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September 30th , 2016

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- The tightness in the chest, the feelings of helplessness and generalized anxiety dissipated for us as a nation after Monday's debate, as Trump quickly descended into the incompetent blowhard that he can't help himself from being, even for 90 minutes. I mean, constant vigilance and all that for SURE, but personally, I feel like I can exhale after a turbulent September (which as Paul Krugman noted, was largely a whore-ish media's fault.) So ready for levity? Have fun crawling down the rabbit hole of Peter Serfinowicz's Sassy Trump collection. And for a bonus, note that Peter was the voice of Darth Maul in that one Star Wars prequel that was at least better than the other two.

- Hamilton news! Firstly, Lin-Manuel Miranda is hosting SNL next Saturday! You can also watch all of the trailers and teasers for "Hamilton's America," a PBS documentary premiering October 21 here. To tie things into innocuous thing #1, you can also watch Lin sing Trump Tweets. Although be warned, he really looks like Ralph Macchio in the top picture on that page.

- I remember back when The Da Vinci Code was a thing dozens of people derided my derision of that trash "literature" because they said it got them reading and/or closer to their faith. I'd love to see the numbers on any of those idiots' reading habits and/or church going prowess even six months later, much less now. So speaking of Hamilton, we've been trying to expose the BDGF's littlest to more and more theater so that we can maintain the cultural momentum we've established. AND YOU can go HERE to see which Shakespeare play is the best fit for you and your mood! Eventually, you should both read and see all of them. For reals.

- Politics! Music! Culture! This new Norah Jones track has it all. Or as I wrote when I first listened to it: "Sonically, it's a theme song to a 1960s spy TV show, with an appropriately Saul Bass-ian lyric video. Plus it's got a political message I like to boot!" I may have been high.

- Finally, last week was the start of Big Ten football, and Michigan won big. The BDGF and I had tickets to see Nada Surf afterwards, so I was stayed relatively sober post-game. I instead drank my second Red Bull of the day, which made me feel like this all the way to Ferndale:

Tomorrow's game is actually important, so I can't stop thinking about my dad and how much I'd love to talk to him about all of it. But it's not morose. Ok it's a little sad, but I guarantee I'll only feel like the above gif after we win. I'm saving the tears for when we beat Ohio.

Posted 2:21pm
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September 21st , 2016

Don't be the reason we can't have nice things.

I'm in the last couple of days of my 41st year on this planet. I've worked hard. I've sacrificed. I've suffered. Less than some, more than others. I'm not complaining. Your story has the same pitfalls and earned triumphs, but this is my little corner of the internet. We are here to talk about me.

I am a college educated, upper middle class, white guy. I am decidedly middle aged. This is supposed to be the section of my life where I am rewarded for being all of the above. The hard work and sacrifice are going to start paying off any day now, right?

I mean, I'm against all of the privilege and entitlement stuff, but haven't I done enough to earn a second of goddamn respite from an orange, racist, misogynist jizz trumpet for a year and a goddamn half? I've spent hours defending this stupid goddamn country to Canadians who were pointing and laughing while I, with an ever increasing sheepishness, sit there and say "we'll get it right in the end."

Let me be clear - I still think we will. But some damage is done. We find ourselves in this position because Republicans sat on their hands or gleefully promoted bigotry and ignorance for 20+ years, and now the best case scenario is that Trump and Ailes lose fantastically but go on to start a new cable news channel whose advertisers will be Klan laundry services and mobility scooters for seniors. This election has broken my brain and now we have to live in a world where Fox News isn't conservative enough.

So thanks, everyone supporting Trump. I assume you're tired of hiding your old timey racism, because I can't in my infinite wisdom conjure an honest answer as to why anyone would ever vote for this cheeto skinned joke of a plantation owner, other than you are scared of Muslims and/or want to watch the world burn.

So watch this video and heed its call to action. Watch this video and force anyone who thinks Trump should lead this country to do the same (Clockwork Orange style if you must.) Because for the love of Jesus tap dancing Christ, the only way the last 18 months can be justified are if that bloviating sack of leaking diarrhea gets his ass kicked AND the Democrats at least take the Senate. I'm an adult. Please stand with me and tell the fucking petulant children that play time is over. We have earned it.

Posted 1:55pm
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September 9th , 2016

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- Listen! More American Football. New Sting, Wilco and Ted Leo. And while I will always be a Van Halen apologist, rendering my objective opinion on them moot, this version of a Sammy Hagar era classic is super cool. Van Halen may have little in common with what I listen to today, but it's comforting that it translates.

- Hamilton news! Here's Daveed Diggs band clipping performing some new music on James Cordon. Renee Elise Goldsberry performs a song cut from the musical. For the super fans, try and place these ten Yos from the soundtrack. I got 10 out of 10.

- I've been buoyed as of late by talking to the few people that I respect and thought could possibly vote for Trump or sit it out, because they've all pledged their vote to Hillary in order to utterly reject everything that Trump embodies and stands for. Talk about a whew. I don't get paying much attention to a politician's likeability, but I also get that people don't like Hillary. I invite anyone who feels that way even a little (myself included) to read this. It unsurprisingly brought a tear to my eye.

- The NFL is back, which puts us at peak football for the next four months. Rejoice! Or don't give a shit. If you're the latter, you'll probably still want to watch St. Vincent shred the national anthem.

- Finally, there's a new twitter account for you to follow! @wearesogoodat is the official twitter feed of the We Are So Good at Football podcast. Obviously many of you reading this couldn't give two shits about my best friend and I bloviating about gambling on college football, but I consider it a personal favor if you follow and then mute us. Same goes for downloading the podcast and then not listening to it. Hand jobs for anyone who leaves us a positive review on iTunes!

Posted 11:35am
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August 31st, 2016

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Wilder...

Like everyone else, when I was a kid I wanted to be Han Solo. As an adult, I've always wanted to be Willy Wonka. No other performance in the history of cinema so captured my imagination. It rightly exists in rarified air. He's beyond genius as the Waco Kid and Young Dr. Frankenstein and Leo Bloom, but damn, Willy Wonka... What else is there to say? Thanks Gene. So shines a good deed in a weary world.

Posted 10:52am
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August 26th , 2016

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- There's a lot of new music coming out this fall to be excited about, Wilco, Beck, Signals Midwest, American Football (?!?)- but perhaps the most exciting is the new Hamilton Leithauser/Rostam project I Had a Dream That You Were Mine. I loved Hamilton's last album Black Hours, but this sounds like it has a quicker pace to it. I can only dirge for so long. Check out "1,000 Times", "In a Black Out" and "When the Truth Is..."

- Preparations for Fortress Party 2016 have begun! For those unfamiliar, in short, for one night every December a friend turns his entire (very large) house into a blanket fort, with themed rooms and interactive experiences. This is my second year on the "planning committee" and it's a joy to get together with nerds and be creative and build stuff that otherwise has no reason to exist. My NDA prohibits me from mentioning anything approaching specifics, but I've spent a lot of time thinking about juxtapositions and mash ups, so here's some famous album covers with Star Wars characters inserted into them.

- Werner Herzog: pendulous brass balls.

- It's been less than a month since I was in Montreal, but I already miss it. The only drawback to the place is that it's just far enough away that I can't runaway there for a weekend. If I could switch the locations of Toronto and Montreal, my life would be measurably better. Alas, until I become a millionaire or we get a Detroit to Montreal hyperloop, it'll just be a constant anticipation of return. Here's a map of the Metro in Montreal that lists all the closest bars to every stop - for when I'm living there and you come and visit me.

- Finally, we sit on the precipice of another college football season. Over the next week I will experience all of the feels that someone as emotionally stunted as myself is capable of. There's a weird dichotomy in the fact that football season is simultaneously exciting and calming for me. Trying to find insight as to how things are going to unfold while anticipating the abject fun that the whole experience is is thrilling. The continuity and familiarity are soothing. It makes me miss my dad, but only in the fondest of ways. It fills me with hope, almost inevitably anger and sadness, and ultimately contentment. Every year I try and write about this and ultimately fail, because it is, as I said, all the feels. To paraphrase Chuck Klosterman, that's all I want from everything all the time.

Posted 4:02pm
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August 19th , 2016

Denouement

For the record: it was as bad if not worse that I had imagined. The heat melted my brain. Everything is designed for 5-8 year olds - even though it's not well-designed (seriously, learn about traffic flow you pricks). I got bumped into so many times that I twice woke up in the middle of the night to have a panic attack. The food is terrible, but the booze slightly better than expected. That and the Star Tours and the Indiana Jones show were kind of neat. Otherwise, it was a hellscape of Biblical proportions.

I still love my in-laws, but that "vacation" took a part of me that I'll never get back. That sounds dramatic, but I honestly believe it. I avoided that place successfully for so long that the fact that I eventually succumbed chipped a piece of my soul away. I'll be fine, but I'll never be truly 100% "over it". Good news is that it's behind me, I never have to do it again under any circumstance and I have an extra callous to say no to anyone for anything they ever ask me for ever again and not feel a shred of guilt. I'll let you know how that goes.

Posted 4:16pm
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August 9th , 2016

The most miserable place on earth

Tomorrow I am flying to Florida to spend 5 days at Disney with all of my in-laws. This is troubling and problematic for two distinct reasons: a) because I personally loathe the Disney brand and its sanitized bullshit and b) my personal melanin levels demand that I never set foot in the state of Florida, much less to ever do so in the month of August.

Nevertheless, I am about to be held in a prison of my in-laws and Walt Disney's making for 5 straight days. My coping strategy will mainly consist of staying indoors as much as possible while upping my normal BAC by a minimum of .05% at all hours of the day. I will also be playing the following on a loop through my headphones:

  I kept telling myself for the last year that at some point everyone would realize what an asinine idea this is and I would be granted a reprieve, but as I sit on the precipice I am finally coming to terms with the fact that there will be no call from the governor. May God have mercy on my soul.

Posted 8:55am
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August 5th , 2016

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- Montreal! We are back from our fifth trip to Montreal in a year, and still very much in the honeymoon phase with French Cananada. Donald Trump or no, emigrating sounds like a grand idea. The French thing will probably be a bridge too far (convincing an employer that I am uniquely qualified to do a job there will be tough when my French is tres merde) but you never know. I'm still pushing to buy an apartment there, rent it to a student for nine months a year and then have a summer place in Quebec! I am unconvinced it is not the perfect crime.

- My favorite part of Montreal in July is the Just For Laughs Festival. This year we saw the following comedians either perform or just hanging out in the streets of the Place des Arts:

Judd Apatow
Blake Griffin
Nick Kroll
Julia Louie Dreyfus
Tony Hale
Frank Rich
Timothy Simons
John Mulaney
Nick Thune
Eugene Mirman
Maria Bamford
Joe Mande
Greg Proops
Andy Kindler
Todd Barry
Tom Green
Russell Peters
Louis Black
JB Smoove
Ralphie May
The Sklar Brothers
Cameron Esposito
Steve Rannazzisi

And probably others I'm forgetting. It's super fun. You should come stay at our new condo (pending) next year and attend.

- Oh yeah, we also saw Radiohead and Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, because there are always several festivals going on in Montreal. Twice a week there were even fireworks! Like, the coolest fireworks shows I've ever seen. I mean, what do you want from a view other than this?

- Honestly, I haven't had time to peruse the list in a significant way, but you bet your juicy ass that I'm going to go through Edgar Wright's 1,000 favorite movies and watch anything that I haven't seen yet. I put the over/under of the impending to do list at an even 100.

- Finally, I was watching the DNC last week and just reveling in the pageantry and how great it felt to be aligned with that party and platform amidst what I had seen the week previous. I watched the Khizr Kahn speech live, jaw agape, astounded at the disparity between him and literally anyone who spoke at the RNC. The fact that history may see his stirring speech as the breaking point of a petty tyrant's bid to scare us into voting for an unqualified failure warms the cockles of my heart and honestly buoys my hopes that we might make it after all.

Posted 11:54am
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July 15th , 2016

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- I'm a little over half way through my bachelor's fortnight (aka Cartoon Levels of Debauchery) and it is going swimmingly. Things are being spruced up around the house daily, before I head round to the pub, usually for a pint and a quiz. Take yesterday, where my friend Boike and I demolished the competition at Geeks Who Drink and I finally finished restoring this lounger:

- St. Vincent covered the theme song to The Golden Girls. It sounds as weird as the previous sentence. Or as weird as that one time Quentin Tarantino played Elvis on an episode of The Golden Girls.

- The AV Club lists the 50 Best Comedies since the century turned. You can obviously nitpick placement and omissions, but since it includes all four Edgar Wright movies, including two in the top ten, you can't say it's ill considered.

- It's suppose it's not surprising that a Broadway musical would make me emotional, but just by thinking about it? Six months after first hearing about it and being obsessive about it the entire time? Lin-Manuel Miranda (or as the BDGF recently flummoxed, "Lin-Manuel Noriega") left Hamilton this week, and I kind of can't believe I missed him in the role. Sucks not to be super rich I guess, but at least I'll still get to see it.

- Finally, my only begotten son turns 21 tomorrow. It's a much bigger milestone for him than me, but the world should take note that half of my replicated DNA is now street legal. Him being 21 also means that our relationship at the moment is a question mark, but someday I look forward to (legally) sharing a quiet drink with him. And then several loud ones. And then a quiet one again.

Posted 10:10am
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July 8th , 2016

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- I live about 5 miles from work, which admittedly is a short commute, but I rarely make it off my street before I find myself yelling at some idiot and calling them a fuck trumpet from the comfort of the driver's seat. Recently however, we purchased another scooter, allowing me take one to work on days where rain isn't in the forecast. It's been game changing for my overall mood. I think it's mainly because instead of getting frustrated at everyone who doesn't understand the rules of the road, I'm forced to be content riding in the right lane and barely keeping up with the flow. Instead of trying to minimize my travel time, I'm just enjoying the outdoors. Now if we could just get some decent public transportation, I can be not angry the other three seasons of the year.

- I'm perhaps weirdly nostalgic for the Saturdays of yore when I would lay on the couch all afternoon, hungover, flipping through the dial and mindlessly watching whatever dreck I could find to pass the hours until it was time to go out and drink some more. My buddy Stov and I often partook in this ritual together, ordering copious amounts of bad pizza and otherwise trying to move as little as possible. During these salon-esque meetings, we would always eagerly anticipate a block of old episodes of "Match Game" on the Game Show Network. If you've never had the privilege, you can probably turn your TV on right now and see some in all of its drunken, 1970s glory. OR, you can turn in to ABC on Sunday nights and see the excellent revival, starring Alec Baldwin, Rosey O'Donnell, Tituss Burgess and a cavalcade of stars. Finally, a version of Match Game I can _______ to.

- Obligatory Hamilton update: here's a neat mashup of Hamilton with some Irish dancing, and check out the final #Ham4Ham featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, who's final titular performance is tomorrow.

- Road trip! Since the BDGF is out gallivanting the globe I figured the least I could do was go two states to the left. Turns out two of my favorite bands are playing a free street fest in the Windy City Sunday, so I am Chicago bound. It's the Cloud Nothings, Craig Finn, AirBnB and me. Half a dozen breweries, several pizza joints and a few questionable decisions are sure to make an appearance as well.

- Finally, this was a recent gift from my mother-in-common-law:

Turns out to be the perfect project for while the BDGF is out of the country. I am thankful for the "build your own six pack" paradigm that has invaded A2 grocery stores.

Posted 9:07am
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July 5th , 2016

Cartoon Levels of Debauchery

Tomorrow the BDGF leaves for her month long escapade in Montreal. I'll be joining her for the end of July, but the two and half weeks in between have been adorably dubbed Cartoon Levels of Debauchery.

Of course now that I'm 40, that mostly means I'll be watching movies by myself in the backyard while trying to find someone to text with, but there will be copious amounts of alcohol involved.

And let's be honest, I'll spend most of my free time working on projects around the house. I've got furniture to refinish, things to paint, improvements to be made, maintenance to perform.

These are all well worn tropes of my behavior while the BDGF is away, and it's not all that different from when she's around. The difference is it'll just be me. For over two weeks. As mild as that may be for an old man like me, you come to appreciate the peace and quiet. I mean, my peace and quiet involves blaring Radiohead at all hours of the day and night, but it's peace and quiet nonetheless.

Posted 10:35am
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