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August 30th, 2006

Well there's your problem...

Being $400 lighter in the wallet is never fun. Whether its dropping it at the tables in Vegas or paying to fix something in your house you didn't even know was broken, its usually enough to break your spirit. None more so for me than a trip to the auto mechanic. For me, its a case of the shoe being on the other foot.

I have a job where I constantly walk into situations where people are at their wits end. Its my job to come in and fix what's ailing them. Alot of times, it comes down to me doing what they claimed to have been trying for 20 minutes, but for some reason, unsuccessfully. When I walk in and replicate what they've been trying only with positive results, they're often more than a little upset. Its a case of an intelligent person finding themselves helpless and having someone come in and easily solving the problem that had crippled them. I imagine its an ego deflating experience.

And of course I don't have to imagine, because its exactly what I feel when I go to the mechanic. I helplessly have to go to someone hoping they can fix something that I'm incapable of handling. And on top of everything, I get the kick in the junk of having to pay them an outrageous sum of money. I define myself in a large part by my intellect, so any situation where I don't know what's going on makes me uncomfortable. Combine that with shelling out a bunch of cash that would be better spent on Oberon and, well I'm going to need several Oberons. The shoe's not only on the other foot, but I've traded my comfy Chucks for some unwieldy buckle number my mom used to make me wear to church. Jesus Fucking Christ.

Posted 9:30pm
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August 28th, 2006

I don't even know who you are anymore

Its tough to change people's perceptions of you. No matter how much of an effort you may make, most people end up seeing you as the same person they decided you were the first time they met you. Its where we get stereotypes from and its why I'll always be considered a drunk.

This weekend I played softball with a bunch of guys from high school. Half the guys hadn't played in years, the other half weren't exactly bragging about their abilities to begin with. It was a reason to get together, have fun, and make fun of each other. Athletics were never my strong point, so this was my first time on the team in 10 years. Nobody from high school (or pretty much today) looks at me at thinks athlete. And they're right not to - I'm not. But I've spent several years carving out my softball niche and feel like I can play a bit. I was anxious to show up and show off my prowess.

First game I popped out. Twice. Ball never made it out of the infield. This is something I can't ever remember doing. Luckily nobody on the team seemed to remember how to hit, so it likely went largely unnoticed. During the second game we were finally turning things around, and I got up with 2 outs, bases loaded, two strikes. The weird thing was that I never got nervous. The situation I would have dreaded 15 years ago now stared at me with a large indifference. I knew what I had to do, I knew how to do it. I roped a shot into left, scoring two and ending up on second.

Later in the game, after I had another (albeit meaningless) base hit, I was pulled to get more people in the game (that probably needed to be hidden defensively). I'll admit I was a little pissed. Not that I didn't understand the move, but just that after coming up big and giving us the two run lead that we were clinging to (and that ended up being the final margin of victory) I was still the first to go. And honestly, its fine. Had a blast, ended up 3-8 on the weekend with a couple RBI and Runs scored - even if I didn't change anyone's perceptions of my athletic ability. As we all know, the important thing is that they all know I can run circles around them intellectually.

Posted 2:30pm
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August 24th, 2006

Returning to Glory Since 1993

Its all but official - I will be returning to South Bend this September to redeem myself and get my record with Field Goal Jesus to 1-1. A friend and I made a trade and found ourselves with a pair of tix to the annual grudge match between Michigan and Notre Dame.

We've decided that the more drinking and general debauchery we can find for ourselves while we're there the better, which led to this posting on South Bend's craigslist (South Bend has a craigslist?):

Two dudes need a place to crash Michigan weekend
Reply to: hous-198291747@craigslist.org
Date: 2006-08-24, 12:13PM EST
Two Michigan Alumni looking for a place to stay Fri/Sat the weekend of the game. We don't want much, a room where we can place some airmatresses and a bathroom to shower in Sat. morning might even be enough. Willing to pay, the more amenities, the more cash we're willing to part with. Just two 30 year olds looking to party for the big game and stay cheap. If you've got something for us, let us know.

Turns out that there's no room in the inn for a 35 mile radius outside of SB for under $300/night. So what to do? I'm sure we'll figure it out. I'm sure I'll get a laugh or two out of the responses I get off my ad posting. I'm sure sleeping in the car isn't out of the question.

Also, the shirt and the headline are from the mgostore, part of the mgoblog network. Guess which shirt I immediately bought? College Football bitches. Fire it up.

Posted 4:00pm
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August 21st, 2006

Free love on the free love freeway

Those of you who love The Office on NBC (which should be all of you) but have yet to check out the BBC original - first of all, shame on you. Second of all, well no second of all. Just get on it. And please, let's not hear any of the 'I can't understand the accent' bullshit. Get in there and be prepared to laugh.

The reason I mention it is because the co-creator/star of the OG show has two links worth checking out today. First, Gervais taped some stuff for Microsoft, providing the first ever glimpse that someone in Redmond has a sense of humor. And Gervais, along with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, is set to air a new season of his hilarious podcasts. EW did this little interview to promote it. I highly recommend the podcasts. And if you're the clever sort, they won't cost you a dime. So if you're into intelligent humor and haven't reveled in Gervais yet, what are you waiting for? Of course if you're not, I'm sure there's a new video of some nerd dancing in his garage on youtube.

Posted 1:15pm
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August 17th, 2006

Friends with benefits (and other ways I was wrong)

While we don't like to admit it much, there are occasions when we here at the bloggy blog make mistakes. Perhaps calling them 'mistakes' is being a little too hard on ourselves. Sometimes we make rash decisions. Sometimes we rush to post things before thoroughly thinking them through. We get anxious. We get blinded by sex and alcohol and type things that may, in the end, not necessarily be true. That's what the FOBB© (Friends o' the Bloggy Blog) are for.

Its been brought to my attention, during a detailed in-person retelling of my last post, that my thoughts on the subject were colored by certain other factors. Now as these factors were being pointed out to me, I still held that my thesis was true - that the ability to rekindle a friendship after a period of time without missing a beat is a litmus test. But my particular example may have, as they say, flawed data.

Yes, the girl in question was hot. Yes, alcohol was involved. Yes, sexual tension was a factor. It was posited that someone as obviously shallow as myself would not be part of such an encounter, much less retelling it with such dramatic flair, if the girl was two bills. Nor would I have made time were she in a relationship or I thought I had zero chance. It seems, as much as it pains me to use the analogy, that I was the victim of a When Harry Met Sally conundrum.

I will agree that very few men and women can be friends without sexual tension. When it does happen, its usually with your friend's girlfriend/wife or someone that you've known long enough that you both know that sex isn't going to happen. And I will admit to my own shallowness and that everything that my friends relayed to me is probably true. So does all that mean that being relaxed and easy with someone after not seeing them for a year isn't a great tenet of friendship? No. Does it mean that I ran off to be with someone based in part on looks and that male/female relationships only work when sexual tension is either present or wholly removed? Probably.

Posted 11:45pm
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August 15th, 2006

And you call yourself a friend...

Every once in a while you'll hear someone say 'Oh yeah I'm friends with so-and-so' or refer to someone in some way that friendship is implied that elicits a 'No you're not' response. Friend is a loaded word, it means different things to different people at different times. My working definition for some time has been 'someone you could call on the phone and they're not surprised.' But often times it gets thrown around when it really means a lot less, and in some cases it means a lot more.

Despite my utter hatred for talking on the phone, there's still a lot of people in my working definition mold. But some of those people aren't really 'friends' when I think about it. Is someone your friend if you've never done anything one on one with them? Is someone your friend if you have no clue where they live? These may be things to nitpick at and truthfully, there probably isn't a single litmus test. But I ran across something the other night that made me realize one of the more important aspects of friendship.

A friend came into town and basically had a small block of time to hang out. Since she's also a hot chick, I moved things around to run to her side. I hadn't seen this girl in a year. Talk to her less than once a month, e-mail about as much. But it took all of 30 seconds to fall back into our old rhythm. We sat for several hours and didn't have a single lull in the conversation. You could tell when one of us was trying to make a point quickly so as to not lose momentum by going to the bathroom.

And it occurred to me (much later) that friendship is not seeing someone for an extended period of time and then not feeling a forced awkwardness when you get back together. I don't think that's going to make it onto an inspirational poster of two people walking along a beach at sunset, but I think as far as litmus tests go, its a pretty big one. In my specific case, I knew the minute I saw her how easy it was going to be. Later in the evening, during a walk to sober up, we ducked into a bar and ordered long islands at last call and I realized just how much I missed my friend. Because anyone who knows me that well and is willing to indulge me in such glorious ways needs to be around more often.

Posted 3:13pm
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August 10th, 2006

I guarantee Mike Hart two Heismans

Anything is fair game on the ol' bloggy blog, but let's be honest - we're usually concerned with a finite number of things: indie rock, scientology, movies, girls who won't have sex with me and of course most of all, my alcoholism. But one of the most of important facets of my tepid existence rarely rears its ugly head - but its about to wholly consume me. I of course speak of college football.

I spent this week watching 1997 Michigan/Ohio State (Rose Bowl clinching pre-National Champ victory) and 2005 Michigan/Penn State (4th quarter heroics from a forgettable season). Now I'm in the midst of procuring Michigan/Notre Dame tix for this year. My complete immersion in the world of college football has come early. And I haven't even mentioned Stov and I's efforts for the tailgate improvement committee (think large vehicular transport).

I can't wait to wake up Saturday morning, hung over as hell, march around my apartment and head out to drink myself silly in the Saturday morning sun, only to hope we're up enough at half to take a nap on the grass and recoup for Saturday night. These are college football Saturdays - drinking, gambling, reminiscing about teams past, pontificating on future chances - all the best things life has to offer. Welcome college football, and all the joy and misery you have to offer.

Posted 10:58pm
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August 7th, 2006

Honey, the raccoons are fighting again.

The 2006 camping trip has come and gone, and I'm proud to report that I survived, if only barely. Sunday morning found my body trying to cope with not only the requisite hangover, but two hyper-extended middle fingers, one busted open knee, one toe blistered raw, a sore everything and a 100 degree plus fever. So all in all a successful trip.

We found some new adventures (a rope swing and a bridge to jump off) and learned who's moral center is a little more liberal than others (apparently, some people are swingers). Of course, I managed to tell a story that occupied everyone's attention for several hours Saturday night, but its one I'm not ready to throw out for public consumption... yet.

Posted 2:58pm
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August 3rd, 2006

Um, I don't think Mel was 'boo'ing you...

Nothing is really chomping at my bit right now to blog about. Being between mini-vacations will do that to ya. Here's a few things to think about/check out, quick hit style:

- If you're going to make a violent splatter movie that makes everybody go 'so, you hate Jews?', don't vehemently deny it for a year AND THEN get drunk and say 'I hate the Jews.' Kind of blows your credibility. I always kind of liked Mel. I mean, Braveheart kicked ass, as did the Road Warrior. But if we've learned anything in the past 18 months, its that even our most beloved stars can fall from the sky when they start with the crazy religious stuff. Everyone always secretly suspected Tom Cruise was gay, but it really didn't affect him. But, as its wont to do, Scientology has made him a laughing stock (see Travolta pre and post Battlefield Earth for more evidence) Now everybody kind of assumed Mel was an anti-Semite after Passion, and now we all know. Say goodbye to the A-List, sugartits.

- Tom Petty is an ass-kicker. Very few artists have remained viable in every sense of the word for so long. His best two albums (Damn the Torpedoes and Wildflowers) are 20 years apart. Who can say that? Off the top of my head, he finds himself in this exclusive company (probably in this order):

1. Dylan
2. Neil Young
3. Elvis Costello
4. Tom Petty

Here's a celebration of his career, put much more poetically than I could ever hope to do.

- This weekend brings the annual canoe trip. A little more low key than PIB, but still fairly alcohol-centric (but what in my life isn't?) It think this is my 3rd year and I'll have my 3rd different canoe partner. I'm sure the day will come soon where its find a woman or prepare for the kayak. Just what I need, one more thing that I have to do all by myself.

Posted 2:58pm
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July 31st, 2006

Excuse me, I think you stepped on my liver...

One of these days I'll buy a camera small enough and good enough so that I can bring it everywhere and capture everything. Until then, you get this abbreviated, fairly sketchy PIB photo essay. Its a tad thrown together, but that's exactly how I feel right now. I didn't bother shrinking the pics, so the page may take some time to load. But as it stands, its what there is. I reserve the right to add to it should other testimonials filter in. Back to non-PIB related things real soon.

Posted 9:45pm
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July 27th, 2006

Countdown to the PIB: I can smell the mayflies

Well its basically here. Like a guy who's being hit on by a drunk chick, I'm so eager I can hardly contain myself. I hope I can remain sober enough to take some pictures and remember some details so that I can impart them to you upon my return. Of course, don't be surprised when none of that happens

Today's vintage PIB image comes from 2005:

Its part of last year's photo essay (don't forget viewing them one by one provides commentary).

Today's PIB link is this description of the bay from what looks like a semi-reputable website, but is written by someone who is likely at least semi-retarded.

I'm off. Wish me and my liver good luck. We'll need it.

Posted 9:45am
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July 26th, 2006

Countdown to the PIB: 2 days left

48 hours and I'll be drunk and on the island. There is a disappointing aspect to this years trip - we're missing a new girlfriend. Over the years, the PIB has wreaked havoc on relationships. Its usually a semi-new relationship where the guy says: 'Do you want to come to PIB with me and my friends? We basically just drink our faces off for 2 days.' She agrees, not realizing how much said guy is underselling what goes on. Somewhere over the course of the weekend, either girl is disappointed in the way the guy is acting, or guy is pissed at the way girl is reacting. Either way, its the death kneel for the relationship. And of course, who wouldn't want to watch that whole fiasco go down?

Today's vintage PIB quote comes from 2003:

Jess spent a weekend in a house with The Claw, The Puma, Stephen Hawking, and Barlow and still didn't break things off. This might be serious!
Stov - 7/23/2003 12:33 AM

The relationship was over within a month.

Today's PIB link is the triumverant of evil: The Roundhouse, The Beer Barrel and the Chicken Patio. None are to be missed on a PIB trip.

Posted 4:15pm
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July 25th, 2006

Countdown to the PIB: 3 days left

A scant 3 days left before its back to the bay. Since this trip became an annual thing, its always been a come one, come all kind of affair. But every year we get a little older and hopefully a little more financially secure, and I wonder how long it will be until we start 'not inviting' some in favor of NOT having to sleep four across on a pull out couch. I suppose we could move to another place on the island, but god forbid we leave Dennnnnnnnyyyyyy....

Today's vintage PIB image comes from 2002:

Stov with a cigarette. Can't say I've seen it since.

Today's PIB link is the official site for our home away from home, Harriet's House. How we fell into this place is unbelievable, but we couldn't have found a more perfect place for our antics. And, as the website notes: "No need to bring your Lysol and Comet we're clean--really clean"

Posted 4:15pm
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July 24th, 2006

Countdown to the PIB: 4 days left

Yes people, its almost here - the most anticipated non-football weekend of the year - Put-in-Bay. Nothing gets me quite as excited as gearing up for a weekend at Harriet's House. Productivity comes to a stand still this week, as my thoughts are concentrated on Chicken Dinners at the Patio, Buckets at the Round House, and being spooned by Barlow on the pull-out couch.

Today's vintage PIB image comes from 2002:

Yup, Barlow in daisy dukes.

Today's PIB link is from Wikipedia, which has an in-depth listing of the PIB. It lists some 'attractions' as:
The Round House Bar A 130 year-old, circular building that houses a tavern offering live entertainment seven days a week.
Beer Barrel Saloon Houses the Guinness Book of World Records "Worlds Longest Bar" - 405 feet 10 inches. If you stood it on end it would be taller than the (352 ft high) Perry's Monument.
It also notes that "The population is nearly exclusively white." Which if you've ever been to PIB, you already knew. My only qualm is that it lists the main industry as 'tourism' where it should more accurately be 'alcohol'.

Come back tomorrow for more countdown nuggets. Assuming I can concentrate long enough to type something up.

Posted 4:15pm
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July 23rd, 2006

The plight of the angry young man

There's a special bond between recurring pop culture characters and their real life admirers that share the same demographic. People my age have identified with the kids of 90210, Felicity and Saved by the Bell not just because they like the faggy stories and they fact that the kids were better looking than their friends, but because you in a sense grow up with these people. It doesn't hurt that they're always trading around partners in an incestuous manner that makes every guy long for life to imitate art.

Unfortunately you usually only get these cohort affects in sappy TV teenage melodramas (and your occasional half hour comedy) But every once in a great while a film director will take a cultural touchstone and revisit it years later, inviting fans to take a journey and see where the characters they once identified with have gone. Enter Kevin Smith. Smith has been capitalizing and expanding on his low-budget debut since it first hit in 1994, and now he finally goes whole-hog and makes the inevitable sequel - Clerks II.

While watching Clerks II, it became apparent that Smith really wanted to see what became of these characters in the intervening decade or so. And it turned out that it was about the only uninteresting aspect of the film. I laughed out loud more at this movie than anything since The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Its raunchy, vulgar and inspired in a lot of its humor. But do we need 3 (3!) montages? Do we need Dante and Randall to go on and on with their reconciliation, which is basically a re-hash of the conversation they had at the end of the original movie? Its not that it sinks the movie, I just wish Smith wouldn't try so hard to have it both ways. Next time, more donkey show, less pregnant people.

Posted 9:05pm
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July 18th, 2006

Watch your mouth (and a few other things)

- Apparently I dropped a big, fat c-bomb Friday night. Somebody (who will remain nameless) who has a penchant for being a pain-in-the-ass was doing so especially well and especially towards me - at least it was directly effecting me. So in drunken frustration, I call her a cunt. Apparently everyone at the table quickly gasped, and then silently agreed with me. At least that's how it was explained to me - I don't specifically remember any of it. I knew I called her a bitch, but I can't pinpoint the moment I whipped out the big C. I've apparently come around on this word quite a bit. I used to put it just this side of the N word, which means not even in my vocabulary. Now it appears I'm not afraid to drop it on someone I know when I'm a tad tipsy. And I also think its totally OK to call someone's behavior 'cunty', although you should probably be on semi-familiar terms.

- If you've never seen the underwhelming phenomena that is The Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon, its now on the internets. Although I should say that while we here at tbaggervance.com don't condone substance abuse, its actually pretty awesome if you're high.

- Speaking of movies and drugs, the first 24 minutes of A Scanner Darkly are in the ether as well. I'm going to be so pissed when I never find time to see this in the theater.

Posted 4:30pm
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July 16th, 2006

Have I got the perfect girl for you

If dating were simply a process of trying out other people to see if you can tolerate one another enough so that you have someone to do things with (most importantly of a sexual nature) it would still be plenty hard (no pun intended). If your only worry were that at some point one of you will like the other without an appropriate amount of reciprocity, thus leading to at least an awkward conversation and one more person you have to avoid for a while, it would still be one of the more daunting endeavors that one undertakes. But as we all can attest to, dating is rarely about just two people.

Now were you to meet someone randomly at a bar, supermarket or internet in your area, you'd be largely home free. You could go out once or a couple times and, assuming you lived in an area with a large enough population, be fairly certain that you'd never see the person again. And should you randomly run into said person at your favorite watering hole, you'd either both avoid each other or awkwardly acknowledge each other and go along your merry way. But if you're like me, instances of randomly meeting someone and having it lead to more than a fairly bad first date are minimal at best.

No, the world being the way it is and people being the way they are, you're dating pool is largely made up of friends of friends and co-workers. Which means of course, that when things go w, Courier, mono">General Friday awkwardness

- A co-worker of mine is leaving today - moving to New York. She's been here four or five years, so we know each other a bit due to walking around on the same bit of carpet for all that time. But we're not friends. We've never hung out socially. She's a tad socially awkward to begin with (no interpersonal skills whatsoever), but it would be totally weird to interact outside of our usual office building in any case. So why did she stand so long in my doorway today, saying goodbye and looking like she expected me to jump up and give her a hug? I hope its just a continuation of her bad social skills and its not me on the wrong side of the etiquette scale here - because if you have to hug co-workers who are moving away, I am out people. Recluse, here I come.

- I was in Target today over lunch buying the Buddha his 11th birthday present when some little girl starts saying 'Mom its a boy/girl. Mom look its a boy/girl' My hair must be extra long and/or curly today, because I haven't gotten anything like that since about '96. What really galled me is that the mom never acknowledged the kid. Never said 'Shh, that's not polite' or 'No, its just a boy with curly hair' or 'Where? Let's all point and laugh'. First the IT lookin' guy thing and now this. Its a good thing my ego and self-esteem and fairly invulnerable, or it'd be time for a new wardrobe and a beard.

- I'm told I have a condescending tone. That when conversing and/or arguing with someone, I can often sound like I'm talking down to that person. Call it smug, call it arrogant - I think its just something I unconsciously do because I know how it irritates people (and yes, I often enjoy irritating people. And I have no patience for stupidity. And I'll win an argument at any cost. I have issues). But without getting into specifics, sometimes you're talking to someone of a certain age and a certain intelligence who is acting or lacking the knowledge of someone half his age. At that point, what am I to do? I swear some people just don't care if they look dumb; otherwise they'd keep their mouths shut, nod their head, and look it up on the internet when they got home. It'd be a better story with specifics I know. Find me out drunk and I'll totally break loose.

Posted 3:32pm
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July 13th, 2006

Turn your head and cough (and other things...)

- A friend of mine called looking for moments in film where people cough (he got an editing job where he needs shots of people coughing). This was my quick, off the top of the head list:

Animal House - in the courtroom
Hudson Hawk - in the sidewalk cafe, he excuses himself and then coughs up a bunch of feathers
The Mask - during Jim Carrey's 'oscar' performance
Ferris Bueller - plays a classical piano piece on his keyboard in cough's, etc

I feel like I'm missing some classics, but I actually have to work right now. Man does that suck...

- Of course there's no 'new' TV on in the summer - which is good. Go outside or watch a movie. Or, watch a 'webisode' of TV's best comedy - The Office. It focuses on the accounting department and a missing $3000. It should satiate you until the Jim and Pam saga returns in September.

- Wannabe recluse Rivers Cuomo has disbanded Weezer. Were this 1996 and Pinkerton had just come out I would be devastated. But since Make Believe sucked and Weezer has become the patriarch of punks who annoy me, I'm wholly indifferent to the news. Maybe Rivers will go back to being celibate and produce more vibrant, angry, woe-is-me pop. It could turn emo back on its head.

- We all know that Jeff Tweedy rules. Some of us know that Gary Louris of the Jayhawks rules too, just over a slightly smaller track of land. They've reformed their alt-cunt supergroup Golden Smog, and their new album is streaming over at VH1.com.

- Clerks was a seminal movie for me, having been one of my early introductions into indie film and coming out in 1994, when I could easily identify with its angry-young-man theme. So not surprising that I went 28 for 28 in this Clerks movie quiz. I'm actually excited about the sequel - despite its cash grab/Jersey Girl-overcorrect feel.

Posted 2:28pm
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July 11th, 2006

We got Poindexter on the violin, and Lewis and Gilbert will be joining in

I pride myself on many things - intellect, taste, alcohol consumption to name a few. And I've always considered myself to have a certain sense of style. A tad ahead of the curve without being exactly trendsetting. Unique without being out there. Stylish yet comfortable.

And while I enjoy my job and think I'm pretty much good at it, I don't consider myself a 'computer guy'. I may be fooling myself slightly on some level, but I get told frequently that I don't act like most 'I.T.' guys. And while that's certainly true outside the office, its true inside as well. I can safely navigate nerdy waters, but also feel like I have a right to laugh at their contents when I get out and dry myself off.

That's why I about fell over when being introduced to a new employee today. The introducer said 'This is Tyler, he's our tech guy' and the introducee said 'Oh yeah, he looks like an I.T. guy.' I LOOK like an I.T. guy? Now I was wearing a brown T-shirt, jeans and flip flops and she was 40+, so hopefully that's all that this was about. Because I thought I knew what I.T. guys looked like, and this ain't it. Seriously, if people start saying I look like an I.T. guy on a consistent basis, I may have to kill myself. Or spend more on my wardrobe. And considering I have no one to impress at work, that ain't happening. Let's just assume by I.T. she meant young, intelligent and relaxed. And handsome. Don't forget handsome.

Posted 1:45pm
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July 6th, 2006

Jesus Christ Pose

Gather round people, time for a nerd moment. I, am not, a huge Superman fan. The comics fan in me loves (almost) anytime they bring a comic book to the silver screen. But without getting into an uber-nerdy DC comics/Marvel comics argument, Superman is not my thing. How relatable is someone who has no real world problems? Spider-Man, The X-Men - these people deal with the same shit you or I do - and then they use their superpowers to save the world from someone hell bent on ruining our way of life. Superman's biggest dilemmas are how to get Lois Lane to like a nerdy reporter instead of the perfect embodiment of the human form and where do all these people keep finding all this kryptonite?

So enter Bryan Singer - the man who walked the tight rope of the X-Men's real world/other world problems as well as anyone could have hoped for. I went into Superman Returns expecting to see Singer try and bring a little relatability to the last son of Krypton. But again, how does one make Superman relatable? Singer does his affable best by making the entire film a love story between Superman and Lois. All the action seems subsequent to the question of 'How are we going to get these two crazy kids together?'

To his credit, Singer pretty much succeeds in this goal, but to the dismay of myself, this wasn't the Superman movie I wanted to see. Making Superman Returns a literal sequel to the Richard Donner films seemed to be his other goal, which I'm reluctantly on board with. I would have rather seen a whole new vision, but whatever. I do have nostalgia for those films, so I'll admit seeing those cheesy late 70's titles at the start of the movie made my hair stand up. Spacey as Luthor? Campy and great. Routh as the Man of Steel? As good as MacGreggor aping Guiness in the Star Wars prequels. But a Superman love story? And another insipid plot about Lex making a land grab? C'mon. Singer tries to embrace the camp of the Christopher Reeve films and have his post-modern relatable Superman as well, and ends up on the short ends of both. It doesn't help that he beats you over the head with the Jesus comparison. Here's a hint - you want people to relate someone - don't use Jesus.

On a side note, I saw this in IMAX 3-D. The visuals were cool at times, but the sound alone was worth the extra $3. If you like your shit loud, its the only way to fly. But the movie on the whole? I'd say it was pretty much what I expected. I'd hoped for a drastic re-invisioning of Kal-el from Krypton that used Singer's deft superhero touch to put Superman on the level of Spider-Man. But I knew that wasn't going to happen. What I got was what you always get when the budgets get too big and people start to play it safe and use what's worked before. If you haven't seen it yet you probably won't, but its unfortunate to have to say that when a $250 million film doesn't wholly disappoint you, you get to put one in the win column. So there's my tepid recommendation. Hopefully my bar is lowered enough that I can be blown away by A Scanner Darkly and Clerks II.

Posted 7:15pm
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July 3rd, 2006

Blowing shit up to honor America

Things rambling around the noggin, as I have no coherent thread to post about and am sitting here feeling a need to blog:

- The Buddha and I went out to my friends 'farm' in the country for a little low key BBQ Saturday. Usually, dragging the Buddha out to hang with the 'adults' (using the term as loosely as possible) involves struggling to get him to not be a buzz kill and then getting him to have a good time, only to have him say he didn't have a good time on the way home. Saturday involved exploring the barns, playing bocce, catching fireflies and throwing fireworks into the bonfire. Anytime I can get the Buddha outside is a win - getting him to admit he had fun is a windfall. Thanks Greg and Ang, we look forward to coming o coming back for 'Movies on the Barn' and catching a toad. And I never get tired of hearing what a great kid he is, so thanks for that too.

- I wanted to try and ruminate on honoring our country and what a great place it is, whilst railing against all the things that irritate the shit out of me. I keep coming back to the Wilco song 'Ashes of American Flags'. First, let me take the opportunity to say that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is THE album of the last decade. Wilco has placed itself in a position to be considered the greatest American rock band of all time (although that's a whole discussion for another time) and Jeff Tweedy is the new Robert Zimmerman. But back to 'Ashes...' Taking the position that all art is subjective and open to interpretation, I keep going with the sentiment that 'Ashes...' is about wishing you had the motive/energy/passion to burn the American flag. Not in an unpatriotic sense, but just to care enough to want to really be heard and put yourself out there. I feel that way all the time about this country. I really love it, but dissent being the highest form of patriotism, I wish I could show people what needs to change and the dangers of certain paths that it appears we're headed down.

I would like to salute, the ashes of American flags
And all the fallen leaves, filling up shopping bags
All my lies are only wishes
I know I would die if I could come back new

- The Buddha and I went to Target today to buy socks. First, I bought below-ankle-length socks for the first time. They seem to mesh well with my new airwalks. Its a great feeling to try something new at thirty and say 'Hey, I like this. Why did it take so long to come around?' Second, the Buddha's socks came in a 'resealable bag'. Six pairs of socks that had a ziplock closure at the top. What the fuck? Who needs to reclose a bag of socks after purchase? You open them, put them into pairs, throw them into your sock drawer, throw away the bag. There's no 'resealing for freshness' to seal in that new sock smell. I'm constantly amazed by superfluous packaging, but this has to take the cake. The Buddha thought it was awesome, making for a very Seinfeldian conversation that made me happy to be alive.

Posted 10:42pm
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July 2nd, 2006

Pencils down

I will admit that this idea seemed alot more interesting in the heat of the moment (Asia reference) but as I prepared my response right after I posed the questions, there's no work left to do so...

Everybody ready? OK, the correct response is obviously B. AC/DC's most relevant period is with Bon Scott, as Van Halen's is obviously with Diamond Dave. Both had great albums in their later incarnations (Back in Black and 5150) and good lesser albums (The Razor's Edge and OU812). The only disparity is that Back in Black stands above anything Van Hagar did.

So why are the other analogies less right? Tom Petty, other than not making a lead singer change, may have his best album as a solo artist with Wildflowers. Plus, the Heartbreakers catalogue dwarfs the solo stuff. CSN's lineup was transient, and again, the best stuff featured Neil Young. Genesis had all elements - the larger back catalogue and (arguably) better stuff immediately post Gabriel - as well as a pretty large style shift once Gabriel left.

Other contenders (with their reasons for dismissal):
Beatles:Wings (Beatles greatness preempt any analogies to post-Beatles work)
Police:Sting (See above, with Sting's later pussiness taken into account)
Afghan Whigs:Twilight Singers (Greg Dulli? If you know who he is you're likely not reading this)
The Who w/Keith Moon:The Who w/o Keith Moon (No truly great post-Moon content)
Martin & Lewis:Dean Martin (I thought we were talking music?)
Elvis Costello & The Attractions:Elvis & The Impostors (Elvis stands alone sans backup band)
Black Sabbath w/Ozzie:Black Sabbath w/ Ronnie James Dio (Tenacious D said it better than I could)
Pink Floyd w/Roger Waters:Pink Floyd w/David Gilmore (Syd Barrett also a factor, only snobs can point to when the switch took place)
Queen w/Freddie Mercury:Queen w/Paul Rodgers (The band literally died with Freddie - this is a cash grab)
CCR w/John Fogerty:Credence Clearwater Revisited (See above, without the death part)
Styx w/Dennis DeYoung:Styx w/Lawrence Gowan (If you knew this happened = gay)
Uncle Tupelo:Wilco/Son Volt (Later bands imminently more popular than Tupelo. No direct comparison available)

So how did you do? Community college or Ivy League? My goal is to have the Buddha be able to answer this question in five years. Even though I know he'll hate me for it. I do know that this is now in the lexicon of viable bar conversation for the next month or so. I look forward to watching the chicks run away.

Posted 7:11pm
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June 29th, 2006

Today's SAT question

So Stov had Friday off and wanted to have a beer. I had the Buddha but agreed to meet him for an hour to quench his thirst. During our regular barroom banter AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" came on, and we came up with the following 'SAT' question:

AC/DC w/ Bon Scott:AC/DC w/Brian Johnson::
A.) Tom Petty w/Heartbreakers:Tom Petty (solo)
B.) Van Halen w/ David Lee Roth: Van Halen w/Sammy Hagar
C.) CSN:CSNY
D.) Genesis w/Peter Gabriel:Genesis w/Phil Collins

Now, I have a list of other possible answers, but I think the correct one is above. I'm interested in people's responses (with justifications) as well as any other possible choices for answers that may be more or similarly correct as those listed above. Use the comments link below people, that's what its for. I'll provide my other possibilities, as well as the correct answer in the next post. Break out your number 2 pencils and ready ... begin.

Posted 11:20pm
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June 28th, 2006

No, you that's it let's go

Now let me say off the top, for the record, I am anti-drunk driving. I'm no member of MADD or SADD or DADD (drunks against drunk driving) but I realize the dangers and do my best to stay away from being behind the wheel when I am blitzed. Stop snickering. Its true.

Of course I'm not about to call a cab to travel five miles after I've had 4 beers either. I'd like to think I know my limits. Of course there have been times in the past where I was wrong, but I have a pretty fair sense of where I'm at on the inebriation scale most of the time. Which is why last night put the quick scare into me.

I was driving through the streets of A2 from one bar to another, as the first had closed and the second was still open. I had been drinking a little, but well within my limits. At no point did I even consider my inability to drive, which is to say the issue was moot, because I was fine. So I parked the car at bar #2 and hopped out quickly to go inside. I turned around to shut the door and lock it when I began to swoon. This all takes place in about 2 seconds, but this is exactly what went through my head:

Alright, don't forget to lock your doors... hey, am I passing out? Why am I falling? Did somebody hit me in the head? Shit I shouldn't be driving. I need to get it togeth... shit, my car is rolling backwards down the street.

Yes, I briefly interpreted forgetting to pull the parking break and my car sliding backwards downhill as the drunk dizzies. Turns out I was fine - well, other than the fact that my brain mixed up a moving car and a moving me - and the car only moved about a foot and a half. For those of you who may suggest that the fact that I juxtaposed these two movements is evidence that I was intoxicated - I will reticently admit that I have done this stone cold sober. More than once. Turns out me and balance aren't always the best of friends. Kind of like me and being sober.

Posted 3:58pm
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June 27th, 2006

Its a great day to be a nerd

Of course the slightly gay Superman Returns hits theaters tonight, but for me its all about getting there early, because the teaser for Spider-Man 3 is apparently attached. Better news? Its on the internets as we speak. Since this isn't aintitcoolnews or cinescape, I'll spare you a shot by shot breakdown or analysis of how I think they'll change the Venom saga and what'll do to long time fans. I won't do this because I can already tell you're lost and don't care (although I will say that the black goo is definitely recycled from the stuff in the lake in Creepshow 2). But how much fun were the first 2 Spidey movies? Unless your initials are RJ and find comic books and sci-fi unholy genres, check out the teaser. It gave me wood.

Posted 3:31pm
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June 25th, 2006

Back from the Bay

To say that PIB brings out the immaturity in people is an understatement. For some reason, people are willing to do and say things that they otherwise would blush at the thought of. In that way its a lot like Vegas. I heard somebody refer to it as Disneyland for alcoholics. If I liked Disneyland at all, I might be inclined to agree. Turns out my camera is a piece of shit, and it probably didn't help that I drank my bodyweight, so what follows is a truncated mini photo essay. I kept out some unflattering photos, so all attendees remember I was nice to you once. I'm sure I'll need the favor returned someday. As always, clicking the photos makes 'em big.

The occasion was Jen's birthday, so it took about five minutes on the island for the shots to start flowing. It was 75 degrees and perfect outside - so we decided to spend the next three hours inside watching the Danger Bros.
In between Danger Bros. sets, we discussed the relative depth of people's pre and post coitus conversations. Some people wanted to suggest that guys really 'opened up' and talked about deep, personal things after sex. Stov and I looked at each other puzzled. Oh yeah, and Spider-man had his salad tossed by a rooster.
Somehow we ended up on this shitty patio bar that I've never been too in all my trips to PIB. They DJ asked if anybody liked 80's music. The crowd cheered. He played Wooly Bully. People's genital grooming habits were discussed. We finally wised up and went back to the Beer Barrel, were Lynn got her pic snapped with a guy who looked exactly like Ron Livingston from Office Space.
Turns out that the band playing at the Barrel were gayer than Clay Aiken on ice skates, which means it was time for the Roundhouse. I'm glad to report that it hasn't changed. Jen and Lynn both got the flashlight for dancing on stools and of course, buckets were on heads.
It had been a while since I had to take the ferry back to the mainland Sat. night, and man did it suck. And speaking of sucking, you should have seen our hotel. I thought Stov was going to blow a gasket when he couldn't get the AC to kick out the coldness at acceptable levels. We did manage to grab a few drinks before last call at the ultra shady 'Nicks' across the street from our shithole. As for the pic, I have no memory of taking it or what is happening, though Al does look drunk and happy, and that's always worth celebrating.

So thanks PIB, you're always an accommodating host. We'll see ya in a scant 34 days. God help my liver.

Posted 4:55pm
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June 23rd, 2006

Back to the Bay

Last night, 3 guys drinking only beer had a bar tab that would have easily bought a keg. Sometimes I wonder why we just don't buy the keg and sit in someone's backyard and get a bunch of people drunk. But I guess we do that too.

So what was I saying? Oh yeah, tomorrow is the trip that's being dubbed 'Pre-Put-in-Bay Put-in-Bay' or PPiB for short. As this blogs faithful know, the real PIB trip is the end of July - this is just a mini, one day, not staying on the island excursion to celebrate Jen's 30th year of existence on this earth. But its still PiB, so God knows what'll happen. We do know it will involve buckets on people's heads.

So what 's in and what's out for PPiB? I've compiled a list:

IN
OUT
The Puma
Farlow
Buckets on heads
Afternoon at the pool
Danger Bros.
Pat Daley
Puking on the ferry ride home
Carrying luggage on the ferry ride over
Sleeping comfortably
2am Chicken Dinners


Actually Pat Daley is playing, he's just out as far as I'm concerned. That man is crotchety. I hope enough shit happens to merit an extra-special blog post come Monday. Its the Puma's triumphant return to the Bay, so chances are high.

Posted 2:41pm
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June 21st, 2006

More ways to waste time at work, thus getting back at your evil overlord bosses for paying you so little

- I make happy sex explosion in my pants! The best part of Da Ali G Show finally gets his own movie. You can see the trailer for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan here on Yahoo.

- Speaking of happy sex explosion, if you get another STD, here's some ideas on how to anonymously tell all those hood rats you've been banging.

Posted 3:57pm
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June 20th, 2006

Its a Mogwai!

Yes, Pitchfork is the snarkiest place on the internets, but that doesn't stop me from perusing it daily. You just never know when you're going to get something so incredibly time-killing as their piece on 100 Awesome Music Videos. All videos come complete with a YouTube link, so you can be watching mind-boggling 80's crap and mind-boggling Spike Jonez brilliance from now until the fourth of July. If this doesn't intrigue you at all, I implore you to at least check out this clip for the Kidz Bop version of 'Since You Been Gone.' Don't watch the whole thing, just fast forward to about 2:30 in and then prepare for, as Peter Macia puts it 'the greatest moment in the history of music videos (at the 2:37 mark).' Mogwai!

Posted 4:03pm
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June 19th, 2006

If everyone listened to Creed, would you buy Scott Stapp's solo album?

As a culture snob and self-aware psuedo-hipster, I always check out whatever it is I'm 'supposed' to check out. The last thing I want to be is unaware of some burgeoning cultural phenomenon. Some areas I refuse to tread (95% of reality TV for example) but hell, I'll read whatever the sequel to The Da Vinci Code is just so I can argue with certain people about how its a.) poorly written, b.) factually wrong and c.) overly asinine. However, I won't read Angels and Demons because I can use the fact that I haven't read it to reiterate my distaste for its more popular younger brother. Its a fine line were dealing with here people, and I have no problem trodding all over it.

Music is the trickiest of these minefields to navigate. Not wanting to ever appear uninformed (the kiss of death for a self-aware psuedo-hipster) I'm forced to consume everything. And of course by everything I don't mean the new Dixie Chicks album or Janet Jackson single. While you can admit to not having seen Thank You for Smoking and get a reprieve from your conversational counterpart, there's no excuse for me not having heard anything by Wolfmother. I don't have to have the album or a concrete argument about them, but it is simply unacceptable for me to say 'I haven't heard them yet,' much less 'Do you mean Wolf Parade?' And in fact, when asked about Wolfmother one should have at least a working thesis about them. A few months back, I could have told you that the singer sounds EXACTLY like Billy Squier circa 1983 and that I could play you a Wolfmother song you'd never heard and a Billy Squier song you never heard and you'd be no better than chance at picking which was which. And this was my Wolfmother ammo before hearing the whole album. Now that I have the album, I could pontificate more, but I'm trying to not do an album review right now.

Its not hard to see how this sort of thinking can get one in trouble. Forming instant opinions on things not only forces one to color a experience before having it, its a large reason people hate us culture snobs. We dismiss a lot of shit before giving it a chance. Now in my personal defense, I'm willing to give just about anything a try - but I'll let you know up front that I'm probably right. We all know Pavement is the devil. I knew it halfway through the first song on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. I've since probably heard 90% of everything Stephen Malkmus has recorded at least once. And while you may get me to admit I like a song or two he's done (if you're really hot or I'm really, really drunk) I always hold to the truth that Pavement was a shitty band that a lot of people got tricked into liking because they were different. They were labeled 'cool' by people like me who spend an inordinate amount of time looking for such things and it snowballed from there.

So I try to be self-aware enough to avoid the pitfalls of admitting I once liked a band like The Hives. I'll publicly admit I enjoy William Shatner's Has Been unironically, but I don't want to admit that I ever said The Vines were cool. Which is why up until this point I've avoided the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Garage band-y with a chick singer - total gimmick. I never really cared for any of their stuff I caught on the radio or on my friend's stereos. I figured it was a big trick or conspiracy that would soon fade away. When I heard the first single ('Gold Lion') off the new album I figured it was over like the Yankees up 3-0 on the BoSox in the ALCS. But then I heard 'Phenomena' on the radio and before I even knew it was the YYYs I was hooked on its staccato melody.

So of course you see where this is going. Show Your Bones is fucking brilliant. Karen O oozes sexuality, longing and angst like a female Jim Morrison. And the music is a zillion times more interesting than I ever would have fathomed. So yeah, I dismissed the YYYs and was totally wrong. They're cool as shit. And yes, I now realize that I just spent several hundred words telling you what I could have summarized in those two tiny sentences. I may have to change it to pompous self-aware psuedo-hipster (if that's not already implied).

Posted 8:15pm
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June 18th, 2006

I love it when ya call me big poppa

10 years, don't they go by in a blink. Happy Father's Day to all the dads and dads to be. I think the idea of Father's Day is pretty much a bunch of bullshit, but I also think that fathers on the whole get the short end of the stick in a lot of ways (yeah, I'm biased, piss off) so make sure to tell your pappy and baby daddy he's a heck of a guy. For all the times he's bailed you out of a situation, say thanks. For all the times he could have said I told you so and didn't, tell him he was right. And mostly for all the times you did the unspeakable and he stood beside you, tell him you love him. God knows where I'd be today without the Moeman, so thanks dad. And Buddha, listen to your old man. Because I'm not adverse to telling you I told you so.

Posted 11:02am
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June 15th, 2006

Tales from the rejection front

I used to go to the Blind Pig every Monday night for karaoke. For three weeks in a row this girl would come up to me and make causal conversation. She saw me mouthing the words to every song that came up and was impressed at my vast musical proficiency. At the end of the night on the third week, I really drunkenly asked her for her phone number. She immediately told me she didn't have a phone. I immediately assumed she was a lesbian and spent the next few months not talking to anyone of the opposite sex.

After several months had passed I was at a different karaoke night (yes, it was an obsession for a time) where the cutest girl with the most amazing voice got up and I was immediately smitten. I decided to go over to her table and start up a conversation. I told her she had the most amazing karaoke voice I ever heard. She asked what does that mean? What does karaoke have to do with it? I stopped talking to girls at karaoke night altogether after that.

Since then I've been out with several girls. Sometimes it goes well, often it doesn't. As George Costanza once said, when I like them, they don't like me and vice versa (I'm paraphrasing, but you get me). But the same scenario inevitably unfolds: I drink too much, at which point I tend to talk and talk and talk. And if you've ever seen me drunk (and if you know me, you have) I'm liable, and to more to the point likely, to start spewing forth on a number of verboten first date topics like my son, my dead mother, my relationship history and of course, my alcoholism.

So where am I going with this? All my goings out plans for the evening fell through which left me alone with my vodka sodas and the wisdom of Chuck Klosterman. I was re-reading Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and Chuck was pontificating on how the relationships of people who aren't boring or semi-retarded never work, because everyone wants to be in love in the movies. That is to say, people are always disappointed with their relationships because they can never live up to Monica and Chandler or Harry and Sally. As always with Chuck, there's a lot of truth there.

But I'm not sure its the whole truth. While I agree with him that Coldplay is about the worst fucking band in the world and I've sabotaged many a relationship for the most inane reasons imaginable, how can I give a woman every possible reason to run away and yet she still sticks around? Maybe we're all lonely and willing to overlook things until it gets really ugly. While I'm sure that I'll never stand outside a girl's window holding a boombox blaring Peter Gabriel, I hold out for the possibility that I can bare my soul to someone and still make out with her in the rain during a moment that would make a soccer mom weak in the knees. That may be a gay sentiment, but what do I know? The last girl moved to Denver and the current one is likely headed to New York. What amalgam of situations comes together that leads me to type this bullshit? I have a feeling that I'm drunk enough to read this in the morning and wonder what the fuck I was thinking.

Posted 11:35pm
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June 14th, 2006

Show me that smile again...

I know this is old news, but I love me some Jesus freaks. And the only thing better than Jesus freaks are celebrity Jesus Freaks and Scientologists (with celebrity Scientologists being the top tier). That's why I was super-psyched to find out (via Pulp Culture) that Kirk Cameron was on Nightline the other night.

I've known Mike Seaver was way into Jesus for some time now. I remember the dust up 15 years ago when his TV girlfriend appeared in Playboy. And of course I watched Growing Pains: The E! True Hollywood Story. Everyone around him always says he's way creepy about his religion, and then you see him in interviews being kind of normal about it. So while I always hoped he was worthy of the 'Jesus freak' moniker, you could never be sure. Maybe everybody else was overreacting.

Turns out we were right! In a classic case of the Seaver Syndrome, reading this article on ABC News makes you think that maybe he just found religion and that's that. But thank Christ they also have video. After going to the article, click on the video on the left 'Kirk Cameron and The Way of the Master'. At first I was hoping this was some kind of sequel to Kung Fu starring David Carradine. Turns out its way better.

In The Way of the Master, Kirk and his buddy (both whom have absolutely no religious training) accost people on the street and tell them they are going to hell. And if that isn't creepy enough, watch this clip in which Kirk's buddy explains how a banana is 'the atheist's nightmare' and uses it to explain creationism. I love how the crux of every creationist's argument is 'its just too perfect to happen by chance'. Now that shit is bananas (b-a-n-a-n-a-s).

Posted 3:22pm
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June 11th, 2006

Walk of Shame

Another Summer weekend, another wedding. As a fellow Naptowner pointed out to me, that's gotta be 50+ in the last ten years. And that's conservative. Apparently this is above average for the public as a whole, as a non-Naptowner pointed out to me when she wondered if the marriage rate for NW Ohio was among the highest in the country. I don't know if marriage rates are statistically higher around Toledo or I just know a lot of people. I do know I love an open bar and the number of single people I know is dwindling, so I'll miss the ride when its over.

What I won't miss is making the walk of shame. No, not that kind of WOS, the other kind. The one where people know you've slept in your clothes and hide the eyes of their children as you pass, reeking of cigarettes and booze.

The reception was over early Saturday - 10pm. Of course the night wasn't about to end there, so we continued on to the bar. The bar closed at 2am (as bars are wont to do) and for a few of us, we still weren't quite ready to call it a night. So after an unsuccessful attempt to find a bar to sell us carryout beer at 1:58am, we went back to the hotel to raid what was left from the pre-wedding party. We grabbed those two beers and the four of us still kicking it went to a friend's house who lived nearby.

After some shenanigans and finishing our 20th drink of the day, it was time for an uncomfortable nights sleep on the couch. Four hours later it was time to get back to the hotel before we had to checkout. We had spent 15 hours drinking the previous day and slept in our clothes, and anybody who looked at us could have guessed it. I know this is a fact because of the looks on the faces of the people in the hotel lobby as we walked through it.

It is of note that this was an 'extended stay' hotel with a tiny lobby. A single room, 15'x20' lined with chairs and for some inexplicable reason, filled with people at 10:30am on a Sunday morning. These were families - people showered and dressed who had agendas for the day. People going golfing or shopping who were probably waiting for the last of their party to come down stairs. People who stared with disgust and pity at the two sad souls who stumbled briefly through their lives that morning.

I don't mind these people silently judging me and I'm not ashamed of my behavior. I had a good time and really good times usually come with a price. Normally for me that's usually just the price of booze and a day on the couch with a hangover. This time it included a dozen or so disgusted glances and glares from those who don't consider drinking your face off to be an enjoyable way to spend an evening. They obviously don't know what they're missing.

Posted 10:10pm
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June 6th, 2006

What am I listening to?

Good question. Here's the answer in the form of four albums I've been looking for (for some time now) and finally found yesterday:

Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint - The River in Reverse - WARNING! If you have zero interest in Elvis Costello or New Orleans Jazz/R&B, move on. This album is not for you. However, if either raises your eyebrows, go out and pick this gem up. Elvis has made some interesting collaborations late in his career, and this is as good as any of them. Much like we needed Canadian Neil Young to put out a good protest album about America's war, we need Brit Elvis Costello to make a serious post-Katrina New Orleans album. OK, Allen Toussaint is a lifelong NO musician and composer, But who's name is first on the record I ask you? Who's name is first.

Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche - Not so much a new album as it is the second disc in 2 disc DVD special edition of Illinois. You know, the one with all the special features. The disc you watch once when you buy the DVD and then never again. This is like a really good 'special features' disc. Ever see Anchorman? The 'special features' disc had a second movie that the director cut out of the all the outtakes and B-story lines that didn't make the actual movie. The Avalanche is Wake Up! Ron Burgandy. Some new stuff, some alternate takes, some variations on themes. I'll pull it out and enjoy it now and again, but it'll never come near the repeated viewings/listens of the original.

Matt Pond PA - Several Arrows Later - I've been looking for this album ever since I first heard Matt Pond PA on the radio a few months back. Man I wish I would have tried harder. This is definitely the find of the season (last season's find was Ted Leo, for those keeping track at home). They'll draw comparisons to Death Cab and The Shins sure, but but if DCFC are the cute, sensitive ones and The Shins are the smart, sensitive ones, Matt Pond PA are the brooding, sensitive ones. You know, the ones most likely to pick a fight at the end of the night (as much of a fight as one can pick set to brilliant pop sensibilities). Check them out on MySpace if you don't believe me, or stop pussying around and get the album already.

Thom Yorke - The Eraser - Some might call this burying the lead. But honestly, this sounds exactly what I expected it to sound like. You can tell its first cousins (or maybe half-brothers) with Radiohead's last three albums. Its got all the cool little bleeps and bloops and Thom's heart-wrenching croon that we've all come to know and love. But I was half expecting this to be the Postal Service-type album of the summer. After a few listens, I don't see it happening. Don't get me wrong, its fucking great. You're going to love it. Just don't expect your friends who listen to top 40 radio to come up to you going 'I just heard this great album, have you ever heard of Thom Yorke?' This of course assumes you have friends that listen to top 40 who aren't dead to you.

Posted 2:20pm
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June 5th, 2006

Take me out to the ballgame

Blah blah blah America's past time, blah blah blah the beauty of a hit and run, blah blah blah I love baseball. I'll save you the rant about how great baseball is and how much I love it. Its about as much of a newsflash for the old bloggy blog as 'hey I went drinking!' or 'listen to this new indie rock band!' But for the first time in about 6 years, I took my son to a game.

Taking a four year old and a ten year old to a game are two very different experiences. The Buddha now 'gets' baseball. He actually understands some of the nuances of the game. He'll talk about scenarios as they're happening and note what the possibilities are, as well as what went right or wrong. Not that trying to placate a four year old at Wrigley wasn't fun too, but sitting back and enjoying a few beers while the Buddha runs out every inning and a half for peanuts/pizza/soft pretzel is more my idea of a day at the ballpark.

And not once did he complain (even when I lost my ATM card and had to borrow money from Stov to buy him a kosher dog) or ask to leave. That's probably because he knew there was no chance of that happening and I'm sure if you asked him if he had fun you'd get a response between 'not really' and 'I guess'. But I think that's just a pre-teen's default reaction. I know I had fun, and a lot of it was because he was there. Funny how it only took six years for the placation to be on the other foot.

Posted 7:25pm
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June 1st, 2006

I'm sorry for your loss...

We've all lost loved ones - its never easy. The worst part is watching someone fade away, clinging to life for weeks, months - until they take a final turn and things are eminent. Its certainly a test of one's character and can cause a self-examination that's more painful than the loss itself. That's why what happened last night is so painful.

I was at a friend's house for a little BBQ/Piston's last night when it happened. You're outside, its warm, you see a picnic table. You say 'Hey, why not sit down and relax?' You sit for a period of minutes, unaware of the damage done. After you get up, you feel a strange sensation. You're feet are sticking to the ground in several spots. You assume the awkward flamingo position to look at the bottom of your feet when you notice it - sap. Sticky brown sap. Still you don't know the extent of what's happened till minutes later, when after having a seat inside you decide to get up again. That's when you immediately realize the intensity of the situation. You feel your pants reluctant to get up from the couch with you, and you know before you go to the bathroom to check, that you've sat in sap.

You see, about ten years ago I was shopping at Kohls or some other discount clothing retailer and saw cargo shorts on sale. I decided I needed some short pants and bought two pair, one in beige and one in an olive green type color. Turned out to be easily the best value I've ever gotten out of any clothing, as I wear them a combined 45+ times a summer. And that's an estimate more conservative than Bill O'Reilly.

In the past year or so I've noticed quite a bit of wear in the greenies, especially in the cargo pocket area. Years of holding cell phones, cigarettes and the occasional alcohol container have caused some strain. I knew that the days of my two perfect pair of shorts were numbered, but I wasn't ready for them to go just yet.

Who knows, maybe my regimen of soaking/shout/scrubbing/and carpet cleaner will turn the tide and remove the sap. Maybe things won't be that noticeable and I'll still be able to wear them to cookouts and casual dress occasions. But I'm preparing myself for the inevitable - letting go. I may never find another set of shorts that are as utilitarian and comfortable as my current cargos, but I'll always have the memories we shared together.

Posted 9:10pm
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May 31st, 2006

How could you miss the sign?

I'm no good at picking up signs. Or maybe I am and I'm just giving too much weight to the wrong ones. Something's definitely a foot. Perhaps its just that women send out so many mixed signals that its impossible to wade through them all and come out with anything resembling the truth. And then again, maybe the truth is never black or white, but always a charcoal color that provides no real insight.

I once went out with a girl several times who, in my estimation, showed little interest in me beyond some level of friendship. I gave her my best stuff and we had fun, but come end of the night (so to speak), nothing. We 'hung out' once in a while over the next several months, and then on the eve of her moving out of the state, she professes her undying love for me, making me promise to marry her should I still be single in five years (to which I reluctantly agreed; don't worry, I was wasted - it'll never hold up in court.)

So I'm going through something kind of similar now - no real measured sexual tension when we're together, but always seemingly up for whatever when we email, reminding me to call her when I get the chance. Perhaps I have no closer. I used to know when to make a move on a girl, but in those days we'd both be drunk, which made things easy. Now I drive home late at night wondering where I went wrong, or what I could have done different, or how things went down hill so fast.

There's no big finish to this or anyone single question I'm looking to have answered. I have no idea what to make of the above, other than I was sure earlier in life that I'd have more of it figured out by now. Hopefully I'm just a normal dumb guy and not someone women find sexually non-threatening so like to hang out with yet that's where it ends. Because that would be tough to take even for someone as dulled by alcohol as myself.

Posted 4:58pm
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May 30th, 2006

Its not what you know...

I used to be into autoracing. I know, shhhhh. Don't tell anybody. Although, it was totally justifiable. I used to watch NASCAR so I could go to Michigan International Speedway once a year and get drunk. Between the ages of 15-17, this was a golden opportunity. There were boobs and drugs and all kinds of debauchery. Good times. And yeah, cars went around in a circle and we went woo-hoo. Don't judge.

Since I left NW Ohio, I could pretty much give a shit. I'm actually barely aware it exists unless I head back south for the weekend. Like this weekend, when there were not one but two (!) races going on Sunday. And it just so happens that one of the drivers in the greatest spectacle in racing (The Indy 500) hails from my hometown of Napoleon, Ohio.

My brief stint in NASCAR notwithstanding, I never cared about Indy cars or open wheeled racing in general. I knew Dave Lettermen was involved somehow, but that was about it. Until Sunday. It so happens that Sam Hornish Jr. frequents my brother-in-law's bowling alley. The BIL has been mentioned in several newspaper articles and even ESPN the Magazine, as Sam uses the River City Bowl-A-Way as a place to relax.

So the whole Brubaker clan felt like they had a personal stake in Sunday's race at the Brickyard. As Sam raced around the track for the final time, hard charging from second place, we were all on our feet (some of us may have been a little tipsy, I don't remember) screaming 'C'mon Sam!' All of the sudden I was an Indy car fan.

It was actually a great race, and I watched all 500 miles of it. It may have helped that someone I 'knew' won in dramatic fashion, but I actually enjoyed cars going in a circle for several hours. I'm sure being half drunk and hi-fiving my brothers, dad and the Buddha along the way may have helped.

Posted 9:30am
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May 25th, 2006

TiVo Alert

I've always suspected that a lot of the truly or even possibly great television shows never see the light of day. Stuff that's too quirky or idiosyncratic may get a pilot or a few episodes, but its not long before some middle age, middle management jackass comes and pulls the plug on anything that has a chance of appealing to anything other than the lowest common denominator.

But enough snobby, cynical ranting. Thanks to things like the internet and cable channels with more airtime than programming, tonight you can get a chance to see one of those euthanized before its time programs. The Jake Effect was a show from 2003 starring Jason Bateman that never saw the light of day. Thanks to brilliantbutcancelled.com and Bravo, that changes tonight. You can watch the pilot episode online and 6 episodes are on Bravo tonight from 8-11.

So check out the pilot (which also has Greg Grunberg from Felcity/Alias, Kyle Gass from Tenacious D and super hot Nikki Cox) and then set your TiVos for the mini-marathon. When you get home tonight from watching the Pistons take it to the Heat you can drunkenly enjoy another Jason Bateman show that deserved more of a chance than it got (RIP Arrested Development).

Posted 1:16pm

Your aging, irrelevant whore of the week

I never liked Madonna. I realize that this not a terribly controversial statement, but to me, she kind of peaked at "Borderline". Everything after that was just sadder and sadder. I don't hold a huge amount of disdain for people who's only talent is the ability to sell themselves, but when you're only way to do that is to scream 'Look at my pussy!' for 20+ years, I'm also not going to listen to an any arguments about the merits of your artistic contributions to anything. Which is why I find this funny:

Ladies and gentlemen, here we have Madonna on a cross. Are you shocked by this? Is this controversal? Is this a metaphor for her persecuted vagina? I think a 50 year old whore screaming 'I am still relevant' is both classy and understated, but most of all, hilarious. Can't wait to see what she's got in store for her 60's.

Posted 10:29am
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May 23rd, 2006

Countdown to 600: #600

Yes, for those of you that are sick of my little vanity side project countdown thing, we are at the end. That's right, #600 is Dire Straits Brothers in Arms.

Why, you may ask, Brothers in Arms? It certainly isn't very congruent with your indie rock sensibilities. Its basically known for that 'I want my MTV' song and the one that had the video with the sports bloopers, right? Yes, all true. But it was also the very first album I ever owned.

Christmas 1985 brought me and my brother Sony Walkmens, along with a copy of Van Halen's 1984 for him and Brothers in Arms for me (yes, I see the irony that it wasn't I that got the VH cassette). I basically played the first three songs on the first side over and over again. As a ten year old, I didn't have much use for Mark Knoepfler's ruminations on dictators or Scottish civil war. I knew he was a pretty good guitar player and that the riff in 'Money for Nothing' was pretty crunchy and awesome. And it had Sting in the background, so like, extra awesome. Listening to the album now, I see not much has changed in 20 years. Except for maybe that Sting was cooler in 1985. Damn him for making that car commercial.

So there it is. The circle is now complete. When I first got Brothers in Arms I was but the learner, now I am the master. But only a master of evil. Sorry. Sometimes the Star Wars quotes just spill out and I am powerless to stop them.

Posted 10:20am
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May 22nd, 2006

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Poor college kids do a lot of things out of necessity: drink bad beer, eat bad food, sleep with the unattractive. (OK, the last thing doesn't have much to do with being poor, but it fit the theme.) The best example of this (besides Natty Lite) is Ramen.

Staple of the college student's diet, ramen provides the perfect combination of a shit ton of calories at a pauper's price. It literally may be your only option for becoming full on less than $.50 (although Taco Bell's $.99 1/2lb Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito would argue that sometimes first class is only $.49 more).

But as long as we're being honest here, as great as ramen is, we all abandon it at our first opportunity. You'll see very few people over the age of 25 reaching down to the bottom shelf at the supermarket to pick up a bulk pack of ramen for $2.89. Because as efficient as ramen is, 'tasty' isn't one of the first 7 adjectives I'd use to describe it.

Personally, it's been almost ten year since I had ramen cross the palette. That was until last night. Somehow the Buddha has acquired a taste for the ramen (perhaps its an asian thing that I'm not privy to). So a while back I purchased some Maruchan Chicken Flavor Ramen at his request. Last night the chicken's came home to roost; as a late night snack, the Buddha ordered up some ramen.

Of course I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by to relive my misspent youth. I scooped out a few spoonfuls of noodles into a bowl and sat down and closed my eyes. I tried to imagine the smell of garbage coming from the kitchen. The feeling of a 12 pack of Natty Lite coursing through my veins. The sound of Mario Kart in the background. The feel of unwashed hardwood floors beneath my feet. The smile was still on my face as I shoved the first spoonful in - at which point it immediately disappeared.

There's a reason this stuff costs $.20 people. Its fairly god awful. I'm actually wondering about the Buddha right now. Who would choose to eat this? The pungent odor produced by the 'flavor packet' should have been my first clue. This is fuel for people who sleep from 4am to 10am and drink the rest of the day. Turns out that growing up has its privileges, and I'm putting not having to eat ramen at the top of the list. Anyone who wants to bad mouth Natty Lite however, we may have to tussle.

Posted 9:46am
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May 21st, 2006

Countdown to 600: #599

Discovering a new band is a beautiful thing - hearing a catchy tune on the radio, downloading buying the album, fingers crossed that it in anyway resembles what the single sounded like - its an exciting process. Sometimes it'll lead you to a new artist with an unbelievable back catalogue (hello Ted Leo) and sometimes that catchy single is the one shining bright spot on an otherwise dismal 40 minute slab of plastic (I'm looking at you, Lashes).

Of course sometimes there is the phenomenon of the one album wonder. Most famously this is known as the Violent Femmes Factor®. Sure, 'American Music' is a great song, but nothing they ever did came close to the magic that was omnipresent on their self titled debut. More recently, it was discovered that Snow Patrol had fallen prey to the Femmes Factor®. While 'Final Straw' was a transcendent pop masterpiece, the follow up 'Eyes Open' is a droning bore fest bespeckeled with a catchy number or two.

Unfortunately, #599 is a classic case of Femmes Factor®. The Walkmen's A Hundred Miles Off takes their endearing lo-fi persona and turns it into something to be held in the utmost disdain. Musically, its not nearly as catchy. Lyrically, its more teenage diary than aging drunken denouement. And I'm not taking into account the two punk/metal experiments towards the end of the album. I'm still trying to convince myself that those were some kind of joke gone awry.

So yeah, The Walkmen are all but off the watch list. The undulating guitar lines and boozy crooning went from inspired affect to overwrought gimmick in a heartbeat. Like so many before them, turns out they should have gone the burn out route instead of the fade away one. I guess we can hold out hope. I hear the new Pearl Jam album is a return from the brink of suckdom. In any case, we'll always have Bows + Arrows.

Posted 8:38pm
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May 19th, 2006

Countdown to 600: #598

I decided to go with a glaring omission here. Immersing oneself in indie rock is all well and good, but let us not forget where it was from whence we came. So to that end, #598 is AC/DC's 1976 classic, High Voltage.

This was AC/DC's debut album. A bunch of kids from Australia bursting on the scene with a vile vim and vigor; they oozed a dangerous sexuality that was as tantalizing as it was hard. This may be my favorite AC/DC album, which is why its so puzzling as to why I didn't have it in my iTunes until today.

Bottom line, if 'It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)' doesn't grab you in the crotch by the time Bon Scott yelps "Look out! Its rough and mean," you may be dead. I may wallow in the mire of emo and indie pop, but I still know that this is motherfucking rock and roll.

Posted 3:18pm
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May 18th, 2006

My life as a teenage girl

So I might as well come clean. If there's anyone left who doesn't know, I'm a sucker for teenage television melodrama. Dawson's Creek, Gilmore Girls, 90210, Felicity, Veronica Mars - you name it, I watch it. I'll spare you the argument that (some of) these shows feature the finest writing on TV, let's just all agree that in this matter I have the tastes of a pre-teen girl. I'm OK with, you're OK with it, let's move on.

Tonight on The O.C., past wrongs have been redeemed. Teenage melodramas often suffer from the curse of the bad 'B' story. Each week you have to suffer through some plot line involving the least interesting character on the show. This is known in some circles as 'Tori Spelling Syndrome'. The past year or two, Marrisa has been that character on The O.C. She's a major character who demands screen time, but the insufferable circle of her character arc is sometimes too much to bare. Tonight, creator Josh Schwartz returned to The O.C. and cleaned house old-fashioned style - he killed off Marrisa Cooper.

The O.C. has treacherous waters to tread next year. Everyone's going to be in college - and that has signaled the death kneel for many a teenage melodrama. By casting off the dead weight, let's hope Schwartz has found a way to save The O.C. to rage against the dying of the light. And while I'm here, Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' is a brilliant and devastating song, but at this point using it during a death sequence is a little cliché. It officially jumped the shark when they did it on The West Wing (and at least they used the Jeff Buckley version).

So while this about as sad as a blog post gets, thanks Josh Schwarz. Let's hope this isn't a case of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face and instead the ship is righted. You know I'll be watching either way.

Posted 10:10pm

Countdown to 600: #597

Its well documented that I'm a huge Promise Ring homo. Their break-up in 2002 was devastating to me on a lot of levels. There was a quick promise of salvation however, as Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Davey von Bohlen immediately started to write and tour with his new band Maritime. Maritime's first album, Glass Floor, was fine. Like a junkie who hadn't had a taste in oh-so-long, I mainlined it and convinced myself that everything was going to be all right.

But on further inspection, Glass Floor was merely OK. Which is no crime against humanity, its just that I was hoping for a rebirth - Maritime rising like the Phoenix from the ashes of the Promise Ring. Instead it was kind of like propping up the dead corpse of TPR to perform a new TPR album. It kind of looked right and it sounded reasonable, but it was just somehow off.

But fear not late 90's emo recluses, Maritime has finally delivered on its unspoken promise to fulfill the void left by our beloved Promise Ring. We, the Vehicles is emo all grown up. Its so grown up that its shed the oft misunderstood moniker and become Indie Pop. The catchiest of melodies are delivered in bright, precise packages. Gone are droning, acoustical interludes that betray what von Bohlen has become.

While this ain't your father's Promise Ring, it is the natural extension of a musician's evolution. Maybe if I was 16 (instead of 26) when I started listening to The Promise Ring, I'd still see Maritime as a betrayal of what I loved and meant so much to me at a certain point in my life. As it stands, Maritime is the mature indie pop goodness that I crave. God help me if I ever say such a thing about anything that could be considered 'Easy Listening'.

Posted 1:50pm
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May 17th, 2006

Countdown to 600: #596

After languishing for what seems like years in the 500's, I'm finally about to hit 600 albums in my iTunes playlist. Now those of you who are naysayers may point out that this '600' includes audiobooks, EPs, homemade compilations and the like, but nevertheless, its 600 and I'm celebrating. OK, celebrating may be a tad strong, but I'm blogging about it.

So we'll be noting the last 5 albums in the tbaggervance 600, starting with #596: Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll. To be honest, a few months back I decided I hated Art Brut. My favorite radio station (Left of Center 26 on Sirius) was playing Art Brut's 'Moving to L.A.' on pretty heavy rotation and I was finding it cringe inducing. It was supposed to be snarky, clever and catchy. I found it none of these things. And the English accent was so over the top I wanted to smack somebody.

Then several weeks went by Art Brut-less. A quiet had fallen over the valley. Then without warning I started to see Art's name pop up here and there and before you knew it, I was humming 'Moving to L.A.' as I sat at my desk. Damn it. I guess being snarky and British is something I could like. Time to check out Art Brut.

Somewhere between Talking Heads, Devo, They Might Be Giants and Fred Schneider, Art Brut hang out making declarative statements. Whether as benign as 'My little brother just discovered rock and roll,' or as boisterous as 'We're gonna be the band that writes a song that makes Israel and Palestine get along,' Art Brut seems to exist to provide you with the stream of consciousness running through one man's head. And much like Shakespeare or The Hold Steady, it can take a while to immerse yourself in the style and see it as more than gimmick. Once you do though, it grabs you like the best of indie pop - smartly and with a slap in the crotch.

So that's it. 596 down, 4 to go. If you think you know of something that my collection is lacking and needs inclusion before I hit 600, let me know. If your suggestion makes it into the final four, you win a prize.*

*Offer subject to change without notice. Decisions of contest officials are final. Not valid in Tennessee (sorry Tennessee).

Posted 10:01am
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May 16th, 2006

Your Racial Slur of the Week

"I don't want to hug the tar baby" - Tony Snow, Republican, former Fox news host and all-around good guy during his first day as the new White House Press Secretary. And the hits just keep on comin'.

Posted 10:10pm

Smearing Da Vinci's good name

I have a visceral hatred for The Da Vinci Code. In brief, its way too poorly written and factually inaccurate to be a worldwide phenomenon. This is a tad ironic since it puts me on the same side as many in the relgious right, albeit for different reasons.

In any case, its led to a few arguments with those who have professed love for Dan Brown's 'opus'. I tell them its great that it got them interested in religion/reading/art or whatever, I just wish the imeptus had been something of actual quality. To me, finding passion in something written by a hack is a little like getting your religion from L. Ron Hubbard. Yes, I know I get my news from Jon Stewart; it will not keep me from throwing stones.

So it comes down to me getting into an argument because some people don't understand that I have an irrational insistance on quality. I feel like there are worse vices or compulsions or however you want to refer to it, but I come off as snobby and arrogant and that really irritates some people. I can see this pattern repeat itself in my life and I've come to accept it.

So anyway, I write about this now because I was perusing the internets the other day and saw a post that made me wonder if I don't hate The Da Vinci Code for a completely different reason. Fireflypaper, via The A.V. Club Blog over at The Onion, wrote:

Never read the book, won't see the movie. Why? Because it sounds like Dan Brown fell asleep while watching Hudson Hawk and woke up in the middle of Dogma.

At first I was pissed. Why hadn't I come up with that line? Its fucking brilliant and I own BOTH of those movies on DVD. Then I paused, what if my irrational love for Hudson Hawk coupled itself with my unnatural defense of Kevin Smith and subconciously produced my vile hatred for The Da Vinci Code? I stopped and thought - what if I was wrong? A nanosecond later I realized - nope. Dan Brown's a hack who stole and made up a bunch of shit and most importantly, couldn't write his way out of a paper fucking bag. Don't buy into it. So dark the con of Brown...

Posted 9:49am
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May 15th, 2006

Your Indie Rock Song Title of the Week

"Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby" by Islands, from their 2006 release Return to the Sea.

Posted 9:27pm

Weekend Update

- Drunk math: 2 guys + 12 vodka/sodas + 12 rum/cokes + tip = $100. That's a sad bar tab when nary a female was involved. But also kind of impressive (as long as you're not to the point in your life where drunks are just sad.)

- Watched the entire first season of 24 over about 36 hours this weekend. I know I'm way slow to jump on that bandwagon, but after watching it, let me say not that disappointed to be a late bloomer on this one. I mean don't get me wrong, its pretty good. But after hour 8 I wondered to myself "What does it say about a show when the one thing I'm NOT saying is unbelievable is the fact that they have a black president?" So I'm sure I'll go and watch subsequent seasons now, but for the record, Jack Bauer is no Sydney Bristow - and I'm not even taking halter tops into consideration here.

- I can't believe I'm telling you this, but Saturday I had Fleetwood. Sober. For those of you who may be unaware, the Fleetwood is a greasy diner in A2 where half way through your meal, you look down at your plate and play the game 'If you don't find the hair in your food, you've already eaten it.' But with that being said, it wasn't that bad. I did immediately go out and drink profusely afterwards, but don't read too much into that (obviously).

- Capped the weekend off Sunday night by watching The Constant Gardener. As far as taught political thrillers go, its pretty fucking good. Its not necessarily groundbreaking in any way, but it just does everything so well without seeming hackneyed or cliché (like, say, a giant turd such as Crash does). So if you're at all prone to watch a film like this, queue it up in Netflix and mentally prepare yourself for 2 hours of feeling like shit about the state of the world (but also totally redeemed by the beauty of it).

Posted 11:17am
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May 13th, 2006

King Dork

We don't talk much about the literature here on the old bloggy blog. Admittedly, I'm much more well versed in the arenas of music and cinema, but that doesn't mean I don't have a written word acumen worth noting. So in an effort to right the sins of the past, I bring to you the first great novel to receive the tbaggervance.com seal of approval: King Dork.

Written by Frank Portman (of the Mr. T Experience) King Dork follows Tom Henderson through the first semester of his sophomore year of high school. What follows is part mystery, part social satire, part rock and roll adventure and part evisceration of those of us who belong to the cult of The Catcher in the Rye. If you're familiar with high school alienation, starting a rock band, burgeoning sexual experiences or wondering about the mysteries that make up your parents, this book is for you.

It may sound like typical coming-of-age stuff, and it is, but its the best of its breed. Besides, if you can justify Harry Potter, you can justify this. Start by checking out all the great shit Amazon.com has to say, and then find yourself a copy. You'll be a better person for it.

Posted 11:10am
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May 11th, 2006

The circle is now complete

Ann Arbor has more resteraunts per capita than any other place in America. Or so people like to say. I can't imagine its true. Or if it is true, only by some loop hole technical bullshit. Don't get me wrong, A2 has a shit ton of places to eat. It just strikes me as one of those local pride type things to say.

And soon, it will have the perfect place to eat. Reports are in that A2 is getting its very own Chipotle. And wait, it gets better. It will be ... wait for it ... 1.3 miles from my house. I discovered Chipotle during the great St. Patty's Day Bar Crawl of 2001 and I've been in love ever since. Burrito places have sprung up in droves lately, but none can quite dethrone the King. I mean come on, Chipotle serves beer.

So rejoice Ann Arborites! You no longer have to travel to Ohio or Chicago to get the tastiest burritos known to man. That knowledge, along with the opening of IKEA in Canton, should make your existence here in SE Michigan all but complete.

Posted 11:10am
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May 9th, 2006

Shriveled testicles

I love baseball. I've often mused about how guys around my age are likely the last true American baseball generation. Sure, there are always going to be fans, but take a survey of those 30ish vs those 20ish and see who has more current baseball knowledge. We grew up with this shit. It wasn't really an option. Sure you're Dad watched football on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall and the NBA became acceptable to a degree with Magic, Larry and Michael - but nothing had the permeation that baseball did. Baseball was summer. On the radio, on TV, at the ballpark - you couldn't go 24 hours without some baseball related run-in.

So I still love baseball, which is why I find these so funny (from the blog Pulp Culture):

Like no other sport, baseball is fueled by statistics. And the fact that world's biggest asshole Barry Bonds is getting this kind of treatment across the country gives me the satisfaction of a post-coitus cigarette. I would love it if he got so fed up that he held a press conference where through a stream of tears, he pulled down his pants to reveal his tiny, shriveled, steroid ravaged testicles and pleaded with everyone 'Haven't I suffered enough?'

Posted 3:20pm
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May 8th, 2006

Good heavens Ms. Kensington, you're beautiful!

Saturday was my third turn as coach for the Buddha's Science Olympiad teams. Specifically, I was coaching Pentathlon and Science Jeopardy. I'll spare the descriptions of said events (I'm sure you're struggling with what Science Jeopardy could possibly be) but out of four Pentathlon teams, we managed 2 seconds and a first. The jeopardy didn't fare quit as well, but it was a exhausting fun day regardless. The kids worked hard the last four months and I had a blast with them. Here's me along with the fifth grade team:

I get what compels people to coach/teach. There's real pride and enjoyment in watching kids progress and succeed. How anyone manages to do it day in and day out with elementary school kids who have short attention spans and are prone to slap/tickle is beyond me.

Posted 1:54pm
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May 4th, 2006

Word association

I'm starting to get into Guillemots (check 'em out on - say it with me - on MySpace). My problem is that every time I hear them, or especially when I see their name, I can't help but think of Guillermo Mota. I don't care that his ERA is currently above 4, I don't have a clue how to pronounce Guillemots, so I'm thinking its some kind of shorthand for Guillermo Mota. I don't know why a band from England would name their band after a career middle relief pitcher from the Dominican Republic, but what other logical explanation is there?

Posted 9:48pm
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I'll bet you have...

So I hate to mention this in the wake of yesterdays nerd fest, but its too important to me not to. After years of griping from nerds and fan boys everywhere, George Lucas is finally releasing the original trilogy on DVD. If that makes no sense to you, congrats. You can't possibly be much of a geek, nerd or social pariah. However, to those of us of a certain age and temperament, its akin to the holy grail. No longer having to live under the heavy yoke of 'Special Editions', we can frolic in what made us this way in first place. Perhaps most importantly, my childhood hero will have his dignity restored and Greedo won't shoot first.

Posted 9:40pm
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May 3rd, 2006

Wave of Mutilation

Ah the wonders of MySpace. Would I ever have been able to find this guy's celebrity covers of Pixies songs? You've wondered for too long what "Monkey Gone to Heaven' would have sounded like would Frank Sinatra have applied his signature croon to it. Well I say wonder no more. I guess its not very exciting if you aren't a Pixies fan, but who wants to admit to that?

Posted 3:00pm
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Nerd alert

The internet seems to have nerd fever. OK, that may be redundant. Or at least nothing to be alarmed at, since there's always something nerdy afoot in cyberspace. But right now there's not one, not two, but three giant nerd bombs dropping on the web, all to do with this summer's movie slate. Let's head to the trailer park...

- First up is the trailer for Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. I've never been a Superman fan per say, but I loved Singer's X-men movies, and who isn't excited about seeing Kevin Spacey chew up every scene as Lex Luther? This got me actually excited to see the movie, so mission accomplished.

- Next its a first glimpse of Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale. Here's the important thing to remember - Craig will be fine, its the director that'll make or break a Bond movie. Remember Goldeneye? For my money, the best non-Connery Bond flick. Remember the last Bond movie? It sucked. Because it was directed by a guy who until that point, was known for directing video games. Pierce was great in both, but he couldn't save a film where Bond surfs. Twice. Now Casino Royale? Directed by the same guy that did Goldeneye. Excited yet? Watch the trailer, you will be.

- Finally a little cut scene from X-men: The Last Stand. Remember how I was just saying a director can make or break a Bond film? Sadly, X3 is directed by uber-turd Brett Ratner. Will he ruin a great franchise, or has Singer set it up well enough that things will be fine one more time? The cut scene does contain a Sentinel and the fastball special, which is enough to give any comics nerd instant wood.

Posted 11:17am
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May 2nd, 2006

Line jumping is cause for removal from the park

As someone with quite a bit of bar going experience on my resume, I'm quite familiar with standing in line to get in the bar. Its often a fact of life if you want to spend time in the coolest places - or the one's with the cheapest drinks. Well I'm here to state, for the record, that I'm officially over it.

Last night, after a few rounds of beers and trivia at Connors, we decide to head over to Circus for karaoke and $.55 PBRs. Now you can imagine the crowd that such a special could bring in a college town, but its never been a problem. Until last night. We get to the bar - at midnight - on a Monday - and there's a line. Now I've never been one for lines period and I had to have my arm twisted to come in the first place, but its only about 5 people deep, so we figure 5 minutes is worth the wait.

10 minutes later a literal posse of people comes up, stands right in front of us and demands to immediately be let in. Some bullshit about knowing the owner. I can feel the pressure in my head building, it getting ready to explode. Some words are exchanged about how we've been waiting and that there's no way they're getting in before we do. I'm trying to remain calm and wonder to myself, when's the last time you were pissed off enough that you didn't even want to go to the bar anymore?

Unfortunately, the story has a fizzle ending. They let us in before the fabulously gay 'I know the owner' posse. Markie C turns to me once inside and says 'If they would have let those fuckers in first, I would have never come here again.' I quickly concur and I immediately feel old. But for once, kind of in a good way. I never had much tolerance for that kind of bullshit; now I'm old enough to not have to deal with it. There's other bars, and paying $2 instead of $.55 for a beer isn't going to break me anymore. And when I know the owner/bartender/door guy, I'll get let in the back Swingers style and avoid the ruckus.

Posted 11:30am
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May 1st, 2006

In search of Truthiness

You may notice that I moved the last few months into the archives. If you're dying to read that post about scientology from last March, its still there. Just click on the link over there on the right.

Normally I spend a good chunk of my weekend glued to whatever is on C-SPAN. But what with the draft and all the booze and rock and roll this weekend I completely missed the one thing C-SPAN has every year that's actually worth watching. The Annual White House Corespondents dinner is one of the few times you can find Washington politicos laughing at themselves. Usually they hire a comedian who's from the same side of the fence as the administration to come and jab them a little bit. This year they tapped Stephen Colbert to bring his special brand of truthiness to the dais. And truthiness was brought. Stephen is fond of mentioning his balls on his nightly show The Colbert Report. Watch this, and you'll never doubt him again.

Posted 10:10am
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This page is written and maintained by Tyler Brubaker. All content is spewed forth from the author's brain, unless otherwise credited. He views his opinion as much more valid than yours, but welcomes all thoughts and comments.