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September 16th, 2022

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

- You know I got that boost baby! I went down to South Quad yesterday (where I saw JJ McCarthy!) and got my Omicron variant booster. I woke up in the middle of the night with my teeth chattering so loud it sounded like a Warner Bros cartoon, but I'm back to being invincible again. After two and a half years of being careful but obv. not too careful, I might not be capable of being infected? Maybe it's because my roseacea medicine has ivermectin in it? Whatever the reason neither I nor the BDGF has gotten infected yet, I'm grateful for it. Here's to another two and half healthy years.

- Tomorrow night I'm dragging the BDGF to a live performance of the George Lucas Talk Show. For the uninitiated, Connor Ratliff and Griffin Newman play George Lucas and his sidekick Watto, and pre-pandemic they hosted a live talk show at the UCB Theater in NYC. Once COVID hit they took the show online, often doing 4+ hour livestreams with famous guests who were also stuck at home with nothing to do. It's a bizarre, niche concept that helped sustain a lot of us during the bleakest parts of being locked down and yearning for human connection. If you still have massive amounts of time to kill, it's a real rabbit hole you can go down if you ever wanted to be part of a weird cult internet talk show. I'd suggest starting with the episode featuring Paul F. Tompkins or the "Oops all Bumpers!" spectacular. They are three and half and four and half hours respectively. I promised the BDGF tomorrow's performance will last less than two hours, so please don't let me down gents.

- Speaking of being seemingly COVID immune and going out to live performances, last weekend the BDGF and I went to fashionable Ferndale to see something called "The Beatles Album Club." Its a bunch of local musicians who are performing the entire Beatles catalog over several months at The Loving Touch. As someone who's seen their fair share of Beatles cover bands, I can tell you this is probably my favorite experience I've ever had watching people trying to recreate this beloved music. We saw them perform Sgt. Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour, and there were sitars and harps and 15 piece horn sections - all for the low low price of $10. The next one is Nov. 5th and if you're in the area, it's not to be missed.

- I built this desk for the BDGF's new office. She loves the hell out of her new job, which makes me very happy as well.

- Finally, it's officially the last week of summer. Hopefully tomorrow will be the last football game of the year with 85 degree + temperatures and we can get into a nice crisp fall where the gingers can truly shine. This summer will forever be remembered as the one with the BDGF's littlest and her best friend living with us, and it might be the last as they move on and get grown-up lives. It was a great last hurrah if that's the case. Look at these lovely, intelligent women! Thanks for letting me hang around.

Posted 11:02am
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August 16th, 2022

Observing Ann Arbor

Free local papers are the best. If you find yourself in a new city, the quickest way to figure out what's going on is to pick up a copy of the free local paper. They've been a staple in my life ever since I found myself in places large and interesting enough to support these august institutions.

We've had several of these in Ann Arbor over the years, but the grand daddy of them all is the Ann Arbor Observer. News, business changes, entertainment listings, human interest stories, the Observer shows up at your house every month with all these things to keep you abreast of what's going on in your home town. Now with 100% more tbaggervance.

My lovely and talented pseudo sister-in-law contacted me a few months back asking if I wanted to write about my neighborhood for the Observer's annual "City Guide" issue. Given the transient nature of a university town, each August the Observer publishes a comprehensive guide to A2, detailing businesses and neighborhoods for those just coming to Tree Town for the first time. I was tasked with writing about where I live, and turns out it was deemed acceptable and I am once again a published author.

We were already in Montreal when they asked for a picture of me in my neighborhood, which it turns out there aren't as many of on file as you'd think, so our kitten made the news as well.

Will I be able to quit my day job and write for a living now? No. Was this a thrill and a half that I thoroughly enjoyed and hope to do again? Absolutely. So if you have a story idea that might work in the Observer let me know. Or if you're a publisher and are interested in my particular brand of bull shit email me! I could use the scratch and I've never missed a deadline.

Posted 10:27am
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July 20th, 2022

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

- It's not every day that the sleepy town I grew up in gets mentioned in a national news story, but today is apparently not every day. I was always told growing up that our Mayor designed the 50 star US flag. I always thought the story was hinky. First of all, you put two more stars on a flag, that what, needs a committee? Second, he had this grand story but admitted it was never officially recognized by Congress. Plus the guy was just kinda weird? Maybe unfair but nevertheless true. Well here's a whoooole story on Slate about how the entire thing is basically utter bullshit. Way to dig deep on something my tiny hometown of yokels already knew to be true.

- Former Michigan Football head coach Gary Moeller passed away. By all accounts he was a great guy who, in 1995, had one too many at a restaurant, punched a guy who was being a dick to him, and then was abruptly fired. Interesting side note, the NIGHT BEFORE that happened, I sat next to him at a banquet where I was to receive a scholarship from the local alumni club. The only real things I remember from that night were what happened subsequently, that the newspaper decided not to run the photos from that night, and that Gary had hands the size of pomeranians. Since that night I have declined to shake the hands of Michigan head coaches, out of an abundance of caution.

- My friend Pete passed away a few months back and yesterday he was interred. That's unbelievably sad but there's a reason we have funerals and wakes, and getting together with friends to mourn and celebrate someone's life is a good thing. Remembering stories amongst friends is great, and telling them to people for the first time is even better.

- Not so innocuously, I'm headed to Montreal for over three weeks! I'm sure you're all sick of me droning on about Montreal for almost a decade now, so I won't belabor the point, but man am I excited. We're gonna do up the Just For Laughs Festival, Fantasia Film Fest, museums, fireworks and all the other accoutrements that great city has to offer. Here's to an actual vacation.

- Finally, I built this little planter out of some scrap at the BDGF's request. I like it enough I'm planning more.

Posted 10:27am
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June 17th, 2022

That time I met Charles Woodson

When I was a senior in high school, I decided to go to the University of Michigan. Partly to be different from the 40 kids in my class who were going to Ohio, partly because I thought it would make my dad proud, mostly because I fell in love with the place. A real asshole of a teacher I once had tried to tell me that he would never let his daughters go to Michigan, because it'd be out-of-state tuition and it's basically the same school as Ohio. Despite being in junior high when I heard this, I knew it was utter bullshit.

That fall of 1993 our desolate high school football team played Fremont Ross, and a junior named Charles Woodson ran over us for 200 yards and 8 touchdowns in the first half. I don't know if it had been announced or just rumored that he was going to Michigan at that point, but I remember my dad saying "It'll be you and Charles Woodson at Michigan in two years!" He was my favorite player before he ever donned a winged helmet.

The next few years are well documented. Woodson went undefeated against Ohio State and left Michigan a National Champion and Heisman winner before going on to a Super Bowl winning, Hall of Fame career. Of course he's also known for his philanthropy, his sense of style, and everyone I've ever met who knows him speaks of him with hushed, reverent tones - a guy way nicer and genial than he has to be as the greatest defensive back in the history of the game.

So when I saw he was signing bottles of his wine and bourbon at a local grocery store, I obviously had to go. The fact that I had to wait outside in 95 degree heat for two hours wasn't ideal, but as we don't generally run in the same circles, I figured I had to take the opportunity. I shook his hand, told him that I'd been watching him since we were both in high school, and he said "Oh wow. Thanks for hanging out." We parted with a "Go Blue" and that was that.

They say don't meet your heroes, and I understand that a 30 second interaction barely qualifies as "meeting", but maybe people who say that need better heroes? I chose... wisely. Michigan is special. Charles is special. I got to meet him.

Posted 1:41pm
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June 14th, 2022

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

- If this isn't nice, I don't know what is...

- I'm what they call a sensitive boy. Always have been. Lots of things bring me to tears. Usually it's sad movies or other ephemera that's engineered in a lab to make you cry. Other times, there are things I find so beautiful or exciting that I'll tear up, because someone made something that feels like it was designed just for me and I'll find myself welling up with literal tears of joy. That happened today at work when I watched this on my phone. The Beths are for me.

 

- An evening of pump organ music you say? At a kombucha bar?!? No, these are not the normal circles I travel in, but when I can immerse myself in the late aughts nostalgia of Chris Bathgate, I'll throw back some high gravity fermentations. I wish he would have picked up the guitar even a little bit, but it was a delightful evening outside of my comfort zone.

- Summertimes are building times. I spent most of the spring refinishing old projects knocking out some piddly shit that isn't always the most fun but from time to time necessary (plus it has the advantage of not requiring expensive lumber). Top of the "fun" list though was to make a place to set my bag everyday when I get home. This is what I came up with:

- Finally, The BDGF is out of town this weekend, which means I'll be in the backyard watching movies she doesn't care for. I'm thinking about making it a John Carpenter double feature. Definitely Big Trouble in Little China. Maybe The Thing or They Live. What a time to be alive!

Posted 10:27am
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May 16th , 2022

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

- It was Stevie Wonder's birthday last Friday and someone posted this clip of him and Tom Jones and I've been obsessed with it ever since:

 

Stevie is a god. Tom Jones is criminally underrated.

- The Kids in the Hall are back! The Kids had a huge influence on my comic sensibilities growing up, and having recently rewatched the entire initial run, I can honestly say it holds up. Here's a great article about the Kids' feminism and here's a clip from 1990 that frighteningly is still on point:

 

I've watched the first two episodes of the new series, and I can honestly say it's worth your time.

- Speaking of being back, the weather finally warmed up which means we've reopened the Chandler Drive-In. As is tradition, we opened a couple weeks ago with Flash Gordon and followed it up on Friday with Smokey and the Bandit. Weather permitting we'll be showing the 1980's most homoerotic and faux patriotic move Top Gun this weekend, so stop on by.

- It's mid-May so the BDGF and I are in the thralls of anticipation for Montreal this summer. After two years we're finally able to get back to our home away from home for an entire month and enjoy the culture and civility of Quebec, as well as the return of Just for Laughs and all our other favorite summer festivals. Feel free to stop by and see us there as well, we know all of the best places to hang out.

- Finally, I declare the pandemic over as in person trivia championships are back! I suppose life isn't completely back to normal as I don't have a Geeks Who Drink show yet and I know three people who got COVID last week, but free money baby!

This looks like our new tournament team going forward, so here's to many more giant checks in our future.

Posted 10:22am
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April 22nd, 2022

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

- Like (at least as I imagine) most middle aged adults, I survive on routine. I go to work, I got to the bar, I do my volunteering and of course there's daily tasks like Wordle. The two that I try not to miss because they're (unlike going to the bar) the most beneficial for me, are getting my 12,000 steps every day and completing my French lessons on Duolingo. They are (hopefully) self improvement regimens AND you get that sweet little dopamine hit for keeping your streak alive. The 12,000 step goal usually get derailed twice a year or so while on vacation, but I'm happy to announce that I just passed a year on Duolingo.

We just booked our month in Montreal for the summer, so we'll see if it did any good.

- Did you hear we're going back to Montreal?!? We've managed to make it across the border twice during lockdown, and as wonderful and magical as Montreal is, it wasn't the same. This time we do it old school. A whole month, with all the festivals and normal activities intact. We've got a condo with a pool on the roof and tickets for Just For Laughs and museum passes and the whole shebang. I feel like we earned it? I know it's something to look forward to, which is in the abstract perhaps what we've all been missing most.

- Our house is slowly leaning into the endemic and just living with the new world order (which is depressingly like the old one, but que sera sera). As such we went to see the Flaming Lips Sunday last and it was the usual spectacle. I will note that the BDGF spent most of the night saying "Well this is where we get COVID" and that they didn't go on until after 10. It was about 12:15 and during the encore when I said "We should probably get home?" which we did around 1am. I felt old. But tell me this doesn't make it all worth it?

- Did we get three inches of snow on Monday, April 17th? Of course we did. Will it be 82 degrees tomorrow, April 23rd? Why not? As such we are opening the Chandler Drive-In tomorrow night with our traditional opening night screening of the seminal 1980 film Flash Gordon. I generally don't mind winter, but once spring is supposed to hit, I start to get seasonal affective disorder/cabin fever pretty quickly. I start perseverating on lists of all the things I have/want to do and then when the weather doesn't cooperate, I get in a bad way. So I try to do way too much during whatever warm weather exists and then I get crankier because that stuff is generally grunt work and not fun stuff. BUT TOMORROW! I'm cleaning up the scooters and enjoying the weather and watching a movie outside. Just in time...

- Finally, the BDGF's littlest is a college freshperson at Michigan, but that doesn't mean that dear ol' fake dad can't help out with a school project. Here's the interview we did, in which I made up mostly fake stuff on the spot. I didn't re-listen, so hopefully I don't come off too poorly. It was just nice to be asked.

Posted 11:48am
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April 4, 2022

For he's a jolly good fellow...

Twenty five goddamn years. That's how long I've been doing this job. That means that five years from today, I'm officially eligible to retire. When I say this out loud it feels good. When I think about it for five seconds, it's depressing, because spoiler alert, I'm not gonna be able to retire in five years.

I recently started to think about it as "well in five years I can quit my stupid job and do something more enjoyable, because I won't need to make nearly as much money," but upon further review, that's probably not going to be feasible either.

There's a house to pay off. Then there'll be a second place in Montreal. And of course there will always be something - replace this, upgrade that, we have to go to Europe. I understand that this is some champagne problem shit, but I have to keep the champagne flowing.

I can't really complain about working until I die at a job I don't love - that's the American Dream in 2022. And you never know, I may get a reprieve. In 20 years social security could still be around and I can retire like you're supposed to. I can even get into my 401K and spend some of that before I die, but I think we all can do the math and we're looking at a tiny window there.

But hey, I can still say it's five years until I can retire, even if I won't. And I absolutely will condescendingly tell new hires that I've been doing this job since before they were born, and that I will still be here when they've moved on to greener pastures, because both are depressingly true.

- Here's some bonus content from our trip to D.C. Who wore it better?

Posted 9:46am
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March 24, 2022

Detonate

I made an editorial error yesterday and only gave you four innocuous things. A mistake I will rectify now.

The original innocuous thing was about the recent success of Michigan athletics (both basketball programs, hockey, gymnastics, wrestling, softball, baseball, tennis are all killing it.) But I have something more important to show you.

After Yang is the new film from Koganada. It's a meditation on grief and identity and it's quiet and brilliant. Except for the title sequence. It's brilliant, but not so quiet. You should probably watch After Yang, but you should definitely watch this title sequence.

 

You're welcome.

Posted 11:03am
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March 23, 2022

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

- OscarQuest© 2022 complete!


From THEGOLDKNIGHT.COM

Thanks to the BBC for showing Writing with Fire, a very good doc that someone in Britain encoded and put on the internets, allowing me to finish this before the ceremony. Now let's get Lin Manuel that EGOT!

- I'm still loving wordle. They say doing these little brain exercises can stave off the effects of aging on the brain, which I suppose is something I have to worry about at this stage in the game. I ALSO am loving the Box Office Game. Can you name the top five movies at the box office from a given weekend? There are clues to help you with this otherwise impossible task, and yeah, probably for super movie nerds like myself.

- Of course like Whitney, I believe the children are our future. I suppose every generation is at least a little more liberal than the previous, at least that's how progress generally works. I don't know if social media is causational or correlational, but when I see stuff like the protests against the "Don't Say Gay" bullshit in Florida, it's all the feels for me. I know I likely wouldn't see this stuff on the nightly news, so thank god for twitter? So shines a good deed in a weary world. If we couldn't be bothered to fix things, the least we can do is help them.

- Finally, the BDGF and I are headed to our nation's capitol next Monday for a spring break soiree. Why DC? It's a cheap flight? Is that a reason? I'm excited after several trips to the district to get to go to the Spy Museum and perhaps see a show at the legendary 9:30 Club. Rest assured I'll use my knowledge of the U street district from my last trip and come away with a list of the coolest places near Dupont Circle where we're residing this time. Plus we'll see some spaceships, which makes everyone happy. Oh and if I see Ted Cruz or Lindsay Graham I will do my best to slap them in their stupid faces.

Posted 11:48am
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February 9, 2022

OscarQuest© 2022: TFG!!!

Yesterday's announcement of the nominees for the 94th Academy Awards means it's time to start the 2022 version of OscarQuest©.


From THEGOLDKNIGHT.COM

Thanks to mine and the Academy's good judgment, I only have six movies left to watch (plus the shorts, which will hit theaters at the end of the month) to complete this intrepid endeavor.

The minute the nominations came out I decided to undertake/get out of the way my least favorite part of my yearly obsession: watching the absolute shit movie that gets nominated because they put a Dianne Warren song over the credits. Nothing against Ms. Warren. I mean, I don't care for her songs, but she's obviously talented and this year is her 13th Oscar nomination (no wins). But from Mannequin to Pearl Harbor to this year's Four Good Days, man are her songs in some terrible movies. And this year I am doubly furious as she got nominated for this dogshit movie while Sparks sit at home on their absolutely brilliant and transcendent "So May We Start?" from Annette.

 

I was talking about having to sit through this dreck last night with the BDGF and she asked why I couldn't just skip the obviously awful, or at least abandon it 30 minutes in after my assumptions are confirmed. This misses the point of OscarQuest©, even if she is correct in that I'm mostly doing it so that I could say I did it.

I've seen a lot of great films I otherwise wouldn't have seen since I started this little trifle. I also have a collector's and complete-ist's sensibility. The point is to watch them all, garbage films with a Diane Warren song over the credits be damned. Anyway the hard part of this year's OscarQuest© is over. I mean, I suppose I still have to watch Raya and the Last Dragon, but I get to watch Encanto. Viva le Quest!

Posted 11:03am
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January 24th, 2022

Dispatches from Trivia Land

So I have a giant picture of an album I don't really like next to my bed. It's there because I drew it in high school and it took forever and it turned out really well so while I haven't listened to a song off it in over 25 years, there it hangs.

Also, it's an obscure late period Rush album, which means that nobody knows it. Or so I thought. Last week we got this question while playing Sporcle trivia:

I'm starting to think that if you play trivia long enough, they'll ask you everything. Which is why I think I need to know everything. Still working on it.

I'm doing pretty well though. As I said on twitter, this happened mostly due to COVID related nonsense, but for the last week I've been the number one Sporcle team in the country.

It's because the normal compliment of teams aren't playing. And I say "me" because I've probably played 80% of these games solo, but the BDGF and Lynn both contributed to getting there. All I need is for the league play to come back, so I can get paid for being on top. All this gets me is bragging rights, although let's be honest, I'm clearly enjoying them.

Posted 9:09am
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