Sunday, November 30, 2014

That Team Up North

It's been just over 24 hours since my beloved Buckeyes hammered our ultimate foe and rival, the University of Michigan. As triumphant of a victory it was, I still have a sour spot in my mouth after watching our Heisman-trophy candidate/freakshow of an athlete go down yesterday. With my pride still somewhat recuperating, I thought I would share my personal feelings about that one school 183 miles north.

For full effect, download "Hang On Sloopy" by The McCoys and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

I hate respect Michigan. That weaksauce waste of concrete pre-school hallowed institution is one of the most pathetic underachieving mock circus tents revered schools that our country has ever had the disgrace privilege of recognizing. Michigan to me is like a filth-encrusted booger-eating in-bred that I would want to flush down the toilet a pesky big brother.

I want to go to Michigan almost as much as I want to go contract the e.bola virus to Ohio State University. I get queasy twitterpated whenever I see the words Go Blue. I would rather get chained to a stone wall, have vultures pluck out my liver every day and be forced to eat my own vomit think the world of that school. Heck, show me a girl who likes Michigan and I'll show you a massively depressing plague of sexually transmitted diseases destroying all life giving entities in its path an angel.

They have such dismal traditions at the U of M. And honestly, every time that I hear their annoying celebratory fight song "Hail to the Victors" it makes me want to chew shards of glass and sit on a lit barbecue while getting a papercut across my eyeballs triggers an emotional response inside me. A response of pure nausea respect for those sissy-smelling schmucks revered individuals.

Michigan has absolutely no class whatsoever. This is a school that once had a cocky bunch of disrespectful handful of freshman called the Fab Five lead them to triumphs in the NCAA Basketball tournament. Of course they will be known for the fact that they accepted over $610,000 in illegal benefits from a crook recruiter who couldn't keep the rules thus aiding the Michigan players into cheating their way to victory their valor.

Michigan football certainly has never accomplished anything much in their history. Their players have won fluke Heisman trophies, as well as winning multiple store-bought Big Ten Titles. One of my most favorite moments was when Division II Appalachian State beat them down on their own home field they shared a national title with Nebraska back in 1997, which they didn't even play in the title game to secure the championship. I have never met a person who cheered for those wretched Wolverines that I didn't absolutely loathe and disgust revere and admire. They have no dignity or respect or humility or moral standards of any kind, or even a withered explanation of a heart.

There have been a few major spats between us over the years, out of pure hatred and bitterness revelry. One of the most notable was when the great Woody Hayes refused to fill up the team bus with gasoline from a station in Michigan. In fact he had two assistant coaches walk three miles to the Ohio border to get gas just so that he wouldn't have to contribute to Michigan's piss-poor economy. Events like this certainly show how much the Buckeyes can't stand anything that Michigan has to offer can be taken tongue in cheek with a smile on our faces.

Yes, Michigan is a joke of a handicapped giraffe our fierce rival. We certainly have had a few bouts over the last decade or so. They should certainly be proud of that fluke win they had a few years back, I'd sure be proud too if my 15th ranked squad barely beat an unranked team for the first time in eight years with a freshman QB in a nail-biter on my home field of my boys as well. All in all, there will be battles in the years to come, and I will always enjoy beating them down to a pulp like we do every year the competition. The University of Michigan should be thrust down to Hell always cherished.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm Thankful For...

It’s that time of year again. You know the drill. Everybody circle round, stop feeding your face with deep fried Turducken, Stovetop stuffing laced with cranberry sauce, and pomegranate Jell-O, turn off your iGadgets and lets all hold hands for a few awkward minutes while we look around the table and tell everyone what we are thankful for.

I hated this tradition in my family growing up.

For full effect, download “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” by Travis Tritt and play at max…wait, hold on a minute, this nonsense sounds like country music. Go download “Gratitude” by the Beastie Boys instead. Yeah, that chaos sounds much better.

For the record, I never hated my Grandma for the previously mentioned tradition that my family performed over lukewarm soon to be leftovers. My Grandma is a Saint, except when she’s playing Pinochle. The only thing that really bothered me about it all was how insincere everyone’s comments were when they had the family spotlight blasted in their face full of mashed potatoes and gravy.

Cousin I haven’t seen in a year: “I’m thankful for the beautiful earth that we live on, and Mother Nature’s resplendent grace shining down on us. I’m thankful for the ambrosial feeling I have waking up every single morning and being able to count my inexplicable blessings.”

Me: “Any other things you want to use a gargantuan adjective with to make us know how you truly feel?”

Him: “Oh yeah, and I’m thankful for family, and God, and all that other stuff too. Amen.”   

It was all a sham I tell ya, a sham! Kids copy and pasting the generic answers that we thought would get us an extra slice of pie and ice cream, meanwhile fancy pants cousins with English degrees would try and one up each other on the things that they were “truly” grateful for. It was a hoax of a tradition that everyone dreaded. And so with that being said, I’m going to set aside all of the fabricated hogwash and tell you what I, Brock Thomas, Swamp Thing formerly known as Seizure Boy, Bybee am truly thankful for.

I’m thankful for the Williams family in southern Virginia teaching me the principle of putting a half-cup of milk on top of my ice cream. Go ahead, try it. Your world will be rocked at that point.

I’m thankful for Christopher Nolan understanding that he has an incredible way of telling a story with a camera in his hands, and utilizing his skills to give us gems like The Prestige, Inception, and his latest masterpiece, Interstellar. Thank you Christopher for balancing out the universe of filmmaking to counter all of the Michael Bay nonsense out there.

I’m thankful for poppyseed muffins and strawberry milk, which is undoubtedly the best breakfast mixture anyone can come up with.

I’m thankful for the male version of Pinterest that keeps me entertained at 2 in the morning, letting me upvote random links and read interesting facts about life that are not relevant whatsoever.

I’m thankful that The Ohio State University is going to blow out that team from up north this weekend by 40 points.

I’m thankful for Crossword puzzles.

I’m thankful that Netflix is streaming all nine seasons of “How I Met Your Mother”, which gives me the ability to live vicariously through an architecture professor, and still cling to the hope that there is a girl with a yellow umbrella standing with her bass guitar at a train station somewhere.

Alright, I’ll say the cliché line that I’m thankful for my family. But I’m not just talking about my sweet Mother and four little sisters who are normally working every year when everyone else is pulling turkeys out of their ovens. I’m thankful for a pseudo-Father who taught me everything I need to know about my career. For a band of brothers who aren’t really my brothers that I watch football with on the weekends. For a Grandfather still teaching me lessons even after he’s been in the ground for three years. I’m talking about the people who I L-word, and I know without question they L-word me back.

It sure is a great time of year. I know this blogpost doesn’t really mean that much to you, because well, these aren’t things that you yourself are really thankful for, and I get that, but enjoy the holiday season anyway. Hold hands awkwardly with your loved ones, feed your face and watch the Cowboys lose, get Dew-faced with your girlfriends and go on a semi-racist named shopping spree at midnight. Be grateful for the things you’ve been given, and the people you’re with.

Even if they are embellishing cousins decorated with English degrees.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Go Royals, Go!

This is for the kids tagged as an undervalued trail of waste, tossed to the side before the cards were ever even dealt. For all of the young guns with hearts of gold in their chests, underappreciated and counted out as mere leftover runts. For the blue-collar first generation student who never gets life handed to them on a silver platter.

This is for the kids who are less than 48 hours away from the biggest game they will ever play in their entire young adult life.

For full effect, download “Pain” by Jimmy Eat World and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

Roy has never been a winner. Lets just accept that as fact. When the highlight of your season comes from a one-point overtime victory over a winless Copper Hills squad that was just informed how the game of football works 30 minutes before kickoff, you know there is a problem. Motivational speeches such as “Win one for the Gipper,” or “Leave it all on the field” are replaced with, “Don’t be the only team in the history of Roy High sports to finish without a win.” Yeah, that’s motivating enough. Here kid, don’t be the biggest loser we’ve ever seen. And believe me, there have been a whole slew of them in these parts.

Words like those never get someone to play better.

In the eyes of modern sports Roy has been listed as the losers, the nobodys, the has been/never was/never will be deadbeat duds that should settle for a life of below average mediocrity. We have always been held in the same category as the bastard stepchild that no one wants to be seen in public with. Roy is a place of failure, a place of nothing. Roy is somewhere that if mentioned in public the opposite party flinches back with a look of disgust washed over their face cringing at the idea that you escaped from that prison of a city.

Historically speaking we have always played the role of the underdog, the Davids, the Rudys, the Rocky Balboas. Except in our case, things never seem to pan out to a ride-off-in-the-sunset Hollywood ending. In our case, Goliath always dodges the pebble and bites our heads off. We get cut and never play a single down for Notre Dame. Ivan Drago knocks us out cold and the Communist government takes over modern civilization. Roy is the underdog that never catches a break. The little engine that couldn’t. The William Wallace never leading the charge.

But this time, things are different. You can feel it, and so can I. This time, you’re not going to get lost in the shuffle. This time, you’re not going to be remembered as the team that almost did it, or the team that had it in their hands and blundered up a title. This time you’re going to be praised as the best in the land, the top dogs, the Alphas, the numero unos vindicating years of embarrassment and infamy. This time you are not the scum of the earth, but rather the best this world can offer. This time, everyone will be proud to wear the black and gold. 

So just do it. Do it for your coaches, do it for your parents, do it for your teachers. Do it for Guy Andersen, and Eric Jones, and Rod Bockwoldt. Do it for The Shield, and do it to spite those damn Lakers. Do it for the alumni that will be screaming their faces off at Rice-Eccles stadium on Friday night. Do it for all of those losing seasons every kid has endured for the last forty years of our history. Do it for you, and do it for me. Do it for every underdog that never stands a chance. Be the little guy that no one saw coming, the champion who rises up from the dust once in a generation and will be revered in the record books. Be the underdog that everyone wants to win.

Because every once in a while, that underdog comes out the victor.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Reason For LOL

First of all, there is no reason. There never was a reason, and there never will be a reason to use the above acronym in any social setting/open conversation/public speech/text exchange whatsoever. And if you had a hard time pronouncing the word acronym, I think you might want to close this window immediately.

For full effect, download “Til It’s Gone” by Yelawolf, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

Can I just say that I’m running into some difficult territory when it comes to being a man and not wanting to sound like a total and complete idiot when exchanging text messages with people across the state. The pickle I’m in (no pun intended) is that it’s difficult to send a written message to someone and have an underlying emotion attached to it that lets them know you’re not being serious about what you’re saying, and still be able to hold on to any shred of masculinity. Let me rephrase that, you can’t send a text to someone hinting at a sarcastic inside joke and still be able to hold on to your man card.

For example: Say I’m talking to a pretty girl somewhere and I’m trying to show off my debonair skills of vocabulary and plays on words, but I don’t want her to think that I am a cold, insensitive, Ebeneezer Scrooge who likes to kick puppies for a living, I have four different options to convey the message appropriately.

1. “The j/k” Do I need to explain what that stands for, or have the majority of you been familiar with sending a text message to someone for over a decade? The j/k is fine from a feminine standpoint, because lets be honest, girls can get away with absolutely anything. But when a man uses a j/k, all of a sudden his intelligence level gets washed down the disposal and replaced with a ‘Oh you’re one of those guys that wants to be taken seriously, but at the same time doesn’t want to be taken seriously, hence you’re probably living in your Grandmother’s basement, I’ll see myself out’ attitude.

2. “The Face” I write the face because it is a little difficult for me to spell out the face using actual punctuation and not have Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson fall through my ceiling and punch out my man card rights. But you all know what I’m talking about. Colon Hyphen Closed Parenthesis, Semi Colon Hyphen Closed Parenthesis, or the mother of them all, Semi Colon Hyphen Capital Letter P. Girls are fine sending out a :-) here and a ;-P there, because that’s what these things are: feminine to the core. The usage of these is actually a clever play on punctuation that shows a girl has a good head on her shoulders, but they’re for girls only. Plain and simple.

3. “The LOL” I think out of the four options, this one is the most ridiculous, simply because no one talks in acronyms. I understand the meaning behind the three capital letters, but this just ruins the flow of a dialogue. Text conversations try to appear as natural and normal as possible, and to toss in that repetitious symbol that you are laughing on the inside is about mood-killing as a case of halitosis.

4. “The Haha” This is what I have to resort to. The haha, as in, I’m using a play on words here that has a hint of an inside joke that we’re both sharing and I want you to understand that I’m being semi-serious, but not unintelligent or feminine enough to use any of the previous three methods. Haha. Get it? Do you get the humorous tone I’m trying to take and not look like a total fool? Haha. Or I hope and pray that my posterity doesn’t read any of my blogs or text messages because they will think that their old man was a nut! Haha. It’s all I have left. And sadly, it’s about as valuable as AA to an Irishman.

So back to the pickle. Where do I turn? What do I use? Is there any way in the digital technology world we’re all living in that I can use to put a slightly humorous/sarcastic touch on a message I’m sending to someone and not look like an oxymoron? Do I resort to italic font? All caps? Quoting the entire message? Texting in pig-latin? Ou-yay An-Cay Et-Gay An-Ay Exually-Say Ansmitted-Tray Isease-Day Om-Fray Evi-Lay Oving-Lay? There has to be a middle ground people, it’s out there somewhere.

Or…Or…I could just pick up the phone and call them instead. Hmm…that could fix everything.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Do Dumb Things

It's just after midnight and I still have another 157 or so miles to go on the final leg of this road trip home. Don't ask me why I'm driving at this ridiculous hour, because all I can say is that sometimes we do dumb things for very good reasons.

For full effect, download "Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl" by Broken Social Scene and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

We all do dumb things. You know this. I know this. It’s a common fact of life that we all agree on. We do dumb things as kids, we do dumb things as teenagers, and we do dumb things as 29-year old men driving through the desert listening to Queen trying to keep our eyes open while illusions of deer jump in front of our cars. In a few hours I’m going to pull into my house, drop my bags on the floor, collapse on to my couch, and watch my beloved Buckeyes take on the Spartans from up north in a game that’s been over for about five hours by now. Spoiler alert, I haven’t seen anything about this game, so don’t ruin it for me.

I know we all do dumb things in life, but sometimes those dumb things are what make it grand. Like scalping tickets from a drunk guy in Portland, or turning on a college football game at two o’clock in the morning, or going to the zoo and drinking hot chocolate a little bit later than you’re supposed to.

Yep, dumb things are the best.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

After The Thrill Is Gone

It's 1:42 in the afternoon and I'm running on three and a half hours of sleep, a five-hour energy and two rolls of sushi. I've got another three or so hours left on this drive and rather than resort to sunflower seeds, a Mountain Dew injection into my femoral artery, or singing the entire soundtrack to Fiddler On The Roof to keep my eyes open, I think I'll just talk into a microphone and blog about the past 10 days of my life. That seems like a much safer alternative.

For full effect, download "Birds Flew Backwards" by Doves and at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

It's the end of yet another long, another grueling, another how the curseword are my eyes still even open at this point, week on the road. I've seen it all. No seriously, I really have. I’ve seen Heaven, I've seen Hell, and every pit stop in between. I've twice eaten Oprah's famous Mac & Cheese down at Pike's Market, been entertained by Tim Robbins reciting Fahrenheit 451 somewhere in between miles 273 and 957 on my odometer, bummed tickets off a half-drunk scalper for booth seats to the Trail Blazers, seen what looked like a three year-old breast-feeding in open public, ate cheesecake for breakfast, breath mints for lunch, a bag of popcorn for dinner, and have I mentioned yet that I really have to pee?

For the record, I think my insides hate me. When your diet includes street vendor pizza, greasy Chicken Parmesan, pineapple upside down cake, apple fritters the size of the new iPhones, secondhand pretzels, and fish tacos all stuffed down a throat with a plunger, doused with shots of Dr. Pepper every hour on the hour, and then insulted by running a 5K after midnight, you know there is going to be a problem down below. At this point I’d be on strike if I had any association with my intestinal track.

This is the life of a man on the road and I think I have near reached the end. True story. I'm tired kids, I really am. I know most 29-year-olds have a spark in their eye, a skip to their step, and have no problem playing Dew Pong and Crash Bandicoot until 4 in the morning. But that's not me anymore. I am old, aged, a batch of dandelion wine in a beat up cardboard case that’s been sitting on the back shelf of your Grandma’s pantry since the Nixon administration. This job has worn me out. There, I said it. Tell my boss. I'll be filing my paperwork on Monday.

I'm jaded kids. And don't tell my little sister what I just wrote because she might be confused that this post is entirely all about her. Four years ago this trip was exciting, arousing, a highlight reel of a young punk recruiter discovering sites he’d misplaced on Geography tests in middle school. I was seeing the world wearing a dense pair of higher education goggles, chiseling memories and journal entries I would revel about to my posterity in the years to come. I was young. I was ambitious. I was foolishly in love with life on the road.

But things change. Months on a calendar dramatically drop off the pages, and those thrilling moments once held in such high regard have now become boxed-up reflexes packed away in beat up suitcases staining the back seat of my car.

I think I have had enough. And I don’t say that in a 1850’s Cowboy toting a pistol, this-town-ain’t-big-enough-for-the-both-of-us kind of way, but more in a glossy-eyed, third grade-daydreaming, I-think-the-grass-is-greener-somewhere-else kind of tone. You know I L-word the job I show up to every morning. The people, the concept, the environment, heck I even L-word my boss that I can’t stand, if that makes any sense at all.  But there comes a point where we all reach our ceiling, our personal boundaries, our limit. You know it, and I know it. We are reading the last few sentences on a particular chapter of our life, unsure what will happen when the text unbearably comes to a halt.

I am at that point right now. And who knows, maybe so are you.

For some reason these long trips home always trigger some kind of archaic sentiment about the direction I am headed. Maybe it’s my lack of sleep and double cocktail of five hour energy’s doing the talking, but when you wake up in one state, fly to another, and drive to a third all before lunch, you know something screwy is in the works. Whatever it is, I think it’s safe to send a memo to the fat lady, raise up the last curtain, and put the coins over my eyes.

It's time to go.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Who Cares

An anonymous man with a moustache once told me that friendship is like peeing your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth.

For full effect, download “That’s What Friends Are For” by the four British vultures in The Jungle Book and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

I know I have beaten this topic like a dead horse but what can I say, it’s one of the truest pieces of Brocktrine I have ever stumbled across in my near three-decade existence. I have no idea what is pushing me to blog about the good people in my life, so don’t ask what is the source influencing my “feel-good” post of the week.  Maybe it’s the push of the Pacific Northwest’s allowance of marijuana usage that has inspired this genuflection of the good people in my life. Yeah that’s got to be it, secondhand whiffs of Snoop Dogg’s fuel. I’ll claim that as my muse.

For the record, I would like the jury to note that I am not having some type of a mid-life crisis where I gaze at my surroundings and wonder what direction my path is headed. I know that is common for the majority of Utah-raised men on the brink of their thirties. However, I do not fall in the same category as the rest of them because I don’t have my third child out of six just starting middle school, so I think that sets me apart. All I can say is when I’m on the road for a few weeks by myself in late October, jumping on 4 am flights to Seattle and listening to podcasts at midnight to make sure I don’t fall asleep at the wheel on Highway 5, I sometimes ramble into the uncharted territory of what is important in my life.

And that’s where my rants on friendships are born.

The lives we live are devoted to material gratification by things that have absolutely no value whatsoever. Our satisfaction is fueled by the number of “toys” we can play with in our adult lives. Fast cars, manly four-wheelers, grey suits with a sky blue pinstripe on sale at the Nordstrom Rack for $199.99, you know, those things. We all want them, we all live for them. They are the fabricated indulgences that we strive to attain, and in the back of all of our minds, regardless of our upbringings, we know that none of these things matter at all.

They don’t. They really don’t. The clothes we wear, the bling we flaunt, the new pair of red Nike free runs we purchased at the outlet malls in Centralia Washington, none of that will be remembered in the long haul of life, I guarantee it. When I am laying on my bed about to die from e.bola or laryngitis or whatever freak of a viral concoction turning everyone into a Zombie in fifty years, I will not look into the eyes of my posterity and tell them how nice it was to own a 55-inch flat screen HDTV. Material things are just that, only material. The memories they make have no substance whatsoever.

And that’s where friends come in.

Again, I am not sitting on some lonely bench in the park writing down my thoughts, wiping back the tears because of how grateful I am the good man upstairs invaded my pastures with flocks of friends that I can’t count. We all know how cynical and bitter I can be, so please, don’t confuse me with some sap whose eyes tear up watching movies like Captain Phillips. All I’m saying is that friends are some of the most valuable consistencies anyone can have. When everything goes to crap, they’re the ones we can call and vent to. They know us for our vulnerabilities, and we are okay with that.

You can go ahead and blame the allowance of weed usage in this part of the country for this spark of sentimentality, but regardless, I am still grateful for the friends I’ve come across thus far in my life. I’m grateful to eat overly priced pizza in liberal-themed restaurants with couples who care investing time in my love stories. I’m grateful for a high school buddy and his wife who allow me to come over for home-cooked meals once a year while their sons run around dressed up like Ninja Turtles. I’m grateful for group texts from bros across the country living up to the Bro Code and pushing me to buy that grey suit with a sky blue pinstripe. I’m grateful for old college roommates who agree to our annual snowboarding trip the first week of December.

Kids, this life is full of things that are not important, that have no meaning once all of the cards are dealt. They may have a price tag attached to them at this point, and we may hand over monetized slips of paper in exchange for these plastic pieces of false fulfillment, but you know and I know that these things do not matter. What does matter are the interpersonal connections that we can’t buy with money, the friendships that will never have a shelf life, the people we surround ourselves with every single day in this messed up creation known as life.  

Those things, are worth more than anything.