Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Happens In Vegas

Kids, some of the best moments of my life have happened in Vegas.

For full effect, download “Tribute” by Tenacious D, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

Please don’t misinterpret my hook line, because I’m not trying to impose in your minds any type of sexual or alcoholic innuendo whatsoever. All I’m saying is that I have been to Sin City many a time in my 10-plus year history in the small town 110 miles north, and some of the best stories I can tell open with the line, “So we all jump in my car and head down to Vegas...”

For the record, I’m not here to tell you that the modern day Sodom has some kind of special place in my heart. Because it doesn’t. I don’t get a warm, fuzzy feeling in my soul when I think about the disgusting amount of life savings that are littered into slot machines and craps tables. That butterfly effect in my stomach doesn’t show up when a taxi drives by broadcasting a topless woman. Seriously, this is a filthy place where good things go away to die, where STD’s are handed out like watermelon Jolly Ranchers. When your motto is don’t tell people what we do here, there has to be something wrong.

With that being said, I have truly had some glorious moments in this city of smut, glorious moments I tell you. I’ve been attacked by a drunk Russian Ambassador, watched the best athletes on the Earth duke it out at the Thomas & Mack, wandered the drunk-laden streets as a sober 21-year old on New Years Eve, sold worthless software in an economy soaked with a depression, and soaked myself in world-class saunas. None of these moments mean anything to you, because none of you were with me, therefore they’re not really part of your stories. But that’s okay. Vegas is a cornucopia of sin and stability. A place where choices are made that instantaneously trigger regret. A place the devil hangs his hat. 

And so here I sit. In a white suburban with five of the finest people in the world, somewhere in the middle of the Nevada desert listening to the most confusing Spotify playlist ranging from “Bone Thugs” to “The Proclaimers”, all of us getting ready to cheer our faces off and convert a room full of people to the gospel of Dixie State University. Seriously kids, some of the best stories of my life have happened in this metropolis of muck, and the reality is that what ever does happen in Vegas doesn’t really stay in Vegas.

And it shouldn’t.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Give Me...

“A broken nose hair trimmer? Uh…thank you Grandma, I think? That sure is the nicest thing you’ve ever given me.”

A broken nose hair trimmer kids. Yes, I legitimately got that for Christmas. And you wonder why I think she’s an escaped convict from a mental institution.

For full effect, download “Presents” by Randy Newman, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

I’ve told you that story before, I know I have. The one year my Grandma thought it would be funny to compare me to an incompetent 93-year old man with braids coming out of his nostrils. The year before that I was an ornithological guru who loved to have cardinals chime every hour on the hour. Before that I was a seven-year old dyslexic child who needed the comfort of a coloring book and a nine-foot puppy. I’ll just say it, my Grandma sucks at giving gifts.

“What do you want for Christmas this year Brock?”

“Nothing. Give me nothing lady, and I’ll be happy.”

Gift giving is a tough art to master, I will admit. You want to give something that shows your true feelings for someone and has somewhat of an emotional impact on them, but at the same time not come off as a weirdo who took a quirk to a whole new level with your infatuation for an inside joke. You want to show that your relationships means more to them than just a $15 gift certificate to Chilis, that the two of you have a bond that can be exemplified through a pretty package with a bow on it. The funny part is that those connections over material things, are rarely made. 

My family doesn’t really do a good job of giving gifts. In fact they’re more than awful. Take last year for instance as I sat in a hotel room with my extended family and was handed an XXXL Charlie Brown T-shirt by an Uncle who is almost literally two of me. Wait, did you just re-gift your own pajamas to me for the sake of just being able to give out a gift to someone? I appreciate the gesture good man, but we both know you L-word cartoon character T-shirts a heck of a lot more than I do. Out of the five love languages, gifts just aren’t our thing.

Heck, I myself am lousy at giving gifts. Go ahead and jump back two Christmases when I decided to show my fellow co-workers how much I appreciated their companionship by giving them tokens of my L-word. I scoured the ends of the earth and delivered some of the most memorable gifts I could imagine: BYU-shaded hoodies from Costco, Nike Shorts for Crossfit workouts, boxes of cereal and silk ties, things that I thought connected us and would fortify the bond that we had. Now these tokens mean nothing to you, because you don’t get all of the inside jokes that we shared. But the pathetic thing is that these tokens also meant nothing to them as I worked my way through a cycle of uncomfortable plastic faces wondering what in the name of Neptune was wrong inside my head.

It’s a tough art, that’s for sure. And here I sit two weeks before the most praised holidays in the history of gift-giving and I have no stinking clue what to give to the people I care about. I could overdo it with a case of 20 half-gallon Blue Bell ice cream tubs (yes, there’s a story behind that), or I could come off as a shallow rip-off and hand out a homemade coupon book good for free back massages instead. I’m dumbfounded kids, absolutely dumbfounded.

At the rate I’m going, maybe a bird clock and a broken nosehair trimmer is the route I’m going to take.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Those Weren't My Plans!

When I was 17 years old I stood in the doorway of a girl’s apartment at Dixie State College and pulled the best chick-getting move I knew at that point in my life.

17-year old Swamp Thing in gym shorts and a dirty Ohio State shirt: "You doing anything later?"

Bold, yet subtle at the same time. Brilliant, I know.

Petite girl with curls named Fiona: “Umm...let me check my planner."

Sorry, let me go ahead and interrupt this story to tell you that for full effect, download “Wires” by The Neighborhood, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

Back to the doorway of Raintree apartments where a befuddled 17-year old punk was trying to understand the concept of a day planner.

Petite girl with curls named Fiona: “Well let's see, tomorrow I have dance practice, and then Thursday I have class. Friday I'm going to dinner with my roommates. Saturday I'll be in Mesquite. Sunday is, well you know...Umm...I am jam packed all next week and into the beginning of the week after. How about Thursday the 17th. Does that work? I can go...let's say...7:30?"

Cut back to me nodding my head in a glazed stupor responding to one of the most organized rejections I had received in my young dating career at this point.

Flash forward to 7:51 on Thursday, the 17th, where that same bum in the same gym shorts was sitting on his couch engulfing a mixing bowl of Cap'n Crunch and watching Jeopardy reruns, when out of nowhere a knock banged upon my door, and standing there with a detested look on her face stood the very organized Princess Fiona. Curls all decked out like they should be.

Princess Fiona: "So...are we going to dinner or what?"

Swamp Thing with a mixing bowl: "Umm...who are you again?"

Princess Fiona: "It's me! Remember two weeks ago when we stood in the doorway of my apartment and made plans to go to dinner tonight? You were there, I was there, we wrote it down together. What? Don't you remember any of this? You're joking right?"

Swamp Thing: "Oh...Umm...yeah...I didn't really put that on my schedule. Sorry."

And with that, Princess Fiona twirled her cape behind her in a fit of disgust and stormed off into the Thursday night darkness, thus beginning one of the most hilarious, on-again/off-again/what-the-curse-word-are-we-doing relationships I would ever have over the course of nearly seven years. And it all started the night when my plans and this cute girl with curls plans didn't align.

You see that's the thing kids, one of the reasons that Princess Fiona and I had one of the most rocky starts imaginable is that she had to have everything in order. All her dates, all her times, all her lunch appointments, her study sessions in the library, her recreational activities, her naps, her self-beautification, her meals, her classes, her everything was all jot and tittled down to the last second she could find. And it drove her to madness when the plans she made with some punk 17-year old kid did not follow through like she had envisioned. But that’s the funny thing/life lesson embedded in this opening story kids, things never go according to plan. No matter how badly we want them to.

Now lets jump ahead almost ten years from this point to see that same punk kid in gym shorts now standing at the pulpit in the church of his childhood, toasting a life lesson to a crowd dressed in black, all holding back bulges of tears over the lost friend they were grieving over. Different scenario, same words of wisdom. Words that had now finally come full circle and had sunk into his thick, semi-cracked skull.

“Things change. They always do. The things we count as constants in our lives, never remain. The paths we think will unfold, never do. The one certainty in our lives seems to be uncertainty. For example, three months ago I thought I had met the girl of my dreams, was going to be given the job of a lifetime, and that my Grandpa was going to pull through his latest battle with heart surgery. The expectations in my mind and the reality that came to pass, ironically did not coincide at all. I never got the girl. They picked another guy for the job. And well, last time I checked, this old man didn’t do so well after his surgery. That is the blunt truth of life. Our expectations almost never coincide with reality.”

The crowd laughed, the crowd cried, and the truth hit both them and myself that this point of Brocktrine was correct. What we think will happen, and what actually does happen, almost never seem to line up.  

But you know what, that’s okay.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Best Gift

I think I found the lamest, most shallow, most pointless present available for splurging sessions this holiday season.

And I'm going to get one for every single member of my family younger than 14, because they will devour this like Candy Crush. 

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.