actions you’d expect from a cult. So, it’s appropriate that a new UK Channel 4 “reality” show is called Make me a Christian. A crack team of four types of Christian try to change a comically diverse set of subjects.

    Charlie Brooker’s introduction to this series in Saturday’s Guardian said more or less all you ‘d want to know about it.

    In true oversimplified TV-conflict tradition, it’s a clash of absurd extremities. The Christians, for instance, consist of an evangelical preacher, a lady vicar, a Catholic priest and – very much heading up the pack – the Reverend George Hargreaves, founder of Operation Christian Vote, and the Christian Party, and the Scottish Christian Party, and the Welsh Christian Party. If it’s Christian and a Party, chances are George is its figurehead. He scatters Christian joy like a muckspreader flings shit: indiscriminately and everywhere.
    Said Christians are pitted against a group of volunteers containing the following widely representative social types: a lesbian schoolteacher, a tattooed militant atheist biker, a white Muslim convert, a boozing fannyhound who claims to have slept with over 150 women, and a lapdancing witch. Nice work, C4. I’m sure we can all learn from this. Let battle commence.

    The atheist (militant, tattooed, biker, yada, yada) complained about brainwashing. He refused to even go into York Minster, on the grounds that it was built just to keep the peasants down and had nothing to do with the “love” that this programme is supposed to be about. Well, this may have been pretty a statement of fact, but his attitide didn’t exactly endear him the other volunteers. The others hated him for his strident opposition, seemingly becoming more responsive to the evangelical message just to prove that their manners were better.

    While the evangelists were cleaning out the suspiciously generic items of decor in the lesbian’s and lapdancer’s homes, the Catholic priest was bringing fresh kitsch to the home of the 17-year-old lapsed catholic father-to-be. A terrifying picture of the Pope, for instance. Some icons. You know the sort of thing. The participant’s girlfriend drew the line at one item of sculpture. “I don’t think that a dead man hanging on a cross is a nice thing to have hanging up in your house.”

    When I say that the decor was “suspicious,” I mean this in the sense that the mansions of minor rock stars are suspcious on MTV Cribs. Just as the owners of many Cribs don’t seem to have ever walked through the front door before the start of filming, these people’s homes seem to have been madeover in special “reality” mode. They didn’t seem to have a book or a photograph that didn’t fit into their TV programme persona. You didn’t see the random trash that turns up in real people’s rooms. The witch’s books seemed to have been bought by the yard from the New Age section of Waterstone’s. It looked as if none had ever been opened.

    She didn’t really seem like a great reader. For a start, she’s a lapdancer and would-be glamour model who has had her chest and nose cosmetically enhanced and who owns thousands of pounds worth of hideous and expensive shoes. Call me a godawful snob, but there is nothing in that list that you would usually associate with the profile of a deeply philosophical thinker.

    She was a great crier, though. She was sobbing at the first suggestion from her selected christianiser that her lifestyle may not be ideal. Well, he put it much more forcefully. He said she was chasing the false idols of materialism and demonic powers and was on a trajectory to hell.

    Her achievements to date don’t suggest philiosophical depths, but they do suggest a pretty low level of respect for herself and an excessive willingness to please. So, she seemed to me to be fair game for a conversion.

    Her evangelist clearly felt the same. He said “She is a broken lady … but it’s a good place to be to welcome Jesus into your life.”

    How transparent is that? The more fucked up the person, the more likely that the Christian can get them to accept Jesus into their lives, yada yada. What was it the biker chap said about brainwashing, again?

    The religious converters have been recruited as a spiritual makeover team. The equivalent of those TV presenters who tell receptive morons how overweight they are, how filthy their houses are or how badly they are dressed.

    It’s exactly in tune with standard reality tv – a messed-up person is encouraged to fall to bits on camera for the entertainment of the masses. In return they get access to the magic of fame and, if they are really lucky, a couple of years in which they are mildly interesting to the readers of Heat and can earn good money for nothing.

    I tried to come up with good arguments for why the existence of a religious makeover show is even more disgusting. But I’m not going to bother. It just somehow seems even more repellent when religion comes into it.

              A Community Advocate Thanking Her Community        

    Today marks a personal “time to rejoice” as I have the honor of being nominated a member of the newly created Advisory Board of Somesso , a “recognized neutral platform for corporate stakeholders to explore, share and apply the tools and thinking necessary to benefit from the potential of social media.” You can hear founder Arjen Strijker, speaking of Somesso in this podcast). One could say my participation in Somesso began with a serendipitous meeting with blogger/analyst David Terrar, during the 2006 SAP Sapphire Event. Three years later, David introduced me to Arjen and Somesso, and got me linked up with some very excellent thinkers and movers and shakers.

    But the truth is I owe this recognition entirely to, my much loved SCN community, and wish to extend a tremendous thanks to each member for the community engagement experience provided me daily. It is the quality of this participation that gives me any credence as a community advocate.

    Arjen Strijker has proved a “class act” in creating corporate social media events in Europe combining top talent speakers (list too long to mention here) with classy think tank venues in places like London, Zurich and Barcelona. While I was an American Evangelist in London at Somesso last May, ranting about Leading a Stakeholder Community, I was fortunate to meet Stowe Boyd (stoweboyd and the /messengers) a fellow ranter who spoke of: Unmarketing and the ‘Webful Brand’

    “If brands are to have any juice in this new online future, those that are advocating them will have to drop all the mass media shouting, and move past the ‘markets are conversations’ trivialization of the web, too. Their representatives will have to roll up their sleeves and do something, shoulder to shoulder, aspiring to make something in the world, collectively with us, not just selling us the parts.”
    That was in May 2009. In November 2009 I returned again to Somesso in Zurich where friend and fellow SAP Mentor, Dennis Howlett, caught me speaking about How to Kill an Online Community . I also met there with Anne McCrossan (Visceral Business) who spoke about Collaboration in Finance. I found Anne a powerful and articulate speaker in her own right and learned she is also an active member of, Seth’s Godin’s invitation-only online community.

    So now a year after meeting Stowe Boyd, I found myself today in Stowe’s Social Business Edge event in my own, NYC. Because of the international #ashtag crisis, one of my other favorite Somesso speakers, Lee Bryant, needed to be teleported in from London to do his session in video format. I’m looking forward to further postings around Stowe’s speakers today, but you can see many of Arjen’s Somesso contents in slideshares and video recordings at

    Anyone interested in online collaboration and the future of communities of practice would do well to take some time to listen to practitioners, community advocates, and critics discuss the challenges. I found it very inspiring that today at the event, ZDnet Dion Hinchcliffe commented to another participant, that you, SCN, are the living, breathing instance of what other communities aspire to be, in terms of passion and presence.

              Membaca Konfigurasi Gerak Ruang Urban pada Perempatan Kayutangan Malang melalui Sifat Kegerbangan        
    The precious learning of philosophical history from the time that Ancient Greek is intersection phenomena. Two main streets axis of Malang City between South-North and East-West arisen intersection at Kayutangan junction. Karsten, the founder plan and design of Malang City called it as gerbang. How many significantly this junction with urban space? What contribution and […]
              If companies were countries, here’s what our currency would look like        
    This week's Apple earnings call revealed that the company has an absolutely mind-boggling cash hoard of over $261 billion. If Apple were a country, its cash reserve would rank 11th in the world, ahead of Singapore and Germany. As we steadily march closer to a future where corporations and CEOs are universally more influential than elected officials, artist Jade Dalloul is answering an importation question: what would currency actually look like if Apple, Google, or Microsoft ruled the world? Clearly inspired by the design of the Euro and British pound, Dalloul rendered impressively believable bills baring the likenesses of tech leaders like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, as well as other corporate big shots like McDonald's franchisor Ray Kroc and Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson. The result is a stack of bills that seem at once absurd and yet completely believable, with company logos and imagery dotting the background of the currency and appropriately heroic portraits of their most influential leaders. "I took brand’s missions statements as if they were states Mottos, used the picture of companies’ founder as if they were intellectual and political figures, and displayed up strong brand icons the same way regimes had highlighted ideologies," Dalloul explains on his website. "Doing so, I also tried to root legitimacy of these brands in putting places related to their history, like the first gas pump for Shell, or the new Apple campus." Whether it's Apple Pay, Android Pay, or sending money to friends on Facebook, every major tech company seems to be dabbling in payments these days. This project is an interesting reversal of that, and while we probably won't ever see the likes of Steve Jobs on our cash, it's interesting to wonder "what if?"
              Brand It!        
    With all that has been happening in our lives lately, you may wonder why I am posting on something seemingly so silly. But, I think Marc Ecko is quite a genius when it comes to business and when I saw that Barry Bonds, when referring to Ecko's plans after purchasing his 756th home run ball, stated, "He's stupid...He's an idiot" I couldn't resist giving Ecko a little time on my blog (at least for the 3-4 readers who still check it out).

    Marc Ecko is of course the very successful founder and president of Marc Ecko Enterprises. He started out as a t-shirt designer and turned his business into what is now hailed as the most succesful urban clothing line. What is most unique about Ecko is that his background is far from that of his current customer base. While his clothing tends to be worn by those most affiliated with the "Hip-Hop" culture, Marc grew up as a Jewish kid in a New Jersey town outside of Manhatten. His parents were real estate agents and his life was far more suburban than that of most of his customers. But, through hard work and uncanny "street smarts", Ecko went from nearly bankrupt to the No. 1 designer in his field.

    So what does all this have to do with Barry Bonds? Well, Ecko was the winner of the auction just recently held by Sotheby's for Bonds' record-breaking, 756th home run baseball. And he has decided to let the fans vote on what should be done with the ball. He set up a website,, where fans can vote to either "Bestow It" to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, OH, "Brand It" with an asterick and then send it to Cooperstown, or "Banish It" by reportedly shooting it into outer space. And yesterday, The San Francisco Chronicle (which you may recognize as the newspaper whose reporters wrote the book on Barry Bonds' alleged steriod use - you can read my review of the book, Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports, by clicking here), reported that when asked about Ecko's intentions Bonds replied, "He spent $750,000 on the ball and that's what he's doing with it? What he's doing is stupid."

    What I find most entertaining about this story is that Bonds just seems to not get it. He doesn't get it that people believe he cheated and should be punished, not celebrated for such an act. He doesn't understand marketing either. Heck, it's clear from his well-known brushes with the media that he doesn't understand the power of the media and the sway of the court of public opinion.

    Barry Bonds is wrong - Marc Ecko is a genius. He has just created friends in the baseball culture he never had before by doing this. And those who hate what he is doing? They can simply dismiss him as another crazed fashion designer. But the genius of this act shines brightest in the numbers. As of my visit, there were 3,611,765 votes cast. And how did I vote? See below.

              WebVTT: The Middle        

    It’s been a while since my last post about WebVTT. A lot has been going on since that last post in the beginning of March. The OSD team gave two presentations about WebVTT to Mozilla Toronto: one during a class visit to MoTo and another during MoTo’s Open Web Open Mic event to some of the Toronto open source community. Both events were a lot of fun! I was surprised by how excited some people seemed to get when they saw WebVTT. When you work on a project, it can be hard to take a step back and see the impact your project has on others, especially when you can get so invested in said project. Good job team!

    I haven’t been able to spend as much time on WebVTT as I would have liked over the past month. After the push to get things working for the first Mozilla Toronto demo, I had an avalanche of final assignments fall onto me. Now that they are finally behind me, I’ve been able to get back into the swing of things.

    Review Issues

    While I’ve been busy with school, rillian has been working on the patch. Thanks a lot, rillian! There have been several iterations of the patch since. As always, you can see the latest updates on the Bugzilla bug. It’s been reviewed quite extensively by bz and Ms2ger who brought up a few issues.

    One of the issues had to do with nested templates. We were using nsTArrays like this: nsTArray<nsRefPtr<TextTrackCue>>, which reads as ‘an array of nsRefPtr which refer to TextTrackCue objects.’ Apparently, the >> at the very end was being interpreted as the >> operator on some older compilers. So we just added some whitespace to pad out the characters: nsTArray< nsRefPtr<TextTrackCue> >. Easy fix!

    In the review, it was suggested that we convert nsAString out parameters in class getters to DOMString, a relatively new class in the Mozilla codebase. I went ahead and did this, but it was not an easy fix. In fact, it was pretty messy, and involved extracting a StringBuffer from an nsAString object and using that to set the value of the DOMString out parameter.

    The code used to set getters went from this:

    void GetKind(nsAString& aKind) const
      aKind = mKind;

    to this:

    void GetKind(DOMString& aKind) const
      aKind.SetStringBuffer( nsStringBuffer::FromString(mKind), mKind.Length() );

    Yikes. That’s what I call messy. To be fair, this is the only way to set the value of a DOMString from an nsString, the type used internally to store strings.

    It didn’t get accepted. In retrospect, it would have been easier to just adjust the internal members of the TextTrack* objects to use a DOMString rather than a nsString. Once I clarify with others that this is the best way to go about with this fix, I’ll probably end up doing just that.

    The first fix ended up making its way into the patch on Bugzilla. The pull request on GitHub is still open due to the DOMString issue. If you’re interested in following that particular issue, you can check it out here.


    Something I’ve wanted to start adding to the WebVTT DOM implementation for a while now is exception handling. Firefox’s C++ code doesn’t use exceptions; I’m talking about JavaScript exceptions. For instance, if one tries to use the removeCue(cue) method on a TextTrackList JavaScript object which doesn’t contain cue, a NotFoundError exception should be thrown.

    In order to do this, we first need to edit the WebIDL file which defines the DOM interface. We must add a [Throws] declaration in front of every method which throws an exception. For example, in TextTrack.webidl:

    void addCue(TextTrackCue cue);
    void removeCue(TextTrackCue cue);

    By using some crazy wizardry, this creates the necessary DOM bindings to use exceptions. More specifically, it passes an ErrorResult& as the last argument to our method. We can use this object to throw exceptions.

    Let’s take a look at TextTrack::RemoveCue and how we can throw an exception if the cue passed as an argument is not already in the internal TextTrackList.

    In our header file:

    void RemoveCue(TextTrackCue& aCue,
                   ErrorResult& aRv);

    In the implementation file:

    TextTrack::RemoveCue(TextTrackCue& aCue,
                         ErrorResult& aRv)
      // If the given cue is not currently listed in the
      // method's TextTrack object's text track's text
      // track list of cues, then throw a NotFoundError
      // exception and abort these steps.
      if( DoesContainCue(aCue) == false ) {
      // Remove cue from the method's TextTrack object's text track's text track
      // list of cues.

    The generated bindings make it very easy to throw an exception. Now that an ErrorResult& is being passed to our method, we simply call Throw on the object and pass the error. One could search on MXR for the particular error macro/constant they need; luckily, bz told me which to use in #content.

    Initially, I was a bit confused when trying to implement exceptions. While looking through MXR to see examples of how other classes implemented exceptions, I’d often see ErrorResult initialized as a local variable within a method. Apparently, this is only used for methods that catch exceptions. Methods that throw exceptions do it through an ErrorResult& argument passed in by the generated binding methods. Oh, you Mozilla engineers. You guys/gals are magic.

    That particular pull request is still open at the time of writing. You can check out that pull request here.


    I’m really not sure if this release can be considered a 1.0 release. The code still hasn’t landed in Firefox (although it seems close). There are still things to do! Some of those things include: maintaining and using TextTracks.activeCueList, finish implementing exceptions on the rest of the TextTrack* classes, and fix all of the issues raised in the reviews done by bz and Ms2ger. Concurrently, I believe we are at the point where we can start using the MochiTests written by Marcuus and Jordan to bring other issues to light.

    A big issue is the ever-shifting nature of the WebVTT spec. It seems like every week, the spec changes - and not always for the better. For instance, there are now a list of rules associated with every TextTrack that defines how the text tracks should be rendered. Also, TextTrackCue is an abstract class from which we should be creating a new object: WebVTTCue. Not all these changes make sense to me (Rules for updating cues? Why?) but I guess that is a part of the age-old rift between spec writers and implementers.

    Between the spec being in flux and the other items still on my to do list, there is still quite a bit to be done before I’d be comfortable slapping the ol’ 1.0 tag on. Now that school is officially complete forever, I should have much more time to spend on WebVTT.

    The Middle

    Speaking of school being officially done forever, this is my last official ‘for school’ post on my blog. This isn’t the end though, not by a longshot. I’ll be continuing my work on WebVTT as a volunteer. I’m excited to see what happens with the project in the coming few months!

    Thanks to Humph for teaching the OSD classes to begin with. If you are a student at Seneca in CPA or BSD, do yourself a favour and take these classes. The OSD classes are the best professional options offered at Seneca, in my opinion. I’d also like to thank my OSD teammates for a crazy 8 months. We’re still alive! Success!

              Morning Tears Founder Dr. Koen Sevenants received Award for “La Solidaritat i a l’Accessibilitat 2015” on Mallorca, Spain        
      During the ceremony on October 7, at the Premis del Consell de Mallorca, Koen Sevenants highlighted the story of Fan Yi Xing, a girl of nine years. She is one of the Morning Tears children in our project in Henan Province and she was very happy that Koen was nominated for an award. Times […]
              The Age of Open Source Video Codecs        
    The first time I met Jim Barton (DVR pioneer and TiVo co-founder) I was a young man looking at the hottest company in Silicon Valley in the day: SGI, the place where Michael Jackson and Steven Spielberg just arrived to visit, the same building in Mountain View as it were, that same week in late […]
              Top decommissioning summit to hear how they raised the Costa Concordia        

    The company that raised the scuppered cruise-liner Costa Concordia, which was twice the weight of the Titanic when it hit rocks and foundered off the Italian coast in 2012, will explain how it was done at the 2015 Decommissioning & Abandonment Summit, 17-19 March in Houston.

    (PRWeb March 03, 2015)

    Read the full story at

              Leaving Storywise and joining ROBIN        
    “There is a Japanese proverb that says: ‘Raise the sail with your stronger hand’. Meaning you must go after the opportunities that arise in life that you are best equipped to do”. Soichiro Honda (founder of Honda) Newsflash! Effectively immediately I have joined a team of four developers, one designer, one trainee and one CEO/Founder [...]
              2014 Innovators to Watch: 16 to 22        
    16. Shamir Karkal, cofounder and CFO of Simple Simple is — or was — one of fintech’s prized startups. A branchless bank, Simple has managed to attract users and get them spending, reporting 13 debit transactions per minute back in 2013. Simple’s rise in popularity has been largely through word of mouth — especially in […]
              Sacred Music From Syria        
    Erik Hillestad is the founder of a Norwegian record label called Kirkelig Kulturverksted, or KKV. He just wound up a two-year project in which traveled to the Middle East and made recordings of sacred music of both the Christian and Muslim faiths. The result is a CD entitled “Syrian Prayers: Sacred Music from Bilad Al […]
              Is Retail Dying or is it Time for a Renaissance?        

    Guest post from Michel Lewis (@BizMike), founder of RoomSignal and long-time friend of Brian. Retail is dead. Heard that phrase before? For the last decade we have watched as digital companies like Amazon & Netflix received much of the credit, for putting brands like Borders and Blockbuster out to pasture. Poor stock performances and gloomy headlines about the death of retail only fuel reports about the demise of brick & mortar stores. For many retail brands like Nordstrom and Target,...

    The post Is Retail Dying or is it Time for a Renaissance? appeared first on Brian Solis.

              The New Kodak Moment = That Moment When You Lose Market Relevance        

    “You press the button, we do the rest.” These are the touching words of Kodak’s first advertising slogan. Coined by George Eastman, Kodak’s iconic founder in 1892, this tagline almost seems relevant 120 years later. Almost. There was a time in history where uttering those words evoked an emotional sense of nostalgia. Now, unfortunately, the Kodak moment represents that moment when executives fail to realize how consumers are changing and how markets will ultimately evolve in new directions without them....

    The post The New Kodak Moment = That Moment When You Lose Market Relevance appeared first on Brian Solis.

              Books For Soldiers in Trouble        
    Several years back I helped manage a large, monthly, FOL, library book sale. One of the activities I instituted was shipping books to a program called Books For Soldiers. Our branch mailed a lot of really good books to the forces overseas.

    Due to health reasons, three or so years ago I quit my volunteering. The wear and tear on my body was too great and since I was tired of doing way too much heavy, physical work myself, I left with no regrets. But... I often wondered if the Books for Soldiers program continued since the woman who actually boxed and shipped the books also left the FOL group after I did. Happily, I learned this year that the mailings continued.

    So, it was with some dismay that I learned yesterday via email that the Books for Soldiers program is in dire financial difficulties. I don't think they'll mind my pasting the information in my blog. If even a couple people read this and donate, that is a few more dollars.

    Books For Soldiers
    2008 Fundraising Update Newsletter April 2008

    It Is A Bad Economy

    Starting at the first of this year, BFS started a robust fundraising campaign here in North Carolina. We contacted small companies and some large companies you probably have heard of. To date, we have received a stack of letters that begin with "we deeply regret not being able to donate this year" and no cash. From our corporate donation campaign we have received a tad under thirty dollars from a philanthropy grants group in Winston Salem, NC. That was it, nothing else.

    Times are tough for all non-profit groups, food banks from all around North Carolina and across the nation are suffering from a lack of donations and a sharp increase of those in need. The article below arrived in my email today about a women's shelter closing because of a lack of donations.

    The Next Step

    The BFS Board of Directors have discussed this problem for some time and have decided to have another go at fundraising. We are working on a different campaign aimed at companies in larger states - California for example. Every time we want to do fundraising in a state (cold call, direct mail, advertising) we need to file with that state's Secretary of State - filing in all states if prohibitively expensive so we have to pick and choose.

    In our last newsletter, we reported on the hacker attacks that coincided with our 5th Anniversary. Those DNS attacks didn't help our balance sheet. Our final IT bill from the datacenter for that week was a tad over $11,000. If you recall, the hackers brought down the whole datacenter just to try to kill us.

    The Board set a goal of $70,000 to raise by November 1st of this year. If that amount is not raised, the site will close on December 31st, 2008.

    If we cannot make the fundraising target, the Board will seek to sell the site to another 501(c)(3) and any new owner will need to be qualified - have the IT talent to run the site, the funding to keep it going and the funding for the required upgrades, both software and hardware. We would also stop accepting new OVs on November 1st and stop accepting new books requests from soldiers on December 1st, 2008.

    What Does It Take?*

    It takes a lot to run BFS on a monthly basis. The monthly funds required to run an operation like BFS are large. Here is a partial summary of where the donations go.

    All figures are a monthly average for 2007.

    Books, DVDs, other carepackage items $1153
    Postage $812
    Rent $1600
    Utilities $277
    IT Services (server farm, hosting, bandwidth) $4258
    IT Maintenance Contract $1500
    IT Security Software License Fees $350

    There are other things like broken computers, the occasional software purchase, insurance, pencils, toilet paper for the bathroom, etc. that we purchase.

    No one at BFS receives a salary.

    The BFS presence on MySpace, Flickr, YouTube are all free. Our presence in Second Life has also been donated.

    We will be disabling the uploading of photos in the next few weeks to save bandwidth. Please post your photos to the Flickr BFS Group and include the Flickr link to the photo in your forum post. If you want keep your photos on BFS, place them on Flickr and post the code in your post. Instructions can be found here.

    My hopes is that eventually we can raise more than the $70k survival goal. Last year our goal for 2008 was to move to a website design where the cumbersome OV process was performed online and searching and finding soldiers would be a breeze - subscribing to soldier requests is my favorite new BFS feature. Now we are just struggling to stay open.

    How You Can Help

    The ONLY reason we are open today is because of the OVs that have donated so far this year, but now I need to ask more of everyone.

    1) Office party fundraiser - Coordinate a "Save BFS Day" at work and urge, beg, cajole your co-workers into coughing up something for BFS.

    2) Have your company cough up some cash. We will send your company a formal donation request, just send us the company name, contact name and address and we will get it out right away. Send these requests to me personally (

    3) Have your place of worship pass the plate (hat, kippah, whatever) for BFS. Consult with your church's leader about holding a "Save BFS Offering" one day this month. Checks should be made out to "Books For Soldiers." If they have any questions or concerns, please contact me directly to set up a call.

    4) Visit our donation page and give what you can.

    or by check

    Books For Soldiers
    2008 Fund Drive
    353 Jonestown Rd #123
    Winston Salem, NC 27104

    In Closing

    I started BFS five years ago and fully expected it to be online for only six weeks, that is the length of time I thought it would take for our troops to finish up in Baghdad and come back home. I am also terrible at predicting who is going to win the next NASCAR race.

    If worse come to worse, it has been a good run - a great run in fact. In the first 6 months of operation, we collectively shipped over 400 tons of packages to the Middle East, that is when I stopped counting. We also built the largest English library in the Middle East - together with US soldiers at the Baghdad International Airport in the months following the fall of Baghdad.

    We have done a lot of tremendous work, made a lot of great friends and even a wedding or two! We have also lost a lot of friends and we have received way too many memorial flags. Either way, you can all be proud of what we have achieved.

    I promise that we will do everything in our power to meet our fundraising goals and will appreciate any help from you.

    Thank-you for your support, patience and hard work over the last 5 years.

    And most of all thank-you for your support of our troops.

    Storm Williams
    Books For Soldiers

    *Legalese: BFS is exempt from filing IRS Form 990. Any financial information found here should not be considered as a replacement for IRS Form 990 or a supplement to an IRS Form 990.
              Portuguese philanthropist set to take on world's toughest race        
    "Maria Conceição, founder of the Dubai-based Maria Cristina Foundation, who became the first Portuguese woman to reach Everest’s summit last year, now has her sights firmly set on a double Guinness World Record attempt whil
              Cardinal Stage Company: Amadeus        
    Peter Shaffer’s "Amadeus" is at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre. It’s a darkly dramatic tale of artistic ambition and envy. The Cardinal Stage Company’s production is lovingly crafted, strongly acted and beautifully costumed. Company founder Randy White is the director. Although the play is titled "Amadeus," it’s really more about the established court composer Antonio Salieri played […]
              FT column: Glencore has a mogul in denial        

    Ivan Glasenberg, co-founder and chief executive of Glencore, delights in telling his rivals in the commodities industry that they are wrong, and in trying to prove it by running his business differently. So it takes quite an upheaval to persuade Mr Glasenberg that he, and not someone else, is mistaken.

    Read more
              FT column: Netflix needs to devote time to nurturing its new baby        

    Netflix’s new family leave policy — unlimited paid time off for parents in the first year after a child’s birth or adoption — is great. But it would be even better if the video streaming company could now ensure its founder and chief executive Reed Hastings has a child and spends 12 months out of the office caring for his newborn.

    Read more
              Fukushima hot particle update        
    SUBHEAD: New study of hot particles shows full radiation risks from Fukushima meltdowns are not recorded.

    By Arne Gundersen on 27 July 2017 for Fairwinds Associates -

    Image above: Scientist gathers particle sample along curb in Japan for radioactive analysis. Photo by Mikeo Kawasaki. From (

    Today, the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment (STOTEN) published a peer-reviewed article entitled: Radioactively-hot particles detected in dusts and soils from Northern Japan by combination of gamma spectrometry, autoradiography, and SEM/EDS analysis and implications in radiation risk assessment.

    Co-authored by Dr. Marco Kaltofen, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education, the article details the analysis of radioactively hot particles collected in Japan following the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns.                          


    • Radioactive particles from Fukushima are tracked via dusts, soils, and sediments.
    • Radioactive dust impacts are tracked in both Japan and the United States/Canada.
    • Atypically-radioactive particles from reactor cores are identified in house dusts.
    • Scanning electron microscopy with X-ray analysis is used for forensic examinations.

    Based on 415 samples of radioactive dust from Japan, the USA, and Canada, the study identified a statistically meaningful number of samples that were considerably more radioactive than current radiation models anticipated. If ingested, these more radioactive particles increase the risk of suffering a future health problem.

    “Measuring radioactive dust exposures can be like sitting by a fireplace,” Dr. Kaltofen said. “Near the fire you get a little warm, but once in a while the fire throws off a spark that can actually burn you.”
    The same level of risk exists in Japan. While most people have an average level of risk, a few people get an extra spark from a hot particle.

    According to Dr. Kaltofen, “The average radiation exposures we found in Japan matched-up nicely with other researchers.  We weren’t trying to see just somebody’s theoretical average result.  We looked at how people actually encounter radioactive dust in their real lives.

    Combining microanalytical methods with traditional health physics models,” he added, “we found that some people were breathing or ingesting enough radioactive dust to have a real increase in their risk of suffering a future health problem.

    This was especially true of children and younger people, who inhale or ingest proportionately more dust than adults.”

    Fairewinds’ book Fukushima Dai-ichi: The Truth and the Way Forward was published in Japan by Shueisha Publishing, just prior to the one-year commemoration of the tsunami and meltdowns. “Our book,”

    Mr. Gundersen said, “which is a step-by-step factual account of the reactor meltdowns, was a best seller in Japan and enabled us to build amazing relations with people actually living in Japan, who are the source of the samples we analyzed.

    We measured things like house dusts, air filters, and even car floor mats.  Collecting such accurate data shows the importance of citizen science, crowd sourcing, and the necessity of open, public domain data for accurate scientific analysis.”

    Fairewinds Energy Education founder Maggie Gundersen said, “We are very thankful to the scientists and citizen scientists in Japan, who sought our assistance in collecting and analyzing this data. We will continue to support ongoing scientific projects examining how people in Japan and throughout the world experience radioactive dust in their daily lives."

    The complete peer reviewed report and project audio description by Dr. Kaltofen are available here at the Science of the Total Environment website.  

    Interactive data and the supporting materials are available here at the Fairewinds Energy Education website.

    Also see slide presentation by Dr. Marco Kaltofen (

    Video above: Arne Gundersen about hot particles. Tokyo soil samples would be considered nuclear waste in the USA. From (

    See also:
    Ea O Ka Aina: E-Fukushima bosses on trial 6/25/17
    Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco plan to dump tainted water 7/14/17
    Ea O Ka Aina: Stop Fukushima as Olympic venue 5/10/17
    Ea O Ka Aina: Continuing Fukushima danger 4/14/17
    Ea O Ka Aina: Continuing Fukushima danger 4/14/17
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than ever 2/5/17
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation on West Coast 1/13/17
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup cost to double 12/9/16
    Ea O Ka Aina: Tokyo damaged by nuclear pellet rain 9/24/16
    Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16
    Ea O Ka Aina: High radioactivity in Tokyo 8/22/16
    Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
    Green Road Jounral: Balls filled with Uranium, Plutonium 2/19/16
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
    Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14
    ENE News: Nuclear fuel found 15 miles from Tokyo 8/10/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
    Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima, What me worry? 11/13/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
    Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
    Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11 


              How to Survive the Future        
    SUBHEAD: Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy.

    By Shaun Chamberlin on 28 July 2017 in Resilience -

    Image above: Photo-illustration of "Desfile Portela 2014" by Fernando Frazão at Agência Brasil. From original article and (

    Transition Towns founder Rob Hopkins describes the late historian and green economist David Fleming as “one of the most original, brilliant, urgently-needed, under-rated and ahead-of-his-time thinkers of the last 50 years.”

    Fleming thought the globalised market economy would, in the not too distant future, begin to fail as it faces limits to growth from resource depletion, and said: “Localization stands, at best, at the limits of practical possibility.

    But it has the decisive argument in its favor that there is no alternative.” And his work explores how we can create rich local cultures and economies as an alternative to global capitalism.

    Fleming died suddenly in 2010, but his good friend, Shaun Chamberlin has recently turned a manuscript Fleming left behind, into two books: his magnum opus, Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It, and a smaller introductory text, Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy.

    Greening the Apocalypse Podcast
    SUBHEAD:  We speak to Shaun Chamberlin by Skype from his home in Devon.

     By Adam Crubb on 18 July 2017 for Greening the Apocalypse -

    Shaun’s is behind the website where you can read his rather impressive bio, which includes co-founding Transition Town Kingston, and authoring the Transition movement’s second book The Transition Timeline.

    You can find out more about the books at the Fleming Policy Institute.

    We also mention the Dark Mountain Project and Mark Boyle, the Moneyless Man.
    The podcast contains a slightly extended interview than what went to air.

              A Tale of Three Prayer Breakfasts        
    Three years ago, in 2006, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher's "Prayer Breakfast" was an orgy of sectarian bigotry, a greasy "fuck you" to everyone who didn't share the speakers' narrow conservative Southern Baptism, an object lesson in why combining religion and government is history's worst idea.

    This year, on the same day that invitations to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's "Prayer Breakfast" landed in state employees' email inboxes, The Economist brings us the latest lesson from President Obama, this one on how to do a "Prayer Breakfast" right, if you must do one at all.

    I think the final proof that Barack Obama plans once and for all to elevate respect for Americans who don't practice a religion came at this morning's National Prayer Breakfast:

    There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all...

    We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thyself." The Torah commands, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." In Islam, there is a hadith that reads "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule - the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

    A notable repetition—not just once, rote, but twice, to let you know he means it.

    As for that second passage, did Mr Obama just endorse a name for the group struggling to name itself? Some don't like "atheist" or "nonbeliever" because they are definitionally negative. The coinage of "Brights" has failed to catch on for the obvious reasons. But "humanist" has a nice, positive feeling, and a history.

    Mr Obama went on to announce a White House of Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships. A Bushian thing to do? No, he continued:

    The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another - or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state.

    Interesting. I'm not sure if Mr Obama isn't trying a little too hard to please everyone here, but the fact that he is trying to please everyone—and remember that a major presidential candidate said not long ago that "freedom requires religion"—is striking.

    Now that he is not doing backflips for Rick Warren, citing his favourite Bible verse in a "faith debate" or dodging conspiracies that he is a Muslim, Mr Obama is also free to say things like

    I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I've ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

    A few years ago, Daniel Dennett, an atheist philosopher, wrote
    Politicians don't think they even have to pay us lip service, and leaders who wouldn't be caught dead making religious or ethnic slurs don't hesitate to disparage the "godless" among us. From the White House down, bright-bashing is seen as a low-risk vote-getter.

    Not this White House.

    Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

              Award Spurs Debate in 'Desert of Silence' in Muslim World        

    This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post, where you can visit for the original piece by clicking here or on the title

    Award Spurs Debate in 'Desert of Silence' in Muslim World

    LISBON -- There was something truly captivating about sitting in the Castle of São Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal, waiting for the announcement of the 2013 winners of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Overlooking the cityscape, the citadel is home to both the Christian and Muslim history of the Iberian peninsula, a fitting setting for an event looking to promote common linkages across geographic divides. Held every three years, the Award looks to promote conversation around the themes of development and the built environment in the Muslim world and beyond. Once again, the gathering -- hosted by the President of Portugal and the Aga Khan -- brought together an eclectic array of participants from representatives from around the world, ranging from ministers and diplomats to religious figures (including from the Vatican), to architects and builders, to thinkers and writers.
    The Award recipients were equally diverse, with five projects celebrated in this cycle (bringing the number of winners in the history of the Award to 110). They included: the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan; the revitalization of Birzeit in Palestine; the Rabat-Salé Bridge in Morocco; the rehabilitation of the Tabriz Bazaar in Iran; and an Islamic cemetery in Austria (the latter perhaps the most intriguing project). While the initiative represents the largest, in terms of monetary value, architecture award in the world, its objective goes beyond aesthetic design, seeking to identify projects that are on the frontier of sustainable development (in all senses of the term) and that are locally attuned. Yet what was clear this year was the juxtaposition of the contemplative conversation in Lisbon and the "desert of silence "that still characterizes much of the Muslim world, outside specialized or academic circles, on these very themes. And this is the challenge for the Award, and similar such platforms -- to not just hold the conversation but to widen the debate to engage with the multitude of forces shaping and influencing the broader Muslim world (and beyond).
    Founded in 1977, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) is part of the wider set of initiatives of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which mobilizes annually over $600 million to support development activities throughout the 30 countries in which it works. The Award shares the holistic approach of the AKDN towards development, whereby local participation, alignment, and empowerment are critical to the viability and impact of any activity. Held every three years, 2013 represented the 13th cycle of the awards. Governed by a nine-person Steering Committee that includes some of the top minds in the field, such as Norman Foster and Glenn Lowry (from the Museum of Modern Art), the Award appoints a new Master Jury for each cycle; this year's Jury, for example, includedMahmoud Mamdani of Uganda and Wang Shu of China.
    One of the central purposes of the Award, according to its founder, the Aga Khan, and voiced during this years ceremony was to replace the "vast desert [of] silence [that] had set in" in the Muslim world with lively debate, around the issues of development, architecture, and the built environment. Certainly, this would be no easy challenge. Over the last three decades, the Award has highlighted a number of worthy projects, recognized and encouraged leading architects and builders, and promoted education with the principles of the Award in mind. Yet, it has not been enough to fill the silence. Instead, at the frontier of the built environment in Muslim communities, and places like the Arab world, this silence has been filled by what appears too often like cacophonous chaos. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the holy city of Mecca, where a giant clock tower and monstrous skyscrapers not only cast a shadow over Islam's holiest mosque, the Kaaba, but are systematically destroying the city's historic heritage while contributing very little to community needs, besides increases in property values.
    This is emblematic of the challenge of the Award, in particular, but also of other similar initiatives seeking to influence trends in the broader Muslim world, where it is not contemplative conversation that drives change but rather copious (often misallocated) capital that determines development patterns instead. How can you not just fill that vast desert of silence but also ensure that it is not the loudest voices that win the debate?
    Given the ongoing shifts throughout the developing world, such as the move from rural to urban environments, political transition, and economic modernization, more engagement will be needed on a number of critical issues, especially the built environment and how it promotes sustainable development. Hopefully the conversations, such as those in Lisbon, begin to move beyond the classroom and into the mainstream.
    Photo credit: AKDN

              Another Coup for the Outgoing Emir of Qatar        
    In July 2010, the (now outgoing) Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, traveled to South Lebanon to bask in the gratitude for his country's largesse in supporting reconstruction following the Israeli bombardment just four years earlier. The $300 million (and beyond) committed by the Gulf state was very much appreciated by the Shiite armed movement Hezbollah, who ensured billboards in the South and on Airport Road in Beirut were decorated with notes of thanks to the Emir. It was a conspicuous visit because Qatar had stood out amongst the GCC in taking a strong if not controversial stand. Hand-in-hand with Hezbollah, the Emir, was not apparently one of the "half-men" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pointed to in the Gulf during the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel war. In fact, the Emir and Assad were quite close, if not close friends, and were frequently in touch.

    In 2013, Qatar finds itself at the forefront on a number of regional issues, most notably the conflict in Syria, which had pitted the Emir in direct opposition to his old friend Bashar Al Assad. In fact, on the sectarian front, hosting firebrand spiritual figure, Yusuf al-Qaradawi who recently called for a Sunni-led jihad, and allying almost openly with Muslim Brotherhood movements in the region (which brought criticism from people as far afield as Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef), has increasingly prompted the question: Has the politically adept Qatar lost its touch?

    Once again, however, the Emir of Qatar (who I'll refer to by his initials HBK) shocked the region with another unprecedented move - this time the transfer of power to his 33-year old son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (the 'new Emir'). In doing so, HBK put Qatar back on the political front-foot and raised the pressure on regional allies. And in typical style, he added another deft touch in his address to the nation with a quote (and the only quote outside from scripture) from Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph in Islam and the first Imam of the Shi'a Muslims: 'Teach your children other than that what you were taught; as they are created for a time other than yours."

    It was nearly 18 years to the day, on June 27, 1995 [although official Qatari sites list his 'start-date' as June 26] that the outgoing Emir, HBK, came to power in a bloodless coup with the aid of his current outgoing Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamid bin Jassim al-Thani (HBJ) and other figures. He dislodged his father, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, at the time, under largely benign circumstances but also as Qatar was starting to truly increase its economic base. When HBK took the reigns, the country was bit-player on the regional scene, with a GDP of $8bn. Today, the country is a regional powerhouse, punching far above its weight with a GDP in upwards of $170bn. The transformation, after HBK's rise, began in a number of areas:
    • In 1995 (August), the Emir alongside his wife, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, launched what has become one of the largest foundations, Qatar Foundation, dedicated to 'knowledge' and social development in the country and wider region;
    • In 1996, the State of Qatar launched Al Jazeera, initially only in Arabic, which shocked the region by becoming literally the only widespread outlet of independent voices (from the 'regimes') in the region; 
    • And in 1997, Qatar Airways was relaunched and became a symbolic flagship for the country, although it is not clear whether the carrier will ever truly be profitable.
    Economically, with growing revenues from natural gas over the last decade and a half, the departing Prime Minister, HBJ, effectively became the CEO of the country. In addition, to governing national investments through the Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund, HBJ also built up constituent vehicles like Qatari Diar, which looked to deploy billions of dollars in capital throughout the region, including in places that would traditionally be 'off-the-grid' like Libya, Syria and the Palestinian Territories.

    Yet, while the transformation of Qatar happened on several levels - and Sheikha Moza led a number of key initiatives that have separately built up the profile of the country - the Prime Minister & Emir particularly forged a formidable political duo, implementing a plan for political leadership which led to alternating reactions of admiration and consternation in the region. HBK & HBJ became in recent years, the guiding and influencing force on a number of key regional files. It was a strategy of multi-faceted engagement and relevance, often replete with paradoxes, that even until now has confounded observers and analysts, who were always late to the party in understanding and engaging with Qatar.

    For example, while condemning Al Jazeera Arabic for links to Al Qaeda, the U.S. government in September 2002 began moving its Central Command (CENTCOM) Headquarters in part to Doha. Qatar maintained an Israeli trade office since the late 1990s (closing intermittently during the Intifada and in 2009 during the Gaza War), while also building up relations with Hamas throughout the 2000s. The country maintained strong links within the GCC, and also with Sunni allies such as leader of the Future Party Saad Hariri, but in 2008 it was their ties with Hezbollah that allowed them to forge the Doha Agreement, averting what could have been a dark period of civil strife in Lebanon. There was no end to the political engagement: peace talks on Darfur, engagement with the Taliban, mediation between Chad and Sudan, and the list goes on.

    On the political level, while the period prior to the Arab awakening was characterized by engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders, in early 2011, it seemed that Qatar was starting to play a much more partisan role. Previous allies such as Syria's Assad, and Libya's Gaddhafi fell by the wayside very quickly, with Qatar in fact leading efforts in the fight to topple both dictators. And in other 'revolutionary' environments such as Egypt and Tunisia, where the ruling parties are Islamist, Qatar has become the political football for its perceived support for Islamist movements. Critics ask why figures like Qaradawi (mentioned above) are based in Qatar? Why was the state mosque in Doha named after the founder of Wahhabism, the particularly conservative brand of Islam, in 2011? And why has a station like Al Jazeera portrayed only one side of the story, often with an 'Islamic' bent, the last two years especially?

    Yet, the criticism has only grown commensurate with the prominence of Qatar in the region. On one hand, the policies of Qatar were simply part of its strategy of engagement in the region, to demonstrate leadership but also fundamentally relevance - important for a small country that previously lived in the shadow of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Arab uprisings and subsequent rise of Islamist movements in the region was a tremendous opportunity for Qatar to provide indispensable leadership. Yet, leadership and unique prominence, has consequences, and it is likely that the inflection point of a transfer of power, provides a moment for reflection, especially as the region comes to terms with its new (and oft-changing) dynamics. What was immensely popular in late 2011 no longer is definitively so. For example, in Egypt, President Morsi's approval rating has notably dropped from 70% to 40%.

    Thus, the transfer of power to a new ruler, in Sheikh Tamim, means that Qatar can assess its strategic position and alignment. Perhaps, the country could benefit from a broader engagement given rising divisions in the region, and once again capture the role of lead mediator? Domestically, Sheikh Tamim will play close attention to catalyzing the role of his generation in the country's leadership. After all, Qatar had yet to enact the legislative or Shura Council that HBK promised when he rose to power, and enshrined in the Constitution ratified 9 years ago. The first step will be the announcement of a new cabinet that will replace what is increasingly seen as a gentrified political elite with new or younger faces. It is also expected that there may be a rise in salaries of Qataris employed in the public sector, at a smaller scale, however, to a similar announcement in 2011. Most important, however, will be a new dialogue and series of consultations that the new Emir will have with Qatari citizens, whose expectations have risen with new-found wealth and prosperity. In particular, with 70% of Qataris under the age of 30, engaging youth will be a priority. Do they feel included in the governance of the country and its institutions? Are there sufficient opportunities for employment and growth? And do public services meet their expectations?

    As Sheikh Tamim assesses the domestic situation, he does have a strong ally in his mother, Sheikha Moza, and the institutions she leads that address youth, health and education. And he will rely on  experienced hands like Sheikh Abdullah al-Thani to evaluate macro-projects like the Qatar World Cup preparations and the development of the national railways. Yet, both on the national and international fronts, the new Emir is not without experience or preparation. While observers were caught off-guard, it is thought HBK had planned for this day far ahead of time. The ascension of the Crown Prince to the leadership, began in earnest over the past two years. In fact, when significant announcements like the salary increase from 2011 were made, it was from Sheikh Tamim's office. He was also front and center, for example, when the move was made to shift Hamas headquarters out of Syria. And the then Crown Prince had been taking an increasing "foreign affairs role" amidst the Arab uprisings.

    While the policies that Qatar will follow will likely be unchanged in the short-term, we will have to wait and see what path the new Emir forges in the long-term. Yet, his father has assured that he enters on the political front-foot. Even in his departure, the outgoing Emir left as he came in - with a coup. Upending traditions in the region, he ensured that he would leave the scene at the ripe (for the GCC) age of 61, leaving power to his son who is only 33. This is next to countries such as Saudi Arabia, where the King is 91 (if not older) and where power has never been transferred to the 'next generation', passed instead from brother-to-brother among the descendents of King Abdelaziz (since his death in 1953). Or take Bahrain, where the Prime Minister, Khalifa bin Salman, has helmed the government for over four decades without interruption.

    Certainly, the move by HBK has not ushered in a democracy in Qatar; it is still an authoritarian state. And the ascension of Sheikh Tamim does not automatically assuage any of the concerns (real or perceived) ranging from migrant rights to nepotism to regional interference. Nevertheless, in its own way, Qatar has provided the region with a new revolutionary moment. Now we wait to see how the day-after, always the hard part, plays out.

              Alabama Legislature Votes to End Judicial Override        

    The Alabama legislature has approved and sent to the Governor a bill that would bring to an end the practice of permitting trial judges to impose death sentences over a capital sentencing jury's recommendation that the defendant be sentenced to life. Alabama is the only state in the U.S. that currently permits judicial override. The legislature acted in response to mounting court challenges to Alabama's death penalty statute. On April 4, the state House of Representatives voted 78-19 to pass a bill prohibiting trial judges from overriding the sentencing recommendations of juries in death penalty cases. Governor Robert Bentley has indicated that he intends to sign the legislation. Two versions of the proposal had advanced in the state legislature. A bill sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) that would eliminate judicial override but retain Alabama's practice of allowing death sentences if ten or more jurors voted for death, passed the Senate 30-1 on February 23. A House bill by Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) that would have abolished judicial override and required a unanimous jury vote for death had passed the House Judiciary Committee on February 16. Rep. England agreed to substitute the Senate version of the bill, which then overwhelmingly passed the House. The bill "places the death penalty back in the proper perspective," England said. "It puts it ... where in my opinion the Constitution intends it to be: in the hands of juries." Although Alabama is no longer an outlier on judicial override, it remains the only state in the country to permit a death sentence to be imposed based upon a non-unanimous jury vote. According to research by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), judicial override has historically been employed to impose death sentences when a jury recommended life, rather than as a safeguard against unjust jury votes for death. In 101 of the 112 cases in which Alabama judges have overriden capital jury sentencing recommendations, they have imposed the death penalty over a jury recommendation of life. The EJI study also found that the use of judicial override has been influenced by political concerns, with sentencing overrides disproportionately rising in election years. Bryan Stevenson, founder of EJI, said, "Override undermines the role of jurors, who sometimes deliberate for hours to make the right decisions in these cases on behalf of the community. Alabama has had one of the highest death-sentencing rates in the country largely because we add to death row so many people juries do not believe should be executed."

    (M. Cason, "Alabama House passes ban on judicial override in death penalty cases," Birmingham News, April 4, 2017; K. Chandler and A. Izaguirre, "Alabama House Votes to End Judicial Override," Associated Press, April 4, 2017.) See Recent Legislative Activity and Sentencing.

              Book Signing Schedule        
    Just because there isn't a better alternative, I'm going to update any book signings I schedule using this post. As soon as I confirm a new signing, I'll update this post (and put stuff on Twitter and Facebook too), so check back here regularly if you don't want to miss out on signings. As of right now (look at the date on this post to see what "right now" means), here are the signings I have lined up: 

    Thursday, October 11 @ 7:30 pm - Indiana University 
    I'll be guest speaking on the campus of Indiana University on the topics of my profession (whatever the hell that may be), sports media, how to make it in America, and what it's like to have an 11-inch penis. I hope you'll join me. 

    PS - When I figure out more details, I'll update it here. Still in talks with my contact at IU about where this will take place but we've nailed down the date and time at least. 

    Saturday, October 20 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm - Books by the Banks 
    Duke Energy Convention Center 
    525 Elm Street 
    Cincinnati, OH 

    Saturday, November 3 from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm - Buckeye Book Fair 
    Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center - Fisher Auditorium 
    1680 Madison Avenue 
    Wooster, OH 44691 

    When the paperback comes out in the next few months (I have no idea when they're planning on releasing it - this is just a guess), I'll try to hit up a bunch of different colleges and cities across the Midwest, as well as a few cities that I just kinda feel like visiting. Stay tuned.  

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

    Mark Titus 
    Club Trillion Founder
              â€œDon’t Put Me In, Coach” Is Now Available        

    I’m sure most of you reading this are aware, but my book “Don’t Put Me In, Coach” was released on Tuesday.

    book cover

    Remember: Don’t judge a book by its cover, unless you think the cover is awesome.

    This, of course, is my way of saying that if you haven’t already bought it, you’re dead to me and I hope you can sleep at night knowing that because of your selfishness I won’t be able to afford the shark jet-ski/submarine thing that I should’ve had years ago. If you haven’t bought it yet, the good news is that you can absolve your sin by going here, picking your favorite bookseller, and telling them that you want to help make my dream come true. If you’re on the fence about pulling the trigger and spending the equivalent of a movie ticket and a large popcorn on a book that will thoroughly entertain you during at least 5 poops and you’ll have for the rest of your life, I encourage you to go here and read an excerpt from the book to help make your decision. Also, keep in mind that 100% of the proceeds from the book sales will go to children in need, and by that I mean that 100% of the proceeds will go to my inner child in need of that badass shark watercraft. So yeah, don’t be a dick – buy the book.

    One last thing: Many of you have asked me whether or not I’ll be doing book signings around the country. The answer to that is yes, but as of right now I don’t really have anything set in stone other than a signing on March 17th at 3 pm at the Barnes & Noble on Ohio State’s campus. Once I figure out when and where I’ll be holding other signings, I’ll relay the information via Twitter and Facebook, as well as continue to update a schedule on this blog, so keep on the lookout if getting your book signed by me and/or getting a picture with me giving you the hoverhand is something you’re interested in.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              Goodbye…For Now        

    I’m guessing that most of you reading this are already well aware, but I thought I’d write a blog post to inform those members of the Trillion Man March who don’t know that I’ve accepted a job writing full-time for Bill Simmons’s relatively new site, Grantland, which explains why I haven’t blogged on here in awhile and why I probably won’t blog on here any time soon. I was thinking about making this next sentence something sentimental about how we had a good run and it was a lot of fun and I appreciate all the fan support, but I’m a man with two healthy, fully-grown testicles so I’m not going to write any sappy crap like that, especially since we can still continue our relationship over at Grantland. Anyway, because I make exactly no money from writing this blog, it has been obvious for awhile now that moving onto bigger and better things was always and inevitability. Still, I’m anxiously awaiting the onslaught of emails, tweets, etc. calling me a sellout, mostly because I completely deserve every one of them. The truth is that I am a sellout. But you know what? Thanks to a terrible ticketing system that screws deserving students out of season tickets, there’s a good chance I’ll be the only Ohio State basketball sellout this year. And that’s something to be proud of.

    Many of you have been asking me for details about my book Don’t Put Me In, Coach, so I figured before I let you go I should tell you what I know. First and foremost, I’ve been told that the book is going to be released March 6th (and might actually be released a week or two earlier than that), but you can actually already preorder it here. There isn’t a single reason in the world why you shouldn’t do exactly that right now, so go make it happen. I’ll wait.

    Back? Ok, good. Since you just bought the book, I feel obligated to mention that, as far as the content is concerned, it’s basically just a chronological rundown of my basketball career at Ohio State, starting with a little background story of how I ended up at OSU and ending with my final game my senior year. It’s technically probably considered a memoir, but “memoir” sounds like such a classy word and seeing as how I make dick jokes throughout the book, I wouldn’t exactly describe it as classy. Still, 90% of the content is basically just ridiculous stories about my teammates, coaches, fans and myself from my four years at Ohio State, so memoir is probably the best way to classify it.

    Speaking of dick jokes, many of you have asked me how vulgar the book is going to be, presumably because you are kindergarten teachers and you want to know if the book is appropriate enough to recommend to your students. Short answer: Yes. Long answer: I wrote this book solely with 18-34 year old males in mind, so if you don’t fit in that demographic you might find it crude in some places, but I wouldn’t exactly describe it as vulgar. It’s obviously written with the same juvenile tone I’ve used for years on this blog (please note that “juvenile” isn’t capitalized – I don’t want you to think I wrote things like “girl you working with some ass, yeah, you bad, yeah” throughout the book), so if you’re a fan of what I’ve written on Club Trillion, you shouldn’t have any problems with the book. There are a some four letter words sprinkled throughout the book, but I can say with absolute certainty that I have never been the type of guy to use curse words just for the sake of using curse words, because that shit just isn’t cool. So yes, there are some words you probably shouldn’t teach your 5-year-old kids (like “poopdick”, for example), but I promise you that unless you’re the type of person whose face melts off or something when you hear/see bad words, you’re not going to be overwhelmed with the language in the book.

    If you have any other questions about the book or just want to keep in touch with me for whatever reason, the best way to do so would be to either follow me (@clubtrillion) on Twitter or email me at It’s pretty much a certainty that I won’t respond to anything you send me, but just know that it’s not because I don’t love you – it’s because I’m either too lazy or I couldn’t think of anything clever or witty to say back to you, so I instead decided to act like I didn’t see your email/tweet instead of acknowledging that you’re more creative than me (ok, fine – it’s always the latter).

    Well, I guess that just about does it. Don’t forget that when you get a tingle in your naughty places in the future because you miss me so much, you’ll be able to find me over at Grantland. Also, if nothing else, you can always re-watch Mr. Rainmaker a thousand more times. There’s a pretty obvious Easter egg in there that I’m completely shocked nobody has found yet, so if you’re bored you should try to find it. There might even be a special prize for whoever finds it first (read: there absolutely is not a special prize).

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              What Do I Call My Mailbag? The Cage? I Forget        

    Friday is finally here and with that Nut Up or Shut Up Week is in its final leg.  I gotta be honest and say that I’m relieved that it’s finally over and I really didn’t think I had it in me (funny story: at least 8 different women said the exact same thing to me during my four years of college).  But alas, here we are.  To celebrate, let’s take a look at some emails sent in from the Trillion Man March.  Like I say every time we do this sort of thing – all of these are real emails sent in by real members of the Trillion Man March, except for the ones that aren’t.  Now, in the words of the chick from Cake Farts, let’s get this done.

    Since there are no large bodies of water near tOSU, where did the boosters hold their Yacht sex parties?


    I wish I knew.  I never got invited to them :(

    So, who do you hate more: the NCAA or The Villain?


    The only logical way to answer this is to first make a list of pros and cons, so here it goes.

    The NCAA


    • Provides an opportunity for thousands of people to get a free education while playing a sport they love at a highly competitive level
    • March Madness
    • Headquarters located in Indianapolis, Indiana, one of the finest cities in America


    • Has a budget that exceeds $5.5 billion and exists solely because of 18-23 year old athletes, but won’t let the 18-23 year old athletes see hardly any of that money in the form of cash
    • Makes players sit out a full season after transferring, while the coaches making millions of dollars off the athletes who do the exact same thing face no punishment whatsoever (in fact, the coaches typically get raises since it can be assumed that they’re leaving for a higher-paying and better job)
    • Has no interest in even remotely exploring serious reform, despite the increasing uproar from the media and general public about how archaic and unfair their rules are
    • Supports communist principles

    Evan “The Villain” Turner


    • Provided me with seemingly unlimited entertainment for three years in the form of killing fools on the basketball court
    • Provided me with seemingly unlimited entertainment for three years in the form of losing his mind over something petty on a daily basis
    • Wore a CLUB TRIL shirt during pregame warm-ups on my senior night at OSU
    • Indirectly contributed to the success of this blog
    • Once called my blog “amazing”
    • Passed the ball to me one time in practice


    • Would frequently reach into his pants and furiously scratch his butthole during film sessions and team meetings and consequently make everyone in the room uncomfortable
    • Tried to fight me no less than 3 times during our tenure as teammates
    • Gave my fiancée a bear hug that he held for five seconds when he first met her, which in turn caused her to tell me later in the night that it was weird and creeped her out
    • Never called me by my name when we were teammates but instead referred to me as “walk-on”, “bum”, “couch potato”, or “mooch.”
    • Borrowed $5 for a haircut from Keller and never paid him back
    • Apparently gets $5 haircuts

    I really think this might be too close to call.  Evan probably is more of an annoyance to me personally than the NCAA is, but the NCAA is more detrimental to society as a whole so I think I’ll go the unselfish route and say I hate them more.  Plus, somewhere under Evan’s rough exterior is a momma’s boy who doesn’t want any trouble and just wants to cuddle with his teddy bear.  Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure that underneath the NCAA’s rough exterior there is nothing but a gigantic pit of molten lava that they throw puppies into after they mouthrape them.

    What is the over/under on the number of times Deshaun Thomas will get the "the only type of shot he doesn't like is when he is at the Doctor's office" comment from TV announcers this year?  2500 ?

    There has to be some sort of drinking game created with Deshaun Thomas.  Something like.... every time he passes, you must chug a 40 oz of Olde English and punch a leprechaun.


    I love this idea.  I know I’ve said this many times before, but I really don’t think I can say it enough – Deshaun Thomas is my favorite Ohio State athlete of all-time (primarily because he doesn’t pass and has no problem acknowledging that he doesn’t pass) and he hasn’t even started his sophomore season yet.  He might not be a popular guy among Buckeye fans, but I absolutely love the guy and actually yelled “Everybody shut the hell up, Deshaun’s checking into the game!” on a few occasions last year while watching OSU basketball games with friends (who obviously don’t appreciate him as much as I do).  The guy is like the Manny Ramirez of college basketball - you don’t know for sure what’s going to happen, but you do know that when he’s in the game he’s going to have some sort of effect (good or bad) and is going to at least provide some form of entertainment (in that regard, he’s like the exact opposite of me).

    Anyway, how about this for a Deshaun Thomas drinking game – match Deshaun shot for shot.  Every time he takes a shot, you do too.  I even came up with a name for it: “suicide by alcohol poisoning.”

    What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done in front of a member of the opposite sex?


    I once dated a girl from Indiana who went to a college other than Ohio State and hadn’t grown up as an OSU fan.  Because of this, she didn’t have any OSU clothes, so when she visited me in Columbus one time I told her I’d take her shopping and get her some Ohio State clothes.  That way she could be decked out when she came to our games once the basketball season rolled around.  Anyway, we went to Buckeye Corner or something and she picked out a bunch of stuff she wanted, but she felt bad because she thought she was making me spend too much money.  I  told her not to worry about it and just get what she wanted because I was still on a basketball scholarship and was basically being given free money from Ohio State.

    Just to be polite, she asked if I was sure that she could get everything and I promised her it was cool.  But I couldn’t just say, “Seriously it’s cool” and leave it at that.  No, I had to somehow make myself seem more awesome than I really am.  So instead of just saying “yeah it’s cool” or whatever, I decided to jump at the opportunity to flaunt my money a little bit.  Since most college kids are dirt poor, I figured her privates would get moist over my scholarship money, so I decided to explain to her how rich I was.  I said something like, “Yeah it’s really not a big deal.  I get paid so much money by Ohio State that I really don’t think I could spend it all even if I wanted to.”  And just like that, I knew I had her hooked…

    …until my debit card got declined because I apparently only had $17 left in my bank account. 

    Because she didn’t bring any money with her since I told her I was going to buy her stuff, she couldn’t get anything she had picked out and had to go put everything back.  A couple of weeks later, she dumped me. Whoops.

    Help settle an argument that has been raging since the onset of puberty amongst 2 of my friends and myself.  Friend A is convinced that given an opportunity he could score one point on any NBA player in a game of one on one.  Not win mind you, but simply put the ball in the hoop. One time. Versus a highly motivated pro, putting forth his best effort in a game to 11 by ones and twos. Friend B and myself think friend A is an idiot and have told him so many times.  Friend A (5'9, 165lb), friend B and myself have been playing ball all our lives and while none of us are awful we could not play varsity basketball at a moderately large high school.  Those are the facts.  We are in our 30s now and need an answer. Or possibly you could shut him out for us and end this 20 year debate.  Either way Judge Titus your help/ruling would be much appreciated.


    I’m going to make this response short because there really isn’t even an argument here and I’m kind of annoyed that this is wasting my time.  Here’s your answer: your friend is out of his mind if he thinks he could score on an NBA player in a game to 11.  He’d have to be completely delusional to think otherwise, especially if he’s 5’9” 165 pounds. In fact, I don’t think I could even score on an NBA player (cue the “that’s why you were a benchwarmer scrub” jokes).  If he had infinite chances to score on the NBA guy, then yeah, I’m sure at some point he’d be able to throw up some garbage and get lucky.  But in a single game to 11 against an NBA player playing as hard as he possibly can?  He’ll be lucky to even get a shot off.

    I could give a detailed and realistic explanation of what would happen if he played any NBA player, but I think it would take far less effort for me to just play him one-on-one and shut him out myself than it would to explain how everything would go down.  And make no mistake about it – based on what you’ve told me about the guy, I don’t think I’ve ever been more confident about anything in the world as I am in thinking that even I could shut him out.

    So there is a hypothetical fight between 2 identical twins. They both are equal in all physical attributes (size, strength, speed) and they both train for one week with a fighting master. However one gets a pool stick and the other gets a hunting knife. Who wins in a cage match to the death?


    The bell rings to start the match.

    Guy with pool stick swings at guy with knife.  Guy with knife ducks, forcing guy with pool stick to miss.  As guy with knife stands back up, he violently thrusts his knife into the torso of guy with pool stick.  Guy with pool stick stumbles backwards as he reaches for the knife that is protruding from his torso.  After he falls to the ground, he pulls the knife out.  He immediately realizes that this was a bad idea because blood furiously pours out.  With blood rapidly flowing out of his body, his only option is to take his pool stick and jam it into the wound to stop the bleeding.  He chooses this option.  After he plugs the wound, he stands up to continue the fight.  As he stands up, he reaches for the knife in the same spot that he had dropped it when he removed it from his torso. 

    But it’s not there.

    As guy with pool stick turns his head to continue his search for the knife, guy with knife sneaks up from behind him and slits his throat, instantly killing him. 

    Game over. Guy with knife wins.

    I was in a corporate video twirling the baton while wearing my Fundamentals Montage shirt. Don’t you think that’s awesome?


    Yes. Yes I do.

    Speaking of that shirt…

    Even whilst living in the depths of the globe here in Australia I have managed to procure myself a (somewhat striking) 'Fundamentals Montage' tee. I would argue that the tee contains the single most obscure reference of any other t-shirt in existence. So my question is - has there ever been anything less prominent than a 3 second screengrab from a basketball-based Youtube video that has justified it's existence on a t-shirt available for public consumption?


    Let me first say that this is one of the finest backhanded compliments I’ve ever received, even though it shouldn’t count for anything because it’s from an Aussie.  And I truly mean that. 

    Secondly, to answer your question, I’m not sure there possibly could be one.  I mean, Mr. Rainmaker wasn’t exactly a viral video and really only reached cult-like status at best, so right off the bat there’s a very limited market for the shirt right there.  Then, like you said, the Fundamentals Montage only makes up a small part of the video, so really we’re only talking about a few seconds of a mildly popular video.  I really don’t see how there could be a shirt with a more obscure reference that is lost on virtually everyone but the wearer than the Fundamentals Montage shirt.  I’m guessing this is why Homage discontinued it.

    Since we’re apparently on the topic of Club Trillion shirts, here are two more relevant emails…

    A few months ago my house was robbed. I still live with my parents so there was actually some stuff of value to take. They mostly took electronics like tvs and computers, but after about a week I realized they took something else. They took my Club Tril shirt. No one else had any clothes taken and all my other clothes were still there except for that shirt. I know I didn't lose it somewhere else because I'm a badass and had recently had my mom wash it. What kind of monster would do this? This also makes me question the types of people you draw to your blog.


    Can whoever took Zane’s shirt please get it back to him?  This is why we can’t have nice things.  I’m sure he’ll let you keep the electronics, but please don’t make him suffer anymore by making him live in this world without his CLUB TRIL shirt.

    Now that we got that out of the way, I gotta say that I can’t help but feel a little flattered about this.  I mean, it sucks for you and your family and everything, but a part of me is honored that someone places such a high value on one of my shirts.

    Also, I think I might have an idea of who did this.  A couple of months ago someone showed me this mug shot that was taken in Naperville, Illinois.  I’m pretty sure it’s the first and only time someone was wearing a CLUB TRIL shirt in an official police mug shot, which is pretty awesome.  Anyway, my theory is that this kid had to change out of his shirt and put on an orange jumpsuit after he was arrested and when he was released the cops “accidentally” lost his shirt.  But he knew the truth – one of the cops liked the shirt and wanted to keep it for himself.  So when this kid got released, he went from town to town on a rampage looking for the cop that took his shirt.  After two months of breaking into the all sorts of houses, he finally broke into yours, saw your shirt laying there, and just assumed that your dad was the cop that took his shirt.  And to really get back at him, he took a bunch of electronics too.

    Yeah, that’s gotta be what happened.  That’s your guy for sure.

    What is more effective when attempting to court a female, throwing up the shark or wearing the club tril shirt? This of course is assuming that it is impossible to do them both at the same time.

    As you can see from the picture provided, doing them in unison has such an enormous power over the female nether regions, that it would even turn a guy like Justin Timberlake into a jealous doucher. (In case you can't see me because I am drowning amongst a litany of marginally attractive college coeds, I am the one throwing up the shark, rocking a club tril shirt, while also wearing a daytona 500 hat)



    First of all, I’m pretty sure the bitches swoon over the CLUB TRIL shirt more than the shark fin.  From what I can tell, the shark fin is more of a thing for the fellas.  But I’ve been wrong before, so what do I know?

    Secondly, I’m saying that there’s about a 98% chance that you were photobombing this picture and weren’t in the preliminary stages of a orgy like you are trying to make it seem.  But I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and say that this particular instance is included in that 2%, and all these girls huddled around you for this picture, immediately ripped their clothes off right after it was taken, and then all jumped on board the Sam Tram for an express trip to Pound Town.

    I recently turned 29 years old and in about a month I'm going to (hopefully) celebrate my second wedding anniversary.  Most of my friends are in a similar place that I am, either in the trying to have a kid or two phase or already have 1-3 kids.  I love kids but I have a small problem with them.  See I love college football and I love the Buckeyes.  So on Saturday afternoons in the fall I want to drag myself out of bed just in time for College Gameday then watch games all day long until I can hear Herbie telling Mussburger to shut his Michigan loving trapper.  For some reason all parents (and when I say parents I mean wives) want to do is throw their kid's birthday party on Saturday afternoon.  Like people don't have anything else to do.  I mean come on your kid is 2 years old, do they really care what day of the week their party is on?  No but some of us adults would like a say in the matter.  If 75% of all Buckeye games are on at 12:00 on a Saturday and 75% of all birthday parties are scheduled at 1:00 someone didn't do their planning.  Throw the kid a party on Tuesday night.  Heck I will even leave work early just to be there on time. 

    This is why with my wife I have proposed a dry season.  No babies shall be born within the period of September 1st and early December as to not cause any confusion with birthday party planning.  So as soon as the Rose Bowl ends until the end of March Madness we go into protection mode.  I am very happy to say I made it through my very 1st dry season and my wife and I recently found out we are in line to have our first child with a due date of March 31, 2012. 

    The dry season can be implemented for any season.  I don't know where you plan on living once you get married but if you are planning to stay in Ohio I propose we get this trend started as soon as possible.


    You’re doing the Lord’s work, James.

    I have a older gentlemen neighbor who apparently has an odd sense of dressing in the warm summer months. He often feels that it is so hot out that he can't wear a shirt, but cool enough to still be wearing jeans. Do you have any experience with this phenomena? Please help rationalize his logic.


    He has prosthetic legs and gets embarrassed when people find out. He fought in Vietnam for your freedom and at one point during the war, he stepped on a landmine and it completely mutilated both of his legs. He should’ve died and the doctors said he was never supposed to walk again, even with prosthetics. But the doctors never accounted for his resolve. He wasn’t going to just give up. Not after all those years of fighting.

    So he worked his ass off for years just so maybe he could one day walk again. Day in and day out he did hours of strenuous physical therapy, unsure of whether or not it would ever really pay off. Like anything else, there were good days and bad days, but through it all he kept pushing. He kept thinking about his goal – one day walking down his driveway and getting his paper without any help. It wasn’t a very glamorous goal, sure. But he was a high school dropout from the south side of Chicago who had served five years fighting a war with no end in sight in the unimaginable hell that was the Vietnam jungles. Nothing about his life was glamorous.

    Every now and then, he’d think back on that fateful day and ask God why He would let such a terrible thing happen to him. Why God didn’t just let him die right then and there. Why God made him suffer through all this pain. It was impossible not to think that way. After all those years of wondering whether he’d ever walk again, he felt like he had every right to feel sorry for himself every once in a while. Can’t say I fault the guy.

    Eventually all the physical therapy took its toll on him. He couldn’t take it anymore. He was ready to tell the doctors that he had finally given up. That he had accepted that he was going to be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. That that landmine had finally gotten the better of him. But he thought he’d do one last therapy session before he threw in the towel. For old time’s sake. He owed himself that much.

    The physical therapist walked into his room like she had all those days before, always optimistic that that particular day was going to be the one that they’d have their breakthrough. She’d never been right, of course, but he appreciated her optimism nonetheless. It was something that he himself couldn’t even muster these days.

    She strapped him into the harness and set up the guide bars like she had done every other day for the past few years. She would never admit it to him, but while she was optimistic for some sign of progress on the outside, on the inside she was just as jaded as he was. She knew that nothing significant was going to happen that day. But she was wrong.

    She gave him the same routine commands she always had and he mumbled under his breath while she talked just like he always had. When she finished instructing him, he rolled his eyes and said, “Here goes nothing” as he attempted to take a step. He expected the same results as before, but this time something happened. This time the prosthetic moved. It was the breakthrough they had been waiting for all these years. He couldn’t believe it.

    That moment breathed new life into him. He was back. No more feeling sorry for himself. He was going to walk again. No excuses. Over the course of the next couple of months, he made steady progress. Nothing too crazy, but it was progress dammit. Nobody could take that sense of accomplishment away from him.

    Not any more than a year after that initial breakthrough, his physical therapy was complete. He could walk again. Not very well, mind you, but it was a start. He had the rest of his life to figure out his new legs. For the time being, he was going to celebrate his victory by simply walking out of the hospital on his own power. That was all he ever wanted.

    These days he keeps to himself for the most part. He’s a simple man with a simple life but he’ll tell you he wouldn’t change a thing about it. He’ll tell you that he’s lived more life than most people. He’ll tell you that he’s proud to have fought in the war and served his country. He’ll tell you that he’s got all he ever wanted out of life. But he’ll also tell you that the prosthetics embarrass him. He can’t help but feel guilty that he didn’t give enough. So many of his brothers perished and all he gave were his two legs. The more he thought back on everything, the more surviving became a burden.

    But he’s learning to cope with it. He’s finally finding peace with himself and what happened on that day that forever changed his life. But he still doesn’t like revealing his prosthetics to people just because there is too much baggage that comes with people knowing. He doesn’t want to have to tell the stories and relive the horrors. Most importantly, he doesn’t want to deal with the judgment. He knows he’ll be looked at as either a freak or as a hero. He thinks both labels are unfair. He’s just an old man trying to live out whatever years he has left to the best of his abilities.

    So he always wears jeans to cover his fake legs and his very real memories. He’s not sure how much time he has left on this Earth and when he’s going to be reunited with his fallen brothers, but what he is sure of is that he’s going to spend most of that time with his family and loved ones. And any free time in between he’s going to spend tending to his garden and wondering why the dipshit kid next door always gives him weird looks when he walks around with his shirt off.

    Either that or he’s just a crazy old man who really loves his jeans.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              The Miami Mess        

    When I first heard about the Yahoo! Sports report that a Miami booster provided cash, cars, jewelry, use of mansions and a yacht, prostitutes, bounties for taking out the opposition, and an abortion for Miami football players, I had three immediate thoughts: 1) Holy balls, Miami knows how to party, 2) This wouldn’t even be that big of a deal if the NCAA weren’t an unprecedented and corrupt cockblock that gets away with a  multibillion dollar scam year after year, and 3) Having said that, the rules are the rules and – if the allegations are true – I’m not sure there has ever been such a flagrant breaking of NCAA rules in the history of both the NCAA and their explicit rules against soliciting prostitution and boosters paying for abortions.

    Let’s start with what’s really important – the partying.  Now, thanks to depictions of Miami in all sorts of TV shows and movies (and at least one music video), I’ve always thought that I had a relatively good idea of just how much the city likes to party.  I mean, anyone who has seen Will Smith rocking a wifebeater while hollering at hoochies, Tony Montana burying his face in a heaping mound of blow, Ace Ventura talking out of his butthole, Horatio Caine smoothly putting on his sunglasses after pausing midsentence, and Dexter Morgan saran wrapping criminals to a table and driving a knife through their chest before dismembering their bodies, putting the remains in a bunch of garbage bags, and dumping the bags in the Atlantic Ocean should fully understand that the city of Miami is all about having a good time.  But even with all of these depictions of Miami being a zoo fully packed with party animals, I was still pretty surprised when the Yahoo! report came out and revealed that the average Miami football player apparently breaks the BYU Honor Code 14 times before they even eat breakfast.

    What made the report so surprising to me is that even though the fact that this all took place in Miami shouldn’t make it all that shocking, we’re still talking about 18-22 year old kids here.  Sure it seems like “18-22 year old kids” and “partying” are synonymous, but if you really think back on your days in college, I’m guessing “partying” just meant drinking a bunch of cheap beer, listening to music that was turned up way too loudly only because whoever was hosting the party wanted to show off their sound system, crossing your fingers that the girls you were hitting on were too drunk to notice how ugly you were, and drawing penises on the foreheads of your friends who passed out before you did.  Every now and then maybe there were people passing around a joint or two, but for the most part that is what a typical college party entails. 

    Nowhere in that description did I mention yachts, mansions, cash, jewelry, or – most importantly – prostitutes, which is why the Miami allegations are shockingly awesome to me.  According to US census data taken in 2010, less than 1% of American citizens have ever partied on a yacht or with prostitutes, so for a bunch of Miami football players to allegedly have done both before they were even old enough to legally rent a car  is truly a remarkable thing and is something I won’t hesitate to admit makes me jealous (hell, I’m sure a lot of them went to these parties before they were even old enough to legally drink).  Then again, I guess all of this shouldn’t have been much of a surprise considering the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about Miami emphasized how wild the Hurricanes were back in the 80s and 90s, and the 7th Floor Crew song in 2004 (very NSFW language) revealed that dorm room gangbangs are apparently as much of a current Miami football tradition as pissing and moaning about a pass interference call from almost a decade ago.

    Anyway, now that we got the important and fun part out of the way, let’s discuss what is rapidly becoming the bane of my existence – the NCAA’s steadfast refusal to let athletes profit from their own abilities even though those same athletes’ abilities are the reason the NCAA and the schools the athletes represent rake in billions every year.  As a guy who had to wear the NCAA handcuffs for four straight years (although, let’s be honest, since I was a walk-on my handcuffs weren’t that tight) and couldn’t even accept a free sandwich if I was offered one, I think it’s nothing short of ridiculous that the NCAA continues to cockblock their athletes. 

    As far as I’m concerned, the Miami football players getting cash, jewelry, cars, access to yachts, etc. shouldn’t even be an issue, just like the Ohio State football scandal should have never been an issue, because there’s no logical argument as to why the athletes shouldn’t be entitled to all those things (the OSU scandal especially shouldn’t have been a big deal since I’m of the opinion that the players technically earned the things they sold).  Now, the prostitutes and the bounties that were allegedly paid to Miami players to take out opposing players are obviously a big deal, but I’m focusing on the free cash and gifts right now.  As shady and corrupt as college sports may seem, at the end of the day the superstar athletes that generate millions for their schools have every right to accept all the cash and gifts they want because they aren’t anywhere close to being as fully compensated as they deserve to be.  That’s right, I said it – it’s criminally unfair that college athletes (read: football and men’s basketball players) aren’t paid.

    The prevalent argument against paying players is that the players are already getting paid in the form of a free education and a monthly stipend, but I have two issues with this argument. First, from experience I can tell you that the stipend is basically just enough money to survive on and typically isn’t a large enough sum of money to result in very much discretionary income for the players, so really it isn’t even worth mentioning (as I’m sure you all remember me infamously discussing in a certain earlier blog post). In all honesty, when you think about all the hours the players put into their respective sports, the stipend is probably just a little bit higher than minimum wage. Obviously there are many people in America who are living off of minimum wage (or in this economy, no income at all), but these people also aren’t bringing in millions upon millions of dollars for their schools and conferences like the star athletes are, so it’s not exactly fair to just say “if other people can make it work, college athletes should be able to also.”

    Secondly, while you and I might place a high value on a college education, many superstar athletes are in college solely because they want to prepare for the pros, so a free education doesn’t really mean much to them. I mean, if you really think about it, the fundamental purpose of college is to gather all the knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce in your desired field. Keeping that in mind, for a lot of these guys the sport they play is essentially their major and taking classes and graduating is really just their form of an extracurricular activity.  Much like how you wanted to be an accountant so you went to college and majored in accounting, these guys want to be NFL linebackers so they go to college to major in breaking spines and ripping the heads off of timid receivers coming across the middle.

    This notion is obviously a stereotype and doesn’t apply to everyone who is a shoo-in to make it to the NBA or NFL, but for the most part the All-American college athletes really only care about their education to a certain extent.  At the end of the day, their primary focus is making it to the big leagues, so while a free education would mean a great deal to people like you and me, for the superstar athletes who are likely going to leave college early anyway, a scholarship is the equivalent of being a paraplegic and being given a brand new motorcycle.

    People who are against paying college athletes and have a hard-on for protecting the concept of amateurism also often cite the fact that NCAA athletes know what they’re getting into because they sign all sorts of forms that explain how the system works, so they have no right to complain about anything.  But having gone through this form-signing process four times, I can assure you that it’s not nearly as simple as signing a contract with, say, a cable or gas company might be.

    When I was at OSU, we would have compliance meetings at the start of every academic year where we would be given a stack of papers to sign.  I specifically remember a handful of times when our compliance person would explain what the form we were about to sign meant and I would consequently think, “This is BS. I don’t want to sign this.”  On one occasion, I actually said this out loud to the compliance person and his response was, “Well, then you’ll be ineligible.”  So really, my hands were tied because my choices were to either sign the forms or essentially quit the team and miss out on the plethora of poon that comes with being an Ohio State athlete.  Negotiating was not an option so I had no choice but to sign the forms as they were.

    Now, I wasn’t really all that worked up and was mostly just trying to be a pain in the ass with the compliance people to screw with them a little bit because I knew that giving Ohio State and the NCAA the right to use my image and whatnot wasn’t really that big of a deal since, well, frankly I knew that they would never actually use my image to promote anything.  But at the same time I couldn’t help but think how pissed I’d be if I were someone who was a big time Ohio State athlete like, say, Terrelle Pryor.  Pryor was essentially forced to sign the same forms I had to, only when he was signing them, he was signing away thousands if not millions of dollars in potential earnings. 

    So for someone like him, the choices are either to not play or to let the school and NCAA profit boatloads of money off him while he gets essentially nothing in return.  In other words, for all intents and purposes, all college athletes are pretty much forced to sign these papers, especially since the fact that the NBA and NFL both require draft entrants to be a certain age leaves these guys with no viable alternative to playing in the NCAA (football in particular since high school kids can at least play professional basketball overseas instead of going to college while foreign football leagues versus big time college football is as laughable of a comparison as Qdoba versus Chipotle).  So the “they have no right to complain because they know what they’re getting into” argument holds no water from my perspective.

    I guess we could argue about whether or not college athletes should be paid until we’re blue in the face, but in the end it won’t really mean much because the NCAA isn’t going to change their ways anytime soon. The fact of the matter is that the only real way to get the rules changed seems to be for the players to essentially just go on strike and cause a lockout. But this will never happen because the players simply aren’t around long enough to make it happen.

    It can be assumed that the upperclassmen and the superstar freshmen and sophomores are the ones who are missing out on the most money (simply from the fact that they’re the ones who put butts in the seats at the games and would likely be the ones getting endorsements and whatnot), but by the time they realize that they’re getting screwed and they actually get upset enough to take action to stop the exploitation, they are already gone to the pros or have graduated and moved on to more important things in their lives. After those guys leave, the carousel continues to spin as a new crop of college athletes comes in and goes through the same cycle of sitting on the bench for a couple of years, finally playing toward the tail end of their careers, and not realizing that they’re getting exploited until it’s too late and they’ve got other things to worry about (and most importantly no longer have any motivation to see that college athletes are justly compensated).

    Because the athletes can never get enough traction to seriously challenge the NCAA, nothing gets changed and the exploitation continues. The NCAA knows that they will always have this advantage over the players, which is why I’m fairly certain they all sit in their offices and just cackle, rub their hands together with malevolent glee, and twirl their mustaches all day. I can’t decide if I think everyone involved with such a corrupt organization should be thrown in prison for eternity or if they should be congratulated and given some sort of award for successfully pulling off a multibillion dollar scam on unsuspecting kids year after year (the real irony here is that the NCAA – an organization that profits from screwing people out of money – is most likely going to punish the Miami kids for hanging out with a guy who screwed people out of money).

    But I digress.  The bottom line is that, if the allegations are true (it’s more fun to just assume they are, isn’t it?), the Miami players knew exactly what they were doing and knew that what they were doing was a blatant violation of NCAA rules, so it’s impossible to feel all that bad for them (especially if the stuff about the hookers and bounties is true – that really is indefensible).  Sure the rules are archaic and unjust, but ultimately they’re the rules and until they change, it’s probably best to just abide by them and not choose to break them in the most ridiculous and flagrant ways imaginable.  In the meantime, until the rules change, all us fans can really do is just sit back and hope that someday we can all look back on this era of college sports like we now look back on Prohibition (and will most likely look back on the illegality of marijuana and the concept of age of consent) and wonder, “What the hell were the people in charge thinking?”

    The world is a better place when yacht parties featuring hookers are plentiful and that is a fact.  The sooner the NCAA realizes this, the better off we’ll all be.

    It’s inevitable that at least one of you will think my hatred for the NCAA stems from the fact that I was forced to donate all the money from my shirt sales to charity when I was playing at Ohio State, so I thought I’d address that real quick.  First of all, let me say that the money went to a remarkable charity and was no doubt put to great use and I couldn’t be happier to have been somewhat responsible for that (I know it’s cliché to say that and you probably don’t believe me, but screw it – it’s the God honest truth).  At the same time, though, of course the selfish side of me would have loved to have had that $50,000 to spend on whatever I wanted.  You’re lying to yourself if you think for one second that some part of you wouldn’t feel the same way.  Who in their right mind wouldn’t want $50,ooo just handed to them while they were in college?

    But the reason I wasn’t all that upset that I couldn’t get that money and the reason I’m not necessarily pissed at the NCAA for that is because I knew that I wasn’t being exploited since I was a walk-on benchwarmer.  It’s not like Ohio State or the NCAA was making tons of money off of me, so I really didn’t have that big of a problem with me not being able to make money off of me either (I still thought it was dumb, but I wouldn’t say I was ever “pissed” about it). 

    No, my hatred for the NCAA comes from the fact that they use their athletes to gain a profit (which is completely understandable and fine) but won’t allow the athletes to use themselves to gain a profit (which is complete horseshit).  It sucks that I couldn’t make money from selling my shirts, sure, but the idea that Jared Sullinger won’t be paid a single dime for singlehandedly selling a bunch of tickets and jerseys this upcoming season is pretty disgusting to me.  I know this kind of thing goes on with corporations all over the world, but since I played college basketball and was around the NCAA’s exploitation on a daily basis, this particular instance is the one that I really get fired up over.  Pair my anger with the breaking story about Miami and the fact that I really don’t have anything better to do with my time and it explains my motivation behind this blog post.

    This is your last reminder that I’m writing a mailbag post on Friday, so don’t be a doucher and send me an email.

    Also, we’ve got a few more additions to my list of things that make people lame if they aren’t good but complete badass if they are good.  Here are a few more of my favorites that the Trillion Man March sent in:

    Drinking Beer

    From Laine:

    “Shotgunning a beer – if you've never done it before or if you're bad at it, it can squirt all over you (that's what she said) and make you soggy and smell like beer all night. If you're a pro, you take it down in one gulp and game over (again, that's what she said.)”

    From Evan:

    How is drinking in college not the gold standard for novices sucking and experts being amazing? Everyone wants to be like Frank the Tank and hammer that beer bong all night at the party. Depending on the size of your wood, you may or may not want to go streaking through the quad, but that's only a problem for those who can survive a night long of heavy chugging first anyway. But the kid who just got to the party, shotgunned 2 cold ones, and is already passed out puking in the bathroom? He's the biggest loser douche at the party and is going to wake up to shame and a lot of Sharpie dicks drawn all over his body.

    A related subject, beer pong. The guy at the party who always lets his partner shoot first because he never misses and will hit any cup is pretty awesome and can definitely keep that hot streak going all night right into some hot mama's bed. But the guy who can't hit a cup and then is running around the house naked showing off his tiny schlong because his team got shut out? Not so cool to be him.”

    Criminals (specifically thieves)

    From Trevor:

    “In real life, its fairly common to hear about people who try to rob a convenience store and end up getting held at gunpoint by the guy at the counter while the cops come. This is lame, even I could do better than that. On the other hand, real (ok, mostly fictional) hard core criminals are incredibly badass. Kaiser Soze? His nickname is the devil, pretty hardcore. Then there are all the other bankrobbing movies, The Oceans (11 through 13) Inside Job, etc. Then in real life you used to have Jesse James and all the wild west types. There just aren't cool robberies anymore really, its almost a pity.”

    I also thought about this one when I heard about the Miami football story and Nevin Shapiro’s Ponzi scheme and couldn’t help but think, “Even though that guy screwed a bunch of people out of a ton of money and should no doubt be locked up for a very long time, a small part of me is kind of impressed.”  I feel the same way about guys like Pablo Escobar, D.B. Cooper, Al Capone, etc.


    Also from Trevor:

    “Now on the other side of the spectrum, we have cops. There's the stereotypical cop, drinking coffee and eating donuts, kinda pathetic. Then you have supercops, like in the movies. I assume that the CIA and FBI are pretty intense in real life too, but I don't really know what they actually do.”

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              An Essay From A Guest        

    I gotta be honest with you and admit upfront that something unexpected came up today so I won’t be able to write as long of a blog post as I would have liked to.  Obviously, “something came up” can be interpreted as either writer’s block, me going back to my lazy ways, me getting an opportunity to play free golf and taking it, etc.  Regardless of what I tell you the real reason is, I know that you will all most likely think the truth is one of those aforementioned excuses, so I might as well not even try to explain myself and just move on (also, I’m not saying the real reason isn’t one of the aforementioned excuses).

    Having said that, Nut Up or Shut Up Week is still rolling on.  Since I promised you five blog posts in five days and since I never go back on my promises (except for the times that I do), I’ve got no choice but to deliver a blog post today come hell or high water.

    (By the way, hell and high water seem like two drastically different things. Don’t get me wrong – floods can be devastating, but the phrase “high water” doesn’t necessarily mean a flood.  All “high water” really means is that a couple of roads are closed throughout the town and that bag of Doritos you left in your basement might be a little soggy now cause some water is leaking in.  It sucks, sure, but really it only marginally sucks when compared to eternal damnation, so maybe the phrase should be changed to “come hell or apocalypse”, “come hell or the plague”, “come hell or famine”, or any of the other countless alternatives that are better than “come hell or high water.”)

    Anyway, because I guaranteed a blog post today and because I can’t really carve a huge block of time out of my day today like I typically do when I write these things, I’m going to turn today’s post over to a guest blogger. And by “guest blogger”, I mean that I’m going to copy and paste an essay that was written by Kosta Koufos using my computer when he and I were teammates at Ohio State and that I’ve had saved on my computer for all these years.

    Kosta, you might remember, was at Ohio State for one year before he went to the NBA and bounced around a few teams until landing with the Denver Nuggets (who he now plays for).  During his one year at OSU (my sophomore year), he was asked to write an essay that compared Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” to the original version by Nine Inch Nails for one of his classes, and for whatever reason he used my computer to do so.  After he finished writing the essay, I obviously saved it and planned on using it in my book somehow, but in the end there wasn’t any real purpose for it or natural place to put it so I left it out of the book (plus it’s not terrible enough to be really all that funny or entertaining).

    Since I’ve saved it for so long and have never done anything with it (and since I never got to make fun of Kosta on the blog because he left for the NBA before I started my blog), I figured I’d finally publish it.  So if you have ever found yourself wondering what a McDonald’s All-American has to say about the two most popular versions of “Hurt”, today is your lucky day.  I should mention that I opened the document, hit CTRL + A to copy every last word he wrote, and then opened this blog post and hit CTRL + V to paste it all, so please don’t accuse me of cutting stuff out or changing words around or anything like that.  Also, I swear that every bit of this was really written by Kosta when he was a freshman at OSU.  I had nothing to do with it other than copying it onto this blog (you’ll soon see that I couldn’t have written it because it’s not bad enough – had I written it as Kosta, I admittedly would have gone over the top and tried to make him look really stupid).  Anyway, here it is:


    Kosta Koufos


    Music Comparison

    After Listening to the song Hurt from both artists Johnny Cash, and the group Nine Inch Nails, it caught my attention in an awkward way. Both songs had the same lyrics, but sung in a different type of tone. I felt that the songs had more differences than similarities which made it very easy for me to make many judgments about the music pieces. The music had a common message and was very moving in a negative way. After listening and thinking about both music pieces, I came to realization that even though the song had the same lyrics, there was a distinct difference between the two.

    The first artist I listened too was Johnny Cash. As the song first starts out, you hear a guitar that seems to have a mellow dramatic sound. Then after the guitar plays, Johnny Cashes voice comes in with a very quite but strong passionate voice. As I listened to this song, it became very evident to me that it was about pain and sorrow in life. The main reason why I said the song was about pain and sorrow in life, was the fact that there were many statements used that used the word “death” in it. If I were to summarize this song I would say that it was about having everything in life, and all of a sudden you have nothing, but still you have to stay strong.

    When the song leaded to the chorus the beat became faster, and Johnny Cash’s voice still maintained his mellow voice throughout the whole song. As I listened to this, I kept thinking of wars and destruction, and the death that came with a price from the wars. I also had a religious image with Jesus being persecuted, and the life struggled he faced to get his message around about God. From listening to Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt I concluded that Nine Inch Nail’s version was much different.

    Even though both songs were very slow and very dramatic, the beginning of both songs was different. Johnny Cash’s version had more of an up tempo beat, while NIN version was extremely depressing. The first ten seconds of the song, all you heard was wind. As I was listening to this I had goose bumps, because it was a very chilling and eerie noise. The NIN version had the same attributes as the other version, for instance there was a guitar played, it had a very slow rhythm and depressing tone, and had a strong transition chorus.

    The main difference between the two songs is that with NIN, the singer was over powered by the background. It was very hard to depict what the singer was saying, which made the song more depressing than Johnny Cash’s version. If I had to choose between the two songs, I would have to lean more towards Johnny Cash. The reason for this is that his voice was more demanding and very easy to understand. With NIN, I had to listen to the song several times.

    Don’t forget I’m planning on doing a mailbag post on Friday and the length of the post depends exclusively on how many emails I get.  While I’d really appreciate it if nobody sent me an email for the mailbag so that I wouldn’t have to write anything, I think it would be better for everyone involved if the exact opposite of this happened, so get to it.

    Also, after asking for some more examples of activities/hobbies/things that make people look like douches if they aren’t very good at them but conversely make them look like grade A badasses if they are good at them, the Trillion Man March stepped to the plate.  Here are a handful of my favorite additions to the list that you all sent in:

    Astronauts (From Shelby)

    “A kid at space camp is ripe for a beating.  But an astronaut - well - he's on the moon.  (Or at least he was before Obama defunded NASA.)”

    Farmers (Also from Shelby)

    “My aunt has a veggie garden in the back of her house.  She likes to grow zucchinis.  Her tomatoes are actually pretty good; but when she starts going off about how her veggie garden is doing - well....

    On the other hand, we all depend on real farmers.” 

    Facial Hair (From Chris)

    “If you aren't very manly and can't grow a real beard then keep your facial hair clean shaven and stop looking like such a dirt ball, unless of course you are a dirt ball and that's just how you roll. People trying to grow a beard who clearly cannot just look like a 9th grade guy trying to impress the new slut in school because he got pubes on his face before anyone else. On the contrary, having an impressive beard can be one of the most badass additions to a man's look.”

    Wrapping a Chipotle Burrito (From Griffith)

    “I had a very poorly wrapped burrito today at Chiptole.  All my chicken, rice, and corn proceeded to fall out almost immediately after I picked up the burrito.  On the contrary, when I receive a well-wrapped burrito, it's the greatest thing of all time.  That's where my connection to your post comes in, when someone wraps the burrito (not trying to be racist but it's usually somebody white) and it's done poorly, the whole Chipotle experience is almost ruined.  On the other hand, when someone (again not trying to be racist but it's usually one of the Mexican employees) wraps the burrito really well, that's what makes Chipotle so awesome and I have the utmost respect for that employee.  The 2.7 second super-wrap.  Few things rival it.”

    Personally, I think a sloppy Chipotle burrito still beats the hell out of most anything else so it’s not exactly terrible to me and probably doesn’t qualify for my list, but I included Griffith’s submission on here because I wanted to reward thinking outside the box (plus, obviously not everyone is exactly like me and some of you might have your day ruined when you get a poorly wrapped burrito, so it might qualify for your list).

    Also, I loved Griffith’s disclaimer that he’s not trying to be racist, as though anybody in their right mind would think he’s racist for suggesting that Mexicans are better at wrapping burritos than whites.  Remember, Griffith – 1) it’s impossible to be racist against whites (regardless of your own race), and 2) it’s not racist if it’s a compliment.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              Another Misguided Concept        

    Admit it – you don’t think I can pull it off, do you?  Well, it’s Day 2 of what I’m now referring to as Nut Up or Shut Up Week at Club Trillion and here I am.  In case you were wondering, I am actually writing all of these blogs posts the same day that I publish them, so don’t think that I wrote a bunch of these and stockpiled them just so I could just sit back and make it seem like I’m working diligently (I really am working diligently, dammit!).  Also, even though it may seem like this week is all about me giving back to the Trillion Man March or something, the truth is that I’m much more selfish than that.  The sole purpose of this week is to get me to stop being so lazy and to give myself the kick in the pants that I kinda need right now, which is ironic since had I not issued this challenge to myself in the first place there’s a solid chance I wouldn’t have even put pants on at all this entire week (another irony: this last sentence discussed both pants and irony and sometimes I iron my pants before I put them on!!!).

    Anyway, for Day 2 I’ve decided to write about something I’ve been giving some thought to for a little while and was just reminded of this past weekend when I went back to Indiana and stayed in my hometown for a few days.  Now, I’ve mentioned Brownsburg a time or two on this blog before, but in case you missed it or don’t remember what the town is like, just imagine your stereotypical suburban town and that’s pretty much it.  There’s really nothing all that special about the place (save the Little League World Series appearances in 1999 and 2001 and the fact that Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz, Drew Storen of the Washington Nationals, and Lance Lynn of the St. Louis Cardinals all graduated from BHS within a few years of each other), but there is at least one thing about Brownsburg that I’ve yet to see duplicated anywhere else, and that one thing is the unprecedented amount of adolescent loitering. Yes, loitering (loitering…and smoking the reefer).

    Forgive me for sounding like a grumpy old geezer, but every time I go back to my hometown, there always seems to be a ridiculous amount of 12-15 year old dudes just hanging out everywhere throughout the town.  They never have any sort of agenda and seem like they’re just really bored and want to get out of their houses cause their moms are strung out on drugs and their dads are alcoholics who beat them or something.  No matter the day of the week or the time of day, it always seems like there are kids hanging out at the grocery stores, the bowling alley, the Wal-Mart, the movie theater, both of the McDonald’s (don’t want to brag or anything but yeah, Brownsburg’s got two), and even the liquor stores.  It’s like a gay pedophile’s paradise seeing as how the entire town is crawling with 12-15 year old boys.

    Now, using my own adolescence as a template, I originally thought that these kids were at the grocery stores to MILF hunt, were at the bowling alley to hit on girls their own age, were at the Wal-Mart to commit petty theft, were at the movie theater to sneak into some terrible (probably Tyler Perry) movie and get a handy in the back row, were at the Mickey D’s to get free food from their friends who work there, and were at the liquor stores to try to get someone who is 21 to score some booze for them.  But I’ve observed these kids enough to know that they aren’t doing any of that (um, I swear I observed them for research purposes for this blog post and not some other reason). 

    Instead, they’re just hanging out by the entrances of all these places and are talking amongst themselves, presumably about how big of a bitch their English teacher is or how badly they want to see that Kelly chick’s boobs.  More often than not, they never actually go into the establishment that they’re hanging out by and instead just get in everyone’s way since they’re sitting right by the entrance, which is why these kids annoy me so much.  Also, without fail there is always at least one kid in the group who has a skateboard with him.  And that’s what got me thinking.

    Because of the kid in the group with a skateboard, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed a bit of a disdain for all kids who skateboard, primarily because I’m a stereotyping ass.  Having said that, though, I don’t have a blanket hatred for all skateboarders, as I actually think pro skateboarders are pretty badass and enjoy watching them do their thing during the X Games every summer.  I’m a big fan of Tony Hawk, Rob Dyrdek, and Jason Ellis in particular, and anyone who knows anything about me knows that just thinking about Rune Glifberg doing a Christ Air on Tony Hawk Pro Skater makes my nipples rock hard.  I really do enjoy skateboarding, but thanks to these kids who loiter with their skateboards at popular places in my hometown and annoy me to no end, I only like pro skateboarding and kinda think that all non-pro skateboarders are crusty tampons.

    After giving it some thought, I realized that skateboarding isn’t the only thing that I feel this way about.  There seem to be a handful of skills/activities that I think to myself, “That guy’s a douche” if I see someone doing the activity recreationally or as just a hobby or something, but also think, “That guy’s a total badass” when I see an expert doing the exact same thing.  Obviously this is somewhat hypocritical thinking since it’s impossible for someone to become an expert at something without being a novice first, so it’s stupid to rag on young skateboarders because Tony Hawk was once a novice too. 

    With that in mind, this is more of an observation of my own flawed thought process than anything else.  So if you do any of the activities that I’m going to mention in a little bit as a hobby, please don’t take this the wrong way and think that I think you’re an idiot for what you choose to do with your free time.  I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life.  I’m instead just basically pointing out how messed up my logic is (although, my guess is that a lot of you feel the same way about a few of these things so really it’s more of me pointing out how messed up everyone’s logic is).

    Now that we got that disclaimer out of the way, let’s take a look at my list of the nine things other than skateboarding for which I think novices are losers but experts are badasses.  Before we do, though, I should address the fact that you might be thinking that this criteria applies to all activities.  You might be saying to yourself, “But of course you think novices suck and experts are awesome.  That’s because novices are novices and experts are experts.  That’s how everything works.”  My response to this is well, not necessarily.  Here’s a chart that provides some examples and shows the difference between a few separate activities.

    novice vs expert chart

    If you play pick-up basketball but aren’t that good, nobody is going to look down on you or judge you or anything (I mean that they won’t judge you for the decision to play basketball – if they make fun of you, it’s because you are atrocious and can’t even hit the rim and not because of what you choose to do as a hobby).  Meanwhile, video games are something that are almost better to not be that good at.  It’s cool to play video games with your friends every now and then, but when you become an expert at a particular game, people think you’re a complete loser who never leaves your house (this explains the genesis of Nut Up or Shut Up Week).  And poor Magic: The Gathering players – no matter how good or bad you might be, the mere fact that you’re playing it at all kinda makes you a loser.

    So now that you see the difference, keep in mind that we’re concerned with just that fourth case on the chart.  I’ll provide my list, but part of the reason I wrote about this is because I want some input from the Trillion Man March.  I know that there are some things I didn’t think of, which is why I’m hoping some of you will email me with examples you come up with.  Anyway, here’s my list:

    Martial Arts

    I guess MMA guys could also kinda be grouped in with this, but here I really mean guys who do karate or judo or taekwondo or whatever else they teach at your local dojo.  Just think for a second how you’d react if you found out your friend goes to karate class every Thursday night versus how you’d react if you found out your friend was a black belt in karate.  I don’t know about you, but I’m equal parts jealous and terrified of anyone who has a black belt in any of the martial arts, which might explain why I make fun of people who take martial arts classes and aren’t yet black belts.  Maybe I’m just getting in my licks while I feel like I still can since once they get black belts they’d be able to mutilate me without even breaking a sweat (yes, I’m aware that even non-black belts could still have their way with me).


    I know some people probably think ventriloquists fall into that Magic: The Gathering group in that no matter how good or bad they are, they’re still kind of weird for doing it at all.  But there’s something about good ventriloquism that I appreciate.  I really shouldn’t have to defend myself, but I offer this example as one bit of evidence why I am sometimes jealous of and thoroughly entertained by ventriloquists.


    It’s been brought to my attention that some people don’t know what Parkour is, so if you’re included in this group, watch this video and get up to speed.  I might be alone in this, but the first time I watched that, my jaw would have dropped all the way to the ground had my fully erect penis not stopped it first.  Some of the stuff on there completely blows my mind and makes me wonder exactly how someone practices that stuff….

    …which brings me to the homeless man I saw in downtown Los Angeles a couple of months ago who was apparently trying to run up walls.  Now, there’s a good chance this guy was just high on LSD, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was actually just trying to practice some Parkour, because he also jumped over a few benches and twirled himself around a street sign.  Up until that point, I had always assumed that all Parkour was sweet, but then I saw this homeless man faceplant after he tried to jump over a bike rack and I realized that for as cool as the Parkour experts are, the Parkour novices are exactly that uncool.

    Freestyle Rapping

    There’s this guy and then there’s Tom Green and Xzibit.  I think those two videos prove my point for me.

    (If you didn’t click the links, I should mention that the video that I linked to as the good example probably isn’t the one that you thought was going to be the good one.)


    Obviously there’s nothing wrong with being able to make a good meal for yourself, so don’t think I’m picking on you if you regularly cook.  I’m more concerned with the guys like Randy Marsh from the “Crème Fraiche” episode of South Park.  You know, guys who own all sorts of utensils (and probably don’t know what most of them do), obsess over cooking shows, are always on the hunt for good recipes, and think they’re gourmet chefs just because they can make a casserole.

    Actual gourmet chefs, on the other hand, are doing the Lord’s work.  I fully respect people who can make elaborate and delicious meals, to the point that the rare times I eat at a nice restaurant, I typically don’t enjoy the meal as much as I should because I’m too busy envying the chef and hating myself for not knowing how to make anything more than a ham sandwich.


    This is pretty self-explanatory. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your cheesy uncle who thought he was awesome when he would pretend to pull his thumb off or find a quarter behind your ear whenever he saw you at family reunions was actually a complete loser. Conversely, this is kind of badass.

    Doing Drugs

    This one is a little different than all the others in that I personally never get jealous of someone because they do drugs (just say no, kids).  But I still thought I should include it because there are enough examples of people who I think are pure badass primarily because of the boatloads of drugs they did or still do.  Plus, I think the juxtaposition of a looking down on the stereotypical meth head high school dropout and idolizing the stereotypical rock star who shoots up in his trailer before and/or after playing to a packed house is interesting.

    Sure there are exceptions and not everyone who does a ton of drugs is awesome (Lindsay Lohan), but guys like Hunter S. Thompson, Charlie Sheen (I know he’s become a cliché at this point and has kind of run his course, but less than six months ago the guy was on fire), and handfuls of pro wrestlers leave me no choice but to tip my hat to them simply because their ability to consume enough drugs to take down even the huskiest of Michigan cheerleaders is pretty impressive to me in some strange way.


    The kids who spray paint random lines on alleyways and the sides of trains are undoubtedly complete twats, but after watching Exit Through the Gift Shop, I can’t help but think that guys like Banksy and Shepard Fairey rule (if Exit Through the Gift Shop was a hoax, that only makes me respect Banksy that much more since he was able to dupe so many people).


    Anybody who has spent any time on a college campus has seen the guy who knows two or three chords and sits in a grassy area on campus (usually with his shirt off), strums his guitar, and throws lyrics to a popular song over top of some guitar playing that in no way matches the actual song.  This is the novice I’m talking about, not people like me who tried to teach themselves how to play guitar (but failed miserably) in the privacy of their own homes (of course I’m not talking about me – I have to find a way to save face, after all).  And really, you don’t even have to be an expert at guitar for me to think you’re awesome.  So long as you can actually play the thing and aren’t just trying to give the impression that you know how to play, you’re cool in my book.  It’s the dude with his shirt peeled who is desperate for attention and bought a guitar just because he thought chicks would like him more that needs a swift kick to the taint.

    I think I might make my blog post for Friday a mailbag post, but that depends mostly on whether or not I get any good emails between now and then, so if you have anything to ask or tell me, send it to me in the form of an email and I’ll respond to it for all the world to see.  I know Simmons is in the midst of his “Summer of Mailbag” over at Grantland, so after you’re done complaining about how I’m copying him and after you’re done sulking over the fact that he didn’t include your email in his mailbag column from last week, send your rejected email my way and I’ll take care of you.

    And don’t forget to do your homework tonight and send me any ideas you came up with for what I discussed with this post.  If I get some good ones, I’ll post them at the end of the blog entries throughout the week and give you a shoutout, which will in turn surely result in at least 2 or 3 Facebook friend requests you wouldn’t have otherwise received.

    As always, if your ideas suck please keep them to yourselves.


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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              Catching Up With Some Old Friends        

    I’m going to do it.  This week, I’m going to try to achieve what I’ve always assumed was impossible.  No, I’m not going to watch an entire WNBA game or try to rapidly drink a gallon of milk.  And no, I’m not going to become a vegan or try to teach Deshaun Thomas (who – by the way – might already be my favorite Ohio State athlete ever) how to pass a basketball.  And I’m certainly not going to try to memorize all of the lyrics to “Informer” or try to physically lift Evan “The Villain” Turner’s girlfriend off the ground without the help of a forklift or some sort of advanced machinery.  No, what I’m going to attempt is much more difficult than any of these things.  That’s because I’m going to try to write five blog posts in five days.  I’ll say it again in case you didn’t catch that and for whatever reason have some weird personal philosophy that prevents you from rereading things: I’m going to try to write five blog posts in five days.  Yes, I know I’m crazy for attempting to multiply my output by almost infinity and yes I’m fully aware of how dangerous this could ultimately be, which is why I took all the necessary precautions and have paramedics standing by should the unthinkable happen.

    For this first blog post, I figured I’d write about my journey to Indiana this past weekend because there literally isn’t a single thing that any one of you can do to stop me.  I initially went back to Indiana to play in the Travis Smith Memorial Golf Classic in Terre Haute but ultimately ended up staying at my parents’ house in my hometown for a few days after the event just because my mom kept making me free meals.  I’ve discussed my mom’s limited cooking abilities on this blog before, so intuition would tell you that staying for a free meal cooked by her would be like getting domed up by a great white shark – while the “what” seems pretty awesome, perhaps a little more attention should be paid to the “who.” 

    But despite her culinary shortcomings, the fact of the matter is that she’s really not that bad of a cook and she can certainly cook much better than I can.  And most importantly, her meals are free, which is a huge deal because there’s no denying that the best things in life are free, even if they also happen to be slightly burnt and could probably use a little more seasoning.  Anyway, after constantly stuffing my face for a few days and putting on at least five pounds, I had no choice but to flee my parents’ house and come back home to Ohio lest I develop type 2 diabetes and what would have surely been a nice set of man tits.

    By the way, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that while I know this is fairly obvious and pretty much goes without saying, it’s impossible to adequately describe how glorious that first poop you take after a long weekend of gorging at your parents’ house is.  Every time I question why I visit my parents and subject myself to the self-loathing that comes with quadrupling my daily caloric intake, that post-visiting the parents poop is always there to remind me and is what ultimately makes me return time and time again.

    But back to the golf outing.  Most of you probably don’t know this, but Greg Oden’s best friend since childhood, Travis Smith, died in a car accident in January of 2007, when we were in the midst of our freshman season at OSU.  Ever since then, a golf outing has been held in Travis’ hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana to honor Travis and benefit the local Boys & Girls Club.  This year, Greg financed his own personal team and asked me to be on it, most likely because I told him that I was a scratch golfer (to be fair, I thought “scratch golfer” meant that you typically get so frustrated during a round of golf that you stop keeping score and just scratch out the remainder of the scorecard). 

    Since he hosts the event and can therefore do whatever he damn well pleases, Greg made sure that Team Oden had one more player than all the other teams, which was significant because we were playing a best ball scramble so our team had one more opportunity to hit a good shot than the other teams did.  I was obviously the anchor of the team but other Team Oden members included Mike Conley, Josh McRoberts, a former AAU teammate of all of ours named Reece who played pro baseball for a few years and is now going to play basketball at UIndy, and my roommate from my freshman year at OSU who played high school basketball with Mike and Greg.  Had this been a Gus Macker, we would have no doubt mushroom stamped the competition, won the thing with ease, and most likely had a celebration party at a local strip club where we would’ve let the strippers drink Hennessy out of our trophy as we did lines of coke off their breasts.  Sadly, though, this was a golf outing and not a basketball tournament, and the golfing ability of the guys on our team ranged from “atrocious” to “somewhat decent.”

    The best player on our team was definitely Mike, who goes golfing pretty much every day and typically shoots somewhere in the low to mid 80s, but I found out when I got to the course that Mike would have to leave after 9 holes because he had a flight to Arkansas to catch.  This meant that I was going to be our team’s best player for the back nine.  As you can imagine, this was less than good news for our team.  I’m not exactly a terrible golfer (typically shoot high 80s/low 90s) simply because I go so often (I would go every day if I could afford it.  In fact, my life plan looks like this: “Step 1 – Get rich. Step 2 – Golf.”), but as a general rule of thumb, it’s probably not a good thing if I’m the best on the team, regardless of what sport we’re talking about.  This particular instance was no exception.

    Since we sucked so badly after Mike left (and honestly weren’t really doing that well even when Mike was with us), we decided to do something about it and fix our problems, which is to say we decided to honor one of the great historic traditions in golf and cheat like crazy so people wouldn’t mock us for being horrible golfers.  Throughout the last nine holes, each of us took multiple tee shots on each hole, we interpreted “club length relief” as “put the ball back on the fairway and cut a stroke off your score”, we treated any ball that was within 20 feet of the hole as a gimmie, and we even just blatantly wrote down a score that was in no way anywhere close to what we actually got a few times.

    After most of the holes on the back nine, Josh and I contemplated what to write down on the scorecard, because we wanted to obviously get a good score but still wanted to make sure we didn’t go overboard and end up accidentally winning the thing since it would’ve been obvious that we cheated.  In the end, our final reported score was a 9-under 62, which we thought was pretty good and would’ve been enough for a top 5 finish that would’ve got the ladies all hot and bothered.  But as it turned out, even with our blatant disregarding of the rules, we still finished something like third to last and were probably made fun of by everyone. 

    But not all was lost, though, because during the round Josh (who plays for the Indiana Pacers) confirmed what I had always thought was true when he essentially told me that Larry Bird (who is the Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations) is a total badass who drinks and smokes whenever he feels like it, says exactly what’s on his mind without a care in the world about who he might offend, and pretty much does whatever the f**k he wants because he’s Larry F’ing Bird. Learning this information and realizing that my idol is exactly as awesome as I hoped he would be is unquestionably a win for me, no matter where the final standings said our team finished for the day.

    After the golf outing, we all decided to reject reality and have a pool party at Greg’s new house in Indy to celebrate our big win.  I showed up an hour after I was told the party was supposed to start because in my experience I’ve found that an hour is usually how long it takes for all the butt-naked hos to arrive and really get the party started.  You can call it fashionably late if you want to, but I prefer to call it “trying to time it up perfectly so I’m not stuck at a party that has a serious deficiency of butt-naked hos.”

    Anyway, when I walked into Greg’s house, three things immediately stood out to me: 1) It was just Greg’s summer house that he plans on giving to his grandma because it’s not nice/big enough, and it was still nicer and bigger than any house I’ll ever own in my life, 2) A life-size sculpture of his penis was resting on the mantle above his fireplace, with the base of the shaft actually resting on the fireplace and the flaccid replica of his penis hanging down from the mantle so the tip of the penis was just a few inches from the fireplace, and 3) There wasn’t a single butt-naked ho in sight (I made up one of those three observations. I’ll let you figure out which one).  My first course of action was to bring this third observation up to Greg, as I said to him, “Greg, I’ve seen Entourage.  I know how you big shots party.  Where are the heaps of cocaine that are supposed to be randomly placed throughout the house?  Where are the people having casual sex in plain sight despite the fact that nobody at the party has any idea who they are?  Why are there not topless chicks walking around in the shallow end of your pool and kissing each other just because some horny dude at the party dared them to?  You call this a party?”  He responded by saying, “Shut up, asshole.  Do you want a beer or not?” and hitting me in the balls before he walked to the kitchen.  Touché.

    Apparently this “party” was actually just a laid back get-together with less than 10 people, which was a serious buzzkill for me but probably was for the better considering that I’m scheduled to get married in less than a year.  Anyway, since the party kinda sucked by my standards, the only real reason I even bring it up is to discuss Greg’s house.  Now, the house wasn’t exactly a multimillion dollar estate with an Olympic sized pool and a guest house or anything wild like that, but it was still pretty sweet considering that it had a pool with a slide in the backyard, an upstairs and a basement,  nice new furniture throughout the house (including a brand new piano and a pool table), flat screen TVs everywhere, a sound system that could be controlled throughout the entire house, and a theater room with a huge projector screen and a couple rows of seats (and let’s not forget that this was just his summer house that he plans on giving away because it’s not cool enough).

    As we were all sitting in the theater room, Reece asked Greg if he had any video game systems hooked up to the projector, to which Greg replied, “I have them all.”  Reece then decided he wanted to play Madden on Xbox 360 and I said I’d play against him, so Greg took a few minutes to get everything set up and then handed Reece and me some controllers.  But the controllers didn’t work because they were fresh out of the box and had never even been charged before, let alone used.  Reece and I quickly figured this out, so we walked to the closet where the video game systems were stored and we looked for the stuff we needed to charge the controllers. 

    As we were looking, I noticed that all the game systems looked brand new and all the games and DVDs he had on a shelf right next to everything looked new too.  That’s when it hit me – Greg has so much f’ing money that he just thought to himself, “What does this room need? Hmm, maybe some video games”, went out and bought at least three video game systems and a bunch of games to go with, probably paid someone to hook everything up for him, and then just let them sit in this closet where he most likely had never touched any of them (as evidenced by the fact that there were still stickers on the controllers and they hadn’t been charged yet). 

    When Greg walked back into the room, Reece and I had turned the TV back to Sportscenter or something.  Greg started to ask Reece why we weren’t playing Xbox, but I interrupted him because I just couldn’t help but address what was on my mind. I said, “Greg, do you ever just sit in this chair in your theater room of your summer house, push this button that makes your electric powered leather chair recline without you having to exert any effort whatsoever, watch TV on your gigantic projector screen, and think to yourself, ‘Holy shit I’m rich’?”  He stopped talking to Reece midsentence, turned his head toward me, looked me in the eye with a straight face for a few beats of silence like I was the world’s biggest dumbass, and emphatically said, “No” before he turned back and again asked Reece why we weren’t playing Xbox.  That told me everything I needed to know – this guy has more money than he can even comprehend.

    Now, I know some of you are probably thinking “Congratulations, dude. You know somebody rich. Aren’t you f**king special?  Too bad you’re still a poor douche who won’t amount to anything with your own life.”  And to that I say, you’re probably right albeit kind of impolite.  The point of me telling you about Greg’s house wasn’t because I was somehow vicariously bragging through Greg or because I think I’m awesome for knowing a millionaire.  The point of that story is that Greg has more money than I could ever even spend and it kind of blows my mind to think about it and actually see it in person (since he went to the NBA, I’ve probably only seen Greg maybe 5 times a year and most of those times are at OSU’s gym or when we go out to a bar or something.  I’ve never actually been to any of his houses that he’s bought with his NBA riches until this past weekend). 

    More importantly, the point of that story is that I’m now kind of beating myself up over the fact that I didn’t forge a stronger relationship with Greg when we were teammates and therefore missed out on a great opportunity to secure a spot in his entourage as one of his primary moochers. 

    There’s no telling how many butt-naked hos I could’ve partied with by now.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              How I Feel About The Brickyard 400        

    Being a native of Indiana and one of the few NASCAR fans who can form an articulate sentence and can say with absolute certainty that I have never kissed my cousin, the last week of July is typically a week that I spend doing a lot of explaining to people.  That’s because the last week of July is when the Brickyard 400 is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and is therefore the time of year that all sorts of people over here in Ohio ask me if I’m going back home for the race and then look at me like I just pulled my testicles out of my pants and rested them on their forehead when I tell them “absolutely not.” 

    Part of their disbelief comes from the fact that it’s no secret that I think the Indy 500 is the single most sacred event (sporting event or otherwise) in the world and that I’ve actually ended relationships with my friends and girlfriends when they didn’t want to accompany me to the race because they claimed that it didn’t appeal to them.  I’ve made it well-known that the Indy 500 is a really big f’ing deal to me, so people assume that because I actually prefer NASCAR to the IndyCar series, I must really be pitching a tent towards the end of July because I get to watch my favorite drivers race on my favorite track just a few miles from my hometown.  After all, the Brickyard 400 is essentially just the Indy 500 for NASCAR, right? 

    The answer is of course not, stupid.  Much like Disney’s Doug and a deep fried hand job, the Brickyard 400 is a perfect example of how it’s entirely possible to put two otherwise great things together and create something far worse than the individual parts.

    Let me first say that my disdain for the Brickyard 400 doesn’t come from me being some sort of traditionalist who hates the fact that the 500 isn’t the only race run on the sacred IMS track anymore, which is how some people in Indy felt when the Brickyard first started in 1994.  I’m perfectly fine with the idea of there being another race at IMS.  Hell, I’d be fine with there being a race every weekend at IMS so long as they all featured quality racing and a crazy party.  But that’s where the Brickyard 400 falls short and is really why I have such an issue with it – the racing sucks and the party is even worse.  On the surface, it seems like the Brickyard 400 has all the necessary elements to make for an awesome experience, but it only takes one trip to the Indy 500 and one trip to the Brickyard 400 to notice the vast difference and get the overwhelming feeling that, like a dry college campus or a prude supermodel, there are serious problems that completely outweigh any and all positives.

    First let’s tackle the racing.  Now, I don’t pretend to be a racing expert and even though I’ve been watching NASCAR for as long as I can remember, I admittedly have no idea what the hell the commentators are talking about most of the time because my knowledge of the terminology is pretty limited.  Truth be told, I probably know more about elephants than I do racing strategy or the anatomy of cars in general (here’s proof: elephants have up to six sets of teeth in their lifetime and once their sixth set falls out, they die from starvation because they can no longer eat.  Also, did you know that if you just went to your local zoo and picked out any elephant at random, removed all of its organs including its trunk, and laid them all end-to-end on the ground, you would certainly get arrested and would probably spend a significant amount of time in prison?).

    But despite my shortcomings in car knowledge, I am able to tell if what I am watching is boring or not.  Of course, some would argue that all racing is boring because it’s nothing more than a bunch of left turns.  And yet others would argue that this is all a moot point anyway because when I go to the IMS, I typically sit in the infield and don’t watch any of the race at all because I’m too busy slamming back a case of Bud heavies while trying to get trashy chicks to show me their goods.  But I’ve been to enough of these races to know how to pay attention to both the race and the Tweety Bird tattoo on the breast of some chain smoking lady in a tube top, so really that’s an invalid argument.  Besides, I went to a bunch of races before I turned 10 and started drinking and trying to get girls to flash me, and even back then I could tell that the Brickyard 400 just wasn’t getting the job done.

    The fatal flaw with the Brickyard 400 is that the track simply wasn’t built for NASCAR cars.  Again, I don’t know much about car engineering or the science behind racetracks and whatnot, but even a Michigan fan could figure out pretty quickly that IMS has relatively no banking.  This lack of banking means that most of the entertainment at IMS comes from watching cars fight physics and try to make a turn going 200+ mph without much help from the track itself, which might be boring to watch on TV but I assure you is pretty nuts to see in person for the first time (and really every time).  This fighting of physics is exactly what the founders of the IMS wanted, seeing as how they built the track in 1909 primarily as a way to test the limits of high performance cars (fun fact: the guy who was in charge of building the track thought that cars wouldn’t be able to go any faster than 120 mph around IMS, so the fact that the modern day cars run at almost double that speed during the Indy 500 is pretty remarkable).

    Anyway, my point is that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built and exists for one reason – to see how fast cars can go around it.  It was a track built to test speed and the Indy 500 does just that, which is why that particular race is so entertaining.  The cars are literally going as fast as the physics will allow them and if the drivers make even a fraction of a mistake, it could cost them a win (JR Hildebrand on the final turn this year) or in some cases – God forbid – even their lives.

    The Brickyard 400, on the other hand, doesn’t provide that balls to the wall speed that the 500 does because NASCAR cars are built entirely differently.  NASCAR races, relatively speaking, are often predicated more on physicality than speed (at Indy, NASCAR cars average about 50 mph less than the open wheel cars do), so when they race on a track like IMS that was built solely to test speed, they go relatively slowly through the turns and the race turns out to essentially just be a parade of what appear to be elaborately painted refrigerators.  Plus, throw in the fact that NASCAR guys like to bump each other and IMS is most certainly not a track for bumping, and it makes things even worse because all that bumping results in a lot of crashes and caution flags (when people say they like crashes, what they really mean is they like seeing fiery crashes where the car rolls a few times and looks completely decimated when it’s all said and done.  Most crashes, though, are entirely unexciting and just drag out the race and make it even more boring).  Throw all of these factors together and what you’ve got is a race that can’t even sniff the jock of the Indy 500.

    Of course, this is just my theory that I’ve established solely through years of observation.  I don’t have stats to back me up and I certainly don’t have any real knowledge of racing whatsoever, so there’s a good chance my explanation is way off.  Either way, the fact of the matter is that the racing at the Brickyard 400 just isn’t that exciting.  Regardless of why, there’s no denying that it’s pretty boring when compared to the 500.

    Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the real issue – the partying (or more accurately, the lack thereof).  There are really only four words needed to explain why the Indy 500 party scene makes the Brickyard 400 party scene look like a Sunday morning trip to church with your grandparents – general admission infield tickets.  I’ve written about this before, but the infield at the Indy 500 is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life (and yes, I’ve been to the Kentucky Derby), primarily because I’ve seen just about anything you can imagine short of rape and murder.  I’ve seen people having sex (I’ve even seen what appeared to be a 3-way), I’ve seen people doing hardcore drugs, and I’ve seen a woman try to piss in a busy men’s restroom by removing her jean shorts, propping her foot up to get a better angle, and pointing her vajeen toward the community urinal tub (admit it – you’re jealous).  It might be a typical Tuesday afternoon for Charlie Sheen, but for average people like you and me the infield at the 500 is mind-blowingly wild.

    Why is the Indy 500 infield so rowdy, you ask? It’s simple – because it’s stupidly cheap and you can damn near bring anything into the track that you can carry.  This is really what separates it from the Kentucky Derby infield in my mind (not to mention the fact that horse racing can lick auto racing’s chode), since Derby infield tickets are more expensive and you can’t bring in outside food or drinks.  You can get a ticket for the Indy 500 infield for $30 and bring in a huge cooler full of food and beer (or if you’re like The Villain, stuff to make Cosmos).  Hell, for the 2010 race, I brought two kegs into the infield and tapped those bitches about 100 yards away from the track (it’s the only major sporting event I can think of that you can legally bring your own personal kegs to).  It’s essentially just a BYOB party with a $30 cover charge that 150,000 people are invited to and literally lasts all day, so there’s really no excuse for it not to be the most bitchingest party in America each and every year.

    The Brickyard 400, though, doesn’t have these coveted general admission infield tickets.  I’ll say it again, this time using bold text to help emphasize what I’m saying: the Brickyard 400 does not have general admission infield tickets.  If that confuses the hell out of you and makes you think whoever is in charge of this decision should be immediately fired, you now have something in common with every 18-34 year old (white) male in the greater Indianapolis area. 

    Now, it should be noted that you can buy a regular ticket with an actual seat assigned to it for the Brickyard 400 and walk into the infield and watch the race from there, but that completely defeats the purpose of the infield ticket.  Regular tickets aren’t as cheap as the infield tickets would be, so the poor white trash people that can afford to come party at the Indy 500 (and are typically the rowdiest people at the track) don’t show up for the 400.  As a result, the infield for the Brickyard basically just consists of legitimate race fans who have no interest in partying and just want to sit closer to the track to enhance their experience, college kids who think they’re cool because they’re drinking beer at a race at IMS and don’t know that the Brickyard is the JV race, and middle class people who don’t completely hate their lives like the poor people do and therefore don’t turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with their failures.  So yeah, the party kinda sucks.

    Basically, here’s the ultimate problem: In my opinion, the only way to make the Brickyard 400 as awesome as it should be and to make it a must-attend event is to sell the infield tickets.  But they won’t start selling infield tickets any time soon because they don’t even come close to selling all the normal tickets, so they’re obviously going to focus more on trying to figure out a way to get more people to buy the relatively expensive seat-assigned tickets because those tickets bring in more money for them than the infield tickets do.  But they’re never going to sell out of the normal tickets until the quality of racing improves.  But the quality of racing won’t improve because the track simply isn’t a good fit for those cars.  So really, the way I see it, the only way to improve the overall event is to completely change the type of cars NASCAR uses.  Obviously this can’t happen, which is why the Brickyard 400 seems like it’s on track (pun absolutely intended) to be a perpetual letdown.

    And let’s not kid ourselves.  Even though I said earlier that I wouldn’t mind there being a race at IMS every weekend, that doesn’t mean that all of the races there should be treated equally.  Regardless of the quality of racing or the party scene, the Indy 500 is in a class on its own just because of the history associated with it, and there’s legitimately no way in hell the Brickyard could ever come close to being as big of a deal to the people of Indianapolis (the Brickyard is like the NIT final four – just because it’s being held at a historic venue doesn’t make it a big deal).  That in and of itself is enough for some to think that it’s sacrilege to go to IMS for a race at any time other than Memorial Day weekend because the experience is borderline laughable and it makes the Indy 500 feel less special (another reason why the Indy 500 rules – Memorial Day is a built in recovery day for the day after the race). 

    For as long as I can remember, I haven’t been included in that group, but with each passing year it seems like I’m getting closer and closer to feeling the exact same way.

    It goes without saying that you should feel free to call me out on anything I screwed up.  As I said earlier, everything I just wrote is based on nothing more than my own personal experience, which typically means I’m embarrassingly wrong.  So if I was way off with my reasoning for why the Brickyard just isn’t what it seems like it could be, by all means send me an email and put me in my place.  If your email has enough vitriol in it, we might even become pen pals.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              My New Hero        

    After taking a couple of months off from blogging, let me first say that it’s good to be back and that I promise I  thought about you every single second I was gone.  Some of you have speculated that I suddenly stopped blogging because I was overwhelmed with the masses of people calling for my head for something I didn’t think was that big of a deal, but the truth is that I actually was a little bit behind schedule with my book and had to stop blogging so I could get my ass in gear and finish the thing (which, I’m proud to say, I eventually did finish one day earlier than was expected of me). 

    But even if finishing the book wasn’t the real reason why I stopped blogging, I don’t want to live in the past and revisit the outrage that I caused.  What’s done is done and talking about it now won’t change anything.  Besides, I’ve made it perfectly clear dozens of times: she told me she was 19 and even had an ID to prove it (it looked pretty real to me).  How could I have possibly known she was actually 15?  I never would have touched her had I known her real age and that’s the honest-to-God truth, so everyone just please move on.

    Speaking of sex, am I the only one who hears someone say “I’ll try anything once” as they dive into the appetizer sampler platter or go to take a sip of a new beer, and immediately get grossed out over the thought of what “I’ll try anything once” insinuates about their sex lives?  I am? Ok, cool.  Good to know.

    Even though this has nothing to do with anything I’ve previously written and this terrible transition is probably doing more to widen and less to bridge the gap between the two vastly different topics, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that Michael McCary is a new personal hero of mine and very well could be the biggest badass this world has ever seen.  Who is Michael McCary, you ask?  Well, the fellas probably just know him as the guy in Boyz II Men with the deep voice, but the females no doubt remember him as the guy who gave your vagina a boner every time he chimed in on a Boyz II Men song.  But even though he’s got an undeniably sexy voice that I’m not ashamed to admit once made my private parts tingle (although, to be fair, this happened at a dance when I was in 7th grade, so there’s a good chance my wiener moved more because I had two fistfuls of babe butt in my hands and less because Michael McCary was lubing my ears with his baritone), his voice isn’t what makes him a personal hero of mine.  No, it’s so much more than that.

    The first and most obvious admirable trait about Michael McCary is that he was a member of the greatest boy band ever.  Now, some of you might point to the Backstreet Boys or ‘N Sync or the New Kids as better boy bands, but that’s only because you’re either a woman (who was once a stupid and malleable little girl) or a racist white dude who can’t appreciate awesome black boy bands like Boyz II Men, Jagged Edge, and 112 (personally, LFO was always my favorite white boy band anyway).  The fact of the matter is that despite what the sales numbers say, Boyz II Men have more #1 songs than the New Kids, Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync combined, which is evidence that they made far better music.  Plus, pretty much every music video they ever made is a complete and flawless representation of just how awesome the 90s were, and should therefore be displayed in some sort of museum somewhere.

    But being in Boyz II Men on its own isn’t enough to be a hero of mine, or else all the guys in the group would be on the list.  What sets McCary apart is that not only was in Boyz II Men, but he was the benchwarmer of the group and has a long history of putting up trillions in their songs.  Allow me to explain.

    Michael McCary was consistently the only guy in Boyz II Men to not have a solo singing part in their songs and would instead usually just pop in every now and then and either drop a quick line or provide some bass backup by echoing whatever one of the other dudes just said (like in “One Sweet Day”, “Motown Philly”, and “4 Seasons of Loneliness”).  Not only that, but there were also the rare occasions such as in “On Bended Knee” and “End of The Road” when he’d tell singing to suck it and just start talking towards the end of the songs, and would use his smooth deep voice to persuade the chick that was the inspiration for the song to essentially just shut up and take off her panties because all the time spent arguing was boning time going to waste. 

    In those last two songs especially, I like to think that the other three guys in the group spent the entire song effectively getting their point across to whichever beautiful baby they were singing to (fun fact: one of the dudes was singing to Lisa Turtle in “On Bended Knee.” Fun fact #2: real life Lisa Turtle dated real life Zack Morris and was once engaged to Martin Lawrence), and McCary came in at the end to essentially be the icing on the cake and human victory cigar, not entirely unlike the walk-on benchwarmer at the end of games.  He’s unquestionably the least heralded and least appreciated guy in the group, but even though there have been tons of guys that have also fit this description in other bands, nobody did it as smoothly as Michael McCary. 

    Put it this way: I like to think that guys like Chris Kirkpatrick and Howie Dorough represent the douchey walk-ons who lose their minds cheering on the bench after routine plays and run out onto the court when timeouts are called so they can chest bump the real players.  These are the kinds of guys who desperately want to fit in with the team and want to be more involved, so they bust their asses in practice and follow their teammates everywhere off the court in hopes that they’ll eventually be accepted.  And then there’s Michael McCary, who I like to think is more like me.  He’s perfectly fine with his limited action and doesn’t give a Michigan whether or not he fits in with the rest of the team or whether or not he’s fully appreciated because he knows he’s got game and he doesn’t feel obligated to prove it to anybody.  So he just kicks back and relaxes until he gets called upon to contribute, at which point he steps in and makes it rain with his soothing baritone voice that, much like my silky smooth J, could charm the pants off even the most prudish of women.

    But if all that still isn’t enough for you to appreciate why he’s my new personal hero, consider this picture taken from the “End of The Road” video:


    In case you can’t tell what’s going on here, Michael McCary is rocking a hi-top fade, sitting on a rock as waves splash around him, holding onto a cane for no apparent reason, and resting his foot on the rock so his legs spread and the ladies can get a decent look at his man meat.  If it weren’t for the fact that he’s 16 years older than me and some would argue doesn’t really look like me, I’d be fully convinced that he and I were twins who were separated at birth.  I trust you now understand why I look up to the guy so much.

    Now that I’ve finished my book, the next step is to obviously figure out how I can give out as many free copies to the Trillion Man March as possible.  I still have to iron out some details with my publisher (apparently they have financial motive to sell as many books as possible at the highest possible price?!?), but my idea right now is to hold what I’m tentatively calling “Context Contests.”  The idea behind these contests is that I would post on the blog a single sentence taken directly from my book, give the TMM no context whatsoever, and then have you write a short story (no more than a few hundred words) either explaining how I arrived at that sentence or figure out a way to include the sentence in the story.  From there, I would give out free books to whoever provided the best/funniest/most ridiculous submissions.

    If I do, in fact, get the ok to give out free books, I will obviously sign all the ones I give out.  But I’ll take it even one step further and also get some of my former teammates to sign on the page of the book in which I wrote a story about them.  Like I said, I still have to iron everything out with the publisher, but in the meantime stay tuned.  At the very least, I’ll definitely give out a few free books out of my own pocket and some CLUB TRIL shirts and  CLUB TRIL mesh shorts too.  I’ll keep you posted.

    One last thing: A lot of you have asked, but as of right now I don’t know the exact date the book is going to be released.  I was told we’re going to most likely shoot for February or March, but it could be sooner than that. I’ll let you know when I find out for sure.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              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

              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

              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

              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

              Coping With A Realization        

    Before I get started, let me first remind everyone that the Bloodhound Gang’s most popular CD was not only entitled “Hooray for Boobies”, but the actual disc was flesh-colored (for white people anyway) and came with instructions to stick your tongue through the hole of the disc to make it look like a boob. I think I speak for everyone who was 12-years-old when that CD came out (like I was) when I say that this was quite possibly the single funniest thing in the world at the time.  I actually think I may have called the Bloodhound Gang “geniuses”, which looking back might have been giving them maybe just a little too much credit, but still. The fact of the matter is that they made a CD that looked like a boob, and for 12-year-old guys, that’s all it really takes to earn the “genius” label.  I regret nothing.

    (By the way, getting a group of guys together and dressing like the Bloodhound Gang from “The Bad Touch” video would make a phenomenal Halloween costume.  I suggest you get on that now.  You’re welcome for the idea.)

    Since I’m kind of on the topic of being 12-years-old and since – let’s be honest – I have no idea what to write about with this blog post and I’m basically just spitballing at this point, I guess I could discuss how I had a revelation since you last heard from me and realized that I live pretty much the same lifestyle I did when I was 12 (and school was out for the summer).  I mean, I still don’t have a real job and can therefore do whatever I want all day every day, I still have the exact same diet as I did 11 years ago, I still watch the same TV shows, and I still get nervous when I talk to attractive 14-year-old girls (whoops – um, please disregard that last part).  In fact, the only real differences now are that I have bills to pay (but even so, I only pay them when I feel like it), I can actually get arrested for egging my neighbor’s house and taking a dump in their shrubs, and I don’t sneak down to my parents’ basement to watch scrambled Cinemax at 2 in the morning.  Oh, and I now have a crippling amount of debt thanks to student loans and overusing credit cards (and apparently not paying my bills on time).  Can’t forget about that one.

    Anyway, the first time I should have known I was recently living a 12-year-old’s lifestyle was when I went shopping for groceries with my fiancée last week and she put gross things like lettuce, asparagus, and broccoli into the cart and I honestly loaded up on nothing but cereal, cookies, ice cream, and Spaghetti O’s.  Anyone who knows me on a personal level will tell you that I’m a notoriously picky eater, which is to say that I basically only eat meats and sweets (“Meats & Sweets” kinda sounds like it could be the name of a gay club, doesn’t it?), and I’ve been that way my entire life.  I’ve never really given much thought to the fact that I’m 23-years-old and I’m basically still eating from the kids’ menu, mostly because I think the food I eat is delicious and don’t see a reason to change.  I’ve just always poured myself a tub full of Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! All Berries, wolfed it down, and not thought twice about it.

    (I’ve got two things I need to get off my chest real quick: 1- As far as I’m concerned, Oops! All Berries is the best mistake in the history of mankind and will most likely remain at the top spot on that list until my first child is born, and 2- How have the Cap’n Crunch people not corrected the mistake by now? They’ve been making Oops! All Berries for almost 15 years. At this point, I think it’s clear that it’s no longer a mistake and they know exactly what they’re doing. Because of this, I think they need to change the name to “This Perceived Accident Was Actually Premeditated! All Berries”.  Just saying.)

    Anyway, where was I? Oh, right – I’m a picky eater.  So, about five days ago I got a terrible stomach ache and thought it was nothing more than some strange coincidence because my last blog post was probably my favorite piece of writing I’ve ever done in my life and it focused almost exclusively on pooping (side note: I was happy to see The Relationship Poop Cycle was so well-received by the Trillion Man March. You guys are awesome).  I expected it to be just a routine stomach ache that would pass with a painful 30-45 minute poo, but it turned out to be much, much worse.  Starting on Saturday, for about four days straight, it felt like a swarm of bees flew up my rectum, stung the sh*t out of my bunghole, and then set off a bunch of firecrackers to top it all off.  In other words, it has not been a pleasant week for me. 

    After a few days of battling the stomach ache, I realized that my original thought that this was somehow related to “The Relationship Poop Cycle” was dead wrong.  That’s because, after further review, I’m fairly confident that my stomach aches are directly related to the fact that my dinner pretty much every night consists of two cans of Spaghetti O’s, two PB&J sammiches, and one big ass bowl of ice cream for dessert.  I can’t say for sure, but I think my body has finally had enough and is trying to tell me to grow the F up and start eating foods that aren’t exclusively found at the tip of the food pyramid (I like my food pyramid like I like my foreplay – “just the tip”).

    (Let’s do another one of my patented paragraphs in parentheses.  Alright, so after eating Spaghetti O’s for about a week straight, I have another irrelevant theory.  Here it is: I’m fully convinced that Campbell’s spent millions of dollars on years of research to figure out the size of the average American fork prong, and then made the smallest Spaghetti O just slightly bigger than that.  Think about it.  Once you eat most of your Spaghetti O’s and you’ve only got a few stragglers left, what do you do? You start looping those bitches on your fork until you can’t fit anymore on there, that’s what.  Well, when I was eating the Spaghetti O’s this week, I noticed that the smallest O’s barely fit on the fork and you can usually only get one or two stacked on each prong at a time, which was something I somehow missed all these years.  The way I see it, Campbell’s purposely made these Spaghetti O’s this small because they wanted to stimulate kids’ brains and make them really focus on looping the biggest O’s first, the medium-sized O’s second, and top the stack off with the smallest O’s.  This way you can’t just randomly loop the O’s but instead you have to have a strategy to attack them.  Well, Campbell’s, I’m a product of the ADHD generation and don’t have the attention span for your manipulative games now that I’m a grown-up.  So do me a favor and get rid of the small O’s, because my only other option is to use a spoon.  And in my household, using a spoon to eat Spaghetti O’s is the highest possible form of blasphemy.)

    Last Friday, I was again reminded that I was living a 12-year-old’s lifestyle when I stayed in that night to watch Friday Night Smackdown! instead of going out, getting drunk, and making terrible decisions like pretty much everyone else my age does.  I haven’t watched pro wrestling in years, but ever since The Rock announced his comeback recently, I’ve started paying a little more attention to what’s going on (it was obvious Triple H wasn’t going to beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania and I don’t understand how anyone could’ve possibly thought he would.  Also, hearing about Edge’s injury damn near brought a tear to my eye.  He was a master on the mic and was one of my all-time favorites, which is why I paid tribute to his career by spearing my fiancée as she walked through our front door the other day).

    Anyway, much like my prolonged stomach ache has made me reconsider my juvenile diet, there are three reasons why I think it’s time for me to grow up and stop following WWE again (the same three reasons I stopped watching in the first place).  The first of these is simple – the WWE is racist. Now, I know that the WWE has a long history of pumping up racial stereotypes when creating characters (the most notorious example of this being Tony Atlas’ alter ego, Saba Simba), but that’s not what I’m talking about here.  No, I’m more concerned with the fact that it’s always the Hispanic announcers who have someone bodyslammed through their table.  Sure the American announcers get their table destroyed every now and then, but it’s almost always after the Hispanic guys get theirs annihilated first.  In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, 94% of the time that only one announcing table is destroyed in a WWE match, it’s the Hispanics who are left to deal with the damage.  Just try and tell me that’s not racism.  You can’t.

    The second reason I’m frustrated with the WWE is because they still have women’s matches.  That’s right – I’m all about racial equality, but gender equality can S my D and make me a sandwich.  I’ve got nothing against women per se, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve made love to more than 258 of them and even plan on living with one for the rest of my life.  My problem is more with women’s sports, especially the masculine sports like wrestling, football, and boxing.  On paper, women’s wrestling seems like a great idea.  Put smoking hot women in skimpy clothes and have them catfight? R U SRS? I’ve got a half chub just thinking about it.  This is just about every man’s initial reaction to women’s wrestling.  But when their matches actually start, it only takes somewhere between 10-20 seconds to figure out that there is literally zero chance that any of the girls will inadvertently lose their tops.  And that’s really the only reason for watching women’s matches in the first place.  Once it’s established that that’s not happening, all you’re left with is a bunch of unathletic chicks screwing up simple wrestling moves.  Sure their matches never last too long, but by the time you factor in their intros and the commercials before and/or after their match, that’s a 5-10 minute block that’s basically going to waste.  Coincidentally, because women’s matches are such a waste of time, that’s usually the part of the broadcast that I get up and make myself a sandwich.  And by that, I obviously mean that I have my fiancée make me a sandwich cause she’s a woman and that’s her job.

    (Relax, ladies. I’m only half serious.)

    Finally, the last and most important reason I’ve more or less given up on pro wrestling is because I just can’t stomach a WWE where guys like John Cena, The Miz, Wade Barrett, and Jack Swagger are marquee names.  This has nothing to do with these wrestlers being faces or heels (good guys or bad guys, for those of you who didn’t know), but rather because all four of these guys seems like world champion douchers.  The WWE I know and love featured Stone Cold Steve Austin flipping people off, drinking beer in the ring, and reminding everyone that Austin 3:16 says I just whopped your ass. The WWE I know and love featured The Rock dropping The People’s Elbow on fools, laying the smack down, and putting his boot straight up your candy ass.  The WWE I know and love never revolved around a bunch of douchey white guys with terrible personas who basically look like stereotypical frat boys with (more) steroids pumped into them.  Simply put, you’re never going to hear someone say, “The Miz is such a badass.”  And, the way I see it, that’s a serious problem.

    So that pretty much sums up my last week and a half.  I still enjoy the fact that I can sleep in and play video games all day if I want to (who wouldn’t?), but it’s clear that it’s time for me to start making some changes to my 12-year-old lifestyle, starting with trying some vegetables and watching more thought-provoking shows on TV (you know, like Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives).  Much like Uncle Joey and the Toys R Us kids before him, I’ve always prided myself on celebrating youth and not wanting to grow up.  But this past week has been a wake-up call, and writing all of this down (in an admittedly disjointed and improvisational manner) has been pretty therapeutic for me.  I need to make some changes and I need to make them now.  The only problem, though, is that my mom just brought home a ton of groceries and my Super Mario Kart isn’t going to play itself.  So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Fruit by the Foot and a date with Bowser on Rainbow Road calling my name.  I’ll start growing up tomorrow.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              The Relationship Poop Cycle        

    With the exception of benchwarming, FIFA, making it rain on the basketball court, the Rubik’s cube, belching the ABCs, singing “Sister Christian” at a karaoke bar, Facebook stalking, making fart noises with my armpit, eating ice cream, and destroying every aspect of the Presidential Physical Fitness Award in elementary school except those sumbitch pull-ups, there aren’t too many things in this world that I claim to be an expert at (my mom always stressed to me the importance of being modest). But now that I’ve been engaged to my fiancée and future first wife for almost a year, I’m starting to think that I just might be an expert on romantic relationships. Sure I’m only 23-years-old and sure most of my relationships have started on Facebook (and coincidentally, ended on Facebook), but that’s irrelevant because I’ve already discovered that all it takes to have a successful relationship is to have some sort of income, to not buy anything that costs more than $100 without first talking it over with your partner, and to not put your wiener where it doesn’t belong (or if you’re a lady, don’t let other guys put their wiener where it doesn’t belong). You can worry about “communication”, “being compatible”, and “maintaining that spark” later. Just so long as you make a little money, don’t spend too much of it, and don’t let other ladies ride your bologna pony, you’re set.

    Ok, ok…you got me. I’m not really a relationship expert, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve been dumped infinity more times than I’ve done the dumping. Instead of saying I’m a relationship expert, what I meant to say was that I’ve been in a handful of failed relationships and now that I’m in one that seems to have the legs to go the distance, I feel like I have enough experience to accurately measure just how serious a relationship is. And what I mean by that is that over the weekend I came up with a concept that I wanted to write about, so I first decided to write a couple paragraphs about how I’m a relationship expert just so it could maybe sort of serve as a transition into what I really want to discuss. After all, it would’ve been a little weird for me to talk about The Relationship Poop Cycle right off the bat. In fact, from what I’ve been told, that’s the first rule they teach you in journalism school – “Don’t talk about The Relationship Poop Cycle right off the bat.”

    So, now that I’ve introduced it, what is this Relationship Poop Cycle anyway? I’m glad you asked. It’s something I came up with while – you guessed it – taking a dump this past weekend that will surely revolutionize how you view your relationships. Here’s the gist of it: I’m of the opinion that you can gauge how seriously you view a romantic relationship and how much you like/love your partner based solely on your behavior when you are in their presence and, to alter a phrase from the 69 Boyz, you feel a poop coming on. The way I see it, as time passes and the relationship gets stronger, you will go back and forth with how comfortable you are pooping in front of your partner, which is why I refer to it as a “cycle”. Instead of trying to explain it further, I think it would work best if I just went ahead and jumped right into what the different phases of the cycle are. And by the way, since I’ve yet to even slightly figure out the female thought process, the cycle was created with the fellas in mind (but it’s still worth reading if you’re a woman because you’ll definitely learn how seriously your man views your relationship).

    PHASE ONE – Don’t want her to know that you ever poop

    This is in the preliminary stages of the relationship, usually within the first couple dates. Chances are that you aren’t yet an actual couple and since she doesn’t know much about you, you’re hesitant to excuse yourself because you don’t want her first memorable experience with you to be associated with defecation. Even if you can already tell that there won’t be a second or third date and you’ll never see her again for the rest of your life, you still don’t want her to know that you have to poop because it will forever haunt you to think about her friends asking her how the date went and her responding with “he left the table for 15 minutes to take a dump” or “he had to poop the entire night but didn’t want to be rude” (nobody wants someone’s lasting memory of them to revolve around feces). If you’re in this phase and you have to drop a deuce, your only real option is to tell the chick you don’t feel well, end the night early by taking her home so you can go back to your place and relieve yourself, and either reschedule another date within the next few days or never talk to her again. Or if you’re superhuman and can somehow take a sh*t in less than 5 minutes, I guess you could just excuse yourself like you were going to go #1 and then play it off like nothing happened (but be warned: unless you’re absolutely sure that you have the bowels of a god, I would strongly advise against this, as there’s a solid chance this could end up doing much more harm than good).

    PHASE TWO – Comfortable enough to excuse yourself

    At this point you’ve been on a few dates and she’s had the chance to get to know a little bit about you, so if you excuse yourself for 10-15 minutes, it won’t be the end of the world. After all, you’re human and pooping is the great common denominator of every person who has ever lived. Sure it’s not the best situation, but she understands and it’s not like she’s going to associate you with poop if she already likes you enough to go on four or five dates with you.

    PHASE THREE – Explicitly announce that you have to poop

    This is my favorite phase of any relationship and is exactly what it sounds like. By now, you know each other pretty well and she’s most likely your official girlfriend, so you see no reason to hide the fact that you just ate a couple of Chipotle burritos and will now be busy for the next 15-90 minutes. This is the phase where you basically tell her how it is and if she’s disgusted and can’t handle it, you’ll find someone who can. An interesting note here is that Phase Three is also the first significant phase in The Relationship Poop Cycle, because it most likely marks the first instance in which your girlfriend is on the same level as your friends and family.

    PHASE FOUR – Comfortable enough to poop at her place

    Phase Four is one of the most underrated phases because it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal until you’re in a relationship and it happens. Everyone knows that once you step outside the confines of your own house, it’s a whole different ball game, but in a relationship the stakes are raised that much more because clogging her toilet or having a Dumb and Dumber moment could very easily be a deal breaker for her. It’s common knowledge that before taking a dump in someone’s house, a man must always make sure he knows that there’s a plunger on hand, he knows where the backup toilet paper is, and he is confident that the bathroom fan could effectively mask the sound of any potential disturbingly gross drawn out farts. But that’s just the bare minimum. For some guys it takes much more than that to get comfortable enough to poop at their girlfriend’s place, and can sometimes take months for them to get to that point. Others, like me, though, don’t need quite as much time, which makes this phase the most debatable in The Relationship Poop Cycle (it’s probably actually Phase Three for me, but I know a lot of guys that this would be Phase Five or Six for). Either way, there’s no denying that pooping at your girlfriend’s place is definitely a big step in the relationship.

    PHASE FIVE – Poop with the door open

    Again, this phase is pretty self-explanatory and usually occurs a few months into the relationship at the absolute earliest (and almost always occurs after the relationship has at least gotten to third base). You don’t necessarily want her to see you taking a dump, but at this point you don’t care if she does because keeping the door open maintains good airflow, and that’s essential considering how majestic of a load you are capable of unleashing into the toilet. This phase basically tells her that you have officially integrated her into your life and you are now going back to the pooping behavior that you utilized before you met her, which is a pretty big deal if you really think about it.

    PHASE SIX – Poop in front of her

    This is similar to Phase Five, but is slightly different in that she’s actually in the bathroom with you as you poop. This is one of the more disgusting phases on The Cycle and is so disgusting, in fact, that some people save this phase for marriage. The important thing to remember here is that Phase Six doesn’t necessarily mean that she has to be in the bathroom with you every time you take a dump, but rather it means that you don’t mind if she brushes her teeth or does her makeup at the sink while you drop bombs in the toilet, usually because you both are in a hurry and can’t afford to wait on each other. As gross as this phase is, the good news for the women is that it’s almost exclusively for guys who are taking their relationship very seriously, think it has some real long-term potential, and aren’t afraid to admit that they’re in love. That’s right, ladies – he can get you all the flowers, chocolates, and stuffed animals in the world, but it won’t mean a thing until he busts down the bathroom door while you’re putting on your eyeliner, drops his drawers to his ankles, spreads his cheeks, and lets last night’s dinner ooze out of him without thinking twice about it. Then and only then will you know for sure that he loves you.

    PHASE SEVEN – Respect her too much to poop in front of her

    For what it’s worth, this is the phase I’m currently at with my fiancée and is really the entire inspiration for The Relationship Poop Cycle in the first place. This phase is reserved for guys who are either newly married, engaged, or have already figured out that they’re going to marry their girlfriend but they don’t have the money to buy a ring yet. At some point in your relationship, it finally hits you that your spouse/fiancée/girlfriend is going to be your life partner and the mother of your unborn (or born) children, and upon realizing how precious and special she really is you also realize that it’s incredibly disrespectful to poop in her presence. I like to think of this phase as the most romantic, because it’s basically your way of showing your significant other that you care for her so much that you want to shield her from the horrors of the world, namely the heap of toxicity coming out of your butthole. This is accomplished by shutting the door, doing your business, and sometimes even giving a courtesy flush and some aerosol spray to help dissipate the odor when you’re done. It’s the little things that mean the most.

    PHASE EIGHT – Just stop caring altogether

    At this point in the relationship, you’ve been together so long that the honeymoon feeling has worn off and you really just don’t have the energy to care anymore about whether or not you should poop in front of your wife. Besides, by now pooping in front of her probably wouldn’t even crack the top 50 most disgusting things she’s seen you do, so it’s really not even that big of a deal for either of you. In fact, the relationship has most likely reached the point where you poop in front of her without even realizing what you’re doing. You carry on a conversation while you’re on the toilet and even while you’re wiping, all without taking a second to step back and process how gross the situation actually is. The epitome of this phase is the middle-aged couple who have been together for so long and are so inseparable that they basically are the same person at this point and do everything together, including pooping. And yes, I did write that last sentence solely because I wanted all of you people who are my age to think about your dad taking a dump with your mom standing five feet from him (if you weren’t before, you are now!). You’re welcome for that mental image.

    PHASE NINE – Getting on and off the toilet becomes a challenge

    With the exception of Phase Ten, this is the saddest of the entire Relationship Poop Cycle. With this phase, you are so old and your body is so weak that squatting down onto the toilet and trying to get back up has become a real chore for you. Because of this, you want to close the door while you poop so your wife can’t see you in your feeble condition. I can’t say for sure (and am only speaking based on how I’ll probably act when I’m older), but I imagine these elderly men love their wives so much that they don’t want them to see how much trouble they have when they take a dump, because their wives will inevitably want to help and the men will feel guilty for being a burden. And so, they slowly drop their wrinkled cheeks to the porcelain, defecate with all their might, and methodically stand back up without so much as letting out a single groan. And they do it all in the name of love.

    PHASE TEN – Swallow your pride and admit you need help

    This is the final phase in The Relationship Poop Cycle and is undoubtedly the most depressing one. Whereas the other phases reflect how much a man cares for a woman, this phase is really more of a testament to how much the wife cares for the husband. After a few months or even years of living in Phase Nine, you finally swallow your pride and admit to your wife that you just can’t poop on your own anymore. Your fragile body can’t handle squatting up and down, and in some cases you might even have trouble twisting around to give your crack the proper wipe it needs. This is sad for all parties involved, but in a way it should be celebrated because it shows just how much love exists between you and your wife. In all seriousness, with all joking aside, and (insert whatever your favorite phrase to convey sincerity is), if I could define love with a single picture, it would be one of a wife wiping the bunghole of her ailing husband. You can’t possibly name me a more selfless act in this world than that.

    And that’s The Relationship Poop Cycle. Personally, I think this needs to replace the relationship status feature on Facebook, as telling the world that you are Phase Six with a chick gives people a better understanding of the magnitude of the relationship than if you were to just put “in a relationship” with a chick. Anyway, there you have it. Fellas, if you were unsure how you felt about a girl you’re dating, let The Relationship Poop Cycle be your guide. If you tell your friends that you don’t love her, but you poop with her in the bathroom with you, you’re lying to both them and yourself. And ladies, if you wanted to know how your man really feels about you, now you know. If he says he loves you, but he’s never pooped with the door open and you in the other room, he’s just saying he loves you to get in your pants (or to avoid pissing you off). But if that’s the case, don’t let it get you down. I’m sure someday you’ll find Prince Charming and will eventually get the Phase Ten relationship we all strive for. And when that time comes and you’re wiping in between your 90-year-old husband’s scaly pale asscheeks as you’re overwhelmed with the feeling of love in the air, your entire life will be validated and suddenly all your failed relationships will be a distant memory. Mark my words.

    As I mentioned in the last blog post, Brooks Godwin of Wake Forest won the inaugural contest among college basketball walk-ons from all over the country that I had been referring to as The Belt. Originally, the belt was basically just going to feature a bald eagle and that’s it, but after talking with the company that will make it, I apparently have more creative freedom than I initially thought. Having said that, I proudly present to you the mock-up (created by Keller) of the most badass thing these eyes have ever seen…


    If you plan on rubbing one out to this picture, I suggest first clicking on the belt to make the image larger.

    Yes, the belt will be made of basketball leather, and yes, that’s Fundamentals Montage lightning in the background. Unfortunately, as of right now I can’t say for sure whether they can make this exact belt or not, but you can bet your balls I’m going to do everything I can to see that they get as close as possible to it. And with that, we can all officially start being jealous of Brooks Godwin now.

    By the way, in case you cared here’s the final tally for what is now being referred to as the 2011 Club Trillion National Player of The Year award. It should be noted that Jarrett Sutton actually tied Brooks Godwin for total trillions, but Brooks dominated with the tiebreaker and thus claimed the belt. Anyway, props to Jarrett Sutton for making it a hell of a race (and props to Matthew Dorwart for making a late push).

    The Belt (Final)

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              Trying To Think of A Blog Post Title Sucks        

    With the exception of turning around, walking away, and pretending I don’t love you, writing a book is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  I devote pretty much every hour of the day to writing the thing and as of right now I’ve only made a small dent in the final product.  The main problem is that I’m a perfectionist who reads through everything I write a thousand times to make sure I don’t mispell anything or have any tyops, which means it sometimes takes me hours to write a single paragraph.  But another big problem I’ve run into is that I can’t really make jokes about current events since the Trillion Man March won’t understand the references/they won’t be nearly as effective when the book comes out in a year.  For example, I can make a joke on my blog about Rashard Mendenhall dry-humping an accused rapist on national television, but I can’t put it in my book because it will be a completely irrelevant story in a year.  And of course, the last problem I’m having is the inability to link to awesome YouTubes in my book, which is something that makes up about 50% of my blog and 100% of the interesting parts of my blog.  I was under the impression that the book would be just as easy to write as the blog, but that was before I realized that it’s a completely different process that’s much more challenging and unlike anything I’ve done before.  Anyway, the point is that writing a book is more tedious and  mentally draining than my first marriage.

    This is why I’ve decided to put the blog on the backburner for awhile.  The way I see it, I can either stop doing my blog to focus on my book now, or I can ignore my book and realize six months from now that I’m screwed as a scramble to finish it (Before you ask, no, I’m not capable of writing both at the same time.  I’m a terrible at multitasking and I’m terrible at writing, so doing something that involves both doesn’t seem like a very good idea).  I know that the TMM isn’t thrilled with my decision, but I really do think it’s better than the alternative.  Besides, when my book comes out and you all buy at least ten copies (in the words of Latrell Spreewell, I’ve got a family to feed), this will be water under the bridge.  By then you’ll all be mad at me for talking about pubes too much or using the word “poopdick” too much in my book and you’ll completely forget about the time I didn’t write my blog for months.

    In the meantime, if you really are desperate to swim with The Shark and can’t fathom a life without my off-base and ignorant thoughts (judging from the bombardment of “what the hell happened to you” emails, many of you apparently are for whatever reason), you do have some options.  First of all, you can follow me on Twitter, where I routinely make fun of Daequan Cook and then get disappointed that nobody finds him as hilariously awesome as I do.  Yeah, I know – “Twitter is gay and is only for people with self-confidence issues who can’t figure out that nobody cares they’re having a muffin for breakfast.”  I can’t say I fully disagree.  But if you actually checked Twitter out you’d realize that as long as you don’t follow professional athletes, celebrities, or 16-year-old girls, you’ll most likely never see a dumb tweet about what someone is having for breakfast.  #jussayin

    The other option that you’ll have pretty soon (within the next month for sure) is the SharkWolf podcast that I’m starting with my BFF Andy Keller, who calls himself The Electric Wolf (yeah it’s a terrible nickname, but just go with it – you’ll hurt his feelings if you tell him how badly it sucks).  I can only imagine what’s going through some of your minds as you read that sentence so I figured I should just list what you’re thinking and address your thoughts right now.

    1. Didn’t you already have a podcast? And didn’t it kind of suck? 
      Yes I did and yes it did.  The biggest difference between my old podcast and the SharkWolf podcast is that I really just don’t give a s*** this time around.  With the old podcast, I tried too hard to be professional and not piss off the higher-ups at Ohio State, which ultimately made me kind of bland and uninteresting.  For the most part, the SharkWolf podcast will never have guests and will instead just be Keller and me discussing things like the strange hypothetical situations we always come up with (and probably tons of “would you rather…”).  Since I do this with him everyday anyway, it will be a lot more natural for me and won’t result in me trying way too hard to conduct an interesting interview with a guest and failing miserably.
    2. You’re turning into Simmons. 
      I see your point, but I promise you that I won’t end up being Simmons 2.0.  The truth is that I really don’t care about sports all that much, which is the primary reason why I want nothing to do with sportswriting.  My proof is that I dabbled in college basketball writing for ESPN a little bit, but I really wasn’t feeling it so I stopped.  I know it puts me in the minority, but sports are enjoyable for me only when I’m watching the actual games.  All the arguing and banter that goes on in between the games is exhausting and completely pointless to me.  It’s occasionally entertaining to watch other people do it (and argue about sports LOL), but I don’t really want to be a part of it.
    3. Yeah, but you’re still turning into Simmons. He took time off to write his book and now he podcasts more than he writes.
      I don’t know what to tell you.  It just makes sense to do it that way.  I’m not a good enough writer and there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to consistently write two different things.  Podcasting is a good way to let the Trillion Man March inside my brain without having to take huge chunks of time away from writing my book.  It makes sense and you know it.  As always, if you don’t like it, you can suck it.
    4. Podcasts suck.  I don’t have an hour and a half to take out of my life to listen to you talk.
      Like you, my pet peeve with podcasts is that they are always way too long.  This is why the SharkWolf podcast will aim for 30 minutes every time.  After all, you people have lives, and even if you don’t, your video games aren’t going to play themselves. We might go over 30 minutes every now and then, but that’s the goal. Just like I’ve told every girl I’ve ever dated: If you want longer, there are plenty of other options.

    So there it is.  Follow my ass on Twitter, listen to my ass on the SharkWolf podcast, or be SOL.  Those are your options.  If you have your heart set on only reading the blog, well I guess this is goodbye.  For now.  I’ll be back eventually, but maybe it’s best that we go on a little break and rekindle our love somewhere down the road.  After all, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of the high school/college chicks I’m Facebook friends with, it’s that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

    Your awesome YouTube is the video that everyone keeps asking me about.  Watch it first if you haven’t already and then meet me on the other side for my commentary.

    The concept for a video like this is a good idea (I say this because I proposed a similar idea to some OSU higher-ups while I was there, but it got shot down because they’re all jealous douchers), but the execution was terrible.  I don’t mean that the three guys blew it, because they made it as entertaining and funny as they possibly could have.  I mean that the song choice was awful and having them just sit there and sing while reading the lyrics was another poor choice.

    If I’m in charge of this thing, I get together five guys (three sitting down and two standing behind them) and have them sing “Tha Crossroads” by the Bone Thugs, but I don’t let them look at the lyrics.  Since they all know how the song goes, but nobody actually knows the words, I’d have them sing with hardass looks on their face while they basically just mumble the words.  I’d split the parts of the song up so that it mirrors the Bone Thug’s style of passing the baton and letting another guy take over the song every so often.  After the inevitably hilarious “bow bow bow bow bone bow bone bone” intro, the rest of the video would fall into place and would be equally awesome.  Just imagine Aaron Craft looking hard while mumbling about how tough ghetto life is, before letting Jon Diebler take over and struggle to tell us all about the homeys that he’s lost in the streets.  I say throw in Sullinger and Lighty, who are both great at playing along and would bring some over the top comedy, and then round it out with Will Buford, who would take the thing dead seriously and would make it that much funnier because he probably knows all the words. That’s an F’ing video. It would’ve taken 30 minutes longer to film this thing than it did to film the Miley Cyrus one, but it would have definitely been worth it because my idea would have been much, much better.  But alas, my suggestions always fall on deaf ears, which, interestingly enough,  is exactly what I have after listening to those guys sing.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              Movember Contest (Part II)        

    Since the book I’m writing is two or three months behind schedule, I decided I’d spend all my time this week working on that instead of writing another irrelevant theory about potentially being murdered by a drifter. As always, if you have a problem with this, you can suck it. Besides, the Movember contest (that officially ended two weeks ago) and The Belt contest obviously matter more to the Trillion Man March than anything I write. And if they don’t, well, they absolutely should.

    After analyzing the comments for the last blog post, I noticed that there were over 350 “nominations” for the mustache contest from probably no more than 20 people. When I said that you could vote for more than one person, I apparently forgot to request that you not submit the same nomination 50 different times. Oh well. I sorted through all of them as best I could and decided on the six that I thought got the most votes, and threw in my bonus pick (Nicolas Cage) because doing so gives me a feeling of authority I can’t get anywhere else in my life. Anyway, listed below (in no particular order other than alphabetical) are the pictures of the seven finalists. The poll is in the top right corner of the blog. Make yourself useful and vote for someone. As a reminder, whoever gets the most votes wins a free pack of Barbasol for being so manly and a free shirt for being so awesome. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to playing FIFA writing my book.
















    A few quick points regarding the rules for The Belt:

    1. Ties will be settled by looking at the total minutes played in achieving the trillions. For example, a player putting up a 4 trillion and 3 trillion will beat out a player putting up a 2 trillion and 1 trillion. In other words, Nate Schwarze has one helluva tiebreaker in his back pocket by getting an 11 trillion earlier in the season. I’ll post a tiebreaker column with the leaderboard next time to make this easier to follow.
    2. I’m only considering the stats from ESPN box scores. In order for it to be considered a trillion, every statistic listed for the game other than minutes played must be zero. For a visual, here’s the game log for Wake Forest's Brooks Godwin (who is currently tied for the lead).

    That’s all I got for now.

    Things are getting much more interesting now that we have four people atop the leaderboard (one of which just recently submitted their name and is new to the contest).


    Thanks to Alex in the Trillion Man March, I’ve recently learned that Wake Forest only has seven scholarship guys available right now, which means Brooks Godwin should have a lot more chances than the rest of the guys to put up trillions. I’ve said all along that I like one of the Purdue guys to ultimately win it, but I’ve recently suggested that Nate Schwarze of Rice is a serious darkhorse contender. So if you’re scoring at home, Godwin is probably the favorite, the Purdue guys are my pick(s), and Schwarze has a shot (especially considering that if he ties for the lead, his 11 trillion will probably propel him to victory). But, there’s obviously still a lot of basketball to not be played, so we’ll just have to wait and see. ___________________________________________________

    Let me make it perfectly clear that I’m always impressed by basketball trick shot videos that feature kids who are considerably younger than me. When guys haven’t even hit puberty yet but can still make insane shots, I’m always going to give them some props. Especially when the video has one kid riding a unicycle and another kid repeatedly giving the “suck it” crotch chop. Anyway, keeping that in mind, your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Travis W. and his friends. There’s your shout-out, Travis. And here’s your video.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              Movember Contest        

    Scary thought: I’m fully convinced that anybody can get away with murder one time. I’ve made this argument to my friends and family for years, but last night I lost a ton of sleep because I started thinking about it again (probably because I get too emotionally attached when I watch Dexter). Let me explain.

    First of all, when I say that anybody can get away with one murder, I obviously don’t mean that you can just walk in on your ex-girlfriend and her new man and just stab him in the balls with no consequence. So please, put the knife down and keep reading before you do something you’ll forever regret. What I really mean is that anybody can get away with one random murder.

    Think about it. When cops are investigating a murder, there are always three things they seriously consider– motive, evidence, and possible witnesses. Keeping this in mind, (we need to give our hypothetical murderer a name – “Evan” will do the trick) Evan could get away with murder, provided that he has absolutely no connection to the victim, he doesn’t leave a trail, and nobody sees him do it (or at least nobody gets a good look at him). This means that if Evan was to get bloodthirsty for some reason, all he’d have to do is break into a random house in the middle of nowhere (also known as the rural Midwest), unleash a meat cleaver on whoever he sees, and then take the weapon with him as he quickly flees the scene.

    So long as the entire crime is random and unpredictable, and as long as he has no criminal record (so DNA testing can’t nail him), I’m convinced the cops would never figure out that Evan did it. This, more than anything else, is why I was so terrified of Christopher Lloyd in Dennis The Menace when I was little. Dude was a drifter who just jumped off a train in Dennis’ town. He could have easily slit Mr. Wilson’s throat and anally penetrated Dennis with his own slingshot, then jumped backed on the next train and disappeared into oblivion. There’s no way in hell the cops would’ve figured that one out.

    Now, I know some of you might think that bringing this up makes me some dark, creepy guy. My response to this is twofold – A) this is what a dark, creepy guy looks like, and B) I’m not bringing it up because I plan on killing someone, but rather because I’m scared of someone doing it to me. It’s terrifying to know that some hobo could stalk me for a few days and gut out my insides while I’m sleeping without the cops having any idea of where to even start looking.

    Even worse, “Evan” could stage the murder to look like a suicide and the cops wouldn’t investigate it at all. This is why I’m adamant about my concept of a non-suicide note. It’s basically a note that happy, mentally-healthy people write that says, “I assure you that I would never commit suicide, so if it looks like I did, please know that someone murdered me and tried to cover it up. Please investigate this and don’t just assume things.”

    Obviously I’d ideally want the cops to find my note immediately. But I also wouldn’t mind if they didn’t, so long as my murder happened when my wife was pregnant and my unborn son found the note 20 years later. That way there would be a 100% chance he would feel obligated to avenge my death, which would be all sorts of badass because it’d more than likely mean he would somehow turn into a superhero. And when you think about it, having your child avenge your death and become a superhero is all a father could ever really ask for.

    Now that I’ve got you all paranoid and creeped out, let’s ease things up a little bit by looking at pictures of guys with mustaches.

    There’s no way you’re falling asleep tonight.


    My original plan for this contest was to pick out a few of my favorites and have the Trillion Man March vote on a winner. But when you all started sending in your stache pics, it became obvious to me that I couldn’t just pick a handful. After all, I’m the same guy who used to like emo music, turtlenecks, and Rick Reilly (to be fair, though, there’s no denying that ESPN Rick Reilly is a completely different person than SI Rick Reilly was), which is another way of saying I’m clearly not that great at making decisions, so picking just a few staches out of the 29 that were sent in was always going to be an impossible task for me.

    So here’s what we’re going to do. I’ve decided to post every picture that was emailed to me (except for a few that were pics of guys with full beards) and I’m going to leave it up to the Trillion Man March to decide which staches are the best. If you see a mustache you like, leave a comment in the comment section of this blog entry and it will serve as a nomination. After a week or so, I’ll tally up the nominations and post the five or six best again and we’ll have a final vote to decide the winner. Remember that anything can be taken into account when judging these mustaches – creativity, manliness, or the lack of both if your heart desires (I think a couple guys could end up winning just because the TMM will pity them).

    Just so we’re clear, it’s okay to nominate more than one stache, but please don’t be a Singler and nominate 20 or something. Also, to make the identification process easier, I’ve decided to assign each picture a name of a great American hero (the name appears ABOVE the picture it corresponds with – I’ll say it again: the name appear ABOVE the picture it corresponds with). When you leave a comment with your nominations, list the names of the great American heroes that correspond to the pictures. So instead of writing, “I like both the guy who looks like a child molester and the guy with the fu manchu/soul patch combo,” write, “I like Rod Beck and Lee Greenwood.” Hopefully that makes sense.

    By the way, don’t forget that the ultimate winner of the contest gets a CLUB TRIL or FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!! shirt, as well as a pack of Barbasol shaving cream. In other words, there’s a lot at stake, so please take this as seriously as I know you will. Like Derek Anderson said: “You think this is funny, but I take this s*** serious. Real serious.”

    Now on to the staches…


















    Mo   Bball














    osu stache


    Photo on 2010-11-30 at 10.42













    Edit: I just realized that Ernest Hemingway took this picture in December of 2007. Clearly he didn't follow the rules, so I'm disqualifying him from the contest. However, his mustache is unfathomably manly, so I'll leave the picture on here.













    God bless America. __________________________________________________

    Now that college basketball is in full swing, the race for The Belt is getting much more heated. There’s a new name atop the leaderboard this time around (and a few names added to the list as well), but it’s too early to pick a favorite as there’s still a lot of basketball to be played (or in the case of these guys, not be played). Here are the current standings.

    The Belt

    I still say that one of the Purdue guys will end up winning it, but my dark horse pick is Nate Schwarze of Rice, mostly because he put up an 11 trillion in his last game. Yes, you read that right. Eleven. Trillion.

    What a badass. ___________________________________________________

    Your awesome YouTube celebrates the holiday season and was sent in to me by Marc L. There’s your shout-out, Marc. And here’s your video.

    Don’t forget to nominate your favorite mustaches.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              2010-2011 College Basketball Preview (Part III)        

    I’ve been going back and forth for the past few days about whether or not I should address Kyle Singler’s trick shot video that most people agree is nothing more than a blatant rip off of my critically acclaimed Mr. Rainmaker video.  Even as I sit down to write this I don’t know whether I should talk about it.  The truth is that I don’t think Singler has ever seen my video, so I can’t be too butthurt about anything he did.  But at the same time I’m pretty certain that people within the Duke basketball program have seen Mr. Rainmaker (I know some people who know some people who know some things), which means there’s a good chance whoever approached Singler with the idea for his video was inspired by my video.  Still, I think I should probably just take the high road for now.  I need some time to gather my thoughts and make sure I don’t have a Dan Gilbert moment and say something too emotional.  But that’s not to say that I’ll let this issue go away quietly.  Because quite simply, in the words of The Dude, “This aggression will not stand, man.”

    While I think about the best way to handle this situation, I think we should all just focus on Part III of the Club Trillion College Basketball Preview.  Today we’re talking about the loss of hair, the loss of rules/morals, and the loss of one’s conscious when the game matters most.  As a reminder, I’m writing the FIFA and college basketball sections and my friend Keller is tackling the professional wrestling sections (to get up to speed on how the format works, check out Part I and Part II of the preview). 

    This category takes a look at the guys who would have every right to get upset with the genes they were given, if not for the fact that those same genes helped make them high caliber athletes.  I would call this situation a catch-22, but I’m not sure I even fully understand what “catch-22” actually means.  Maybe me not being able to use the phrase because I don’t know what it means is itself a catch-22? Or maybe the first situation really is a catch-22, and the fact that I was hesitant to use the term even though I would have been using it correctly is also a catch-22?  Holy balls my head hurts trying to figure this out.  Maybe we should just move on.

    FIFA: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

    Most of you probably don’t know about Rooney’s recent sex scandal because he’s an English soccer player, which is to say he’s irrelevant because he’s not American and he doesn’t play football, basketball, or baseball.  So allow me to fill you in.  Basically the gist of the story is that Rooney cheated on his wife (who he has been dating since they were 16) with a prostitute while she was pregnant with their first child.  Not that big of a deal, right?  I mean, common folk like you and I would never do something as dumb as this, but it’s almost expected of celebrities to go big or go home with their sex scandals.  And on a scale from 1 to Tiger, this seems likes it’s barely a Letterman.  Until you dig a little deeper, that is.

    The issue here isn’t that that Rooney cheated on his pregnant wife (I’m sure my fiancee is thrilled with me writing that sentence).  The issue is that he had to pay a prostitute to do so.  Now, I know it’s common knowledge that every celebrity pays a prostitute for sex at least once in their lives.  But it’s a little different with Rooney because he publicly admitted to sexing up hookers on the reg before he even turned 18.  He’s clearly way ahead of the prostitute curve, which takes this from a one time scandal to a serious pattern of questionable behavior.  Again, the problem isn’t that he’s having sex with all sorts of women (that’s the norm for athletes/celebrities) – it’s that he’s paying these women to let him tickle their innards.  Someone of his fame and stature should be able to get his rocks off without paying for it, yet it seems like he has trouble getting some for free, which is why this scandal is a bigger deal than it should be.  Most believe that Rooney has to pay for sex because his premature balding makes him one of the uglier people in the world.   While I can’t say I disagree with this sentiment, at the end of the day I still think it shouldn’t take all that much for him to get laid.  After all, he’s still probably one of the more attractive people in England, since everyone knows the English don’t have time for hygiene cause they’re always too busy losing to America at everything. USA! USA! USA!

    Pro Wrestling: The Rock

    This was a tough one to award. For one, male pattern baldness is a side effect of steroid use, so about 99% of wrestlers are balding in some capacity (the 1% is clearly the Ultimate Warrior and Ted DiBiase). Asking me to choose the wrestler with the biggest receding hairline is like asking me to choose the stripper with the lowest self-esteem, or the most metrosexual blazer from Express in Danny Peters’ closet. There will be a lot of candidates. For two, many of the balding wrestlers choose to shave their heads completely to hide it (see: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldberg, and Gillberg).  And for three, nearly every wrestler who I was going to pick turned out to be like 40 years old from my earliest memory of him. I was going use this space to talk about how Dean Malenko was criminally underrated , but I don’t remember any of his matches before around 1997, when he was 37 years old. It’s not exactly premature balding at that point. Enter The Rock.

    Rock Hair

    Take a look at that picture. Ignore the earring, or the stupid outfit, or the awful length of the hair. Instead, focus on how far back the hairline recedes. This is The Rock in his mid twenties. His level of balding is embarrassing. When you are wearing a kindergarteners Thanksgiving project as a shirt and your hairline is still the most troubling part of your look, you know it’s bad.

    Nonetheless, The Rock took his follicle shortcomings and made everything else about himself the focus, presumably to deflect from the fact that it looked like somebody photoshopped Borat’s mustache onto his shaved head. He started delivering great promos. He embarked on a singing career. He took informal polls on pancake enjoyment. He grew out some ridiculous sideburns. He hit Mick Foley in the face with a chair for the better part of an hour. Essentially, he stole the show every single week until you forgot about the fact that he had a giant fivehead. It’s impressive, really. If anybody could pull it off, it was The Rock.

    College Basketball: Dallas Lauderdale (Ohio State)

    Truth be told, the only reason I even came up with this category was to bring up Dallas’ new look.  After years of denial (and wearing a do-rag to “catch the hair that falls out”), Dallas finally went the Clyde Drexler route by giving up on the dream and shaving his head in the offseason.  I can’t say enough how much I like this decision (and the decision to grow a solid beard to go with).  Dallas looks leaner, quicker, and about 1,000 times more badass. Some would argue that he looks leaner and quicker because he lost weight and got in better shape, but I’m sticking with my theory – it’s all about the shaving of the head.

    dallas before-after

    Don’t let the smiles fool you - The guy on the left ended my basketball career and the guy on the right looks capable of ending my life.

    In the four games I’ve watched this year (one of which was an exhibition game), Dallas looks like he’s markedly improved from last season, which is scary for the rest of the Big Ten considering he unofficially blocked 93.4% of shots attempted on him last year.  What’s even scarier for Big Ten teams, and really the rest of the country, is that Dallas isn’t even the best big guy on Ohio State this year (some would say that he wasn’t the best big guy on the team last year, and by “some” I mean Kyle Madsen).  But whatever the case, I think we can all agree that Dallas is the perfect example of how to handle premature balding.  Some people get dealt a 7-2 off suit and pray for a miracle to somehow turn it into a royal flush.  Dallas, on the other hand, got dealt a 7-2 off suit and decided that that s*** wouldn’t fly, so he pulled out his sawed-off shotgun, pumped lead into everyone at the table, and made off with all their money cause that’s just how he MF’ing rolls.

    Even though this could absolutely apply to guys who put their wiener where it doesn’t belong, in this case we’re talking about the guys who blatantly break the rules and don’t play fair.  Not only do these guys cheat, but they do so in a seemingly unapologetic fashion, which is what bugs me the most (except for the WWE example, obviously).

    FIFA: My Goalie on “Legendary” Difficulty

    There are very few things in this world that I don’t strive to be the best at.  Wait, I wrote that wrong.  Let me try again – There are only a few things in this world that I strive to be the best at (that’s better).  Along with mustache growing, loving my country, and Facebook stalking, FIFA is one of these things.  I simply can’t stand it when I meet someone who is better than me.  Why, you might be asking, does it mean so much to me to be the best?  Because if rap music has taught me anything other than that “trifling” is actually a real word, it’s that two is not a winner and three nobody remembers.

    Because I want to be the best at FIFA, I usually only play the computer on “legendary” difficulty because it’s the only level that gives me any sort of challenge whatsoever.  The only problem with this is that that challenge usually comes in the form of my goalie throwing the game.  A simple tweaking of the difficulty settings suddenly makes my otherwise stellar goalie unable to do fundamental things like “make an attempt to stop the ball” or “refrain from diving when there’s not even a shot because it would consequently create an open net for the opposition.”  I’m of the opinion that changing the difficulty settings shouldn’t make your team any worse, but instead should only make the computer better.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and I get stuck with Robert Green in goal every game I play on legendary (suck it, England! USA! USA! USA!), even though my goalie is rock solid when I play on any other difficulty level.  The only possible explanation for this is that my goalie hates me and is intentionally throwing the game.

    Pro Wrestling: Diamond Dallas Page (Ready to Rumble)

    If I hadn’t already given him an award, this would naturally be a slam dunk victory for Ric Flair, who when not called The Nature Boy was known as The Dirtiest Player In The Game. A quick aside on Flair’s nicknames: when I was in elementary school there was some doucher in our neighborhood named David who sucked at life but still managed to tagalong and ruin any gathering we had. We started calling him Nature Boy, only it was meant as an insult that quantified how much he blew, and not a reference to Flair. The lesson, as always, is that I was a dumbass as a kid.

    Instead, this award is going to Diamond Dallas Page. Not the real DDP; he was too busy making people feel the bang in WCW to break any rules (though he would debut in the WWE to a gigantic pop when revealed as the Undertaker’s wife’s stalker, so he wasn’t always a good guy. Naturally, watching video of Page unmasking makes me think about the other time he hid under a mask, which made me think of La Parka, which made me think of La Parka punching a fan in the face, which made me think that that fan surely still thought wrestling was real to him, dammit. The slippery slope of wrestling YouTube videos). No, I’m talking about Diamond Dallas Page in the 2000 movie Ready to Rumble, starring David Arquette and Scott Caan.

    In the movie, Page forms an alliance with WCW’s evil booker, Titus Sinclair (played by Joe Pantoliano looking sweet in a cowboy hat and fringed jacket. In that same year Pantoliano would star in Memento, a movie I’ve heard is pretty good and have been meaning to watch, but forget about by the next morning) to strip reigning champion Jimmy King of the heavyweight title. King is played by a Fat Oliver Platt, who is taken by surprise when DDP starts actually fighting him in the ring. Now, King is a slob who got winded during his pre-match rap of Run DMC’s “King of Rock”. DDP was a badass who partied with Bon Jovi and got Jay-Z to pay him for the right to use the diamond symbol. Page shouldn’t have needed any help taking King down. But he used it anyway, and that’s why he earns the title of biggest cheater.

    First into the ring to interfere were “Page’s Goons” – Sid Vicious, Van Hammer, Juventud Guerrera, Prince Iaukea, and Bam Bam Bigelow, five men who had no significant interaction on WCW programming yet were grouped together in the movie. They help DDP beat King down, only to have “The King’s Men” (who sound like a LARPing crew but were really Jimmy King’s protectors) rush to the ring to aide him. Or so it seemed. Instead of helping King, the group of Curt Hennig, Konnan, and Perry Saturn instead joined in on the attack. It was 8 on 1 in Page’s favor. At one point, four of the wrestlers got on the top turnbuckles. Mike Tenay, a terrible WCW announcer who I can only remember because of his long-winded explanation of why Dean Malenko was a dick for removing Rey Mysterio’s mask and his propensity to overpronounce wrestling moves like he was Giada without the awesome boobs, informs the viewing audience that they are about to perform a Four Post Massacre. Tenay claims that nobody has ever survived that (a claim that’s probably true seeing as how it was never performed before the movie). After all four men land on King at once, Page pins King and steals the title. Since, to my knowledge, nobody has ever needed greater than an 8 on 1 assault to win a match, Diamond Dallas Page is the biggest cheater. 

    College Basketball: Every Coach In The Country

    This summer, both Jim Calhoun and Bruce Pearl got busted for breaking NCAA recruiting rules (Pearl just recently got suspended for 8 SEC games).  Pearl’s transgressions are considered much more serious not only because he lied to NCAA investigators but also because he was blacklisted from coaching awhile back for being a whistleblower, so the idea of him cheating and lying about it is pretty ironic really (wait, is it ironic? Do I know what ironic actually means? Could it also be a catch-22 somehow?).  Meanwhile, John Calipari might be the scuzziest coach in the history of sports and has committed violations at just about every school he’s been at, but instead of getting disciplined, he gets millions of dollars and is loved by Kentucky fans everywhere. The lesson here is that if you want to be a college coach, you have to be willing to cheat your ass off.  And if you somehow get caught, all you have to do is cooperate with the investigation, say it was all a misunderstanding and it won’t happen again, and flee to a new school before the NCAA comes to your current school and just starts dishing out sanctions up in that bitch.

    Seriously, though, all college coaches cheat.  It’s just to the degree that the cheating takes place that sets them apart.  Some coaches practice too often or for too long and some give money to recruits. Obviously one is more serious than the other (practicing too much sucks and any coach that can’t follow that rule should be fired immediately), but in the end they’re both considered cheating.  Still, you can’t punish every coach for cheating, so it’s important to just go after the guys who either break the rules the most often or commit the most serious violations.

    As a good rule of thumb, to figure out how badly a coach cheats all you have to do is look at his hair. If it seems as though the coach doesn’t care what his hair looks like, chances are he only commits minor infractions.  Coaches that style their hair a little bit usually commit more serious violations, but nothing worth investigating.  Coaches that use way too much hair gel are just about guaranteed to be doing some shady things, and coaches that use too much hair gel and slick their hair back are surely giving recruits thousands of dollars, changing SAT scores, and probably have some sort of ties to the mafia.  Using this template, I completely expect Steve Lavin to turn St. John’s into a national powerhouse within the next five years.

    This is simple.  If there isn’t much time left and the outcome is in the balance, these are the guys who take matters into their own hands and do something about it.  These guys will let you get a little taste of victory, and then will swiftly cut your tongue out, make you lick your own scrotum, and have sex with your girlfriend just because they can.  All without really breaking a sweat.  So yeah, don’t f*** with these guys.

    FIFA: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

    It’s no secret that just thinking about Cristiano Ronaldo’s abilities on FIFA gives me at least a semi-chub.  I’ve said many times that I think he’s the best athlete on a sports video game since Jeremy Roenick on NHL ‘94, but the more I think about it, he actually might be better.  Now, I know that the real Ronaldo is a puss who flops way too much and has that weird European mullet going on, but the beauty of FIFA is that the personality of the players doesn’t matter and none of the players are programmed to take dives.  All that is taken into account is pure physical and athletic talent, and there’s no denying that from a this standpoint nobody (not even Messi) can touch Ronaldo.  Ronaldo is so good, in fact, that if you created a virtual pro on FIFA, made it Ronaldo’s size, and maxed out its attributes, it still wouldn’t come close to having Ronaldo’s speed, skill, or strength.  In other words, you can’t even create a player as good as him because FIFA thinks its impossible for someone to be that good.  Think about that for a second.

    So what does this have to do with crunch time? Well, obviously the best players throughout the game are going to still be the best players when the game is on the line.  Ronaldo not only is the overall best player in the closing moments, but he’s also got a specific go-to move that rivals my step-back three going left that I perfected during my basketball playing days (just ask Danny Peters how venomous my step-back going left is – he knew exactly when it was coming every day in practice and still couldn’t stop it).  It truly is the most unstoppable move on FIFA, and it only becomes that much more unstoppable when things get ugly and I desperately need a goal.  Unfortunately, people who I regularly play in FIFA read this blog and therefore would know my secret move if I told all of you, so I’m going to have to keep that vault locked. Sorry, but when you aspire the be the best like I do, giving away secrets isn’t a great idea.

    Pro Wrestling: Hulk Hogan (At height of Hulkamania)

    It’s hard to definitively say what goes into Hulking Up. I would venture to guess that it’s partly from having the most patriotic song in history as your entrance music, part dad strength, and part Hogan being a total dick in real life who refuses to lose any of his matches (when that last part is mixed with another dick who refuses to lose matches like Shawn Michaels, hilarity ensues). You have a better chance of getting that sweet Yoda backpack you wanted for Christmas than you do of beating Hogan in an important match. Nonetheless, when the match is on the line, Hulk Hogan turns into arguably the most unstoppable force in the history of the world.

    It happened, among countless other times, at Wrestlemania VII, against Sgt. Slaughter. Hogan, bloodied and looking like he’d met his match, finds his inner strength and begins Hulking Up. He becomes unfazed by punches, impervious to pain. He takes shots that don’t affect him until he’s finally had enough. Out comes the point. This is a picture of Hulk Hogan pointing at you while Hulking Up (and this is a picture of a taxidermied squirrel riding a plastic horse). If you see this, the match is over. What follows next is pretty much set in stone, because they’re 3 of the only 5 moves that Hogan knows. First comes the punch. Then comes the big boot, which is supposed to hit the opponent in the face but usually connects with the right nipple instead. Finally, the leg drop. It’s never really been properly explained how dropping a leg on your opponent is somehow the most effective finishing maneuver in professional wrestling history (as opposed to this, or this for that matter), but it almost always leads to a three count when Hogan delivers it.  When it matters, Hogan delivers. Just ignore the part about him always delivering because he’s a selfish doucher who won’t let other people beat him. Hogan might be all-time quarterback a little too much, but he still gets the job done in crunch time.

    College Basketball: Jimmer Fredette (BYU)

    Before Jimmer Fredette came along, the only thing I knew about Mormons that I didn’t learn from South Park is the concept of “letting it soak.”  Now, thanks to Fredette, I’ve also learned that Mormons can apparently play basketball pretty well.  Fredette is a preseason 1st team All-American this year, thanks largely in part to a stellar season a year ago in which he broke the BYU record for points in a game by pouring in 49 against Arizona.  Call me crazy, but I think this solidifies his status as the best athlete named “Jimmer” of all-time.  In fact, I’ll take it a step further and say that he’s the best anything that’s ever been named “Jimmer.”  That’s something to be proud of, I guess.

    There are really two reasons why I think Jimmer Fredette is the most clutch player in college basketball.  The first and most important reason is that I wanted an excuse to bring up “letting it soak,” because that might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.  The second, and probably more relevant, reason I picked Jimmer Fredette is because of his performance against Florida in the NCAA tournament last year.  In one of the more memorable games of the first round of last year’s tournament, Jimmer scored 37 points as BYU beat Florida in double overtime.  Fredette gave the Gators a steady dose of buckets rainmaking (Mr. Rainmaker > Kyle Gets Buckets) throughout the game, but really ripped their hearts out in the second overtime by hitting two more threes.  Sure he didn’t hit a game winning shot or anything dramatic like that, but that’s only because he decided to take the game over so that a last second shot wouldn’t be necessary.  And really, hitting a last second shot doesn’t necessarily equate to being clutch.  Most of the time it’s just a result of being in the right spot at the right time.  Being clutch is really achieved when there’s about a minute left and your team desperately needs to score (either because they’re up by one possession, tied, or down by one possession). Fredette strikes me as a guy who is dangerous with the ball in his hands during these moments, as evidenced by the fact that he stepped up his play when it mattered most (second overtime of NCAA tourney).  That’s why he gets the nod (also, I really wanted to mention letting it soak).

    By the way, through the first couple weeks of the college basketball season, here is my starting lineup of “White Guys Who Really Don’t Look Like Much But Are Actually Pretty Good”:


    The day you’ve all been waiting for is finally here.  At this point, just about every D1 team has played at least two games, meaning it’s time to start tabulating results so we can put together a leaderboard for The Belt (For those who don’t know – I’m giving away a custom made wrestling belt to the Division 1 player with the most trillions this season).  As of right now, we have 18 entrants but ideally I’d like to have close to 50.  So please, do whatever you have to do to get your favorite college team’s walk-ons to sign up.  All it takes to enter is to be a Division I basketball player (don’t even have to be a walk-on, but a walk-on will probably win) and send an email with your name and school by clicking here.  Remember: Fans can’t register for players.  I want the players themselves to enter because I don’t want to give The Belt to someone who won’t appreciate it and/or doesn’t even know about it.  With all that being said, here’s your current leaderboard for The Belt:

    Nov. 22nd Leaderboard

    Obviously, seeing a Michigan player at the top is very disheartening. This needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now.

    Also, and this is just my opinion here, look for the Purdue guys to make a strong play at The Belt this year.  They have a pretty good team and Matt Painter is quick to pull the trigger on subbing walk-ons into the game, so these guys will have a lot of chances to put up trillions. What they do with these chances is up to them.


    A few reminders:

    1. FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!! shirts are now available by clicking here.

      fundmont1If you really want to consider yourself a member of the TMM, you’ll buy one as a way to show the world that you prefer Mr. Rainmaker over Kyle Singler’s terrible knock off video.  Also, 10% of all shirt sales for the rest of the month will go towards the Movember cause.  So really, you’re getting a badass shirt and supporting two great causes at the same time – Movember and Mr. Rainmaker.
    2. Movember – Don’t forget to take a picture of your mustache towards the end of Movember and send it to I’ll post what I deem to be the best ones on the blog and I’ll let the TMM vote for the winner, who will receive a pack of Barbasol shaving cream for being so manly and a free Club Trillion t-shirt (either CLUB TRIL or FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!) for being so awesome.
    3. Kyle Singler’s video sucks.


    Today’s Great Mustache In American History is brought to you by Steve Prefontaine.

    “Pre” is by far the most famous distance runner in the history of the sport, most likely because he was a bonafide badass.  While others would pace themselves during long distance runs, Pre always went balls to the wall because that’s what guys with mustaches as awesome as that do. As a 19-year-old, when most other people his age were celebrating their first pubes, Pre celebrated being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  During his collegiate career, he won four straight 5000 meter NCAA track titles and won three NCAA cross country championships.  The only reason he didn’t win a fourth cross country title is because he got too bored beating all the college kids’ asses and decided to try a little tougher competition in the Olympics instead.  At one point, he held the American track record for every distance between 2,000 and 10,000 meters, which added up to seven records in all. So yeah, he was pretty good at running.

    Pre ultimately died in a car wreck when he was just 24 years old, but his legacy has lived on thanks to Nike and the University of Oregon refusing to let people forget about him (not to mention the two movies that were made about his life).  35 years after his death, he’s still the only name in long distance running that I know, which doesn’t seem like much, but is kind of a big deal considering I watch every Olympics and my best friend closely follows track to the point that he routinely tells me about the results of meets all over the world.  Anyway, the bottom line is that Pre was a hero who continues to inspire thousands if not millions of people to this day, and was capable of growing a kickass mustache even though he died well before his mustache-growing prime.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              2010-2011 College Basketball Preview (Part II)        

    The Club Trillion College Basketball Preview moves on, as today we talk about guys who look the part, guys who kinda suck, and guys whose lunch money we could easily steal.  As a reminder, I’m in charge of the FIFA and college basketball sections and my good friend Keller is in charge of the professional wrestling section (just so you know who to be pissed at if we somehow offend you). Now let’s get to it. 5…4…3…1…off blast!

    (By the way, if none of that made sense to you because you missed Part I of the Club Trillion College Basketball Preview, you can get up to speed by clicking here.)

    At first, this category might seem like it’s focusing on fashion, but in reality that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I think of fashion as people using their clothing and whatnot to mask their insecurities and try to be cool.  In other words, fashion is for vaginas.  What we’re doing here is analyzing the guys who use their “gear” as a way to accentuate their attitude.  They don’t wear this stuff to make it seem like they’re cool.  They already know they’re badass.  These guys dress the way they do simply because it’s comfortable and that’s how they like it.

    FIFA: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

    No homo, but real talk I’ve always been a little fascinated with the long hair pulled straight back look.  This is most likely because both of the male members of the original DX rocked this hairstyle in two completely different yet completely perfect ways.  Seeing Triple H and Shawn Michaels raise hell and crotch chop all through my childhood made a lasting impression on me and I’ve been a fan of long hair ever since.  It should be noted, though, that the DX/Sergio Ramos long hair look is the only long hair style that’s awesome.  Examples of guys’ long hair looks that suck include the Bama Bangs, the Emo Bangs, the Polomalu, the Shaun White, the Bieber (Bama Bangs except the hair goes over the ears), the Asian Mullet, the Efron (pretty much a combination of the Bama Bangs and the Bieber), the Joakim Noah, and the Home Improvement Kids.

    What makes Sergio Ramos stand out is that he takes his long hair to the next level with a subtle skinny headband.  By also wearing a sweatband on his wrist with the occasional long sleeve jersey, Sergio Ramos has the exact look I would have if I were a soccer player (again, no homo).  Unfortunately, a quick Google Image search of him shows me that he can be a little feminine off the field sometimes, which is pretty discouraging really.  I’m going to chalk up this perceived femininity to the fact that he’s European and it’s well-known that all Europeans are a little light in their loafers.  Nonetheless, the FIFA version of Sergio Ramos looks pretty badass and that’s ultimately all that I care about.

    Pro Wrestling: “Ravishing” Rick Rude

    When I was a kid, I absolutely hated Rick Rude. I disliked vegetables. I didn’t care much for girls. But I completely and unequivocally hated Rick Rude and would cheer for whoever he was wrestling to kick his ass every time one of his matches was on. As I got older, I really started to wonder why young me was such a dumbass on all those things (except for vegetables. Those still blow). The more I caught Rude’s matches, the more and more I started to like him. In fact, he was awesome. He was from Robbinsdale, Minnesota, and the only people I’ve known from Minnesota have been Jared Allen, two swimmers who bite the lids off beer cans to open them, and a total babe who owns multiple animal shirts, so he was good from location alone. Add in a mustache so manly that it generated testosterone into the air the way that trees generate oxygen to go along with the fact that he gyrated his hips inappropriately at both females and males alike, and already you can tell how stupid young me was for hating him. But the biggest thing I missed as a youngster when it came to Rick Rude was just how ridiculously awesome his ring attire was.

    The first place to start is his robe. While not known for his robes in the way that Ric Flair (the runner-up in this award, obviously) was, Rude’s robe was still an integral part of his look. Adorned with jewels and with “Simply Ravishing” written on the back with a pair of lips, the robe worked on two levels. The first was that it was cool in its own right. The second level was that he used his robe as a great reveal, putting down audience members and reminding them that he was the sexiest man in the room and they were about to see for themselves. When he opened his robe, they’d get a glimpse of not only his steroid-perfected body, but also of the tights that lay him claim to this award for best use of gear. It’s an interesting dichotomy.

    A quick aside: to the reader that doesn’t know any better, it would seem like Rude might have been gay. Between the bedazzled robe with big red lips on them and an entrance song that sounds like if Val Venis’ music had been composed for a Christmas present shopping montage in an 80s movie, to the untrained eye Rude would appear to be a homosexual character. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Rude would routinely bring female fans in from the audience to make out with him in the ring, leaving them swooning messes when he was done with them. He would even adorn his tights with female faces to show just how much of a ladies man he really was.

    But back to the tights. You see, Rude wins this award because there has never been a wrestler in history with cooler tights than his. The exact look varied, but they almost always had either his face, some girl’s face, or something relevant to whatever angle he was in. When Rude was facing the Ultimate Warrior, the Warrior’s face ended up on Rude’s tights (if you’ve been clicking these links, you’ll see that Rude has a go-to pose, not unlike Same Face Guy). When Rude won the Intercontinental title, where a face would normally be was instead now an airbrushed rendering of the belt itself. Of course, Rude still had a picture of himself puckering his lips, just on the back of his tights now. With gear like Rude wore, it would be wrong to give the award to anybody else.

    College Basketball: E’Twaun Moore (Purdue)

    E’Twuan Moore’s look varies from time to time, but the reason he’s on the list as the best use of gear in college basketball is because of his occasional combination of shirt under the jersey and single sweatband on his wrist.  But, you might be saying, aren’t there tons of guys who wear shirts underneath their jerseys?  Yes, yes there are.  But in case you haven’t figured it out, sweatbands being worn on the wrist gets all sorts of bonus points in my book.  This is mostly because ever since Michael Jordan came along, everyone abandoned the wrist and started wearing their sweatband on their forearm.  Very few people have the audacity to take it old school and throw that sumbitch on their wrist, which is why I think it’s so awesome when someone does, especially when that someone is one of college basketball’s better players.

    The truth is that picking Moore for this is somewhat reverse racism, but it makes perfect sense so I’m not going to apologize.  Even though there are tons of white guys who wear a wristband and a shirt under the jersey, the reality is that pretty much every one of them looks like a dweeb.  It’s a universal rule in society that black guys make everything cooler and this case is no different.  When a white walk-on wears a shirt under his jersey, he looks like he’s doing nothing but trying to hide his scrawny arms.  But when E’Twaun Moore dresses exactly like said scrawny white walk-on, he somehow makes it look awesome, simply because he’s smooth on the court (and he’s black).  And that’s ultimately what sets Moore apart from everyone else.  There are plenty of guys that look cool, per se, but only E’Twuan Moore really looks smooth, which is a completely different thing in the same way that William Buford will tell you that your “ol’ girl” and your “main squeeze” are completely different things.

    For this category, we’re taking a look at guys who have become famous to the point that people who don’t pay all that much attention just assume these guys are really good.  In reality, they’re decent, but these guys are by no means as good as their level of fame would suggest.  An example of the type of person we’re dealing with here is how chicks who don’t watch basketball assume that Lamar Odom is one of the five best players in the world because he’s always on Keeping Up With The Kardashians and he’s won a couple NBA titles. Sure he’s a great player, but by no means is he as good as a majority of girls probably think he is (Now that I think about it, Hank Baskett is another example for the same reason as Odom, except Hank Baskett really does suck).  You get the idea.

    FIFA: Ronaldinho (AC Milan)

    In all honesty, Ronaldinho was the single reason I ever started to care about soccer and consequently FIFA in the first place.  Thanks to the combination of his crazy ball handling (or is it ball footling?) skills and the increasing popularity of the internet when I was in high school, a friend of mine showed me a few highlights on YouTube and I was mesmerized to the point that I decided to give soccer a chance.  I haven’t looked back since.  My guess is that there are tons of people like me who never knew anything about soccer but know about Ronaldinho because they saw a few YouTubes of him and were blown away at what he was capable of (mostly because it was fake). In fact, if my circle of friends are any indication, Ronaldinho is one of the most famous soccer players in the world to Americans.  Unfortunately, though, no matter how famous he is, at the end of the day his game is pretty much all show and doesn’t translate to FIFA all that well.

    There’s no denying that the real Ronaldinho’s ball footling ability is pretty f’ing nuts, but the problem is that it there really is no place for it on FIFA to me.  I play a very disciplined, fundamentals-oriented brand of soccer when I play FIFA and Ronaldinho’s flashy brand of soccer just doesn’t fit (kinda like how it didn’t fit with the Brazilian national team, which is why he was left off their World Cup roster this year).  Besides, even if I do want to get flashy, I can just use Barcelona and Messi because he’s probably got better ball skills anyway and is much, much faster than Ronaldinho.  Plus, if I’m playing with AC Milan, I’m running everything through Ibrahimovic, if for no other reason than he can kick the piss out of the ball and I really want to see him burn a hole in the virtual net like he’s an on-fire Chris Mullin on NBA JAM.

    Pro Wrestling: The Miz

    I hate to say this, because he dresses like a total doucher and clearly used steroids and his previous fame to help him get where he is today, but I respect the hell out of Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. Here’s a guy who we only knew liked pro wrestling because he (awesomely) used to proclaim himself “The Miz” and cut loud promos when he was on the Real World: New York. This took guts because it always annoyed Coral, and she had huge boobs which he effectively ruined his chance of seeing by acting like a pro wrestler. Even later, when he’d used his fame from being a dominant player on the Real World/Road Rules Challenge to secure a spot WWE Tough Enough, The Miz worked his ass off to improve his in-ring skills after he got cut, and eventually got a full-time contract. All of this aside, for the amount of fame he might have to the random person on the street, The Miz still, well, sucks.

    This might not be the case in 5 years, because he has natural charisma and is continually trying to get better. In fact, he even stopped wrestling in ridiculous-looking board shorts and moved on to actual wrestling tights, which can only mean good things. But at this point in his career, the recognition that The Miz gets as a pro wrestler from the casual fan or random stranger would make you think he’s been a multiple time Heavyweight champion. While he has had reigns as the United States champion and the tag team champion, The Miz has yet to serve any meaningful time in the main event scene. So despite his fauxhawk and half-Mystery Method, half-Tool Academy wardrobe having a high Q score with the general public, any pro wrestling fan will tell you that The Miz just isn’t as good as you think he would be.

    College Basketball: Matt Howard (Butler)

    If for some reason you don’t know who Matt Howard is, maybe referring to him as “the big white guy on Butler who had the dirty stache last year” will help jog your memory.  Thanks to an improbable run by Butler to the National Championship last season, Howard and his mustache got all sorts of national publicity, and rightfully so.  After seeing his mustache on CBS, college basketball fans collectively flocked to the internet to research Howard a little bit, and were probably surprised to find that he was the Horizon League Player of The Year in 2008-2009 before his teammate (and my high school teammate), Gordon Hayward, took the honor from him the following season.  Upon learning this information, the casual college basketball fan referred to the Morrison Theorem (wispy mustache + mid-major conference player of the year = someone who isn’t to be f***ed with) and assumed that Matt Howard must be one of the best players in college basketball.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

    Before Butler fans get upset with me (“you’re just hating cause we beat you last year!”), let me first say that I have the utmost respect for Matt Howard.  As you should know by now, I’m a fan of both mustaches and wearing a shirt under the jersey, which is why I want so badly for Matt Howard to be good.  Sadly, the only thing keeping this from happening is that his game consists of nothing but pumpfaking, throwing elbows, setting illegal screens, and flopping so much that even Butler fans get uncomfortable with it.  Again, I’m not hating on the kid, because I did every single one of those things when I played in high school and practiced in college.  But that’s the problem – I can do all of these things (not to mention the fact that there’s a 45-year-old version of Matt Howard in every church league in America).  As much as I respect what he does and I think of him as an inspiration to all of us pumpfaking/flopping guys, the bottom line is that he simply isn’t that talented.

    (Now that I think about it, this is more of a compliment to him than anything else.  The guy gets more out of his abilities than anyone in college basketball, which is something to be proud of, I guess.)

    This category is simple.  We have no doubt in our mind that if we wandered into a dark alley to find these guys perched up against a wall with a leather jacket on and a look in their eye that suggests they want to anally rape us, we would not only deny all access to our buttholes, but we would also kick so much ass and take so many names that we’d probably get a key to the city or whatever it is they give all those awesome superheroes like Daredevil. 

    FIFA: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

    First and foremost, let me make it perfectly clear that the real life Messi would beat the snot out of me if we were ever to fight.  Sure he’s only 5’7”, but the dude is one of the best athletes alive and is lightning quick, so there’s a very good chance that he could beat me silly before I’m even done with my warm-up jumping jacks (even if it is a spontaneous street fight, going through a proper warm-up routine is still very important).  There really is no disputing who would win this fight because I fully admit that I would stand no chance against him.  But, as is the consistent theme with this preview, I’m not concerned with the real life Messi.  I only care about the FIFA version of Messi, and it’s clear to me that I would make virtual Messi my b*tch.

    To confirm my point that I could destroy the virtual Messi, I decide to create myself on FIFA 11 and compare my relevant attributes with Messi’s.  Here’s what I found:

    Shark vs. Messi

    As you can clearly see, Messi has better body control than me but I more than make up for it with both my strength and aggression.  And isn’t that really what would matter most in a street fight?  Virtual Messi’s best attributes suggest that if we were to fight, he would do nothing but duck and run away.  Meanwhile, I’m bringing a nine inch and 54 pound advantage to the table, not to mention my 91 in strength that would surely break his jaw in two.  As much as you might want to side with Messi, the bottom line is that scientific data shows that I would have no problem opening up a can of whoop ass on a virtual Messi in a street fight (two Stone Cold references in one sentence!).

    Pro Wrestling: Bob Backlund

    I thought about going a few different ways with this one. At first I considered picking the cruiserweight who I thought was the biggest pussy (probably Scotty 2 Hotty, just so I could do the Worm over his lifeless body), but then I realized that the smaller guys are usually legit, real-life badasses, like the “Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman. So that probably wouldn’t be a great choice. Then I thought about going with someone like Sid Justice, who is arguably the most physically intimidating man with a blonde curly mullet to have been alive in the 90s, but who is also famous for being incredibly soft outside the ring (and for having arguably the most gruesome injury inside it. Click at your own risk). This was a man who once used a squeegee in a street fight with Brian Pillman, so maybe he’d be a good choice for a street fight against me. But even Sid, who was billed at 6’9” and 320 pounds and once went by the name Lord Humongous in the ring before everyone associated it with Greg Oden, had the wherewithal to stab Arn Anderson with scissors in his next out of the ring fight, so he’s probably not a safe bet for a victory. Then it dawned on me: Bob Backlund.

    Backlund has the strange distinction of being one of the longest reigning WWF champions of all-time (over 5 years) while also being the loser of the fastest championship match in history (8 seconds, to Diesel/Kevin Nash). He also serves as exhibit A as to why I strongly believe all redheads should have some sort of facial hair to help offset how it looks like you have no hair  on your face at all from your eyebrows and eyelashes being so light. Seriously, there is absolutely no way that I lose in a street fight to a man who looks like a 60 year old version of the Gingers Do Have Souls kid. Backlund was apparently an accomplished amateur wrestler, but Adam Morrison is living proof that the better you are as an amateur, the more you’re likely to suck as a pro. Besides, this is a street fight. I’d like to see Backlund try and give me a single leg takedown while I’m hitting him in his temple with a lead pipe and/or stabbing him in the torso with a knife. Those are legal in a streetfight, right? Actually, on second thought, I’m not sure I’d even need them. Again, this is what Bob Backlund looks like. Just like he lost the 1996 Presidential election, Bob Backlund would get dominated in a street fight against me.

    College B-ball: Mick Cronin (Cincinnati’s Head Coach)

    Even though I couldn’t find Mick Cronin’s height with a quick Google search, I did discover that Bob Huggins is about 6’3” (one inch shorter than me) and Cronin comes up to Huggins’ shoulders.  Maybe you don’t know this, but this means that Mick Cronin’s face is at a perfect punching height for me.  As I would make contact with Cronin’s schnoz, my arm would be perfectly parallel with the ground, which I’m sure John Brenkus and his Sport Science would tell you is how to get optimal force behind a punch. Translation: Mick Cronin would be f’ed if we were to engage in fisticuffs.

    Should the fight move to the ground and take on more of a wrestling dynamic, I’m just as confident that I could destroy Cronin.  My guess is that he’d be a wiry little fella that could escape from all sorts of holds and whatnot, so I’d focus more on restraining him with one arm and beating him senseless with the other.  As much as I’d love to put him in a camel clutch until he’s unconscious, I’d probably have to be a little more offensive and find a way to land a few punches instead.  Surely it wouldn’t take much more than two or three solid shots to the kisser before he’s had enough.  Of course, there’s always the chance that he’s a black belt in karate or Billy Blanks Tae Bo, which would throw a huge wrench in the system, but I still think I’d have the upper hand because I’m not afraid to play dirty and hit below the belt if that’s what it takes. ___________________________________________________

    In case you don’t follow me on Twitter or your friends who added me on Facebook haven’t broke the news to you yet, I’m proud to announce that after months of begging HOMAGE, we  finally released the “FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!” shirt yesterday.

    Before you complain about the price, please keep in mind that this isn’t your standard t-shirt, as this will undoubtedly be the softest shirt you will ever own in your life (unless you have the CLUB TRIL one).  Also, 10% of all sales for the rest of the month will be donated to Movember and will ultimately help with prostate/testicular cancer research.  So basically you can do your part to help fight cancer by getting an unbelievably awesome and soft shirt.  I’m pretty sure this could be the definition of a win-win. ___________________________________________________

    Today’s Great Mustache In American History is brought to you by Dale Earnhardt.

    Even though I spent my childhood cheering on the Rainbow Warriors and the 24 Dupont Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon, I have no problem admitting that Dale Earnhardt is the greatest NASCAR driver of all-time (Gordon and Earnhardt were bitter rivals for those of you who think you’re too cool to follow NASCAR). Most people are of the opinion that Richard Petty is the best ever, but I’m giving Earnhardt the nod, if for no other reason than Earnhardt had a better mustache.

    I was going to highlight some of Earnhardt’s finest moments, but then I realized that those of you who follow NASCAR already know how awesome he was and those of you who don’t follow NASCAR wouldn’t care anyway.  So instead, I’ll just link you to a tribute video on YouTube that made my a little teary-eyed and you can do what you want with it.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              2010-2011 College Basketball Preview (Part I)        
    Many of you have asked me how I feel about my beloved Vikings deciding to waive Randy Moss last week after trading for him a month earlier, so I thought I’d address it real quick. The truth is that I’m actually not that upset that Moss isn’t a Viking anymore, but I am upset that the Vikings front office (read: Brad Childress) ultimately threw away a draft pick because they couldn’t foresee Moss being a headache. This is like asking The Villain to be on your pick-up basketball team and then getting upset when he never passes you the ball. Or like letting The Villain borrow your car “for ten minutes” during your sophomore year at Ohio State and getting pissed when he returns it to you six hours later with less than a quarter tank of gas and a funky smell coming from the back seat. Sure it sucks that Moss was kind of a doucher, but ultimately it’s the Vikings’ fault for putting so much trust in him. That, more than anything else, is what is so frustrating. This whole ordeal is just another example of how other than murder, pedophilia, and rape, nothing in this world upsets me more than Brad Childress’ decision making, which is ironic because Childress looks like a guy who commits all three of those crimes on a regular basis. But enough about a mediocre NFL team. Let’s talk college basketball.

    If you know anything about me or my blog, you know that there are three things in the world of sports that my life revolves around – college basketball, FIFA, and professional wrestling. And if the handfuls of emails I regularly get from the Trillion Man March are any indication, most of you also care about at least two of those three things. So, keeping this in mind and acknowledging that college basketball officially started this week, I’ve decided to team up with Keller to get you pumped for the season by bringing you what will surely be both the best and most irrelevant college basketball preview you will ever read.

    For the preview, Keller and I intertwined our three favorite things about sports by likening different aspects of college basketball to aspects of both FIFA and professional wrestling. Keller knows more about wrestling than anyone I’ve ever met in my life, so he will be handling the wrestling section of the preview (warning – he wrote a ton). And since every time we play FIFA I beat Keller like he’s my ex-wife, I’ll be handling the FIFA section of the preview. Obviously, now that I’m writing college basketball pieces for ESPN and I’m therefore considered a college basketball expert, I’ll also be handing the basketball section. Finally, because the entire preview is longer than the list of people who wanted me to make a Greg Oden penis joke right here, I’ve decided to break it up into a bunch of parts and post a new part every couple of days (I would post a new one every day, but I can already anticipate Keller not getting his sections done).

    With all of that being said, here is Part I of your 2010-2011 Club Trillion College Basketball Preview. Boom baby.

    This category is pretty self explanatory, but I’ll explain it a little bit anyway. These are the guys who you see either playing, wrestling, or on FIFA and think to yourself, “Wait, he’s still playing/wrestling? How old is that guy?” You know, guys like…

    FIFA: David Beckham (LA Galaxy)

    Beckham is kinda like the Brett Favre of soccer. Not only has he been playing seemingly forever, but he also has an immaculate stubble beard and there are pictures of his junk all over the internet (although, his junk is unfortunately covered by whatever underwear he is endorsing for that particular photo shoot – damn). Plus, the video game version of Beckham is also much better than the real version of him, just like Favre and his video game likeness. What’s more, Beckham and Favre both married women who are about one year older than them. In fact, the only difference I can see between these two is that Beckham didn’t cost the Vikings their first trip to the Super Bowl in my lifetime by throwing an inexcusable interception to Tracy Porter late in the NFC Championship. Not yet, anyway.

    Pro Wrestling: Ric Flair (The Nature Boy)

    As a man who currently has a 15-year unbeaten streak in Mercy, and who’s been shaving since the 7th grade, I’ve been conditioned never to cry under any circumstances. That being said, I stood helpless as my eyes welled up with tears while I watched Monday Night Raw on March 31, 2008. The night before, Ric Flair had lost his retirement match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XXIV, and this night’s Raw was dedicated as a farewell show to the Nature Boy, honoring his multiple-decade career. Prior to this moment, I think the last time that I cried was during a 5th grade AAU basketball game, where an opponent who was no less than 12 inches shorter than me bit me in the stomach as I dribbled up the court. After yelling at the top of my high-pitched 5th grade lungs “HE BIT ME!!!”, the combination of rage, shock, and pain led to me sobbing on the bench for the entire 3rd quarter before re-entering the game and fouling the kid in retribution.

    So imagine my surprise when I learned that watching the Four Horseman reuniting in the ring for the first time in 20 years caused the waterworks to start up. The sound of the greatest entrance music in wrestling history combined with the visual of Ric Flair sobbing in the ring was too much for me. This was the perfect send-off for arguably the greatest wrestler in history. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Flair wouldn't spend his final years toiling away in second rate promotions tarnishing his legacy for a few more paydays. Flair would be different. That is, until Flair would un-retire to toil away in a second rate promotion, tarnishing his legacy for a few more paydays. My tears were for nothing now.

    When you're a stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling and dealing son of a gun, you tend to acquire expensive tastes and multiple wives. Flair lived a lavish lifestyle (hell, even his famous robes cost upwards of $5,000 apiece) and let throngs of women ride Space Mountain (his awesome euphemism for sex). By giving out season passes to Space Mountain to not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different women, and continuing his free-spending ways to go along with those divorces, Flair essentially went broke after his retirement and was forced to come back. He signed a contract with TNA a year after his retirement ceremony, and sadly continues to wrestle to this day.

    It's truly a shame it ended up this way too, because there have been multiple points in Flair's career where he could have retired on top besides the post-Wrestlemania ceremony. There was the time he went crazy, stripped off his clothes in the middle of the ring, and started elbow dropping his suit jacket. Or after his match with Sting on the final episode of WCW Monday Night Nitro. Or every time he talked sh*t to a fan by calling them "fat boy" or telling them that their mother rode Space Mountain and that they'd ride it later that night. Or when Will Ferrell paid homage to him as Ashley Schaeffer. Through the years there were plenty of perfect times for Ric Flair to go out like the Nature Boy truly should have, and not have to languish in 2010 wrestling in TNA, looking like a droopier-breasted Randy the Ram while every fan who cheered for him during his heyday looked on embarrassed (I say looked on in the loosest sense of the word, because TNA sucks and nobody actually watches it). Much like the Nature Boy never has learned to stop going to the top rope (at this point I would link you to a montage of Flair getting slammed from the top rope, but for some stupid reason there is no video of it on YouTube, despite Flair never once landing a top rope move in any match I’ve seen even though he tries every time), he's never learned it's time to hang up his boots.

    College Basketball: David Lighty (Ohio State)

    The official Ohio State basketball website says that Dave Lighty is a 5th year senior this year, but this is also the same website that once said that The Villain’s hobbies include reading and playing golf, so forgive me for being a little skeptical. I’m fully convinced that he has somehow been in the program for at least ten years. This is mostly because Dave joined the Ohio State basketball team before I did, yet I played four full seasons with the team and graduated, and Dave is still going to play one more year. Those of you who have followed Big Ten basketball for awhile surely agree that Dave has been playing for the Buckeyes forever, but if for some reason you don’t, consider this: Dave was college teammates with Greg Oden and Greg Oden is at least 82-years-old. You do the math.

    This category is also self explanatory, but I won’t insult your intelligence like I did with the last one and explain it to you. Let’s just get to it.

    FIFA: Kaka (Real Madrid)
    (Note: I know Kaka has an accent mark somewhere in his name, but last time I checked, this is America and we don’t use accent marks in America. You can either love it or leave it.)

    Diehard soccer fans who follow real soccer being played by real people would tell you that Kaka is one of the best players in the world, which is something you would most likely respond to by saying that you “don’t give a s*** because soccer is gay.” The FIFA version of him is every bit as good as the real version, as Kaka would easily be the best player on just about every other team than the one he’s actually on. Unfortunately for him, he will have to settle with his role as sidekick because he’s teammates with Cristiano Ronaldo, who is without question the greatest player on a sports video game since Jeremy Roenick on NHL ‘94 (more on Ronaldo later on in the preview).

    Other than being the best sidekick on FIFA, I think Kaka is the most versatile player on the game as well. His default position is in the midfield, but I’ve literally played (and dominated) with him at every position except goalie. I’ve also discovered that he’s a master of finishing rebounds that come from Ronaldo rocketing shots off the goalie’s nuts. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but I swear if there was an attribute for “being in the right place at the right time to score the goal and get all the credit, even though your teammate did all the hard work,” Kaka’s rating in that particular attribute would be at least a 96.

    Pro Wrestling: Scott Hall (Razor Ramon)

    On paper, Scott Hall had it all: legit size, loads of charisma, awesome shirts that make you consider spending $200 to get on eBay, a finishing move that you could easily break someone’s neck with, the list goes on. The only thing he never had was a world title. For someone with arguably the greatest stubble beard of all-time and the ability to make a full denim outfit look cool, you’d think that Hall would have spent the better part of the 90s as the heavyweight champion. But due to unfortunate timing and his inability to not get drunk and party six nights a week, Hall would settle down into a role as the quintessential second banana.

    As Razor Ramon in the (then) WWF, Hall would consistently earn cheers like a main-eventer, despite the fact his only push to the main event scene came when the Ultimate Warrior did what the Ultimate Warrior did best (besides being insane and gay-bashing, which for him are mutually exclusive) and left the company without any advance notice, leaving Razor Ramon as an emergency replacement to lose to Bret Hart. Instead, Hall spent much of his time in the Intercontinental title scene, having matches that remain legendary to this day. He stole the show against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X by defending his Intercontinental title in the very first ladder match, which both males and females will excitedly remember as “the match where you got to see HBK’s bare ass.” The Intercontinental title would be the peak of Hall’s run in the WWF, excluding the time he made a couple of young kids’ dreams come true on the Jerry Springer Show. In ’96, Hall signed with WCW and continued his career living a real-life version of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” albeit he was a bridesmaid with some pretty awesome chest hair.

    Despite being the first member of the New World Order to invade WCW’s shows, Hall was quickly pushed down the pecking order due to Hollywood Hogan’s heel turn and his own failure to power bomb announcers through the stage. For the second time in as many companies, Hall would win the second highest title (this time the WCW United States title), but never make it to the top. At first, Hall was stuck behind legendary WCW title moments like Hollywood Hogan and Sting’s feud that culminated at Starrcade 97 (a pay-per-view I’ll never forget, because for the first time in my life I convinced my mom to let me order a pay-per-view, only to have the signal be scrambled and the show ruined. Scrambled Spice channel I could deal with, scrambled Starrcade I could not.) and Goldberg’s 173 match win streak. Eventually though, Hall’s actions behind the scenes started costing him opportunities. His excessive drinking began spiraling out of control, with Hall even performing in the ring under the influence. At this point, you would have been more likely to find an attractive girl with a shrine to Jerry Orbach than a WCW executive who would ever have faith in Scott Hall being a main eventer. He would never again get past the midcard. Instead of trying to get Hall help, the brain trust at WCW decided to exploit Hall’s problems by incorporating them into an angle, as the last few memorable moments of Hall’s time in WCW revolved around him pretending to be drunk in the ring. While he never made it to the top in either company, Scott Hall is arguably the greatest wrestler ever in a supporting role.

    (Note: I choose to ignore Hall’s time after WCW, because I refuse to believe that he would end up looking like he did)

    Suddenly the stubblebeard isn’t as cool as it used to be

    College Basketball: Nolan Smith (Duke)

    It is a well-documented fact that Duke sucks. Since they’ve won a ton of national championships, I obviously don’t mean this in a “Duke isn’t good at basketball” way, but more of a “Duke fans are insufferable and the white guys on the team who slap the floor on defense make me lose all hope in humanity” kind of way. Duke fans think that people hate them because we are jealous and secretly want to be just like them, which is the same ass-backwards philosophy that made LeBron say, “They boo you because they like the way you play basketball.” No. We boo Duke/Duke fans/LeBron because they act like entitled pricks and think that the game of basketball couldn’t exist without them. Why is it that there are college basketball programs all over the country that have historically had more success than Duke, yet Duke is really the only team that is the bane of America’s collective existence? The answer is simple – because Duke sucks.

    But despite the hatred we all have for Duke, there’s no denying that they historically are always a juggernaut, they have one of the greatest coaches of all-time, and they are probably the favorites to win back-to-back titles again this year. Now that Scheyer Face has graduated, Kyle Singler is the undisputed leader and best player on the team, but Nolan Smith is a senior NBA prospect in his own right who will be the Blue Devils’ leading scorer on many occasions this year. Like Kaka and Scott Hall, Smith is good enough to be the star on pretty much any other team, but he still embraces his role and knows that Duke wouldn’t be nearly as good without him. So, if you get the chance to watch him play this year, be prepared to be impressed with his skills. And if you do appreciate the way he plays, please remember to have the common courtesy to boo him as loudly as you possibly can. It’s the least you could do.

    This category was developed in protest to the absurd number of tournaments and events that are held in the world of sports every year. The truth is that nobody cares about the non-BCS bowls (except when the MudDogs won the Bourbon Bowl), the non-majors in golf and tennis (or even the majors in golf and tennis), or any race of any kind that isn’t the Daytona 500 or Indy 500. These things are meant to wet our whistle while we’re waiting on the important tournaments, but in reality they pretty much just get in the way.

    FIFA: FA Cup (England)

    Wikipedia tells me that the FA Cup has been around since 1871 and is the oldest soccer competition in the world, which would be impressive except “nobody gives a s*** because soccer is gay.” In reality, this tournament is probably a very big deal to people in England, not so much because it’s really old and has a lot of history but more because England sucks in the World Cup and this tournament at least guarantees English people that a team from England will win the thing. All that’s fine and well, but I’m not concerned with real soccer. I only care about virtual soccer and on FIFA, this tournament does nothing but get in my way.

    When I play manager mode on FIFA, I play with Manchester United, only because the Premier League is the only competitive league and I kinda like Wayne Rooney’s game (I also like his soccer game). My only goal on manager mode is to win the Champions League or whatever they call it on the game. I have no interest in anything else. The only reason I even play regular season games is to finish in the top of the league so I can qualify for next season’s Champions League. At no point in time have I ever cared about winning the FA Cup, which is why I used to simulate those games. The only problem with this is that FIFA would sometimes screw me when I simulated the FA Cup games and I would get upset by a scrub team in the first round. When this would happen, my coach’s rating or whatever would plummet, I’d get fired, and I’d be stuck managing an MLS team the following season. Therefore, I have no choice but to play these FA Cup games and win some tournament that I literally could not care any less about.

    Pro Wrestling: Women’s Wrestling (WWE)

    Quick: can anybody name their favorite women's wrestling match of all time? I've been a fan of pro wrestling in some capacity since 1990, and I can still only remember four things about women wrestlers – that Alundra Blayze showed up on WCW Nitro and threw away the WWF women's title on live TV in a move that seemed extreme before the nWo showed up, that Mae Young gave birth to a hand, that Chyna has some not-so-womanly bodily features that the world saw in her sex tape with X-Pac (as has previously been mentioned in this blog before...Google at your own risk), and that I first learned how to clear my internet history to hide the Playboy pictures of Sable I had looked up. After scanning through my Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam anthologies, not a single women’s match listed on the cards brought back a memory, and I'm the same guy who can still tell you the home phone number of a girl I had a crush on in the 9th grade, despite never having the balls to actually call her. Even a Google search to help jog my brain instead produced results that were split between fetish female wrestling porn and sites completely dedicated to moments where a female wrestler's top came undone and their breasts were exposed on live TV.

    And that's what seems to be missing on Vince McMahon and other people who run wrestling companies. The only time a male fan is going to watch a women's wrestling match is in the hopes that a boob pops out during a suplex. The unfortunate reality is that there is no amount of technical proficiency that can take place in a women's match that will make it compare to a men's match. Many women’s matches are filled with hair tosses and kicks when the fans want to see finishers like this, much like many WNBA games are filled with set shots and missed lay-ups when the fans want to see, well, men's basketball (I'm only slamming the WNBA because they can't slam things themselves!!!). And since, according to a site that I cannot even think about linking to because of the content, there have not been that many nipple slips in women's matches, that they're even happening at all is a waste of time.

    College B-ball: Cancun Challenge (Preseason Tourney)
    Note: The teams playing in this year’s Cancun Challenge are LaSalle, Missouri, Providence, Wyoming, Morgan State, North Florida, Prairie View A&M, and Western Illinois.

    I can’t tell if these “preseason” tourneys (by the way, calling them preseason tournaments is both deceiving and dumb – kinda like calling this a college basketball preview although the season has actually already started) have been going on for awhile and I just recently started noticing how many there are or if they are a relatively new fad in college basketball. My guess is that the success of the Maui Invitational gave the higher-ups the idea to create more of these things than any one person could possibly keep track of. Either way, I’m pretty confident that when it comes to preseason college basketball tournaments, the Cancun Challenge is the cream of the crap.

    Cancun is one of the few places in Mexico that Americans can visit right now without being 100% sure that they will die (there’s only an 85% chance you’ll die), so the Cancun Challenge was probably created as a way to give these college athletes an opportunity to experience a different culture for a few days. Unfortunately, the organizers of the tournament failed to realize that the Cancun Challenge is really nothing more than a cocktease to the players. As cool as a free trip to Cancun seems, it’s not like these guys are going to be sipping margaritas and sexing senoritas the whole trip. For the most part, all of their time will be spent either practicing, playing, or falling asleep in film sessions, which means their trip to Cancun would essentially be the same as a team trip to Detroit in the middle of January.

    As for the fans who are crazy enough to travel to the tournament, it’s a similar story. They pay ridiculous amounts of money for a vacation to Cancun, only to get down there and realize that their vacation is being ruined by subpar basketball games that are being played in a hotel ballroom (yes, the games really are played in a hotel ballroom). Throw in the fact that absolutely zero neutral college basketball fans are going to pay attention to games like North Florida vs. Prairie View A&M and Wyoming vs. Western Illinois, and it’s easy to see why this will be the biggest waste of time event in college basketball this year. __________________________________________________

    Because it’s Movember and nothing else matters more in my life right now than growing my mustache, I’ve decided to substitute the awesome basketball YouTube video at the end of the blog posts this month for a little history lesson that I will be calling “Great Mustaches In American History.”

    Today’s Great Mustache In American History is brought to you by Teddy Roosevelt.


    Teddy Roosevelt is without a doubt the most badass president (and quite possibly human being) in the history of America. I could honestly write 10,000 words about how awesome this man is, but I’ll just provide you with three bullet points that tell you all you need to know about the guy.

    • In 1912, former-president Roosevelt was the target of an assassination attempt and was shot in the chest shortly before he was scheduled to give a speech in Milwaukee. Instead of being rushed to the hospital like everyone suggested, Roosevelt kicked common sense in the balls and proceeded to give his 90 minute speech as planned. He even opened the speech by telling the crowd, “I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” After he gave the speech, Roosevelt finally went to the hospital, but the bullet was never removed and he lived with it in his chest for the rest of his life. What a badass.
    • Teddy Roosevelt was awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize. Try wrapping your mind around that for a second. The only possible explanation I can think of for this is that he was such a badass that people decided to play nice because they were so terrified of what he was capable of.
    • Roosevelt eventually died of a heart attack while sleeping when he was 60-years-old. The US vice president at the time, Thomas Marshall, had this to say about his death: “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.” Let it be known that I want that exact quote put on my headstone when I die, even if I don’t die in my sleep and even though my last name isn’t Roosevelt. If it weren’t for Nathan Hale, that would be the greatest quote in American history (by the way, I’m not going to explain the Nathan Hale reference to those of you who don’t know his quote – that’s something that should be common knowledge for anyone who loves their country).

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder


    One of my favorite things that happened on a routine basis with my teammates at Ohio State was when they would start sentences with either the words “real talk” or the much more entertaining and hilarious phrase “on some real s**t.” By starting their sentence with one of these phrases, they are basically telling everyone, “I was just messing around with everything else I have ever said in my life. That all means nothing compared to what I’m about to say, so please give me your undivided attention because I’m going to talk about something that is more serious and more important than global warming, AIDS, and Wrestlemania combined.” What made this so funny to me was that each and every time one of my teammates led with one of those phrases, they always would inevitably follow it up by saying something that couldn’t possibly be more irrelevant. Because of this, it was common for one of them to walk into our locker room after practice, get everyone’s attention, and then say something along the lines of, “Real talk, Martin had me rollin back in the day.” Sometimes, if they really wanted to drive the point home, they’d even throw in “and that’s on my momma” for good measure. Some people just know how to eloquently present an argument.

    Having said all of that, it’s time for some real talk. My favorite month of the year, Movember, starts on Monday, which means on Monday it’s time to quite literally separate the men from the boys. Those of you who have been members of the Trillion Man March for awhile surely remember Movember from last year. If you’re new to the party, though, and don’t know about Movember, check out my blog post from last year that explained everything. Here are a few important paragraphs for those of you who are too lazy to simply click on a link:

    It was brought to my attention by a few members of the Trillion Man March that the month of November marks a very important time for lovers of mustaches and haters of prostate cancer. That’s because November has been dubbed “Movember” by a couple of Australians, which may initially sound like a month-long tribute to GUTS announcer, Mo Quirk, but is actually an event that was started to raise prostate cancer awareness (apparently “mo” is an Australian slang term for mustache). I thought Movember was just another event started by guys in high school who wanted an excuse to grow out their peach fuzz without upsetting their moms, but as it turns out, Movember is actually the biggest charity event in the world that is targeted exclusively for men, having raised over $47 million to date. It’s like the men’s equivalent of Race For The Cure, except instead of using your legs all you have to use are your upper lip hair follicles.

    Even though one out of every six American men will get prostate cancer at some point in time, it should be noted that I can’t think of anyone close to me who has ever had the disease. I’m not trying to get you to care because prostate cancer has personally destroyed my life by inflicting the people around me. It’s not like that at all. I’m just trying to get you to care because Movember provides a great opportunity to have an excuse to grow a mustache and also provides a great opportunity to raise awareness for a good cause. You can become a better person simply by growing out your mustache. Call me crazy but I think this might be the epitome of a win-win situation.

    In short, Movember is an initiative to raise awareness and money for prostate cancer research. Prostate cancer is to men what breast cancer is to women, only more people care about breast cancer because, well, breast cancer affects boobs and everybody loves boobs. Since there isn’t as much of a focus on prostate cancer in this country as there is on breast cancer, the main goal with Movember is basically to show people that a man’s prostate can be just as sexy as a nice pair of hooters. Naturally, this is done by growing mustaches.

    So here’s the plan. Since statistics say that at least 500 people reading this will end up getting prostate cancer at some point in their lives, I’ve decided that the Trillion Man March needs to do its part to kick prostate cancer in the nuts and give it the fiercest powerbomb of all-time. This can be accomplished two different ways.

    Most of you are either in high school/college or have recently graduated college, which is another way of saying that most of you are ridiculously broke. Shoot, there are probably some of you that have been out of school for years and are still broke because you either have spending habits like my former OSU teammate, Daequan Cook (I heard rumors that he bought 13 flat screen TVs for just his living room immediately after signing his first NBA contract), or you have more likely fallen victim to the terrible economy. This first way of helping out doesn’t apply to you, so you can stop paying attention for a second. But, for those of you who have somehow found a way to successfully pay off all those student loans that went towards countless Trapper Keepers and Lisa Frank products, this first way of helping out just might be for you. The ultimate goal with Movember is to obviously raise money for prostate cancer research, so if you are in a financially stable place, you can help make this happen by donating whatever your heart desires. One member of the TMM, Matthew, took it upon himself to make a group on the official Movember site, so if you do want to make a donation, please click on this link, fill out the information to join Matthew’s group, and donate like your life depends on it (because it very well could someday).

    As for those of us who aren’t rolling in the benjamins (the cool kids still say that, right?), we get to take on prostate cancer in a much more exciting way by growing out our mustaches for an entire month (it goes without saying that it’s perfectly fine to both donate and grow a stache). I’ve already pointed out that a majority of the Trillion Man March falls into the “dudes who are broke, man” demographic (myself included), which means that a majority of you will probably be taking part in Movember just by growing your stache. And since mustache growing will be the main way the TMM participates in Movember, I’ve decided to have a contest to establish who in the TMM is the manliest man of all. The only rules are as follows:

    1. You must shave your entire face (excluding eyebrows) down to the skin on October 31st. This is on an honor system. If you know you can’t grow an awesome stache, it’s ok. Just do the best you can. But whatever you do, don’t be a jealous doucher and cheat.
    2. Your stache can’t connect to itself or your sideburns anywhere on your face. If this happens, you have either a goatee or a beard, which means you no longer have a stache.
    3. The best mustache doesn’t necessarily mean the longest mustache. Creativity is taken into account, so doing something like this is every bit as impressive as growing a Sam Elliott stache (ok, so not really but you get what I’m saying here).
    4. Send me pictures of your stache throughout the entire month of Movember and I’ll post them on the blog as we move closer to judgment day on November 30th.
    5. The ultimate winner will be decided by a TMM vote and will win a case of Barbasol shaving cream for being so manly, as well as a free shirt (your choice between either CLUB TRIL or FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!) for being so awesome.

    Just so you’re mentally prepared, this is what you’ll be up against:


    “Who wants a mustache ride?”

    Based on past experience, I know that many of you work for companies or bosses who suck and won’t let you grow out facial hair of any kind for any reason. The unfortunate reality about the world we live in is that some people just don’t get it. If the economy was better I would coerce you all to participate anyway, but getting fired seems like an awful idea right now, so I won’t give you too much trouble for not participating. I truly am sorry. Fortunately, most of the TMM is comprised of college-aged guys whose only responsibilities are to skip class and get drunk, so they can pick up the slack.

    Obviously the women of the TMM also can’t take part in the mustache contest because you all can’t grow mustaches (unless, of course, you’re an elderly librarian or lunch lady). If you have your heart set on doing something for Movember, I suggest you make a pledge to yourself to only party with guys who have mustaches all month. If you’re a high school girl, refuse to give your class ring or go to the school dance with any guy who doesn’t at least have a little peach fuzz. If you’re a girl in college, take a stand and only let guys with staches do body shots off of you (that would probably feel better for you anyway – not that I’d know or anything). You get the idea.

    Finally, I thought I would address something that might be giving a few of you cold feet. Some of you might be asking yourself, “How exactly does growing out my mustache for a month do anything to help prostate cancer research?” Good question. Your mustache serves as a walking advertisement to raise awareness for prostate cancer. A lot of men don’t know all that much about the disease, so half of the battle is just spreading the word. Here’s an example of how your mustache can achieve just that:

    Friend: “Dude, nice mustache. You look like a pedophile that molests little kids.”

    You: “A) I’m trying to raise awareness for prostate cancer by celebrating my manhood, and B) Your redundancy makes it obvious to me that you have no idea what the word ‘pedophile’ means.”

    Friend: “Oh my bad, I didn’t know you worked for the grammar police. And who cares about prostate cancer? Getting rid of breast cancer is obviously much more important. Last time I checked, I’ve never gotten a pants-tent from looking at Pam Anderson’s prostates.”

    You: “You are the single dumbest person I’ve ever met in my life. You should care about prostate cancer because it is the most prevalent cancer for men and affects millions of guys all over the world. It should be more important to you than breast cancer since, ya know, you’re a guy which means you actually have a chance of getting prostate cancer. Sure breast cancer research is important, but you’re never going to have to worry about getting breast cancer since dudes don’t have boobs. Well, except for Tony over there.”

    (NOTE: I know that guys have breasts and can get breast cancer. Just go with me on this one.)

    Tony: “Ha. Ha. Real funny. Dick. For your information, I’ve started a new diet that is actually working really well for me.”

    Friend: “Oh really? What do you call it? The FATkins diet?”

    You: (laughing) (high five your friend) “Good one, dude. Yeah, Tony, sitting on your ass playing Halo every day and falling asleep to anime porn every night isn’t much of a diet.”

    Tony: “You guys are jerks. I’m offended and I’m leaving.”

    Friend: “I would say, ‘Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out’ but chances are you actually need that to happen cause it will help you get unstuck after you get your enormous hips wedged in the doorframe.”

    Tony: “I hate you both. While I’m gone, I suggest you both go die.”

    You: “Tony. Got. Served.”

    Friend: “Yeah, we totally served him. What a doucher. Look. He left his Halo game paused. We should go play it and ruin it for him. And maybe you can tell me more about this prostate cancer thing you were talking about earlier.”

    You: “Deal.”

    Real talk, Tony sucks. And that’s on my momma. __________________________________________________

    After I called out the walk-on community with my last blog post, tons of walk-ons around the country emailed me to sign up for The Belt. This is very encouraging, but I still think we need more guys. So again, please email me if you are a Division I men’s basketball walk-on. Even if you aren’t eligible for The Belt, you can still help out by writing a Facebook message or something to the walk-ons for your favorite basketball team that will let them know about this awesome contest.

    (I know that paragraph was copied and pasted from last time but it still applies, so shut up. Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s perfectly fine to plagiarize your own work. If it’s not, I should probably give back my college degree.) __________________________________________________

    Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Evan T. (no, not The Villain). There’s your shout-out, Evan. And here’s your video.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              The Cage, Volume III        

    I was watching ESPN last week and I saw an interview they did with Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended by the NFL because he apparently used a bathroom stall for a number other than 1 or 2 (hint: it was 69). During the interview, Roethlisberger completely jacked Magic Johnson’s concept of having an alter ego created from fame and money. In an HBO documentary that aired earlier this year, Magic explained that it wasn’t actually Earvin Johnson who routinely cheated on his wife and got HIV. It was “Magic.” Magic was the leader of the Lakers who threw behind the back passes, oozed all sorts of charisma and personality in interviews, and put his tallywhacker where it didn’t belong. Earvin was a shy kid from Michigan who was humble, respectful, and could apparently grow a kickass afro. He went on to say something like deep down he was Earvin, but fame and money had turned him into Magic. Basically, he was a victim of his own success. Poor guy.

    The crazy thing about Magic’s interview was that I actually ended up feeling bad for him, even though everything he said suggested that I should have felt the exact opposite. The reason for this is because Magic is quite possibly the most likable athlete to ever live, which is why guys like me were listening to what he said and were thinking, “Wow, I never thought of it like that. Magic didn’t want to have sex with all these women, but since he was rich and famous, he had no choice.” I never once questioned his logic, because he’s Magic Johnson, and Magic Johnson could tell me that he murdered my family and destroyed every copy of FIFA ever made, and as long as he smiled and let out that hearty laugh of his, I’d probably shake his hand and tell him not to worry about it.

    Ben Roethlisberger, on the other hand, comes across as a guy who is as charismatic and persuasive as Brett Favre’s penis. So when he blatantly stole Magic’s alter ego concept and said something like “I stopped being the Ben Roethlisberger who grew up in Findlay and spent his weekends sheltering the homeless, and I started becoming Big Ben, captain of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” I couldn’t help but think of how big of a jerk this guy is and how I don’t feel sorry for him at all. Sure he used the exact same excuse as Magic, but since he’s nowhere near as likable as Magic, I was furious. The excuse works for guys who have an infectious smile (and in Magic’s case, an infectious disease) or at least a likable personality. It most certainly does not work for guys who think it’s appropriate to have the most rapist-looking haircut in the world right after they’ve been accused of sexual assault.

    I guess the point I’m trying to convey here is that I’m really upset that Big Ben had to completely ruin this otherwise great excuse for misbehaving. Magic laid the foundation for athletes and celebrities to save themselves with nothing more than a little charisma and an alter ego. I even used Magic’s model to formulate a plan for myself. In five to ten years, when the cops inevitably bust open my door to find a dead hooker in my bathtub and an unconscious me laying in the living room with my pants around my ankles and my face buried in a huge mound of cocaine, I was going to be so excited to tell the judge that it wasn’t me who got into all that trouble. It was The Shark. But no. Ben Roethlisberger has to go and be an unlikable sleazeball and ruin it for everyone. Wait, I got that wrong. It was Big Ben who ruined it for everyone. Ben Roethlisberger did nothing wrong. My bad.

    Now that I got that off my chest, let’s open up The Cage and see if I can do my best to avoid answering your emails. Before you ask, the answer is yes – all of these are real emails from real people, except for the ones that aren’t. ___________________________________________________

    My email question is: Why do you never answer emails?
    - Ann L.

    Good question.

    Dear Mark, you are my hero. I love you.
    -Riley A.

    Good statements.

    Since you are a mid twenties something man, I am sure that you were excited when you heard of NBA JAM 2010. And since you grew up in Indiana, I was wondering what you thought about the fact that Reggie Miller and Rik Smits didn't make the Pacers legends roster.
    - Matt S.

    Even though I grew up 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis, I admittedly have never been much of a Pacers fan. This is predominantly because I absolutely despised the way Reggie Miller played basketball, which is to say that I despised how dirty of player he was and how much he trash talked. I hated all the theatrics that came with his game and I reached my boiling point with him when he pushed off of Jordan to hit that shot in the ‘98 Eastern Conference Finals, and then proceeded to execute the worst game-winning shot celebration in history. That play alone epitomized everything I hated about Reggie Miller.

    As I grew older, though, I realized that trash talking and playing dirty were woven into the fabric of basketball tradition just as much as Chuck Taylors and teammates using the N-bomb as a term of endearment. Upon learning this, I gained a greater appreciation for Reggie’s talents and actually respect the hell out of the guy now. He was one of the best clutch shooters of all-time and made the NBA that much better during his playing days. As for Rik Smits? He was always one of my favorite players if for no other reason than he had a mullet and an awesome nickname (The Dunkin Dutchman). I liked him so much that I briefly considered playing for Marist when they were recruiting me in high school, even though I knew absolutely nothing about the school or basketball program other than the fact that Rik Smits played there.

    To answer your question, I think this has the potential to make the fine people of Indianapolis the most upset they’ve been since Steven Tyler disgraced our great country with his national anthem at the 2001 Indy 500. Miller and Smits are the Pacers. If you asked all the Pacer fans who will buy NBA JAM 2010 to name the first two Pacers to come to mind, every one of them would say Miller and Smits. How could they possibly leave both of these guys off the game? More importantly, who got the nod ahead of them? Travis Best?

    Now that we got Moss how many more years does Favre stay for? 4? 5? 45?
    - Nate H.

    All of the above. He will retire after four more years, come back, retire again after another year, come back, and then finally retire for good 40 years later. But his final retirement won’t be his choice. It will be God’s. Following the 2055 NFL season, an 86-year-old Brett Favre will have a heart attack, pick up the phone to dial 911, and ultimately die in stunned silence after Tracy Porter intercepts his call.

    (I thought that taking an hour-long rape shower immediately after the Vikings lost the NFC Championship last year would get me over the loss. I couldn’t have been more wrong.)

    Who would win in a street fight? Mark Madsen or Craig Ehlo?
    - Doug P.

    This is a no-brainer. I’m taking Craig Ehlo over Mark Madsen in a fight of any kind, whether it be street, MMA, or pillow. This is because I’m 100% sure that he’s tougher than the Maddog. Think about it. Both of these guys are known for one thing respectively. Madsen is famous for setting white people back at least 20 years with his horrendous dancing at the Lakers championship celebration. And by 20 years, I mean that he didn’t set white people back at all because pretty much all white guys dance like that. But still.

    Ehlo’s claim to fame, however, is that he was repeatedly abused by Michael Jordan. I’m guessing a lot of people reading this are Cavs fans who don’t need to be reminded, but the rest of you probably only know Ehlo because of the shot Jordan hit over him at the buzzer to knock the Cavs out of the ‘89 playoffs, when in reality he was frequently dominated by Jordan (in Ehlo’s defense, though, who wasn’t?). Along with hitting “The Shot,” Jordan’s career high of 69 points also came against the Cavs in 1990, and while Ehlo didn’t start out guarding Jordan, he certainly guarded him (or attempted to) for a majority of the game. Ehlo got abused by Jordan so much, in fact, that during a game in Chicago, following a play in which Jordan scored on Ehlo even though Ehlo had wrapped him up with both arms, one of the game announcers was in such disbelief at how frequently plays like that happened that he felt compelled to say, “It always happens to Craig Ehlo” (I’m too lazy to look it up on YouTube, but I can just about guarantee that you’ll be able to find it). Jordan obviously had many victims during his career, but nobody got abused on a regular basis by Jordan like Craig Ehlo did. Nobody. Sorry, Cavs fans.

    So what does that have to do with fighting? It’s pretty simple, really. People have spent the past 10 years telling Madsen that he sucks at dancing, which is something that I’m sure he’s somewhat proud of. Meanwhile, people have been telling Craig Ehlo for the past 15+ years that he’s Jordan’s bitch. You and I can’t even fathom how much pent-up anger Ehlo is waiting to unleash because of this. That’s why I think if these guys really got into a fight, Ehlo would be like the disgruntled employee who finally snaps and shows up to work with a shotgun, only instead of pumping bullets into his co-workers he would be pumping a steady dose of knuckle sandwiches into Mark Madsen’s face.

    I think it's fair to say that I anticipated FIFA 11 just about as much as anyone. And, of course, was disappointed just as much as everyone. My roommate is the only one of my friends to share a love for the beautiful game. We got FIFA 10 last year to start preparing for the World Cup, and it was a great ride. I've even been getting up at 9:55 on Saturdays to watch EPL games. When FIFA 11 arrived we spent the next 2 days playing it and came to the conclusion that indeed it did suck, and maybe we'll just have to play FIFA 10. A few days go by and we give it another chance. Sure enough, I hate it just as much as before, however... he now pulls a 180 and says he likes it better than it's predecessor. I was floored. He read the first paragraph of your latest blog, and closed it. He refused to read, as he called it, “garbage.” So my question is - 1. Is his TMM membership revoked? and B. How do I best handle this doucher?
    - Dan W.

    As much as I’d like to revoke his TMM membership, the fact is that the only crime he’s guilty of is loving FIFA too much, which obviously isn’t a crime at all. I would be a hypocrite to denounce him for defending FIFA, so I can’t exactly be that upset.

    However, anyone who thinks FIFA 11 is better than FIFA 10 is obviously completely out of their mind. These are the same people who probably prefer the first Home Alone, the second version of DX, and the Third Reich. These people are so off-base with their thinking that they can’t be rationalized with. There is no saving your friend. I suggest you knock him unconscious, throw him in the trunk of your car, drive until you reach the depths of hell, and then leave his ass to rot in Ann Arbor, Michigan for being so dumb. Or you could just draw penises on his face the next time he passes out. Whatever works for you.

    What are your thoughts on Rufus taking on Brutus?
    - Justin B.

    I’m kinda split on this particular mascot attack. On the one hand, I’m all for mascot-on-mascot violence because every time it happens, it’s always hilarious to me. Always. Plus, when the kid who dressed up as Rufus was interviewed, he said that the only reason he ever tried out in the first place was because he knew that OU played Ohio State and he wanted to attack Brutus. I completely respect this kid’s ambition and desire to achieve his dreams. But, on the other hand, he kinda took a cowardly approach by springing a surprise attack on Brutus. There is absolutely no honor in how he went about doing it which kinda takes away from the act altogether. If you’re going to start a mascot fight, you gotta do it the old fashioned way – walk up behind the other mascot and give him a nice little shove. When he turns around to acknowledge your shove, you shove him again to let him know that it wasn’t an accident and that it most certainly is on. From there, you wait a second to let him have a chance to process what exactly is going on, and then you unleash hell. That’s the only fair way to go about it that still makes for great theater. It’s Mascot Fighting 101.

    When I first read about this mascot fight, I was immediately struck by how awesome both mascot names are. I was sure that a fight between Rufus and Brutus would have to be the greatest combination of mascot names that could possibly get into a fight, but like most things, I was wrong. After doing a little Wikipedia research, I’ve decided that the best possible mascot fight that could ever take place, based solely on the names of the mascots involved, would be if Scrotie (from the Rhode Island School of Design) fought Gaylord (from Campbell University). Can you imagine the headlines if this ever happened? I would actually go buy a newspaper for once in my life, just so I could have a copy of a paper with an inadvertently hilarious headline like “Gaylord Wrestles With Scrotie.” Another element of hilarity is added when you consider that this story is absolutely unGooglable, because Googling “gaylord” and “scrotie” together would result in nothing but gay porn on at least the first 27 pages of results (not that I would know or anything). That really would be the greatest mascot fight ever. I dare you to check out the Wikipedia list of mascots and come up with something better than that.

    Speaking of homosexuality…

    I played D3 hoops and we always had uncomfortable conversations about why one or two guys would rather hike back to the dorms in the winter weather than get into the team shower mix. Along those lines, were you a shower sandal wearer, or were you willing to take that risk? Did you ever pee on your feet as a faux method to kill fungus? Did your teammates offer to do it for you? Was my locker room just that weird?
    - CC

    First I’ll answer your questions - no, yes (just to freak out my teammates who apparently never realized that I’d douse my feet in soap after I did it), no, and yes if your teammates offered to do it for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll address something that should have been addressed long ago.

    Locker room shower etiquette is one of the most confusing things in the world to me, right up there with the female anatomy and Three 6 Mafia winning an Oscar. In all my years of playing sports, I’ve never understood it. It’s completely counterintuitive for one fairly obvious reason.

    It’s no secret that male athletes (specifically football and basketball players) are some of the most homophobic people on the planet. This is solely because they have an unspoken pressure to be as tough as they possibly can, and doing anything that could ever be perceived as “gay” would completely destroy their macho reputation in their minds. This is why they annoyingly overuse the phrase “no homo” on a regular basis (“no homo but I’m really hungry”), because even the slightest act of “gayness” would destroy an athlete’s reputation among his colleagues. Yet these are the same people who see no problem with packing twelve naked guys into a tiny communal shower area or making fun of a teammate with a small penis. It truly is perplexing.

    And then there are women athletes, who are often stereotyped as being lesbians, even though a majority of them aren’t. But even so, anyone who has ever been on spring break can tell you that there are tons of straight girls who are willing to make out with each other if you offer them $20 or simply start a convincing group chant. Women athletes don’t have that macho perception to live up to, which is why they tend to be much less paranoid about being perceived as gay. But if you were to ask women athletes if they use the locker room showers after their games, nearly all of them would say something along the lines of, “That’s disgusting. Why would we do that?” It truly is perplexing.

    Speaking of homosexuality…

    My bromate named Chris continually bashes soccer for only being for homosexual people. Do you believe that assessment is true?
    - Terry P.

    In a word, no. In a hyperlink, this.

    What is your greatest experience with a Thad Matta halftime or postgame tongue lashing?
    - Caleb W.

    A little known fact about Coach Matta is that he might be the worst yeller in the history of getting angry. What I mean by this is that it’s completely unnatural for him to yell, so when he does it’s hard to take him seriously. He’s the consummate “players’ coach,” which is why I was able to write my blog and act like an idiot on a daily basis. Because of this, he rarely ever screamed at us and when he did it was always a little forced. Looking back, it was always pretty funny when he yelled but one story involving his yelling sticks out more than any other, even though it wasn’t at halftime or after a game.

    During my freshman year at Ohio State, Coach Matta began having back problems that eventually led to him having foot drop in his right foot that still plagues him today. Before his injury, one of his favorite ways of expressing his anger during practice was to dropkick a basketball into the Schottenstein Center stands. When yelling simply wasn’t getting the job done, he’d find a ball laying close to him scream a few four-letter words, and cherry bomb for the upper deck. But when he started having back problems, he obviously couldn’t punt basketballs anymore, so he had to start improvising.

    Maybe the funniest moment in my Ohio State career happened at one practice after Coach Matta’s back problems came up. He got upset with the way we were playing, presumably because Ivan Harris was shooting too many fade-away threes and Ron Lewis was smacking his lips at everybody, and stopped practice to unleash a furious tirade. After he thought he got through to us, we started practicing again. But on the very first play back, somebody didn’t do something right (my guess is that Daequan Cook forgot that he had to run to the other end of the floor and play defense after he scored) and Coach Matta lost it. He temporarily forgot about his foot drop as he searched for a basketball to punt into the stands. When he eventually found one, the proverbial light bulb in his head went off telling him that kicking a basketball is right next to swinging a golf club and receiving a powerbomb on the list of “The Absolute Worst Things You Could Possibly Do With A Bad Back.” Upon realizing this, Coach Matta turned to a nearby assistant coach and quickly told him something that was undoubtedly along the lines of “kick this for me.”

    The assistant (who will remain unnamed for his sake) was obviously flustered by the request, because it was probably the last thing he expected to hear. Plus, he hadn’t even been that upset that we were playing badly, or at least he certainly wasn’t mad enough to want to kick a basketball. Still, the assistant didn’t want to upset Coach Matta more than he already was, so he quickly wound up to kick the ball. But instead of kicking it, he almost completely whiffed, as the ball grazed the side of his foot and rolled to the other end of the court. When this happened, the assistant was so embarrassed about whiffing that he actually became just as mad as Coach Matta, even though it was for a completely different reason. In a hilarious turn of events, the assistant coach decided that the best way to release the anger that he had just developed was to, you guessed it, dropkick another basketball. He hurriedly grabbed another ball and again wound up to boot the snot out of it. This time he made a little better contact, with “little” being the operative word here. The ball shot off the side of his foot as he shanked the kick into only the fifth row of the stands. I started laughing so hard that I had to bury my face in my jersey, and eventually acted like I had to pee so I could leave the gym without getting busted for not taking things seriously. It was, without a doubt, the worst execution of an angry tirade by a coaching staff that I’ve ever witnessed.

    Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the funniest thing to happen when I was at Ohio State. But it’s still pretty funny to think about a pissed off Coach Matta delegating the role of ball-kicker to a flustered assistant coach, who just so happened to be so bad a kicking that he made Ray Finkle look like Morten Andersen.

    Just was wondering what your thoughts are on OSU basketball team this upcoming year. Think they will be as good as you guys were last year even with the loss of The Villain? I know they have a good incoming freshman class that will help, especially with Sullinger. So just seeing what your thoughts are on the subject.
    - JJ S.

    Obviously I could make some wisecracks about how Ohio State is going to struggle to replace me and my record for the most wins in the history of the program. And I could joke about how I brought so many intangibles to the team that I’m just as synonymous with intangibility as MC Hammer. And I could also make some funnies about how screwed the team will be because they’ll have one less silky smooth J to have to keep in check during practice, which means they won’t be nearly as prepared as they should be for games. I could do all those things, but since most of you are probably Ohio State fans who really do want to know how good the team will be, I’ll give you my honest opinion on this year’s team.

    I fully expect this year’s team to be every bit as good as our team from last year, even though they lost The Villain. In fact, I think they might actually be better off without The Villain. Obviously, on the surface it seems like I’m saying this just because I want to take shots at The Villain, but the truth is that last year we won or lost based on how he played. Clearly he played well more often than not, but even so, many of our games consisted of four guys standing around watching Evan take over. This became a problem during a few stretches of last season. There’s no way that they’ll be able to replace The Villain this year, but I don’t think they necessarily need to. This team will have a lot more parity, which will force teams to plan their defenses around more than one guy.

    On an individual level, I really think Will Buford will be the best player in the Big Ten this year, which may be surprising to hear for some people. I don’t think he has much of a chance to win the Big Ten POY simply because of the fact that the people who vote for these things are unfathomably stupid, but he certainly has the talent to be phenomenal this year. From what I’ve seen over the summer and early this fall, Will has not only improved his basketball skills, but he’s also taken his mental approach to a whole new level. Last year he kinda took a backseat and picked his spots throughout the season, but this year he’s already showing signs of being the undisputed go-to guy on the team. He’s playing his ass off right now and I would say his swagger is through the roof, except I’ve never actually used the word “swagger” to describe anything in my life and I really don’t want to start now. But you get the idea.

    As for some of the other guys – Dallas Lauderdale finally gave in to his baldness and shaved his head, which is hilariously awesome to me. Dave Lighty has promised me that since this is his 17th and last year at OSU, he’s planning on making it his best. And Jon Diebler is still the same doucher he’s always been.

    Oh, and Coach Matta told me that Jared Sullinger is the best player he’s ever recruited. Ever. And this was when Jared was at least 30 pounds overweight. He’s since lost a lot of weight and is in much better shape. Translation: I’m going to every home game this year.

    Which brings us to the next email…

    I'm a freshmen here at the great OSU. Basketball tickets go on sale today, and the games I've been to I (and I'm sure you also) have noticed some great fans in the student section such as Red Man Group and the Cowboy. With the basketball fans getting a lot of flack about not being good enough and the reforms they made to the student section this year (behind the bench), do you have any ideas for one person or a group of people to get a 4 year tradition of great Buckeye fanhood? The only idea I have that is decent (or maybe not) would be to have 5 guys all in full uniform behind the bench every game and call ourselves "Second String" or something like that. So let me know if you've got some good ones and you can see your work in action this winter at the games.
    - Eric L.

    If there’s one thing I’ve always wished I was better at, it’s parkour. But if there’s two things I wished I was better at, they’re parkour and coming up with creative ideas for basketball fans or fantasy football/intramural team names. For some reason I always draw a blank on these kinds of things, probably because I have never actually experienced any of them. I’ve never played intramurals or fantasy football and I was always too busy making it rain to think about creative basketball fan costumes or signs, which is why I think I’m so far behind on the creative curve with this stuff. It’s a lame, copout of an excuse, I know. But I really think this Second String idea is solid. I’d go with that if I were you.

    I’m a sophomore in high school. Today I was eating lunch and like we do everyday, we were shooting trick shots into the trash can with our empty Gatorade bottles, the only drink for high quality athletes. I made a behind the back bounce off one table and over our assistant principal. I just wanted a judgment of this shot from a respected, honorable American like yourself. On a scale from 1 to the size of Greg Oden's penis, what would you rate this shot?
    - Nathan P.

    Without video evidence, I just don’t see how I can give it anything higher than a Brett Favre.

    Since there has been a tremendous lack of historical wrestling flavor in your blog save for a few small references, I would like to share with you that two of the all-time legends, Ric Flair and Mick Foley, will battle it out in the upcoming TNA Impact in somewhat of a "Last Match".
    Where does this fall in the list of all-time saddest wrestling moments?
    - AJ K.

    In order, here’s my list of the Top 10 all-time saddest moments in wrestling history:

    1. My parents telling me when I was in 3rd grade that I couldn’t watch wrestling anymore because it’s “filth.” It would be almost five years before I started watching again. An obvious choice for #1.
    2. Owen Hart falling to his death
    3. Chris Benoit murders/suicide
    4. The Montreal Screwjob
    5. Ric Flair and Mick Foley – “Last Match”
    6. Keller showing me a particular zoomed in screen shot from the X-Pac and Chyna sex tape (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky – you honest to God don’t want to know)
    7. Earthquake squashing Damien
    8. Mae Young giving birth to Mark Henry’s hand baby (sad because it was an awkward and embarrassingly terrible storyline)
    9. The Rock starring in The Tooth Fairy
    10. The fact that this video doesn’t even have 60,000 views

    I know it goes without saying, but just so we’re clear – the greatest moment in wrestling history is without a doubt “The Plane Ride from Hell,” highlighted by Ric Flair trying to get a flight attendant’s attention by spinning his penis in circles while wearing nothing but one of his badass robes.

    I've been thinking for some time that you're input could be valuable on this subject. Since last winter my roommates and I have debated what would be the best way to "make whoopee" with Jillian from The Biggest Loser. I guess there really are a lot of excellent options to go about this but the following are the choices for the four of us:
    1. My personal favorite: Give her absolutely everything you've got only to have her screaming at you how inferior you are
    2. Completely dominate and control her to turn the tables
    3. Cover her in all manner of fatty delicious deserts and eat them off each other as foreplay
    4. The two of you are
    “furries.” I think this guy has a fetish b/c I'm not sure how it relates to Jillian.
    - Scott C.

    Call me old-fashioned, but if I had to “make whoopee” with Jillian I’d just do it the same way I’ve done it my whole life – I’d make her a mixtape full of K-Ci & JoJo to get her attention, I’d give her my class ring to prove my sincerity, and then I’d slip a roofie into her drink and have my way with her underneath the bleachers during the 3rd quarter of the varsity football game. But that’s just me. I’m more chivalrous than most. ___________________________________________________

    After I called out the walk-on community with my last blog post, tons of walk-ons around the country emailed me to sign up for The Belt. This is very encouraging, but I still think we need more guys. So again, please email me if you are a Division I men’s basketball walk-on. Even if you aren’t eligible for The Belt, you can still help out by writing a Facebook message or something to the walk-ons for your favorite basketball team that will let them know about this awesome contest.

    I also want to take a second to remind everyone about the Club Trillion Halloween costume contest I decided to have. In case you forgot, the only rule for the contest is that your costume has some sort of reference to Club Tril. This reference can be as strong or as weak as you want, as costumes can range from a walk-on basketball player sitting on a bench to my idea of a giant inflatable penis wearing an Evan Turner jersey. Remember: the stakes are high, as the most creative costume gets a free “FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!” shirt.

    Finally, I wanted to let the Trillion Man March know that we will again be taking part in Movember this year for prostate cancer awareness/research. Since this blog post is already long enough, I’ll provide all the details with the next blog post. For now, I just wanted to remind you all to get mentally prepared to start growing your mustaches out on November 1st. Also, I’m planning on having maybe a couple mustache contests and I’m working on getting Barbasol to sponsor everything by providing shaving cream for the winners. Get excited. ___________________________________________________

    Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by John J. and features Mitchell, a member of the TMM, wearing his CLUB TRIL shirt. There’s your shout-out, John. And here’s your video.

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

    Mark Titus

    Club Trillion Founder

              Andrew Samonsky, Hannah Elless and Bryce Pinkham to Star in BENNY & JOON Musical at The Old Globe; Cast, Creatives Set!        

    The Old Globe today announced the complete cast and creative team for the first show of its 2017-2018 Season, the world premiere musical Benny & Joon, with book by Kirsten Guenther, music by Nolan Gasser, and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein. Based on the beloved 1993 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture written by Barry Berman and Leslie McNeil, Benny & Joon is directed by Jack Cummings III, Artistic Director of New York's Transport Group.

    It will run September 7 - October 22, 2017, on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage in the Old Globe Theatre, part of the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center. Previews run September 7 - 14, with opening night on Friday, September 15 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets start at $36 and go on sale to the general public on Friday, August 18 at 12:00 noon.

    Benny & Joon is a delightful world premiere musical based on the beloved offbeat '90s romantic comedy movie. As Joon's sole caretaker, auto mechanic Benny makes sure his eccentric sister lives a comfortable, safe, and predictable life. But when Sam shows up, his off-kilter take on the world-full of classic films, Buster Keaton, and an oddball approach to domestic life-turns everything upside down. With unforgettable characters and a beguiling and tuneful score, Benny & Joon explores what happens when we step out of our comfort zones and take a leap toward love.

    The cast features Andrew Samonsky (Broadway's South Pacific, Scandalous) as Benny, Hannah Elless (Bright Star at the Globe and on Broadway) as Joon, and Bryce Pinkham (Tony Award nominee for Broadway's A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder) as Sam, along with Colin Hanlon (Broadway's Falsettos, In Transit) as Mike, January LaVoy (Enron on Broadway, Coraline Off Broadway) as Ruthie, Paolo Montalban (Globe's Allegiance, ABC's Cinderella with Brandy) as Larry, Natalie Toro (Broadway's A Tale of Two Cities, Les Misérables) as Dr. Cruz and Mrs. Smail, and Jason SweetTooth Williams (Disney's Freaky Friday at La Jolla Playhouse) as Waldo and Video Store Owner. Completing the cast as Understudies are San Diego local Katie Whalley Banville (Globe's A Doll's House, Playhouse's Freaky Friday and Escape to Margaritaville) and Jake Millgard (Globe/USD Shiley M.F.A. graduate, Globe's Guys and Dolls).

    The creative team includes Scott Rink (Choreographer), Dane Laffrey (Scenic and Costume Design), R. Lee Kennedy (Lighting Design), Kai Harada (Sound Design), Michael Starobin (Orchestrations), J. Oconer Navarro (Music Director), Howie Cherpakov, CSA (Casting), Anjee Nero (Production Stage Manager), and Amanda Salmons (Stage Manager).

    "I'm truly excited to open the Globe's 2017-2018 Season with this special new musical," said Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. "A world premiere based on the delightfully offbeat 1993 MGM film, Benny & Joon centers on something rare in the musical theatre: the bond between siblings. The love between the brother and sister of the title is deep, moving, and real, and it gives this musical a gentleness and sweetness that I find completely captivating. Creators Kirsten Guenther, Nolan Gasser, and Mindi Dickstein have brought to the Globe a memorable and unique show, and my friend Jack Cummings III-who has carved out a unique space in the American theatre with the very human, people-driven stories he tells-brings Benny & Joon a beautiful spontaneity and freshness. The show's score-rich, complex, melodic, and fun-won me over instantly when I first heard it, and I am happy to share this bright new work with San Diego audiences."

    Additional events taking place during the run of Benny & Joon include:

    VICKI AND CARL ZEIGER INSIGHTS SEMINAR: Tuesday, September 12 at 5:30 p.m.

    An opportunity to closely connect with productions both onstage and backstage. A panel selected from the artistic company of each show (playwrights, actors, directors, designers, and/or technicians) engages patrons in an informal and illuminating presentation of ideas and insights to enhance the theatregoing experience. Reception at 5:00 p.m. FREE.

    SUBJECT MATTERS: Saturday, September 16 following the 2:00 p.m. matinee.

    Explore the ideas and issues raised by a production through brief, illuminating post-show discussions with local experts, such as scientists, artists, historians, and scholars. Subject Matters will ignite discussion, bring the play's concerns into sharp focus, and encourage you to think beyond the stage! FREE.

    POST-SHOW FORUMS: Tuesday, September 19, Tuesday, September 26, and Wednesday, October 4.

    Join us after the show for an informal and enlightening question-and-answer session with cast, crew, and/or Globe staff members. Get the inside story on creating a character and putting together a professional production. FREE.

    Single tickets to Benny & Joon start at $36 and go on sale to the general public on Friday, August 18 at 12:00 noon. Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE [234-5623], or by visiting the Box Office at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. Discounts are available for full-time students, patrons 29 years of age and under, seniors, military members, and groups of 10 or more.

    Performances begin on September 7 and continue through October 22, 2017. Performance times: Previews: Thursday, September 7 at 8:00 p.m.; Friday, September 8 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, September 9 at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m.; Tuesday, September 12 at 7:00 p.m.; Wednesday, September 13 at 7:00 p.m.; and Thursday, September 14 at 8:00 p.m. Opening night is Friday, September 15 at 8:00 p.m. Regular performances (September 16 - October 22):Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.; Thursday and Friday evenings at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. There will be no performances on Saturday, September 23 at 2:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. and no matinee performance on Saturday, October 14 at 2:00 p.m. There will be an additional matinee performance on Wednesday, October 11 at 2:00 p.m.


    Kirsten Guenther (Book) previously lived in Paris, where she worked as a Paris correspondent for and penned the popular weekly column "The Sexy Expat," about an American journalist trying to navigate and date the French. Her current theatre commissions include The Years Between (T. Fellowship) and the new musical Measure of Success (The Rockefeller Foundation Grant). Ms. Guenther wrote the book and lyrics for Little Miss Fix-It (as seen on NBC) and the book for Mrs. Sharp (Richard Rodgers Award for the Playwrights Horizons workshop starring Jane Krakowski, directed by Michael Greif). She penned the books to Out of My Head (licensed by Steele Spring Stage Rights) and The Cable Car Nymphomaniac (Bay Area Theatre Award nomination). Ms. Guenther is the recipient of a Johnny Mercer Writers Fellowship, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, and a Lincoln Center Honorarium. She has penned sketches for personalities such as James Franco, Jared Leto, Christopher Walken, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Steve Buscemi, Kathie Lee and Hoda, and others. She holds a B.F.A. in Acting from USC and an M.F.A. from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at New York University.

    Nolan Gasser (Music) is a critically acclaimed composer, pianist, and musicologist. He is most notably the architect of Pandora Radio's Music Genome Project and the company's chief musicologist from its founding in 1999. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Stanford University. His original compositions have been performed in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall,