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November 21st, 2014

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

- Your Friday watch list: Benedict Cumberbatch is the new Rich Little, who needs health care?, Belle and Sebastian go disco and while there's nothing to see here, let's shoehorn in the new Hamilton Leithauser peppy dirge "Room for Forgiveness". Please come back to Michigan Hamilton. Sorry I missed you last time.

- Under the tab of "Things for my BDGF": The new Orion space capsule is Michigan engineered (with another M space flag imminent), Separation Sunday gets the praise it so richly deserves and not to be repetitive, but I could always use another Millennium Falcon for Xmas!

- There's nothing quite like an idea you are 100% behind being presented in an intriguing way, which is why you are all going to love this advertisement (to find out what a newspaper is, ask Siri or Google).

- Obama attempts some immigration "reform" and despite what your parents and Sean Hannity tell you, it's NBD and completely legal. I'm starting to see the GOP as Demi Moore in A Few Good Men: "We strenuously object! Move to reconsider!" I get that the public isn't a court martial judge and thus it works on the unilateral vox populi (just ask your mother or Megyn Kelly) but come on guys. I mean, why don't you just throw a fit about health care again? Oh, I see then. Carry on, asshats.

- Finally, this will all eventually become clear, either as "come by my place for drink" or "well, we never actually thought it'd work", but we are making progress people. Cross your fingers (and potential investors get the first tastes).

Posted 10:10am
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November 14th, 2014

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

- Your Friday watch list: Christoph Waltz tells you how to get to Sesame Street (it's no Der Humpnik, but still worth your time), The Planetary Society has a Random Space Fact Friday video that you should check out and .

- Baby J news: Pope Frank tells the haters to sit the fuck down, Rachel Maddow shows the anti-science crowd the power of the internet and Michigan State handles some science haters with incredible aplomb. That sentence wasn't easy to type, but well done Sparty.

- Movie review time: Interstellar suffers from the fact the Christopher Nolan has a cold black heart that is avoid of emotion - but it barely felt like a three hour movie to me, which is saying something. Definitely see it in IMAX. Big Hero Six is a near perfect superhero movie, and since it is PIXAR, you shouldn't feel weird at all about going to see it without children in tow. It of course has a touch of Pixar's melancholy, but if you can handle the first 10 minutes of Up, you'll be fine. Also don't forget to go see Birdman. That movie is transcendent.

- Thrillist ranks a lot of things, many of which exist wholly in my wheel house. Like 9 small beer cities worth your attention, or the best pizzeria in every state. It makes me want to travel! And go to lunch.

- Finally, there's snow on the ground and Thanksgiving plans are in the works, which means requests for Xmas music are already being made in our house. I usually declare Xmas music off limits until at least after Thanksgiving, because Xmas music is saccharine - it's really sweet and a little bit of it makes you feel good, but before you know it you're ODing on it and you'll give anything to make it go away. I caved last week and let it fly because it also reminds me of people that aren't around as much or at all any more, and hating myself for acquiescing so early when I want to kill myself by mid-December seemed like a worthwhile trade in the moment. So Merry Christmas movie house! Here's a new xmas tune from The Both.

Posted 10:56am
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November 13th, 2014

Thursdays are for politickin'

Well the Grand Ol' Party now controls the Senate, giving them two of the three branches of government. Hooray! We know how well this works out. If nothing else, it's guaranteed to bring back the above post heading as I have to scream "You morons" all the time again. Ugh.

- Congratulations democracy! You've completely failed my home state. I know both parties trade in this, but it fucking sickens me either way, especially when it fucks over where I live. Of course there was good news in the Mitten, as banning same-sex partner benefits got appropriately ruled unconstitutional. If we had proportional representation, maybe we'd be in the center of this Venn Diagram. Ever notice how the center of a Venn Diagram is usually where you want to be?

- Speaking of, I've declared that I will never vote for a Republican presidential candidate again because of the Supreme Court. Maybe there's others out there like me and Dems can run on that fact in 2016.

-Of course with the GOP in control, you get people like James Inhofe - who calls global warming a hoax and the EPA a "gestapo bureaucracy" - chairing the Environment and Public Works Committee. Awesome. I'm too lazy to google it, but I guarantee he lost his shit over Solyndra, which guess what? Maybe I'll open my distillery in Cananada.

- Finally, Net Neutrality is back in the news! Ted Cruz may not know what it is and the FCC may have given Obama the Heisman, but hey Justice Scalia is for it? I have no idea what's going on right now.

Posted 9:30am
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November 7th, 2014

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

- Movie time! I saw St. Vincent last weekend - it's a pretty generic feel goodie elevated by Bill Murray. Birdman, on the otra, affected me in a way a movie hasn't in a long time. An inspired piece of filmmaking that is as technically dazzling as it is profound. Maybe not super profound, but certainly in my wheelhouse about what I like to be pretentious about. Either way, see it if for no other reason than to try and find the cuts. Big Hero Six and Interstellar are on deck. Oh, and in case this is the only site you visit on the internet, the new Star Wars movie has a title.

- Your Friday time wasters: Archer sneak peeks its return, and you can time warp to the arcades of the 1980s virtually now (there's no girls hanging out here either).

- TWiIR: Watch! Wilco plays backstage at The Tonight Show and Prince owns SNL. Plus you can zoom out on some famous album covers and increase your vocabulary with power of rock 'n' roll.

-Dolts! Half-wits! Bunglers! Nobody throws shade like Skeletor. Although how subversive is calling someone a boob? Now Bill W. (not that Bill W.) knew how to put someone in their place. (BONUS: You can now stream RSC plays online! I'm a huge nerd!)

- Finally, Siddhartha is alive and well in Koreatown, thanks for asking. We talked this morning about his housing situation when he returns, quelling my fears that he was going to run away forever, so whew. Here's an interview he did with some student publication across the sea. He can explain the outfit when he gets home.

Posted 11:25am
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November 4th, 2014

Vote. Or Don't, it probably doesn't matter.

I've had many a conversation over the years with the apathetic about the importance of voting. The simplest version of that conversation is "My vote doesn't matter, plus there's virtually no difference in the candidates," to which I usually say "Fine. Then don't ever complain about anything the government touches ever, because you've forfeited your right to bitch." To me, that's airtight and solid logic, plus a pretty good reason to skip out on work 20 minutes early and go talk to the old people who run your local polling place.

In 2014 however, there's a reason staring you in your stupid face as to why it's an actual important, big deal: people in power are actively trying to take this right away from you. Mostly Republicans and mostly if you are an inner-city minority, but keep that in mind: voting is so powerful that the powers that be who are entrenched in trying to screw you over don't want you to do it. Be honest, there's still that part of your brain that's 16 years old and reactionarily wants to do that which your overlords tell you not to. So vote. Especially for Democrats. If nothing else, it'll piss off the people you hate.

- Ann Arborites: here's some voting info (more here) so you can spend 10 minutes researching what boxes to check once you get there.

Posted 9:55am
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October 31st, 2014

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

- TWiIR: Stream: The Flaming Lips cover Sgt. Peppers, new bands Cayetana, the Sundials and Young Statues. Watch: Tweedy on ACL and Daniel Radcliff exhibits some serious flow.

- NASA exploded a rocket earlier this week (accidentally) and since no one was hurt, let us watch some spectacular footage and ooh and ahh at what it looks like when tens of thousands of pounds of rocket fuel goes boom.

- I never imagined I'd be the type of person to take time off of work to do more work - especially work that pays bupkis - but nevertheless that's exactly the type of person I increasingly am. Turns out I can't relax when there's an avalanche of things to be done - doubly so when poor weather is approaching and the avalanche consists of outdoor work. The good news is that the backyard is now bereft of leaves and the side of our house is now graded to keep water out of the basement. I can now relax for five minutes! Of course it's back to work on Sunday.

-In Baby Jesus news: Pope Frank reiterates how Catholics aren't as anti-science as you may have guessed (hooray!) and Ohio proves that it is the worst. Someday people will remember* that Jesus was a collectivist hippie and using him to justify your abject selfishness is as ludicrous as it is un-Christian.

*This probably won't actually happen. Especially in Ohio.

- Finally, breaking news (as I type this) is that Dave Brandon is resigning this afternoon! We did it! Below is the letter I wrote to him last week. I won't take all of the credit, but certainly my poorly written missive was the straw that broke the camel's back. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, you corporate stooge.

Dear Mr. Brandon,
I write to you as an alumnus, 16 year employee, season ticket holder and donor to Michigan athletics. My father was a sports writer who spent over 40 years in the Michigan press box. My wife is an alumnae and two of our children are current students at the U. My roots are deep.

For that reason, I support all things Michigan to a fault. No one is perfect and I believe that everyone involved at the University does what they believe is in the best interest of this institution. I've disagreed with many of your decisions over the years, but that's to be expected. Our aesthetics don't have to align for me to want you and the Athletic Department to succeed.

To wit, I was pleased to read about your decision to lower student ticket prices. I had to pay for my education by myself, going deeply into debt as an out-of-state student to do so, but that's just how much I wanted to be here. Now with two kids in college, it’s a great point of pride that I’m able to help my kids get an education in a way that my parents could not. But money is tight, and everyone in my house knows it.

Which is why I was deeply offended at your tone deaf comment that I read today about "After all, it’s mommy and daddy’s money!" It was MY money as a poor student struggling to get by twenty years ago (as I'm sure is the case for many current students), and my children certainly don't have your cavalier attitude about how things get paid for. Turning Michigan football Saturdays into a circus is one thing, but saying "who cares!?!" about families struggling to pay astronomical sums to attend Michigan is egregious to me.

Given the last two months, I fail to see how any independent evaluation of your performance would fail to find you in dereliction of duty at best. The University of Michigan will always have my allegiance, but you sir have overstayed your welcome and have lost whatever support you once had. As someone who clearly cares about this university, perhaps you'd agree that it's time for a change of leadership?

Go Blue
-T

Posted 11:46am
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October 27th, 2014

Fin

We did it! OK, so there's still the matter of covering up the underneath and the other non-trivial matter of the thing not falling apart, but otherwise C. Jason and I built a deck. That feels pretty good.

It probably could have been done more quickly and professionally with some outside help, but I'm over the moon as to how it turned out and I'm no easy please. Plus I got to spend a bunch of time with the Sumersquales, which I too often don't get enough of. I'd lament it being over and done with, except I imagine I'll get enlisted to help with something else sometime soon. I look forward to it.

Posted 1:57pm
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October 24th, 2014

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

- Just the other day I had this conversation for the hundredth time:

me: Oh, I have to go record a podcast.
other person: Oh, you have a podcast?
me: Yeah, but it's about football.
other person: Oh. Sorry, I'll never listen to it.

Which is TOTALLY fine and understandable. I wouldn't listen to your podcast about baking or soccer or Babylon 5, even though I really like you as a person. That said, I am really proud of it, especially of our intros the last couple of weeks. So you still might not get it, and yes, they are really dumb, but if you want a sample of what we do over at We Are So Good at Football but couldn't bear to hear Stov and talk about things like ATS or utter phrases like "They've hit the over 5 of their last 6 at home," for an hour, try The Ballad of Charlie Weiss, Congratulations Mississippi or Lou Holtz's Dance Party. We may also be kind of mean.

- Ann Arbor was recently ranked the seventh most liberal city in America. Hooray! Being liberal is the best. I especially love it when people think they're indicting you in some way by saying you are open to new ideas or favor progress. Like in this year's "dueling columns" between The Michigan Daily and The State News, wherein Sparty refers to Ann Arbor as "your pathetic, kale-eating, Prius-driving town." Raise your hand if you think East Lansing beats Ann Arbor as a city in anything. Nobody? Huh.

- Movie time! Brad Pitt goes Between Two Ferns, Indiana Jones conquers his Last Crusade in 60 seconds, and you can watch an MST3K episode completely annotated! Bonus since I know Mitchell is one of Markie C's personal favorites.

- Am I the only one who almost went blind yesterday trying to catch a glimpse of the partial solar eclipse? All the more reason that this looks awesome. Also space nerds, here's a treasure trove of potential ring tones (etc.) to let everyone know just how big of a geek you are. Bonus: Tom Hanks writes fiction (it of course involves the moon.)

- Finally, tonight we are attempting to squeeze in one last outdoor bonfire/movie night on Chandler before the BDGF has to go into hibernation for the winter. We'll be having a Simpson's Treehouse of Horror marathon, so it's not to be missed. Plus when everyone gets too cold and goes inside, I will try and squeeze in a showing of something truly morbid, like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Evil Dead. Or maybe something topical like Contagion?

Posted 10:36am
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October 20th, 2014

So manly!

My psuedo-in-laws recently bought their first house. Below you can see what the previous owners felt justified in calling a "deck." It's just palettes with some extra facing screwed together (none of the materials used were weatherproof). Since this 9 month old abomination was unsurprisingly disintegrating before their eyes, they contacted me about building a replacement. I took that to mean "build a version of what we have that won't immediately fall apart". What they meant was "let's build a deck!" So that's what we did.

 

It's almost done now. There's still stairs and some aesthetic stuff to finish, but we did it! I don't know if I can articulate the pride and ownership that comes with doing something yourself - especially when the results exceed your expectations - but I know I'll enjoy the fuck out of that deck every time I sit on it and drink a beer. I hope the Sumersquales do too.

Posted 2:32pm
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October 17th, 2014

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

- Here we are halfway through October and I have no costume ideas and haven't watched a single horror movie. I keep thinking "sexy-something" has got to be the answer. I'm sure it'll come to me, perhaps while working on my candy corn infused vodka. Or maybe if I just make some time to watch Re-Animator.

- TWiIR: Jack White visits Ellen, and the New Pornos visit Conan. For those keeping track at home, that's one link each for the BDGF and I's sexceptions. Bonus "music" link: I never got a "chance" to see the Dead play live, but after listening to this, I really feel like I have. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I took all the drugs I could find first. Question mark?

- Fun with movies! It always helps to have a chronological timeline around when contemplating Tarantino movies, or the Marvel universe for that matter. And we all know digital is awesome and all, but as someone with an extensive collection of vinyl records, I'll be at the forefront of saving analog movies as well. Bonus internet "movie": Homestar Runner returns! Burninating all the peasants!

- We're all on board with the idea that Columbus was kind of a monster and probably shouldn't get his own holiday. John Oliver sent up the idea pretty well, but this is pretty great too. Bonus "politics" link: Anyone still distressed that Romney didn't win the last election, at least his campaign promises are being kept. Ahead of schedule!

- Finally, I think (I hope) I've turned a happiness corner. I've been under the assumption for a while that I could will my way out of a rut. Worse still, that events that transpired justified it. So I owe everyone an apology for that (especially my family who bore the brunt of my behavior). In any event, I decided that being the change I wanted to see was the answer. I've focused on the things I can actually make happen rather than sitting around lamenting my position and repeating "It's fine" to myself over and over and over again. It's a bunch of new-age nonsense I suppose, but isolating what's bothering me and finding workarounds while moving towards longer term goals seems to be working so far. That and keeping busy, because for me, idle hands are a chance to brood. Fingers crossed and all that, but it's the best overall week I've had in a while, so here's to progress.

Posted 9:57am
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October 9th, 2014

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

- Red Bull gives you wings! I often lament the nascent internet we had to endure while I was in college, but how great would it have been to have Red Bull? That stuff is turbo jet fuel for an evening of debauchery. Of course it doesn't literally give you wings, so now you party Lionel Ritchie style AND they will give you $10. What a country.

- The new Weezer album is getting a ton of love for its "return to form". I haven't listened yet, so I'll reserve judgment (while admittedly being skeptical) but this guy clearly doesn't get it. Kids these days.

- The rest of the Michigan football season is going to be a Herculean task, testing my resolve in ways heretofore never imagined. The subsequent coaching search will also probably be a series of slaps to the junk that will make me question if I have battered wife syndrome. Of course unless this has any credence, in which case I will be enveloped in a sea of calm*.

*I know - not gonna happen.

- I realize that for the rest of my life I will probably have conversations about the efficacy of Obama's presidency. I, for one, pretty much got what I paid for: a pragmatic, evidence based executive. Not perfect by a long shot, but we'll probably never get an actual progressive in that position, so I'll take what I can get. Here's a by-the-numbers look you can memorize for future debates.

- Finally, two of my favorite ex-pats hit town today. Words cannot express my excitement nor my affection for these two. It's like a vacation that comes to me! Your best friends pulling up stakes is a terrible thing, but when they come back, cramming six months worth of fun in 4 days is a wonderful task to try and accomplish. Here we go (Lionel Ritchie style) ...

Posted 10:38am
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October 3rd, 2014

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

- This Week in Indie Rock: The Both visit Seth Meyers, The New Pornos release a new video, stream the new Jetpacks album, Beck tells ACL "Where It's At" and Tom Petty's Wildflowers gets the gushing praise article it so richly deserves.

- White board of the week:

More on that later.

- Baby J update: Satan picks up Roger Ebert's mantle, teacher takes his god and goes home, ISIS and evangelicalshave shared values and just because Neil deGrasse Tyson said something not true doesn't make science not. I mean come on guys, you don't fuck with NdG nor science.

- Your Friday afternoon time wasters: Triumph is back (for me to poop on) and Wacko's States and Capitols song gets a lengthy update.

- Finally, weather permitting, I'm playing construction foreman this weekend. My pseudo-in-laws are looking for a small deck off the back of their new house and apparently I was their best option. I'm fully immersed in the cliche guy love of tools. When the BDGF and I talk about someday living in a maintenance free loft downtown, I relish never having to do yardwork again, but I would greatly miss the opportunity to go out to the garage and build something. So just in case the dream of living downtown ever comes to fruitition, I will gather my 2.5" deck screws while I may. Cross your fingers that the flaws in my deck construction aren't so blatantly obvious and horrible that I don't have to perseverate on them every time I'm at their house for the next ten years. That and I don't permanently injure myself.

Posted 11:39am
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