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February 19th, 2023

I want to live forever (not literally)

I've received some unsolicited compliments lately. It's always nice right? People going out of their way to say they like what you did or that you have some quality they admire. We're all hard on ourselves (or at least I am) so when someone says they like something about you that you've worked on, it's nice. I'm also terrible at receiving compliments, but that's a different post.

This is doubly nice when they come from someone you admire. A six year old telling you that you're funny is great, but if they tell you they like your writing, well that's only useful if you write books for six year olds. However, when someone you don't really know says things about you, that's a horse of a different color. It's probably genuine and you can at least pretend that person has great taste and is expert enough for it to really mean something.

My only real relationship with fame was growing up with my dad. Of course my dad wasn't "famous" famous, but everywhere I went as a kid, everyone knew who my dad was. I stopped asking my dad "who was that?" when we walked into a public space and someone said hi to him, because he'd inevitably say "I don't know," it was just someone who recognized him and was being friendly. I of course thought it was cool, because people being nice to you feels good, and this came with no trappings of actual "fame."

I will never be one tenth as famous as my dad. I do however, have a distinct look, do a fair amount of stuff in public spaces, and am loud. The BDGF gets recognized more than I do, as she's been a teacher in this town for 20+ years and that makes you memorable to a large group of people. But I am known to a lot of bar staff in town. And occasionally people know something I wrote on the internet or saw me host or play trivia. The latter aren't necessarily people I've even ever had a conversation with, but they "know" who I am.

I suppose that's more defintionally what I mean by fame: people who have some sort of relationship with you in their brain despite not knowing you. It's a strange phenomenon. Again, I have a very small relationship with this behavior, but it does happen. I've had people in public recognize my voice, recognize my profile picture from something I wrote on the internet, or just come up and say "You're my trivia host!" Don't get me wrong, this is as "famous" as I desire to be, but it can be intoxicating.

No more so than this, which came up on BlueSky this weekend:

I immediately remembered this happening. I never would have recalled it without the prompt, but my brain went "Yup, that was me." I'll often do something stupid in public and say to the BDGF "well, at least those people got a story out of it" but you never know if it lingers in their brain after you're out of sight. Thanks to social media, I know for sure at least once it did.

The point of all this? Well obviously to take the opportunity to point out that someone I don't know thinks about me once a month, but to encourage you to say nice things to people, even if you say it to the ether. To them is better if you can -we could all use it.

Posted 10:19am
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January 31st, 2023

Urbanist Adventures

I don't know if I mentioned it but this happened the day before I left for Montreal last summer.

I was sitting on the back porch when the BDGF's littlest came home and asked "What happened to your car?" When I said "Nothing" she advised me to go double check and it turned out I was wrong. The dying tree on the berm in front of our house (that I had called the city about three times in the 12 months prior to the incident) tried to take my car with it on its way out. The windshield obviously had to be taken care of right away, but when I got back and tried to get an appointment to fix the roof, the first available appointment was January 29th.

So here I am on the cusp of February in Michigan without a car for the next two weeks. I don't want to drop $600 on a rental car nor do I want to force the BDGF to chauffeur me around for a fortnight. Since I go on and on about how stupid car culture is and have a stated goal to be car free, I'm going straight public transit like the good little urbanist I purport to be.

I've got a quite a few things going in my favor towards this stated goal. Obviously the first is that our household still has a vehicle. The BDGF and I do most things together anyway and we live a 20 minute walk from downtown. Couple those things with the unseasonably warm weather we're having and my nights and weekends shouldn't be a problem.

That does still leave my work commute however. I know I've talked here before about my frustration with the AATA, aka the buses in Ann Arbor. Where I work just so happens to be on the other side of US23, which means it isn't technically in Ann Arbor, which means the AATA doesn't run buses to my building. I write to them about once a year to remind them that between my building, Domino Farms across the street and another few clinics and a high school, there's over a thousand customers waiting to be served by them over here every day, but their answer is always "U of M runs a shuttle bus that serves that area."

The only problem with that is those buses don't run on a schedule. So there is no "take the 7:30am bus from here to here every morning" routine that you can plan, it's more of a "check both Google and Apple maps, see what they say then look at Michigan's real time bus map and see if you can time everything right so you're not standing around at one bus stop or another for 25 minutes" scenario.

Thankfully I do have all of those resources at my disposal. Unfortunately my first morning trying this out it was snowing like a motherfucker, and when the wrong bus showed at my schedule departure time Tuesday morning, I got on it without realizing it was the 63 bus and not the 22 bus, and long story short it took me two hours to get to work.

Since then I've had much better luck. While my normal commute in a car is 10 minutes, I've got my public transportation commute down to about 45 minutes. It would easily be half that if the AATA went to the other side of the highway (which also doesn't have infrastructure to cross on foot, of course) but I digress. We'll be nice and call it an hour out of my day I'm losing, which I am at peace with.

The BDGF's littlest has an internship in Flint this summer, so I'm considering all of this a dry run for living in a house with three people and two cars. Of course that's the summer when we also have two scooters to get around on, so even easier. Listen, I know some people choose to live where there is no public transportation. And some people love their cars. And no, buses aren't as cool as fixed rail travel nor as convenient as that or hoping in your giant truck that actually hauls something once a year to go to the grocery store because you forgot to pick up lemons when you were there last. But public transit is for me. Make it better. Make walking safer. Build cities where your first instinct isn't to hop in your car to go do something - so that we can get rid of all of this stupid infrastructure that we currently build to have a place to put your personal vehicle when you go shopping. I mean, that's what I want anyway. I suppose it only happens if people like me use what we have to show both our neighbors and the decision makers that people want this and can make it work.

Posted 10:19am
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January 26th, 2023

OscarQuest™ 2024 LFG!!!

It's on people. OscarQuest™ 2024* began Tuesday with the announcement of this year's nominees. Should Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie have been nominated? Probably. Will the Academy ever nominate brilliant comedies like Bottoms or Theater Camp or Hundreds of Beavers? No. No they will not. But it's the Oscars. These aren't necessarily the best movies of the year or the ones we will be talking about ten years from now, they are their own thing. It's political. It's personal. It's public perception and consensus. That being said what the actual fuck Academy? Where's Asteroid City? Certainly we can find a little love for it in any number of categories. Whither Wes Anderson. I hope you win Best Live Action Short.

Nevertheless we undertake this Quest because these are some of the best movies of the year, we'll watch great movies we otherwise would have overlooked, and it's just fun. I'm a cinephile and collector, and the BDGF appreciates when I can collect things without bringing more junk into the house, so OscarQuest™ it is. As you can see below I've got a pretty good jump on things. I even already watched my least looked forward to film of every year: whatever piece of shit I have to choke down because Diane Warren wrote a song for it. There are apparently a bunch of people convinced she needs a statue, so every year I have to endure some film that has no business being in the same room as every other nominee. This year it was Flamin' Hot, a docudrama so unconcerned with the docu half of that moniker you don't have to know anything about the story to find yourself going "there's no way that's how that happened" constantly throughout the whole film.

But I digress. This all looks doable. We'll knock out most of the missing pieces when the Michigan shows all of the shorts (thanks team) and there'll be one or two international offerings that I'll still be trying to hunt down come March. With Asteroid City out of contention, I don't have anything that I'm overly rooting for.Lily Gladstone winning will be cool. Oppenheimer deserves most of the love it will get. Barbie will still (hopefully) be celebrated. Even if American Fiction doesn't win anything, way more people will see it because of its nominations and that's badass.

If you're not a giant freak like me trying to see every nominated film, at least try and see the best picture nominees. They're all very different films that have something to say and worth your time. And if you have the ability, go watch the shorts if they're playing in a theater near you. Seeing those films that I definitely wouldn't have seen without their Oscar clout is my favorite part of this.

*As always, I get my checklist from You should too.

Posted 10:19am
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January 9th, 2023

Sometimes when you're on...

Seemingly a lot of people categorized 2023 as a shit show. Far be it from me to "yeah but..." anyone's personal experience or feelings, but I liked it.

I still don't like my job very much, but I took some HUGE steps to insulate myself from what made it neigh on unbearable. Now I can happily sit in my office and try to remember not to care about things so much.

I "started" a woodworking business. I mean sure it didn't really make me any money, but I didn't lose money and I learned a lot and feel great about using it as a way to get to make a bunch of cool shit that gets subsidized by my customers, which is really all the best case scenario ever was anyway.

I got my trivia hosting gig back! I bitched for years about how it was the one thing missing from my pre-pando life and it finally showed up again. It may not last if more people don't start showing up, but it has been amazing to be back behind the mic, and I'll always be glad that I got another shot at it.

I had friends get married, have babies, and my own family is happy and healthy. The BDGF and I traveled a bunch, saw a ton of comedy and live music, and we spent more time in Montreal than ever before. Sure things aren't great globally or even in this country, but personally, 2023 was pretty good to me.

Oh yeah, and there was football.

I... don't have the words. Or I have too many. Michigan won the National Championship. They were perfect. The BDGF's littlest was texting us pictures of her partying on South U after the win and I think that's what I'm going to remember. Her getting to enjoy this fills me with a joy unimaginable. All of my friends are ecstatic. Everyone I love is celebrating. What better feeling is there than that?

2024 is an election year and if you pay a modicum of attention you know it's going to be a shit show for the next 11 months. But I'm here to tell you that good things happen too. It isn't always easy but holy shit can it be worth it.

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This is me

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