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August 31st, 2007

Let my people go...

What? Blog posts at 11pm the night before Michigan's opener when you don't have the Siddhartha? Yup, tbaggervance.com is proud to announce the return of Moses to the promised land. My dad, the Moeman, King Shit of Fuck Mountain© when it comes to the maize and blue football program, is in town to watch the dismantling of Appalachian State. I could go for hours about Moe. If there's a better example of the wisdom that comes with age I don't know it. Someday I hope to balance the passion and sensibility about our Wolverines the way he does. There's alot of ways I could say that I've made more of my life than my dad has, but not in anyway that truly matters. I had a roommate in college that attributed his friendliness to the fact that he thought that there was something to learn from everyone he met. I still haven't gotten round to that way of thinking, but I do believe that the Moeman could teach everyone something. About class. About priorities. About knowing what's right and following that up with your actions. And there's probably nothing more important than those lessons. So here's to you Moses. Let's hope those Wolverines carry the day.

And for those of you that care for such things, there's baby pictures of our youngest up at mgovan.com. Go Blue...

Posted 11:01pm
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August 30th, 2007

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

Its late August. The students are returning to campus, making the bars more crowded, parking spots more scarce, and the chance of me hitting a drunk, stumbling co-ed on the way home from the bar all the more likely. Here is what I'm concentrating on to offset that lamentable circumstance:

- Of course everything in my life is secondary to college football at this point, and any piece of information I can scrounge up feeds my addiction. But this, oh this, is like a blow job on Christmas morning right before you open your presents. Of course I hate tOSU coach Jim Tressel. He wears sweatervests and looks like a pedophile. One of my favorite t-shirts that I own is the one that says 'Tressel drinks wine coolers', because it has both the comedy of a ridiculous premise, and the likelihood of being true. These accusations are buoyed by this article, which proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he is a Celine Dion fan. Oh happy day.

- I don't get too worked up over fall TV anymore. I miss certain shows, but anymore it often feels like an obligation keeping me from more productive things, rather than pure entertainment. One obvious exception is NBC's The Office. I won't waste my breath extolling the virtues of this show, you're either on board at this point or are more than one standard deviation below average on the IQ chart. For the mentally proficient among you, here is a 3 minute + promo telling you what everyone's been up to on summer vacation. 'I don't remember much about Scranton. I think I dated a black girl...' Can't wait.

- A girl on stage in a band can go from a 5 to an 8 faster than you can say beer goggles. And taking the inverse, the music played by these sexy beasts becomes infinitely more palatable than if they were dudes. Both of these facts are exponentially true for a music snob such as myself. Which is why Candie Payne and The Pipettes get me all worked up. I can only imagine the boner inducing bonanza their live shows must be.

- Nothing is funnier than a hypocrite getting caught in the act. Its even funnier when its a public figure. And it boarders on head-exploding giggling when its a conservative Senator and it involves gay sex. For those of you following the trials and tribulations of Larry Craig and want all your questions about the mysterious underworld of bathroom sex explained, have I got an article for you.

- We're less than 46 hours from Michigan's kickoff, and to say I'm bursting at the seams is an understatement. This despite the fact that our game is a functional DNP against a IAA foe. I usually have some kind of empathy for these lesser teams, having to trod out on the field only to be eviscerated by superior athletes. Apparently, Appalachian State isn't scared. Oh how I wish Woodley were still around to teach these guys what happens when you talk about fight club...

Posted 1:55pm
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August 28th, 2007

The softening of America.

Admit it - you are never going to be as tough as your parents. As a kid, you just intuit this - as being an actual adult - much less one that is responsible for your own well-being, is an unfathomable concept. As you get older you begin to get regaled with stories of 'back in my day' coupled with a lot of criticism of 'kids today'. This something most kids usually slough off until you eventually start having those thoughts yourself, and thusly wonder if your parents weren't right all along.

And while yes, old people exaggerate and just because a younger generation's circumstances aren't as rough as the previous one's doesn't mean they wouldn't be equal to the task, we are much, much softer. My grandparents didn't have indoor plumbing. My parents grew up when television and air travel weren't commonplace. I didn't have the internet or cell phones until I was an actual adult. God knows what the Buddha will be able to say in twenty years.

But you can't stop technology and progress; nor should we. I'm not about to eschew indoor plumbing because walking out in the snow to take a shit makes you more hearty. Nor am I going to stop sending emails because a hand written letter is somehow more thought-out and personal. But there is a softening, and if you'll excuse my french, a pussification of America happening. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is exhibit 1A:

I am cooler than the generation that postcedes me because in my day, we held our lighters aloft during concerts when the power ballads came on. Not our fucking cell phones. I don't care if it costs me a lung and ten years off the end of my life, the above is gay. Do these people think they are being cool? Or ironic? They are neither. My grandfather would punch these people in the face for their behavior. Me, I stand in the back making snarky comments and then write about it in my blog. I guess that pretty well illustrates that the downward spiral is inevitable.

Posted 3:22pm
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August 27th, 2007

You are an obsession. You're my obsession.

obĚsesĚsion n.- A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.

When last we spoke I was pontificating upon my somewhat irrational fixation with football and more specifically, college football as played by the University of Michigan. As such, its less than 5 full days until the kickoff of the 2007 campaign, and my brain is mush. Productivity, both personal and professional, has come to a screeching halt. This is extremely exacerbated by the developments going on over at our sister site, mgovan.com. But anyway, when brain occasionally drifts from thoughts of Mike Hart and Chad Henne, there a few other obsessions occupying my world at the moment. These are those:

- Tokyo Police Club - I first heard this band months ago on the radio and immediately took a shine to them. I got their debut EP, gave it a few spins and forgot about it. If someone were to ask, I might go as far as to say 'I love the Tokyo Police Club.' Well through hap and circumstance, I put them on the other night and now I am in a state of full blown infatuation. Try and deny their deft juxtaposition of avant garde and pop. I dare you.

- Straight Man by Richard Russo - I can't remember where I got the recommendation to pick up this tome, but I owe them a beer. To paraphrase the blurb on the cover, its the funniest serious book I've read since A Confederacy of Dunces. And that's saying something. Part of it may be that I envision the book's lead character to be some version of myself in 20 years. Which should scare the shit out some of you.

- Flight of the Conchords - I mentioned this HBO music/comedy show a few months back when it first premiered. I liked it, and then grew somewhat tepid on it after I began to doubt its ability to sustain itself. I wholeheartedly admit that my doubts are now unfounded. This is the best new thing on TV I've seen in quite some time and I plan on spending the rest of my life watching the shit out of the DVDs when they come out.

That's it for now. Time to go back to breaking down game film from last year and listening to Animotion. Nope, not at all kidding (well, about the game film part).

Posted 3:03pm
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August 24th, 2007

Last call for free time

Its shots and carryout only for yours truly, as this weekend marks the last time that my life will exist for several months without the omnipresent thought of football. As of Sunday at 4 o'clock, the start time for my first fantasy draft, there won't be an hour that passes me by in which I don't spend an inordinate amount of time thinking, talking, watching, reading and dreaming about football. Whether its my fantasy teams, my many gambling endeavors, or the big daddy of them all, Michigan Football, intellectual pursuits will take a backseat so I can obsess over the minutia of these seemingly trivial matters.

Its the same every year. August brings preseason college rankings and the publishing of fantasy football magazines. My friends and I start to spend more and more time speculating on the viability of such and such a running back, or the prospect of who will be starting at right guard for the Wolverines. And it snowballs from there. Before you know it my season tickets show up in the mailbox, I begin to scour the internet for fantasy info, and saddest of all, I start to watch game film from last year's season. Call it obsessive, call it pathetic - come Monday morning I'll wake up more excited than a kid starting winter break anticipating his Christmas morning booty.

And by Friday I won't be able to sit still. Michigan's first game (Saturday) is an exercise in futility for its opponent. Its a designed can't lose for the Wolverines. That doesn't change my longing to get to the tailgate Saturday morning, to watch Chad Henne take the first snap, and to high five everyone in my row when we score for the first time in 2007. Its a tad ridiculous, to hang one's emotional well-being on the fortunes of a bunch of college kids playing a game, but I'm past the point of no return on this. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Ayesha once said that were we ever to get married, she would plan the wedding during a home Michigan Football game, so she could finally know where my allegiance lay. God help me if any woman actually makes good on that threat.

Posted 3:53pm
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August 23rd, 2007

The good, the bad, and the ugly: random shit from around the internets edition.

So, yeah, I've been sick. When I'm sick I lay around the house watching TV, reading books and getting fat. So not a whole hell of a lot happens to me worth mentioning. As such, please enjoy these things of note from around the internet:

The Good:
- The first of the super babies hath arrived! Tom Brady's first born, and eventual leader of the army of superbabies he's obviously breeding to bring us multiple national championships, is here. Thankfully, its a boy, thus eliminating the awkwardness of having to be the first Division IA team quarterbacked by a girl. The Vegas odds on U of M winning the 2027 National Championship have just gone to even.

- Don't tell the South he's black. Political man crush Barack Obama made an appearance on The Daily Show last night. I'm in the odd position of agreeing most politically with the guy I'd also most like to have a beer with. It's not awkward bad, but I've told to many people over the last 6-7 years that wanting to have a beer with someone has no bearing on whether or not he should be president. I'm just sayin'...

The Bad:
- Who greenlit Armageddon 2? Its obvious to those of us paying attention that Hollywood has been bereft of ideas for some time now. Couple that America's penchant for swallowing whole the things that look similar to that which they've seen before, and you end up with movie ideas obviously conceived by a fucked up boo butt©. I'm talking about Lost Boys 2 and even more egregious, Ferris Bueller 2: Another Day Off. I'm not kidding.

- Don't make us beg you to go away. This could be filed under 'who gives a shit?' but apparently Axl W. Rose is providing vocals to Sebastian Bach's new solo album. I actually kind of like Sebastian's cartoon-y shtick, but musically guys, its over. Stop embarrassing all of us for ever thinking you were cool.

The Ugly:
- The two worst three letter acronyms known to man. There's two perils to risky behavior that most people with certain proclivities subject themselves to and eventually end up with one or the other. I'm of course speaking of DUIs and STDs. According to rumor, Jessica Alba got the herp from Derek Jeter. This surprisingly does nothing to lessen my crush for Ms. Alba nor my respect for Mr. Jeter (despite him being a Yankee). Its just funny is all. Oh yeah, and ugly.

- My wikipedia page says I have 18 inches of swinging death. Finally in the 'no shit' department, it appears corporations are changing their Wikipedia pages to make themselves look better. I wondered why I wasn't losing weight on that all Arby's diet.

Posted 2:11pm
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August 22nd, 2007

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

As a music snob, I have more music than I could ever possibly listen to. Well that's not totally true, as my iTunes is telling me that I could get through my entire current collection in 38 days. But even I don't have that much free time on my hands. Now some of this polysaturation of music is by design. You're right to think that I will probably never have an urge to listen to Harvey Danger's Little by Little again, nor do I need more than 3 to 4 songs off of the Kenny Rogers Definitive Collection box set, but that doesn't stop me from feeling that I do. There's something in my makeup that drives me to be a collector, and some aspect of my personality requires me to be a completist. This leads me to track down obscure EPs of Ben Gibbard's high school bands and download a 2 disc collection of Joe Walsh's Greatest Hits, even though I already have a James Gang Best of and I only like about 4 of Joe's solo songs. I guess to some that's more than a little sad.

But as per a discussion I recently had with Ayesha and the Jesuses, music snobs listen to music differently than casual fans. Now I'm not here to make some pompous argument about how I 'get' music more than you, casual listener and dear blog reader. But I do think that while most people listen to the same thing over and over again, music snobs are in constant search of something new to listen to. Let's break this down into what I call the three levels of the music consumer:

Level One: Arrested Development
Listeners at level one stop actively consuming new music somewhere between the ages of 18-22. Their favorite stuff is what they were listening to in high school or college. The last album they bought was either a greatest hits compilation or a 'comeback' album by Boston, Def Leppard or Metallica. Once in a while they will hear a song on the radio by accident that they like and go out and buy the album. They will then proceed to listen to that one song over and over.

Level Two: Laissez Faire
Level Two listeners share a commonality with those in level one as their favorite stuff was also produced during their hay-day of drinking and partying, albeit their tastes are usually a tad more esoteric. They used to go looking for new stuff, but the ravages of time and responsibility have left them to rely on there music snob friends to keep them up to date. It gets harder as you grow older to find new music that fits into your wheelhouse, and these people would love to do that, they just, for myriad reasons, don't.

Level Three: 'Did you hear about the new Art Brut/Hold Steady split 7 inch?'
Yeah, the music snobs. The people who care too much for their own good. The people who hear an album once and overreact one way or the other by saying it sucks 2 songs in or declaring it a classic by the first track's chorus. The people who, when asked by the Arrested Development people what they are listening to, raise an eyebrow and answer politely knowing the ADs won't recognize one name. When the LF's ask, they speak slowly, because they know the LFs will try to remember everything, hoping to mine one new artist that they can listen to that's not a waste of their time.

As a member of level 3, I'm proud to provide albums for people's iPods and recommend an artist someone's never heard of when they say things that make me cringe like 'I really like Coldplay, what else should I listen to?' But the original argument that kicked this thing off was being posed the question 'You don't listen to songs on repeat?' And the truth is, I don't have the time, or the inclination. There's too much stuff out there that I'll never have time to even get to. That doesn't stop me from listening to the White Album enough to have it burned into my brain, but you're not going to find me listening to Amy Winehouse's new album twice in a row, much less the single 'Rehab' on repeat. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Posted 3:49pm
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August 20th, 2007

Today's sign of the apocalypse...

...or how I am an old fucking man. Perpetual feeder into our worst fears and wants, USA Today, has an article entitled 'Backpacks: A new badge of cool.' Now I'm not old enough to have forgotten that by the time you get to high school most of the decisions you make about your person are scrutinized by every one of your peers. Fair enough, I remember begging my mom for certain brand names clothes with the utmost futility. And maybe its that fact, coupled with the relative podunk-iness of my upbringing, that leads me to believe this, but who gives fucking two shits how much your backpack costs? This is completely fucking generated by industry and fed into by shit purveyors like USA Today. I get that what car you drive can get you laid and that a certain wardrobe will make certain people more or less likely to talk to you, but really? Backpacks? They hold your shit more comfortably than a paper bag. End of story. Start the countdown until I'm on the front porch telling those damn kids to get off my lawn.

In unrelated affairs, I tried to write a post (with several false starts) about fighting with Ayesha and how I have a propensity to say one thing when I'm drunk and trying to convince a girl that I like her in some way, only to have different thoughts during the light of (sober) day. But then I thought that the idea of guys not telling the truth to women when they're drunk isn't noteworthy in any way. We're all dicks more often than not - whether due to lack of courage, not wanting to see someone cry, wanting to keep our options open for as long as possible, or just being really, really horny. We can apologize and claim the noblest of intentions (and blame the alcohol), but its really just a dick move. In my case it was all of the above, including noble intentions. But even I can see how its a miracle that the fairer sex would ever put up with any of us assholes.

Posted 3:43pm
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August 18th, 2007

Thanks, but I'm actually not a member of NAMBLA

Most people's drivers license pictures are fairly awful. I guess waiting in line at the DMV can give one quite the sour puss. Last night I was at the Jesuses (again) and I was wondering aloud if I could renew my drivers license through the mail, thus saving me a trip to the dreaded secretary of state. Would they send me a whole new license? Would I get some kind of sticker for my old one? What if I had to carry around an extra card that says my old license is still ok? So while MJ whipped out the laptop and found me my answer, I whipped out my license to gander at my punim and try to decide if the picture was still viable. I knew it was at least wince inducing, but let's be honest, as the years go by I get carded less and less, so its not like anyone really sees it. Upon closer examination, I stared a bit and thought 'That doesn't even look like me' That's when AJ decided to see for himself, so he could weigh in on the debate. Wanna know what he said?

Don't take this the wrong way, but you look like a pedophile in this picture.

How do I take that the right way? So yeah, I'll be off to get my pic re-upped so I don't get confused with a sex offender again anytime soon. And just so it can never be said that I'm afraid of making fun of myself:

And just so MJ doesn't feel left out, she got the second biggest laugh of the night out of me with 'I don't mind the heat, I just get wet. But not in the naughty way.' Which I guess is good, because otherwise she'd be way too insatiable to visit Ayesha out in the desert heat.

Posted 8:59pm
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August 17th, 2007

Oh yes its ladies night...

This is likely obvious to anyone who has seen tape (or actually witnessed in person) of women in a male strip club, but let it be stated here unequivocally: girls night out is far more likely to devolve into abject debauchery than guys night out. Last night I watched some friends of mine participate in a ladies night worthy of a cheesy female empowerment movie where someone gets their groove back. I sat in awe as they cajoled the local pipefitters union #1138 (in town for the convention) with their feminine wiles. I can't imagine the disappointing rides back to the hotel as they all went home alone. Yes I can. We've all been on the 'I can't believe how well this is going, I think I've got a real shot' road, only to come back from the bathroom to find what we thought was a smitten kitten gone daddy gone. ANYWAY, like I said, a group of ladies looking to blow off some steam away from significant others is much more volatile and dangerous than their male counterparts. Why? Two reasons:

- Alcohol. This, of course, is where most (if not all) debauchery begins and ends. Let's be honest, men tend to handle their alcohol a wee bit better than the ladies. Don't get me wrong, I know plenty of girls who could drink plenty of guys under the table. But while a preponderance of guys will go out and have a few drinks a couple times a week, women seem to save it all up and try to blow their wad in one night. This can lead to guys saying 'one more beer and then I gotta go' at the end of the night while women suck jaeger out of their best friends mouth and sheepishly say things like 'I don't normally act like this!'

- Viability. Follow me on this one. Guys who get out from under the thumbs of their wives or girlfriends for an evening participate in the things their sig. o's don't care for. This usually involves sports, drinking, cursing, scratching, etc. The last thing they want to do is go out and be rejected by women at the bar. They spent years doing that, the race is over. They won. Women, on the other hand, when traveling in packs, go trolling for attention from the opposite sex. Its easy enough for a woman in a low cut top to get affirmation from drunks at a bar, so let's not begrudge them that. This leads to men watching football and playing poker on 'guys night', and the ladies grinding on some guy named Pedro at the Necto.

To be my own devil's advocate, I know I'm playing with semantics here. Guys do all the shit that a ladies night would dictate on any random Tuesday. But its the pack mentality were dissecting here. And be it ladies night, bachelorette party or the secretary pool at Friday happy hour, chicks in a pack will devour dudes like a lion on a gazelle. It is after all, the girls that go wild. Thank you Jesus.

Posted 2:12pm
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August 16th, 2007

Viewing art objectively.

Fucking kids these days. I try not to be an old curmudgeon most of the time, as well as keep my temper in check. Otherwise I'd walk around screaming at random people for their idiocy and accomplish little else. I've been known in the past for getting in people's faces over things seemingly trivial, even when I have little to no connection to that person. Last night was a perfect opportunity to eviscerate someone for being a complete fucking Grade-A douche bag, and I held my tongue. And I'm having trouble being OK with the decision.

The story goes like this: I was at music trivia last night with my friends the Jesuses and some friends of theirs. We were rolling through the first round of 80's music and, given the relative youth of the rest of the people at the table, I was providing most of the answers. At one point the male friend of a friend says 'I don't think I was even born when these songs came out.' He was right. Born in 1985; not one song in the round came out in his lifetime. Boring for him I guess, but no skin of my back. He was engrossed in the Tigers game so I think he had found his peace with the situation. Later on we're sucking the pipe during the Elvis round and MJ says 'Its too bad its not a Beatles round, because then we'd clean up.' And just as I'm about to agree with her, I hear Mr. Born-in-1985 chime in with 'The Beatles suck.'

Not 'I don't care for their music' or 'Ringo couldn't sing' or even 'The Stones kick the Beatles ass', just 'The Beatles suck.' I'm sure if you could see my face at the the time my eyes would have rolled back in my head and steam would have shot from my ears. For the sake of my friends I lightly questioned it and basically left things at 'You lost all hope of finding any credibility with me.' Which I'm sure he could give a shit. But let's face it, when it comes to music you're not going to find more consensus about anything than the Beatles were a pretty fucking great and influential rock band. The only thing people might agree more about, is that those who posture that the Beatles suck are doing so to try and look cool when everybody in the room sees them as overly douche-y. I wanted to tell him that he was an ignorant fucktard, and that I shouldn't expect much from an asshole in a Korn T-shirt who things Magglio Ordonez sucks too. But I didn't. No diatribes about how none of the craptastic shit he listens to would even be possible were it not for the Beatles. Nothing about how they redefined the recording process while making strides in song structure and arrangements. Certainly no barbs about how Paul's bass on 'Helter Skelter' is 100 times more menacing and evil than anything his precious Korn has ever produced. Just a 'You lost any shot at credibility.' Sometimes it sucks being mature and holding your tongue in the face of abject ignorance. The next person who's woefully ignorant in front of me is going to rue the day, because I've got some pent up frustration to release.

Posted 1:15pm
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August 14th, 2007

No time for love, Dr. Jones.

Regular readers will by now have noticed my obsession with Indiana Jones. First and foremost, I believe that Raiders of the Lost Ark is the greatest action movie of all time. I've had the debate hundreds of times, only to have become that much more resolute in my belief that it is a perfect movie and superior to everything else in its genre. Secondly, Harrison Ford is the coolest person on the face of god's green earth. Han Solo and Indy. The argument really stops there, but I will point out the boner inducing fact that when he played the President of the United States, he did so as a graduate of the University of Michigan. (And of course I never miss an opportunity to point out that Keanu Reeves played a former quarterback of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Twice.)

So with all the Indy IV traffic hitting the internets these days, I decided that it merits its own, dedicated post. First of all, today saw slashfilm post a little investigative journalism in regards to the title of the Dr. Jones fourth adventure. Seems Lucasfilm register six possible Indy related titles. Best guess so far? Indiana Jones and the City of Gods. Not great, but its pry just a rumor anyway, so need to get your panties in a wad.

A while back at Comicon, they released the first teaser poster for the film. You can catch a glimpse at iwatchstuff.com. Total nerds will note that the crate is similar to the one used to house the ark of the covenant at the end of Raiders. Uber nerds will almost pass out when they realize that the number on the crate in Raiders is nearly identical to that on the one in the poster. I felt woozy.

Finally, there's a little teaser video up on the official site called 'Reuniting the Family'. You'll notice that yes, that is Karen Allen back as that sexy minx Marion Ravenwood. Good God I think I'm going to go pass out. Thankfully college football starts soon, or I may go crazy with anticipation.

Posted 2:12pm
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August 13th, 2007

Looks like we got ourselves a reader...

It is my new stated goal to talk more about books here on the ol' bloggy blog. Don't worry, it'll be like once a month after I've read a few worth talking about. Most of you can ignore it the way you do when I talk about whatever indie rock fetish I'm currently having. Come back tomorrow and I'm sure I'll be back to telling stories about being a drunk, or hopefully whatever predilection makes you keep coming back here.

For some reason I've been on a real nonfiction bent as of late. I don't know why that is, but I promise you that each of these are as well-written as they are insightful. I was going to call this 'Words Words Words'... like Beavis always used to do (was there ever anything funnier when you were high than Beavis and Butthead? Not that I remember) but felt it wouldn't translate. Hopefully there's a Bill Hicks fan or two out there who gets my second choice.

- The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby wrote on of my favorite books ever about pop music, Songbook. So it stands to reason that he could likely write about literature as well. And gosh darn it if that's not what he does within the pages of this tome. Mr. Hornby (in this collection of monthly columns from The Believer magazine) provides you the laundry list of the books he's bought and read in the last month, and then finds a narrative thread to write about what he's read. Its really not as meta as it sounds, except that reading about some reading is inherently kinda meta. In any case, its brilliant, even if it makes you feel slightly guilty about not reading more than you do. I chalked it up in my head to the fact that he's British, at which point it didn't bother me at all.

- Blockbuster by Tom Shone
A few years ago some d-bag wrote a book in which he at least implied that George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg ruined the Hollywood renaissance of the 1970's with movies like Jaws and Star Wars. As you can guess, I had more than a little problem with that argument. Sure the 70's were a golden age for thoughtful, intellectual filmmaking, but it was the Lucases and Spielbergs that saved Hollywood, not the Altmans and Townes. If you don't believe me, Tom Shone takes the time to back up that assertion with things like facts. He chronicles the last 30 years of 'blockbuster' movie making in such detail and with such prose, that every chapter will leave you wanting to break to watch whatever film he's describing.

- Moneyball by Michael Lewis
About 5 years ago everyone wanted to know how the Oakland A's managed to win games at a pace that was out of concert with their anemic payroll and rogue's gallery of players. Michael Lewis set out to answer that question and does so both thoroughly and beautifully. Anyone who's played more than a season of Roto baseball (and especially those of us who remember a day when playing roto meant doing stats by hand from the USA Today) will get a huge boner from this book. And while boners and baseball don't necessarily go hand in hand, I highly recommend this for stat nerds and fantasy geeks alike.

- God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens
A very smart, well written defense of atheism and attack on the evils of religion and its dogmas. It will give structure to every argument you've ever had about the existence of God (if you are one those people inclined to such conversations). I'd recommend this just as much to the pious who believe in informed faith as I would the pagans out there.

- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by JK Rowling
Alright, so yeah I read it. I've read them all. I kind of had to go in kicking and screaming. When people back in the day tried to convince me that a boy wizard was worth my time, they'd often do so by comparing the writing to that of Roald Dahl. And you know what, its not Roald Dahl, but to call it the bastard child of Dickens and Dahl raised by Tolkien might not be far off. But whatever, you've either read this or you're not going to, so why am I wasting keystrokes?

Posted 2:58pm
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August 12th, 2007

Morals and standards

"I need to know your type if I'm going to find you a girl." That's how the short 60 second exchange started, the one that I'd think about for the next 24 hours. The last time a female friend asked me that question she produced a made to order girl that I immediately fell for, so it was a query that I was at least a little intrigued by. But before I could even answer, she began pointing to girls around the bar, hoping to find my archetype within the confines of a place that had about as much chance of holding her as it did a cure for cancer. She realized her mistake quickly, as the girls she pointed to illicited out and out laughter from the other people in the group. "The all-American girl isn't really T's type," said my friends wife who had only known me 10 years. God knows what the guys who had known me for 20+ we're thinking as she tried to find my type in a dive bar in Napoleon, Ohio.

So if for no other reason than to be polite, I quickly ran off my quick list of wants and desires in the fairer sex. Not wanting to bore the shit out of everyone, I kept it short. "I like short, petite girls with short dark hair. Girls who wear glasses and are quirky. Ones who eschew religion and embrace the booze." She immediately came back in quid pro quo fashion with "So like that girl over there in the bustiere?" pointing to a girl who with a tattoo on her breast that had obviously shown up on a motorcycle. "Think more of someone in Chucks," I responded, trying to get her to wrap her head around what I was looking for. After explaining what Chucks were, I also tried to wrap things up with a little self-deprecation by noting "Really, I just want someone who weighs less than I do who is willing to have sex with me."

That's when it happened. A friend not known for necessarily being insightful popped his head in and said "Its all about morals and standards. You need one, but you can't have both if you want to get laid." It prompted a lot of laughter, and a few accusations that the person making the statement had neither (he incidentally claimed to have standards but zero morals). And that was supposedly the end of it. But I kept thinking about what he said off and on, and fuck it all if he wasn't probably right.

Which leaves me with a conundrum. Say what you will, but I think I am burdened with both morals and standards (what happens when I'm black out drunk notwithstanding). I eventually went back to something Ayesha txted me the other night - that I act like its a chore to get laid when its clearly not. She may be right in some respect, but I don't think she's taking into account our new hypothesis of morals and standards. Don't get me wrong, I'm no saint and not trying to make myself out as a sexual martyr, but as one very close, single friend and I used to often lament, most of the time its just not worth it. I don't want to waste my time with some fucked up boo butt© because she's hot but boring or ugly but willing. Its really not worth it to me. So yes, this is me giving you permission, loyal reader, to slap me right across the face next time I'm drunk and diatribing about my dating ineptitude. To tell me to fuck off next time I complain about lack of sexual gratification. Remind me about morals and standards and tell me to loosen one or shut up. Then I'll go back to looking for the bottom of my vodka and soda.

Posted 10:42pm
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August 10th, 2007

One not-so-innocuous thing that has me all pissed off in and around the present moment (plus some other stuff to offset that)

My very first football hero growing up was Jim Harbaugh. He emerged about the time I finally awoke from my nerd cocoon and started to notice things like that football stuff my dad and brothers spent so much time on. (This of course would start a life long, tenuous relationship that would cause other, more important areas in my life to suffer needlessly, but that's a discussion for another time). ANYWAY, Harbaugh played the QB position like he was packing 18 inches of swingin' death and unless you played nice, he'd prove he knew how to use it. So I instantly fell in love - a love that wouldn't wane despite his shitty pro career. Which is why it both depresses and enrages me that as it turns out, he's a total douche bag.

For those of you who haven't been following, Harbaugh basically threw U of M under the proverbial bus. He shook his stupid finger at our athletic admissions policies, decried us for pushing athletes into easy majors, and lamented that we used up and discarded these young men like so much blast rags. A bigger bunch of bullshit you will find in no other man, at any other level of intelligence. mgoblog went out and proved him wrong in a more eloquent and thorough manner than I could here, so I'll let you read his take if you're interested. The bottom line is that its sad when you're heroes turn out to be dimwitted fucktards that have a lesser understanding of public discourse than my 12 year old son. Please Tom Brady, don't ever do this to Sid. Neither of us could take the heartbreak.

- Speaking of Captain Dreamboat, here's a funny little Who's Now? parody that pits Tom against Galactus. I actually didn't read it, but the two little pictures and profiles almost made me pee, so its worth two seconds of your time, even if it happens to remind you that the stupid fucking Who's Now? thing ever existed.

- Here's a profile of Superbad's Michael Cera. He's that kid from Arrested Development that also has this sweet web show I told you about a few weeks back. The piece is well written enough that it pissed me off that I'm not a better writer, so you know, whatever that's worth.

- "Newspaper" (and I use that term loosely) USAToday talks about decorating your dorm room. Its laughably stupid. You want to know how to decorate your room? Steal a bunch of shit from around your parents house, add your 4 foot water bong, throw everything else in a corner. Voila!

- This is a friend of a friend's commercial for Heinz Ketchup (or perhaps catsup - depending on where you're from. Your mileage may vary, offer not valid in Tennessee). I think he would appreciate it if you looked at it and rated it highly. I hate giving homework on weekends, but I hardly ever ask, thus eliminating the need for guilt when I do. So get going....

Posted 3:33pm
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August 9th, 2007

Wet pavement and the crack of fiberglass

I have little to no need to drive a 'nice' car. I in no way view my automobile as representative of my status in life nor as an extension of my penis. My favorite car I've ever owned was the first I bought myself - a 1979 Toyota Celica. It never broke down, was a tad funky looking, had a manual transmission and a moonroof you had to open by hand. Everything an 18 year old could want in a car. I'd have driven it until it literally fell apart, had my brother not totaled it while I was away at college. But that's a story for another day.

My dream is always to drive my cars until the repairs get too expensive to justify it. I long for the day when I don't have a car payment. I haven't had too much luck with that in the recent past - in large part, because of days like today. I was chauffeuring Siddhartha from one side of A2 to the other over my lunch break. It was raining. I am impatient. And people sometimes take FOREVER to turn into a driveway. These three factors combined into me slamming on the breaks and ending up with a trailer hitch size dent/hole in my front bumper.

It could have been much worse. We were going like 3 mph. I did little more than scratch said hitch on the other persons car. It will (knock on wood) end up being completely superficial damage that I can learn to live with. But seriously? Why can't I just for once have something a little nice that lasts until I pay it off. I really don't think I'm asking too much. Besides, if that yellow piece of shit can hang on for four more years, Sid can get behind the wheel and beat the shit out of it and I'll get something new to defile with my carelessness.

Posted 1:18pm
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August 8th, 2007

The neuroticism of unjustifiable ownership

Music snobs such as myself often find ourselves in the following conundrum, catch-22, rock and a hard place, what have you: the desire between wanting our favorite bands to be wildly successful, in accordance with their talent and ability, and wanting to keep the secret all to ourselves. Its a fine line at that. I want to turn people on to new, obscure music that makes the hair on my arm stand on end. I want hipsters to recognize and get excited by the t-shirt I bought at my last Magic Stick show. But I also want bands I seek out and love to be a well kept secret. I want to be in the exclusive club that 'gets' the cool things that nobody else knows about. I was in love with Death Cab for Cutie the first time I heard them. I became more and more obsessed to the point of infatuation. Then they signed to Atlantic. And they showed up on The OC. And M&M commercials featured Postal Service music. Don't get me wrong, I still love Death Cab. But those of you who are reading this and have no idea who they are can see how small an amount of fame can tweak someone like me (who obviously cares waaaay too much and is completely too sensitive and inexplicably proprietary).

I'm sure I've written a similar rant before - or at least touched on these themes in the past. I do so again now because my favorite-ist of favorite indie darlings are getting some serious pub out in the blogosphere. You may remember Maritime as the band that Ayesha and I drove to Dayton and back on a Friday to see. Well they've finished recording their new album (Heresy and the Hotel Choir) and have leaked the first two songs out to internet listening public. My biased ears are happier than they've been in months, and it seems that other uber snobs are in agreement with me. I encourage you to listen and judge for yourself. I wish them nothing but success. Hell, a band the size of Maritime can struggle to survive enough to keep making music, so support the shit of 'em. Just remember who got there first...

Posted 5:44pm
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August 6th, 2007

Back to the Bay 2007

At the end of the day, our 2007 annual trip to Put-in-Bay will probably be most remembered for the things that didn't happen. Sure, there was your standard, boilerplate debauchery - featuring drunkenness that approached Fucked Up Boo Butt status. But instead of packing people into Harriet's House like sardines, we topped out at actual capacity on Saturday night (with Friday featuring a scant 5 of us). No Kanes, no Germans, no Anee, no random Columbus peoples. And somehow, only the Bickels got to eat Chicken dinners from the Patio. Of the 10 people there on Saturday, 7 had kids in the last year.

Which really served as a reminder of just how newly single I am. With even Stov bringing his girlfriend with him, I was the only remotely single person in our group. Its something I'll have to get used to again, and I'm honestly not looking forward to it - especially when it leads to Jen forcibly trying to get me to dance with bachelorette parties. Ah well, let's get on to the pictures, complete with commentary you may or may not understand:

After drinking at the house for several hours, it was finally time to head out. Kiki says "I bet he loves her stretch marks from head to toe"
I'm not sure the impetus of this, but clearly we are clinging hopelessly to sobriety.
This was an all too common sight over the weekend. Someone would by shots for the group, and then everyone would start to worry about buying more shots over a sense of reciprocity. That is a slippery slope, people.
It is amazing to me that either of these cats appear remotely sober here, as it is the beginning of the end. Turt notes that 'Men are the new women'.
See what I mean? This is Turt giving his wife some kind of lap dance at the bar moments later. He whipped that belt off faster a stripper on meth.
Luckily, there wasn't too much lovey-dovey stuff like this. Stov was working overtime to try and overcome the curse of Put-in-Bay, which is commendable.
More 'Turtle is wasted' goodness. We can only assume that this is in tribute to Troy.
Final pic of the night. I have no idea what's going on at this point. Stov later refers to me as a 'marionette' that he and Arrika manipulated into doing their bidding by the end of the night. Luckily, I remember very little of that portion of the evening.
Next day, more dude's show up. 2007 marks the return of the Puma.
Aarika reminds us that 'Stretch marks are the new sickle cell' as we dominate tippy cup at the Round House.
11:27 - Stov pees his pants...
... at which point its time for buckets on heads.
I'm not sure what is happening here, but I'm guessing Turt is drunk.
This is quite standard.
This is quite scary.
Aarika was a rookie to the PIB, trying to overcome years of us bringing girls to the island, only to see the relationship immediately fall apart when we returned to the main land. Only time will tell if she managed to break the curse, but if this photo is any indication, she stands a pretty good chance.

 

Posted 1:20pm
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August 2nd, 2007

Sobriety is a terrible thing to waste have

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are sitting down because the news I am about to impart may shock and appall you. I, tbaggervance, have been sober for four days. Now before you pass out let me quickly point out that this is not by choice. I am a victim of streptococcal pharyngitis, which among other things, has caused me to go on a course of antibiotics on which alcohol is verboten. After a lengthy discussion with my medical professional where I pleaded to have just one beer, or two take two pills at once so that I could drink 12 hours earlier than scheduled, I was informed that my lifestyle has already placed my liver in a precarious position, and that I should stick to the schedule. Given that this weekend is the annual trip to Put-in-Bay and I will likely be testing the tensile strength of said liver anyway, I acquiesced and vowed to abstain from the booze until noon on Friday (at which point my body will think St. Patrick's Day or OSU/Michigan has come early).

Last night I was asked if five days is the longest I've gone in my adult life without taking so much as one drink. While I can't say definitively, its a pretty safe bet that it is. At which point I was immediately asked that if like when George Costanza abstained from sex and became a genius, had I noticed any increased brain power or other heightened senses? Alas, I feel more like Popeye without his spinach, or Samson after his hair cut. The source of my powers and prowess has been taken away. I will forever claim that everything I attempt in life is done with greater aplomb after 3 beers. This increased virility lasts through beer #6, at which point we see a small, and then exponentially greater decline. Whether this acuity is perceived or real matters not, because like politics, perception is reality, and that leaves me currently feeling utterly flaccid.

Posted 1:20pm
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August 1st, 2007

The subjectiveness of perspective

I try not to brag too much here on the ol' bloggy blog. I've always had somewhat of a problem where my arrogance is only exceeded by my hubris. Hopefully those who both read these posts and have regular conversations with me note the disparity. If not, then what did you expect? And when it comes to Siddhartha, you probably have experienced the inherent chaos theory that's on display when I start talking about him (the butterfly that flaps it wings in NYC and causes a hurricane in Singapore). But the conversation we had the other night was too good to not share with you, intrepid reader.

Sid and I were discussing the latest Harry Potter book, and he admitted to me that he had 'accidentally' read the last page of the book. I lost it. How could you do that? You're spoiling all of the secrets that yet to be laid out and then revealed to you over the next few hundred pages! You're cheating! You're cheating! He calmly explained to me that there were no rules, written or otherwise, when it came to reading fiction, and thus calling him a cheater was unfair. I railed against this quick-fix way of going about things; about how the journey was as rewarding as the goal. That now all of the twists and turns that the author would make along the way would be lost on him. That in a sense, he had cheated himself by spoiling the pleasure he would derive from reading the thing left to right, top to bottom. After a brief interlude in which we discussed subjectivity and how that without right and wrong, black and white definitions of things, everything is subjective, Sid laid it out for me.

You see, he explained. He's seen everything. Kids his age have been subjected to such an onslaught of pop culture through television and DVDs and video games that surprises were no longer truly surprises. That knowing the absolute end would not, in fact, ruin the twists and turns, as he could still objectively judge them as clever or not, and evaluate their appropriateness. For a second I was sad. Are kids that much more aware and jaded these days relative to where I was when I was his age. And then, of course, a split second later I realized: You're talking to a teenager. Their arrogance knows no bounds! Of course they've seen it before! Of course they know what will happen next! They won't be impressed my mere pop culture. They are dialed-in in a way you can never hope to be again.

We talked some more about the differences in his evaluation of Harry Potter versus mine, which led to an assessment of the Star Wars films that looked like this:

Sid
VI* > III > V >IV > II > I

tbaggervance
V > IV >VI > III > I > II

Yes, that is only mildly interesting to the nerds out there, so I'll go into it no further. I just wanted to let you know that I had a frighteningly deep conversation with a 12 year old. Yes, even the smart ones have a long way to go. So if any of you run into Sid in the next five years, please don't mention Keyser Soze. Or that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time or that the chick from The Crying Game has a schlong. Because eventually he will realize, that even the most jaded of us can be surprised.

* We had just finished watching Jedi as the discussion took place, which may have played into this placement. -ed.

Posted 7:35pm

Post coming (one that's pertinent to the headline). I'm doing some maintenance now, so for the moment, gaze upon your 2007 Ann Arbor Rec + Ed Tuesday Night Men's League Champs:

Posted 2:35pm
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July 30th, 2007

This just in: We are so good at Beer Fest

For reasons passing understanding, I had never been to the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival. You'd think that I'd be a staple at something called 'Beer Fest' that took place five miles from my house. But strange as it may seem, 2007 brought on the 10th annual festival and it was my rookie year. Luckily, my friends had a year under their collective belt and upon sitting down, boike took time to remark that 'We do Beer Fest so much better than everybody else.' and it was hard to argue.

What followed was five hours of imbibing some of the finest ales, stouts, lagers and every other variety under the sun of matled hops, barley, yeast and water imaginable. Such circumstances don't necessarily lead to concise, accurate synopsis. So here's a few things that happened:

- Turns out Beer Fest is also, for some, stupid hat fest. People brought and bought some of the stupidest things to wear on their craniums that I've ever seen. It was like some retarded version of the Kentucky Derby. Early in the day, Greg asks me if I'll give him the rest of the beer I was drinking if he goes and steals the stupid hat of the stupid girl right behind us. He did. And then drank the last sip of my beer

- Hangover cure extraordinaire Vitamin Water was at the Festival giving away free vitamin water. They had parked their van 50 yards from us and we proceeded to take about 20 free samples. We spent the rest of the day trading them for tokens (tokens=beer) to suckers who had missed on the swag. But unfortunately, the VW van was blasting some annoying techno from the speakers on top that was preventing us from enjoying the live music at the Festival. After enough was enough, Boike got up, walked over, and removed the keys, rendering the van utterly silent. Their was a small skirmish with the driver of the van (along with an ineffective attempt to pass off Boike as 'Mr. Vitamin Water') but 20 minutes later they had picked up and left. Next time, don't let us have to tell you twice.

- Some fucked up boo butt© swung by our table, started chowing on some beef jerky we had lying around, telling us how she's vegan and never eats meat. An aghast friend pulled her away before we could make things truly interesting.

So yeah, beer, boobs, beer, sun and beer. I won't make the mistake of missing it again. For posterity, here are the beers I 'sampled' on that memorable day:

1. Shorts Brewing Co. - Pontious Rd. Pilsner
2. Dragonmead Microbrewery - Nagelweiss (Small and white, Clean and bright...)
3. Arcadia Brewing Co. - Whitsun

4. Schmoz Brewing Co. - In Your Face IPA (We liked these guy's attitude, and their beer)
5. Dragonmead Microbrewery - Final Absolution (This one best beer in the world at the World Beer Cup. I failed to see what all the fuss was about)
6. Motor City Brewing Works - Ghettoblaster (A favorite of Stov's from last year, I tried this in honor of him. Stov - Your taste in beer is awful)
7. Bastone - Belgian Wit
8. Saugatuck Brewing Co. - Kolsch Pilsner
9. Michigan Brewing Co. - Celis White
10. Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. - Fouth Dementia (10%+ alcohol on this bad boy. Ouch)
11. Schmoz Brewing Co. - John T. Pilsner
12. Royal Oak Brewery - Northern light
13. Copper Canyon - Summer Haze Wit
14. Fletcher St. Brewing Co. - Sunrise Wit
15. Tri-City Brewing Co. - Phoenix Golden (Hi Ayesha)
16. Atwater Block Brewery - Vodoovater (we drank this because it sounded like it was named after the Haitian Darth Vader)
17. Black Lotus Brewing Co. - People Mover Pilsner
18. Black Lotus Brewing Co. - Detroit Hip Hops (we immediately went back here after we happened to notice that the girl serving had large breasts that were falling out of her tank top)
19. Schmoz Brewing Co. - In Your Face IPA
20. Great Barraboo Brewing Co. - Wit's End (The last of the day - they were one of the few still pouring)

Posted 7:55pm
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July 26th, 2007

This is for the people of the sun...

Part one: Preamble
In which Sting has the body of pro athlete, I narrowly avoid capture and the drinking begins

The Palace of Auburn Hills is far away and in the middle of nowhere. It was an obvious observation for someone who 12 hours later would be driving 2000 miles across country. I thought about making the drive to The Palace 8 times a day for four straight days. That's what I would soon be up against. But first things first - time for some white reggae.

Stov and I weren't exactly sure what to expect from a bunch of 50 year olds who hadn't put out and album since either of us reached puberty. It could have been a complete trainwreck - Sting slowing down Roxanne to a crawl and playing it acoustically. But he seemed to remember that know matter how big you think you've gotten, its still a song about a hooker. I turned to Stov about half way through the show and noted that if you closed your eyes, it was almost like it was 1983 (Sting can't hit all the notes he could when I was in 3rd grade, but it rarely takes you out of the moment) Open your eyes and it was your dad and his poker buddies fiddling around on instruments.

With one exception - Sting's arms. Most of the time the sight of any guy in a sleeveless/tank top number elicits either a giggle or the head shake of disbelief. Somehow Sting's arms brought on something just short of 'Holy shit I'd fuck that guy.' Stewart looked to be in the shape of someone half his age as well, leaving Andy Summers (a quite average looking 50 year old man) looking like the world's biggest schlub. If I were him I'd be injecting the other guy's vitamin water with bacon fat.

So we left the Palace of Auburn Hills triumphant and somewhat tipsy - determined to get back to Ann Arbor so we could get really drunk. But before we could get back to the 696, disaster struck. In a hurry and fueled by vodka and sodas, I decided to run through two very yellow lights on the way back to the highway. OK so they were orange. At least. I didn't think too much about it until I saw the lights in my rearview a few miles later. 'Have you been drinking this evening?' was the question I had been waiting for. I told him the last drink I had was hours ago, which to the relief of everyone inside the vehicle, seemed good enough for him. We got back on the rode a little lighter in the wallet, but as Stov finally said after five minutes of complete silence 'That could have gone much worse.'

We returned to A2 to meet up with some friends who, surprisingly, had also been drinking that evening. So much so in fact that they were in complete shot mode when we showed up. It didn't take us long to catch up. By the time I got to bed around 3ish, I had completely forgotten about the ticket and the fact that according to Ayesha, our trip would commence in a mere 5 hours. Unfortunately for my liver, the bags under my eyes and generally my body as a whole, precedents were being set...

Part two: A2 to STL
In which we learn about Beechwood Aging, start the bar crawl and Ayesha shows her matronly disdain for the bouncer

Any drunk will tell you that 8am comes awful early when you were at the bar the night before listening to the bartender beg 'Come guys, its seriously 2:30, you have to get out of here.' It somehow hurts even more when its 8am and you're on vacation. But Ayesha the anxious was in full Willy Nelson mode and wanted to get on the road (again). I contemplated the no shower, but smelling like a beer soaked ashtray in a tiny Honda Civic for 8 hours seemed like cruel and unusual punishment for Ayesha, me and the car. So I stood underneath some hot water for a few minutes, mostly trying not to fall down and crack my head wide open on the porcelain. We finished packing the car to the ceiling, climbed in the car and I was asleep again by the time we hit the highway.

A few scant hours later and we were out of the home state and it was my turn to drive. As you can guess, driving south 5 hours through Illinois is about as interesting as watching old vacation slides at your girlfriend's parent's house. The thought of one thing drove us onward and kept me from casually steering the car into a goddamn bridge embunkment: we were headed to the promise land. A place so magical that Willy Wonka himself would worship at the alter of it. I'm of course referring to the world headquarters of Anheuser-Busch, in St. Louis, MO.

In the weeks leading up to our little excursion, Ayesha would often ask what places I wanted to stop along our way. My response was always the same, always singular - The Budweiser plant. I felt it was only fair, like the prodigal son returning to the place from which he taken so much. And all I can say is that it didn't disappoint. From the brewing process to the bottling of the sweet amber liquid, we saw it all. And at the end, we were given two complimentary glasses of the aromatic nectar. I ended up purchasing a Natural Light T-shirt and pint glass from the gift shop, as a way of paying homage to that which had got me through so many tough times in my youth.

In an effort to be carefree and spontaneous, along with no set agenda we had booked no rooms at any of our planned stopping points. While this would bite us hard on the ass very soon, we grabbed a visitors guide after our brewery tour and found a room downtown fro a mere $70. Of course $70 in downtown STL gets you a room just this side of rinky-dink (no wi-fi? who does that?) but for our purposes (walking distance to the bars) it was perfect. So we showered and washed the smell of Civic off of us and preceded to the bar.

Now the one thing every guy knows about women's fashion, is that for some reason passing explanation, it usually comes sans pockets. These leaves boyfriends and husbands the world over in a common predicament - have her boil things down to the essentials (wallet, keys, cell phone, camera, etc) and tote her life around in your pockets for the evening, or bring the purse. And its the definition of a catch-22. Take on all her stuff like a sherpa and you may look and feel like Schneider from One Day at a Time all evening. Don't, and you spend half the night purse sitting. 'Can you hold my purse?' 'Can you watch our purses while we go to the bathroom?' 'Can you please tuck this under your arm for a while so I can both claim and emasculate you at the same time?' For the record, that night I walked around with about $2000 worth of electronics in my pants.

So we toured the little strip of STL riverfront bars. We ate some unbelievable food (and they even let us draw pictures on the table) and drank our body weights. There was a teaching conference in town so Ayesha chatted up her peers and got several job offers. One desi girl cornered her for twenty minutes - seeing that they were the only two brown people in a sea of white, I guess it made sense. We drank and drank and then decided to hit one more bar at the end of the night on the way home - some little hole in the wall that 4 people were drinking at. We sat down and Ayesha started to talk to the bouncer. I paid little attention, as Ayesha will talk to anyone. I vaguely heard them discussing where he was from and what he did, but I was mainly concentrating on my drink. Then, like hearing a hot girl's voice say your name in a crowded room, my head snapped around as I heard Ayesha's condescending tone query 'And that's what you want to do with your life?' I chugged my drink in an effort to get us home ASAP as they argued a little (the 250# bouncer was a tad nonplused). It was clearly time to call it an evening, especially since I had a feeling there would be another very early wake up call the next morning.

Part three: STL to OKCity
In which we delve into the tourist trap, ponder why a major American city would shut down at 10 and take time to increase diplomatic relations between muslims and jews

Luckily the booze had made Ayesha a little sleepier than the previous morning, and we were allowed to sleep until 9:30. As soon as we were out of STL proper, we got our first glimpse of tourist trap America. The stragety for these places seems to be 'put up a billboard every five feet until we beat it into their heads that they should come here'. And we fell prey to the first of these such schemes - Meramec Caverns. We got off the highway after being begged like a child who neeeeeeded some candy and I immediately heard the theme song to Deliverance in my head. I had commented to Ayesha before we left that I hoped nobody would take offense to the fact that we were an interracial couple while in some of the more 'rural' parts of this great nation. I figured if we could make it to Texas, we could pass her off as hispanic and no one would pay any attention. And while I've never gave much thought about our differing skin tones, the hour we spent off the beaten path in rural Missoura gave me pause once or twice.

Luckily, the tour was too expensive both monetarily and of our precious travel time to stay, so it was back to the interstate. Then we proceeded to make a number of inefficient stops and side routes that made for a day that felt like eternity. Long story short (yeah, I know...) we got to Oklahoma City tired, cranky, and hungry. It was 9:00 by the time we stopped in the visitors center to ask about hotels. I asked for the cheapest place in walking distance to the bars in 'Bricktown' - which seemed like where we wanted to be. It was an old historical part of town with bars and restaurants and entertainment. Score. So she points us to the Marriot where we are promptly told that they are booked for the night. But we were in luck, their sister hotel, the Residence Inn right down the road, had plenty of rooms. So we drive a few blocks only to be told that it'll be $200 a night. A go-fuck-yourself later and we're in the car calling hotels looking for a room. Even the airport wants $120. So on the verge of beating each other's heads in halfway to the airport hotels, we agree to suck it up and pay the $200. We clean up and go looking for sustenance, as no one wants to poke a hungry Ayesha witha stick.

My spirits were buoyed when we found ourselves at the corner of Mickey Mantle and Flaming Lips Alley. Truly a more juxtaposed intersection has never existed. I get excited at the prospect of running into Wayne Coyne, and we continue our leisurely walk through OKCity, deciding which restaurant will get our business. After circling the small neighborhood, we tried some Bistro or other, only to find it closing shop for the night. Weird, we thought, but ah well, on to the next one. Then we got worried - as we got gas faced by the maitre d at our second choice. Panic set in at restaurant three when when we got another 'Parks closed, Moose out front should have told you.' We start trying anywhere that looks like they might have food an has hours past 10. We finally settle down in a shitty sports bar for nachos and quesadillas at 10:30, and all the momentum of Flaming Lips Alley has dissipated. How could Wayne let this happen? He should be ashamed. 10 o'clock on a Thursday and people are telling us the only restaurant open is the IHOP? 10 is when we start to think about going out in my town, bitch. If I was Wayne, I'd take my name off that alley.

Luckily, the booze helped to calm our vitriol. We began (or continued day two of, if you prefer) our bar crawl through OKCity. There was a pub with 800 beers and guitar hero, a trendy place with a giant door and decent hipster music, and then there was the final stop at the hole in the wall. We happened upon by accident, after trying get into some rooftop 'oonce oonce' bar that wanted $10 cover for dudes. A go-fuck-yourself later and were in some non-descript joint with three drunks at the bar and us. We sit down and start to talk to the bartender about how drunk the other three patrons are. One eventually notices us noticing them and comes over to us. The guy recognizes my Promise Ring T and we start to talk about music. After several minutes of ignoring her (caught up in conversation) I eventually make some sort of gesture to introduce Ayesha. She immediately pipes in with 'I know you. You're the guy who wouldn't give us a room at the Marriot.' Turns out he was the guy working the desk earlier when we had tried to procure a 'cheap' room. He immediately blames it on the fact that he thought that she was muslim and he is a jew. A few more minutes of solving the mid-east peace crisis and our attention turned to the female that Jewy McJewstein was with. Fucked Up Boo Butt© doesn't begin to describe this girl. We watched her make out with every single person in the bar, minus me and a failed attempt at sucking Ayesha's boobies. She bit Jewy's nips so hard they bled. Thank God we were too drunk to be scared.

After being kicked out (well, everyone but the Fucked Up Boo Butt©, who we assumed stayed to suck off the bartenders) we start to tell our new jew-friend about our next stop on our trip. He immediately offers to get us a room at the employee rate in ABQ. We all hugged and wondered why Israel and Palestine can't get along so easily.

Part four: OKCity to ABQ
In which we learn that in the desert, you don't need to build up when you can build out and how painful living in corporate hell can truly be

My first instinct for this leg of our journey was to give the ubiquitous two word review: shit sandwich. But that's not exactly fair to anyone. We decided not to 'sleep in' the next morning and were on the road bright and early. Our only goals for the day were to find some authentic Tex-Mex in Amarillo and get Ayesha a car charger for her cell phone - since she was drunk when she packed her regular cell charger, couldn't find it in the overpacked Civic and now had a phone with 0% battery life. Without going into particulars, the first attempt to find a Sprint store was disastrous, and threatened to make make day 3 as stressful as day 2. But we persevered on, deciding that if we see one sitting off the highway, we'll stop, but otherwise not worry about it. We the brown sprawl of Amarillo and our bellies burned for some down home Tex-Mex. We found what we looking for tucked away underneath an overpass. When the waitress gave us easy directions to a Sprint store right down the road, we left Texas with a skip in our step, after all, we had a cheap-o room waiting for us in ABQ.

To paraphrase Dave Atell, you know what's fun to do in Albuquerque? Pack up and leave, because it sucks. As we drove through the 'city' I kept looking for 'downtown'. And even though we drove right through and around ABQ, I couldn't tell you within 5 miles what's considered 'downtown'. In my world, downtown is the place you point to from the highway with all the buildings over ten stories. Apparently nobody told ABQ this. Our hotel, while very nice and very cheap, was no where near much of anything that didn't have 2,000 locations coast to coast. And we learned that a cab ride to 'downtown' was about $25. We began to wonder if our cheap-o room was a blessing or curse.

We eventually found a micro-brewery with decent food, and ended up drinking all night at some corporate cookie-cutter bar, filled with stereotypical, cookie-cutter patrons. At least it was near a complex that allowed us to take the sweet picture below, which reads 'Ayesha @ 25' - which she is. Well it was all for the best perhaps, as we had to be in PHX early the next morning and getting to bed before two was very necessary.

Part five: ABQ to PHX
In which we learn what it feels like to live on the face of the sun and just how much it costs to furnish an apartment

I wasn't a huge fan of Ayesha's move to the desert for several reasons, many obvious, some not so much. But once it was avalanche comin' down a mountain that I could neither outrun nor avoid, I decided to not make too much fun and be supportive in my limited ability to do so. But the one thing I wouldn't compromise on is the heat. A person as white as I wasn't built for the desert, and I would in no way be silent on the subject. So I had been surprised, despite our driving south and west for 1500 miles, that the temperature was still very bearable. Even when hit Flagstaff, AZ, it was raining. Raining! In the desert! What will they think of next. Turns out, rain doesn't cool things off in the desert like it does up here near the great lakes. Because 30 miles South of Flagstaff, a half hour after it had finished raining, we pulled over at a rest stop, stepped out of the car and onto the face of the sun. Dry heat my ass.

But before you knew it we were at Ayesha's new living quarters, right across the way from the site of Super Bowl XLII. After signing away the next year of her life, we started to unpack the sum of her possessions into the apartment. It became immediately clear that this place was going to need furniture. And toilet paper. And garbage bags and towels and all the other things that make a house a home. So for the next 16 hours we ran to Ikea (twice) and Target (twice) and the other places that one buys things to furnish an apartment. And then we hammered and screwed and covered and adjusted, until we had formed a suitable living space - at least the outer shell of one that could be a foundation for the next year of acquiring more 'things'. And while we managed to celebrate a little in the middle of all that settling for a while with Ayesha's friend Detta, Sunday night it was time to unwind, Naptown style.

Part six: PHX to A2
In which Napoleon reunites in the desert and life begins anew

By sheer twist of fate, a few of my good friends from way back in high school lived 30 minutes from Ayesha's new place. So we had made tentative plans to see them while I was out there. After finally getting a return call from Sketchasorous Rex (Jer) we headed across the valley to spend the evening with Larry and the Brothers Spencer.

After much reminiscing, grilling, guitar playing and drinking, it was time to venture out of the house. They took us to a dive called Ernies, where we did shots, sang karaoke and did shots. AZ has a smoking ban, but everywhere had outside patios which you walk out on and sneak a toke. Ernies even provided you with a light mist of water to cool you down on hot summer nights. Unfortunately it smelled like it had been pumped straight from a river where people were dumping raw sewage and left you feeling like you had just sweat through all your clothes. It could be argued that just walking into Ernies makes you feel that way, but I was to drunk to draw any distinction.

Unfortunately, not much more remains in memory from that evening. I know it was great to see Pants and Larry. I miss those guys. Its a good feeling to know that the first time and last time you got blind drunk with someone are more than 15 years apart. Wait, is that good? Yeah, consistency is good. Shut up, I'm going with it.

The next day we awoke with colossal hangovers we drove to shower and then grab lunch. After that and Ayesha's compulsory nap. We decided to visit Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's Scottsdale compound. It was beautiful, impressive, and appropriate, as we bookended our trip with the only two touristy things we followed through on. After Taliesin, there was just enough time to go home, grab the bags, and head to the airport. Ayesha dropped me off at the Northwest gate and we said our goodbyes. She was to stay in the desert heat and start a new life, I to return to the midwest and resume my old one - that is my old old life before Ayesha entered it, a single guy amongst all the married folk. I supposed one could argue that its not the same, that I'm a far richer person for all my experiences with Ayesha. And I know one could argue that now I'm really up shit creek, as a year later more and more of my friends are either no longer single or no longer childless, leaving my pool of irresponsible drunkards slowly dwindling. That's about as philosophical as I'm going to get about it. For now. Best of luck ¡Pobrecito! I love you. You'll do great out there in that desert heat I'm sure. After all, your melanin levels are far better suited for it than mine.

Posted 4:40pm
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July 24th, 2007

My liver, why hast thou forsaken me?

Its true, even a drunk has his limits. As I rolled back into A2 this morning fresh my cross-country jaunt, my liver whispered to me that maybe a night off is in order. And that maybe watching Leaving Las Vegas would be a good object lesson for me. To say we drank our way across America doesn't even quite do the trip justice. Needless to say, it was a blast. Full recap is forthcoming, but it may take a bit as I try and piece my life back together - a process that becomes more and more difficult as we get older and take longer vacations.

So I quick thank you to Anheuser-Busch, Jewy McJewstein of the OKCity Marriot, the disappointment of Wayne Coyne, The Spencers, Larry, Frank Lloyd Wright and especially my ¡Pobrecito! It was truly unforgettable. And yes, I hope to clarify the previous sentence shortly. Just as soon as my enzyme levels get back to their normal levels.

Posted 1:39pm
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July 16th, 2007

365 days until my breakdown.

Its presenting itself to be the greatest week of my life. Of course the pragmatist in me (take that cynic label and shove it up your ass) realizes that the expectation alone will lead to nothing but disappointment. That notwithstanding, I'm ready to jump into the deep end like its a 75 degree day in June. Brace for impact and let your body adjust once its in the thick of it - it'll all be worth it in the end.

- Tuesday marks the fulfillment of a decade long dream. As a ginormous music snob (someone recently remarked 'I thought I was music snob, but T takes it to a whole new level'. Who knew?) I go to a lot of concerts. But they're mostly of the $20, dive bar variety. As such, I'm diametrically opposed to overpaying to see a band. $20 to see a solo Ben Gibbard? Totally there. $100 to see Paul McCartney? Go fuck yourself. But I've always said that I'd pay anything to see a reunited Police. I think they're one of the most important bands of the last 25 years and that they still have the stones to pull off a show that would be somewhat reminiscent of what they were in their heyday. So when they announced their reunion tour, my erection was massive. My attempts at procuring tickets were rebuffed by $50 offers for seats behind the stage or $250 tix for the main floor - offers that were either insulting to my intelligence or my pocketbook. Somehow - call it karma, kismet, or dumb luck, Stov managed to get us decent seats for the paltry sum of $75. So Tuesday night, I, much like Spider-man or Batman, fulfill my destiny and kneel before the alter of Sting, Stewart and Andy. How I'm going to concentrate the next two days I'll never know.

- Wednesday the off again/on again trip to AZ will finally commence. I'm taking Ayesha to her new life in Phoenix, crisscrossing the country via St. Louis, OK City and ABQ. Driving across America has always been a dream of mine, so its another fulfillment I can check off the list. Anyone with cross country travel tips, the comments section is below. The plan will be to update things from the road, modern day Kerouac style, but I make no promises.

- And the week begins with Siddhartha's entry into his 12th year of existence. It really seems like yesterday that I was a college kid shitting my pants over how I was going to make my way in the world and raise a kid at the same time. We've made it this far, and if you ask me, we're doing just fine. He's truly unbelievable and my absolute favorite person in the world. Who knows how I managed to get so lucky. Check back in a year for a post of a different color where I have a mental breakdown at being 32 and having a teenager. More to come.

Posted 12:25am
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July 13th, 2007

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

- The new Spoon record is out and getting some illusrious reviews. I had a chance to check 'em out live last Wednesday, and it is a much recommended experience.

- Two great albums in one week? Check. After a long absence, Buffalo Tom is back with Three Easy Pieces, their first album in almost a decade. It'll definitely take you back to the days when Angela snuck out of her house to see them on My So Called Life, but it also manages to sound fresh. An impressive feat for the first band I ever interviewed back in 1996.

- The word is finally getting out, W is the worst. president. ever. I try not to laugh since its quite sad what him and his cronies are doing to this country, but tee hee anyway.

- In the words of Fark: Suck it, creationists. Let us end the debate now.

- If I haven't seen you and mentioned it yet (and if I've seen you, I probably have) Once is the best movie I've seen in some time. Well, if not the best, certainly the most charming and original thing I've laid eyes on in ages.

Posted 3:34pm
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July 11th, 2007

Movin' on up like George and Wheezy.

I have an unnatural love for the place I live. It was a big deal for me to make my way to the University of Michigan. As such, I formed an instant attachment to the place and the city that surrounds that rivals the bond between mother and child. Its been ten years since I graduated college, and I'm still here, still working for the University, still in that hazy, lovey-dovey head space that you find yourself in when you're 13 and the girl who gives you day long erections agrees to slow dance with you during Mr. Big's "To Be With You".

I bring it up because two people I know are leaving A2 in the next week for 'greener' pastures. A week from today I'm schlepping Ayesha across this great country of ours out to the oppressive heat of Arizona. A native Michigander (and State alumnus) Ayesha has come to the conclusion, in her words, that its time to leave the mitten. While I like to think that in the last ten months I've made Ayesha more fond of my little hamlet here in SE Michigan than she had previously thought possible, she came here with plans to leave. Plans that were years in the making and that even my charisma and animal magnetism could not overcome.

More apropos to our little one sided discussion here is Wex's exodus to the Windy City. After 30 years in Michigan and several degrees from one of world's elite institutions of higher learning, the Mantooth is leaving it all behind for work in the city of big shoulders. He's leaving the comfort of the well worn paths of softball, tailgating, and bars where everybody knows your name to start again with a new job in a new city. I realize this happens everyday and let's not get over dramatic about it, but the older I get, the more I wonder if I'll ever do it.

I was lucky enough to have the Buddha (and his baby mama) come to Ann Arbor about 8 years ago. And their existence will ensure my sticking around this place for the next half dozen years or so (more likely 10 if and when the Buddha enrolls at UofM). A lot of people assume that if it weren't for them, I'd have left this place long ago, going forth to make my way in the world in some exotic locale. No one can say where I might have ended up if not for my teenage entrance into fatherhood, but with each passing year, this place feels more like home. Secretly, I think I'm glad to have the excuse of the Buddha keeping me here, instead of having to explain that I'm so head over heels for this place that I may never leave.

Of course who knows how I'll feel in ten years. Maybe the cabin fever will set in and it'll be time for me to pack it in and start fresh someplace where everybody doesn't already know I'm a loud drunk asshole. But as it stands, I can't imagine walking away from the people and places I've grown so accustomed to. That may be complacent. And it may make me a townie. But as any guy will tell you, its difficult to get up and leave when you have a massive erection.

Posted 2:01pm
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July 9th, 2007

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime On vacation, doubly so.

Did you ever see that awful film (starring America's favorite anti-Semite and purveyor of torture porn Mel Gibson) Forever Young? If you're lucky enough to have never witnessed it, let me save you the trouble. Mel gets frozen in some military experiment and yadda yadda yadda what was supposed to be 5 weeks ends up being 50 years. Eventually he wakes up, 1940's Mel makes his way in 1990's America, hilarity ensues. The reason I reference it now is not to warn you against seeing a 15 year old movie that if you've successfully avoided to this point in your life you're pretty obviously safe from. Rather because after Mel makes up from his psuedo-carbonite deep freeze, his body eventually starts to catch up with time. Those 50 years he slept through still happened, and at the end of the movie, Mel looks like the old man you'd expect.

OK, so my terrible synopsis of a terrible movie aside, both our points are this: you can't stop time. It moves forward despite our best efforts to ignore that it is a constant (with apologies to Mr. Einstein for that oversimplification) This is glaringly apparent to me when ever I decide to take a vacation. It used to be that a guy could leave the world behind for a week or so and when he returned he would insert himself back into the continuum unnoticed. And pardon me for a second if I sound egotistical (you should be used to it) but that doesn't work for me anymore. I have become too important. Which is to say, leading up to a vacation requires a lot of running around and prep work to ensure that protocol is in place for disaster should it strike in your absence. And of course upon your return, you must put out all the fires that flared up while you were gone and no one either knew how to or cared to extinguish.

I'm sure most people feel this way as they get older and are assigned more responsibilities at their job. I find myself checking and even answering (ANSWERING!) emails while I'm on vacation. This is ridiculous. I'd like it to stop. Somehow, I'm not holding my breath on that one. I took 2 days off last week and I'm complaining. Sheesh. Let's attribute it to the anticipatory headache of being gone for an entire week soon. Because I'm going to try and enjoy myself and not even think about work during that. Wish me luck. I know if I succeed I'll likely be setting myself up for that much more pain and disaster upon my return. Welcome to adulthood, where everything's a catch-22.

That being said, the last 5 days were wonderful and ultimately worth it. I got to see Spoon and Cheap Trick, I got to pretend I was 22 again with a spontaneous trip to Cedar Point (the new coaster rules, btw), and most importantly, got to take 3 generations of Brubakers to see the Tigers beat the Red Sox. That's totally worth all the extra work a vacation can induce.

Posted 2:39pm
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July 3rd, 2007

On social contracts and harrier jets

I love me some John McClane. I've often had the drunken bar argument about what the greatest action movie of all time is. And while we all know in our hearts that the correct answer is Raiders of the Lost Ark, I respect those that make their case for the original Die Hard. In the end, Nazis and the ark of the covenant are just cooler than Alan Rickman and the Nakatomi building (even though Rickman gives the more interesting performance, Ronald Lacey's face being melted off wins in the end.)

So I was giddy when I saw the latest Die Hard installment getting good reviews. I was even more pleased when I went to see it this weekend and it rocked my face. In a summer of underwhelming sequels, Die Hard brought the shit. It stayed away from becoming some sort of hackneyed perversion of itself and just ran through 2 hours of action packed goodness, with dear old (OLD!) John lamenting what he was going through again the entire way. The end was satisfying and I walked out thinking, 'That's what a summer blockbuster should be.' Except for that one tiny bit near the end.

Let me preface this by saying I have no problem suspending belief. I realize that even your garden variety action hero is going to pull off the impossible before the credits roll. He wouldn't be an action hero if he didn't. And given the context of the movie, I'm willing to raise or lower my acceptable level of plausibility based on circumstances. Which is to say I don't worry about the physics of Spider-man swinging his way through NYC and I don't calculate the odds of whether or not Indy could have actually outrun that boulder. But you know when they've crossed the line. It often involves unintentional laughter from the audience and usually attributes superhuman abilities and uncanny luck to a mere mortal, with no acknowledgment that they're doing so. Remember when you saw the last Pierce Brosnon James Bond movie and he parachutes/surfs into the bad guys hideout? Yeah, that stuff. (Actually, just for the record, pretty much every scene in the last Brosnon Bond felt like that.)

Which is why I felt my eyes beginning to roll when the harrier jet shows up at the end of Die Hard 4. When you buy a ticket for an action movie (and well, almost any movie really) you are entering into an unwritten social contract with the makers of the film. You promise to give us your best effort, and either stay within the bounds of believability, or justify it when you skirt the laws of physics, etc. I don't care how you do it - maybe your protagonist is a meta-human. Maybe you're in the Matrix. Maybe you're playing something up for comedy and the little wink or shrug your hero gives the camera makes everything all right. And in quid pro quo fashion, we agree to let you stretch that plausibility to its breaking point. Hey, its a movie after all. We're there to be entertained. But when 50+ year old John McClane takes on a harrier jet with a semi and wins! All the yabadabado yipee kay yea mutherfuckers in the world won't make it all right.

That being said, I still liked the movie. Just please, film makers of the world entrusted with 100 million dollar tentpole films, remember sometimes less is more. Because, without giving anything away, the low key, personal, no-explosion ending was waaay better than McClane falling onto the harrier and then falling off just in time to have it explode over his head. C'mon people, you're better than that.

Posted 4:07pm
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July 2nd, 2007

...into a goddamn bridge imbunkment!

Its not hard to rile me up. Especially when I'm in my car. I often dream of rear ending assholes who cut me off on the highway and am a frequent deployer of the 'naughty' finger. But at least those are semirational flights of fancy. My real dementia kicks in when it comes to bumper stickers. I honestly get pissed when I'm behind an SUV with W sticker on it. If I see a car sporting a jesus fish, I assume that the passengers are self righteous assholes. I want nothing more that to hope in some Mad Max deathmobile and pick these dolts off one by one. Thankfully I'm a much calmer person in my old(er) age, and these are nothing more than idle fantasies - the severity of which is dependent on my mood at any one time.

And the sad part is that bumper stickers that espouse attitudes or ideas that I'm in agreement with bring me no pleasure. I don't want to get out and shake the hand of someone with a pro-choice bumper sticker. And I'm not necessarily more likely to allow someone to merge in front of me if he has a Michigan sticker on his car. OK, maybe a tad more likely if I'm in a real good mood. Maybe I just have an unnatural dislike of people who choose to express themselves politically through the back of their hoopty. But yesterday, I found myself in a bit of a conundrum.

I was driving back to Michigan from Ohio along the all too familiar route of US23. Shortly after crossing the boarder back into our great state (thus allowing me to exhale after 28 hours of holding my breath) I saw something that my blood into the liquid hot magma of krakatoa herself. There, on the smug SUV in front me, was a small sticker in the lower left hand corner of the window that read 'The Ohio State University'. (On a side note, if anyone can figure out how to type an 'i' without dotting it, please LMK ASAP). Now having just spent sometime in truck driver country, my immunities to scarlet and gray were pretty high. You get inundated by it down there, and eventually you just go numb to it. But this guy was spoiling my return into God's country. I almost let it go, but then I glanced down at his license plate, and this douche wasn't someone from Ohio sneaking north for some clean living, he was from Michigan.

So I again start to imagine my (irrational) fantasy where I put this dude into the burm Blues Brothers style. And that's when I noticed the other statement my new nemesis had decided to make with his unit. There, below the hideous ode to tOSU, was the Darwin fish. Now I had myself a real quandary. Does the tribute to science and reason negate, or even outweigh (?!?) the douche baggery that I had so recently credited to someone who would reside in the great state of Michigan yet root, nay proclaim love for!, tOSU? Its certainly a question the philosophers will wrestle with for ages to come. While I've gone through numerous permutations as to how I should feel about the situation, my current state of mind is that the guy bought the car with the Darwin fish already on it, and added the OSU decal himself later, thus justifying my loathing hatred of everything he stands for. Let's just hope I don't ever see a Michigan alumni decal next to a 'God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' sticker. My head may explode.

Posted 1:51pm
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July 1st, 2007

Ernie Harwell is far from loooooooong gone.

We've talked quite a bit in the last few weeks and months about the start of summer and when you know its finally arrived. And while I stand by them (at least on the principle that if you challenge me on them I'll argue with you until you admit I'm right) we've never really discussed what will forever be summer in my mind. Because that as far as I'm concerned, revolves around a screened in porch, the Moeman's pipe, and Ernie Harwell.

To avoid going into the tedium of backstories, I'll assume most of you know the Moeman and his profession as a sportswriter of neigh these 50 years. This fact lead to my dad spending the majority of his time consuming sports and information on the whole as I was growing up. And back in those days, that meant newspapers and AM radio. So during those lazy hazy days of summer in my youth, the Moses would sit on the back (screened in) porch of 1006 Westmont and devour half a dozen newspapers, smoke his pipe and listen to the Tigers on WJR. And given my parents financially prudent penchant for not turning on the AC, my brother and I would join him there to play whatever G.I. Joe/Transformer/Lego thing we were into at the moment, as it was the coolest part of the house.

So as Pavlov would tell you, the smell of a pipe, the feel of a broadsheet and the voice of Ernie always immediately take me to the summers of my youth. Perhaps nothing more than the sparse stylings of Mr. Harwell, and his myriad catchphrases and signature ability to turn a phrase. Which is why I feel like I stepped right into Mr. Peabody's wayback machine tonight.

After driving 80 miles south for a quick hitter in Napoleon to see the family and spend some quality time, I returned to A2 to find ol' Ern in the booth helping to broadcast ESPN's Sunday night baseball with the Tigers. And I immediately wondered if I might be killing of brain cells at too rapid a pace. Because 89 year old Ernie was as sharp as anyone I'd ever heard pontificate about anything. His recall of statistics and events was uncanny, and I can only assume he was 100% right about everything he said.

Before his all too brief guest appearance in the booth was over, Joe Morgan and John Miller stepped aside and let Ernie do what he did for 55 years as well as anybody has ever done - call the game. And I don't care what philosophy you ascribe to, it was kismet that his final words got to be 'He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched it go by,' Because Ernie should know - no one's sat there and watched more baseball go by than he has.

Posted 9:44pm
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June 29h, 2007

Take me drunk I'm home.

While I have some devilsihly interesting thoughts gestating inside my head at the moment, I had five beers at lunch (who does that?) and thusly am incapable of giving them the literary justice they deserve. So instead, enjoy these things you can stare at on the internet:

- Fans of the Will Ferrel short 'The Landlord', its good news/bad news. Pearl is back! This time as a no nonsense renegade detective in 'Good Cop, Baby Cop'. The bad news - she's retiring.

- Cousin lusting George Michael, late of Arrested Development, has a pretty funny web show up and running here. If you like you're comedy like your sherry (very dry) you might enjoy it. If you hated Arrested Development, go back to laughing at the dramatic squirrel.

- Do you love Reno 911! and think voting apathy is deplorable? Have I got the site for you.

- I've pretty much liked Aaron Sorkin ever since I saw A Few Good Men for the first time. That and The West Wing were pretty much home runs, if not solid stand up triples. However he's always been more an architect of dialogue rather than a master plotter in the Hitchcockian sense. There's no better example of this than his latest cancelled series Studio 60. Great acting and dialogue, with a plot and storylines that only a mother could love. Those who missed the whole thing or just the last few episodes they recently aired after an extended hiatus, can watch full episodes here.

Posted 2:55pm
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June 28h, 2007

Take on me...

I can't even look at myself in the mirror this morning. Last night Ayesha and I were hanging out and for lack of something better to do, we decided to go up to the bar to participate in music trivia night. Given that it was just Ayesha and I, hopes didn't run high that we'd win the thing. While I pride myself on my trivia prowess (as well as my knowledge of music), Ayesha isn't so much on the trivia tip. And she's the polar opposite of me when it comes to competitiveness - which is to say while I've had games of Cranium come to blows, she has a marked indifference to winning or losing. Put it all together and we were basically there to have a couple beers and laugh about the songs I knew all the lyrics to that she didn't even recognize (often because they came out before she was born).

But a funny thing happened on the way to half drunk. My semi-encyclopedic knowledge of obscure Peter Cetera songs, coupled with Ayesha's recall of turn of the century 'booty' music, stood up better than we thought against the competition. Despite being undermanned, we somehow managed to squeak into a tie for third place by the end of the evening. And as it the old maxim goes, all ties must and will be broken. So it was time for a music nerd showdown of Potsie like proportions.

We were called up to the front where the host would play one (and only one) song, the first to name that tune would walk away triumphant. Of course as my old buddy TJ implemented all those years ago, to the victor go the spoils, so the quickest wit got a king's ransom of bar swag, whilst the synaptically challenged went home empty handed. But I felt good. We'd come this far on smoke and mirrors, surely we'd be rewarded now that we were so close to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

The song began to play. My mental rolodex of mid eighties synth pop began spin like a weathervane during a tornado, as I immediately recognized the time and genre. But it was nondescript. I began to sing along in my head to frantic beat. I was on cusp. I knew the giveaway melody was about to enter - I needed to get there before my opponent. I tried to sing faster but it just wouldn't come. And when it finally did, I felt wicked stupid. I immediately felt sorry for myself. I started to picture the classic video, with lead singer Morten Harket trying to break the confines of his comic book world. How could this have taken me this long? And as soon as the name began to slide off my tongue and parse my lips, that's when I heard it. "Take on Me".

I was too late. While I was busy feeling stupid and sorry for myself, I had been vanquished. Sucker punched by a song I've probably heard 500 times. A song that has one of the most easily identifiable keyboard lines in music history. Stabbed by synthpop! I walked back to the table a beaten man, cursing that damn Norwegian band for ever existing. Stupid one hit wonders. I'll never hear that falsetto 'For a day or twoooooooooooo..' the same again. Damn the persistence of memory.

Posted 11:15am
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June 27h, 2007

On blackouts and such (no, not those kind of blackouts)

I love thunderstorms. As a kid I would sit on our screened in back porch on stormy summer nights and just take in the rain. Listening to the barrage of thick, heavy raindrops ('Chubby Rain', as Steve Martin might call it) was like meditation for me. Or maybe more accurately like one of those old magic eye pictures. If I relaxed my ears enough, I could hear the pattern in the drops hitting the earth. Of course it also helped that my big sister was deathly afraid of thunder and lightning - so taking joy in her fear was also part of the equation. I on the other hand, think I felt strangely empowered by the flash and rumble. A good lightning strike accompanied with a powerful thunder clap can make you jump a bit, but I think being so close to something so powerful, yet harbored safely away from it made me feel above nature's fury. Its probably all well and good I don't live in Florida or New Orleans.

And blackouts are the best. As a kid, not always so much. All blackouts meant was that you were stuck home with your parents and had no TV to watch. Now a blackout is like Christmas come early. Power goes out at 2pm on a Wednesday? There's nothing for me to do at work, so go home! Blackout at 8pm on a Thursday? Best call some peoples and throw together an impromptu session of binge drinking! Blackout at 5am on a Monday? I'm not late for work because I'm hungover, my alarm clock is just flashing 12:00! So here's hoping the lightning fairy blows a transformer in your neighborhood - but just long enough to dig out flashlights and pretend like its the 19th century - not long enough that you have throw out shit in your freezer that thawed.

Posted 3:09pm
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June 26th, 2007

Old man take a look at my life...

Its hard to make me feel old anymore. My son is about to turn 12 and start the seventh grade, so pretty much everything else pales in comparison. But that wasn't always the case. Someone recently posted a comment on my myspace account, noting that I attended high school in 1990, replete with an incredulous exclamation point. I shrugged it off, as somewhere in my head 1990 doesn't seem that long ago. When reflecting on things that happened in pop culture during the 90's, I think of them as happening yesterday, despite the fact that 1990 was 17 years ago. I'm sure that this is all tied up in clinging to youth and viewing myself as perpetually somewhere between the ages of 16 and 24.

But it did get me thinking about the first few times my age hit me. The first was when I was someone wearing a varsity jacket with '00' as the year. For some reason when I saw that for the first time the same incredulous exclamation mark showed up in my head. The second was when I saw the first Playboy centerfold that was born in 1980. That one came with a great tinge of sadness. And of course related to that and even sadder, is when the signs in the bar that read something to the effect of 'You must be born before this date to drink alcohol' started to show dates in the 80's. All three were striking visual reminders that I may not be who they were talking about anymore when they bitched about 'kids these days.'

And as someone in my *cough* early thirties, I know I'm not that person anymore. My friends are all married - homeowners that pop out kids like pez dispensers. I see high school kids hanging out at the movies and I think 'punks'. I talk to college aged interns at work and wonder what they must think of me. Because in my mind, I relate to them more than I do the PhDs in their early forties - despite the fact that they probably lump me in with them, and probably rightfully so. But I guess part of me will always see the 90's as not that long ago, even when somebody who graduated high school in 2000 deems it necessary to put in an incredulous exclamation mark after it. Maybe that'll change in 2 years when I have a teenager about to start high school. In all likelihood my head will explode and it will be a moot point. Either that or it'll be time to buy a corvette.

Posted 11:15am
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June 25th, 2007

This just in: Billy Corgan is a huge fucking douche bag

The other night I was having a long, heated, drunken debate about the temerity of artists who allow their music to be used in television commercials. I was trying to make the nuanced point that lower tier artists (say, Wilco) can not only help to eke out a living by getting paid through new revenue streams for their music, but help to promote their music and attract new listeners. Did anyone know about The Postal Service before they started showing up in commercials everywhere? I'll admit that they overdid it a tad there, but it is largely responsible for making their album Give Up the second biggest selling album in the history of Sub-Pop (at a mere 650,000 copies) Sure I think it's hideous to hear Zep in a Cadillac commercial, or for Sting to sit like a pompous ass in the back of a Jaguar. But Wilco pimping VW? With the death of commercial radio and the rise of CD pirating, any way Wilco can get their music out there is fine by me - esp. if its for a product that's (at least in my mind) less evil than say Microsoft. My friend's counter argument was that whatever product it is, its a sellout. And Wilco ain't hurtin' anyway. We agreed to disagree, except on the Sting bit and the fact that Of Montreal let Outback Steakhouse rewrite one of their songs. That should be bile inducing to everyone.

And so should this be: uber-dork Billy Corgan wants you to go to the mall. The once and future Smashing Pumpkin is putting out no less than four (FOUR!) versions of his new Pumpkins album Zeitgeist. This is a move that only George Lucas could love. There will be different songs on the copy of the album you buy, depending on where you buy it. Target, Best Buy, and iTunes will all have 'exclusive' tracks that you won't be able to buy anywhere else. Those of you trying to support small ,independent record shops, suck it, so sayeth the Pumpkins.

So thanks Billy, for shitting on small business and trying to make your devoted fans buy your new album four (FOUR!) times. Normally I don't (publicly) endorse using the power of the internets for lawlessness or copyright infringement, but if you still think you want to hear this d-bag's latest opus, become one with the power of the bittorrent.

Posted 11:18pm
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June 22nd, 2007

Keep that up and you'll go blind

Any cop or lawyer will tell you - there's nothing less accurate than an eye witness account. Turns out our brains ain't so good at remembering things as they actually happened. And of course any quantum physicist will readily remind you that by observing an even you inherently change it. I was reminded last night about how our terrible memories, along with 'observing' events over time in our own heads, really disproves the maxim that hindsight is 20/20.

A few weeks back I was having drinks with a female friend who was relating the events of a recent first date that went impossibly well. There was great chemistry, he said the right things and my friend was one smitten kitten. He even called the next day, verifying for her that they were on the same page. Cut to two weeks later when my friend and I again are out to imbibe and swap stories. When we sat down and the headline wasn't about the intervening two weeks with the new Mr. Wonderful, I figured she'd buried the lead. But when I eventually got around to asking about the guy, history had been somewhat rewritten.

Turns out that after the next day phone call from Mr. Wonderful (post first date), he was never heard from again. And Mr. Wonderful had become Senior Asshole. And suddenly, I was being relayed a different account of the first date that originally went impossibly well. Now there were signs. Things that were originally cute and endearing were now signs and precursors for someone who would call the next day and then disappear into the ether.

And I don't want to insinuate in any way that I feel my friend was duped or played - there's a million different scenarios for what happened and given that she never heard from the guy again, we'll never be sure what actually went down. But for our purposes, that's neither here nor there. The point is that the perfect night had become something drastically different in a span of a fortnight. The event was being viewed in hindsight both times, but intervening events had changed the flavor of what went down. Things that were ignored were suddenly prescient and quirky behavior had become the tenets of an asshole. Keep in mind that nothing that actually happened that night had changed in the fabric of space time, just how this person viewed it.

Theoretically, we could find out tomorrow that Mr. Wonderful/Senior Asshole was kidnapped by militant Uzbekis and upon his return from captivity his first call would be to my friend he dicked over and suddenly he'd have a whole new moniker of Captain Sympathetic. And the impossibly good/I should have known first date would be back to the former. Thus is history always in a state of flux. Unless you can get your hands on a Delorean with the optional flux capacitor, the events won't change. But how you remember them will. All we can hope for is that revisions work in our favor, and we can fondly remember people and events as better than they were. Take it from an old pro - alcohol can greatly improve the chances of this happening. Just don't expect to make your eye witness account any more credible.

- Your boner inducing moment of the day - the first official pic of Harrison Ford back in the saddle as Indiana Jones. Let me year long erection begin.

- I don't necessarily have a problem with Republicans, conservatives, or anyone who has beliefs that differ from my own. But I think that we all can agree that no one likes a hypocrite. Which is why I overly enjoyed this smackdown of fucktard extraordinaire Bill O'Reilly. Seriously, what a douche.

Posted 11:22am
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June 21st, 2007

My eyes are up here!

There's a study recently published that found that women were more likely than men to stare directly at the crotchal region when viewing nude photos of the opposite sex. The long and short of it is that women spend more time on the dong, while dudes spend more time looking at the face. This is seemingly counterintuitive, at least superficially, as we'd assume the opposite to be true (with the guys jumping up and down yelling 'Boobies Boobies! Boobies!' all the while). But researchers hypothesize that women go straight for the junk because its an immediate barometer for whether or not the guy is 'in the mood', whereas guys are trying to glean any speck of info they can from say, a raised eyebrow.

Which when you put it that way, makes perfect sense. Like most guys, I have to be some weird amalgam of Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and the Hubble telescope to figure out if a girl is interested in me. Did she lean in to hear me or was that a sign? Did she mean to just touch my arm? She took a drink at the same time I did, what does that mean again? Now I get that its not (always) as easy for women as looking for an erection, but let's admit that the playing field isn't exactly level either.

In my single life, I've been in the position where women were supposedly throwing themselves at me and I had no fucking clue. Naturally I've also been utterly convinced that a woman was dying for me to make a move only to be completely rebuffed. The hope is that as we get older we get better at reading the signs, and ideally learn to take rejection so that when we're wrong we're not devastated. But forgive me if I still hold out for someone to discover the female equivalent of an erection.

Posted 10:40am
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June 20th, 2007

Whistlin' Zip-a-dee Doo Da out our assholes.

I am not well traveled. Not because I don't like to travel, quite the opposite is true. I've road tripped to Boston, make bi-monthly trips to Chicago and Vegas annually beckons me and my high school friends. I've visited my brother when he lived in places like Arkansas and Minnesota, and friends in places as godforsaken as Orlando, FL. I once even got to see Michigan win a National Championship in Pasadena, CA. Unfortunately, that more or less encapsulates my travel experience.

Growing up, we didn't go on vacation. Once we went to Chicago with my dad as he attended the Big Ten Football meetings. Another time some friends of my parents invited us to Hilton Head, SC. And that's all she wrote. Every other year, our vacation was a trip 90 minutes East to Cedar Point. Not that I'm complaining - between that and Mud Hen's games I never really knew I was missing anything. But it didn't exactly instill a sense wonder for the exploring this great land of ours either.

One thing it did provide is a sense of wonder for the open road. I was 22 before I set foot on a commercial airliner, so anytime we went anywhere growing up it was in the back of the stationwagon (and later a conversion van). Now when I dream of getting away, my mind turns to hoping behind the wheel and driving 8 hours in any one direction to find something semi-interesting and most importantly, different from my everyday life.

As it stands, I haven't had a real vacation in about 18 months. Just as I'm sure was true for my dad when I was growing up, work, family and finances don't exactly permit me to hop on a flight to anywhere and spend a weekend dining out, staying in hotels and taking in shows and ballgames. And as I seem to be in a state of arrested development while my friends around me are growing up, travel partners are becoming a problem as well. But I feel like I need to get away. I don't know where I want to go. I'm not sure who I want to go with. But something is compelling me to get in my car and drive. I have no idea when I'll find time to do this or where I'll end up, but maybe I'll get a blog entry or two out of it. Hey look! I just did.

Posted 11:10am
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June 18th, 2007

The audacity of hope.

Hope is a wonderful thing. The promise of something wonderful happening is what keeps us going on those days when things look their bleakest. Mind you hope isn't much without some action behind it to get things moving in your favor, but its still great conceptually - esp. for the things that are beyond your control. Like say, I hope the teams I like win most of their games (or in Michigan football's case, all of there games). I also hope I get a big raise at work, but that's something largely in my control, so we should try and keep away hope from such endeavors and concentrate on the actions that eliminate the need for it.

The reason I bring it up is that hope isn't always positive. In fact, and maybe this is me, but hope can denigrate. In fact, in the two specific instances I'm thinking of, hope is down right condescending. Its almost always that way when someone says one of these things to you:

- I hope its worth it.
- I hope it makes you happy.

If you're unlucky enough to hear either of these phrases, the person saying it to you neither thinks that 'it' will make you happy nor be worth it. Its a backhanded way of saying 'You know you're wrong. I think you're doing something stupid. If you'd stop to think about it, you'd reach the same conclusions.'

Now I'm self-aware enough to realize that this a sentiment that needs to be imparted to me from time to time. But please, if you find me in a situation where I'm about to do something dumbfounding, don't try and stop me by saying 'I hope its worth.' It will assuredly only embolden me to press onward. Because if you can't do better than a condescending 'I hope it makes you happy', than I may proceed on spite alone. Trust me, whatever it is you're trying to warn me about, I've done worse. For stupider reasons. I know that in the end, I'll still come out all right. And that knowledge is worth an avalanche of hope.

Posted 4:31pm
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June 17th, 2007

Who is your daddy?

I don't want to get overly sentimental or philosophical about parenting - I feel like I do that enough around here. But I do want to give props to all the dad's I know out there. As a parent, I always tell people that the worst part is having to deal with other parents. But luckily, most of the dads I know are top notch. They're old school dad's who recognize the importance of teaching their kids to be independent thinkers, while making sure the boys are tough and the girls are princesses. Some may call that a little outmoded, but a dad's gotta do what dad's do. We're not the one they run to first when they scuff their knees, but we can teach them to throw a ball and when to bluff at poker and to stay away from guys who drive trans ams - and those are the things that in the end will get them through the day.

- There's some new content around the site. Well, ok two little things. A marquee pic from the Pig was added to the 'Marquee Pics' section, and there's an obit over at mgovan.com. Bring your kleenex.

Posted 8:28pm
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June 15th, 2007

Is it name dropping if no one recognizes the name?

Last night marked the triumphant return of tbaggervance.com's most famous friends, the band Taproot. They were playing a warm up gig at the Blind Pig as they prepare to play some summer festivals and finish up their latest opus. Its always weird to tell people about 'my friends in this band'. Sometimes people look at you like 'how are they famous if I've never heard of them?' and other times they think you're lying, because there's no way you know people that cool. That's when I get to tell stories about living with Jarod for three years, knowing Phil before he knew how to play the bass, and seeing Steve get drunk and stumble around my apartment well before he hit 21. Now they're rock stars and I occasionally get to seem cool because I have their phone numbers. It helps that I like their music, because even if I was best friends with the guys in Rascal Flats, I don't think I'd mention it to a soul.

- Spoon's new (kick ass) album is streaming over at gagagagaga.net

- The White Stripes new album 'Icky Thump' is rocking out here.

- In an unrelated note, venerable indie publisher McSweeneys is having a fire sale. Turns out they got dicked over by a distributor and need to raise some quick cash. So go buy something, its a win-win.

Posted 3:03pm
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June 14th, 2007

The TiVolution will be televised, but feel free to watch it at your convenience.

We talked a while back about the summer being the doldrums of the television schedule - with a dearth quality programming available to you, the viewing public. And while I'm not about to change my status (regardless of how awesome you think Hell's Kitchen is) there are some gems to be mined from the vast wasteland of summer programming. As always, we here at tbaggervance.com suggest you set your DVR (preferably your TiVo if you're hip) and watch these when your hungover on Saturday or Sunday morning, rather than make these appointment television.

- The long awaited Robot Chicken episode of Star Wars airs this Sunday. It doesn't get much nerdier than this, but those in the tbaggervance.com target demo should giggle with glee repeatedly at Luke Skywalker is gay jokes.

- I watched this premier episode of the new HBO comedy show Flight of the Conchords and laughed repeatedly. As a rule, HBO does comedy with a consistency of quality unparalleled in tv history, so I obviously have high hopes for continued hilarity here. Plus, its the dude from those old Outback commercials, which I at least snickered at.

- Tomorrow is the final Bob Barkered episode of The Price is Right. This article speaks pretty well to the shows calming impact and regenerative properties. Sick days will truly never be the same. I only wish I had a pet to spay or neuter tomorrow in honor of Bob's 35 years of public service.

- Finally, few premises are more of a home run than Triumph the insult comic dog. And while Triumph making fun of the Star Wars nerds will never be topped, Triumph at the Tonys makes a strong case for number 2... for me to poop on.

Posted 2:22pm
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June 12th, 2007

Pop culture through osmosis.

I've seen half an episode of Survivor. I watched American Idol for about a month (5 years into the show's history). It took me four years to watch my first episode of 24. I don't know that I've ever heard a Justin Timberlake song in its entirety and I assure you, I've never seen something from The Fast and the Furious franchise. And despite these lapses in my viewing or listening database, all of these phenomenon still managed to find their way into my lexicon.

The permeation of pop culture into are daily lives has become polysaturated. With the rise of channels like E! and VH1 (along with syndicated staples like Entertainment Tonight and Extra!) there are as many shows about these entities as there are entities themselves. Couple that with venues that consider themselves actual news organizations who spend an inordinate amount of time on entertainment related ventures and voila! You have pop culture through osmosis.

The most recent example of this is Sunday night's series finale of the Sopranos. I watched about a season and a half of this show about 4 years ago. Through apathy and the cable company taking away my free HBO, I stopped watching. Yet somehow, I didn't. I knew when the show was up and when it was down. I knew when somebody got popped, and who was talking to the feds about what. All without ever seeing an episode. Which is why I didn't have to run for zee hills today and try to avoid the omnipresent spoilers everywhere, just in case I wanted to go back and actually watch the rest of the series on DVD at a later date, with surprises intact. There's no need. I've already experienced it.

Which is why I know about the gay guy who won the first Survivor, and his crotchety old nemesis. I know about Taylor Hick's Soul Patrol and Jack Bauer's daughter's incident with the cougar. I know who's bringing sexy back and that Vin Diesel is a tool. All without ever having to experience any of it for more than five minutes. Is this a positive thing? I'm not sure. In the case of things like American Idol, its a resounding yes. For I can be 'in the know' as its discussed by the mouth breathers around me without having to actually endure watching the show. But quality programming like the Sopranos? I'm probably missing something by not being able to get away from it. My faux-experience is tainting any real one I could ever hope to have with the show, which puts me a little worse for wear. But as long as this osmosis thing keeps me in the loop without having to watrch people make asses of themselves on reality TV, I say my brain is a sponge, ready to be soaked.

Posted 4:16pm
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June 8th, 2007

That's not what I meant when I said 'suck it' Ms. Hilton.

I normally wouldn't waste my breath talking about Paris Hilton, as I feel the mere utterance of her name contributes to her continued status as America's #1 celebutard. (Let's be honest, giving a good blow job qualifies you for dinner, maybe jewelry - not fame and fortune). But this is too good to pass up.

The quick breakdown - Paris Hilton violates parole - twice. Is sentenced to to 30 some days in jail. After serving 3 days, is released and relegated to house arrest. And then some judge (apparently hoping to gain King Shit of Fuck Mountain© status) stood up and said 'Not on my watch'. He dragged her ass kicking and screaming (literally) back to court and told her to get her skank ass back behind bars. She sat there, cried and asked for her mother. Too fucking sweet.

Paris pretty much embodies everything I loathe. She walks around with a sense of entitlement, she seems to have an aversion to any kind of pursuit of knowledge, and she's ridicalously famous for doing nothing. Which is why this is such sweet, sweet karmic justice. I hope she gets the shit beat out of her repeatedly. And I hope that when she gets out, she decides to stay out of the public eye. Forever. But I'm not holding my breath. As for me, I'm officially going back to refusing to mention her, even as a punch line. I'll do my part. Will you do yours?

Posted 3:34pm
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June 7th, 2007

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

- I managed to know a preponderance of these words, which always makes me feel good about myself. Its good to be able to appropriately express oneself when some loquacious asshole is making you lugubrious.

- I know a lot of you are entertained by the ol' bloggy blog (albeit mildly) and in return, I've never asked for anything. But if you really loved me, you'd buy me a bracelet made out of Ben Gibbard's old guitar string. Its only a measly $100 (and it goes to charity!)

- As a pragmatist, I'm not one to usually lead the charge of 'keep hope alive!'. But as Lloyd Christmas once said 'So you're sayin' there's a chance...'

- I'm pretty sure that Jack White sold his soul to the devil a few years back to become the baddest guitar player alive. So I'm ecstatic that rumors are circulating that their new album has made its way into the ether. What more do you want out of an album title than Icky Thump?

- Kevin Smith is attempting to put his View Askewniverse to bed (again). But I'm generally excited about a movie called Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Its gotta be better than Jersey Girl, right?

Posted 4:04pm
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June 6th, 2007

The number of the beast

Like most guys, I'm horrible at remembering dates. Birthdays, anniversaries, you name it - I'll eventually forget it from time to time. Well, not as much anymore I guess. Thanks to the ubiquitous Palm pilot, I get yearly reminders when people's birthdays are, so I have no excuse to ever forget. It doesn't help so much for things like '6 month anniversary of our first date' because there's no way I'm ever typing that into my Palm. And as you can guess, I'm not much for celebrating the 6 month anniversary of our first date to begin with, no matter how much chicks dig on that stuff.

But before Palm pilots there was nothing but the firing of neurons between your ears to remind you when birthdays were. We talked awhile back about birthdays that fall on holidays and how its great because they're easy to remember. Its also great when you get 'double ups' - two occasions on the same date. My nephew and father have the same birthday, so, you know, one less date to remember. But even better are dates that need remembering that have some sort mnemonic device that make them unforgettable.

My dear sister has the greatest birthday of all. She was born on 6/6/66. Which is why I know that today, my sister is 41 (41!) It seems like just yesterday I was dragging her out into the street and locking her out of the house so that I could have control of the TV (true story). So happy birthday Teeny. Your my favorite person that I've never seen drink (minus that wine cooler in 1987). Loveyameanit.

Posted 3:11pm
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June 5th, 2007

Denouncing the arbitrary and capricious

I feel like the worst is yet to come. The shit has yet to really hit the fan, so to speak. George W. Bush is certainly an awful, awful president. An ideologue unable to admit failure, have a nuanced policy or change a position to fit circumstance. He's hijacked the Republican party, along with the religious right, to the point that I can't even find the ideals of that party that I once respected anymore. But I digress, because the worst is yet to come.

When W was re-elected (really? I'm stil lshaking my head at that) I ran around like chicken little trying to warn people what he was going to do to the US court system. I'll never understand why a party that believes in state's rights, smaller government and personal responsibility wants to be all up in my business when it comes to civil liberties. Anyway, W's been appointing these ass fucks to lifetime positions of power everywhere, and we should all be afraid. There. I've said it again. Be ready for my 'I told you so'.

But apparently, not yet. The US court of appeals just told the FCC to go fuck themselves, calling the FCC's indecency policy 'arbitrary and capricious'. Hooray logic and reason! The FCC's policy is based on complaints. Which means that stations get fined because a small group of religious people with no lives go looking for shows where people say 'blow job' and 'asshole' and then call the FCC. Does that make sense to anyone? Because it doesn't to me. And this is without going into the argument of what actually is indecent (because I have a feeling my definition might be different than yours). I don't think that full frontal nudity is necessarily appropriate for 9pm on NBC, nor should Dr. House go around telling patients to 'Fuck Off.' But I also don't think that Oprah can have show where she discusses sexual habits of teenagers and bandies about terms like 'rim job' and nobody says boo, yet Howard Stern is fined millions for saying 'penis'. I long for a day where we can all be adults and realize that bad words and sexuality exist, and that if you prepare yourself and your children for it, nobody is going to get hurt. Now go fuck yourselves.

- This list of the '20 Best 'That Guys' of All Time' made me laugh. That'll do pig.

Posted 11:11am
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June 3rd, 2007

Wormer... dead! Niedermeyer... dead! Charles Nelson Reilly...

I'm a tad late on this, but it really hit home for me today. I woke up rather early for a Saturday (9:30ish) and schlepped out to the couch to find some mindless tv entertainment. I scrolled through the channels looking for anything mildly interesting to veg out on. I got nervous when I had hit channel 170 without finding anything to satisfy my idiosyncratic tastes. That's when I came upon Saturday hangover heaven - a day long salute to Charles Nelson Reilly on the Game Show Network.

And of course when I say day long salute I'm referring to 12 straight hours of Match Game - the iconic program that brought Mr. Reilly's wit and personality into the public consciousness. To me its not as surprising that Charlie was an overt and obvious gay man on the most popular daytime show of an era where its an understatement to call homosexuality taboo, but rather that how much it was no big deal. It really seemed that everyone was in on the joke and OK with it. I guess I'd assume that he'd be the butt of most of that type of humor, but apparently his wit and demeanor were able to overcome something that, to this day, makes a shit ton of people uncomfortable.

But let us not focus on the fact that CNR was gay. Or that somehow, after we've managed to push the bar for what's allowable on TV to unimaginable levels from where it was 30 years ago, Match Game still seems bawdy and hilarious. Let's take note that its so lamentable at how shows like Match Game and specials like the Dean Martin Roasts don't exist anymore.

Match Game was a party. You can always tell in the first five minutes of watching a Match Game rerun whether it originally appeared at the beginning of the week or at the end. The shows at the end of the week were always better, because everyone was wasted. Match Game would film a week's worth of episodes in a day, and as the celebrity panel imbibed throughout the taping of the shows, things got looser and funnier as the day went on. And that's what made Match Game work - it was people with great rapport hanging out and trying to make each other laugh.

To remake Match Game now, you'd find B list celebs showing up to plug their latest project and everyone would be out for number one. It'd be filled with reality TV stars and up and coming starlets with zero personality. In short, it would suck. Even now, when Comedy Central has its roasts, its not people who hang out with each other off the set getting drunk and trying to make each other laugh, its low rent comedians auditioning to get casted in some shitty sitcom. The camaraderie isn't there and it shows.

So tbaggervance.com salutes you Mr. Reilly - master of the double entendre, skewerer of Brett Summers, and wearer of the neckerchief. You're an icon and thanks to GSN, you'll live for ever. Just thinking about you makes me want to BLANK.

Posted 11:05am
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June 2nd, 2007

Peter Parker: NASCAR driver

I love movies. The Moeman's encyclopedic knowledge of film when I was growing up set the bar pretty high, and I've been trying to catch up ever since (incidentally, Moeman the movie buff is probably responsible for my music snobbery and overall penchant for wanting to know everything and always wanting to be right. Thanks dad?) Of course at some point I eschewed Daddy Moe's populist taste for one more, let's say esoteric.

Which isn't to say I don't love me some summer blockbusters. I am still a comic book geek after all. And when you can pull off a great popcorn movie that still tells a great story, the hair on my arm stands on end. The first two Spider-man movies, the last James Bond, all 3 Indiana Jones movies - I love these movies every bit as much as I love a film by Almodavar or Wong Kar-wai. But after seeing a pair of fairly disappointing sequels in the last month, its apparent to me that summer movies have gone the way of NASCAR.

If I had the time and wherewithal, I'd extend this argument to all summer blockbusters (and films costing more than $100 million in general) and cast stones at the likes of Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer for ruining my life. Hell, I suppose I'd have to take an apologetic shot at George and Stephen too. But since I don't want this to turn into actual work, let's refine out argument to sequels - especially since I'm still reeling from the three hours (3 hours!) I spent watching Pirates 3.

People watch NASCAR for two basic reasons. One is that they find a driver to root for and stick with him. As a sport, NASCAR realized a few years back that their bread is buttered by the fans who root for a single driver. As such, they've done a great job of making these guys personable and accessible. The merchandising alone boggles the mind. Your average NASCAR driver identifies with his 'hero' and views all other drivers as the enemy. Its a real us against the world thing that keeps fans following the sport week to week, despite the fact that, let's be honest, its dudes making left hand turns for 5 hours.

The other reason people watch is the high potentiality for mayhem. At 200mph, anything could happen and often does. I don't want to insinuate that people wait for cars to crash, but when they do, its a spectacle, and anyone who says they don't enjoy it is trying to be politically correct (and lying to your face).

Unfortunately, this business model has been adapted whole hog by the sequel industry. Give the people their heroes in the same old costumes and situations we've seen them in before and wait for the spectacle to ensue. The story? We'll get to it if we have time. Just don't disappoint anyone by not giving them what they expect. And oh yeah, don't forget the merchandising.

As studio's bottom lines become more and more dependent on these tentpole movies that can makes or break them with every outing, we're unlikely to see things revert to a place where storytelling is king. Take the Matrix trilogy for example. The first film was a triumph of storytelling and effects, that became a phenomenon by word of mouth. By the time the sequels rolled around, the budgets and egos became bloated, and all we were left with was a convoluted crap bag of an impossible to follow story with some pretty fighting. Eck.

So while I hold out hope that Live Free or Die Hard has the wit and witticism of the first flick, I'm not holding my breath. Thanks to There's Something About Mary, the other staple of summer is the irreverent comedy. And thankfully you can still make those movies on a shoestring budget where directors are given freer reign to follow their artistic vision, rather than making sure somebody blows something up every 20 minutes. Let's hope that Knocked Up lives up to the hype, otherwise I'll be looking for redemption from Transformers. God help me Moeman, God help us all.

Posted 12:01am
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June 1st, 2007

The power of not thinking.

Last fall was a magical time. The universe seemed to align and things opened themselves up to me in what can only be described as an embarrassment of riches. Its documented in the bloggy blog. Pretty much everything seemed to go right and I was receiving things I didn't even know I wanted that were making my unbelievable life even better. And I attributed it all to the power of not thinking.

You see, I'm a tad neurotic. Like most people, I tend to overthink things. And then I play out these disastrous scenarios in my head that keep me from taking action, thus paralyzing me and keeping from getting what I want. Yes, that's a shit ton of hyperbole, but you get the point. At some point early last September, I made a conscious decision to not be that way. To make decisions based on what I felt I wanted in the moment without trying to consider too many of the consequences. To assume things would work out and not try and plan escape scenarios for when they didn't. In short, I decided to not think.

And by at least the correlational evidence, it worked. I espoused the theory to those around me, encouraging them to stop thinking, and just enjoy. And we were all happy, frolicking through a land of milk and honey. And then my dormant brain became antsy. It begged to be involved. ("Father, the sleeper has awakened.") And before you knew it, the thinking began to creep back in. It was inevitable I suppose. You can't not think forever. But it snuck up on me. In hindsight, I didn't even realize I had started to think again. I guess old habits die hard. But before you knew it, Michigan was losing to Ohio State and my life began its slow descent back to baseline.

Which, not to be conceited, is still pretty good. But it was like having super powers for a while. And I didn't realize that they were slowly fading away until they were all but gone. I had forgotten my mantra and the privileges it had provided me. Until, of course, I was reminded.

Last night I was brought back into the fold of not thinking. I remembered what it can provide and the doors it can open. I was born again. So with people leaving the state, more babies on the way and the constant coupling of my remaining single friends, I'm ready to embrace my inner nothingness. I may not catch lightning in a bottle twice, but it should minimally produce some good stories. And what am I good for if not drunken anecdotes?

Posted 10:55am
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May 31st, 2007

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

- Knocked Up comes out tomorrow, after what seems like months of waiting. I hope that I'm not setting myself up for the proverbial disappoint via expectations. But what I'm equally excited about, is this new redband (read: NSFW) trailer for Superbad, a movie by a lot of the same guys. I predict that it will make the world finally realize how much the American Pie movies sucked hairy asshole.

- I swear to christ I had this conversation with someone this past week about Griffey/Bonds, proving once and for all that The Onion should hire me.

- My favorite Detroit rock club the Magic Stick has made this list of best places to see a show in the USA. And there's this interesting list of great songs from bad albums, which looking at, should piss off very few people.

- The schedule for Top of the Park in Ann Arbor is finally up. It looks like the best nights will find me otherwise engaged, so that's disappointing. Although I anticipate that the Buddha will asking to be 'dropped off' here to join the rest of the degenerate punks who hang out at places like this.

- Most of you know how I feel about Phil Fulmer. (He's one fat fuck.) And now he's taking pot shots at Michigan. I'd love to punch him in the balls, but I think I'd be too tired after lifting up his belly to get to them.

Posted 4:44pm
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May 30th, 2007

Come sit on Uncle Drunky's lap...

Memorial day weekend serves as an unofficial kickoff to the summer. Not for me mind you, as regular readers are well aware of my summer precursors. But the public at large seems to kick off the summer lifestyle by breaking out the shorts, grills and beers the last weekend in May.

Of course far be it from me to not oblige social conventions, therefore it was incumbent upon me to partake in the grilling, the lounging, and of course, the drinking. So I saw a lot of family, lots of friends, and it became painfully clear over the weekend that life as I know it is slowly dwindling away.

I made a joke at some point early in the weekend about every one of my friends who is married has either given birth in the past year or is currently pregnant. Not technically true, but close enough to elicit a 'huh.' And over the weekend one of my friends had a baby, and another announced that they were pregnant. Huh.

Monday I hung out with some very good friends and their two kids. We had fun enjoying the only great weather of the weekend. I commented on how everyone was procreating like they needed to repopulate the earth. They quipped that all that means is that I get to be 'Uncle Drunky' to a lot more kids.

So for some reason all of my friends seemingly collectively decided that it was time to grow up. And I'm here to tell everyone that I am not ready.. Ayesha is leaving for browner greener pastures in July, and I told her that my greatest fear is that she'll leave, and then all my single friends will decide to get married, and all my married friends who enjoy going out will have kids, and I'll be all alone. I'm just not ready to be the sad old guy at the end of the bar who the kids point at and wonder 'what is he doing here?'

And yes, one could argue I'm already that guy. Fuck off. I'm not ready to stop living like every night is quarter draft night and I don't have class the next day. But I'm also not ready to do it alone. So I implore you - if you've yet to tie the knot, consider picking a fight with your significant other and meeting your old buddy baggervance at the bar. And you - married guy who still comes out to the bar with alarming frequency - wear a condom. Uncle Drunky is asking you to stay away from jewelry stores and wrap it up. Is that too much to ask?

Posted 4:44pm
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May 24th, 2007

The rise of the txt message.

There's a lot of shit that runs round your head at the end of a relationship. Most of it can be covered by your Rhino 'Slow Jams' box set. As such, I'll stay away from quoting Spoon lyrics in an attempt to convey my pain. But usually after a significant relationship, certain things stick out in your life that you realize are remnants of that person. Things that weren't there before and are now pervasive. With Ayesha, the residue is glaring - I've become a txt messenger.

Txt messages were one of the first thing to ever make me feel old. I can't remember when thumb typing started to appear in the wild, but it was obvious that it whenever it was that I noticed it, it was being done my those much younger than I. I'm not sure if I was pissed because I thought they were being rude, or because I didn't have anybody to txt myself. Let's be honest, its invaluable to be able to remove yourself from a boring conversation and have a better one by whipping out your phone and typing.

Which I learned very early on by dating someone 7 years my junior. Ayesha and I communicated to the point of ridicuosity via txt messages. I quickly became the person I previously loathed - squirming my way out of boring conversations by whipping out my phone and attempting to find interesting interaction. Fortunately, txting has blown up and most of my friends are not immune to the occasional message. Stov will txt me to tell me to "turn it to channel 62" or Boike will make long-distance fun of Brady Quinn as he huffs his way through his free-falling draft status. All good stuff. But the pervasiveness of the txting is likely to fall like an erection when your mom walks into the room. No more expecting txts every few hours (minimum) and no more txting while I'm actually having a good time. It'll be awkward, but what about things right now isn't?

Posted 7:27pm
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May 23rd, 2007

3 to make you giggle, one to make you horny.

- Bob Odenkirk was one of the geniuses behind the seminal sketch comedy program Mr. Show. He also just happens to be the original purveyor of the phrase 'King Shit of Fuck Mountain©.' That alone should be enough for you to check out his new web series . Anyone who ever let slip an 'I love you' can really commiserate on this week's episode.

- I know of a few teachers who read this here bloggy blog, and let me say I love you. I paraphrase something I heard once somewhere by saying that I think schools should be palaces and you should be paid like doctors (I also think that, like police and fireman, you shouldn't be able to strike - hence the incredibly bitter picture to your right that's sat on my desk since 1994, but that's another story for another day). ANYWAY, this McSweeneys article really made me laugh, and I though of all of you teachers out there fighting the good fight. Keep your chins up.

- What's more ironic about images of dead rock iconoclasts Kurt Cobain, Joe Strummer, Joey Ramone and Sid Vicious being used to sell shoes? That they're all anti-corporate guys who would piss on these ads or that if any of them even believed in heaven, they all knew they weren't headed there?

- Dane Cook is not funny. I'm fairly sure that you can walk into any crowded bar on a Friday night and find one gregarious guy that will make you laugh harder than Dane Cook. In fact, I think Dane Cook probably was a guy like that, and just started to write down all of his and other people's stories and turned them into an act. That's not good stand up to me, but I guess whatever floats your boat. My point is that this poster of Dane getting a hummer can't impugn my enjoyment of what's above it: Miss Jessica Alba looking so hot she's getting sticky. I'll always love you Jess, no matter how dumb you probably are in real life or how many bad movies you make. Call me.

Posted 3:11pm
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May 22nd, 2007

Please allow me to bring you out of your comfort zone.

There's a lot of disturbing shit on the internet. Here's some things that will make you huh?, wha? and d'oh!

- I don't know that I've ever been 'scared' of Lindsay Lohan's vajayjay, but let's just say I always knew I wouldn't want to come across it in a darkened alley. Turns out I woefully underestimated things. Be afraid... be very afraid.

- Christians can get real scary real fast for me - even the supposedly 'normal' ones. But anyone not at least scratching their heads over these nut jobs probably has a screw loose themselves. And not to get into a theological argument, but how does one interpret the bible and leave out the 'Love thy neighbor' bit?

- I can't remember if I mentioned this on the bloggy blog or not (and I'm too lazy right now to check) but I recently watched the last Rocky sequel (titled Rocky Balboa) and it was pretty good. I found it almost believable and nostalgically enjoyable. But it in no way erased my skepticism for the upcoming Rambo installment (titled John Rambo - notice a pattern?) My fears are realized in this clip. For those of you who think this isn't worth watching, what if I were to tell you that 2 minutes in Sly PUNCHES A GUY'S HEAD OFF. I shit you not.

- Who doesn't love greedy bastards? Especially when they're greedy corporations. Well, the RIAA wants money from radio stations for playing music. If that isn't ridonkulous enough for you, read the Onion's account of this debate, dated 2002. Thanks Fark for the links.

Posted 10:20am
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May 21st, 2007

And like that, poof! They're gone...

We've all made colossolly stupid and expensive mistakes that happen in a tenth of second. Sometimes you pull out of the driveway too quickly and its some expensive body work on your car. Others you don't pull out at all and its some painful work on your body via penicillin. In any case, by the time you realize you made the mistake - whether careless or stupid or both - its too late to do anything about it. Which is what happened to me Saturday. I had traveled down to Lake Erie for a day of trolling around the lake on my friends boat. We are at the dock prepping the boat for our departure, and I lean over to place the cooler into the boat. That's when I hear 'Sploosh' and I knew before I looked that I was fucked. I stared below to see my glasses, that had been hanging on the neck of my shirt, sinking to the bottom of the Lake. And given the temperature of the water and what I was likely going to have to search through on the weedy bottom, any idea of rescue was immediately abandoned. So my dumb ass is out one very expensive set of glasses. Thank Christ for insurance - it should take most of the sting out of dropping a few hundred bucks into the lake. And of course the great irony - completely and utterly sober. I guess every story doesn't have to start with 'So we were having a few drinks...'

- Last week we had a quick Tecmo update. In Quid pro quo fashion, here's a great RBI Baseball update. It also includes a link to play the game online. I tried it - its not nearly as fun as holding the old school NES controller in your hand, drunk, sitting next to Stov while he tries to take Doyle Alexander the distance. Now that's how RBI was meant to be played.

Posted 4:04pm
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May 18th, 2007

Are you reelin in the years?

It took me a long time to warm up to Bill Clinton. It wasn't hard to see from the flop that he was a smarmy charmer, and all that time he wasted on universal healthcare really pissed me off. But in don't know what you got till its gone fashion, turns out he was a pretty good president. Not perfect, but when major criticisms start with 'liberal' and 'blow job', its not hard to see how things could be worse (as most people usually like one of the aforementioned).

But unlike some blinded by the light dems out there, I in no way want a Hillary Clinton nomination, much less a presidency. I'm not sure what people think they'll be getting with her. I know there are probably some that are enamored with a woman president and others who equate electing Hillary as reelecting Bill. But I'm here to tell you that both of those are stupid reasons to vote for someone. I'll spare you the policy debate, and just say if you're a dem, look into Barack Obama. And should you be one of those republican types, please don't even consider anyone who'd raise their hand when asked 'Which of you doesn't believe in evolution?' (or Mitt Romney for that matter).

So if you're like me and are blanching at the thought of having Hillary Clinton represent your party of choice, or you're like my friends Boike and Stov and just have a justifiable hatred of the woman, know is the time to express yourself creatively. Turns out Ms. Clinton is having her constituents pick her campaign song. And as Stov put it, even more foolishly, they allowed the option of a write-in vote, which deliciously serves to open the door to exploitation from assholes such as ourselves. So whether you're like Stov and want to cast your vote for 'The Bitch is Back', like Boike and want to cast for 'Dumb Girl' or like myself and want to express your displeasure with 'Bitches Ain't Shit', your opportunity is now. At least some flunky staffer will have to wade through and read your response. That thought makes me smile, and distracts me momentarily from the fear of a Clinton nomination. The things that pass for knowledge I can't understand...

Posted 10:22am
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May 17th, 2007

I'm a slave, I'm a slave, I'm a slave to your lovin'

I watch too much TV. Its the time of year that the networks announce what's going to be on the schedule for the following fall. I always hope for two things: That the marginal shows I watch aren't renewed and that there's nothing promising debuting. Its especially prescient because these announcements come at the same time as the regular season shows are ending. If the first sign of summer is Oberon and the second is softball, the third is when there is no new TV to watch.

When I was growing up, it was as if the networks and Americans came to a mutual understanding that while it was nice out, the networks wouldn't tempt us to stay inside and watch new programming. Sure, they were there with the reruns and the movies in case it was raining, but otherwise there seemed to almost be an attitude of 'Why don't you go outside for awhile?' coming from the big 3. Now summer brings on the shittiest of the shitty low rent reality programs. Broadcast TV isn't the King Shit of Fuck Mountain© it used to be, so these days they'll try and scrape a dime from any hour of shameless programming they'll think a few million people will watch. And it turns out, people will watch anything. But I implore you, next time its 82 degrees out and you're sitting on your porch enjoying an Oberon and your friend turns to you and says 'Let's go in and watch 'America's Next Top Hottest Dwarf!'', punch them in the face.

- I realize that most of you look forward to those few seconds of anticipation as you click your bookmark for tbaggervance.com and wait breathlessly for the site to load, hoping that there's a new post. However, I understand that some of you don't have the time or inclination to click 'refresh' every hour on the hour waiting for some new bile to spill forth from my keyboard. So, for those of you who want the latest updates as soon as they happen without all that needless checking to see if I'm too hungover to write anything, we've created the tbaggervance email list. Its right over there on the right. Enter your email address and through the magic of the internets (its a series of tubes!), you'll receive an email every time I post something. Because we here at tbaggervance.com know your time is valuable - well, some of you anyway.

Posted 10:58am
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May 16th, 2007

Wormer... dead! Niedermeyer... dead! Falwell...

Now, I live in the little liberal bubble of a college town, so hedonistic tendencies tend to rule the day thus making me immune to this, but I can only assume that the homosexuals and abortionists are running rupshod through the streets now that Jerry Falwell is dead. A few weeks ago I insinuated that I was raised right and would not speak ill of the dead. But I would be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to say that Jerry Falwell was an intolerant, imbecillic, hateful bigot. And let me also mention that if all the things I consider to be wrong with this country (at least politically) could be traced back to one person, ol' Jerry would be a candidate. He made George W possible. If for nothing else, he should burn in whatever hell he believed in for that. Slate compiled some of the stupider things he said over the years, and the Onion got some reaction from people in the street.

- Just as I am convinced that college girls take every opportunity when guys aren't around to strip down to bra and panties and have a tickle fight, I feel like this is what every night at Bruce Campell's house must be like.

- I love video games. Not in that cliché, sitcom-y way where I'm sitting home playing Playstation while my girlfriend begs me to go out for the evening (at least usually) - but I've always played them and always will. And while I enjoy the innovations shit like the Wii and Guitar Hero have brought along over the years, nothing will ever compare to RBI Baseball and Tecmo Bowl. (Apologies to Goldeneye and Mario Kart on the N64) And once and for all, OG Tecmo, not Super Tecmo - which actually resembles an attempt at a quality football game. Well it appears that Tecmo is looking to make a come back. Let us all sigh, lament the fact that this has a 90% chance of sucking, and go back to dreaming about throwing touchdowns to Cap Boso.

Posted 10:16am
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May 15th, 2007

Summertime, and the livin's easy

If Oberon is the unofficial marker that summer has begun, softball is the sign that it is in full swing. This will be the 8th season (in like six years - I'll spare you the complicated math) and since we've started playing together, its become as intrinsically intertwined into my summer experience as driving around campus looking for girls laying out in bikinis.

Our team was designed from the outset to be nothing more than friends getting together to play and then subsequently go to the bar and begin to truly enjoy ourselves. As such, no one's ever been cut due to a substandard skillset, and in recruiting new players, a willingness to hit the bar and play poker after the game is as big of a consideration as the ability to run down a fly ball. Of course if you're familiar with the guys on the team, an immediate paradox begins to rear its ugly head.

For to call most of the people on our team 'competitive' is like referring to the pope as 'a tad religious'. Amongst ourselves we spend an inordinate amount of time playing games that pit one friend against another. Most are gamblers and left out in the wild with nothing to do, within five minutes a group of us would invent some sort of contest in attempt to prove which of us could throw one rock the closest to another. Needless to say that when outsiders become the opposition, tempers are armed with hair triggers and failure becomes infuriating.

Its often joked that softball is an excuse to go to the bar afterwards and drink. While that's not necessarily untrue, I often think that the real focus of the evening is to play softball for an hour so we can to the bar and TALK about the game for 3 hours. Every close call is debated and every questionable statement or gesture by the opposing team is broken down. If we win, triumphs are celebrated. If we lose, blame assessed. No matter the outcome, we discuss how if we took this more seriously how good we could really be. But thankfully, we have the casual nature of friends getting together to play a game to fall back on. And that's what at the heart of summer. Playing games with your buddies amongst all that sweet, sweet booze.

Posted 1:10pm
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May 10th, 2007

Christ on a bike!

We've got updates on some old favorite topics around the the ol' bloggy blog. These may be of no interest to anyone but crotchety old me, but we try to be nothing if not self serving around here.

- Kirk Cameron proves God exists! Most of you know that Kirk Cameron is a hard core evangelical who hosts a show that, for some reason, has the kung fu oriented name 'The Way of the Master'. The other night on ABC he debated some atheists in an attempt to prove, scientifically, that God exists. Now, I don't care what you believe and as long as you leave me alone, I don't care how you choose to believe it. However, YOU CAN'T PROVE GOD EXISTS. Not scientifically. That's why its called FAITH. By definition, its believing in the absence of evidence. So just stop it. I respect you if you believe in God. I think you're a fucking idiot if you think you can prove he exists. I'd plead with all of you to just separate science and religion and try to be OK with that, but its too much fun to watch Mike Seaver flounder around illogically.

- They went and did it. Sex = Violence = Smoking. It just depresses the ever living shit out of me what we choose to protect our children from and they ways in which we choose to protect them. Thankfully I believe in teaching my kid about these things myself and not relying on some governmental agency to do my job for me.

Posted 11:10am
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May 9th, 2007

Cleaning house

So I have this folder on my computer that I throw things into as I'm surfing the web so I can share them with you here on the bloggy blog. What follows (including the bad ass picture of Han Solo directly to your right) are things that have been floating around in there for an undetermined amount of time. As I am not sure what they have in common and I fear I may never find a place for them, I dump them on you now, like a boyfriend who's breaking up with you right after he borrows $20. That's a terrible analogy, which is why I got rid of it here.

- Zack Galafinakis is funny. I'm not sure how clever this clip is with its fancy splicing and editing, but there's some great lines in here. Its so raven.

- Your local pride minute: A big write up on Zingermans in the NYTimes.

- I've always thought that in the analogy comparing the Bush Presidency to the Empire, that Cheney was the Emperor, Rove was Vader and Bush was Grand Moff Tarkin. But that didn't stop me from enjoying this quiz that requires you to differentiate things associated with Darth from things associated with Dick.

Posted 4:00pm
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May 8th, 2007

Tennis is gay/not gay

One of the first thoughts I had when the Buddha was born was that someday he'd play football at the University of Michigan. Brand new fathers are delusional. Of course once I did the math I realized that the chances of that dream ever becoming a reality were slim and none (though in the back of my mind I'm still hoping for some massive weight gain that would allow him to become a long snapper). So I turned my thoughts to other, more plausible athletic outcomes for me to live vicariously through my son. Basketball was out for similar genetic reasons. Baseball seemed like my best shot, but after a few years of gently nudging him in that direction, he's abandoned that as well.

So I'm stuck at an impasse. The big 4 (football, basketball, baseball, hockey (immediately excluded due to Asian heritage)) are out. He tried Lacrosse for a season. I had no idea what a violent, sweet sport that is! But alas, after hundreds of dollars of equipment, it was over after a few short months. I'd almost resigned myself to spending my energy in getting him to NOT play soccer - because that might kill me.

And just when I thought all hope was lost and was ready to concentrate solely on getting him to become the Marching Band's Drum Major (backbend practices are grueling) Sid's mother's influence reared its ugly head. See, my baby mama is somewhat of a tennis nerd. She played in high school and still watches femme dudes hit a fuzzy ball back and forth on Sunday mornings. So Sid has had plenty of tennis exposure. I always worried that some day it would manifest itself in an interest from Siddhartha himself. That day has come.

When Sid decided to abandon baseball this summer, his mother and I immediately made him cognizant of the fact that he needed to replace that with some other form of scheduled athletic endeavor. He immediately popped back with 'I think I want to play tennis.' Oh god, why have you forsaken me? All my hours of teaching him the infield fly rule down the drain. Well, at least he's outside exercising, right? And if history is any indicator, this whole nightmare will be over by labor day.

So having never picked up a racquet in his life, we signed him up for beginner lessons. He seemed to be enjoying it, and I was glad he was doing something other than playing video games. In fact, he came home from his lesson last night with some news. "My teacher says I need to be in the advanced class. She has me demonstrating things to the rest of the kids, and its pretty obvious that I'm better than most of them." So there you have it. As difficult as it is for me to say, my son is a tennis player.

And of course despite my hatred of the sport and my default feelings about the dudes who normally play it, I was immediately immeasurably proud. I guess the fact that my son is showing any athletic ability outweighs the bitter pill of what arena its in. And this could all still be a fad that's over in 6 months when the only thing he cares about at all becomes 12 year old girls - but I can imagine my future as a 'tennis dad'. Its frightening, but these are the sacrifices we make as parents. It makes me shudder. I just have to keep telling myself - at least its not soccer...

Posted 11:23am
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May 7th, 2007

The cheese stands alone

Breakups are often long, painful protracted things. They're filled with massive amounts of Death Cab, August and Everything After and of course, a bit of booze. At least with me apparently. I think its because I'm trying to figure out whether in six months I'm going to look back and think 'That was the dumbest decision of my life' OR 'Why in the fuck did I put up with that for as long as I did?' I've been on both sides of the equation before and I've apparently learned little to nothing about the process - other than it sucks so much that I usually end relationships before a breakup voice mail would be considered rude (please shelve any 'breaking up over voice mail is never appropriate' comments, as you're only making things harder on the next poor girl who gets tricked into going out with me.) So that being my state of mind, here's what I've found recently in and around the internets:

- Spinner has a list of The 25 Most Exquisitely Sad Songs in the world. Its great break up fodder, even though a lot of the songs have to do with pets, relatives, and the civil rights movement. I would add the previously mentioned Counting Crows album, induct DCFC into the Hall of Fame, and sign a petition to get Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" moved up to number one. That song can make me cry at the drop of a hat.

- The nerds at Engadget found it hilarious when Conan made fun of the nerds at Intel. As a nerd, I laughed and wondered 'Is this what people assume I do for a living?' - at which point the laughing stopped.

- Here's a note from the AV Club about Ben Gibbard's solo shows in Chicago. I will say 3 things about it:
1. I agree with it.
2. I got to hear him do a cover of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" which fulfilled a dream I did not know I had, so suck it.
3. Notice the headline in the very first comment after the post. Why y'all have to hate?

Posted 1:49pm
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May 6th, 2007

Hell is other parents people

This isn't a new thought for regular readers of the ol' bloggy blog - or, for that manner, anyone with kids over the age of two, anyone who's ever been a teacher/coach or anyone who's been to a public place and just stopped for a second to watch the traffic go by: parents are the most vile and despicable people on the face of god's green earth.

I often tell people about to have kids or those with newborns that parenting is a surprisingly easy endeavor most of the time (providing you have bottomless patience and a child not intent on seeking revenge against you for bringing them into this world.) But I quickly follow that up with 'Except for other parents.' Now call me a snob or elitist or even a pot calling the kettle black, but it will never cease to amaze me how few parents get it.

Saturday as you know was the science olympiad. And I have to say that in some respects, running the thing was almost better than coaching. Because while the kids were running the actual event, I was excited. I was cheering for every team to do better than the next. I wanted every kid to bounce the ball in the bucket on the first try and answer the questions on their first guess. The genuine excitement on the faces and in their expressions was infectious. And ultimately, that's why I volunteer my time. But of course, for every kid that succeeds, there are several that fail. And when kids fail, parents point fingers.

Because that's what I mean when I refer to parents that don't get it. Guess what? You're kid may not be the best. You can't protect them forever and sooner or later they will fail. Which means that you can either teach them to give 100%, enjoy the process and be prepared for the outcome, or you can bitch about the general fairness of things and scream at people who've given their time and energy so your kids can have a rewarding experience - regardless of outcome.

The truth is I've been very lucky over the years. I've coached and volunteered for Sid's various activities at nearly every opportunity presented, and almost without fail we've been surrounded by parents and kids who have the right attitude and expectations. And honestly, there were 100 or so kids who ran my event Saturday which means there was a possibility of 200+ parents who could have put there two cents in. Its just too bad that the half dozen or so that chose to do so can really spoil how you feel about a certain experience. I guess really more than anything I feel sorry for the kids who have to grow up under such auspices. It makes the kids whose parents never show up at all seem lucky.

Posted 2:44pm
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May 4th, 2007

The glove compartment, isn't accurately named

For the obtuse in the audience, the last four months of posts have been archived. Those interested in walks down memory lane need to merely click on the link, directly to your right.

Some say that weekends were meant for relaxing. But religious convictions aside, weekends should be spent doing the things that our weekly obligations prohibit us from enjoying. Especially things that happen late at night that require staying in bed until a minimum of 10am the next day. Which is why I'm spending this weekend doing the following:

- Siddhartha and I are kicking things off with a screening of every nerds dream, Spider-Man 3. The reviews are coming in mixed at best (sounds like they tried to throw in a few too many kitchen sinks) but there's little chance of either of us being disappointed. Sandman, Venom AND the Green Goblin all in the same movie? OK, give me a second to settle down. And of course the best aspect of all of this is that Sid is excited too - which means the experience is disaster proof regardless of fanboy style nitpicking or Return of the Jedi type Ewok disasters.

- Tomorrow (at 7:30am!) we're officiating the Pentathlon at the Washtenaw County Science Olympiad. Some of you may remember previous mentions of this event where I was a coach and Sid was a participant. Apparently we were gullible enough to volunteer so good at it in the past that this year we're running it. Let's hope I don't have to bitch slap any overbearing parents who don't like some of my rulings. Then again, maybe that'd be fun too.

- After a quick nap to refresh the mind, body and spirit, its back to Woodward Ave. to see a solo Ben Gibbard. One could argue that a 31 year old guy going to see a sensitive singer/songwriter sing and play his hits acoustically is a little, well, gay. To those people, I say 'have you seen how dreamy he is?'

- Sunday (after sunrise service) I'll be headed north to help the Storch's put their boat dock back in the water for another summer. This process is exactly as arduous as it sounds. It involves waders, massive amounts of profanity, and the questioning of whether or not my friendship with these people is actually worth all of this pain and suffering. Since this is about the fifth year of doing it, I guess it must be. I just wish we were better at it than we are. At least we'll be outside and in the sun - taking care of one of those things that the hustle and bustle of Monday through Friday prohibits.

Posted 10:42am
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May 2nd, 2007

Link-O-Rama

This weekend looms large - what with Spider-Man, science olympiad, and a dream date with Ben Gibbard on the docket. But more on that later in the week. Right now all I can muster is some links that I've been wasting my time with recently:

- I miss good ol' bat-shit crazy Tom Cruise. Whether it was railing against psychology, marrying someone half his age with a crazy 'I've been kidnapped' look in her eye, or just trying to hold his tongue when somebody called him out on the cult that is Scientology, he was damn entertaining. Britney Spears is doing her best to be a similar trainwreck, as these fairly legit looking semi-topless photos attest to. But don't we all feel that this is just an uber-white trash chick who'd be doing the same thing(s) if she wasn't famous? It all just seems inevitable, thus far less enjoyable.

- Rolling Stone has a cool list of the 25 most underappreciated artists. Hard to argue with most of these, and there's some well deserved names on the list. We used to have a debate in college as to what the greatest American band of all time was (as most great classic rock bands are British). I think my vote right now goes to Wilco. Look at the evidence and prove me wrong. Yeah, they don't have a quintessential group of songs that any FM radio head would know, but I think by the time I'm an old man, at least us rock snobs will be in agreement on this.

- The Onion's AV Club has a summer movie preview up. Its smartly taken from the perspective of what to rush out to the theater to see and what to wait to watch on hangover Sundays this fall. I have to admit that after reading it, I'm pretty psyched to hit the multiplex this summer.

Posted 1:42pm
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