Monday, October 6, 2014


Today, October 6, 2014, my father turns 62 years old. It is an age that often isn't celebrated. It is not a milestone birthday, like 60. But this year, it is the most important birthday my family has ever celebrated. It is the most meaningful, emotional birthday I have experienced in my entire life. It is a date that will ultimately highlight 2014 and beyond.

There is one word to describe this transformation from just another birthday to the most important birthday:


If you know me or my family well, you are aware of the health issues my father is currently fighting. Getting a call from your father with the worst news imaginable, seeing your mother cry when you visit home, discovering medical-related books and evidence around your childhood residence--these are all things that give you perspective

When my father first received news of his diagnosis, I was devastated. I was too shocked to cry or react. Then I received a follow-up text from my father:

"WVU - Oklahoma 7:30 Fox"

How could he be thinking of a West Virginia football game at a time like this? This text message gave me a dawning realization. For years, I have labeled myself as crazy for WVU athletics. I have actually distanced myself from it because I thought it was an unhealthy obsession. I have stayed off message boards and left games early, because I thought it was weird to care this much about a college game. Honestly, it would cause me stress, anxiety, anger, and euphoria--sometimes all in one game. Now, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing weird about it all. In fact, it teaches us a valuable message that I would like to share with all of you.

Take something you are passionate about and invest all of your heart and soul into it.

I have friends who do this with their instruments. I have others who do this with their pets. There are others who do this with a girl they met last weekend downtown. I also know some who squander great opportunities and don't invest their emotions into anything. In reality, those kids you see LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) around campus are probably happier than all of us. Why? Because they care about something. They care about something so much that it doesn't matter what others think about it. In a world where Instagram selfies are perceived as cool, these people are labeled as "bozos with foam swords," opposed to someone with an amazing passion for something they love.

With that said, my father and I chose Mountaineer athletics to invest in--or rather, it chose us. The recent diagnosis of my father had me thinking about why this silly game played by college students has consumed our lives and determined our moods.

Over the years, our lives have revolved around who/what/where West Virginia University is playing. During my childhood, we would sometimes open Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve so we could catch a flight on Christmas Day to various bowl destinations around the country. Our Thanksgivings often consisted of hotel dinners in Pittsburgh, since the Backyard Brawl was the next day. In the spring, we would head to Madison Square Garden for a week to watch our beloved Mountaineers play in the Big East Tournament. I would miss a week of school, but my parents did not care. In 2010, WVU advanced to the Final Four. I had just arrived to Myrtle Beach for Spring Break earlier that day. The next morning I booked a flight to Indianapolis to go to the game.

It may seem incomprehensible to let a sport be the axis that your life rotates on, and I started to believe this. I lost touch with WVU sports. I let other things take over, and I felt happier that I didn't know who #85 was or what time we played Saturday. I thought this was the right way to live. I could not have been more wrong.

Currently, I live in Arlington, Virginia, and I find myself rediscovering this passion for West Virginia University athletics. The three-hour drive home every weekend reminds me of the road trips my Father and I took to Cincinnati, Syracuse, and Rutgers. We would talk WVU football the entire ride and walk into every gas station on the way with pride, as we sported our gold and blue outfits.

Flights down south remind me of early morning and late night flights after WVU losses. I was a brat. I hated losing and didn't shut up about it. I was rude to my dad over it, because I clearly was the expert on all things WVU. My dad would then recite his famous motto:

"Don't let three hours ruin three days."

Do not let three hours of a WVU game ruin three days of father-son bonding. Now that is some heavy perspective. At the time I didn't get it. Now, I do. West Virginia athletics will always be there, but we won't.

So today, I have found my passion equilibrium thanks to my father's perspective. I no longer let the outcome of a WVU game determine how I treat others around me. All that matters is that we are alive and investing ourselves into something we are passionate about. I will say this. When West Virginia football/basketball wins its first national championship, my father and I will cry our eyes out together. If you think this is weird, then you're weird.


In 2012, WVU's geographical footprint further expanded to Thailand.
My father has invested his emotions into 30 years of service for the WVU Alumni Association. On game days, it's evident how much passion he has put into developing relationships with others. Steve has spread this passion for WVU across the world, from Boone County to Southeast Asia. I would say this investment has paid off, as thousands of people have reached out to my family over the last couple of weeks.

Happy 62nd Birthday, Steve. When you put things into perspective, I would not trade this investment for anything in the world.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Let's Just Go to B-Dubs

This simple phrase is uttered every time a discussion on where to watch the game arrises in your friend group. Several suggestions are thrown out there--most are local eateries/sports bars that make an honest living off of their business.

Then, the biggest idiot out of your group throws out his/her recommendation. It is a popular restaurant that haunts my soul, identity, and most importantly my colon.

"Dude, let's go to Buffalo Wild Wings. They have wings, beer, and sports."

So does every other sit-down american establishment in the United States. I realize it is often convenient to go to Buffalo Wild Wings because they are the vultures of chain eating. Its locations are often on the interstate or any high-traffic area in the country. Why? Because they realize that the franchise could not sustain itself any other way. Let me ask you this Buffalo Wild Wings: Why don't you use plates? Do you think your Prime Rib Slammers are too good for standard dishware? I think your salads are the only food items that find themselves on any type of decent tableware.

Seen here, a B-Dubs' employee was stabbed over a chicken salad

It takes advantage of hopeless, hungry middle-class Americans every day it has existed since its rebranding in 2011. No birthday parties happen at B-Dubs. No special occasions occur at B-Dubs. It is where you settle when you just got off work, and you are too tired to think logically.

"Blehhhh. My boss yelled at me and my glasses are smudgy. Let's just eat at B-Dubs."
I would yell at you too if I was your boss. You clearly do not put in 100% at work, nor do you care about being here. Just take the rest of the day off, slacker. There is a Screamin' Nacho Burger at Buffalo Wild Wings with your name on it. I can only imagine the nuclear waste your body creates after consuming that abomination of a menu item. Yes those are nachos on a cheeseburger. The research and development team is obviously hard at work over at ol' B-Dubs. You make me sick, Buffalo Wild Wings. Grow up.

Screamin' Nacho Burger is "nacho" stomach's friend
Yes, Buffalo Wild Wings probably markets better than any chain restaurant in the country at the moment, which explains their exponential growth. That is because they spend more on marketing than they do towards the rest of their operations.

Since they cannot afford to serve quality ingredients, they serve you dog turds in the form of bar food. Last time I checked, chicken was not supposed to have the consistency of a Jello Jiggler. Am I eating chicken wings or bubble tape covered in Heinz EZ Squirt purple ketchup? Everything on their menu is frozen, from the produce to the burgers. There is nothing fresh at B-Dubs, and when you pay your cooks next to nothing to prepare it, there are probably some health violations being broken in the process

When you visit the FAQ's on Buffalo Wild Wings' website, they give you a garbage answer for, "Do you provide recipes for any of your menu items?"

"Our recipes are kept secret in order to keep Buffalo Wild Wings unique. We appreciate your interest in our menu selections, and hope you'll visit a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant to enjoy our signature flavors.  You can always purchase a bottle of any of our 16 signature sauces to take the Buffalo Wild Wings flavor home with you."
There are so many things wrong with this paragraph. First, thank god you keep those recipes a secret. You wouldn't want your competitors stealing your prized "mini corn dog" recipe. Seriously, who do you think you are calling your appetizers "sharables?" I would rename them "IDon'tCareables" because every single item is filthy and disgusting. Sure glad I clicked on your "Macaroni & Cheese" for menu details and got this:

Apparently the macaroni and cheese has ingredients you can only appreciate if your eyes are dilated, like the background image. Finally, some honesty from Buffalo Wild Wings. Bravo. I have no idea why you would like the "Buffalo Wild Wings Macaroni & Cheese" page on Facebook anyway. God forbid any of my friends and family find out I ate that slop. I can't wait to receive updates from that page.

I have another issue with you referring to your sauces as "signature." You are right though. They are signature. No other wing shop is using gasoline, cat vomit, and TetraMin Fish Flakes to coat its chicken wings. You are truly unique. So happy that you provide this bottling service in case I want bloody stools at home or on-the-go! Thank you for the convenience!

Nothing is expected of me, so I'm going to B-dubs
Dear god look at those things. Most of you, including myself, have actually consumed these. They even have to label the wings with a sticker because the cooks don't even know what they just created. Think about this. A human had to put that sticker on; which meant he/she probably touched the adhesive backside of the sticker; which means everything that person has touched that day went on the back of that sticker and then near your food. This includes bathroom breaks, sneezes, and nose-pickings.

"Dude who cares? They are just wings. Plus they have beer and sports, too."

Get out of my life. I don't need someone like you in my life who has no regard for their body or others around them. I have never smiled in a B-Dubs nor will I ever. I am pretty sure everyone is sweaty and at their worst state in Buffalo Wild Wings. I think James Franco went to Buffalo Wild Wings after filming the last scene in 127 hours. I bet he wished he had eaten that prop arm he amputated instead of the buffalo chicken sandwich at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Let's check out the dining atmosphere at Buffalo Wild Wings:

"Why do mommy and daddy hate me?"

"I know you done said you wanted medium, but the urine really adds to the tangyness of the sauce."

"I want to go back to Vietnam."

"The PH Level of Skip's saliva is almost at 0, YOU CAN DO IT SKIP!"

So next time you and your friends are trying to figure out where to watch the game, avoid Buffalo Wild Wings. It is in your best interest to never consume that microwave-nuked sludge ever again. By the way, in that last photo I can't tell if that is Skip's lower lip or a piece of chicken. That image alone is enough information for me to avoid B-Dub's, and it should be for you as well. Also, "B-Dubs" sounds like the nickname of every douche bag in my marketing classes at WVU. Maybe that's why I hate it.

But anyway, I digress.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Here's to Morgantown, West Virginia

For the last few weeks, I have considered a few pathways into constructing a celebratory graduation blog from a Morgantown-native's perspective. At first, I decided on writing an ode to Morgantown with a poetic structure. Then I thought to myself, "Who do I think I am, Shel Silverstein?" If you are not from Morgantown, you do know that the sidewalk did end at Rain Nightclub. Anything beyond Rain was uncharted territory; however, it is these irregular spots that truly made Morgantown wonderful.

With that said, to cater to my all of my readers I will write a little more in-depth about what made going to school in Morgantown sort of awesome and sort of life-threatening (near the latter stages of this journey).  It will be a "cheers" to Morgantown and will act as a unique timeline throughout my "townie" existence from a socially awkward teen into...a socially awkward adult.

Being from Morgantown, it is hard to imagine living anywhere else. But that time will come, and it will be sad packing up and moving elsewhere. Around every corner is a memory; whether it was playing wiffleball with my fellow Cedar Ridgers in my backyard as a kid or the first cigar I smoked on Tom Jaworski's porch or my last night at Fat Daddy's. I am sure you fellow townie's could say the same. If you have only furthered your education here, you still have a cornucopia of meaningful stupid lasting memories about this place. Trying on my cap and gown was rough, as I am sure it was for a lot of you. But I look forward to rehashing the stories I've created here in Morgantown.


Here's to the Krepps and Marilla pools. Although I probably contracted some sort of staph infection scraping my back skin off the Marilla green slide, a summer was not complete without a trip to these cool-down spots. And I do not care how old you were; you were never too old to cause a ruckus in the Krepps baby pool jungle gym area.

Here's to the first Dairy Queen on High Street (next to Casa). After little league, it was common to head on down to Dairy Queen and stand in the monstrous line. The fun part was guessing which event would occur first: getting hit by oncoming traffic because you are in the middle of the street or ruining your uniform with hot fudge or purple Mr. Misty syrup. Either way, these trips will always be memorable.
She's bulletproof, nothing to lose.
Fire away, fire away.

Here's to the Midway Arcade at the Morgantown Mall. Saturday afternoons were always spent with my girlfriend, Big Bertha, hoping my beautiful lady would eat enough plastic balls to buy my next package of pogs. 

Here's to the 87 Morgantown parades that encompassed our entire middle school lives. Planning a vacation? Forget about it! There was a parade for every occasion, and the entire city of Morgantown shut down as politicians and boy scout troops threw 80 mph banana laffy taffy fastballs at our skulls. I'm pretty sure my parents voted for the Monongalia County political representatives based on which ones tossed us candy.

Here's to summers on the lake. And summers at Blue Hole and the Falls. You were always just one step off the Old Iron Bridge from a free colonoscopy. Then again, I never did jump the right way from these heights. My jumping technique in these instances could be compared to a last place pumpkin drop entry at St. Francis.

Here's to the Italian Oven's pasta straws. And Pargo's queso dip. And Rax' soda refills? And Uno's pizza. And Ray's Pastries. And even Damon's Grill, which proved that even its bald grill cooks could somehow work one of their body hairs into your steak salad.

Here's to Hills Department Store, where the free popcorn was the only reason your family shopped there (no one really cares about Ames, seriously).

Here's to...that smell. Everyone knows that summer smell that hits your nose as soon as you see a tree in South Park. It's a certain smell that will not be further explained, as I have family that reads this blog.

Here's to Margerie Gardens, which taught me a valuable childhood lesson--tell your dad baseball practice ends 15 minutes before it actually does.

Here's to the Christmas, Easter, & Halloween (list goes on and on) lighted house. Every year, that one house near the Pines Country Club would cause sleepless nights for its neighbors and put its entire residential development on inferno watch. But, but, was pretty cool. 

Here's to Hometown Hotdogs. Which directly promoted the saying, "don't judge a book by its cover." Or in this case, "don't judge a hot dog stand by its asbestos levels."


Here's to Club Z, O2, Slevin, 228, & Recovery. Without you, the nightlife in Morgantown would not be as unpredictable.

Here's to Mutt's, which I still believe has a curse on Mountaineer Athletics since its closing.

Here's to Thursdays. Without you, I would be a more productive citizen in this community. I would also not be referred to as "that kid" in all of my Friday 8:30/9:30s since my Junior year.

Here's to Fall Fest, which put any freshman's doubt on whether WVU was a good choice or not to rest.

Here's to WVU Up All Night, the best and worst thing to happen to you on a given night. The freshman 15 is earned here. It is where the scrambled mess of WVU students is more appetizing than the scrambled eggs.

Here's to the Bent Willey's Deck. When that blow-up bottle of captain gets plopped on top of the roof, I know summer has officially started. A few benders down and one could go from the 80s room to the ladies room without having any idea how they got there.
"We found love in a hopeless Rain"

Here's to Rain, where the urinals and bathroom floors were the best of friends. No matter what happened to you on a typical night out, you could wander down to Rain and find your friends while "Levels" and "We Found Love" blasted over the speakers. I could honestly rewrite a separate blog post on the pure awesomeness of Rain, but I would most likely rehash old memories and spiral into a pit of depression. I don't think I could ever eat at the Fondue Factory, based on what I have seen go on at Rain. Let's just say Rain was a fondue factory way before the actual restaurant was in place.

Here's to Casa D'Amici and its Friday/Saturday night convenience. I went there for lunch one day and it was kind of odd to a see what a garlic knot actually looked like, even though I have ordered them for years.

Here's to fake-fakes and real-fakes. In Morgantown, it made all the difference.

Here's to nights at Joe Mama's with 3AM Tokyo performing. Some of my favorite nights in Morgantown happened here.

Here's to Sports Page for never changing what made you great to begin with. Establishments in Morgantown have changed every year to keep up with the times, yet Sports Page has always stuck to its classy roots. I commend you.

Here's to Fat Daddy's, the best marketed bar in Morgantown. The only place where you can pet a donkey and contribute to a record breaking performance in consecutive nights. Sweet Caroline (Eat Shit Pitt) is a much appreciated tradition here that needs to be passed on to every generation at WVU.

Here's to Jimmy John and Alan the taxi driver, the future best men in my wedding.

Here's to Los Mariachis, the 21st birthday spot for a good majority of us. There is no point of even ordering food here, as the pounds of chips and salsa we all consume before the actual meal could be featured in a TLC special.

Here's to the hundreds of protesters I have encountered over the years outside of the MountainLair. Your graphic and disturbing signage made uncomfortable trips to Sbarro that much more uncomfortable.

Here's to the townie Mug Nights at Chicn'bones during Christmas and Thanksgiving breaks.

Here's to Jim Clements and Gordon Gee, the university presidents during my time at WVU. Both men are class acts and we are lucky to have had both serve during our undergraduate careers.

Here's to Panama City Beach, Cancun, or any other hot spot for WVU students in the Spring. It's a bummer leaving these destinations, because of the sheer craziness and fun that occurs there. We all have our own stories and believe we had a better time than everyone else on spring break. And that's all that matters, and that's how it should be.

Here's to my fellow Greek members. You all are walking mugshots that could collapse at a Saturday morning philanthropy from a variety of medical causes. At your condition, they would have tossed your ass off the wagon if you were on the Oregon Trail. Sunglasses and spearmint gum are your saving graces. If you entered your hangover symptoms into WebMD, it would say you are 6 months pregnant. Of course, that's probably because those symptoms are:
  • bloating
  • nausea
  • crankiness
  • pickle-cravings

Here's to that "Welcome to West Virginia" sign that gives you chills when you return to Morgantown from break or any other trip. I hate that West Virginia University gets a terrible reputation for being a drunk, college town. However, I take the party school reputation as a compliment. There are birthday parties, graduation parties, Halloween parties, among other types of parties. It basically means we are among the most social college students in the country--a reason why graduates go on to be great leaders in their fields of work.

Here's to Morgandise, not Morganhole. We may joke around, but in reality Morgantown is a wonderful place to spend your college career. 

Here's to returning back to Morgantown five years down the road for homecoming and singing country roads in the stands at Milan Puskar Stadium. It has been said that West Virginia residents spend half their lives trying to get out of the state and the other half trying to get back in it. I don't plan on staying in Morgantown, but I know I will miss it to death every day.

Here's to the best friends you will ever make and the best times you will ever have in your life. It is where irresponsibility is accepted and praised for its pure, spontaneous beauty.

Here's to Morgantown. Morgantown, West By God Virginia.