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December 30th, 2008

One Fell Swoop.

I hate to close out 2009 on such a downer, but things being how they are, I have little choice. Like every guy* on the face of the earth, I want every girl I ever dated, kissed or flirted with to secretly pine over me for the rest of their lives. And of course every unrequited crush I've ever had should never find true happiness, as that could have only come if we had somehow found our way to each other. That's why this hurts so much. Ben Gibbard is getting married to Zooey Deschanel. Truthfully, I don't know which of them being off the market hurts more. I do know that we could have been beautiful together. And that goes for both of you.

*I assume girls feel this way as well, as they are generally vindictive grudge holders, but don't want to speak for the fairer sex.

- More downers that you probably already knew - you're getting raped on txt message rates.

- The good news? PeepyPipeyPopeyStovey is getting married tomorrow. This means I will be so infused with alcohol the next 36 hours that going near an open flame may be precarious. It should be a helluva way to kick off 2009, as I look damn good in a tux. Hope y'all have similarly fabulous, boozy plans. Happy New Year.

Posted 12:01pm
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December 24th, 2008

Worst. Christmas. Ever.

Yesterday Siddhartha, Ayesha and I headed out for a time honored tradition - traveling through a snowstorm for Aubree's Pizza Buffet. The normally 10 minute trip to Aubree's only took us 40 minutes, so you know, just like the snow days of yore.

Anyway, during our gorging the topic of Santa's lap came up, and Ayesha suggested we go to the mall and get Sid's picture taken with Santa. I offered him $20 to do it. He said yes. It was going to be a Christmas miracle.

That was until we actually started to walk around the mall, and the in joke between the three of us became visible to the outside world. Specifically, other junior highers that also happened to be at Briarwood two days before xmas. Sid - CHICKEN SHIT THAT HE IS - backed out.

So instead of a hilarious picture of Siddhartha, 13, on Santa's lap, here's a picture of me, xmas morning 1980 - Luke Skywalker in one hand, microphone in the other. Its not quite as cool, but frighteningly predictable, no?

- In other holiday news, I got a Wii Fit and its the coolest fucking thing ever. I will be rocking my way to the body of a sweedish preteen gymnast in no time. Thanks Ayesha.

- Here's an interesting article from Slate about a secular Christmas. While Jesus certainly has his part to play in the fact that you don't have to work tomorrow, all the good things about the season - the trees, decorations, get togethers, mistletoe - are courtesy of us pagans. I hope all the readers of tbaggervance.com have a happy holiday. Booze and oral for everyone!
XOXO,
-tbaggervance

Posted 10:55am
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December 19th, 2008

Hey! You've got to hide your love away

I've been recently informed by Ayesha that I have a definite 'Beatles thing'. By 'Beatles thing' she means that I too often have disproportionate reactions in public when anyone merely hints at the fact that the Beatles have any flaws, or were in any way not the be all, end all of musical experiences. This goes part and parcel with my Twilight thing, my Da Vinci Code thing, my Thomas Kincaide thing, my religion thing and myriad other 'things'. Since the 'Beatles thing' is defending something positively rather than trashing something negatively, we should encourage it.

The Beatles things reared its ugly head most recently when a slightly older friend of mine was talking about the music his older sister exposed him to growing up. He listed "The Who, Bob Dylan, the interesting Beatles..." at which point I blew a gasket noting "Its not interesting Beatles - its just Beatles. I know what you were getting at and its a misnomer and you should be ashamed for propagating something that patently isn't true." I somehow got him to apologize to me.

Days earlier I diatribed in the comments section of Mrs Jesus's blog for comparing The Beatles to Harry Potter. I spake thusly:

I say this as a fan of JK, but you comparing HP to the Beatles is 100 times more offensive than John Lennon claiming the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. HP is this generations Monkees or Dave Clark Five.

Or to switch metaphors, Star Wars.

To me, its just like casually comparing someone to Hitler, because no one is as bad as Hitler. And no one will ever signal a shift in the cultural zeitgeist (and have the pervasive cultural impact) the way the Beatles did.

Yes, I did use both Jesus and Hitler in my argument. There's something to be said for hyperbole in my book apparently.

And of course it was a scant 16 months ago when I wrote this, where I lament the fact that I didn't scream at someone for saying the Beatles suck. Its not long until I become Mean Mr. Mustard and start telling kids to get off my lawn. I think we all can agree that its inevitable.

- Speaking of Ayesha (remember? from the beginning?) she arrives Monday for two weeks(ish) in our winter wonderland. We plan on drinking and hanging out, while she complains how cold it is here and I try and convince her its better to stay in and cook rather than go out to eat. Just like the old days. I can't wait.

- Speaking of the next two weeks(ish), I'm on vacation, so random, sporadic blogging only. Everyone stay warm, slightly inebriated, and festive. Happy non-denominational seasonal greeting to all y'all douche nozzels out there reading tbaggervance.com. XOXO. Don't ever change...

Posted 12:42pm
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December 18th, 2008

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

- Conservative estimates put tonight's snowfall at 12 inches. This is goddamn ridiculous. However, if that does come to fruition, I think I might get an actual snow day out of it. There's no way (given Ann Arbor's horrible snow removal service) my car will get dug out and up the hill to work if we get dumped on like that. As I once taught MJ, the way to ensure this is to go out and get hammered till the wee hours of the morning, so that your only recourse is to have the subsequent day off. Trust me, it works.

- Speaking of snow days, one is not complete unless you are camped in front of the TV to watch The Price is Right from 11-12. Afterwards, you eat lunch and then bundle up to go outside, because there's nothing on TV from 12-3. (Remember life before cable? What did we do all the time? Read?) Anyway, Bob Barker may be no more, but I might have literally shat myself had I seen this live. I'm having trouble believing its real. I mean, check Drew's reaction. "congrats. you got it right on the nose." Talk about milquetoast. I smell scam.

- I've worked with Dr. Fred Blow for over a dozen years now. It was one of his Brief Intervention projects that first brought me to Substance Abuse Section here in the Psychiatry Dept. Somewhere I have tape of him on the Today show, but here he is quoted in the New York Times.

- Remember how I teased the Flight of the Choncords return in January? Well Christmas hath come early on the internet my friends. You can watch the premier episode here.

- And finally, this is pretty fucking meta. "It feels so unnatural, to sing your own name..."

Posted 12:11pm
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December 17th, 2008

So fucking what?

Their arrogant sense of 'fuck you' entitlement is absolutely appalling. As they are being ushered out the door, with everyone shouting 'damn did you suck ass at your job' they're still insistent that they know best.

Bush goes on record that al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq before we went to 'war', and follows it up with 'So what?' (and a bonus 'so what' about the guy who threw a shoe at him.) Darth Cheney is informed that no one in America thinks that Iraq was worth the thousands of American lives its cost us to this point and his answer is 'So?' It really galls me that they're still trying to justify the largess of their mistakes at this point. They lied and when called on it they say 'So what?' They failed massively in the eyes of their constituents and they say 'So?' Don't let the door hit you on the ass boys. If I had anything to say about it, you'd be shipped to the desert on January 20th to have your balls bitten off by a pack of camels.

All y'all conservatives and Republicans best be gettin' your shit in a pile, because your party is in an embarrassment of tatters. Someone has to keep the demons of the Democrats in check, and if you keep chucking out rubes like Sarah Palin, trying to save our souls like they're Jesus on a white horse with a flaming sword, you're fucked. Meaning we're all fucked. Fuck.

- Want more proof of our impending salvation? Here's the awkward as hell Bush Christmas video that is so puppy cringe-tastic I guarantee you can't make it through the whole thing. Now contrast and compare with Joe Biden's new puppy. I hate animals and that elicits an awwww from me.

- And one final bit of proof that we may be on the right track: Places that voted for Obama are smarter and richer than those that voted for McCain. Its science.

Posted 10:10am
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December 16th, 2008

This week in indie rock

- 2008 will soon be nothing but a memory, so let us set our gaze to 2009, when we'll all be fucking on unicorns as they jump over rainbows under an Obama administration. Two days before the savior take his rightful place on the thrown, Bret and Jermaine return to HBO. You can bide your time waiting for their Kiwi love with this contest. I'm the mother flippin'...

- Mother fuck. Want to feel old? Pearl Jam's seminal debut Ten is prepping for an 18th (18th!) anniversary reissue. I know right? I thought having a kid in high school was bad...

- I spent all this time last week talking about my swoonage over Zooey Deschanel, and then she goes and does this. I'm starting to wonder if Jim Carrey was ever funny. I caught part of Ace Ventura 2 the other day on cable and man was that shit ponderous. Please, Hollywood, save our darling pixies from having to whore themselves out to Jim Carrey pseudo remakes of his own previous oeuvre. You deserve better Zooey.

- Every night when I hit my knees and give thanks for all that has been bestowed on me, I pray a little pray for a new Postal Service album. Unfortunately, my Magic 8 Ball was right and the outlook not so good. One can only conclude that their faith is better placed in a 6 inch ball of plastic filled with blue comb water and a pyramid.

- Finally, one of the great lost soundtracks of all time is that of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Director John Hughes thought its stylistic mix would never sell, thus it was never commercially produced. I became obsessed with this fact about 10 years ago and managed to track down all the music from the film in mp3 format and cobble together my own version of the thing. Its one of my bigger exercises in nerdiness. Anyway, I mention it now to shoe horn this FBDO 'Where are they now?' into an indie rock post. Save Ferris.

Posted 10:59am
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December 15th, 2008

I'm dreaming of a green Christmas

- While I respectfully disagree, the consensus seems to be that CFLs are ugly. So be it. GE acquiesces to your conventional aesthetics and gives you the traditional looking CFL. I guess if it gets the hillbillies who are scared of them foreign looking bulbs to buy them, then all the better.

- We here at tbaggervance.com in no way condone ecoterrorism. However, its pretty fucking cool that one guy that one guy can reduce a country's carbon footprint by 2%.

- Remember 8 years ago when Bush was appointing members of his administration and it seemed like every crony he trotted out there was more offensive than the last? I swear I spent a month screaming 'You've got to be FUCKING kidding me!' Fortunately I'm doing mostly the opposite over Obama's choices. Check out his choice for energy secretary. This guy's wicked smart. As opposed to our current energy secretary who had no experience in energy policy before taking the job, just another buddy who happened to run a company that was one of the country's most notorious polluters. Let us never forget just how horrible of a president we're finally bidding adieu.

- If you're anything like me, the holidays have already just about sucked every last ounce of will you have to live. The traffic. The assholes. The presents. Its a lot of running around whilst everyone else is doing the same thing, and frankly, its coming close to breaking me. And that's before I get to the whole churchy jesus stuff. But I do look forward to actual xmas morn' when I get to spoil the shit out of my kid by giving him whatever he wants. Its a tradition that I've carried on from my parents, who always provided us with more than they could afford. Virtually the only other thing I've maintained from the xmas of my youth is the fake tree. From birth to about 16, we had the same xmas tree every year (they upgraded around 1991). I knew that other people bought live trees and made a huge production out of it, but we Brubaker's viewed these people as suckers. Rockwellian saps under the thumb of the powerful tree lobby. Well, that was my opinion anyway. Unfortunately it turns out that live trees are actually better for the earth than fake ones. As I already have my fake tree, I'll be keeping it until at least 2022, but for those of you looking to start traditions of your own, its one more pain in the ass thing you can do for the environment. Merry Christmas.

Posted 11:08am
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December 12th, 2008

tbaggervance's top ten albums of 2008

Its that time of year again. We feel like we've been lax here at tbaggervance.com when it comes to the indie rock as of late. What with President elect Obama, 826 and other worldly concerns, we frankly have dropped the ball a bit. But fear not, dear readers, we've been staying on top of the scene behind the scenes, and are now prepared to tell you what you've missed, and what can make you a better person just by listening. Its our Xmas gift to you. Enjoy....

10. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals

I'll be honest, I really just get off on trying to name every two second beat, lick and reference thrown into this bad boy. Its enough to make the most ardent music snob's head spin.

9. Juno - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

I always like to throw in a soundtrack on the year ender, especially one that captures the cultural zeitgeist the way Kimya and the rest of the Juno soundtrack did. Its certainly the quirkiest, feel good, indie folk album on memory, and one that can elevate one's mood faster than you can say "I hope that if my teenage daughter ever gets pregnant, she's a lot like Ellen Page."

8. Nada Surf - Lucky

I was woefully disappointed the first time I spun Lucky. Nada Surf's previous two albums are some of my favorite music of the last decade, and at first listen I didn't find the magic here. Then it slowly seeped in. I started to force it down as Ayesha and I got ready to see them live last March. By the time they hit the stage, I was fully immersed in its poppy goodness. Its vintage Nada Surf - beautiful in its eccentricities. And its harmonies.

7. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

They are both the unofficial band of tbaggervance.com and the greatest bar band alive today (The Replacements memorial award). Nobody nostalgizes being young and drunk with nothing and everything to do at the same time quite so beautifully. They are Springsteen and the E Street band without the depressing ballads about getting drafted and being out of work.

6. She and Him - Volume I

I don't include this just because Zooey Deschanel is cute as a button and I want to put her in my pocket and take care of her forever and ever. Although I don't discount that. This album just makes me feel warm all over, and dream of seeing this duo in some boozy lounge, where Zooey and I's eyes meet and we drink vodka and talk long into the night. Then I put her in my pocket and go home and we just stare at each other and smile while we listen to this album.

5. Chris Bathgate - Wait, Skeleton

It took me sometime to realize what a gem Ann Arbor had in troubadour Chris Bathgate. He's literate. He's hummable. He's distinctive. He's relatable. And he writes pop gems that make you long. For myriad things, but make no mistake, long you will.

4. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs

This is the follow up to Transatlanticism that I wanted Plans to be. It still lacks the fierce indie street cred that Transatlanticism had, but it does actually rock on occasion And it builds an pulsates in the epic fashion that we demand out of our major label rock stars - but not in that sucky, bland, Coldplay sort of way.

3. TV on the Radio - Dear Science

I'll be honest, I didn't get TV on the Radio when they first burst on the scene. I tried, but wasn't able to wrap my head around their swirling juxtaposition of styles, and never found myself with the right combination of illicit drugs and free time to crack the code. But I downloaded Dear Science anyway, because that's what good little music snobs do, lest another snob browse our playlist and find us wanting. Needless to say, Dear Science finally revealed itself to me (without the drugs!) May it someday do you the favor.

2. Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell

After several blistering EPs, I was skeptical that TPC could pull it off over the course of a full length. Of course I was immediately proven wrong. Elephant Shell is the perfect pre-drinking album - raucous, danceable, upbeat and just smart enough to make you think of things that you'll soon be pontificating about in a blathering manner. And yes, I am kind of an expert in that category.

1. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Yes, there's nothing technically new here on VW's eponymous debut. But that matters not. Its catchy. Its fun. And despite its overt derivativeness, its still unique. And catchy. And fun. Like the Violent Femmes 25 years ago, it doesn't matter if they never do anything else worthwhile, this album will live forever in the hearts and minds of college kids everywhere. A gem that kids will be partying to and using to get laid for decades to come.

So that's them. You can get comparative summations from Rolling Stone, Spin and the AV Club (my personal favorite) but I warn you, some of them include Coldplay. And for the historically inclined, here's tbaggervance's best of 2007, 2006 and 2005 (scroll a tad).

Posted 9:21am
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December 11th, 2008

Politics can also be funny (as opposed to constantly depressing)

- Want to hear the most ludicrous defense of Sarah Palin of all time? Her speaking style is born beat poets and rock 'n' roll. I'm pretty sure she couldn't spell colloquial locutions, much less define them.

- We've previously made the case here at tbaggervance.com that Will Ferrel provided the definitive W impersonation during his administration. Which is why we're thrilled to hear that he's doing a Broadway show entitled: "You're Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush." The best part? Its going to be on HBO!

- This is so apt its both funny and insightful - Bla-lego-vich.

- I generally think Mike Huckabee is a rube. I mean, he's a genius compared to Sarah Palin, but he's still a backwater hillbilly who's guided by Jesus, and that unfortunately clouds his judgment to the point that he's incapable of crafting effective policy in myriad arenas. Take last nights throw down with Jon Stewart. Its a nice, well reasoned discussion that boils down to the fact that Huckabee doesn't get homosexuality isn't a choice. And Mike, gay marriage isn't the death knell of procreation. Geez.

Posted 12:11pm
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December 10th, 2008

You've got to be fucking kidding me

I'm home today as I called in gay as a show of solidarity. If you don't believe that, you really won't believe this shit...

- You've gotta almost admire the size of Rod Blagojevich's balls. Here he is on Monday begging for people to tap his phone and investigate him. And here's the write up on his arrest after they did what he asked. I mean, you try and extort the President elect (and call him a motherfucker for not giving you a bribe), Warren Buffet, and The Chicago Tribune. All while looking like the half retarded swarthy brother of Stephen King. Them's balls, son.

- Coldplay and Joe Satriani are fighting over who wrote their identical shitty song(s) first. This is akin to arguing over who gets credit for Homeland Security's response to Katrina. Just quietly back away folks.

- Here's the 20 worst album covers of 2008. <<shudder>>

- George W. Bush says the Bible is probably not literally true. Seriously, every quote in this article is gold Jerry. For head shaking, comedy reasons only, I will miss our simple president.

- Yes, I have appropriate nerd-level giddiness over the Watchmen movie. I mean, can you fucking believe this footage?

Posted 10:31am
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December 9th, 2008

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

- I'm not overly concerned with the representation of women in the media. I don't care about Oprah's weight and while I find it completely unnecessary to airbrush Jessica Alba, I also know that thin is generally prettier than fat. Despite what the Dove commercials try and tell you, pretty is pretty. However, I also have a firmly entrenched, fully realized idea of what is pretty to me. This often fails to comport with what the general public finds attractive. In the most simple of terms, I'm generally not into blondes, fake boobs just look uncomfortable, and when you can see vacant and vapid in someone's eyes on first glance, no matter how good looking they are, I'm not buying it. Anyway, I mention all this because every once in a while, America agrees with me. This simultaneously A.) Sucks because I feel like I got there first and tomorrow they'll go back to fawning over Brittany, leaving whatever 'smart, marginally pretty' flavor of the week by the side of the road and how will she ever know that I still care? and B.) Rules, because I get at least one hot pictorial out of the deal. Anyway, I guess the point is that I'm as shallow as the next guy, just differently shallow, and that's OK. And Tina Fey is totally hot.

- Here's a new web series that looks pretty good - Children's Hospital.

- I may have mentioned that one of 826 duties as of late was running a comic book club at a local community center. If not, I do, and its mentioned today in the 826 blog.

- Unlike Kanye West, I don't believe George Bush doesn't care about black people. I mean, he did throw more than just a token minority in his cabinet to go a long with that good ol' boy network. But like most rich, white, out of touch people, he also doesn't quite get it. And in that respect, I kinda think Kanye was partially right. Once W leaves 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, he'll be moving into a neighborhood that, as of 8 YEARS AGO, was whites only*. I'm as white as typing paper and I find that offensive.

- Its been a looooooong time since I've been in a proper band. Sure there are semiannual UTC gigs and every once in a great while a friend's band will ask me to get up and sing with them at a party when I am drunk. These are good times. But tonight I've been asked to swing by a band rehearsal and 'audition' to sing in a real live rock band. Opportunities like this come along from time to time, and as per usual, it probably won't amount to much. But even if its just trying to get through 4 or 5 songs on a rainy/snowy Tuesday night, it'll sure be fun.

*not including servants. No shit.

Posted 11:05am
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December 8th, 2008

Bring on the night

Last year I was coming home from the bar (only mildly tipsy) on a random Sunday night and it was just beginning to snow. All of the parking spots near my apartment were taken, so I was forced to circle the complex and park out front. I was making the rounds at a leisurely 5 miles an hour when I turned the wheel to maneuver the car through the right angle turn at the end of the complex and the car decided to continue on its preassigned course. You'd think that ramming five miles an hour into a curb would be a mere annoyance. And it was. An annoyance that caused me $600.

A month later during a torrential storm I was trying to get home from work in my automobile. This is a process that takes all of 13 minutes on a heavy (traffic) flow day. Two hours into the trip I finally found a parking lot to stash my vehicle in after getting stuck a non-hyperbolic 27 times, and walked the final 3 miles home. Through half a foot of snow. In chucks. My car doesn't handle the snow so well.

So while I was sorely disappointed to hear that Maritime had canceled their Mt. Pleasant show Saturday night due to inclement weather conditions, it was probably for the best. It would be a heck of a hike to civilization should my sled go off the road on US127 30 miles north of Lansing. Besides, I knew some people going to see Stella that night a mere 5 miles from my house. As far as plan B's go, it was a good one.

So I headed out into the night with great trepidation, remembering that the last time I went to the Pig in a snowstorm the Jesuses had to push my unit up a 25 degree incline at 2am. I may or may not have been sober during said proceedings. But the snow wasn't quite as bad this night, and I made it up there safely. Stella was great. Then the inevitable question of what next reared its ugly head. "Do you want to come to a party? Its at a fortress?" Anybody want to guess what I did next?

Of course as I pulled out of the parking lot to follow my friends to the party my car immediately does a complete 360 in the middle of Huron. Some would call this an omen and wisely decide to cautiously head home and enjoy a nice night cap and perhaps some pornography on the internet. I just made a mental note of how much cash I had should I need to cab it home from the Northwest Ann Arbor suburbs.

Remember when you were little and your mom would get out the card table and you'd throw blankets over it and make yourself a fort underneath? Well that's what the fortress was. Someone turned their entire (enormous) house into a blanket fort. The ceilings, the floors, the rooms, the halls - covered in blankets. There were themed rooms and the tiny hallways made the entire thing a labyrinth that disoriented you and kept from ever truly knowing how to get from A to B (once you knew of the existence of B). The alcohol may have had something to do with all of this.

There's no great end to this story. Some guy wore my shoes out to smoke a cigarette, so there was mild panic as I got bundled up to leave and couldn't find my kicks. But I could never get the fear of winding up in a ditch completely out of my head, so I left early and carefully (meaning half drunk at 1am). I must be getting old, as I'm clearly even attempting to do the foolishly stupid cautiously.

Posted 11:05am
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December 5th, 2008

Your indie rock weekend

A little over two years ago I drug Ayesha to middle of nowhere Ohio in the middle of the night on a Friday to see a band that almost no one has heard of. And it was one of the greatest nights of my life. Tomorrow night I'll make another trek - this time to the middle of nowhere Michigan (and this time alone) - to see that band again. I am positively giddy. I bonded last night with 826's executive director over love of The Promise Ring, which is a rare occasion and always a special moment for me (picture on right is from last night's 826 holiday jamboree) but I couldn't convince her to trudge through the snow to see Maritime with me. So anyone with an open dance card tomorrow, call me. Shotgun is open.

- Want a "Fuck I'm old" moment? Something About Airplanes is 10 years old. Here's super dreamy Ben Gibbard to talk about his burgeoning preteen.

- Speaking of concerts that no one will go to with me, Bonaroo is on sale.

- Unofficial band of tbaggervance.com The Hold Steady have a new video for "Stay Positive".

- Being a music nerd I still buy (and cherish) vinyl records. There's something warm and visceral about vinyl and as long as they keep making it, I'll keep buying it (despite the unwieldiness of the format). I doubt that anyone will feel that way about CDs in 10 years.

- Steven Soderbergh to make a musical about Cleopatra. In 3-D. Starring Wolverine and Mrs. Michael Douglas. Music by Guided By Voices. Seriously.

- Speaking of musicals, Jesus sets you straight on prop 8. For the record, that's the second time Jack Black has played a singing Jesus.

- Muppets + LCD Soundsystem = awesome.

- And finally, while my Amazon wish list is getting quite long, there's no need for anyone to get me anything for Xmas this year, as I have the cover of Neko Case's new album to keep me warm. Its all I will ever need.

Posted 9:49am
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December 4th, 2008

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

- Any of you who regularly read Deadspin will have already been inundated with this image, but I still laugh every time I see Baby Mangino:

- Are you still a tad euphoric over President-elect Obama? Me too! Here's a slideshow sure to make you swoon. And for those of you Mac users out there who still have Obama fever (I wonder what percentage of Mac users voted for Obama? Its gotta be like 90% right?) here's an app that can turn you into the chosen one.

- I don't like guns. I mean, I like firing guns - anyone who's ever done that enjoys it - but the existence of guns troubles me. Frankly, I don't think the constitution guarantees you shit and am in favor of any law that takes any guns out of the hands of anybody. You can keep your rifles and shotguns for hunting, but that's it. Speaking of, I don't like hunting either. Don't get it, don't like it, find it creepy. I'm no PETA asshole, I just think that outsmarting a deer and then overpowering him with a firearm isn't very sportsmanlike. That's why I fucking love this story. That deer ain't going out like a bitch, he's gonna do his best to take you down with him. Money quote from the bottom of the article: "I learned a valuable lesson, if you don't think they're dead, you might want to shoot them again." You show 'em, big boy.

- Being in higher education, I'm pretty insulated against the economic downturn. I'm not likely to lose my job anytime soon (just the complete value of my 401K, but who isn't?) So as far as the various 'bailouts' go, I'm in favor of any kind of stimulus that puts money in my pocket. Fuck it. There's money being thrown around, I'll take some. I'll even spend some of it on car parts in honor of Detroit. I really like this idea, even though it will never happen. I promise to spend a good hunk of the saved dough in retail. Honest.

- All apologies to Ms. Sumbal and the many fine State grads in advance, but why would MSU students design a window cleaning robot when they will clearly be taking jobs away from fellow State alums? ZING!

Posted 10:29am
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December 3rd, 2008

Slap it up, flip it, rub it down... Oh Noooooooooo!

Its time to see what new in the world of sex. And when I say see, I mean read about - because we all know that you already know where to find THAT stuff on the internet on your own. Sinner.

- The chances that I'll ever live overseas are rapidly dwindling, but its nice to know that should the opportunity arise, I at least speak the language in the world's most promiscuous country. Bob's your uncle.

- At Michigan's last home game this year I inexplicably got blackout drunk and barely remember the 45 minutes I was actually in the stadium. I have yet to hear of anything happening of this nature, but that's the problem with blackout drunk - you may never know.

- I don't know if this happens to every generation, but I think I can speak for men my age when I say fuck did we just miss the boat. Girls dress sluttier and sluttier and are apparently giving away blow jobs on street corners starting at 14*. Back in my day we had to work our ass off to touch a boob (although I imagine college is college and not much could have changed there). Now of course there is the epidemic of sexting. I swear youth is wasted on the young (although I may or may not have been sexted before. If I had, I would confirm its awesomeness).

- Speaking of overseas promiscuous youth... we all can pretty much agree that 90% of all sex is fueled by booze, but even a drunk like me cannot condone this kind of behavior. At least put on a clean shirt and buy her dinner.

- All I can tell you is that the fact that this takes place at tOSU makes me happy. Aww hillbilly whores...

- Fans of How I Met Your Mother (which, btw, should be all of you) will especially enjoy Lilly's list of 50 reasons to have sex from last week's episode. My favorite is "To celebrate a major victory by favorite team and/or political candidate." I would respectfully add "To commiserate crushing defeat by favorite team and/or political candidate," because I've played that card and it works too.

*As the father of a 13 year old I officially and appropriately denounce this and lament what is happening to our children.

Posted 10:49am
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December 2nd, 2008

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

I feel bad upsetting Baby J so close to his birthday, but let's be honest, people go a little koo koo for cocoa puffs this time of year. Here's what's invoking them crocodile tears:

- This study, as is shown time and time again, points to the fact that atheistic societies tend to treat each other better than religious ones.

- I don't know how Baby J feels about this, but I for one would love to see a movie where samurai sword wielding warriors take out the Scientology Center. In reality, it didn't go so well.

- I know we've talked about him before, but beware of Bobby Jindal. He's pro intelligent design and Patriot Act, while anti-stem cell, anti-choice and anti-gay. Oh and he participated in an exorcism and is convinced it was real. This guy is coming and will claim to be on the side of Jesus, but how can you love thy neighbor yet hate him for being gay?

- Sorry Tiny Jesus, but all of your churches who told their parishioners to vote for Prop 8 in California, we're going to need those tax dollars now. You can't have it both ways fuckholes*.

- Apparently, if you choose to worship Baby J as a Catholic and you voted for Obama, you must repent or go to hell.

- All I can think when I see this is that according to Kentucky, Baby Jesus is responsible for 9/11.

- Finally, if there is a God, he will come down from on high to prevent this from happening. My favorite part is the headline of 'hammering out' details. Like they're not all sitting around going 'Fuck. Remember all that fame and money and pussy? Let's do that again.' Having their tour bus fly off a cliff before the first show would make me born again. Having them play to half full grandstands at state fairs would make me at least question my beliefs.

*I know, its an issue and not a candidate and they didn't break the law. Still fuck those guys.

Posted 10:59am
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December 1st, 2008

Nutty nuptials

Its finally official, I am in search of a hog trough.

In what has to have been seen as inevitable to everyone within earshot of the situation for years, I will be the last in my family to get married. Little brother Bertrum C. Bertrum finally proposed to his long time, live in girlfriend over the weekend. They've been together for quite some time and I can't imagine a better girl for him. Plus, she's about 10 years his junior, setting a nice precedent should I ever decide to bring a girl home again.

I think it says a lot that it was his fiancé that called to tell me the news on Sunday. Somehow I secretly imagine it might have been even tougher for him to call me and tell me that he is getting married than it was for him to pop the question. And that more or less sums up our relationship. Rumor has it that we'll all be flying somewhere warm so that they can get betrothed, so hurray mandatory vacation.

And while I don't believe in God or karma or the yin and yang of the universe, one has to wonder if coincidence can truly only be chalked up to our brain's propensity to continually search for patterns, because as my little brother was making an honest woman out of his old lady, Ayesha and I were finally coming to a head over the fact that she's not coming back here, and I'm not leaving anytime soon. I'll spare you the details and woe-is-me of that story for now, as its still being written, but its not lost on me that I continue to alienate and push people away, even as my brother - who is often thought to be incapable of either audible thought or outward emotion - is getting engaged. Then again, maybe that's the trick.

Anyway, congratulations Taggart. She's a great girl, you're a lucky guy, and its about time. Just remember, when I asked our 7 year old niece this weekend who was older, she immediately said you. Happy 31st Birthday Friday.

Posted 9:58am
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November 25th, 2008

As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

Thanksgiving is upon us. I'll forego opining the irony of celebrating a holiday that ostensibly has become about gluttony in these dire times and just dump whatever links I could shoehorn into a turkey theme on you toot suite:

- Anyone who gets the above title reference can relive the magic here.

- Ever since my brother moved to Chicago I haven't really had to deal with this super terrific awesome phenomenon. Hopefully you are picking up my sarcasm. The Wednesday before Thnxgiving is often referred to as the biggest bar night of the year - which in my book makes it a pretty good night to stay home. I mean, if you're a professional racecar driver, do you want a bunch of soccer moms in minivans on the track? Sure it'd be fun to get real close to them and scare the shit out of them a bit, but after a while you want to get back to going real fast and have the amateurs get out of your way - because that's what makes you a racecar driver. Well I'm a drunk, and the people who don't know what they're doing at the bar because they go five times a year just get in the way. Leave the heavy drinking to the professionals.

- The War on Christmas gets started earlier and earlier every year. Its a wonder people even notice the War on Thanksgiving.

- Yes, you will eat and drink too much these next few days and come Monday you'll be bloated and tired and will feel like you're deep in the throes of seasonal affective disorder. Do not try to combat this with Chipotle. Why does the internet have to ruin everything with its facts and information?

- I'm headed down to the Snap tomorrow before driving the Moeman to Chicago for Turkey at the big brothers. Last year Sid and I managed to not go anywhere for Thnxgiving and no offense to my family, but it was the greatest Thnxgiving ever. We didn't have to deal with anything or anybody. I cooked nontraditional Thnxgiving food and we played games and watched DVDs. For any of you lucky folks staying in Ann Arbor and don't want to cook, here's an open thread about what's open Thursday - including some freebies.

- I don't think the Sarah Palin turkey interview is that big of a deal. I mean, its kind of a bumblefuck, but what do you expect out of her? Its certainly being blown out of proportion. That being said, let's watch Letterman make fun of her about it.

Posted 1:12pm
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November 24th, 2008

The sound of your foot hitting your uvula

Well in the end, we gave the pros all they could handle.

I won't keep you in suspense - we didn't win. We got a bad draw and ended up in the bracket with the 'serious' skrabbel players. The ones who were overly concerned with the rules in a tournament called 'Skrabbel for Cheaters.' Our first opponents - two ladies in their forties who giggled over how they forced their husbands to watch them play scrabble all the time - almost ended up hitting us. I mean physically punching us in the face. They took an early lead and we decided after 30 minutes it was time to buy and annoy our way into the second round. So we started using our cheats and then unleashed our most potent distraction technique: Techno Skrabbel. Techno Skrabbel is a song that Sid and I wrote where he produces a pulsating techno beat to accompany my electronic beeping melody - culminating in us shouting together "Techno Skrabbel!" This is sung while Sid belts his beats six inches from your face and I circle your head with flashing strobe LED light. Come to think of it, its kind of impressive that they didn't hit us.

The only really disappointing part of the day was when the judge at the next table tried to stop us from doing Techno Skrabbel after about 90 seconds noting "The people behind you are trying to play too." I asked him what he thought we were doing and went back about my business. Fuck that guy.

So after taking out the frumpy bitches, it was on to the number one seeds. These guys made an announcement at the beginning of the tournament inviting all of us to come out and play with their scrabble group every Wednesday night. They were humorless nerds about scrabble. We decided to table our distraction techniques and concentrate on the game. Long story short, they were too good for us - but we took them to the limit and made them spend all their money to beat us. We were down eight points with no tiles left in the bag, they spent $500 to make up a word and go out. We lost.

That's our losing board. The word across the top was made up by Siddhartha. He says its the sound of your foot hitting your uvula. I'll take his word for it.

So not victorious, but a 33 year old and a 13 year old gave the pros in their 40's all they could handle, and we were a million times cooler, so they can suck it and take the championship trophy. We still won best dressed.

Posted 1:14pm
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November 21st, 2008

Your indie rock weekend

- Last night's Ingrid Michaelson concert was worth the pain of having to go to the Ark by myself. I can say little else that won't make me sound like a 13 year old girl, so I won't. Here's her covering 'Creep' - which she did last night - and which still is giving me goosebumps.

- Yes, Chinese Democracy is out (and streaming on myspace) and I could care less. Along with Nirvana, Guns and Roses is one of the bands that's made the least mount of sense to me over the years. I mean that in the sense of their level of popularity in relation to their level of talent. Anyway, you can listen, and then you can read Chuck K's review, which is exactly what you'd expect it to be.

- One of my favorite genre/periods of music is late 90's emo. This is not the crappy shit that gets labeled with the misunderstood moniker today, but the emotional, melodic post-punk of their forefathers. Unfortunately, this period coincided with me trying to raise a toddler and not getting out to as many sweet shows as I would have liked. As such, many of my favorite bands disbanded before I got a chance to see them. Of course there is one saving grace - the reunion tour. 4 years ago (ish) I got a chance to see a reunited Promise Ring in Chicago for a one night only performance. And while I missed this Get Up Kids one off, it sounds like they may be back for more.

- You'll start to see a plethora of best of lists as 2008 draws to a close. Here's a good one from Paste to get the ball rolling.

- Once again, beware the gays. I like fighting intolerance with silliness*.

*this is not indie rock related, but I'm shoe horning it in anyway.

Posted 1:14pm
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November 20th, 2008

Robots and the sadness of solo concert attendance.

Its decided. No Columbus for me this weekend. Its a 15 year streak I'm breaking and I don't do so lightly. The truth is, I carefully weighed what I'd rather do, and I chose my son and 826 over binge drinking and hearing witty epithets like 'RamRod' ad naseum from douche bags. Barlow and the rest of the Buckeyes can call me a pussy and accuse me of abandoning a number of things (including my principles) and even call me 'hypocrite' (although you might want to look up what that word means). I'm spending the weekend volunteering and watching the game with Sid - y'all can suck it.

Speaking of which, tomorrow night we are installing the holiday window at 826. We are all convinced that this will increase our business 10 to 20 fold. Its going to feature a family of robots ice skating. Here is my contribution:

He's the baby. The pics are from my phone so not the greatest. I'll try to get some better snaps during and after install for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing. But of course I highly recommend you come see it in person. While you are there, perhaps you'll find some holiday gifts in our store. We have tons of cool shit that make great stocking stuffers. I also recently received a promotion and got to write product descriptions for some of the new items we carry. You'll know they're mine by their hilarity.

- Tonight I'm going to The Ark. By myself. To see Ingrid Michaelson. The only reason that this isn't a wholly depressing fact is that at some point in the evening, our eyes will likely meet, we'll fall deeply and madly in love and live happily ever after. Expect a slew of uncomfortable tweets from the venue as I squirm at my surroundings beforehand though.

- I'm headed to ELansing for work tomorrow, so 50/50 on whether there will be a blog or not. Two important things you want to be aware of though: meh is now officially a word and the gays are coming! the gays are coming!

Posted 9:53am
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November 19th, 2008

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- There is no doubt in my mind that someday I will be driving down the road and see an SUV with 'W' sticker, a Jesus fish and an OSU window cling and something in my brain will snap and I will run them off the road, leaving us both in a fiery heap on the side of the highway. I feel similarly about the 'God' billboards. That's why I'm happy the atheists are getting a new PR person.

- I enjoy Thomas Kinkade "Painter of Light" about as much as I enjoy The Da Vinci Code. Well, 'enjoy' isn't the right word, but let's say I think they have similar artistic merit. Turns out the evangelical loved Kinkade is every bit as delusional as I hoped he would be.

- You may have read about that 'poll' that showed how misinformed Obama voters were in a post election survey. Hero Nate Silver over at 538.com interviewed the douche hole who commissioned the poll and well, it goes exactly how I assumed it would. Obama is a Muslim, hates Jesus - film at 11.

- Stephen Baldwin's evangelical B-list celebrity prowess is second to only that of Kirk Cameron. So its no surprise that he wrote a memoir about his path to Jesus. What is surprising? He wants you to know that your sex life will be exponentially better with Jesus in the bedroom. Am I the only one that doesn't want a bearded guy tickling my balls whilst I am humping?

- Its been sometime since I've seen a Christmas pageant, but were I in the greater Chicagoland area, I'd be down for this.

- Worst piece of shit novel I've ever read Twilight comes out as a film this weekend. I for one can't wait for the horror to be over. The AV Club asks the prescient question: What will be the next abstinence vampire?

- And finally, yes Baby Jesus, there is a God*.

*assuming they go to trial, are found guilty, and are given perpetual equivalent torture as punishment.

Posted 10:52am
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November 18th, 2008

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

- SKRABBEL FOR CHEATERS IS THIS WEEKEND! Holy balls can you believe it? You've all been so generous and we couldn't be more appreciative and excited. If you haven't donated yet, please consider doing so. Another 5 people donate $20, and we could hit $1000! Or 20 people could donate $5. Either way, if you haven't given yet, why do hate children and literacy? C'mon - I promise to buy you a beer if you do...

- How will things be different under an Obama administration? Well his team to review the FCC are hard core advocates of net neutrality. Fuck. Yes.

- This is an interesting commentary on relationships and technology. Funny in a sad kinda way.

- All of you degenerate gamblers out there are aware of the back door cover. I happened to be watching the end of this game waiting for 60 Minutes to come on and was aware of the line (Steelers -5). Talk about going from totally geek, to totally chic, back to totally geek - all in the span of 90 seconds.

- Back when I was arguing for Elvis Costello as coolest person on the face of the earth, one of my talking points was ability to fill in for Letterman as the host of Late Night. Now he has his own show, and the guest list is pretty impressive. I highly recommend it, sight unseen.

Posted 10:52am
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November 17th, 2008

(Bad) Time to get ill.

Its been suggested by more than one outside observer (as well as two well placed inside ones) that Ayesha and I's relationship suffers from a constant case of bad timing. From when we were born to when we met to when she moved to Arizona and so on and so forth - perpetual bad timing.

Yet despite the obstacles of one of us always coming when the other is going we still manage to spend quite a bit of time in the middle - while hoping that some day we'll both be ready to sit down in the same place. In service of these ideals Ayesha flew back to Michigan this weekend to hang out, watch some football and apparently get a bracing reminder that weather was one of the principle reasons she left. And just so that the pattern remained constant, my body decided to come down with a serious bout of sickness on the eve of her arrival.

It wasn't exactly debilitating, but it also felt terribly unfair for my body to revolt on one of the 4 or 5 times a year that Ayesha and I get to spend time together. We managed to muddle through. We still went to happy hour, still sat in the cold and the rain to watch football (even though I had too many Captain and ciders and was a little bit boo butt for that part) and perhaps most importantly, got to lay around my apartment and pretend that we'd found a time machine to 2 years ago when things were simpler, if still not all that simple.

So thanks Ayesha. Thanks for coming in the first place and putting up with my sickness and drunkenness. I promise to be in good health when I make my way to Arizona in the spring so that we can hike the Grand Canyon. And I hope you manage to fend off whatever germs may have been in the air while you were here - even if that means you'll hold it over my head for the rest of our lives because your body fought off what mine couldn't handle.

Posted 12:12pm
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November 13th, 2008

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

- I suppose that someday - probably soon - kids will grow up without the term 'album' in their vocabulary. At least not in the vernacular of 10-15 songs meant to be a cohesive unit that is played together. This of course is woefully lamentable to me, music snob. But I won't bore you by pontificating on all that is wrong with music today, rather let us celebrate this hyper-accurate list of the best closing album tracks of all time.

- I'm fighting a wicked awful sore throat at the moment (insert blow job joke here) but am buoyed at the moment by Ayesha's imminent arrival. She decided she missed midwest tailgating so she is hoping on a jet plane and winging her way here tonight. We'll see how she feels about that decision when sitting in the wind, rain and 40 degree temperature Saturday.

- Speaking of Ayesha, I stole this idea from her blog:

Them's the states I've been to. Not all that surprising I would imagine. I'd like to knock out the pacific northwest sometime soon, but other than that and maybe New Orleans, I'm not in a real hurry to check off the rest. AND I've been to more state's than you Ayesha, so suck it.

- GMail now has videochat! Soon Google will provide everything I need on the internet. Goodbye Skype. That is all.

- There was a time when I wrote a lot of letters. This surely started before the invention and permeation of the internet, but nevertheless continued long after. It usually took place between myself and a hot girl - one who I had not been romantically linked to but either a.) desperately wanted to be or b.) wouldn't have terribly minded if it happened. But I think more than anything I enjoyed the excuse to write. And while you are right this second reading my current excuse to write, I still miss those pseudo pen pals. Even though my handwriting borders on illegible and typing is exponentially faster, I miss longhand - as evidenced by the little black moleskin I carry around to capture ideas (as well as doubling as my gambling ledger.) I don't know if I'll ever regularly write long hand letters again - and if I did whether or not I'd immediately find it tedious - but I will always be nostalgic for it. Even though its probably completely idealized in my head - but that's what nostalgia is, right?

Posted 11:36am
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November 12th, 2008

Turkey sandwiches.

As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, we can begin to prepare our bellies and refrigerators for one thing: leftovers. As sure as the Lions will suck around 1 in the afternoon on the fourth Thursday in November, there will be Thanksgiving leftovers. They are inevitable. They are delicious. They eventually become so annoying that you swear off turkey until next Thanksgiving.

Well, today we finally clear out all of the election leftovers that are in my mythical blog refrigerator. Hopefully enough time has past that we're ready to shake our collective head at Sarah Palin again.

- You can find this (and several other) election maps over at The Times website. In case it isn't obvious, this shows (by county) what parts of the country voted more Republican (red) or more Democrat (blue) last Tuesday versus four years ago. The areas in red also roughly correlate to the places where I could never move to (throw in the whole swath from Idaho to Iowa, natch). Thirdly, its pretty easy to perhaps, I don't know, look at this map and wonder, mmmm, Racism?

- Much of my pre-election analysis and prediction were based solely on what I was reading over at 538.com. Turns out that I hitched my wagon to the right horse.

- Yes, this is probably staged, but also kind of adorable and heartwarming. Just give in to it - you're not made of stone.

- People are still poking their heads into my office a week later to say things like "Can you believe we fucking won?" or to just shout "Obama!" It suddenly occurred to me, how easy must it have been to get laid Tuesday night? It had to be like prom night at half the bars in Ann Arbor! I can't believe I didn't go out. But of course I'm in no hurry to have an Obama Baby.

- Oh Sarah. You can deny your ignorance of Africa and NAFTA, claim ignorance on the RNC's shopping spree and say you're waiting for divine intervention on whether to run for President in four years. You're on FOX News, they're more than happy to give you a pass. But when you lash out at the bloggers - at tbaggervance - claiming we're "sitting in their parents' basement, wearing their pajamas", I've got news for you. You can bring that pretty two cent head 'round here whenever you like to have a substantive debate on any issue of your choosing. No advance notice necessary. I'm smarter than you. I will run circles around you intellectually. I have every right to question your validity to watch paint dry, much less be a heartbeat away from running this country. Now go back to your middle of nowhere state and shut the fuck up. Its over.

- Of course the most disappointing thing about last Tuesday was the failure of Prop 8 in California. Keith Olberman makes an impassioned plea to all you fuckwads who just don't get it. Someday this will all be a sad part of history, but I think its going to take a lot of these geriatric assholes to lay down and die first.

- These parodies will soon grow tiresome, but this is as funny as it is obvious (upon seeing it, natch.)

Posted 11:53am
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November 11th, 2008

For a minute there, I lost myself.

Last night I was watching an old Radiohead documentary that TiVo had unearthed for me and I found myself with an unquenchable desire to be high. You see, the film was often mesmerizing visually, at points intellectually stimulating and of course aurally fascinating throughout. But it was painfully obvious that to make any cohesive sense of the thing as a whole I would need to be under the influence of something other than the bottle of red I had procured for the evening.

This presents something of a conundrum for me, as during the course of my existence I've come to the conclusion that I'm not very good at getting high. Its not that I'm incapable or don't enjoy it, its just that I'm not very adroit at it*. For me its kind of the equivalent of playing the outfield. I've done my fair share of it - and during specific moments my body has found transcendence in the process. There has been times that the universe has aligned and opened up and I felt myself in the moment, feeling something akin to what must be the default position for those that this comes naturally to. But most of the time, I'm running in when I should be sprinting back. I'm mistiming things and coming up just short. I find myself constantly scrambling to make up for some shortcoming and hoping that those around me either didn't notice or don't terribly care.

Drinking is what has always come naturally. My body understands it and on the rare occasion where things go awry**, I've never second guessed myself or worried for a second that next time things won't go my way. This will never be true with me and pot, for it comes into my life at times when it shouldn't. When inhibitions are low, my penchant to go with whatever is happening is high, and my body is deep in the grips of other substances. And while my mind gleefully says yes under these circumstances, my body is quick to object, too often leaving me searching for a way to regain my faculties and sanity.

Of course there are times when I'm not colossally drunk and offered pot, or more rarely, when my body finds a balance that makes things work. These are the times that keep me coming back. That's the feeling that I will intermittently chase as circumstances dictate. Because sometimes, you get a jump on a fly ball and extend at the right moment and find yourself sliding through the grass staring at a clean white ball in your mitt. And sometimes you lay on the couch feeling every note of Colin Greenwood's bass emanating throughout your entire body and you're sure that Thom Yorke is an angel sent from on high to speak secret truths just to you. I highly recommend that you chase both of these experiences with every fiber of your being.

* Yes, this post could be boiled down to "Tyler sucks at smoking pot when he's already drunk." If you are uninterested in my rhetorical flourishes, stop here, come back tomorrow.

** And by awry I don't mean the fence hopping, stair navigating type. Shut it.

Posted 11:53am
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November 10th, 2008

Why-o why-o why-o was I born in Ohio?

It often seems to be the bane of my existence that I was born and reared in the state of Ohio. I have no wistful memories of growing up in that godforsaken state. No longing for the simplicity of rural life, no nostalgia for the way I was raised. I mean, my formative years were more or less idyllic. I wasn't really an outcast for my ideas or ideals and I never had to overly assimilate myself to the point where I felt stifled. My parents weren't small minded or overly interested in molding me to be what I clearly was not. Its just that ever since I left 14 years ago, I've never felt comfortable going back there.

This was readily apparent this weekend as I headed back the Snap* Friday night to check on Moeman. He'd had surgery that morning so I made the 90 minute drive south to check in, show support, and whatever else one provides by visiting the invalid. I also had the opportunity to eat dinner at the local bar/restaurant (one of at least 5 in the greater downtown area) have drinks at the bowling alley (where the bartender insisted she gave me the vodka soda I asked for, even though the drink was opaque and yellow and tasted like sour mix) and spend a lot of quality time in the Henry County Hospital (whose ICU is the size of my apartment).

None of these things are bad. I'm sure it will sound like I'm looking down my nose at these things in a big city snobbery sort of way. Its a common conceit that I come off as condescending from time to time and I'm sure that's happening now. But the truth is that its just not what I'm used to anymore (if I ever was). Its doesn't make me feel comfortable. Its the first time I'd been in a room where McCain Supporters outnumbered Obama supporters in months. My dad looked great, said he felt great. We watched Michigan win a football game for the first time in over a month, and then I hightailed it back to Michigan, where my skin didn't crawl and my Ohio uncomfortableness found a positive correlation.

Saturday night there was an engagement party for Stov and Aarika and several Ohioans had graciously found baby-sitters for their children and made the trek north to attend the festivities. The party was at an eclectic microbrewery across town that epitomizes the type of place I love and frequent. We were hanging out and having fun and then suddenly - half way through the party - almost all the Ohioans left. There was talk that they didn't like the beer. That with the kids and whatnot they rarely get out and wanted a different experience. To me it illustrated just how uncomfortable my chosen lifestyle may be for the people with whom I grew up. It made for a strange quid pro quo weekend.

I guess that's why it was so ironical when Ohio was the tipping point Tuesday night and caused Sid and I to pop the champagne. One of my friends who eventually fled Ohio as well txted me when it happened. "Ohio clinches it. Never been prouder." This was initially the opposite reaction that I had. I wanted to hold it over their unenlightened heads for four years that they voted the wrong way. But alas I am forced to give them credit, and begrudgingly admit that maybe a lot of my Ohio hatred is mired in my personal history and not really indicative of what's going on down there. Don't get me wrong, I still think a lot of my beliefs are justified - but maybe a little benefit of the doubt is in order from time to time. That's certainly the enlightened position to take. On every thing other than Ohio State that is...

*Napoleon = Snapoleon = Snaptown = The Snap

Posted 10:55am
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November 7th, 2008

Chokin' the chicken.

McSweeney's had a funny post today, boiling down popular song title to their sexual essence. I decided to finally post* my definitive list of top songs about masturbation. Here they are (in no particular order):

- Dancing with Myself (Billy Idol)
Sample lyric: In the crowded lonely night, Well I wait so long, For my love vibration

- Blister in the Sun (Violent Femmes)
Sample lyric: Body and beats I stain my sheets I dont even know why

- She Bop (Cindy Lauper)
Sample lyric: Do I wanna go out with a lions roar? Huh, yea, I wanna go south n get me some more.

- Pump it Up (Elvis Costello)
Sample lyric: You put your passion out, under the pressure pin.

- Pictures of Lilly (The Who**)
Sample lyric: And Now My Nights Ain't Quite So Lonely In Fact I, I Don't Feel Bad At All

- Turning Japenese (The Vapors)
Sample lyric: I sit there staring and there's nothing else to do...

Not included: I Touch Myself (DiVinyls)
That's just crass.

* I may have hinted at this if not out right posted something similar before. If so, sue me.
** Pete Townshend wrote many songs about jacking it. I personally feel this is his finest.

Posted 3:44pm
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November 6th, 2008

Shaking off all this political vitriol.

Predictably, I don't know quite what to do with myself at the moment. Its over, we won, hooray. I'd really like to move on and expound on other things for a while. But what do I have to talk about? All free time has been consumed with the election for well, too long now. And Palin doesn't know Africa is a continent! How do I not spend 500 words on that?

But as of late this has largely become a partisan political blog, which was never expected nor intended. So I want to stay away from those things for awhile and get back to the other areas of my life that I love - the booze, the music and all the other assorted cultural sundries we used to write about on a daily basis. But as we noted, we've been mired in politics so long that there is a dearth of things and experiences to comment on at the moment that aren't overtly political. So instead of things past or present, here are some things future that are imminent and I am looking forward to (mostly now because they may provide content for the blog).

- This weekend is Stov and Aarika's "couple shower". I'll admit, the idea of this is something I should be inherently against (the shower, not their engagement). But it usually just amounts to hanging out and getting drunk and playing games, all of which are things that I am a fan of. So while I am not sure why we are having another party that I have to buy a gift for a month before the party that is known as 'wedding', I will go and I will drink and I will watch my son kick my friends collective asses in various games - all of which will make me immeasurably happy.

- The following weekend Ayesha is coming back to Michigan for the weekend. Apparently she got a tailgating itch that necessitated returning to Michigan a month before the Xmas holiday season. Whatever the reason, I look forward to having her back, even for a scant 3 days. There will be much drinking and rejoicing and general revelry, all wrapped up in the suspension of disbelief that she lives 2,000 miles away. It usually works pretty well.

- The following weekend - well that's a bit of a sore subject. Its the annual Ohio State/Michigan game. Normally this is something to be anticipated from the moment we return from Put-in-Bay in August. But there's a few mitigating factors this year. The most glaring one is that Michigan sucks big floppy donkey dick. Which is OK, except there's a growing 'douche' contingent amongst those I'll be surrounded by in Columbus. I can take my lumps down there, I've been doing it for over 15 years, but at some point, you ask if its worth it. I enjoy well crafted barbs from people I actually like. I don't especially care for moronic put downs from people who I think are fucksticks. So those two things coupled, along with looming 826 commitments, have me actually pondering whether or not to even go. Sure there's plenty of people I'd like to see and get shitfaced with - but there's almost as many that I'd like to avoid. Do I want to hear about how much Michigan sucks and Obama is a Muslim for an entire day? We shall see.

- And as previously noted, that Sunday is Skrabbel for Cheaters. We are actually in a fight for our fundraising lives to hold onto the top spot, so any of you who have yet to donate, please do so. Five minutes of your time, five dollars of your money. Won't you think of the children?

Posted 12:44pm
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November 5th, 2008

We win.

It was somewhat ironic that it was Ohio that caused me to pop the champagne last night.

But as soon as the Buckeye state was called for Barack Obama, our collective fate was sealed. Siddhartha and I clinked our glasses and drank in the beauty of the moment (although he says champagne tastes like medicine.)

And it is a helluva thing. I'm certainly not qualified nor eloquent enough to try and put into words what this means. Its an historic moment bigger than any of us. We all should take a second to enjoy it. And then get back to work, because there's a lot of it to do.

- Eight years ago The Onion eerily predicted what we were in for under a George W Bush administration. Now they succinctly sum up the election of Barack Obama.

Posted 10:27am
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November 4th, 2008

Vote bitches. But it doesn't mean you're done.


from thisisindexed.com

If for no other reason, vote today because otherwise any complaining you do over the next four years will rightfully be met with "shut the fuck up." And when that happens, you are forbidden from retort. You sat and watched and did nothing. Go fuck yourself.

Even a political-junkie/pseudo-wonk like me has found myself more enveloped in this election cycle than normal. Chances are you and others you know have found yourselves becoming more aware of the world around them, if not actually even more involved. And my fear is that tonight around 9 or 10pm, news agencies will begin to call the election and instinctually we will all begin celebrating. I mean, sure, rightfully so. Enjoy the moment. Its as well earned as it was unexpected even 2 years ago. But here's the thing - after we're all done collectively patting ourselves on the back, take a second to slap yourself good and hard right in the face.

Because what we can't afford is to go back to sleep. We can't stop the volunteering and the donating and making ourselves aware so that we can extend the public discourse into people and places it has hence to forth failed to penetrate. Apathy, complacency and an unwillingness to look past anything more in depth than wanting to have a beer with someone is what gave us the last 8 years, and look what that has wrought. Remember how united we were in the aftermath of 9/11? How even though you despised president Bush, you still felt that odd stirring of patriotism when he stood at ground zero and took that megaphone and told those who had caused this that we were coming for them? Remember that and then reflect on how we squandered that opportunity at cohesion.

Let's use this election as a call to arms. Let's take the momentum we've achieved and use it to propel us forward. Let's stay connected and informed and keep up the dialogue with those around us. These are the things that will keep us from repeating the disasters we find ourselves mired in. These are what will help Barack Obama deliver what he has promised and inspired in all of us - hope and change.

My last shot of adrenaline to boost your confidence on what may be a nerve racking day for any of you who have been through this before: 538.com estimates McCain's chances at 1.9%. And the Redskins lost night, which has correctly predicted that the incumbent party gets ousted 94% of the time. You'll know about 8:30 tonight when Virginia and Pennsylvania both go blue. Its ostensibly over at that point.

Posted 9:45am
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November 3rd, 2008

Here comes the mandate.

The last time I felt like this was 2006. And it wasn't over midterm senate elections. It was the end of November and Ohio State and Michigan were ranked 1-2 in the country. I'm just a giant ball of nerves that wants this to happen right this second but also wants it to last as long as possible. I want to know the outcome but not quite sure what I'll do with myself after the release. The important thing to remember in this analogy is that Michigan lost that game. I don't think there's the same chance of getting fucked by Ohio again (which, for the record, would be coincidence and not irony), but I'll be a bundle of nervous energy until the clock hits zero. Here's some stuff for your consideration while you're waiting:

- For those of you looking to procrastinate and want to vote at the last second possible, here's a map showing when polls close in your state. Seriously Indiana? 6pm? That's just douchey.

- Final CBS Poll: Obama 54%-41%. NBC/WSJ: 51%-43%. USAToday/Gallup: 53%-42%. Don't start your election night parties too late people. This sucker is going to get called early.

- Pundits weigh in. The average seems to be a prediction of about 330 electoral votes for Obama. There's actually only one prediction for a McCain win, and naturally it comes from global warming denier Fred Barnes. It doesn't specify, but I'm assuming he's waiting for Jesus to come down on a flaming unicorn and hand McCain his birthright. Its the only plausible scenario I can imagine anyway.

- Voting is as close as I get to going back to school, literally and figuratively.

- I don't know what the Manning family's politics are (I'd guess Republican/Conservative) but either way, I saw this picture late last week and immediately thought, "Is this the lost, retarded Manning brother?"

- This is one of my favorite get out the vote ads yet.

- Not surprisingly, college newspapers overwhelmingly endorse Obama. Like, 63-1 overwhelmingly. Sorry Daily Mississippian.

Update 1:48pm:
For those looking for pics of Saturday, here's my winning costume from the party:

I was Dr. Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati. The party had an 80's TV theme and featured homemade brews labeled "Ale Bundy", "David Hasselbock", and a special shoehorned appearance by "Roots Beer." My victory for best overall costume was secured when I had to sing the theme song to WKRP while doing a runway walk through the party. I'm sure if you close your eyes and concentrate real hard you can imagine it. Just baby think of me once in a while...

Posted 9:55am
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November 1st , 2008

Toot toot.

That's me, tooting my own horn. Well, actually, its more of me drawing attention to others tooting me. I have been given the distinction of volunteer of the month at 826 Michigan. I am deeply honored. Seriously. I was notified by Amy (826's program director) and had to read the glowing praise with her in the room. I think I may have even blushed. So thanks 826. The feeling is mutual - I love you guys too.

Posted 4:20pm
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October 31st , 2008

A "No shit?" plea on the candidates and the issues

Because... of his positions on the economy, the environment, the war and overall foreign policy...

Because... of his championing of intellect over ideology, willingness to listen to opposition and penchant for surrounding himself with the smartest people in their respective fields...

Because... of his judgment and leadership during an arduous 18 month campaign and his steady demeanor in discussing the most important issues of our day...

Because... of the hope he inspires and the transcendence that he could bring to the issues of race and the United States' standing in the world...

Because... we as Americans, we deserve something better than what we've gotten for the last 8 years, and he's as different as our last best hope is likely to be...

Because of these reasons and many others, tbaggervance.com hereby officially endorses Barack Obama for President of the United States of America.

I've said it a thousand time in the last month alone - I would have voted for John McCain 8 years ago over Al Gore. That postulate seems ludicrous now. McCain is the epitome of every man that has ever sold his soul to get what he wants. He's tarnished his brand by kowtowing to those he'd spent a career admonishing. Knowing that he needed those who'd beaten him down in 2000 to get one last shot, he gave them the keys to campaign. Now he stares up at the brass ring knowing that shoulders of Karl Rove have shrunk in the intervening election cycles and no longer provide the lift necessary to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. I'd almost feel sorry for the man if he hadn't done it to himself.

Unilateral. That is the foreign policy track George W Bush has set us on during his tenure. Championing deregulation of our financial markets, giving tax cuts to the richest Americans in an antiquated trickle down economic theory while increasing spending and doubling the national debt has left us in an untenable economic position. Environmental and energy issues have gone either unchecked or policies reverted making our air and water less safe.

Is Barack Obama a panacea for all of these things? No. Will our economy magically be righted, our soldiers around the world be immediately whisked home or global warming become a distant memory? Of course not. Barack Obama represents a hope and a possibility. A new direction that can not only fix what the last eight years broke, but set us in a new direction so that we are prepared to face the unseen challenges of the future.

But this is not a vote cast only with fingers crossed - a twinkle in my eye and a song in my heart. Being President is about judgment. Its about recognizing mistakes when necessary and finding new ways to tackle old problems. Its knowing when to be proactive and when to be reactive. Its listening to people who are willing to tell you the ugly truths - the things you don't want to hear. These are characteristics that Obama has displayed time and again both during his time in public office and during his campaign both for the Democratic nomination and for the presidency.

Policies you agree with and the belief in the willingness and capability to execute them. That's what you hope you get in the person you vote for. As merely a practical matter I'd vote for Obama. But this also happens to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to turn the wheel and hit the brake. May we end up pointed in the right direction and not careen off the cliff. I'm as confident as I've ever been in my 33 years that with Barack Obama behind the wheel, we've got a punchers chance.

Or hey, don't believe me? Ask The Economist. They're wicked smart.

For those of you that live in Michigan:
There are two important issues on the ballot this time that stand for freedom and progress.

The first allows for the use of medicinal marijuana in the state. We here at tbaggervance.com believe the only reason marijuana is illegal is because of puritanical bullshit, but even if you're not quite on board with that sentiment, why deny people in pain that which can ease it? Especially something as innocuous as weed?

The other is to open up the use of stem cells for use in research. Despite what advertising you may have seen, all this does is stop the inanity that restricts stem cell research a little bit. Someday this stuff could save the life or ease the pain of someone you love. Why exactly should we throw away clumps of cells that will never become anything instead of working toward that goal of common good? And don't say because Jesus told you so.

We here at tbaggervance.com strongly urge those of you in Michigan to vote 'Yes' on both of these proposals - for the good of all Michiganders, and especially those who've been dealt an impossible hand. It'll also help undue that some of the bad karma we got due to that awful defense of marriage act we passed in 2004.

Find more info on both props here.

Posted 9:26am
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October 30th , 2008

Get ready, 'cause here I come...

The election draws neigh. I'm sure all of you know the issues and surrounding logistics to get that vote cast and are just patiently waiting in the starter blocks for the crack of the pistol to signal go. But just in case, here's some last minute advice and information should you need it:

- Here's more celebs (interspersed with 'real' Americans) encouraging you to vote. Worth the watch for the Borat stuff (its funny again!) It also points you to an important site: http://maps.google.com/vote Go there and make sure you know WHERE you vote. I know that all y'all out there who read tbaggervance.com are informed and ready AND that everyone you know is too - but just in case, remind them to double check where to go. Chances are the lines will be significant and you don't want to stand around twice.

- I know that there are readers of tbaggervance.com all across this great land of ours. Since I don't have the time nor inclination to go through the ballot initiatives that might be facing those of you who live out there in the hinterland, I encourage all of you to go out and look at what you'll be voting on other than commander in chief. Ballotpedia is a good place to start. Your local newspaper or state gov website should also be able to tell you what to expect.

- The other day I pointed to what I considered a well reasoned argument from a conservative as to why to vote for Obama. Here's an idiotic rant as to why a conservative thinks Obama is going to lose. You can point to this as an example of 'What went wrong?' when doing the Republican party's autopsy Wednesday morning.

- Speaking of what went wrong (in a pre-postmortem fashion that is akin to counting chickens - but I'm just that sure), as always it was the economy stupid, and of course, Sarah Palin. talkingpointsmemo.com has a cool interactive feature showing you what some noted conservatives (and others) think of the nubile Gov. As usual, I like Christopher Hitchens take. Also, in an unrelated feature, I like Alec Baldwin's nickname for her: Bible Spice.

- This borders on slimy attack ad in my book. But those are his words and it is his pick so... (Besides, it makes me giggle.) As for Obama's informercial last night, I was working and didn't catch it, but I'll admit that McCain's camp had a great line about it.

- Finally, despite what 23% of Texans think, Obama is not a Muslim. And for the record, it wouldn't matter to me if he was. Its insulting to me that being a Muslim disqualifies you from the presidency. When I first cast a ballot for President 12 years ago I never thought we'd see an African-American elected president - certainly not at this point in history. But I guarantee you we'll never see anyone but a god-fearing christian elected to the highest office in the land. Not in my lifetime anyway. No Jews, no Muslims, no Hindus, no Buddhists, no Atheists. I hope I'm wrong, but we've got a long way to go for me to be called out on that one.

Posted 10:16am
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October 29th , 2008

Home school.

Growing up I don't think I was even aware of the existence of home schooling. Home schooling, Jews, Muslims, African Americans, actual culture - these are things that rural NW Ohio just doesn't have. Or at least didn't 20-ish years ago.

Of course going to college exposes one to a lot of the things that a sheltered upbringing can shield you from. There was more ethnic diversity on my hall freshman year than I had experienced in my life up that point. It wasn't a point of contention with any of us really, it was just interesting. I learned a lot. Well, more than anything I learned that no matter your skin tone or religious upbringing, playing euchre for bong tokes is a good time. And that just because I wanted to kill the guy across the hall for blaring Phish 24 hours a day from September to May doesn't mean I'm an anti-Semite. (But if it did, so be it.)

But while getting high in a culturally diverse setting may be eye opening (figuratively, since its literally more eye closing) it doesn't really compare to raising a kid in a melting pot like Ann Arbor. Sid had more diverse classmates in his very first classroom than I did in my first 12 years of schooling. He thinks nothing of kids that are Jehovah's witnesses or that his half black friend lives alone with his white mother. I think its important for him to be surrounded by all this weird diversity, both because it makes him feel normal and teaches him that there's a lot of different shit out there. Not better or worse, just different. That is except for the home school kids.

As I mentioned at the top, I grew up unaware of even the existence of home schooling. But had you explained the premise to me and stuck me in a room full of kids and said 'All right, spot the home schooled one.' It would have taken me all of five minutes. Over the years of volunteering for both Sid's school events and now at 826, I've run into the home school set quite often. Its always the same. They're either starved for attention yet don't understand social interaction, or so emotionally sensitive that they can't handle social interaction. Both of these conditions are scary when you are in charge, and sad when viewed from the outside.

I'm routinely depressed at what our kids aren't learning in school. (As an aside, I had to settle a bet amongst elementary school teachers a few weeks back as to what the definition of Congress was. Congress. To college educated people. Who are teaching our children. Jesus.) Anyway, say what you will about the average 8th graders ability to describe how a bill becomes a law, they sure as hell have some understanding of how to survive in a group dynamic. They have no choice.

A fortnight ago I was helping facilitate a class and some kid started to burst into tears. Inconsolable. Something about we were going too fast and his mom was going to be mad at him for not keeping his shit together. We all did our best to calm him down, but nothing really placated him. Three other people in that room took me aside during the proceedings and whispered "Home school, right?" After class we looked it up and sure enough, home school. Poor kid. I hope someday soon he gets thrown into the deep end of the pool.

Posted 11:44am
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October 28th , 2008

Piling on in the face of utter defeat.

So the vicodin is quickly running out, making me simultaneously more anxious and grumpy than normal. And the orthopedist can't see me till Friday. Fuckers. Here's what's currently adding insult to injury:

- Its a popular postulate that it gets harder and harder for women as they get older to find themselves a suitable mate. But let's look at the numbers shall we? That 20-34 map is downright scary for those of us in the demo that don't make $100,000 a year or have 18 inches of swinging death. So settle down ladies - America is apparently a sausage fest.

- Negative ads invoke my ire more than they probably should. I just find them offensive and think there's enough difference in policy between any two people that we can make a choice based on the merits of things that matter. But hey, that's me. Here's a compilation of some of the worst ads of the 2008 season.

- My music snob buddies and I have an ongoing debate about our favorite musicians 'selling out' and what lies where on the continuum of acceptable to egregious. I tend to air on the 'acceptable' side but there's something fishy about the Flaming Lips doing the NBC jingle. Maybe its just me. Wayne's guitar is the cat's pajamas though.

- I found out about this cool site recently that allows you to enter and track all your financial information for free. Its called mint.com and can provide detailed information about budgets and spending and warn you when credit payments are due. Of course it also gives you your net worth and can show you just how much you've lost out of your 401K in the last 6 months. Talk about ugly. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.

- And just to brighten your day, here's a dyed in the wool conservative's case for voting for Barack Obama. God bless your gay, British ass Andrew.

Posted 10:15am
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October 27th , 2008

Drunken stumblebum.

Yup. Again.

Friday night I was headed to the bar (after attending happy hour and winning a game of Blockus at John and Na's) when I ran into a dilemma. It was chilly. It had just finished raining. I found myself staring at a fence with a small gap in it. The question was "Do I walk around the building, wasting an eternity of 3 minutes, or do I shimmy through and hop the fence, saving those valuable drinking minutes?"

You already know what I chose. In fact, to call it a choice does a great disservice to the reputation I've cultivated over the years. And those who remember the great Chicago fall of 2004 can also imagine what happened next. Slip. Crash. Fail. By the time I got into the bar the ankle was roughly the size of a softball. But I'd sprained the thing before and felt that it was nothing a little Oberon couldn't cure.

Jump cut to the next morning. Sober. Ankle still screaming. I immediately contemplate my day - largely standing. Walking miles to and from the stadium. Dealing with the 50 steps down to our seat. I should really see if its broken. But it was already after 10. The odds of me getting seen anywhere and getting to the tailgate before the game started were zero. So hobbling and the pain numbing properties of Oberon seemed to be the best course of action in my professional medical opinion.

Of course the nurses and PA's at the tailgate seemed to have a different opinion. Their guess was broken. So I decided that if it was the same size Sunday morning, I'd head to the ER and have the pros take a look (I had Saturday night plans and besides, what's another 12 hours?) So two sets of x-rays and 3 hours of luxurious treatment at UM's Emergency Room later (Thanks Aarika et al) I have 1.5 to 2 broken bones - a metatarsal and a chip in the ankle region. I'm supposed to hear from the specialist for follow up shortly, but I'll at least be mildly incapacitated for a while. The manual transmission seems like a bad idea right now. But at least Sid will get some practice on solo cooking, cleaning and laundry. Silver linings and such...

Posted 3:20pm
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October 24th , 2008

The internet: now with video!

- This is one of the coolest uses of video technology I've seen in some time. Pretty impressive. And a pretty funny scare tactic. You can do the same thing to your friends here.

- Yup, William Ayers is a terrorist. So are people that bomb abortion clinics. Wait. What's that Sarah? They're not? You cunt.

- Here's the opener from last night's SNL special. To me, Ferrell always had the definitive Bush. Carvey nailed Bush 41, Phil Hartman did the best Clinton, and Will Ferrell's Bush 43 impression is the gold standard. With special props to Jon Stewart's version of his laugh.

- Want more Tina Fey? The 30 Rock season premier (scheduled for next week) is already online.

- Ready for more economic collapse? Can the Probama merchandise replace the sagging anti-Bush economy?

- Here's a fun little video summarizing the Michele Bachman fiasco that unfolded over the last week. Want a little fun fact about this uber bitch hole? She once banned the viewing of Aladdin at her illegal Christian charter school because it promoted witchcraft and paganism. Fact.

- And this doesn't have moving pictures, but if you haven't been to 538.com lately, its currently posting McCain's chances of winning at 3.7% (and Indiana is blue!) I'm so nervous!

Posted 10:07am
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October 23rd , 2008

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

- Its obvious from this piece that the line between "Larry David, character on Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Larry David, person" is wafer thin. I can't explain why I find that comforting, but I do. Its been noted that I have a certain tolerance for people I consider to be 'my kind of asshole,' so maybe that's just what I imagine Larry to be. I think we'd enjoy going crazy together watching election returns.

- If you've ever been to Indiana, you know that its a scientific fact that no matter where you are in the state, you can't cycle through the FM radio dial without hearing a John Mellancamp song. Go ahead, get in your car, drive to Indiana and try it. Its science. I mention this because a new poll has Obama up in the state, and the erstwhile Mr. Cougar is now doing radio ads for the Senator. C'mon Hoosiers. You know you want in on the ground floor - go blue...

- Speaking of which, I secretly hope Obama wins Pennsylvania and Virginia and North Carolina and Nevada and Colorado and New Mexico and Florida but LOSES Ohio. That would be awesome for me personally.

- Siddhartha is slowly starting to get into music in the way I always hoped he would. He's currently obsessed with Ted Leo + Pharmacists and Ben Folds Five, which is a great start as far as I'm concerned. Speaking of BFF played a reunion show last night, running through The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner in its entirety. (Really? Why not Whatever and Ever Amen exactly?) My first impression? Man did Robert Sledge get fat.

- One of the things I'll be keeping an eye on Nov. 4th outside of the main event is California's Prop 8. I'll never understand people's fear of the gays and especially how if their church wants to let them get married how that nullifies the sanctity of your union. Well here's hoping you guys do the right thing and lead the rest of us out of the dark ages.

Posted 12:46pm
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October 22nd , 2008

Biff! Pow! Snikt! Boom!

This probably will not come as a surprise to any of you - I am huge comic book nerd. Ever since I was a kid - when Moeman would bring be a comic from the durgstore when I was home sick from school - I've loved comics. I still go to the comic book store every couple weeks to pick up my subscriptions. When Siddhartha and I get into arguments about who is the bigger nerd, his trump card is "You keep a spreadsheet of your comic books!" Damn him.

Its unfortunate that 'comics' will always carry a stigma of something childish or geeky - relegated to junior highs and parent's basements. All the Spider-Man and Iron Man movies in the world aren't going to change that. Even the upcoming Watchmen film - based on what Time considered to be one of the 100 greatest books of the last century - won't turn the tide so that mainstream America accepts words + pictures as anything other escapist at best, and at worst, low art.

But ultimately that's OK. Those of us that enjoy the medium can continue to do so - certainly more openly as adults than one could even 10 years ago. And I for one will do my best to spread the good word of a genre certainly more worth your time than teenage mormon vampire romace shitburgers. Sid doesn't seem to want to move past humor comics, but I'm working on it. And starting next week I'm leading a comic book club through 826 at a local community center. As it was described to me, these will be low income kids with large attention span issues, ages 8-12. Let's hope my superpowers turn out to be tenacity and patience.

- This made me guffaw, since Sid is currently right in the middle of this stage, and I often feel I have never left it.

- Expounding on yesterdays meme, this is what really gets me. We all should strive to be smarter. And that's why the 'real, small town America' stuff gets to me so much. Its too akin to saying "We don't need none of your fancy book learnin'" Yes, you really do.

Posted 11:19am
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October 21st , 2008

Fuck you.

I've officially had enough. The fuckers who wrap themselves in the flag and cry treason when anyone questions the status quo. To somehow suggest that disagreeing with our leaders isn't one of the most patriotic things we can do. To stoke the flames of mistrust between the 'liberal elite' in the cities and 'simple, hard working' folks in small towns. To suggest, even for a second, that where someone lives or what ideology they subscribe to means that are somehow less of an American. I've had enough, and to quote Jon Stewart - "Fuck You."

Fuck Sarah Palin and her love for the 'Pro-America' parts of the country. Fuck Rep. Robin Hayes for suggesting "liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God." Fuck Rep. Michele Bachmann for calling for a McCarthy style witchhunt on liberals. I've got news for you and your ilk - your time is over. Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck - you can continue to run your fear tactics and preach those you've managed to indoctrinate with your twisted facts, but we're done. These are serious challenges we face and we will not be distracted by the politics of fear.

I know you're running the bluprint that Nixon laid out all those years ago - that Rove eventually exponentially extrapolated and turned the Republican brand into the burnt out shell of a party that it currently is. Here's a suggestion - go back to square one. Go back to being for fiscal conservatism. Go back to State's rights and free markets. Stop scaring people into voting for you on one issue that's couched in religion. You're an embarassment and those of us smart enough to see through your smokescreen know you don't believe it anyway.

The truth is I love America. Love it like I love my family. That means that I'm frequently embarassed by it in public. I more often than not disagree with it on things that matter. And when it warrants it, I stand up to it, look it in the eye, and say "You're wrong. Now let's fix this." None of that means I don't love America. It means that you care enough to have a dialogue. To find a best, common thread that can move us forward. If you think that makes me un-American, then you have no understanding of what it means to really be a citizen of this great country. So fuck you.

- For those of you conservatives who've seen the light, please hold us lefty elitists accountable going forward. Be the voice of reason and point out our flaws not to score points, but to move us forward in the best possible direction. I have no doubt that the conservatives I've always admired - the Andrew Sullivans, Chritopher Hitchens and Chris Buckleys of the world will do exactly that. And again, the rest of you can go fuck yourselves.

Posted 10:45am
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October 20th , 2008

Pet Peeves.

Sid and I had a really good father son bonding weekend. We participated in this scavenger hunt throughout downtown Ann Arbor, ate tons of pizza, watched a lot of football, and of course, played a dozen or so games of Skrabbel. (Yes, your generosity has put is in the top slot for donations! That of course does not recuse you if you haven't donated yet...)

Non sequitor: When I was last in AZ, Ayesha and I were driving from one place to another (as one always seems to be doing in PHX) and she asked me "What are your big pet peeves?" My instinct was to just say 'other people' and let it go at that. We talked about it for a while but I think it was early and I was hungover and I felt it was kind of unresolved. So here are a few of my pet peeves that I've come to realize really bother me:

- Elevator etiquette
This kills me every day. People, you can't get ON the elevator before I get OFF the elevator. Stop hot boxing me! When waiting for the elevator, as it stops on your floor, let the doors fully open and see if anyone currently on the elevator wants to get off before you barge in. It the bare minimum of common decency and concern for another human's personal space.

- Indecision
I generally feel like people who can't articulate an opinion on things are more or less worthless. Sure, sometimes you generally don't care where we go to eat or your musical tastes are fluid enough to say something douchey like "I listen to everything." But I had this conversation with someone I just met Friday night:

Ditz: I haven't made up my mind who I'm going to vote for yet.
Me: Seriously?
New girl: Yeah, I don't like to feel pressured into a decision.
Me: So, what are the reasons you'd vote for McCain?
Ditz: I don't have any.
Me: Well why would you vote for Obama?
Ditz: There's things I like about him.
Me: But you have reservations about voting for him?
Ditz: No.

And that was a woman in her forties, not some coed.

- Tardiness
I can't believe I initially forgot this. Maybe its because growing up the first thing my dad talked about with someone once we reached a destination over 15 minutes away was how quickly we got there, but I have a problem with people who can't seem to show up when they say they will. It amazes me I can even be friends with Markie C sometimes. You can be sure that if you're going to the movies with me, you will get to see the full slate or previews, not walk in during the opening credits wondering 'Did we miss anything?'

OK just two three. And I'm still not sure that 'other people' isn't the best answer. But at least I have a something a little more concrete to throw out there now.

- Two quick political videos: Sid and I watched Saturday Night Live for the first time in, ever, just to see Sarah Palin. This was the highlight. And former bandmate, filmmaker, and all around good guy Matty Rohrs cut together this video celebrating the diversity of our electorate. You're a big, beautiful lefty bastard Matt.

Posted 10:24am
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October 19th , 2008

The penultimate in social networking.

My shit is all up in the internet. This is an obvious theme that we've touched on as of late here at tbaggervance.com. There's the blog and the trouble it is fraught with, but I'm also pretty much mired in every internet community that there is. I'll sign up for anything and give it a whirl. I was on friendster. On myspace (though mainly for the bands, I swear) and everything from Yelp to Twitter (just witness the sidebar on your left. Go ahead, take a second. We're not going anywhere.)

Two years ago (-ish) I was convinced to join facebook. At the time, you needed a university provided email address to get on. It was for college kids, not people in their thirties. But dating a college girl and having possession of a valid U email address, I was compelled to join. And as far as actually social networking, facebook had clear advantages over everything else I had ever participated in. It was just easier to use, cleaner, and clearly geared towards actually, you know, social interaction - sharing what's up in your life with those around you.

But being in my (very) early thirties, the only facebook friends I had were basically Ayesha's friends. (Other than people like my friend DP, who used the site to prey on co-eds. It made me reluctant, but hot 24 year olds will always win out over creepy guys in their thirties.) Anyway, I tooled around on facebook for two years, largely using it as one more way for Ayesha and I to interact and keep tabs on each other. It was fine and sometimes fun, but largely inconsequential.

Then the shift occurred. Now as a social networker, I'm VERY laissez faire. I don't go out there seeking new friends, trying to bump up my network as some sort of status symbol. Somebody wants to 'befriend' me, I'll say yes without thinking about it. But I'm not scouring the thing for old classmates or anything. I'm pretty much in touch with those I feel I need to be already. But a few months ago, those requests started to boom. I tripled my 'friends' in a matter of weeks. Suddenly, the over 30 set had discovered facebook.

So now my facebook is inundated with pictures of people's babies and status messages about how my friends are packing up the minivan to go pumpkin shoppin'. And honestly, its kinda cool. People I haven't thought about - much less talked to - in a decade are befriending me. I'm learning all kinds of shit about the people I grew up with. All without the pain of having to go to some kind of painful reunion. Its really all just thinly veiled voyeurism, and if we're being honest, we all love that.

So I'm not smart enough to predict what the next big thing will be. I thought myspace would take off when I first signed up - but its nothing like facebook. People inherently want to look into other people's lives and subsequently measure themselves against their peers. Who knows? Someday we all may have cameras in the home and videoblogging will be the dominate form of keeping long distance relationships going. You can be sure I'll be the first to sign up when that happens.

Posted 10:56pm
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October 17th , 2008

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

- 10 years. Don't they go by in a blink. Tomorrow marks my official 10 year anniversary as an employee of The University of Michigan. What started as the path of least resistance and a way to get health insurance hath somehow turned into a career. Its a terrific source of pride that I continue to be associated with this great institution - I don't know if another 10 years are in the cards, but were that to be the case, I could sure think of worse outcomes. They apparently are still happy to have me around, as evidenced by the watch I received for 10 years of dedicated service. I'm glad to see they're still counting the first couple years of my employment when I spent 90% of my time downloading mp3s, taking 2 hour lunches and leaving at 4pm to go to the bar.

- This has been a long time coming, but I feel like I'm finely ready to admit it. No disrespect to The Office or How I Met Your Mother, but Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the funniest show on TV. What other show could have an episode entitled "Who Pooped the Bed?" Charlie is a genius. If the Halloween party I'm going to had a 'current tv' theme instead of an 80's one, I'd be going as The Green Man.

- I saw this and immediately thought "This pretty much sums up why Stov is voting McCain". I thought Johnny probably sunk himself on the abortion exchange Wednesday night. It also showcased the overarching reason that I believe in Obama. As Slate noted, he has the ability to take the politics out of things. That maybe we can put this kind of shit to bed for once and work on some things that are in waist deep shit and really need attention. And as evidenced at the bottom of this post, he's pretty funny too. (McCain wasn't bad either, to be fair) And before I forget, this sums up my view of McCain at this point. I mean, these are a pretty disgusting denouement, no?

- I feel like I've been out of the music loop as of late. What with the politics and the football (blech) I don't feel I've dedicated enough love to my musical proclivities. So let's make a quick fix of that, with a mind to do better in the future.

- This looks pretty cool - and it benefits the Michigan Theater, which I love supporting.

- Wayne Coyne may or not be the coolest person alive, but this make a pretty good case.

- We all know that Austin City Limits is the be-all end-all television music showcase. You can now keep up with its current goings on here.

- "Easy to talk to" is not usually used to describe me. Historically I'm more likely to get something akin to the opposite. "Intimidating" has been thrown out before more than once. I can be condescending, detached, aloof, and tend to show my disdain right to your face. I mean, not always, but its been suggested that those things are certainly trends if not the default position. Anyway, last night I did a little reaching across the aisle and had some drinks out in Sparty land, where in it was suggested that I was "easy to talk to". Maybe I was on best behaviour. Maybe I'm getting a little older and becomming a better listener. Maybe I'm just easy to talk to when I like you and everyone else can fuck off. Yup, I think that last one might get closest to the truth.

Posted 10:59am
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October 15th , 2008

A thousand thank yous.

Siddhartha and I's Skrabbel team has already raised over $300 thanks to the kindness and generosity of tbaggervance.com readers. We will be thanking each of you for your kindness and generosity individually, but here's your collective shout out: you guys rule. You either love and care about us or teaching kids to love the written word. We hope its both. We're quite sure good things have been happening to you since you donated, as your karma is officially off the charts. But failing that, giving is its own reward (and there's the tax deduction). So thanks. Again. We know who you are and you have a special place in our hearts. The rest of you...

For those of you who haven't donated yet - stop being a douche-y tight wad. It takes 5 minutes to donate $5. I know you all have at least enough resources to spare this minuscule level of both of those things. The program director of 826 is currently in a fundraising war with me and is calling me out in mass emails to the entire 826 volunteering community. She's winning people. Show her the true power and collective might of the tbaggervance.com readership by donating a finsky. Plus once we hit our goal, I can stop asking you to donate. Whatever your rationalization, please give. Remember, its for the children. Why do you hate children?

- We're under 3 weeks until the election and tonight's the last of the debates. Can you feel the excitement! McCain says he's gonna kick Obama in the dick tonight (I'm paraphrasing). I'm not sure how he thinks he's gonna do that exactly at this point. Playing the scary black man card? Unless someone fucks up, Presidential debates are usually little more than a reinforcement of whatever you felt going in. It think the reason you've seen a bump for Obama after the first two debates is that he appears, for lack of a better word, Presidential. And McCain feeds the shit out that fire by contrasting Barack's smooth, calm demeanor with his impression of an angry, dottering curmudgeon. I think its made scary black man a lot more palatable to a lot of folks who might otherwise think he's a terrorist. That and people are scared for their financial lives, and that's no good for the party of the incumbent president who's clearly trying a 'throw everything to the wall and see what sticks' approach to financial stability.

- We're hopefully 20 days away until Sarah Palin is a historical footnote and punchline and nothing more. Ever. Please? In any event, here's her facebook page. Read what Bristol wrote on her wall. I nearly peed.

- The news from 538.com is staggering - projecting Obama at over 360 electoral votes and giving John McCain less than a 5% chance of winning as of today (all in the column on the left). Maybe that's why McCain is preemptively crying foul. Seriously? Republicans complaining about the vote in Florida!?! If there's one thing responsible more than anything else for the last 8 years and the waist deep shit we find ourselves in, its the state of Florida circa 2000. I personally never liked the place, and with a little luck will never set foot in that godforsaken place again. Fuck Florida.

Posted 11:13am
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October 14th , 2008

Where have you been all night?!?

When I used to get that question from my mother it was with careful pride that I came up with something that didn't involve drinking or the opposite sex - even though we all knew that's exactly where I had been on all night. Its now coming up on 9am. Save for a 30 minute nap from 6:15-6:45am, I've been up for 26 hours. And while my head is throbbing dully, my voice sounds like Jen at PIB and my eyelids feel like sandpaper everytime I blink, I was doing anything but drinking or carousing with females last night.

Now in an effort to save my pride, I'm trying to come up with an explanation of just what I have been doing this last 1.08 day. Other than "Our IBM DS4200 had multiple controller failures and due to my users reliance on the SAMBA server powered by it's RAID array, I had no choice but to hang out with two nerds from IBM support who couldn't find their asses with two hands and a flashlight until SIX O'CLOCK IN THE FUCKING MORNING." Because unfortunately, that's exactly what I was doing.

Its why there was no blog post yesterday as well. (It had nothing to do with Toledo, I swear.) I mean, its been less than two years since I regularly wanted to die because I stayed up drinking until two on a Wednesday and still found a way to make it into work the next day (albeit 45 minutes late. OK an hour) And yes, this does still happen from time to time. But I'm tired and feel like shit at work because I worked too late. Worked. Too late. Grr. As I noted on twitter last night, Karma owes me one big sloppy BJ (metaphorically). And while I'm not inclined to wait, I know I have one coming in 11 days, because I have two words for you dear readers when it comes to the State game tailgate: Oberon Out. More to come, I'm off to find some toothpicks to hold my eyelids open - Fred Flinstone style.

Posted 8:58am
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October 10th , 2008

Holy politics!

Its come to my attention that the blog has gotten quite political as of late. Not that its necessarily a bad thing. These are strange times indeed and talking about other things seems pointless on some level. I mean, as I was sitting here contemplating what to write about, everything that ran through my brain was couched in politics. (I mean, seriously? You're voting against Obama because he pronounces Pakistan correctly? I can't stand anti-intellectualism. Fucking W. I can't wait for all of this to be over.) See? Its hard to stay away from those tangents.

I started to write about race a bit - but that was sparked by politics (obv.) and given my offspring and the women I've dated, it seemed a little too sensitive a topic to just write stream of conciousness style and post off the cuff. I tend to get myself in trouble when I do that about things that, you know, matter. And really, would it be interesting to hear me spout off about how I try to ignore race while embracing that which is different, or admonish crusty white fucktards for not voting for the scary foreign sounding black man? Probably not, its pretty trite stuff.

So what's a boy to do when he wants to write a non-political blog and all he can think about is politics and how it relates to everything around him? Then it occurred to me what my problem is: there's not enough bar in my life. Not enough drinking, hanging out with interesting people in interesting places. Not enough drunken conversations that spark thoughts and ideas. I've been sequestered in my apartment switching back and worth between Keith Olberman and Anderson Cooper and having my only link to the outside world be txt mesages and google chats.

Well no more. Tonight Moeman is coming into town and I'm facilitating a class on cartooning at 826. Tomorrow is the first noon game of the year (meaning drinking starts at 8) and then I may go to a house party to hear Chris Bathgate play. And Sunday I'm going to a show at the Pig with Mrs. Jesus where I find both artists suspect at best. Surely these events will provide some fodder for me to regale you with come Monday morning. If this weekend can't shake off the doldrums of a life too immersed in politics, fuck knows what will.

Posted 11:01am
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October 9th , 2008

Ask not what we can do for you...

Point 1: I have a problem. I like to win. From darts to bocce, trivial pursuit to euchre, I have an innate need to be victorious. Its led to offending a lot of friends over friendly board games. I've been kicked out of more than one friend's house for being a condescending poor winner. And unfortunately I've passed this cutthroat demeanor onto my son. I've seen the look in people's eyes when he one ups them in a game and then starts the trash talk. I've watched him lick and stick the winning card to his forehead when he knows he's got you beat. I sometimes don't know whether to be concerned or proud.

Point 2: Loyal readers will already be aware of my recent infatuation with 826 Michigan. They teach kids to love to write. They have a super awesome robot store. As someone who cherishes the written word, I believe its imperative that we teach kids how to express themselves to the best of their ability. That we foster a love of books and newspapers and yes, even blogs - as they entertain, inform and in their best moments, inspire. 826 is dedicated to these ideals.

Point 3: 826 is a nonprofit. Its run completely by volunteers like me who want to share their passion with kids. They do this for free. The kids who come in looking for help on their homework (on any subject) or attend a workshop where they learn everything from storytelling to reporting, aren't charged a dime.

Point 4: I hope that over the past few years you've enjoyed the blog. I certainly love writing it. I'm honestly amazed on a daily basis that anyone, much less the hundreds of people that actually do, takes five minutes out of their day to see what I've decided to spew forth from my psyche. Maybe you learned something, maybe you laughed, maybe you were inspired to find out more about something that was previously unbeknownst to you. Maybe you just killed five minutes waiting for something more interesting to rear its head on the great plains of the internet. In any and all cases, you've done so for free.

Point 5: From time to time, I've used this website to promote friends endeavors that I've felt were worth your support. I now ask you to support me and Sid. I don't do this often, but this time, I think its worth your hard earned cash. 826 is holding a Skrabbel for Cheaters Tournament. As loyal supporters of all things 826, and since we salivate at the mere thought of a chance to flash our skills, Sid and I have decided to enter. Here's where you come in - the more money we raise, the more we can cheat. It breaks down like this:

$25: Trade out a letter
$50: Wheel of Fortune: buy a vowel
$100: Flip a letter over and make it blank
$150: Add 10 points to any letter to increase its value
$200: Add Q, Z, or X to any word
$250: Passport:play a word in any non-English language
$300: Consult the dictionary for one turn
$400: Reject an opponent's word for no reason
$500: Invent a word (must have definition)

You know how you felt the last time Sid and I smoked you at bocce ball or a game of trivial pursuit? Remember how small you felt when we beat you 10-0 in euchre? Pass that feeling along in what will surely be some sweet, sweet schadenfreude. Give $20. Give $5. Give $2. We are in this to win it. Failing that, we plan to be complete assholes the entire time and are currently devising strategies to obliterate the lines of sportsmanship and good taste. So please consider throwing some cash our way. Won't you think of the children? And I promise to pony up next time you're in a walkathon or whatever thing that's not as cool as what we are doing.

Donate to our team: Straight Pwnage

Posted 12:01am
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October 8th , 2008

That one.

Am I the only one that expects the McCain campaign to turn his awkward pseudo gaffe of calling Obama 'That one...' last night into a campaign meme? I mean, even last night he was still trying to sell that awful bullshit of the 'fundamentals' of the economy being the American worker. You're perpetuating it John. I can see the attack ad now - "Who was wrong on the surge? That one. Who's wrong on the economy? That one." You get the idea. McCain's campaign is being so mismanaged, you'd think its being run by Democrats.

Anyway, much like the last 'debate', I thought it was more or less a draw on points. I mean, I give it to Obama but not in a blowout, so remove my bias and call it a draw. The problem is, McCain can't afford a draw. Remember all the hub bub about how a generic Democrat trounces a generic Republican in 2008, but Obama was tied with McCain? I think the more people see Obama in these debates appearing well reasoned and Presidential, the more they become comfortable with him and less reticent to vote for scary black guy with foreign sounding name. OK and the financial crisis we're experiencing under a Republican regime doesn't hurt. But I think all of it points to Obama coming out of last night in the improved position, regardless of how you score it on points.

And it doesn't help that McCain constantly totters between contemptuous and that awkward fake smile. I mean, he usually starts by telling you 'My friends...' and in the back of his mind telling himself 'keep smiling... keep smiling...' until he snaps and then you can see he just wants to go straight Nicholson. "You want me on the wall. You NEED me on that wall. Who's gonna do it? You Lieutenant Obama? I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way."

I really wasn't going to mention politics today, because I think that barring the release of video of Obama skipping down the street with Louis Farrakhan, this bitch is over. But the fact is that I have this huge favor to ask of all of you, and I wrote it all up exactly how I wanted last night. And then I left it on my laptop. So tomorrow. First thing. Have your credit cards ready.

- Ken Burns (ann arbor native) spoke at my college graduation and was compelling and brilliant. He talked (naturally) about how history matters. So he's the perfect person to look back at John McCain and ask 'What the fuck happened?' I really think he's tarnished his image in the eyes of a lot of people, me especially. I mean, Dole didn't go through this in '96. He came out as an elder statesman that people still looked up to. At least that's how I remember it. I think McCain's burned too many bridges to occupy that rarefied air when this is over.

- I couldn't agree more.

Posted 10:45am
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October 7th , 2008

Come on up for the rising.

Like most fathers, once I learned that my progeny was male, I immediately started dreaming of his future sporting glory. And given his half Asian heritage (and my own physical characteristics) I threw away ideas of starting linebacker for Michigan pretty quickly. I always thought my best shot was turning him into a baseball pitcher - a crafty lefty with a curve ball that dropped like it fell off a table. Turns out I got a lefty of a different sort.

Yesterday Sid and I attended a 'Get out the Vote' rally featuring none other than the Boss himself - Bruce Springsteen. We rocked out with other Washtenaw County liberals and got to hear the trademark growl of an American icon. Here's the story in pictures:

Like most kids, Sid loves free swag. So we naturally raided the free poster table on the way in. He was a little disappointed that there were no 'Filipino Americans for Obama' signs. At least he got a quarter or so of his heritage represented.

Them's some handsome liberals! We bought Sid a shirt that will need some time in the dryer (on high) to fit him exactly right, but he was pretty proud to wear his heart on his sleeve (so to speak).

Sid took a nice crows shot. I pulled Sid out of school early so we could get there early, thus we had a sweet viewing spot near the front. Supposedly the office worker who he gave his excusal note to ("Please excuse Cameron after 6th hour today to attend to some family business") called him out as going to the rally. Luckily its Ann Arbor and they agreed that seeing Bruce is worth missing one social studies class.

The sun peeked out for a bit allowing for coat removal. Sid (as he always does when we're out in public anymore) saw some ladies that he knew and was texting back and forth with them all afternoon. I of course made fun of him for having stalkers.

Obligatory gospel choir to sing the national anthem. Play ball!

The Boss. John Dingell's wife (who has the shrillest voice on god's green earth) in a speech leading up to his appearance, didn't get that people we're chanting 'Brrrruuuuuuuuuuuuce!' and repeatedly asked people to stop booing. This made Sid and I giggle everytime one of us chanted 'Brrruuuuuuce!' the rest of the day.

Before coming to Michigan Bruce was in Philly, and you can read a set list and his speech here. Its pretty much what we saw and heard. I highly recommend it.

"In 2004 I had the tequila shots all lined up on the bar... but we're gonna win this time."

"I've spent most of my creative life measuring the difference between American promise and American reality. The distance has never been greater or more painful. Obama has taken a measure of that distance and he understands in his heart the cost of that distance. As president, he will work to restore it."

He closed with Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" which isn't the same sing-songy tune for kids you remember when Bruce Sprinsteen sings it. It was a pretty powerful closing number.

Afterwards I stood there and felt hope. Bruce's stock in trade is earnestness, and when he tells you something or sings something you take it as gospel fact. And while he was preaching to the choir yesterday, I think we all felt emboldened by hearing him perform. I know I had a sense of pride and confidence as we walked out. And it occurred to me as we left EMU's baseball field, with my crafty lefty by my side, that I'll take a 13 year old willing to go see Springsteen at a political rally over one with a fleeting baseball career any day of the week.

Posted 9:58am
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October 6th , 2008

Not even a golf clap.

One of benefits of having the Moeman as your dad (other than instillation of solid core values and an upbringing where you always felt safe and loved) is access to sporting events. As a kid I'd get to come to Michigan games every year. Its as close to being pushed into becoming a Wolverine as I ever got. Moe never said anything about it. I knew he was a Wolverine and my big brother was a Buckeye. And when I was little I idolized my brother so I wanted to be a Buckeye too. Not a word from my dad. Ever. Then the subtle nudge of taking me to Ann Arbor. It was over after that. We went to Ohio State games too, but let's be honest - Columbus is a hole compared to Ann Arbor. Its the Gary, IN to Ann Arbor's Chicago, IL. I mean, Hineygate is great even when you're 12, but I was more impressed with grandeur and tradition of Michigan.

Eventually I made my way to Ann Arbor on my own, and my status as student and later staff removed Moeman from ticket responsibility. However, now that I was an adult there was still a level of access that Moe could provide that mere mortals do not normally get to tread upon - the press box. Here's the thing about the press box - its like sitting in front of 1,000 inch HDTV. The view is unparalleled. They have free soda and hot dogs and soft pretzels. They hand you stats and information and you get to sit next to people you recognize from their works in various forms of media (as an aside - I sat behind Nate McLouth Saturday. Random right? He looks like he's 12 and is no bigger than me. We had a nice exchange about how I saw him just miss the cycle 3 weeks ago. Cute kid.) But here's the bad thing - there's no cheering. At all. Despite the fact that 90% of the people in the box are Michigan fans, there's no clapping or yelling or noise of any kind permitted. The discipline is kind of amazing. Its also frustrating as hell.

As one would gather, I usually stroll into Michigan stadium as late as possible. If they haven't kicked off by the time I'm actually walking down the stairs to my seat its kind of a miracle. I'm also usually fairly drunk. If its a big game I'm likely tanked. And I'm always loud and boisterous. I just consider it part of the job as fan. Unfortunately all of these things aren't exactly conducive to pretending to be part of the press for an afternoon. So Saturday as I walked into Michigan stadium to take my spot on press row, I did so early, soberly and quietly. Only to watch Michigan get drilled by Juice Williams. So I wrote the word 'FUCK' over and over again in my notebook instead of yelling it at the top of my lungs. It wasn't quite as therapeutic or visceral as I needed it to be. Thank goodness this week I go back to the status quo. Hopefully we're up 7-0 by the time I stumble down to my seat and I get to high five and 'HAIL!' my way through the game. Its not as dignified as Moeman's experience, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted 11:44am
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October 3rd , 2008

Quick hits from Sparty Country.

I'm on assignment in ELansing today, so I'll have to make this quick.

- I had a nightmare last night wherein I was dismissed from volunteering at 826 because of the content of my website (the content was something pornographic and the person dismissing me was a this giant bitch from my actual job, so you know, there's some other bullshit floating around up there too) Anyway, here's an article about how to clean up all the filth about you that's out there on the internet. I'm assuming that the only job I'll ever be able to get going forward is with John McCain in some fashion, since he obviously doesn't vet those around him.

- Sarah Silverman encourages you to get your grandparents out to vote - and not be scared of black men. This applies to gentiles as well.

- Celebrities say voting is important and cool.

- Did I enjoy the debate last night? You betcha! Here's a pretty concise flowchart showing Palin's thought process.

Posted 1:27pm
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October 2nd , 2008

They call Alabama the Crimson Tide.

In light of tonight's impending debacle and seeing McCain on the verge of blowing a gasket yesterday (watch it if you haven't already, its fucking spectacular "Georgetown cocktail party conservative". Hahahahahaha), I had somewhat of an epiphany. It finally hit me as to what is the perfect pop culture metaphor for this campaign. In the movie Crimson Tide, crusty, old submarine captain Gene Hackman takes on a new young, Harvard educated XO in the form of Denzel Washington. This naturally takes place right as the runaway Russian Republic of Craplakistan (or something) is threatening nuclear war with the United States.

I don't want to stretch the analogy past the point where I put its tensile strength to the ultimate test, so let's ignore Hackman's "Cold War" mentality of 'Russia is our enemy' vs. Denzel's 'War is the enemy' post-modern philosophy, and how it compares to our two candidate overall perspective (although I do believe there's a cogent argument to be made there). Rather, let us focus on the penultimate scene of the film, where all of this comes to a head.

Hackman and Denzel have dueled for control of the ship with dual mutinies. Hackman is determined to launch his nukes against the Russian separatists in a preemptive strike. Denzel is determined to wait for confirmation of a lost transmission, made currently impossible due to a radio malfunction. The clock ticks - will the radio be fixed to confirm the message before the Russians launch so that we can ascertain the truth? Will Hackman blindly launch even though the Russians may have surrendered, starting a nuclear war that had just been thwarted?

It all comes to a head with Denzel in control of the missile key as Hackman returns to the con. Here's where I think the analogy is most apropos. McCain Hackman returns and is absolutely furious - irate and bellicose that this fucking punk has the fucking balls to assume he knows better. There's disdain in every ounce of his being.* He finally pops and starts throwing rights to Denzel's jaw. He yells at him "I'm the commander of this fucking ship!"Denzel stands there and eyes the codger with a steely glare, taking his punishment before finally taking the missile key and placing it around his neck, telling him not so subtly, "No."

OK its not perfect. But can't you just imagine that's what McCain wants to do? How dare this kid come in and tell him - him! - what is the what. You know he wishes he was 20 years younger and could lift his arms over his head, because boy would he give that presumptuous asshole what for. As it is, he has to stand there and smile, knowing that he's likely blown his last second chance. That he's a relic that's sacrificed 26 years of reputation and goodwill at one last shot at the brass ring - only to come up short.

As for the movie? Turns out Denzel was right. About the Russian surrender anyway. As for the chain of command politics of how things went down, they were both right. The difference of course being that Hackman realizes his inadequacy and rides off into the sunset, leaving Denzel to shepherd us going forward. Or something like that.

*The Tom Cruise/Jack Nicholson analogy in A Few Good Men works here too. "I want you to stand there in your faggoty white uniform and with your Harvard mouth ask me nicely." Of course the two major problems there are that McCain is a Navy man and Tom Cruise is really, really white.

- Oh yeah, tonight's debate. I was reading this story about Palin's 5 college career and I was struck by this quote, regarding her debate style:

She's a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do.

And I respectfully disagree. This may be fine in a Gubernatorial debate being watched by a few hundred people (I'm a political junkie and I've never seen one) But I doubt it will play with 70 million people watching. I mean, not after this week. OK, the Couric/Supreme Court thing wasn't as bad as it could of been (in the sense that I thought she couldn't name any case). But seriously? Plessy v Ferguson? Dred Scott? Bush v Gore? OK the last one is a joke but when you say "(there's) never going to be absolute consensus by every American" in an effort to get out of answering? I might disagree with you - the KKK notwithstanding.

Posted 10:44pm
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October 1st , 2008

No one told me that The Flintstones was not a documentary.

Its getting hard to see where the comedy ends and reality begins. First, last weeks SNL skit featured word for word transcriptions from the actual interview - and they got laughs. Then, the LA Times runs a story where Palin is purported to have espoused the belief that man and dinosaurs roamed the earth - together. ("she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks"!!!) Then when asked where she gets her news and information, she says "um, all of them." (and later refers to homosexuality as a choice). People are going to end up saying she did great tomorrow night when she's vague and fails to say anything colossolly stupid, and its going to make me want bite down on the business end of a shotgun and pull the trigger with my toe. Look at her bio side by side with Biden's. Career: Sportsreporter. Say what you will about Biden, one person here is qualified, one woefully is not. Inexperience is one thing, no experience and public ineptitude is another. I mean, raise your hand if you think man and dinosaurs co-existed on this planet. Ok - you guys are not allowed to hold public office higher than county drain commissioner (and no offices that have anything to do with education).

- Pitchfork has their guide to fall music releases out. Nothing here that make sthe fur on my arms stand on end, but I do want to hear the new Ezra Furman record.

- When's the last time you used a phonebook? Be honest... That's what I thought. Me too. The internet give you faster, better, more indepth information that doesn't have to be delivered to your door yearly. So why do I still get a phonebook year in/year out? Well no more. Sign up here to stop this inane waste of resources. Nobody wants Al Gore crying at their dinner party when he goes to the kitchen looking for a corkscrew and accidentally finds your tree killing, petrol wasting phonebook. Don't take the chance.

Posted 12:23pm
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September 30th , 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin'

- While it gets harder every year to hold to this ideal, everyone needs to vote. Ideally we all pay attention consistently and then hit the voting booths making informed decisions. But even if that doesn't necessarily describe you year round, start paying attention now so that you can vote in a scant 35 days. Its the will of the people that decides who we'll bitch about for the next four years, and if you don't vote, you don't get to bitch. Period. The first step is to get registered, and the deadline for that is approaching fast. In Michigan its October 6th. To find out what you need to do in your state, visit the Election Assistance Commission's website. They have a handy chart with deadlines and everything. If you're out of town, get an absentee ballot. If your car breaks down, call me. I'll come get you and drive you myself. Although if I go to all that trouble the least you can do is not vote for McCain.

- I've seen this theory posited several places now and I think its dead on - Biden needs to let Sarah Palin dig her own grave. Give her just enough rope to hang herself, because if you let her talk enough, she surely will. There's rumors circulating that the most embarrassing part of Palin's interview with Katie Couric is still out there. If its true that she couldn't name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade, then she's officially less informed than my 13 year old son. What a great choice to be the VP of a guy who's a cancer survivor and the oldest President ever to be sworn into office. She is adorable though.

- I had a long talk last Saturday with my chief engineering advisor (Storch) about alternative fuel vehicles. He gave the spiel on the Chevy Volt and largely turned around my opinion on its viability. I'm still really interested in CNG vehicles though. I know there's an inherent infrastructure problem, but hey, I know where there are 3 stations in Ann Arbor. But my advisor is right - probably going to be mostly relegated to fleet vehicles for companies who can service them themselves. That is unless T. Boone Pickens has his way.

- And the failed bailout? I think I am in the majority in thinking that it was a bitter pill that we had to swallow. A lot like spending the holidays with the in-laws. Yeah its sucks the bag, but its the only way you're ever going to get laid again. And while I don't absolve the Dems, the Republicans really made this political when it shouldn't have been at all. I think McCain had a decent strategy on how to deal with this and come out looking good, and then got screwed by his party and overstepped just enough to make him seem like the erratic, bellicose mess that has characterized his campaign over the last fortnight or two. I still think something needs to happen, and that it likely will given the market drop yesterday. It'd be nice if they could do it and get it over with and nobody tried to take credit for it - but I won't hold my breath waiting for that.

Update 2:32pm
Those of you who take the time to follow the comments section of each post will recognize the initials ljv. He has politely suggested that I own my disdain for Nancy Pelosi and tell her to shut the fuck up. So, in the spirit of bipartisanship:

Speaker Pelosi,
Your lack of leadership is appalling and your politicization of this crisis is unconscionable. You, along with your fellow Dems, are complicit in the position that we, as a country, find ourselves in. There'll be plenty of time for finger shaking in the coming months and years, but for now, if you're not coming to the table with an idea that lends itself to compromise and moves the process forward, shut the fuck up.

Love,
-tbv

Posted 11:13am
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September 29th , 2008

David and Goliath.

Saturday brought another literally perfect late September afternoon for football. During tailgates we play a fairly inane game called washer toss, where you toss washers at board with holes in it. Its all kinds of awesome. John and I are fairly adroit at it and as a team hadn't lost a game this year going into Saturday. I'll spare you most of the details of the story and just say that in some weird sense of reciprocity and escalation, Boike chucked a hunk of mulch at me during a game of washer toss and nailed me right between the eyes - removing a chunk of my forehead in the process.

Later that day a down on its luck Michigan team fumbled its way to a 19 point halftime deficit, and it appeared that the transition season we are in the middle of was going to stretch on into the infinite, making itself as long and painful as possible. Then something happened. I can't say the exact moment it occurred, but someway, somehow - they roared back and overcame the largest deficit they've ever overcame in 500 games at Michigan Stadium and slayed the number nine team in the country.

It preposterous to compare either Boike's accidental thumping of my cranium or Michigan's comeback win over highly ranked Wisconsin to David and Goliath. First of all, Boike's twice my size and (claims he) wasn't trying to hurt me. Second, I don't care what the line is or the rankings are or what the state of the program is - we're Michigan. We win games at Michigan Stadium. But the literal and figurative similarities to the Biblical parable seemed like low hanging fruit, so I picked it. And despite having to field questions all day regarding the giant bandaid in the middle of my forehead, the totality of it all makes me indescribably happy.

- Wormer, dead. Niedermeyer, dead. Newman, dead. He was the epitome of cool. He gave so much back. I can't say anything other than thanks. Go watch The Sting. Or Butch Cassidy... Or Slap Shot. Or even The Hudsucker Proxy. And kid, next time I say 'Let's go some place like Bolivia', let's go some place like Bolivia.

- I thought the debate was more or less a draw. Both candidates spewed stump speech lines, both showed a command of the facts. Obama agreed too much and never landed a haymaker, McCain came off as grumpy and contemptuous that he had to share the stage with Obama. But here's the important thing: Obama got the bump (Look at what 538.com is predicting!!!) Dear sweet tapdancing Christ I can't wait for Thursday.

Posted 11:18am
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September 26th , 2008

The Office, Politics, and Office Politics.

Last night's season premier of The Office was pretty fucking awesome. I think - like most shows - it got dinged pretty bad by last year's writer's strike. But last night did a commendable job of balancing all the drama with the comedy and not being heavy handed about it - a serious problem in the latter stages of season four. And I laughed out loud a dozen times, so you know, awesome. I'll forever miss the salad days when Ayesha and The Jesuses would come over from their house that was sans cable to sit on my floor and watch The Office in all of its glorious HD splendor, but its still my favorite show on TV.

Because it completely nails the culture of working in an office. Of course the characters and writing and everything are great, but its the send up of the office dynamic that I think really works for me. I remember being Sid's age and trying to imagine myself at the turn of the century, 25, with a job and a wife and a kid. It scared the shit out of me then the same way it does now (at 33 with 2/3 of the equation in place no less). But what I never could have possibly imagined (because there was no Office back then) is what its like to work in an actual office. The people you have to put up with, the red tape that exists, the power structure - its all a giant pain in my white ass. And as you may have guessed if you've ever heard me talk about work, in my office, I'm Stanley. I don't want to be anyone's friend, I just want to do my job as efficiently as possible and then go home and forget about what just happened. Other than that, leave me alone and we will get along swimmingly.

Of course I still have plenty of friends at work - people I go to happy hour with and there's been an ill-advised office romance or two. And those things lead to everybody's favorite/least favorite thing: office gossip. I work for a huge department, so there's plenty of people in my building that I have no clue who they are. But sometimes they know me. Last week I was setting up a machine in a conference room and I overhear a conversation (between the only two other people in the room, so no, not eavesdropping) where a good friend of mine's name was prominently mentioned. I noticed it, but didn't really think much of it. But as I'm leaving the room, and their conversation continued, the person name checking my friend looks at me and says "Yes, we're talking about your buddy, but don't worry, only good things!" I was taken aback. How do you know me much less that I am friends outside of work with said person? Then, as I'm walking out the other night, a secretary I've never talked to in my life stops me. "Do you ever talk to X anymore?" X was a girl I kinda briefly dated years ago who worked for the department but moved across the country. I told her that I talk to her from time to time, that she was doing well. "Oh that's good. I miss her. Is she seeing anyone? Other than you?..." What. The. Fuck. I tried to maintain composure and told her that X had just started seeing someone, she seemed happy, and then I got the fuck out of there.

Where do these people get their info? I do my best to stay under the radar and not involve myself in office politics. I don't want my personal and professional life to intersect anymore than the bare minimum. Yet apparently, people still have information about my personal business - even though much of it is apparently way out of date and/or completely wrong. HOWEVER, last week a research assistant casually mentioned to me "I've seen you on Yelp! I know what you do after work." Somehow this I'm OK with. I've put way too much of my life on the internet at this point and I completely expect it to bite me on the ass professionally at some point (it certainly has personally already numerous times).

- We all know what a huge foreign policy wonk Sarah Palin is (she lives next to Russia!) So its not surprising that she called Henry Kissinger (and by associative property James Baker and Colin Powell) naive. Keep memorizing those talking points sister.

- I think that there's a natural intersection of music and politics. Sure there's a certain healthy skepticism we should have when celebrities and politics mix, but we shouldn't summarily dismiss people for being well known. If you find someone's work insightful, their opinion is worth hearing. Then you can dismiss it if you so choose. Anyway, Under the Radar Magazine just released their protest issue, featuring (largely) indie musicians talking politics and issues. And you can even bid on the signs that the artists got photographed with. I've got my eye on Brit Daniel's "Viva La Raza".

- Finally, Taproot's latest opus Our Long Road Home is out. You should buy it, as it rocks and they're friends of mine.

Posted 10:46am
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September 25th , 2008

I love the smell of napalm campaign suspension in the morning. It smells... like victory.

I'm sure the fucksticks of the world like Sean Hannity and Glen Beck will spin this as 'leadership' and even presidential, but John McCain suspending his campaign reeks of his run and hide strategy that's been the cornerstone of his campaign the last 6 weeks. Its nothing but a blatant attempt at politicizing this process - and an attempt get credit for doing nothing. Last night Letterman eviscerated him for it. "What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being President?" I've always considered Dave to be sorta nonpartisan and above the fray, so to see the consternation on his face last night gave me hope that I may be right and this is the end of John McCain. I see Obama talking to press and on commercials last night laying out his (albeit loosely defined) plan to fix things and then I see McCain - he of one 11 minute press conference in the last 6 weeks - he of denying press access to his VP - is sticking his head in the sand with 39 days to go. I think (naturally) Obama is right - now is exactly the time we need to hear from our Presidential candidates - as their mettle is tested and they are responding to the crisis. Instead, McCain is playing hide and seek. To quote David, "We've got a guy like that now!"

- Here's an interview with mancrush Chuck K about his new book Downtown Owl. I plan on spending my hangover Sunday reading it as I watch football on the couch. If there wasn't a home football game, it'd be the highlight of my weekend.

- The only person worse at their job over the last 7 years than W may be Matt Millen. And that's saying something. Well the latter beat the former to the unemployment line, as the Ford family finally put the fans of the Detroit Lions out of their collective misery. Well, kinda. I mean, the Lions will continue to suck, but at least now there's hope. Kinda like the pending election, except we are actually responsible for our own fate November 5th.

- I heard two references to The West Wing this week, both noting the penchant for characters in the show to walk fast and talk fast. I fell off watching it towards the end, but those first several seasons were gold, Jerry. Here's an imagined conversation between Josiah Bartlett and Barack Obama, written by the man himself, Aaron Sorkin. Its pretty good advice.

Posted 10:35am
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September 24th , 2008

Son, you've got a future at Hallmark

Given that I'd been ostensibly out of town for 12 days, I didn't make major birthday plans for yesterday. But some friends at work insisted on at least a happy hour, so I managed a couple pints of Oberon before picking up Siddhartha from tennis practice. For birthday dinner, we devoured a Chicago deep dish pizza from Anthony's and then both laid on floor, pondering whether or not we'd ever need food again. Then he sprung on me the Best. Birthday Card. Ever.

I love the little asshole.

- Here's a new Vampire Weekend song from the new Michael Cera film. I should be way more excited about this given the proper nouns in that previous sentence, but for whatever reason I'm just not.

- Back in NWOhio its sometimes to referred to as tractor ears, but whatever you call it, god knows the Brubaker's have it in spades.

- Dave Eggers interviews underappreciated genius Chris Elliot.

- I missed all of a bit of the Emmys due to being on vacation, so I'm glad I caught this on the internet. Ricky Gervais. Steve Carrell. Awkward. Awesome.

- I'm not going to go as far as to say I caused this, but you look at the timing of this article and tell me its merely coincidental or only correlational. That's what I thought.

Posted 10:37am
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September 23rd , 2008

Sun, sun sun, here it comes...

Hey kids, I'm back. This snarky liberal just spent a week in John McCain's home state and is very glad to be back amongst his own kind. Actually I was so busy helping Ayesha move from the West side to Central Phoenix there was little time to even think about politics. It was a welcome respite (although look 538's numbers are back to where I like them again. Happy Birthday indeed!) Anyway, sorry I didn't bother to update anything - but it was vacation. Here's what went down in synopsis form:

Tues -> Arrival. Got in late. Went to Ayesha's and had a few drinks, by the by, more or less unremarkable. I will denote here that children should not be aloud to fly. Some punk dropped his sipppy cup next to me and I ended up with apple juice all over my brand new jacket. Anyway, this comes up later.

Wed. -> Poolside. Drinkin' and readin' all day. This is how I would lead a large part of my existence wer eI to suddenly find myself independently wealthy. I can't fathom becoming bored with it. Anyway, after Ayesha finished up her day job, we went and picked up the keys to her new bungalow. We checked it out, had a minor freak out about the taupe situation (I actually had the freak out and I could tell Ayesha wanted to kill me.) But we hit up Home Depot and found some colors that rendered the taupe emergency a moot point - and thusly giving me something to do with my Thursday afternoon.

Thurs. -> I head to Ayesha's classroom in the morning to give a lecture under the guise that I know something about writing. Then I head to the new house to provide it with a new, more festive color scheme. Ayesha shows up with the truck after imparting more important facts to 5th graders. We roll Ikea for a couple hundo and participate in more pre-moving activities. We then have some fucking sweet Thai food at a restaurant that's straight out of Blade Runner. Score.

Fri. -> The big move. We load up the truck for trip number one. We hit the highway and just as we reach our target speed we hear a 'WHOMP!' and suddenly there's a lot more daylight in my rearview mirror. I start to slow down and head for the burm when I realize what the shattered pieces of wood littering the highway are all about. Turns out that even if you cram it in there nice and tight, if you face the open side (drawers removed) of a dresser forward in the back of a pickup truck, the wind will lift it right up and out of the back and onto the road when you hit about 60. Had another car been within 30 feet of our rear bumper, there would have been one hell of an insurance claim to file. As it stands, Ayesha just lost her dresser (that turns out, wouldn't have really fit in her tiny guest house, so alls well that ends and all that). After a day of packing and unpacking ('town to town, up and down the dial...') and assembling new furniture, we decided to check out some of the restaurants and watering holes in walking distance from the new abode. We ended up in some spat over the way she called out the waiter as gay but wouldn't come to meet the owner of the joint because there was a giant creepy picture of her as a girl over the fireplace. Or something like that. It was fun.

Sat. -> Ikea trip number two, along with other various errands to start the day - followed by more painting and assembling and organizing and installing. We then decided to head downtown to catch the end of the MSU/ND game (I hit a four teamer Saturday. Yes!) and put our name in at some famous pizza place that has a three hour wait. Thank god they had a bar. We spent the rest of the evening getting sauced with her favorite co-workers and their significant others. By the end of the night I was apparently A.) hitting on one of the guys we were with (completely justified by the way. Dude was my age and looked 23. I was torn between making out with him and punching him in the face for being so impossibly good looking) and B.) getting in the face of a third grade teacher for liking Twilight. Pretty standard.

Picture A is the overly expensive pizza we had. Picture B should give you a clue as to just how saucy things got. Picture C is a girl wearing black stretch pants with some weird pink thong underwear thing sewn to the OUTSIDE of them. We thought it the most ridiculous thing we'd seen in some time.

Sun. -> Somehow it seemed like a good idea to wake up at 8am and hike Camelback Mountain. It would probably seem like common sense to most of you out there to NOT try and climb a mountain 8 hours after passing out in a completely drunken stupor. But I am hear to tell you at least anecdotally, that you'd be right - its not the smartest of endeavors. Nevertheless we made it up and down in about 2 hours in the 90 degree + heat. Not bad for a 33 year old. It did of course dictate that Ayesha take a significant rest afterwards, so she napped while I went off to meet Jer and Wayne for beers and football. After a few hours of talking sports and politics with the former members of Painful Anesthesia, I went back to grab a refreshed Ayesha to go TV shopping and have one last eclectic PHX dinner. About the former: Even with only a $13 antennae, HD is crystal clear and glorious. About the latter: It was literally the best meal I have ever had. Filet Mingon topped with mexican crab meat and goat cheese, plus two top shelf margaritas. It was almost good enough to make me believe in god.

Mon. -> Ayesha said goodbye and headed off to work, and I puttered around her house waiting for my shuttle. And now let me take a moment to espouse a view that I have had for some time: children should not be aloud to fly on commercial airlines. If you think I am being overly coarse, you sit for two and a half hours while a clueless father and his 18 month old daughter BOTH occupy the middle seat in the row as she proceeds to fuss and bump you and pull on your headphones all while coughing her kid germs in your face. I'm just saying, it should be illegal.

Now its time to return to the real world. PHX has grown on me. There's definitely a side of it I can dig on. But its still hot and sprawling and really shouldn't be inhabited by so many people. There's no water in the desert! How is that a good idea? But Ayesha is finding her niche there and I couldn't be happier for her - even if it places her 2,000 miles away.

Posted 10:38am
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September 16th , 2008

College football as it relates to existentialism.

It was strange to say the least. Wrapped up in the whole bachelor party weekend was the Michigan/OSU football dichotomy that played it self out over the course of Saturday. Michigan is by all measures, not a very good football team at the moment. We knew this with almost certainty coming into the season. We were playing a team that was generally considered to be worse. A rival and on the road, but demonstrably worse. We expected to win. Ohio State, on the other hand, is a very good football team. They are generally considered to be the class of the Big Ten and favorites to win the conference if not more. They were playing a team, however, that was slightly better and doing so sans the engine that drives their offense. It was a game they expected to lose.

We were a group split between allegiances to Michigan and Ohio State. As Michigan fumbled their way through their game to an 18 point loss, I won't lie and say I smiled the live long day as I watched the spectacle unfold. I cussed the randomness of the universe and the seemingly blind luck that the ND offensive line had found competence. I wondered aloud how one stops an avalanche of things not going your way as it hurdles itself towards you. But at the end of the day, with OSU fans in my ear telling me how much we sucked and that we were stuck with some stupid hillbilly coach who will never make it on the frozen tundra of an Ann Arbor winter, I knew we were going to be OK. I knew that bad things happen to good people. That sometimes the forces of existence seemingly align to take away all that you hold dear. But eventually things come back to center. And at that center is Sam McGuffie and Steven Threet, looking more than just capable. They, along with several other pieces of this Michigan team, showed throughout the game that they will exploit your weaknesses. That they are capable of it and will make you pay - when they're not accidentally handing you the ball and saying 'Sorry. Its apparently not going to be our day."

Juxtapose that with Ohio State. Now I'll freely admit that I saw little to none of the actual OSU game. Whatever I accidentally saw is gone from memory due to the lobotomal properties of massive amounts of booze. But Ohio State got beat down. The season that set a goal in everyone's mind of perfection never really got off the ground. They could win the rest of their games and still not feel great about the state of things. That maybe the formula that has put them so close to the top as of late might not last forever. That three straight seasons of almost will never actual get a realization of the ultimate goal. Ohio State fans had little to take solace in after their game. There were no caveats to make the sting of a loss of Mondale-ian proportions any more palatable.

I can espouse the above because I've been there. Several times. There's nothing more tenuous than to cusp greatness. When you sit on that precipice and the scale tips your way for that brief second necessary and you find yourself awash in the glory and splendor that is succeeding against odds to achieve more than you dared yourself to dream possible - its every bit 100 times better than you imagine it. But when you're on the top of the mountain and that gust of wind sends you back instead of forward, its also the giant kick in the balls right after you see your girlfriend making out with some douchey frat guy in a bar that makes you glad that things like breathing and blood flow are autonomic processes because frankly, you couldn't summon the will otherwise.

And I don't say the above to champion mediocrity or suggest that a modicum of success is somehow more satisfying than going all in because of the potential setbacks. Quite the opposite. Having been on both ends of the equation I'm here to tell you its absolutely worth it. I made the analogy to love a second ago because I think its apropos. There's little else in this world that can make you feel so good or so awful. (Yes, even booze). But after hearing the myriad Michigan fans decry what we've lost and what we'll never get back whether or not its accompanied with on the field success and hearing the haters point and laugh and tell me how its never going to work, I can still find a way to smile. Things are getting better. It may be a while before I get to stand on the edge and see what fate has in store for me, but at least there's no soul crushing failures in my immediate future. And without the sword of Damocles hanging over your head, its easier to enjoy simple things like McGuffie's 178 total yards when we lost by 18. That's some sweet solace, even when surrounded by Buckeyes who are flush with the ignorance that they don't yet know what fate has in store for them.

- Your mandatory Sarah Palin rant: Who does this remind you of? How does this not scare the shit out of you? The fact that this is McCain's choice for VP says a lot about how he'd govern - an extension of failed Bush policies and tendencies. Fuck. Does this not bother you? Honestly?

- Headed to Arizona for a week starting now. Its time I gave John McCain's home state a piece of my mind. I hope to blog here and there, but I will be on vacation, so you know, more likely to twitter or something. Nothing's really going on in the world right now anyway, right?

Posted 9:52am
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September 15th , 2008

Rennie Stennett went 7 for 7 in a nine inning game.

So the bachelor party was a rousing success. Decorum dictates we don't get into specifics, but let me just say that from the hillbilly casino in West Virginny to getting picked up in a white stretch limo in the middle of nowhere late Saturday night, I had a blast. Hopefully Stov did as well. Of course being on a bender of bachelor party proportions means I missed some things over the weekend. Here's to playing catch up:

- David Foster Wallace apparently took his own life. Brian at mgoblog writes a fitting tribute. I feel the same way about Chuck K as he does about DFW. Maybe we can start a club for those whose appearance resembles their favorite author.

- Sarah Palin finally gave an interview to ABC. It pretty much went as expected. Watch Tiny Fey skewer her on SNL. I can see Alaska from my house!

- Lehman Bros. and Merril Lynch are sending Wall Street into a tailspin. I'm no economist, but this is not good. You know who else is no economist? John McCain. I guess the difference is that I'm the type of non-economist who recognizes this as bad, as he's the type who sees it as strong. Douche.

- And yes, I met Dave Eggers last night. Yes, he's a prince among men. Thanks to Amy for giving me a glowing introduction that even I thought was a bit over the top. Its kind of surreal to me that I was discussing how cool my kid is with Dave Eggers (Dave fucking Eggers!) but nevertheless, it happened and I am still swooning.

Posted 11:01am
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September 11th , 2008

Would I still bang Sarah Palin? Its tenuous at best.

I've known of her existence for all of a fortnight and already I think Sarah Palin is the most infuriating person in world outside of George W. Bush. George W Bush! The decider! I once was playing a board game where you asked all players the same question, they wrote down answers and then you had to guess who answered what. The question came up 'If you had to kill one person in the world, who would it be?' Everyone answered - you guessed it - George W Bush. That probably says more about my friends and our little liberal enclave than anything else, but it still makes me smirk. ANYWAY, how anyone sees this as an even palatable choice to lead our country is absolutely beyond me. Creationist. Book banner. Per diem bilker. Trooper firerer. Reformer who hired lobbyists to get earmarks and lies and distorts the record of her accomplishments (OK, every politician does this, but they usually don't repeat it ad nauseum when there's tape that proves you wrong.) FUCK! Here's some women who agree with me (via neighborette Jen). Here's her awful record on the environment. Its getting so that its hard to want to have sex with her anymore. Here's Maxim's solution as to where to put your political boner.

- Last nights "Hump Day JA2M" was a success. I saw some agro folk music, a just married pair of indie songwriters singing in the most dulcet of tones, a j-pop lounge act, hyper kinetic rock'n'roll pop, and my favorite troubadour in SE Michigan. Of course the logistics of the evening were as botched as the stupid name would dictate. Markie C and I decided the should turn the planning of the evening over to us for next year, and we'll suck the potential out of the thing and make it worthy of all the A2 scenesters discerning tastes. My favorite part was the indie rockers making fun of the regulars at Scorekeepers. It made me feel at home.

- At least there's good news in Ohio. I can't believe my hopes rest on Ohio. Again. The last four are on you, buckeyes. Don't fuck us over again.

- I found this kind of reassuring to my heterosexuality, in that it doesn't apply to me. But it still makes me sad.

Update 4:19pm:
I just saw this (over at Ben Smith's blog on Politico) and had to throw it up. Say what you want about celebrities and politics, this is right on. Get 'em Jason Bourne!

 

Posted 11:18am
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September 10th , 2008

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

- Tonight is the haphazardly named "Hump Day JA2M" Despite its ridiculous moniker, Markie C and I are looking forward to this mid-week mini Hamtramck Blowout. It will also likely mark the first time I've been to Scorekeepers in about 3 years. I'm sure I'll feel ancient. But hey, who can turn down two thirds of The Hard Lessons and Thunderbirds are Now! I'm also excited to wrap up the evening with Chris Bathgate at Conors, as I'm missing his next two shows due to travel. Speaking of...

- Headed to Pittsburgh this weekend for Stov's bachelor party. Due to the implicit trust needed for bachelor party weekends and the unwritten code of men, I probably will not speak of this again. Upon return, its an intimate evening with Dave Eggers (see below), almost immediately followed by a week in AZ to help schlep Ayesha across town to her new digs. I'm going to be a regular whirling dervish the next fortnight or so.

- As previously hinted at, I'm having drinks with one of my heroes Sunday night. When I started volunteering at 826 Michigan, it was because I wanted to teach kids to be better writers and all that shit, but also because I wanted to meet Dave Eggers. I first became aware Mr. Eggers back in college when Markie C introduced me to Might Magazine (The historic 'Best of the Millennium' issue). Then, as my mom was dying of cancer and I was trying to raise a child when it was far beyond my means*, I read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and I was a smitten kitten. After the success of AHWOSG, he founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing center for kids in California. This turned into several writing centers across the country, including 826 Michigan. So Dave is the reason I know about 826 and why I choose to volunteer there (along with my love of writing, natch). ANYWAY, he's in town this weekend to do a fundraiser and AFTER that, 826 is having a private party with Dave for all of us lowly volunteers. I get to have beers with one of my favorite authors! The founder of McSweeneys! Chances I say something profoundly stupid and make an ass out of myself are extremely high. Stay tuned.

- I keep waiting for the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back on this McCain/Palin bullshit. Is this it? It should be. Somebody online compared it to the Willy Horton ad, the difference being this is coming directly from McCain's camp. If you think this kind of politics is OK and want to slough it off, stop reading this blog. You're killing America and I don't want to see you around here anymore.

- It was two years ago today that Ayesha and I went out on our first date. She fell perfectly into my trap of 'get them to try and keep up with my drinking, and thus unexpectedly drunk.' The rest, as they say, is history. A weird, rocky, beautiful, rollercoaster history. Cheers love - see you soon.

*I mention this not to promote my status as some sort of martyr, but rather because it somewhat parallels the plot of the book, thus significant. But you might not know that if you've never read it (which you should). Anyway, I wanted to make the connection but not come off as douchey, thus the footnote. How'd I do?

Posted 11:51am
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September 9th , 2008

They should be made to suck it.

Its sometimes hard to be pro choice because as cogent an argument as one can make in defense of choice, you're never going to have the fervor or emotion that anti-choicers have in their pleas. At some point, those people can all be whittled down - but in the end, they still have their faith and the blind adherence that it makes them right - even when it comes to what I should be able to do. But here's a nice article from Newsweek that points out how Republicans want to have their cake and eat it to on family values and abortion (he goes a bit too bar out on the ledge in the last paragraph, but he's solid til then). If McCain wins, its very likely that Sarah Palin become president sometime between 5 minutes after the inauguration and 2016. And if that happens, I'm pulling up stakes and moving to the great white north*, because its the beginning of the end of our personal freedoms in this country. Of course it could go the other way and McCain could get blown out and the Republicans are forced to rethink their hard line conservative stance on these social issues. Palin becomes a goofy footnote and the religious right no longer scares level headed politicians like the former John McCain into abandoning reason out of fear of losing an election. That's why it gets me when McCain repeats that fucking shit about 'Obama would lose a war to win an election'. Says the man in bed with everything he once stood up against. For a succinct account of McCain's long, slow descent, Frank Rich is a much better writer than I. Suck it grandpa.

*or some other country not ruled by the Jesus proxy. BTW, I'm currently recording an album under the moniker 'The Jesus Proxy', so let it be known forthwith that TJP is copyrighted by tbaggervance Inc.

- And while we're at it, the campaign isn't about issues!?!? I've never been more insulted or justified in my righteous indignation. Not to mention the fact that the facts are being so distorted by you fucksticks that its really just lying at this point. Goddamn it I hope you fucking choke on it.

- To quote Seth Rogen in the trailer for Zack and Miri Make a Porno, 'everyone wants to see anyone have sex.' Thus I give to you SFW college football game hand job action. When you can't suck it, stroke it.

- Here's another great polling data site that tries to mathematically determine who will be the next President of your United States. Its a nice on-two punch along with the folks at fivethirtyeight.com. Current count has the delegates 300 to 238 in favor of Obama. Hooray analytical analysis! Suck it, reactionary daily tracking pollsters.

- I've never had much of a feeling about the State of West Virginia one way or the other. Until recently of course. See, Michigan took WVU's football coach last December and a bigger bunch of whiny bitches you never did see. I mean, everybody naturally thinks 'inbred hillpeople' when they think West Virginia, so I guess its not surprising when they act in the most uncouth manner imaginable when someone decides to leave their backwater for the big city. I mean we're talking a level of understanding even Ohio State fans and special needs kindergartners shake their heads at. Anyway, I won't recap the nastiness and perpetuate the ugliness, but I couldn't help but pass on this tasty bit of schaudenfreude. Turns out the new WVU team (who was ranked 8th in the country and its fans thought was in good hands despite making a hasty, stupid hire to replace their vacated coach) is more toothless and not so much with the ruthless. Suck it hill folk.

- Here's an interesting bit of research (via neighborette Jen B.) about how musical taste is related to personality. I personally find their characterizations of musical genres oversimplistic, but its an interesting precept and one I'd love to hear more about. Although I'm not sure I need a grant sponsored study to tell me that people who listen to country and religious music tend to be conservative. I never see anyone from my church group at Ted Leo shows. Suck it Amy Grant.

Posted 10:04am
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September 8th , 2008

Before and After.

Last night I got this txt from RJ:

The mancrush's deal with the devil is now complete.

I immediately panicked, thinking Obama cozied up to some fuckwad that would cause me to go spiraling into a depression of unfathomable depths. Thankfully we're safe there. But Tom Brady is likely out for the season. This after finally getting him on my fantasy team after years of floundering in Jay Cutler hell. Fuck all to hell anyway. I'm trying to be strong, but the more I think about it, the harder it is to hold back the tears.

But all was not lost on the weekend. Michigan finally won, showing flashes of offensive brilliance and proving just how schizophrenic this season is going to be. I attended a swanky wedding where I had 47 vodkie sodies. And most importantly, Sid and I did turned a pink nightstand into a button making robot.

Dave Eggers is coming to Ann Arbor (more on that later) so the Robot Store is a frenzy preparing for our exaulted leader's inspection. So last week during my store shift, Director Amy asked me if I knew how to use power tools to install something or other in the store. I said yes, adding "Unless its biologically impossible for me, I'm probably never going to tell you no. I mean, I can't asexually reproduce, but I'm just arrogant enough to think I can handle anything you ask." These are the kind of statements that land you weekend gigs building robots out of old furniture.

So Sid and I spent four days going back and forth to hardware, craft and dollar stores; borrowing tools from neighbors and of course, painting, drilling, sanding, sawing and gluing. Above is our finished product. We're pretty happy with it and hope the folks at LSRS&R are too. We anxiously await our next assignment.

Posted 10:28am
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September 5th , 2008

We got a long way to go and a short time to get there...

- So sorry I missed this early in the week, but Jerry Reed passed away on Sunday. I've been involved in at least one instance of a drunken rendition of 'East Bound and Down' and for that alone, I thank you Jerry. 10-4.

- Sarah Palin: believes in creationism, denies manmade global warming, vehemently anti-choice. Oh yeah, and wanted to ban books from the public library when she was mayor. Everyone I've ever met should be violently offended by at LEAST one of those positions.

- I noticed this last night too. And it was right as he was saying 'teach an illiterate adult to read'. You know, public service! Just not community organizing... The speech, btw, was pretty flat and boring - not to mention seemingly unsubstantive (I'll give him the strong ending though, that was stirring). I guess that's what you get when trying to convince people of 'change' when your the incumbent party in office.

- Here's a sweet interview with idol Chuck K. They also link to his hyper accurate article in Spin years ago about the most accurately rated bands of all time. Its the kind of analysis that makes me love the man.

Posted 12:08pm
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September 4 th , 2008

Y'all can kiss my liberal elitist ass

Somewhere around minute 31 of last nights rage inducing speech from Tom Eagleton Sarah Palin, I fucking snapped. Maybe I'm a tad sensitive because I had to run screaming from a culture that values being a "real American" over being an intellectual 15 years ago, but what the fuck? This shit makes me want to move to Canada. I'm not even kidding. I got stuck with Goober T. Fuckwad as a President for the last eight years because people wanted to have a beer with him. FUCK! Last night I listened to Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin make fun of Barack Obama for being a community organizer. They laughed at his experience and somehow suggested that he and Biden are somehow not the epitome of pull yourself up by your bootstraps versions of the American dream. I'm still so fucking pissed about all of it I can't possibly be eloquent or even comprehensible. They somehow manage to make a case that being an erstwhile sportscaster, PTA member, mayor of podunkville and governor of the 47th most populous state is more compelling of an argument to be president than community organizer, constitutional law scholar, state senator, US Senator and executive of a presidential campaign for these last 18 months. Knowing how to field dress a moose IS NOT A QUALIFICATION FOR FEDERAL OFFICE. We're supposed to feel bad for being smart. This anti-intellectualism has got to stop. Because they put on this fucking act and then want to tell me how to live my life. That's what gets me. After seething for some time I finally found relief in last night's Daily Show. After Jon Stewart eviscerated Lieberman's and Thompson's bullshit he pretty succinctly summed up my anger when talking about why its fair to talk about Bristol Palin:

Sarah Palin is on record as saying she would veto abortions for women even in the event of being raped, so what she is in essence saying, respect my families ability to make this decision, and elect me so that I can keep your family from having the same opportunity.

I mean, jesus, that's what gets me. "We're not your book learnin' types, we're just real, honest Americans. Now don't worry, you just sit back and trust us, we know best." You know what? Shove it up your ass. I don't like guns and I don't believe in God. I think that science and reason are what should guide us and we should all aspire to have as much knowledge at our fingertips about everything as we can possibly get our hands on. And I want the smartest guy in the room who's well reasoned and nuanced to lead us. The rest of y'all can go back to fuckin' and fightin' and whatever else makes you a 'Real American'.

Update 3:40pm
My level of vitriol is still high, but this made me smile: When I opened my Twitter account, I needed someone to 'follow' and I knew from reading his website that graphic novelist/musician/mancrush Bryan Lee O'Malley is all wrapped up in the twitter goodness. Anyway, through him I managed to find several other comic book writers that I adore who also enjoy themselves some twitter. One of them is Matt Fraction, and as I was going through my twitter log just now, I saw this great line of his from last night during the speech: Bizarro Gunderson. Fucking brilliant. Now everytime I see her I will hear 'Nope, just think I'm gonna barf." Perfect. It also makes me feel warm and fuzzy that all these comic book writers I repsect are super awesome liberals - it diminishes my latent comic book readers guilt.

Posted 10:58am
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September 3rd , 2008

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

- The fall TV season is rapidly descending upon us. Last night marked the return of 90210 (which no, I didn't watch. I instead took this quiz and got 8 out of 10 - missed the last two, natch, which were after I jumped ship) and soon all the old favorites will me making their way back to the small screen. Here's a handy guide if you want to know how long you have to wait to find out about Jim and Pam, or Ted and Stella or if J.J. Abrams new show will be any good (next Tuesday! And it stars Pacey Witter!!)

- The first trailer for Zack and Miri Make a Porno is out (Its redband, so NSFW). I'm starting to feel fairly positive that this will finally prove Kevin Smith can make a movie that doesn't involve Jay and Silent Bob.

- In this big long science-y article from the NYTimes you'll find a universal truth buried at the end: popular kids drink. And moreso, those who are socially skilled are more likely to smoke pot and commit vandalism. Since they're the Times and are all responsible and shit, they won't go as far as to say 'Drinking makes you cool,' but we all know better.

- I'm sure Gov. Sarah Palin would be none too happy about the triumph of science in this article. And when they say 'Front line' they mean it. If we can get those rubes in Florida, the rest will fall in line. Well, maybe not Kansas. But we can let them keep their museums with cavemen riding dinosaurs and just point and laugh.

- Over the weekend I started to watch the first two seasons of Moonlighting on DVD, and man is it pretty much every bit as good as I remember. It still stands to this day as a singular vision and wholly unique voice in the annals of television. But anyway, I got to thinking about how I managed to be 10 years old and even aware of an hour long dramedy that got its humor from ee cummings and Dale Carnegie references, much less become enamored with it. Of course the easy answer is that I had older siblings. Kids who are forced to get their pop culture touchstones from their parents are at a distinct disadvantage than those who have sibs that are 5-10 years older than they are (unless you have a super hip, super young parent. Like Siddhartha.) As such I remember almost every episode of Moonlighting and Twin Peaks. I was listening to the Police when my classmates knew nothing other than Michael Jackson, or if they were lucky, their parents Beatles records. In that respect I owe everything to my older sibs, because my parents were even too old for the Beatles. If not for Tad and Tandy, I would likely have hit junior high having heard nothing but Johnny Mathis and AM radio. So thanks older siblings, even if your proclivities have left me with way too many brain cells dedicated to Night Ranger lyrics.

Update 11:18
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Oh yeah, and for those who haven't been informed, Google has a new web browser. Its called Chrome and its rocks my face. I guess there's 6 things today.

Posted 10:50am
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September 2nd, 2008

Papa don't preach

What a difference a weekend makes. I'll admit that I was blinded by Sarah Palin's hotness. In an effort to get a post out on Friday, I blogged about erstwhile MILF come GILF and threw caution to the wind by noting that 'she seems a bit of all right.' See, this is what happens when you act like John McCain and rush to judgment. Turns out Sarah Palin wants creationism taught in schools, doesn't believe in global warming (or that its man made), and abortions are for instances where the life of the mother is conclusively proven to be in danger. (Good luck getting through that loophole if it ever comes to that.) And those are just the top three most personally offensive things I've found out about.

And of course her 17 year old daughter is preggers. Raise your hand if you're surprised to hear that the teenage daughter of an abstinence only education advocate got knocked up. Of course we're supposed to praise her for having the baby and getting married and 'doing the right thing'. Well I hope that works out for them. It usually does I hear. I mean, the babydaddy is a self described "fuckin' redneck" who doesn't want kids. Thank goodness Jesus is on their side, otherwise I'd be worried.

I of course was a teenage father and by most metrics things have gone pretty well. I would go as far as to say just about as well as could be expected under the circumstances. But you know what? It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops. People with no education and no means of income shouldn't be raising babies while their friends are all out abusing their bodies in every way imaginable as God clearly intended for us to do in our youth. Let's just say its a situation fraught with complications.

But Obama is not only right to say 'Let's not make this a campaign issue', its not a campaign issue. It ironically highlights the absurdity of abstinence only, but that's about it. What is an issue (and increasingly so) is McCain's judgment. I mean, Sarah Palin seemed like a questionable pick on Friday. How about now? Hothead, reactionary, vengeful fuck. That's what its sounding more and more like to me. I could really use a hug from Danny Aiello right about now.

*image from j.k. rohrs. Hope he doesn't mind me thievin' it.

Posted 10:31am
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August 29th , 2008

"We are a better country than this."

- I'm not going to lie to you, I wasn't watching Obama's speech last night when he gave it live. Turns out that gambling on college football and drinking at the bar outweighed the lure of seeing Barack in real time. I also had work to do judging the karaoke contest finals for a trip to the Bahamas (in which the right person thankfully won - and it wasn't close.) Anyway, I had to wait until I got home and watch the replay - and still had to fill in some of the gaps as I may not have been completely sober when I got home. Just sayin'. But the reviews this morning seemed to be a resounding thumbs up. For me its as simple as the quote in the headline. Bumblefuck and co. have screwed us pretty hard the last 8, and McCain is too much of the same. But for those who want more specifics, I felt like they were there. The reasons are clear to me, but I like that he's making his case.

- And the winner is... Sarah Palin? Well I don't feel bad about not seeing this coming, as apparently no one did. I'll be honest, I'm just finding out about her, and she seems a bit of all right (and still in my dating age range. Milfy...) But the last month or two McCain's only talking point has been that Obama is not ready to lead. How do you continue to make that argument when you're a sunburn away from a pine box and you've chosen a 44 year old governor who's had 18 months of job experience as your veep? Nothing against her, I'm just looking at his own internal logic. And I may feel bad when Biden pwns her. Stop hurting the pretty lady!

- Anyone who's read Jay Marrioti, or seen him on Around the Horn and especially those who have had the misfortune to hear his radio show in Chicago know that he's a giant d-bag. And while I don't explicitly practice either as my vocation, I still consider teaching and the newspaper industry the family trades. As such I take both very seriously. So it was great that the love/hate of two of the aforementioned met at a crossroads in this brilliant piece by Roger Ebert. Don't let the door hit you indeed. I am officially boycotting all Around the Horns with Marrioti until further notice. Yes, this impacts my life minimally as I watch about 20 minutes of ATH a week, but still. Its the principle of the thing...

- Here's an interview with Ben Gibbard that's pretty meh, but he does talk about Obama, and its always a thrill for me to read about one of my idols talking about another. If I ever found out that like, Davey von Bohlen was email buddies with Bryan Lee O'Malley, my head would explode.

- And it is now approximately 27 hours and 38 minutes until kickoff. All other thoughts just left my head.

Posted 11:52am
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August 28th , 2008

The advantages of an obnoxious yellow automobile

The students are back at the University of Michigan. This means the bars are now packed and there's no where to park in the entire city. Ever. Especially right now during move in, when streets are blocked off and asshole fathers from New York and Pennsylvania do whatever they goddamn please, because their little princesses decided to pick the most expensive State school in the country, so everyone can go fuck themselves. It took less than two years from the time I graduated for me to become a townie. I look forward to the respite that summer brings when Ann Arbor is much less crowded. And the only thing that keeps me sane when they all come flooding back is that it just happens to coincide with the start of football season.

And it always catches me off guard too - like last night when I gave myself 15 minutes to drive uptown for my shift at the Robot Store. I had completely forgot that move-in had begun, which means my normal 10 minute trip would now take 20, and there would be nowhere to park when I got there. So at about 4:10 I finally found a place to park my unit, 4 blocks away from the store, but right in front of Grizzly Peak. So it should surprise no one when I got a text around 6:30 from Pete asking 'You at the Griz?'

Ah that obnoxious yellow car. Incognito I will never be again until I sell her off. I told Pete that I was working til 8 a few blocks away, he told me to stop in when I was done. So long story short, the little yellow taxi once again leads to an inadvertent night of drinking - where we talked much about Michigan Football. Hooray!

- Tomorrow we find out who McCain will select as his VP. As I stated before, my money is on Romney, but fingers crossed its Lieberman. But looking at the favorite, let's set aside his mormonism for a moment and look at his day at the DNC, where he stated "The truth is the first casualty of the new politics practiced by the Obama campaign." Well naturally, he went on to confuse Russia and the Soviet Union (I'm unsure if this was a nod to McCain's age and confusion as to what decade he is in, or just echoing his confusion over Sunni and Shia. Of course he could just be using the term to scare the shit out of old people. COMMUNISM!!!) And then lied about Obama's house and his involvement with Tony Resko. Thanks Mitt. We always knew you were a carpetbagger who'd push his mother down a flight of stairs to get elected. Now we have a whole new appreciation of just how douchey you are. I can't wait to watch Biden slap you around and make you his bitch.

Posted 2:32pm
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August 27th , 2008

Oh how I hate Ohio State

- I love how Deadspin's previews of Ohio State and Michigan read. They are written by prominent bloggers for both schools, and they read exactly how I would expect them to read. OSU's preview features rah-rah hyperbole and some questionable metaphors and sentence structure. Its written with a cursory understanding of the english language - or rather, like the author is so excited about losing in the championship game again, he can't be bothered to try and be objective or make sense. Its written to amp up OSU fans and make others hate the Buckeyes. I can confirm it succeeds in the later. The Michigan preview in contrast, starts with a reference to an old Monty Python sketch. It then goes on to make fun of the entire state of West Virginia for being backwater rubes before referencing the start of WWII. Our stereotypes of each other are true, and we hate each other for them. Its just that Ohio State spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about us. We have other rivals and interests. Which yes, is good, because you've kicked our ass as of late. Man I miss the '90's. As Moeman says, what goes around, comes around.

- Apparently, Michigan female students are trading goods and services for sex. 14% of them anyway. And I noticed they mentioned football tickets specifically in the article. As such, I would like to announce that I have an extra for Saturday's home opener against Utah. That is all.

- University PSA's are notoriously awful (this being the one great all-time exception) but this new Big Ten spot featuring Michigan and the Big Ten Network spot with people pseudo touch the 'M Club supports You' banner (I can't find the video) are both kinda cool. They join the space, bitches and this ESPN spot as some of my favorites. (BTN also has this commercial, with some great Paterno 'Where's my applesauce?!?' moments).

Posted 12:18pm
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August 26th , 2008

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

Last night I got the best of my demons. Instead of watching last years Michigan/Penn State game I turned on MSNBC to watch the spectacle of the DNC. In the process, I developed a massive crush on Michelle Obama. I talked way back when about how much I liked her, but man, I don't care what your politics are, I don't know how you watched her speak last night and not have come away more than a little impressed and awe struck. Of course later on I saw Karl Rove on FoxNews saying how poorly she did. It almost made me as angry as John McCain's response to not knowing how many houses he owns, which is of course "I was a POW! Now get off my lawn." Asshat.

- Tonight, I have a feeling I am going to lose the fight. This is the Big Ten Network's schedule:

4:30PM ET - Big Ten Tonight: Michigan Wolverines Football Practice (HD)
6:00PM ET - Big Ten Legends: Lloyd Carr (HD) - Debut
6:30PM ET - Big Ten Football Preview '08: Michigan Wolverines (HD)
7:00PM ET - The Big Ten's Greatest Games - Football: 2000 Orange Bowl: Michigan vs. Alabama

- Its fall (hmm, well, practically anyway. Football = fall, so suck it), which means scripted TV will be back soon. One of the shows I'm most looking forward to is the return of Pushing Daisies. I've kind of fell in love with Bryan Fuller over the years, and after having had so many of his shows cut down before they ever had a chance to blossom (Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me), I'm hoping he can finally get his high concept brand of show to stick.

- The Rich Rodriguez has yet to officially start and I already miss Lloyd Carr. Watching the old games, I miss how angry he'd get. I miss the twinkle that he'd sometimes get before games, the one that seemed to say "Don't worry, I know something you don't." And most importantly, I'm really going to miss what Brian at mgoblog talked about the other day. RichRod may win and he may have been the best option and his brand of flash and innovation may be necessary to remain near the top of the heap in today's college football world. But I'll miss the class, the stoicism and the overriding sense of integrity that Lloyd Carr had, and how he translated that to the program as a whole. Michigan football was about more than wins and losses. It was high minded stuff that transcended the fluff that every coach tells reporters. And that's gone. RichRod is a hillbilly, no way around it. I think he'll win and we'll still hold ourselves to a higher standard but it won't be the same. Change is inevitable but can still be lamented. The upside is it won't be long before I can talk about the good old days - the Lloyd era - when I was in college and we were rolling OSU and winning National Championships and doing it with Into Thin Air as the inspiration. Its a roll I was born to play.

- For those of you have yet to hear and are anxiously awaiting an update to mgovan, Sammy2 is no more. He met the same maker as his predecessor. No place to call home and needing more fixing and TLC than we were capable of giving, she was donated as a tax write off. And of course thanks to people getting married and having babies and a general post modern ennui, there will be no Sammy3 this year. Who knows what the future holds, but a year without a Sammy is what we are faced with. I hope we remember how do this without our mascot.

Posted 10:23am
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August 25th , 2008

I am Harrison Bergeron's father

Many will remember (hopefully) the excellent short story by Kurt Vonnegut called Harrison Bergeron. In its dystopian future, the intellectuals are forced to wear devices that emit loud, distracting noises intermittently, so as to bring everyone down to the same level on intelligence by obfuscating the attention of those with high IQs. Ladies and gentleman, I am the dumbest person on earth this week as this is my brain right now:

footballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootball
footballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootball
footballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootball
footballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootball

And it will remain so probably through the Notre Dame game, at which point I may or may not relax. Last night I had my first fantasy draft of the year (I got Tom Brady! Finally!) and Michigan kicks off in a mere 120 hours and 36 minutes. It doesn't matter that I have a bachelor party to finish planning, or that I have a major talk to give at work this week which will almost certainly reveal me to be a complete dupe who has somehow managed to fail upwards to his lofty position. All I can think about is how silly Sam McGuffie is going to make some hapless Utah safety look on Saturday. I can barely even muster excitement for the Democratic Convention, and I am a politics junkie.

So if you hate football and/or my writing about the subject doesn't interest you, it may be a bad week for you and the blog. I'll try to talk about something else at some point, but don't count on it. I'll be too busy scouring the internet for insight into all the games I will be betting on this weekend. Welcome back football. Goodbye productivity.

Posted 2:54pm
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August 23rd , 2008

My fucking kick ass Saturday

I love working at the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair Store. Its not at all what I imagined when I decided to volunteer for 826 Michigan, but a sweet, fulfilling addition to my routine nonetheless. One problem: I now work a four hour shift every Wednesday where I am behind the counter with (sometimes) nothing to do whilst ON MY FEET.

Now being on your feet is one thing, standing basically still on your feet with nothing exciting happening and no drink in your hand is another. There's a little journal on the counter at LSRS&R for us volunteers to write down our ideas, thoughts and experiences. The other day I saw this entry:

"Hi. I'm a stool (accompanied by a drawing of your garden variety stool - ed.) I'm not here, but I really wish I was so people behind the counter could sit on me."

It immediately occurred to me that this was a problem I could solve relatively easily, right? Target and Ikea have to have such things for under $20. Well here is the story of two men's journey to solving said problem:

Saturday morning I awoke just after nine and performed my mindless ritual of moving out to the couch to turn on the TV and wait for my brain to reboot for the previous night's drinking. I quickly discovered that Obama had chosen Biden (which I'm a fan of and correctly predicted, natch) as his running mate and remembered that Ingrid Michaelson tix went on sale at 10am. So I peeled myself off the couch and peddled on up to campus to avoid ticketbastard charges and get them at the Michigan Union Ticket Office for face +$1.

On the way home I noticed many an advertisement for a 30 family, neighborhood wide garage sale in my area. "That could be interesting" I said to myself out loud. I got home and roused Sid and we prepped ourselves for our 'New Restaurant Initiative #2' at Red Hot Lovers - but more on that later in the week. We went to eat our red hots and I told Sid about said garage sales. His eyes lit up like it was Xmas morning. We agreed to hit the garage sale circuit after finishing off our waffle fries.

I told Sid about my LSRS&R standing predicament and we made it our mission to find a cheap stool (under $10) to solve the problem. Well I'd love to spin a yarn about looking through all 30 garages and after abandoning all hope, coming upon a glorious, perfect example of what we were looking for at the last minute. But nothing so dramatic took place. In fact, we found exactly what we were looking for at the first place we stopped. For $1. Judy B. would have been so proud.

We spent the rest of the day biking around garage sales, helping Stov clean out his garage, going to see Kung Fu Panda at the dollar theater and thusly watching Kill Bill 1 + 2 when we got home. The part I neglected to mention was that once we got the stool home I said to him "The only question is to take it there as is or paint a robot on it first." You can guess what we chose.

After some brainstorming, this is what we chose - The R2-DStool. Its got some work to be done to make it perfect, but we are pretty proud of it. And we're sure the staff of the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair store will be most appreciative.

Posted 11:59pm
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August 22nd , 2008

What the fuck is going on?

- I'm a sucker for a girl who's a musician. Sure girls that can sing are hot, but a girl that plays guitar makes me light headed. Neko Case, Sheryl Crow - these woman could have me wrapped around their finger toot suite. And if said singing, guitar playing pixie wears glasses, well then my friend its over. Lisa Loeb or Karyn Ellis could call me and ask me to max out all my credit cards so that they could get on a plane and go fuck some other guy and I'd probably say yes. And if a bespectacled female troubadour is a slice of heaven, then The Ark is the lowest concentric circle of hell. If you need a refresher on how I feel about this place, check out the blurb in the Marquee pics section. Dark Helmet once noted that "evil will always triumph because good is dumb." and I have always tended to believe him. But no more. Because yes, my friends, I will, in all likelihood, be purchasing tickets to go see Ingrid Michaelson at the Ark. By MYSELF. I kind of can't believe I just told you all that.

- America is the land of the free, where people can choose how to live their lives as long as that choice doesn't infringe upon any one else's ability to do the same. A bastion of choice and democracy. A beacon shining in the night promising to protect our tired, poor, huddled asses. Ha. Just kidding. Its mostly comprised of hate filled, backwater yokels who thinks they know better than you because Jesus is on their side. Take this case of a principle in Florida (natch) who outed and ostracized a student who happened to be a lesbian (after she came to him looking for help). That part of the story is deplorable and sad enough. But guess who the town rallied around after the student sued for discrimination and won in a walk? Yup. And the home of the brave.

- This is not a misprint: Toby Keith Praises Obama, Says He's A Democrat. Well I'll be a monkey's uncle.

- Nobody seems to want to vote on anything that matters to them as individuals. Which naturally only helps to perpetuate negative campaigning and having people talk about 'celebrity' and using their status as a former POW to explain away that they don't know how many houses they own. But even more disdainful is the fact that it allows candidates to try and sweep under the rug positions that are woefully unpopular - not to mention mysoginistic and couched in nothing other than religious dogma. Of course I'm talking about McCain and abortion rights. You have to love the idea of someone running for president and trying to hide in plain sight. And by love I mean loathe with every ounce of your being.

Posted 12:14pm
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August 21st , 2008

Its not the years, its the mileage

Yesterday I mentioned the fact that I have no qualms about my age. That 33 was fun because its a double dip and birthdays mean free booze, so you know, good times all the way around. This in no way should be misinterpreted that I have no issues with how old I look.

I was reading this article about how old guys are vs. how old they think they are. The author (age 46) denotes that all guys think of themselves as 31. While I am not even a year removed from being 31, this makes implicit sense to me. 31 feels adult. You're a man, but you're still a young man. You feel like you have more in common with guys that are 26 than those that are 46, but your experience gives you the advantage over the guys five years younger than you. Its a pretty sweet age to be. Old enough to know better, but young enough to still take advantage of that knowledge.

As a rule, I think people assume I'm slightly younger than I am. I still get carded now and again for booze (albeit in a 'We card everyone who looks under 30' precept). About 3-4 years ago I was with Markie C at a college bar (old Mitchs, natch) after a basketball game downing $1 pitchers. We got into an argument about whether or not we stuck out in the bar that was obviously populated with 90% undergrads. I told Markie C that if he asked 5 people how old they thought he or I was, that no one would say over 25 (despite being ~28/29 at the time) Sure enough everyone said 23/24 without fail*. I don't think anyone is going to mistake me for 24 anymore, but I also don't think I've reached creepy old guy status yet. I will likely believe this until long passed the time when it has become gospel truth.

I can remember twice in the past 2 years getting called out as old. The first time was when Ayesha and I were watching Arrested Development, and she said something to the effect of 'I like Jason Bateman. He's a hot older guy like you." Rather than focus on the complimentary nature of the remark, I went ballistic. "Jason Bateman is 40!" (he was 37 at the time to my 31). This was easily sloughed off once I cleared my head, eventually acknowledging the compliment and weighing in the fact that he was a TV star and a mere 6 years older than me. The other time was when through an intermediary I had found out that a 25 year old girl had said something to effect of "He looks old. All that smoking has ravaged his skin and he looks 40." This upset me for a while, but again easily dismissed as the person who said it is a shallow, stuck up cunt whore who I wouldn't spit on if she was on fire and needed to be put out.

But those are outliers. Its more often that people check my ID and a brief bit of shock crosses their face when they expect to see 1980 and get 1975. And I hope I always get the puzzled expression when I tell people how old Sid is. Just the other day I was talking to a coworker about leaving work to go watch him play tennis, and they said, in all sincerity "How much could there be to watch, how old is he, 3? 4?" These are things that stoke and inflate my ego and keep the status quo intact. Forever believing I'm 31 passing for 27 - even when I'm 38 with a kid in college. If nothing else, THAT should hopefully serve as a reality check.

*Yes, this is an unscientific as hell experiment that is frought with mitigating factors like location and booze. This isn't the New England Journal of Medicine, you're over it.

Posted 2:49pm
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August 20th , 2008

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

- We now sit a mere 10 days out from the 2008 version of Michigan Wolverine football. I am officially starting to get out of my mind excited. I've spent most of the last 8 months tempering my enthusiasm, as its going to take some time for our new direction to find its path. But the other night I caught last year's Michigan vs. Michigan State game and fuck it all if Sid and I weren't screaming at the TV. Over a game that had already been played. One that we already knew the outcome of. So yeah, even if we're 7-5 and lose again to tOSU and get beat by Penn State or Wisconsin or Illinois or all of the above, it'll still be fun. Time to adopt the Michigan State mantra of 'Win or lose, we booze.'

- Two weeks after RichRod unveils the spread in Michigan Stadium, its time to head to Pittsburgh, PA for Stov's bachelor party. Planning a bachelor party is a fucking bitch - trust me. Trying to coordinate a bunch of lazy, uncommunicative dudes AND provide them with entertainment that will make them all happy is a losing proposition. Luckily everyone I know likes booze, and that can serve as lynch pin and pivot point for everything else. Unfortunately, several of the attendees over the course of the weekend will like booze too much, and I will probably have to spend some amount of time either looking for them or apologizing for their behavior. At the end of the day though, they're all adults and responsible for themselves. Who knows, its not out of the realm of possibility that the person who will love booze too much will be me.

- Two days after returning from Pittsburgh, its back out to AZ to visit Ayesha. She's decide to give up generic mass apartment living for a quaint guesthouse in an actual neighborhood. In lieu of hiring movers, she's using her frequent flyer miles to bring my brute strength (and innate sense of color, space and design) out to help. At least she's getting her money's worth.

- The day after I return I turn 33. I have no qualms about my age anymore. I don't feel 33. I don't really act 33. Double numbers are fun and easy to remember, so that's cool. Other than that I usually get a free drink or two around that day, so that makes me immeasurably happy.

- I already believe that the greatest American rock 'n' roll band of all time is Wilco. And someday, I believe history will bear me out*. So naturally I am doubly excited this week as they have a new album on the docket for next spring, AND they are opening for Neil fucking Young in Detroit this December. Makes a great xmas present...

* and by history I mean music snobs whose taste I care about. They'll probably never be popular enough to gain this distinction amongst the unwashed masses. Wait, why am I explaining my hyperbole? I must be coming down with something.

Posted 10:54am
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August 19th , 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin' - Veepstakes edition!

In the next 11 days, both presidential candidates will announce their selection of running mate. Now I'm basically of the belief that VPs can do little to help you, and are far more likely to be a liability. But nevertheless, the process and eventual choice is subject to massive amounts of speculation. We here at tbaggervance.com are no exception. We've combined our penchant for politics and our years of handicapping experience to provide our own special brand of insight into the pending VP announcements. So without further ado, here's our best guess into your major party candidates for vice president:

The Democrats

Sen. Joe Biden (Delaware)
Joe Biden (65 years old) is a six term senator from the state of Delaware. He has previously chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is currently the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. He's been a perennial presidential candidate since 1988. He's pretty lefty, getting a grade of 'A' from NARAL and 'F' from the NRA.
What he gets you: Foreign policy experience. Biden's got it, and his views line up with Obamas on diplomacy. He's also a hard core liberal, which will please the base.
What he doesn't: Hi. We're from Delaware. Only Rhode Island is less significant. Also been in the senate since 1973, doesn't scream 'change'.
Predictometer: 75% If you're a betting man, this is the safe choice. Dems like him, and he shores up the foreign policy experience that McCain has been hitting him on. Dems will be willing to forgive his loquacious nature for his ability to utterly destroy whomever the Republicans nominate for their VP in a debate - which he will easily do.

Sen. Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Evan Bayh (52 years old) is a two term senator from the state of Indiana and its former governor. He serves on, among others, the Armed Services Committee and the select Committee on Intelligence. He's generally considered to be a centrist, as noted by his membership in the Senate Centrist Coalition.
What he get's you: Bayh's a young, good looking, charismatic senator who's got a reputation for being nonpartisan. He looks perfect next to Barack Obama. He also puts Indiana in play.
What he doesn't: The base will see this as meh. Also lacks the resume to deflect any attacks at Obama's experience. Has some questionable support of the Iraq war in his closet.
Predictometer: 20% You can't deny that he looks the part, puts a state into play that's low hanging fruit, and jibs with the beyond partisan rhetoric. But probably too risky given the lack of experience.

Gov. Tim Kaine (Virginia)
Tim Kaine (50 years old) is the current governor of the state of Virginia, its former Lieutenant governor and former mayor of Richmond.
What he get's you: Virginia. Maybe.
What he doesn't: Anything else. A staunch Catholic, Kaine has positions on abortion and same-sex marriage that will make many liberals blanche.
Predictometer: 5% The Virginia thing is enticing, but his lack of experience coupled with his bordering on conservative social views all but rule him out. But damn, a southern governor would have been nice on the ticket, just looking at the odds historically.

The Republicans

Gov. Mitt Romney (Massachusetts)
Mitt Romney (61) is the former Governor of Massachusetts and businessman. He was a presidential candidate in 2008 and his father is the former governor of Michigan. Romney turned the state's budget from a 1.2 billion dollar deficit to a 700 million dollar surplus, but left office with a 43% approval rating. He has held socially liberal views in the past, but has been staunchly conservative as a Republican candidate for President.
What he gets you: Ran a popular campaign for the his party's nomination. Has business background and financial/economic experience that McCain gets hit on. Family's history could help put Michigan in play.
What he doesn't: The base. Mitt's a mormon, and that don't sit well with evangelicals.
Predictometer: 45% This would be a no brainer if Mitt was any other faith. But his belief that Jesus was American may hold him out of the number two spot.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Minnesota)
Tim Pawlenty (47) is the current Governor of Minnesota. He was previously chairman of the National Governors association, is an evangelical christian and called the most conservative governor of Minnesota in 80 years by the Washington Post.
What he gets you: The base. Evangelical - 'nuff said. He's also young and good looking, which could assuage fears that McCain is a flight of stairs away from literally falling apart.
What he doesn't: He's young and good looking, which could highlight the fact that McCain is on the verge of falling apart. His resume is paper thin and would likely get decimated by a guy like Biden in a debate.
Predictometer: 35% This is the safest choice for McCain. Evangelical, Governor - as James Hetfield might say, nothing else matters. Might even put Minnesota in play. But his resume is just this side of Dan Quayle.

Gov. Tom Ridge (Pennsylvania)
Tom Ridge (62) is the former Governor of Pennsylvania, former U.S. Representative, and the fist Secretary of Homeland Security.
What he gets you: Pennsylvania help. A Resume as long as your arm. Looks Presidential, high name recognition.
What he doesn't: Base may have problems with pro-choice status. Been out of the public sector for three years, has that whole duct tape thing to duck.
Predictometer: 15% Pennsylvania may be too good to pass up, even at the chance that evangelicals throw a fit over his pro-choice status.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (Connecticut)
Joe Lieberman (66) is a four term senator from Connecticut and former Democratic vice presidential candidate. Notoriously lost his mind and started hanging around with Republicans circa 2005.
What he gets you: ?? Non partisan street cred? A buddy who's a war hawk, just like you?
What he doesn't: Still has HUGE liberal voting record. Plus he's very jew-y.
Predictomer: 5% He's McCain's buddy, and somewhere in his mind you know he thinks its a good idea to have an Independent/Deomcrat on the ticket. It'd be the type of thing he's just dumb enough to do. Fingers crossed.

Posted 11:14am
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August 18th , 2008

Who will resurrect the electric car?

As always, we here at tbaggervance.com believe that the way to a greener America is by making it a proposition where everybody wins. E.G. if you can save people money with green technologies, they'll adopt them. If corporations can find new revenue streams to replace ones that are killing the planet, they'll eventually do that. Sometimes this happens organically as people feel the pinch of a stagnant economy and look for ways to save money. Sometimes it takes government mandates to make the leap forward that the status quo inherently works against.

Yesterday I rode my bike to Ypsilanti for Corner Brewery's 2-4 Sunday happy hour. And I just happened to bring the latest issue of Wired for perusing while I sipped on my Bavarian Bliss. In it was a lengthy essay on Project Better Place, and I tell ya, I started to get Barack Obama level excited. The Chevy Volt is a nonstarter, and while the Tesla Roadster and Aptera make me moist, they're unlikely to ever be large scale production vehicles. But somehow I'm buying Shai Agassi's plan to move us away from fossil fuels. Largely because its based on feasibility. Its designed to be cheap for consumers (as well as unobtrusive to your current daily routine and habits) and its a model where everyone makes money. I can't find the Wired article online yet, but if you happen to see a copy laying around at the doctors office or your local library, I highly recommend giving it a read. Five years from now when you're driving your first electric vehicle, you can say "I remember when it was just a dream. I sweet, unbelievable wet dream."

- Speaking of hybrids, this is probably true.

- And apropos of nothing, this is me from faceyourmanga.com. Not as cool as a Mii, but you know...

Posted 10:38am
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August 15th , 2008

Your indie rock weekend - 1995 edition

A plethora of musical updates that directly relate to my freshman year of college are coming forthwith, but first, an anecdote. Last night Stov and I made a quick trip down to Ohio to attend a wake for a good friend's mother. It was a somber occasion natch, but we paid our respects, gave our condolences and like we are all forced to do, moved on. As we wound our way through the backwaters of NW Ohio and SE Michigan on the way home, Stov said what we both were thinking "You know we have to stop and have a drink at one of these podunk bars." So as we shot across on the state on Michigan Ave, passing by MIS and tons of people in campers hanging out getting ready for this weekend's race, I remembered the perfect tiny townie bar in the town of Clinton.

The reason I'd been in this bar before is another story entirely, but I knew it would meet Stov's strict requirements of 'hole in the wall'. For those who've spent time drinking in Henry Co., its a good doppelganger for The Town Tap or Okalona Tavern. Typical, no nonsense townie bar. Kinda dirty, one pool table in the back, populated with people who've come to drink and drink hard. Stov and I walked in dressed in our wake clothes, and to say we stood out is an understatement.

Stov had downed about 60ozs of Mountain Dew in the car, so he beelined it for the bathroom as soon as we walked in. I bellied up to the bar and ordered us a pair of Miller Lites. The exchange went something like this:

Bartender: Can I see some ID? You look old enough but I don't recognize ya.
tbaggervance: Sure. We're not from around here, just passing through.
fuckedupboobutt© at the bar: I coulda told ya that. Y'all certainly ain't from around here wearin' no tie...
tbaggervance: Thanks. We just came from a wake.

Once Stov got back from the bathroom and I took my turn to walk to the restroom in the back, I passed the other 5 shitfaced customers in the bar. And while I can't guarantee it was directed at me, I heard gay comments as I walked by them both times. I got back and told Stov and he said he thought they were trying to get his attention as well. Ah rural Michigan. Thanks for reminding that a mere 20 minutes outside the utopian walls of Ann Arbor, a shirt a tie can be gay. OK, maybe the glasses and jewelry don't help, but still...

- Frighteningly, my top 10 albums of the year from 1995 still lives on the internet from when I was a staff writer at The Michigan Daily. Luckily, perched at number one is Matthew Sweet's 100% Fun. Ah Matthew Sweet, from 1991 to 1995 there was no one practicing the art of power pop with more perfection. Girlfriend will forever be in my top ten albums of all time, and the trio of albums produced during that time may be the closest we ever get to top of their game, mid-to-late period Beatles again. Yeah, I said it. Anyway, he's back with a new album on the docket. Early returns are not good, but here he is, bearded and bloated, rocking out to supposedly one of the better songs on the album.

- I'm not going to lie, I still love the Counting Crows. Wait. Strike that. I should say I still love the first two Counting Crows albums. The rest of their catalog runs from 'meh' to 'suck', and they'll never be able to redeem themselves after that Big Yellow Taxi debacle. <<shudder>> Anyway, hipsters are up in arms that The Hold Steady are opening up for the Crows on some European dates. I proudly admit that I'd go see the fuck out of that show. But I reserve the right to leave early.

- Around 1995 my favorite band in the world may have been Ben Folds Five. They didn't have a guitar in the band! Who would have thought it was possible! Punk piano was all the rage and I was way caught up in it. Unfortunately they broke up after a mere 2 and half* albums, leaving us Five fans to contend with Ben Folds burgeoning solo career. It started off well enough, especially since he would usually play a bunch of BFF songs at his live shows. But as we all always feared, Mr. Folds has slowly careened towards Randy Newman territory, and drifted further and further from his punk piano roots since the demise of the Five. Ah well. He's got a new album coming out as well, which may or may not suck depending on how real the leak is. This whole internet disinformation stuff is getting a bit much.

-The trailer for the new Watchmen movie gives me a non-sexual boner. And yes, that's Billy and the Pumpkins, another mid 90's stalwart, in the background.

- Finally, in non hillbilly or aging indie rock news - as we noted earlier, W is trying to redefine 'birth control' as 'abortion'. Seriously. You can voice your disgust to such a mysoginistic pretense here.

* Because Reignhold Messner was really just a Ben Folds album disguised as a Ben Folds Five album. Stop pretending.

Posted 11:09am
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August 14th , 2008

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

- The other night Sid and I were watching reruns of The Office when Sid noted that something akin to "I could be like Kevin from Scratonicity." This evolved into conversations about him starting a band and in turn, me busting out the guitar and us singing renditions of REM and Josh Ritter songs. For years now I've all but crammed a music education down my kid's throat. But by passive aggressively filling the house with the music that I love, and by having summer break be a time of him listening to the important albums of the last 40 years and then answering questions, writing essays and taking quizzes on them. All of this under the guise of 'Someday he'll thank me.' I don't know if my son will actually ever start a garage band (oh please oh please oh please) but I do know that at the very least that knowing all the words to 'Message in a Bottle' will somehow help him hook up with a really cool rocker girl. And that'll make it all worth while.

- Barack Obama, meet Rick Astley.

- Triumph at Comic-con. 'nuff said.

- Do you really miss Six Feet Under? Do you fear that you'll never enjoy vampires again after reading Twilight and yearn to get that nasty taste out of your mouth? Well I can kill both those birds with a single stone. I give you Alan Ball's True Blood.

- Michael Phelps may or not be the real life Aquaman (ability to control fish as yet unconfirmed) but two things are for sure - he's the greatest Olympian ever AND he's a wolverine. I quietly await for him to team up with Tom Brady so that they can take over the world.

Posted 12:20pm
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August 13th , 2008

What's making baby Jesus cry this week?

- A while back I watched a documentary called Jesus Camp that scared the ever living shit out of me. There's nothing sadder than to watch kids get indoctrinated into bullshit because parents fear independent thought, and nothing scarier than zealots raising kids to be an 'army of god' to fight against militant islam. That's why I was happy to see this story about the yin to Jesus Camp's yang. Hooray secular humanism!

- Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks? Shaft! Sorry, I'm just talking about Issac Hayes, who passed away this week. He'll forever be remembered for the theme from Shaft!, playing Chef, and being a devout scientologist. Speaking of, to paraphrase the Meat Puppets, where do scientologists go when they die? Slate has the answer. And on a side note, isn't Tom Cruise tiny and cute?!?

- Baby J wants you to stay away from the booze - other than communion wine (natch). But even at a party designed to keep teens away from the sauce, you can't keep the booze at bay.

- Both the tiny son of god and I assumed that everyone understood by now that you're killing the planet with your bottled water. This article suggests that we have some educating left to do. Tap water and reusable bottles people. Again, I'm only asking you to do things that will save you money.

- I'm happy to report that if your science textbook starts with the precept that "The people who prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second...If...at any point God's Word is not put first, the authors apologize." you may have trouble getting into college.

Posted 12:13pm
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August 12th , 2008

Thou shalt eschew that which sucketh beyond belief

As Zack de la Rocha once sang, you've got to Know Your Enemy. To that end, I've begun the completely arduous task of reading* Twilight. I'm doing this for you people. When Sid walks by me and sees me with my headphones on and knows what I'm going through, he just shakes his head, pats me on the shoulder and says "I'm sorry Dad. You're a better man than me."**

So anyway, I'm about halfway through. I started writing down some of my thoughts because I'm so incredulous as to how anyone thinks this is anything but the worst piece of fucking writing that they've ever laid eyes on. I should really just write 'Shit sandwich' and be done with it. But as you know, dear reader, I tend to be more verbose than that.

You here stories about pitches in Hollywood that get greenlit based on the log line alone. "Its like James Bond but he's an archeologist in the 1930s." Boom! Indiana Jones. Of course sometimes "Worlds greatest cat burglar gets caught up in international intrigue" nets you Hudson Hawk***. So I can understand why 'Teenage girl falls in love with a vampire" seems like a license to print money. Unfortunately, this incarnation of said premise is written by a woman who seems to lack even a cursory grasp of the English language, doesn't understand the basics of plot or story structure, and has created characters with no depth that all beg for me to come slap them in the bitch face. Let me address a few of these points (and some others):

- The writing is fucking gawd awful. Trust me, your brow will furrow wondering how such terribleness made it past a junior high English teacher, much less an editor at a reputable publishing house. Every word over two syllables feels woefully out of place - like it was deliberately pulled from a thesaurus. Of course this only contributes to its overall clunkiness. She misuses myriad (a pet peeve of mine). She has the following two descriptors ON THE SAME PAGE: "His tone was reproachful". "His tone was matter of fact". And they're to describe the same person in a a single conversation. And oh the adverbs! Never has such a poor writer used such a crutch so obviously and ineffectively. You know when Michael Scott tries to use a three syllable word and butchers the pronunciation? That's what I imagine every time Ms. Meyer writes something like "surreptitiously".

- The point of view is written in some kind of first person omniscient for idiots. The narrator is the most insightful, perceptive person on the face of god's green earth one minute, and a completely oblivious rube the next. It all depends on how the author best feels she can serve the joke of a plot. Or rather, extend the 'action', as nothing ever happens in Twilight. Seriously. If I tell you that 'Girl falls in love with vampire' that's the only tension in the entire first half of the book. Tedious doesn't begin to describe it.

- Bella, the narrator, is the biggest fucking twat to ever pass for a heroine. She's completely milquetoast yet so glibly sure of herself. I want to drop her on the corner of Gratiot and St. Antoinne in downtown Detroit at 3am on a Saturday and see what happens. She's a vapid teenager who's only redeeming factor is that she reads. In the authors mind, this clearly elevates her above the fray and is the only reason you should be rooting for her, since she provides no other evidence to make her case. And Edward? I get it. He's good looking. What else? He's got a hormonal and unjustified crush on Bella. That and he's a douchey vampire is all we know about him. He's cryptic and not big on things like 'words'. Oh and he's always on the verge of a violent rage induced killing spree. Other than that, apparently a great guy?

I've said it already, but nothing fucking happens to these people. Bella slams two cokes and is cold so Edward gives her his jacket and we're supposed to swoon. That's what passes for action in Twilight. Two intolerable, shallow fuck holes fall in love and one of them is a vampire. THAT'S IT. And that's why this is worse than The Da Vinci Code. The DVC was factually inaccurate and poorly written, but it was also swiftly plotted, entertaining, a conversation starter and ultimately a pulp piece of trash that made people inquisitive - all in all a net positive (just don't call it literature). Twilight has all of Da Vinci's negatives and none of its positives. And on top of all that, it promotes a conservative, mormon agenda while teaching us "Nothing else matters as along as your boyfriend is unbelievably good looking." Hooray youth of America.

*OK, in the interest of being efficient and keeping my sanity, I'm technically listening to Twilight as an audiobook. If anything this lessens my vitriol as I feel like I'm wasting less time on this bullshit, so all in Ms. Meyer's favor.

**This is completely 100% paraphrased truth.

***For the record, yes, I love the movie Hudson Hawk, and so should you. That doesn't mean I can't use it as an example of failure.

Posted 10:43am
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August 11th , 2008

The Female Sports Continuum©

College football is a mere 19 days away. Two weeks from Saturday. I teem with anticipation. Fall is my favorite time of year, and that's in no small part due to crisp afternoons spent tailgating with copious amounts of alcohol followed by several hours screaming like an idiot as 19 year olds push each other around on a field of fake grass. Its pure, unadulterated bliss.

But not all women feel this way. Some actually find this type of behavior juvenile and want no part of it. While most of the girls I know are fine with tailgating culture or going to a bar to watch a a random basketball game, some just plain don't get it and would rather let the guys go do their sports thing while they go off to do whatever is the female equivalent (shopping? Tickle fights in their underwear?)

In my search to find a mate, a lot of my friends assume that a girl being into sports would be fairly high on my list of 'must haves'. After much debate and discussion, I came up with 'The Female Sports Continuum©' in which I theorize that either end is fine, just stay out of the middle.

On one end you have the uber sports chick. She's there at every tailgate, pays attention to every game. She can not only name who the starting QB is, she'll get into the debate about who your team's greatest all time QB is. You don't have to ask if you can go to the bar to watch Monday Night Football because she's already there saving a table for you and your buddies. If your on vacation in Chicago and the Cubs are in town, its a given you'll be there in the bleachers.

The opposite end of the spectrum is occupied by the anti sports woman. She doesn't know the rules of any sport, and could actually care less. You can go to the bar with the guys to watch the Stanley Cup Finals, she'll be home reading. You have the 'sports' part of your life and it doesn't include her, which is a-ok.

Now of course these two ends are sparsely populated and most women lie somewhere in the middle of the continuum. And that's where it gets tricky. Because in my experience, I'll take the left side over the right.

Take example A. The girl at this point on the continuum doesn't mind an occasional game. She likes the outdoor aspect of baseball games and drinking at tailgates is fun! She doesn't ask a lot of annoying questions asking you to explain the rules over and over again, because she doesn't care. She'll go to the bar with you and your friends to watch the game, but keeps non-sports related banter to the commercial breaks. She knows who you're rooting for and will high five you when they win, if for no other reason than you'll be in a better mood the rest of the night.

That's in contrast to the girl in example B. She's got jerseys of her favorite player, but only because she thinks he's hot. She goes to every sports related event you attend, but spends it talking about things like Gossip Girl. She'll watch the game but interrupt now and then for clarification on why the clock didn't stop on that first down. You'll be arguing with your friends about the greatest Michigan QB ever and she'll say John Navarre.

Of course the real problem comes with example C. She insists on using the other seat of your season ticket, even though she roots for a different team. She wonders aloud at games "Why do they keep hurting our quarterback?" She'll go the games, but we're leaving as soon as its over to go to dinner. Somewhere nice. And baseball is stupid. I don't get it. How do they get an out? Go get me a kosher dog while there's two out and two on and we're down a run.

So there it is. Sports knowledge is much less important than sports tolerance. I guess you could argue that a love of booze overrides things, a sports is a huge conduit of booze hounding. I could care less if you're a die hard Michigan fan as long as you have a healthy attitude about drinking outside while sports are going on now and again (although a Michigan fan would be nice for a change). I'm sure people will find loads of problems with my argument as its presented here, but that's why I post them, for y'all to pick apart and call me stupid. I can't wait.

Posted 1:43pm
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August 10th , 2008

Movies that are revolutionary AND unwatchable.

Friday Sid wanted to go downtown, so we peddled on up and while he played videogames at the library, I went to the bar (natch). I couldn't get anyone to come with, so since I wasn't about to strike up a conversation with the d-bags at the bar I was at (Bar Louie - I know - but $2 Oberon!) I wrote the following blog. Thanks to those who txted me back with suggestions when I asked for help via my phone. Especially Ayesha, who reminded me how much I hate Crash, despite some people thinking it actually deals with race in a revolutionary way, much less at all. - Ed.

Being a pretentious film geek, I'm willing to admit I own several of the following movies on DVD. And that I watch them often. Sometimes even with the directors commentary on! But make no mistake about it, each of the following films will try your patience as a moviegoer. They are slow, dense and disturbing to the point that they will try the most ardent cinephiles ability to stay seated. I'm sure many will cry sacrilege at some of the following choices, but I'm here to tell you, they are all but unwatchable. Not that they're without merit mind you. (Well, except for Crash...) But while breaking ground, they also bore the ever living shit out of you. Their cinematic achievement is not outweighed by the fact that they can be overly tedious and harder to get through than Sunday mass. At least in my estimation anyway. You can judge for yourself.

Alien (1979)
¡Viva la revolucion!
- H.R. Giger's production design is spooky as all get out, and Scott sets a mood where its not hard to go from quiet menace to fucked up chaos in the blink of an eye.
Why is it unwatchable?
- But he also moves things along at an utter snail's pace. Until the last half hour, even the pretty sets, cool alien and trying to decide if Ripley is hot or not in her '70's 'fro aren't enough to keep you from falling asleep. (Spoiler alert - you'd totally do her).
Should you watch/rewatch it?
- Find a project to do while the first hour plays in the background, then turn out the lights and enjoy the third act.

Blade Runner (1982)
¡Viva la revolucion!
- I've yet to see a dystopian future so fully and elegantly realized as it is here. Its a blueprint for every science fiction movie to come after it.
Why is it unwatchable?
- Sorry Ridley, but you're on the chopping block again for being b-o-r-i-n-g. Harrison Ford being the grim, robotronic Deckard isn't nearly as fun as him being a swashbuckling Han Solo.
Should you watch/rewatch it?
- Best viewed with friends at a revival theater so you can see it in all its splendor, but while talking with ysaid cohort about who's sleeping with whom.

Citizen Kane (1941)
¡Viva la revolucion!
- This broke every cinematic rule and rewrote the playbook of both what's possible and moreover, what you should probably be doing. Its a masterpiece of cinematic vision and a leap forward that sits unparalleled since.
Why is it unwatchable?
- But by the end you won't give a fuck who or what 'Rosebud' is.
Should you watch/rewatch it?
- For film students and serious cinephiles only. You have to have an extensive film vocabulary and work pretty hard for this to be worth your time.

The Shining (1980)
¡Viva la revolucion!
- People remember Nicholson's performance and rightfully so. He's the epitome of a man gone mad with the ultimate version of cabin fever.
Why is it unwatchable?
- But you basically know the ending 20 minutes in. The suspense waxes and wanes over what seems like an eternity, rather than builds. I know I'm going to catch shit for this, but this is not only nearly not as good as you remember, it borders on unwatchable.
Should you watch/rewatch it?
- Probably. Its still got its many moments. But its not the creepy classic to pull out every Halloween that its reputation would dictate.

Requiem for a Dream (2000)
¡Viva la revolucion!
- Coming off the low budget indie darling Pi, people wanted to see what Darren Aronofsky was really capable of. Boy does he show you.
Why is it unwatchable?
- But unfortunately he shows you in the most disturbing fashion possible. I still have nightmares about this movie and I saw it exactly once right after it came out. And yes, I inexplicably own it on DVD.
Should you watch/rewatch it?
- Yes. But once and only once. And be prepared to be haunted by it.

2001 (1968)
¡Viva la revolucion!
- Years before people 'ooo'ed and 'ahhh'ed at Star Wars, Kubric was showing people what technical ability really is. And HAL still may be the creepiest villain of all time.
Why is it unwatchable?
- But anyone claiming to understand everything in this movie is either a pretentious film student or trying to get in your pants. Probably both.
Should you watch/rewatch it?
- Yes. But with a healthy dose of humility. And illicit substances couldn't hurt.

Soylent Green (1973)
¡Viva la revolucion!
- Part of the 1970's Heston dystopian trilogy (along with Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man) this is a precursor to M. Night Shyamalan's twist-a-palooza.
Why is it unwatchable?
- But the problem is that's all this movie is - 100 minutes of political dreck to get to the twist. Its like The Phantom Menace without the lightsabers or pod race.
Should you watch/rewatch it?
- Since you probably already know that 'Soylent Green is people!!!', no.

Crash (2004)
¡Viva la revolucion!
- Well, its an Oscar winner right? It takes a bold stance on race relations and talks about them in adult way? Maybe?
Why is it unwatchable?
- No. It doesn't. Its a white guilt movie. As my friend wolf boy once said, "Its a movie for people who say things like 'I have tons of black friends'."
Should you watch/rewatch it?
- No. Go watch Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Only Titanic is a worse best picture winner. Speaking of...

Titanic (1997)
¡Viva la revolucion!
- I saw this at Mann's Chinese theater in L.A. in 1998. I cried. I was amazed at the digital effects that rendered one of man kind's greatest instances of sheer hubris.
Why is it unwatchable?
- Its completely vapid romantic tripe. There's enough saccharin bullshit in this film to put anyone into a diabetic coma. Listen to the dialogue. You'll wonder what teenage girl's fan fiction you're reading.
Should you watch/rewatch it?
- Are you a 12 year old girl? Otherwise no. Definitely not.

Posted 5:32pm
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August 8th , 2008

Hahahahahhahahaha

A lot of stuff made laugh, giggle, chortle and smile this week and we'll get to some of it, but this - this is hilarious:

Obama: Along with a comprehensive energy plan, we'd save more oil by inflating our tires properly and tuning our engines than we would by drilling off shore.
McCain: Did you here what he said? Tire inflation! Hahahahaha. Here's an air pressure gauge - its Obama's energy plan!
NASCAR: Inflate your tires to save gas. (note the date of the article is 2006!)
AAA: Inflate your tires, it saves gas.
US Dept. of Energy: Proper tire inflation will improve your gas mileage by around 3.3%
The British: Proper inflation by Americans would net 6 billion barrels of oil annually. (offshore drilling would net less than a billion barrels a year - 18 billion barrels total, with production to start around 2017)
McCain:
Of course we should inflate our tires!
tbaggervance: What a douche.

- Hamlet's always been my favorite Shakespeare play, making this extra hilarious for me. I guess big fans of Facebook might find it similarly hilarious, assuming they have cursory Shakespeare knowledge, which may be a stretch.

- Baboon butts.

- Laughs on deck for Halloween, as Kevin Smith again bends over the MPAA.

- This is one helluva party trick, whatever your politics are.

- You can now send emails to your buddies from the Lord Almighty. God knows I sometimes need the power of Christ to compel people to get their asses to happy hour.

- Kwame, we hardly knew ye.

Posted 10:07am
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August 7th , 2008

3 generations of newspaper men

The Moeman has been at the Northwest Signal writing, reporting, and taking pictures for over 50 years. Maybe that's why I had a printing press that I used to make my own newspaper when I was 10. It certainly was a factor in my writing for the Michigan Daily when I was in college (not to mention a big reason that I continue to participate in the ridiculousness that is the blogosphere.) And now, we welcome a third generation of journalist to the Brubaker clan.

When I decided to start volunteering at 826 Michigan this summer I decided that it was also time that Siddhartha start taking advantage of this invaluable resource. So the night that the summer workshops were announced, I had Sid get online and told him to pick one to attend. His first and only choice was the 826 Gazette - a workshop where kids learn the newspaper biz by publishing their own paper. Now, after six weeks of classes and reporting and interviewing, I present to you the finished product. I would of course be remiss if I didn't point out that his story made 1A AND he took the picture they used AND yes, that's a picture of him working next to the continuation on page 3. As always, I'm a proud poppa. This is a close as we have to a family business, so my heart swells to think of Siddhartha carrying on the proud tradition.

Posted 8:56am
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August 6th , 2008

From Championship to failure

Last night our softball team won our third league chapionship in four years. Then we got spectacularly drunk celebrating. Then I woke up this morning and my bike was gone. Stolen off my back porch. I feel like I've lost my best friend. Fuck.

Posted 12:13pm
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August 5th , 2008

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

- Apparently there's more doppelgangers on the loose. My Babymama was at Lollapalooza this weekend and she turned to her nephew during the Flogging Molly set and asked "Who does that remind you of" Yeah, he knew. I guess a future as Dave King isn't so bad. She actually said "That's going to be you in 15 years," which is good since Dave King is 46. It'd pretty sweet if I was in an Irish punk band in my 40's.

- Speaking of doppelgangers, I've just become aware of the term 'Googleganger', which as you would guess, is someone who has the same name as you, thus making it hard to find yourself on the internet. I can't wait for this Tyler Brubaker kid from Saugus to graduate so his high school baseball stats stop trumping tbaggervance.com in google searches. More important than googling yourself, googlegangers make it difficult for you to stalk someone. This is especially crucial in internet dating. Luckily I date girls with names like Ayesha.

- Its official. I can now someday move to Chicago.

- I have a new enemy - its name is Twilight. Some of you may remember (either through the blog or through me yelling at you about it) my crusade against The Da Vinci Code. And my problem wasn't that it was factually wrong about religion (it was) or woefully wrong in its interpretation of art (it really was). It wasn't even that it was inexplicably seemingly making people more religious (for about fifteen minutes anyway). It was that it was a poorly written piece of dreck. Twilight seems to be worse. Not only is it poorly written (just because your writing for young adults is no excuse - ask J.K.) but its teaching young girls (its core audience) to date assholes. Here's a review that sums it up better than I could. Oh yeah, and the author is Mormon. This is both another good reason to be against the book, and a possible explanation as to why she writes a female lead who puts up with such fantastic male shit and is subservient to men. Just sayin'...

- McCain supposes Obama is Moses. But McCain supposes erroneously. Fuck. My head may explode before November. John, I hate so much about the things you choose to be.

Posted 10:00am
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August 4th , 2008

Drunk. Drunker. Drunkest.

I am sad to report that I have no comprehensive breakdown from PIB this year. No photo essay, no play by play, no over arching theme about what we all learned and how we became better people over the course of one Saturday on Lake Erie. We drank and drank and drank until the haze set in. And then the whole fucking house decided to get up at 8am to go home (god damn people going back to their children...) That's about what I remember. That and the following:

- Everyone I know has a pretty good 'sex in the car' story, and when one person starts to tell one, its like an avalanche coming down a mountain for everyone else to get theirs in. And that was in the first 20 minutes I was there.

- Here's dinner at the Boardwalk. I always like to take one picture over the weekend that proves we are actually on the water, because otherwise it looks like we spent all weekend in some dimly lit bar. I mean, its not far from the truth - but we're at least in a dimly lit bar on an island.

- Brooke is wearing bright white shorts. Later we learned he had matching bright white boxers when he dropped trou at Round House.

- We had a little party for recently engaged Stov and Aarika. Well, we sort of did. Aarika had a little too much to drink and spent the entire night in bed, missing her own party. There was champagne and cake and a toast. I gave the toast and barely remember it, so it couldn't have been that good. One wonders if Stov and Aarika would be getting married at all if Aarika had behaved this way her first time to PIB. Luckily she already has the ring.

- This is Stov at Round House. Later everyone would leave and Stov and I stayed behind to finish drinks - this led to us losing everyone else and going to play Bags at an empty dive bar by ourselves for an hour. It was awesome.

- While outside gorging on chicken dinners at 1am, Jen decides she wants to check out the new oonce oonce club down the street. I somehow manage to think this is a great idea (Its later noted that its not hard to get me to do much of anything when I'm drunk - esp. if it involves more booze) Inside the club, we couldn't find the balcony and felt very much like caged animals. And Jen was pretty sure she saw a girl get impregnated while dancing. I told her to give the girl her card that says 'midwife' and tell her "call me in 9 months".

All of that and apparently there was some tear filled drama by more than one person over the course of the weekend. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my compatriots for not getting me involved in any of it, as I didn't even know it occurred until we were having lunch at Big Boy back on the mainland on Sunday. Until next year...

Posted 10:55am
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August 1st , 2008

What you say? (Put-in-Bay!)

Yup. Its that time of year again. Time for bucket heads and chicken dinners. Time to drink yourself into a stupor by the pool all day, then shower up, grab some crab bisque from the Boardwalk, and drink all night. For the second straight year I will be the only single dude in our group of 13. Awesome. This involves a lot of Jen steering me towards large groups of women on the dance floor while yelling "Hey ladies, he's single!" I guess its better than her steering me towards groups of large women.

For the uninitiated, you can peep the '05, '06 and '07 trip reports. I have no doubt that this year will be largely indistinguishable from those efforts. There will be copious amounts of booze, Barlow will make an ass of himself, and someone will get caught trying to sneak in a quickie during the day at Harriet's House. There may also be pants peeing, lap dances (male on female), and clowns with camel toe. I'm just saying its happened before. I don't know if I'm taking a camera yet, but I may do some twittering, in hopes of remembering things that would otherwise be lost into the drunken ether. Let's hope I make it back with my liver intact.

- Can you tell I'm struggling to get over this negative turn McCain has decided to run with? I felt so bad for the guy in 2000 when Rove was calling people in South Carolina and telling them he had illegitimately fathered a black child. Now, my sympathy has really gone out the window. Here's The Boston Globe commenting on it. Note that on page two it references the fact that 90% of Obama's ads have been positive, and 33% of McCain's were negative about Obama. And this was before the events of this week. Its really shameful.

Posted 11:00am
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July 31st , 2008

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I can't remember the last time I had McDonalds. I think it was three years ago on the way back from a wedding in Chicago. And then only because I wasn't driving AND the Wendy's across the street was boarded up. In any case, I find McD's sad, disgusting places that make me feel like I'm admitting defeat by eating there. And you know who hates McDonalds even more than me? Baby Jesus! OK, albeit for different reasons (apparently Baby J hates the gays?)

- Whoops! Somebody forgot to bring Jesus back to life! That can't make him happy.

- Despite my abject nerdiness, I'm not a big sci-fi/fantasy reader. I mean, I've read Tolkien and Douglas Adams and I love Slaughterhouse Five, but I'm not big on the genre as a whole. As such, I've never read any Orson Scott Card. Apparently, he's a big deal to Sci-Fi nerds. Well, here's his latest piece of science fiction: Gay marriage is the end of Democracy. Here's a guy who calls himself a Democrat, yet is anti-gay, anti-birth control, pro-Bush and loves Fox News. I do not think that word means what you think it does. Oh yeah, and Mormon. It all makes sense now...

- Here's some superpowers from the Bible. Jesus crying that Samson not as popular as Batman.

- WWJD? Hold a candidate hostage and threaten to not vote at all if he didn't get his way, apparently.

- Depending on which parts of the Bible you choose to believe, its either an eye for an eye or turn the other cheek. I'm glad to report that Barack is going with Jesus in response to McCain's silly attacks, despite the fact that McCain keeps flinging poo, in defiance of Baby Jesus' tears.

Posted 11:01am
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July 30th , 2008

Welcome to our little offramp on this series of tubes

- I know that most of you don't care about all of the crap I spew about on a daily basis around here. Some people immediately skip anything to do with indie rock, others politics and others still stories about booze (you all can kindly leave - you clearly don't get what we're doing here) So I apologize for talking politics again. But hey, the 'tubes' guy is indicted! I love that it seems like 90% of the time this happens to conservative dill holes who crusade against indecency. Sen Stevens built a 'bridge to nowhere' while referring to the internet as 'a series of tubes' - and that was said in trying to explain his opposition to net neutrality - an idea that will ruin the internet and give corporations that much more control over what information you have available to you. Asshole! Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya...

- This is kinda cool - album covers done in Lego.

- Ann Arbor is on a lot of lists! Boy howdy are we! Unfortunately, this only draws attention to us and makes more people want to move here. We're fine. We have our quota of douche bags. I hear Madison is cool...

- Oh yeah, McCain is still going negative, and still saying nothing substantive about himself. That's probably good though - that way he can't contradict himself or egregiously get the facts wrong.

Posted 2:21pm
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July 29th , 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin'

- I once heard somebody make the point that McCain has spent the majority of his political life in an environment where not everything he said was videotaped and recorded and could be played back to him later. Which may explain why he consistently throws things out that aren't true or differ from what he said say, a week ago. But McCain speaks for McCain, right? I know, I know - its politics and everyone is prone to a certain amount of this. But McCain's level of this borders on egregious to me, no? This blatant disrespect for the public's intellect, coupled with the disgusting negative tone his campaign has taken recently have made me go from respecting and wanting to vote for McCain, to questioning his stance on key issues, to outright loathing him. Way to shit all over your legacy dude.

- If recent history is any barometer, Democratic success in presidential elections is strongly tied to Southern governors. And since we've got Senator on Senator action in the main event, I'm a big fan of adding Tim Kaine to the undercard. Especially since it looks like Romney is going to be McCain's veep. Mormons.

- Here's a handy guide as to who in the current Administration should be on the hook for little things like gutting the constitution, politicizing the Justice department, and lying to the public's face for 8 straight years. Fuckers.

- So is Obama seeing a bump due to his trip overseas, or has McCain taken a slight lead? Its polling, who gives a shit, right? National polls don't mean a whole lot given our whacky electoral college anyway, right? Pollster and fivethirtyeight seem to indicate that if anything, it won't be that close. pleaseberightpleaseberightpleaseberight...

- As a rule, I'm not a huge Oliver Stone fan - esp. of his politics. But this looks awesome.

Posted 10:11am
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July 28th , 2008

Beerfest 2008! Now with girls!

For those of you who were bored enough on Saturday to follow me via Twitter, Beerfest was again a rousing success. This was the first year that we had women at our table, and as far as I'm concerned, we were all the better for it.

It did seem like every brewery had an Oberon knock off this year. And of course every time I'd go in hoping I'd find the next new beer to champion, only to meet utter failure with something that tasted like orange flavored water. Ah well, thankfully we still have the real thing.

So here's the rundown of what I guzzled. I'm already looking forward to Winter Beerfest, only 6 short months away....

1. Woodward Ave Brewers - 1 year aged X Ale Barleywine
- nothing like kicking things off with a beer that has 12% abv.
2. Motor City Brewing Works - Summer Brew American Wheat
- the first of the awful Oberon wannabes.
3. Big Rock Chop & Brewhouse - Oops-a-hefe Imperial Hefe-Weizen
- much like picking racehorses, a good name does not necessarily translate into being a winner
4. Right Brain Brewery - Sun Cup Wheat
- you know the drill here
5. Traffic Jam & Snug - Centurion Belgian Grand Cru
- my favorite beer of the day
6. Royal Oak Brewery - Summer Wit
- you'd think I'd have learned by this point in the day
7. Fantail Brewing Co. - Beachside Summer Ale
- I will now stop commenting on Oberon failures
8. Detroit Brewing Co. - Detroit Lager
- I'd go as far as to say this tastes like the Motor City - not necessarily a good thing.
9. Big Rock Chop & Brewhouse - Double Trouble Sour Belgian
- This tastes exactly like it sounds, which was refreshing at this point in the day
10. CJ's Brewing Co. - Summer Brew
11. Corner Brewery - Bavarian Bliss
- ah something familiar and delicious!
12. Round Barn Brewery - Summer Wheat
13. Schmoz Brewing Co. - Miracle Off 28th Street Old Ale
- not miraculous, but pretty fucking good
14. Bastone Brewery - Main St. Pilsner
- is this named after some Disney thing? I thought so at the time.
15. Original Gravity Brewing Co. - Orange Tic Tac Belgian Ale
- this was at least a refreshing take on on the Oberclones.
16. Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. - Braggot Mead
- Troy grabbed this for me. It took my twenty minutes for me to get him to give me the name. This may or may not be correct.
17. Lily's Seafood Grill & Brewery - Lily's Light Pilsner
- completely forgettable, apparently
18. Saugatuck Brewing Co. - Spent Hop IPA
- something about reusing the hops on this one? I liked it. I think.
19. Wolverine Brewing Co. - Wolverine Beer
- the guy pouring, noticing my T-shirt, said "Anyone who likes Natty Light will like this beer." That's not a ringing endorsement fella. but this was at least as good as a Natty Light.
20. Woodward Ave. Brewers - Hefe-Weizen
-Yum
21. Woodward Ave. Brewers - Hefe-Weizen
- they were trying to get rid of their stock at the end of the day, so I went back to the well for another full pour.

21 beers! One more than I had last year. That's setting a precedent that will soon be hard to best. But guaranteed I will try. I will try...

Posted 10:09am
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July 26th , 2008

Little black book

Last summer when Ayesha and I made our little cross country excursion I knew two things: I wanted to write about it and my computer access would be limited at best. So it was necessary to find a low tech solution to get my thoughts down until I could again connect to the information superhighway. Enter the moleskine. Used by Hemmingway and Van Gogh, the centuries old artist staple seemed like the perfect tool. It more than served its purpose for the trip, and since has become indispensible in recording on the go thoughts, documenting events, recording drunken ramblings and even tracking how much I owe my bookie.

A year later, its finally full. I was judging karaoke Thursday night and I finally used up my last few precious pages. Here are some said thoughts from the evening:

- Cute girls who wear glasses and dress like junior high girls whilst singing David Bowie songs could drain my bank account in the time that it takes for them to brush their arm up against mine.

- Don't be off key AND boring at a song no one wants to hear. You're ruining it for everyone.

- Two people singing a song that's not a duet can suck it. I guess if it was two hot chicks who made out during the guitar solos it'd be OK.

- Hair metal done with utter sincerity always works. Always.

- Crowd pleasing songs are +50 against people getting bored and ignoring you, no matter how poorly you perform them.

So with Beerfest tomorrow, it was time for a new moleskine. I went with the squared paper instead of the regular ruled, just for shits and giggles. May it serve me well.

- While the moleskine is great, its not very immediate, and I sometimes have trouble reading my drunken handwriting the next day. So as a test, I'll be drunkblogging the beerfest tomorrow via twitter. We'll see how it goes. I don't know if this is actually fun and interesting or just one more case of documenting life instead of living it. Stay tuned...

Posted 12:01am
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July 25th , 2008

Keep it like a secret

Sometimes I get so entrenched in my little liberal enclave up here in Ann Arbor that I forget there are places where it isn't commonplace to be a Democrat or an atheist or not white. Which is ironic, because I spent the first 18 years of my life in such a place. And oh do I get reminded of it everytime I go back.

I'm not a big bumper sticker guy. I don't have an overwhelming need to try and be witty or clever or to try and admonish others for being pro-choice through the back of my motor vehicle. I have a tiny little window cling saying I'm a UM alumni one side of my unit, and one that has the logo for the Onion on the other. And a few years back, I put Err from Aqua Teen Hunger Force in my back window. Basically because every time I see it, I still giggle a little bit (Just like when I get a message on my phone and I hear him cry "I will rock you face!") Anyway, naturally a few months back I also taped an Obama bumper sticker to the inside of my back window. I think mostly its a little silly - like my UM Alumni sticker, it means almost absolutely nothing inside the city limits. I'm basically agreeing with approximately 80% of the people who live here. But my car isn't always inside the friendly confines of A2.

As you know I was back in Napoleon twice (TWICE!) this week for funerals. And twice (TWICE!) I had people come up to me very quietly, almost solemnly. I figured, as I noticed their approach, that they were coming to give me some sort of condolences for my loss. But both times with a quiet voice and a twinkle in their eye they said "I like your sticker." The first time I gave a puzzled look. Literally, because she noticed my confusion and followed it with "...on your car." AH! Now I see. Down in conservative Northwest Ohio supporting Obama is more secret society than taken for granted. The second time I was in on the secret handshake and I just winked and said "Gotta spread the word." Because in the state that was ultimately responsible for electing George W Bush a second time, we really, really do.

- Sid played more tennis this morning. He lost again, 1-6, 2-6, even though he was pry more evenly matched with today's opponent. But check out this sweet photo I nabbed with my phone! Look out Moeman...

Posted 11:23am
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July 23rd , 2008

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

- Finally! This has to be the straw that breaks the camels back, no? I mean, being raised Catholic I'm familiar with the argument that equates birth control with abortion, but people won't stand for this from their government, will they? I mean, certainly no woman will stand idly by for such a slap in the uterus. I mean, this is worse than the McCain/O'Reilly stance that insurance provided Viagra is cool, but birth control coverage, not so much.

- Here's a sweet little quiz about the news from PewResearch that I know my blogreaders will do well on and feel good about themselves afterwards.

- A2 is considering 86ing the plastic bags, to which I say huzzah and kudos.

- I worked at the Robot Store last night and saw Lloyd Carr walk by! He was on his cell phone and immediately got into his Lexus that was parked right out front, or I totally would have ran out and pestered him with at least a Go Blue! (and tried to sell him a little robot buddy, natch) Anyway, my Robot Timeline has been given to the store's professional design team to prep it for mass production and sale. We're hoping to find a way around the whole copyright issue so we can sell it online. That's the word on the street anyway.

- Siddhartha started his first tennis tournament this morning. Someone at one of the funerals this week (they went well - thanks for all the condolences kiddies) referred to me as a 'tennis dad' and asked when I was going to get a minivan. I immediately slapped the taste out of their mouth. Anyway, he drew a dude that was the same height as me and if you would have told me he drove himself to the tournament, I would have totally believed you. Anyway, Sid lost the match 2-6, 4-6, which was not bad considering the dude's physical stature and the fact that he hit the ball so hard I wouldn't have scored a point on him all day. He fought hard and had fun, so good times. Here he is being a tennis stud at UM's sparkling new Varsity Tennis Center.

Posted 11:27am
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July 22nd , 2008

Yeti vs. Robot

I've always loved auctions. To me its akin to a good game of poker, or some other delicious form of gambling. All it takes is an intimidating glare and some smooth timing to get what you want. OK, deep pockets help, but if you can manage to get something for less than you think its worth, or even better, steal out from underneath a competitor, its a feeling akin to hitting the longshot or getting someone to fold when they have the better hand: pure, unadulterated joy.

As a special for Art Fair, 826 Michigan had a silent art auction to help raise money for the center. When Sid and I were there last Tuesday, we both gravitated towards the same piece: a beautiful screen printed canvass of pop art fabulousness entitled "Yeti vs. Robot". Its listed value: $45. Its starting bid: $20. Sid and I discussed how cool it would be to have it hanging in our living room, but never really talked about it after that. The next day I was back at the store working, and after an entire day of the auction commencing, no one had yet to bid on 'our' poster. So I figured why not? Its certainly worth $20 right? Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

It was two days later when I returned. In that intervening 36 hours, I had dreams of Yetis and Robots dancing in my head, imagining how cool the poster would be in our house, and what a great conversation piece it would be for years to come. So naturally when I showed up and the bid was up to $35, I immediately went to $40. I confirmed that the bidding was ending the next day at around 6:30 and told them, Schwarzenegger style, "I'll be back".

So for an unprecedented 3rd day, I was back at Art Fair, anxiously navigating the crowd to get to the store and commence the final showdown. The bid had ballooned up past $50, and one of the other interested parties was there. The final hour of bidding was replete with snacks and booze, as people wandered around the auction, discussing the art and what they were bidding on. I eventually casually made my way over to 'our' poster and upped the bid. 20 minutes to go. But as nonchalant as I was, my competition saw me. Five minutes later he moved towards the bidding sheet with the utmost and outward determination. As soon as he turned his back I was on the sheet. I was prepared to show him the meaning of resolve. The auctioneer eventually made an announcement - five minutes to go. The competition slowly meandered over to his would be prize and raised an eyebrow when he noticed that he no longer held the high bid. He casually wrote down his name next the line reading $61, with about three minutes remaining. He turned his back on the treasure, confident that he had won the day.

Little did he know that I was nervously waiting in the bushes, contemplating the best moment to strike. This was a guy who had deeper pockets than I, but his arrogance in thinking he had won when there was still 3 minutes to go would be his downfall. They auctioneer called one minute left. People all over the auction were staring at me, waiting for me to make my move. Did I mention that I had been outwardly intimidating other bidders, getting them to back off and letting anyone who would listen know that oh yes, the poster would be mine? Anyway, with approximately 45 seconds to go, I slipped in and put in my bid for $64, then casually strolled away. If my timing was right, the competition had missed it and that would be the final bid. When the auctioneer began to countdown "10... 9... 8... " and my enemy failed to even turn to face the action, I knew I had him.

As the auctioneer sounded the final bid, I got cheers and congratulations from several people in the room who had been watching my antics. I looked over and noticed the losing bidder walking towards my poster to confirm his winning bid. "Who is T. Brubaker?" he growled. With a twinkle in my eye I responded that it was me, and he wished me congratulations with his back turned to walk away. Now don't get me wrong, the poster is prize in itself, but to watch that dude stand in the corner and grumble to his wife for the next 20 minutes while glancing over and giving me the stinkeye every five minutes was absolutely priceless. To the victor go the spoils bitches. That's me, I'm the victor.

- Four years ago I would stare in wild-eyed amazement when people tried to explain their support of President Bush as he quizzically ran for reelection. Usually it boiled down to an unjustified complaint of "I don't like Kerry" (don't get me wrong, I didn't like Kerry, but these people didn't know why they didn't like him) or "I'm Republican". Basically, these people got their politics the same way got their religion - they were indoctrinated into a sect and never gave it much thought after that. I see the same thing happening again now naturally. People talk about McCain's foreign policy experience and his resume to be commander in chief. But really? Those arguments are starting to hold water as well as an overturned bucket. McCain seems resolute to gaff his way to election day, while continuing the Bushian paradigm of "If they don't like it, fuck 'em, we're in charge." Meanwhile Obama consistently seems like he's been right from the flop, and our friends seem to agree. I mean, how many times can al-Maliki ask us to leave before the current administration will stop insisting he was misquoted?

- I haven't had a chance to peep it yet, but Joss Whedon's internet musical, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog" is finally up and running. You've supposedly got to pay $4, but I'm guessing its out there in the ether for those of you who are savvy surfers.

Posted 11:21am
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July 20th , 2008

On death, in all its forms

Today was suppose to be back to reality day. Ayesha has floated in and out of my life both literally and figuratively these past two years. After three weeks of gallivanting around Michigan, she flew back to Arizona this morning. It was, as per usual, a whirlwind of fabulousness. We drank and we ate and we laughed and we drank. My life is always more interesting when she is around, as there's no other person in the world I'd rather sit and discuss all things esoteric and mundane over many, many cocktails. It doesn't hurt that I find her drop dead gorgeous. I'm just sayin'...

But as improbable as statistics would dictate, both of my grandmothers passed away this weekend. They were both very old and in poor health, but that only makes it slightly easier. I was pretty close to them both, and they were great women who helped raise me (but don't fault them for how I turned out, they did the best that they could). So instead of going back to working 40 hours a week and getting used to my life again without the little brown bee hive poker dragging me to every restaurant in Ann Arbor, I'm off to Napoleon to say goodbye to grandmas and deal with all the fun that comes with funerals.

Its not lost on me that it was 6 years ago that my mom passed away. That event also not-so-coincidentally signaled the end of Kara and I's relationship. All of that shit hitting the fan at the same time was rough, but I guess I'm forced to believe that these twofers just mean that you get to deal with all of ugliness at once rather than having drawn out and dealing with it over months and months, back to back, seemingly never-ending. Because as great as my time with Ayesha was, she never missed an opportunity to remind me of the physical distance that separates us, and the unliklihood that said gap will be closed anytime soon. And if I had to hear her explain to one more person that we weren't together after showing up some place hand in hand I think my head would have exploded. So I don't know what back to reality will be when it finally comes a knockin' on my door in a couple of days. I'm guessing different. Come it shall, that's the one thing I know for sure, because to paraphrase Mitch Hedberg, life is like playing tennis against a wall. Fucking relentless.

Posted 1:08pm
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July 17th , 2008

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

I was hanging out at the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair Store the other day, when I got the idea. Wouldn't it be fun to make a timeline of famous robots throughout history? Of course it would! So that's what I did. This is almost exclusively off the top of my head (and the heads of a few people who were around as I talked out loud about this) Due to space restrictions, I knowingly left off V.I.C.I from Small Wonder, Dot Matrix from Spaceballs, Replicants from Blade Runner and Ash/Bishop from Alien(s). And the Cylons and Daleks were omitted because who the fuck knows where to put them on a timeline? I also used Gort to represent all 1950's robots, as we could have had an avalanche there.

So here, for your enjoyment, a timeline of robots throughout history (click to make it bigger, natch). Feel free to remind me of glaring omissions in the comments.

And you can peep this on display at the Liberty Street Robot Store, as its now on display there. There's even talk of turning into a poster to sell. A massive copyright violating poster. Hooray!

Posted 11:16am
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July 16th , 2008

Thirteen down, five to go...

Today I am the father of a teenage boy. In the Jewish vernacular, Siddhartha becomes a man today. Not being well versed in Jewish tradition, I offered to contact a mohel to take a little off the top, but the Buddha pointed out that neither are we Jewish, nor is that in any way a part of a bar mitzvah. Hey, I just didn't want him to feel left out.

Anyway, as improbable as it may seem, the Buddha is 13 today. This former teenage parent is now the parent of a teenager. I guess I am supposed to wonder where the years went and lament how 'old' this makes me feel - or even perhaps pat myself on the back for making it through what was an incredibly daunting precept back in 1995. The truth is I don't feel any older than I did yesterday or even a year ago. And if anyone deserves a pat on the back, its the Buddha, as he's never once* in 13 years inspired anything but my trust and confidence in him.

I can see the maturity starting to seep out of him. The kid has always been a little bit smarter and more well behaved than his years would dictate. But now he no longer runs to the basements of my friend's houses to play videogames by himself when we go to a party. Instead he'll hang out with everyone else, throwing jabs and snide comments at people, kicking a little ass at board games and usually noting "Somebody's gotta stay sober around here." Surely he's his father's son (minus the sober part) but he's also his own man. Now all he has to do is successfully navigate the next 5 years, enroll at Michigan and I can wash my hands of the whole thing and ride off into the parenting sunset a success. Who would have ever thought that a possibility?

*Hmm, OK maybe once. Or twice.

Posted 12:01am
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July 15th , 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin'

- Its been a rocky week or two for those of us deep in the throes of our Obama relationship. Its as though the honeymoon is already over. But just as I'm ready to make him sleep on the couch another night over the whole FISA debacle, he comes home with this little bouquet of flowers: He loves Wilco! Oh Barack, I can't stay mad at you...

- As technology barrels down the mountain like an avalanche burying senior citizens in its wake, logic would dictate that political polling would improve (editors note: common sense would dictate that political polling would ultimately only be improved by abolishing it, but that's a discussion for another time) With so many different ways for people to render their opinion on things with such expediency, one would imagine that polls would someday be so hyper accurate that elections would become a foregone conclusion. Of course we are talking politics here, and logic and common sense are the first things to go in any discussion that gets any where near the subject. Salon has a great piece about polling and cell phones and how they are likely underrepresenting Obama supporters. Fivethirtyeight talks about how Zogby's online polling sucks, which is too bad, because Obama is crushing in them.

- These videos are really old, but it did provide me with the new factoid that McCain's class rank at the Naval academy was 894. Out of 899. I used to think this guy was smart and level headed. He's doing quite a bit to challenge both of those perceptions these days.

- A month or two ago I was hanging with conservative buddy (and McCain apologist) Stov when Johnny Mac came on the television at some rally or something. Stov asked me:

"Why is Phil Gramm standing right fucking next to McCain?"
"He's his national co-chair and top economic advisor"
"Oh fuck."

That's from a conservative with an MBA from Harvard people. I'm sure he wasn't any more surprised than I was when last week Gramm called our economic woes "mental" and Americans "whiny" on the economy. Nor that he's a senior exec at UBS, which is in free fall. This is the architect of McCain's fiscal policy. The top candidate for Treasury secretary (OK, not likely anymore, but only because of political reasons, not policy ones) This screams of the Bushian policy of placing rich buddies in cabinet posts they have no business holding, and we all get screwed because of it. I can't wait to have some more shit deregulated so a bunch of crusty old white dudes can increase their holdings from 3 billion to 4, while we get the bill to bail 'em out when the shit hits the fan. Awesome.

Posted 10:25am
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July 14th , 2008

The economics of a good time

Bonus post! This was meant to be Friday's post but I was far too hungover to form words into sentences and type them into a computer. I was going to abandon it, but then got guilted into putting it together. So enjoy your twofer.

As Ayesha left me on the fourth and wasn't scheduled to return to A2 until the 16th, we decided that I should drive North and come spend an evening in our beautiful State capital - home to Ayesha, Michigan State, and minor league baseball*. Now I'm a huge baseball fan and can enjoy just about any level of play. And while Ayesha isn't impressed necessarily with the actual on-the-field goings on, she loves being out at the park and enjoying the evening (this feeds into my whole ongoing argument about what is the optimal level of girl sports involvement, in which Ayesha is at least a single bullseye if not a double, but that's a continuing discussion for later). So when Ayesha said "We can go to a Lugnuts game when you come up!" I was already in. That's BEFORE I found out it was "Thirsty Thursday" at Oldsmobile Park.

You see, not everyone enjoys watching just any old baseball game the way some of us do. That being the case, Minor League clubs have to go the extra mile to get people to come out to the park. So on Thursday nights, the Lugnuts, as thousands of desperate guys thousands of times before them, use the lure of alcohol to get people to put out. I mean, I would've come regardless. Look at these seats!

Front row, first base side, even with the bag: $9. And the park is super nice, albeit small (its single A, whatdaya want?) But if that wasn't enough, how about $2 Labatt Blue Lights? That's what I thought. I was shocked the game wasn't sold out. We had lots of drinking to do after the game, so we didn't really take full advantage but we got our moneys worth.

So 6 beers and two tickets, $30. On a beautiful night, sitting outside, with the best seats in the house. $30 at Comerica Park wouldn't have gotten us two beers a piece. So while the CoPa may be bigger and better in almost every measurable way, I for one will always hold a special place in my heart for a place where two people can enjoy America's pastime up close and personal, and get tipsy on a warm July evening for $30.

*the first two in my oxford comma set are actually from Okemos and East Lansing respectively, but for the sake of prose I lump them all together - I'm sure to the chagrin of both Ayesha and Spartans everywhere.

Posted 12:42pm
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This week in indie rock

- Sometimes, in certain situations as I travel this great country of ours, I tell people that I'm from Detroit. Of course this is not due to any shame about being from Ann Arbor. Its just sometimes (especially in discussions about sports) its easier and helpful to say "I'm from Detroit bitch". And let's be honest, being from Detroit is pretty badass - even if you're really from a liberal enclave where the biggest epidemic is people who refuse to recycle. Anyway, here's Jack White's ode to the Motor City, which is appropriately nostalgic and badass (natch).

- My favorite artists during the 20th century, in chronological order of obsession, are as follows: Van Halen (1985-1992), Pearl Jam (1992-1995), Ben Folds Five (1995-1997), The Promise Ring (1998-2000). My obsession with BFF (and sadly TPR) was short lived as the band broke up after burning too bright too quickly. Ben Folds has gone on to some impressive solo work, although I'm constantly worried about his slide into Randy Newman territory. Anyway, here's an interview about what he's up to as of late. I'm hoping for another Shatner album.

- Lists are designed to be provocative and serve as jumping off points for discussion. Unfortunately, when magazines that are designed to be read by both teenagers and housewives discuss music, they end up being so milquetoast that they piss off everybody. Take EW's top 100 albums of the last 25 years. Ironically, I kinda like their number one pick, but the rest of the list is awful, awful bullshit.

- Speaking of lists, here's a really cool one listing the best band, solo artist and 'up and comer' from every state. I at least liked the arguments for every thing they picked, unlike Achtung Baby being the 3rd best album of the last 25 years. How about the fucking Joshua Tree? And while we're at it, why is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot only at 56? Fucking dickbags.

- Lots of praise for the Hold Steady's new opus, Stay Positive. "Subpoenaed in Texas, Sequestered in Memphis". I love that.

Posted 10:29am
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July 10th , 2008

Thou shalt support that which is cool.

We talked a while back about the writing center (826 Michigan) that I had finally decided to get off my ass and volunteer at. Well its finally come to fruition and things are in full swing. I'm currently helping facilitate a workshop AND working in our storefront - The Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair store. So far the experience has been everything I could have dreamed of and more.

The workshop (The 826 Gazette - where we teach kids to be reporters and produce our own newspaper) has been a bit of a chore, as we're working with junior highers who spend a large majority of the class in a game of one upsmanship to see who can get the funniest line out (I've got news for ya boys, you're not that clever). But most of them get it and I am excited to see what they can produce as they hone their journalism skills.

But the unexpected fun has come from working in the Robot store. I get to wear a lab coat and goggles and pretend to all the patrons that come in that we are a completely serious endeavor, serving the robot supply and repair needs of Ann Arbor. Once the realize the impetus of why we are there, they tend to get impressed and excited about what we are doing. Its infectious! So if you are looking for a cool gift (a "Is your little sister a robot?" detection kit perhaps?) or a conversation piece (perhaps a positronic brain?) stop in the Robot Supply and Repair store. If you stop in on Wednesdays between 6 and 8, you can even poke fun at tbaggervance.

- My friend Angie has oft been referred to as the punk rock Martha Stewart. She has a business making hand crafted invitations, Square 1 Mailers. Her stuff is hella cool, and I would highly recommend her for all your fancy pants invitation needs. For those of you without such needs, we at tbaggervance.com politely ask that you go here and vote for her as the best invitations in Detroit.

- Many Obama supporters are currently fearing buyer's remorse over our messiah's run to the center. But I'm hear to tell you fear not! He's just a tactile politician running a presidential campaign rather than a presidential nomination campaign. There's still plenty to hang your hat on and lots of reason to hope. (Yes, he's not a panacea, but c'mon, things can at least get better). Anyway, I encourage those of you who have yet to do so to donate to his historic run to the White House. Act now and as little as $5 could win you an all expenses paid trip to see his nomination speech!

Posted 11:00am
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July 9th , 2008

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

- July is birthday month in my family. A week from today my Buddha becomes a teenager (sweet tap-dancing christ!), my niece Spencer Shay Schwaiger (god help any boy with a lisp who wants to date her) celebrates over the weekend, and today, nephew Derek turns 16 AND the immutable icon Larry Earl 'Moe' Brubaker turns 70. Moeman has had to go in for maintenance a few times in the past few years, but he's still kicking it old school and us Michigan tailgaters expect to see him at many a home game for years to come. Happy Birthday Dad, and Go Blue.

- Summer is great for myriad reasons, but one unexpected tangential benefit is there's nothing to watch on TV. News based programs now comprise 80% of my television watching (along with copious amounts of DVDs, which I'm comporting into a separate category) and this reduced amount/increased quality makes me feel good about myself. But I do occasionally miss scripted TV. Especially things like The Office, which even though disappointed after coming back after the strike, still holds a special place in my heart (and the finale rocked). Anyway, to satiate all y'all fans out there, The Office summer webisodes are back, starting tomorrow.

- I figured a list of MTV's best albums of the year so far would range from cringe inducing to wondering what kind of future we could hope for for the youth of America. But hey! Look! Death Cab, Vampire Weekend, The Hold Fucking Steady! I actually agree with the list! But then I checked out the comments.

"DUDE I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ANY OF THAT CRAPPY MUSIC. WHERE IS PRETTY. ODD BY PANIC AT THE DISCO??????"
"Ummm I believe Mariah Carey's E=MC2 album is also missing from this list !! FYI...who are more than HALF these "so called" artist..?"

That makes much more sense. I can go back to telling those punks to get off my lawn.

- I'm still not sure who I want as Obama's running mate, but given his tact to the center the past few weeks, I'm guessing that its going to be Biden or Nunn. Both of which are fine, albeit a tad milquetoast. For some exciting speculation, we turn to America's finest news source, The Onion.

- I'm constantly baffled by regional/generational/interpretational differences. Who knew you could call it anything other than Bitterman/Figliano? Or that a car with one headlight isn't always a perdiddle. The rules of shotgun, fives, and just about every drinking game have so many variations it boggles the mind (especially President's and Assholes, I swear no two people play that game the same way). The same is apparently true for 'The Bases'. Now I wouldn't have been surprised if kids today considered oral sex a ground rule double and that it would take something along the lines of fisting to get you dinger status. But I am pleased to report sexy site nerve.com pretty much falls in line with my childhood understanding. I was one of their 'many people' who consider hand to genital contact third, but hey, call me a prude if you want.

Posted 11:34am
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July 8th , 2008

Music snob alert - an album for every year of my existence

The hip thing to do around the music blogs these days is to make a list, assigning one album to every year of your life. And that's basically the only rule. Pick it based on current tastes or what you were into at the time, doesn't matter - its at your discretion. This seemed a natural fit for me, so here it is, 33* albums, the soundtrack to my life. I based this solely off of albums I actually own, so if there's something egregiously missing, you'll have to let me know:

1975 Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
1976 AC/DC - High Voltage
1977 Elvis Costello - My Aim is True
1978 The Police - Outlandis D'Amour
1979 The Clash - London Calling
1980 The Jam - Sound Effects
1981 Van Halen - Fair Warning
1982 Michael Jackson - Thriller
1983 Metallica - Kill 'em All
1984 Prince - Purple Rain
1985 Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms
1986 Beastie Boys - Licensed to Ill
1987 U2 - The Joshua Tree
1988 Pixies - Sufer Rosa
1989 Uncle Tupelo - No Depression
1990 They Might Be Giants - Flood
1991 Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend
1992 Rage Against the Machine - S/T
1993 Counting Crows - August and Everything After
1994 Pearl Jam - Vs.
1995 Radiohead - The Bends
1996 Beck - Odelay
1997 The Promise Ring - Nothing Feels Good
1998 Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
1999 The Get Up Kids - Something to Write Home About
2000 Coldplay - Parachutes**
2001 Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
2002 The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
2003 The Postal Service - Give Up
2004 Ted Leo + Pharmacists - Shake the Sheets
2005 Spoon - Gimme Fiction
2006 Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson in Crime
2007 Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
2008 The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

I'd say the list up to 1989 has a lot of retro casting, as I wasn't listening The Clash in 1979, but from then on I'd say its pretty representative to what I was in to at the time and still have affection for. Obviously the high school and college years were hard, but for some reason so were 2001-2003. Anyway, that's that. I'm sure if you asked me tomorrow I'd change my mind on several of these.

*I'm still 32, so suck it.
**just kidding, its We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes by Death Cab, just seeing if you're paying attention.

Posted 10:11am
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July 7th , 2008

Surprisingly, my weekend centered around booze

As strange as it may seem to some, Ann Arbor does not have an annual fireworks display for the Fourth. I guess all of our cash is tied up in Art Fair and Top of the Park. There's plenty of displays during the week that are less than 20 minutes drive, so its no biggie. But I do love me some 'works, so when I heard about A2's 'underground' fireworks display, I was immediately intrigued. Apparently, at some out of the way, nondescript park on the west side of town, every fourth some local firework aficionados get together and pool their resources to put on a grassroots, DIY, kick ass display. And after having seen it, I can unequivocally say that is better than any corporate, choreographed bullshit you will ever see.

First of all, it has all the underpinnings of a pagan ritual. As we happened upon the park Friday night, a thick cloud of smoke and the smell of sulfur and gunpowder permeated the air. Around the outskirts, families lit fountains and sparklers to contribute to the ambiance of the thing. I wouldn't have been surprised to happen upon a drum circle with women dancing topless (alas that did not come to fruition). Secondly, the quality was amazing. Maybe it was the relative closeness to the action and the somewhat enclosed space, but those works lit up the sky. They were certainly better than the municipal fireworks of my small town upbringing. Fireworks experts Markie C and Nick estimated the big stuff that was set off over the course of an hour to be worth at least 5 grand.

Perhaps most importantly, the whole thing was completely illegal. This was certainly an event not sanctioned by anyone, it was just that the po-po had decided to look the other way. This meant danger at every corner. Stuff that was supposed to go several hundred feet in the air, exploded 10 feet off the ground, and things meant to go straight up sometimes went off at crazy angles, nearly taking out large conglomerates of people. It was like unintentional Jackass. It certainly kept me on my toes, and thinking that America was the greatest country in the world.

The only potentially suspect aspect of the experience was that in the group of people running up to the launch site after every explosion was a girl who couldn't have been more than 10. "Who's child is this?!?" we wanted to scream. Taking your life and limb into your own drunk, dumbass, adult hands is one thing, getting your sweet, innocent daughter/sister/niece involved is another. I guess the fact that someone who would spend thousands of dollars on illegal fireworks would allow this to happen is not surprising, but I guess I've reached the age where my first thought was "someone call social services!" Still though, America, Fuck Yeah!

- I was at a 30th birthday party on Saturday where in a group of 40 people, I was the only single person (over the age of 5). What was a trend has become an epidemic.

- Speaking of, in the misunderstood lyrics department, "Hold me close now Tony Danza" yes, "Ahhoooooo, Werewolves and onions" no.

Posted 7:04pm
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July 5th , 2008

Get to the Point

Growing up, our annual summer vacation was inevitably a trip to Cedar Point. Moeman could get us in cheap/free through his job at the newspaper, and Judy would pack us a picnic to eat at the pavilion, eliminating about 75% of the trip's overhead. It was the one thing we had to look forward to every summer, and I'll always feel like a kid as bounce down the midway at America's Roller Coast.

Given these frequent trips to the Point, coupled with my uncanny knack to never forget anything I hear, I've become quite the CP tour guide. I know the park like the back of my hand and can regale my riding companions with myriad facts and figures about the rides and the park itself. Some might go so far as to call this trait annoying, but they're never annoyed when they need to find the quickest way to the Gemini, or where the best chili cheese fries are, or how long the wait to ride the Millennium force is actually going to be, despite what the sign says.

Anyhow, given the breadth of my CP experience going into Ayesha, Deb* and I's trip to the Point Wednesday, there was only one ride in the entire park I had yet to ride - the 420 foot high, 120mph Top Thrill Dragster. It wasn't for lack of nerve that I had yet to ride it, mind you. It was just that in its 3+ year existence, the thing had always been shut down or had a prohibitively long wait time when I was there. Well about halfway through Wednesday's extravaganza, we were walking by the entrance to the Dragster and Ayesha suggested we take a peek to see how long the wait was. I moaned about how it was going to be 3+ hours and that I didn't want to make her and Deb wait that long so I could ride the thing alone. But she insisted we check, noting 'Deb said she'd ride with you!'

I think Deb was counting on the sign saying 3 hours, because there was some trepidation in her eyes when we walked up to the entrance and the sign said 45 minutes.

But she was a trooper, and approximately 45 minutes later, we were strapping ourselves in. There's that trepidation I mentioned earlier.

And I'll admit, sitting in the launch zone, getting ready to go from 0 to 120 in the span of three seconds, while being shot shot straight up over 400 feet made my heart feel like it was beating outside my chest. The actual event was something akin to being shot out of a cannon. At least what I imagine being shot out of a cannon must feel like. Afterwards we got off the train where Ayesha was waiting, and I honestly felt woozy. Like I had just taken a couple shots or had spent all day on ice skates and was now walking around on my own two feet again. Good stuff.

So done and done. The checklist is once again complete. I can't wait to see what they will come up with next to test my mettle.

The rest of the day was naturally all kinds of awesome. Here's some highlights:

Here we are before our first ride of the day. We still have a spring in our step at this point.

Cedar Downs is one of the few non-rollercoaster rides that I always insist on riding. Even if my horse comes in third and I have to ship him to the glue factory afterwards. Stupid Deb.

Oh yeah, and the antique cars.

Ayesha has a little bit of a love/hate relationship with rollercoasters. The look I'm getting here is because I'm snapping pictures and laughing while she's just trying to get through the experience.

Look how much fun! Those CP aficionados amongst you will notice that yes, this is only the Mine Ride.

Here we are towards the end of the day on the Giant Wheel. Another successful trip to Cedar Point accomplished.

*Deb is Ayesha's friend from AZ who just happened to be home visiting her family outside of Cleveland. She is pretty cool despite having an affinity for Ohio State.

Posted 10:14am
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June 30th , 2008

Cleaning out my closet

Spoiler alert: You are going to turn into your parents. Maybe not in huge, overarching ways. I mean, I'm certainly not going to become a devout Catholic and move back to small town rural Ohio any time soon. It happens in those subtle, habituated ways that you find yourself stopping and thinking 'Where the fuck did that come from?' My family is a bunch of anal retentive worriers who aren't happy unless they have something to bitch about. I've worked hard to throw off the shackles of that, and luckily my particular combination of genetics seems to make whatever component of those traits that are biological, seem relatively mild in comparison to the rest of the Brubakers.

But there's lots of other things. Little things. Ticks, habits - things I once eschewed and outwardly made fun of that I now find myself doing. Like when my dad used to leave the house - before he walked out the door he would sort of 'pat himself down', checking to make sure he had everything he needed in his pockets, and would say the name of those items out loud as he did so. "Wallet... keys... hanky..." My whole family does this imitation of my dad in an effort to mock him. But sure enough, when I leave the house, I find myself doing the pat down going "Money clip... cell phone... Nicotine replacement therapy..." sometimes I even do it out loud.

And any time we had company coming over, mom would copiously clean the house - putting out good hand towels and hiding things that we used every day and took for granted. I imagine this is pretty ubiquitous with growing up in the middle class midwest, but its something I never really understood. These people are your friends, if they don't like how we live, fuck 'em! Are they really going to be impressed because you lit a candle? Of course I spent most of my Sunday evening cleaning around my apartment in anticipation of Ayesha's arrival tonight. She made fun of me when I told her, noting how my place was already probably intensely clean to begin with (remember the anal thing?) But apparently, this is just what I do. And since I will likely be too busy for consistent blogging over the rest of the week, I'm cleaning out the links and other assorted crap I would have otherwise doled out over the course of the next few days. Feel free to read a few per day to keep from going through tbaggervance withdrawal (although we find rereading the archives is always a pleasant surprise).

- I haven't watched The Simpsons in years, which is my excuse as to why I could only manage 40/63 on this quiz. I couldn't think of Millhouse? Come on!

Green
- Ethanol and biofuels are bullshit. This is not news and I'm not happy with Obama's policy on them. But Science has gone out and proved it (again) with, well, science. And you don't argue with science. Here's some man on the street reaction to the 'news.'

- It makes sense there's probably more efficient ways to think about almost everything we do, as is easily proved by this redesign of the age old gallon of milk. Of course someone forgot to make it ergonomic and easy to use, so maybe a little more thought needs to go into this one.

- Its not surprising that conservative fucktards will completely twist and eschew science in order to serve their own bottom line when it comes to environmental policy, but the quotes in this article make me want to give each and every one of these dick bags a three curl hop kick in the junk.

- Here's an interesting article about the Chevy Volt. I'll never quite understand how people can look at things and say 'We're about 3-5 years away from making this work.' I mean I do, but its gotta make you skeptical.

Indie Rock
- Here's an interview with my BFF Craig Finn of the Hold Steady. The new album is fantastic, btw.

- Here's a great list of unintentionally hilarious pro-America songs. Fuck yeah!

Baby Jesus
- I of course love these comments by Obama. Of course conservative dickwads will call him a muslim apologist or whatever for it. They can slurp my butt.

- And here's what happens when a no-nothing evangelical lawyer tries to get uppity on an actual scientist. Commence the beatdown.

Politickin'
- Worst. President. Ever.

- I started looking into Bobby Jindal a few months back when I heard he was on McCain's veep list and I wanted to see if he'd vet. It took me all of about 30 seconds to get scared shitless of this whacko. Here's video of him calling ID science.

Posted 12:29am
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June 27th , 2008

Like Simon Cowell, with less clingy V-necks

Yesterday I got an emergency phone call at around 4pm. "Can you do me a huge favor?" Markie C wanted to know. "I'm sure I can." said I. "Well you know that karaoke contest we're running starting tonight? I need a judge. They'll pay for your booze and food and if nothing else it'll probably make for a good blog post." he pleaded. "Shhh," I told him. "Stop. You had me at free booze."

So in the end here's how it shook out: Me and two others would watch all the performances and rank our top three. We'd add them all up, do a little colluding and find two winners. (They go onto the finals to compete for a trip to the Bahamas.) As a service to you, dear readers, I provide my word forward transcribed notes from last nights judging.

The Kid of Id
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
Kid? This guy was my age when this song came out in 1975. But he's probably better than your grandpa doing karaoke. He sold it and was hilarious. He reminded me of the Vincent Price rap at the beginning of "Thriller"

Amanda
"When the Lights Go Down"
If you're going to do slow, be good. If you're going to do country, be entertaining. If you're going to do slow country, you better be amazing. This is a Fail.

The Kid of Id
"Pinball Wizard"
The first time was cute, now I wish I was a deaf dumb and blind kid (zing! I know that was beneath me, but whataya gonna do sometimes?)

Amanda
"Caught in the Sun"
The host and judges are singing in between these two, but so far we have two (TWO!) contestants in the first 1:15. This is the first time someone has actually tried to hit notes, but I'm still waiting to be truly inspired. Maybe I'm too old? What the fuck are these songs? Who is entertained by this?

Monique
"Wanted Dead or Alive"
We finally get a song a good drunken crowd could get behind. Unfortunately no one is here and the performance is meh.

Jacob
"Circle of Life"
This guy screams "Performance Network" (a local musical theater company) So yeah, great voice. But "Circle of Life"? Fuck off.

Ahmed
"With a Little Help from My Friends"
This guy is 90% there. It felt like he was holding back a tad and concentrated too much both vocally and physically. You're doing a Joe Cocker impression - sell it and you're in.

The Kid of Id
"Kashmir"
The Kid's downward slide is now complete. This is like watching my sister make out with her boyfriend. I mean, dude, like an hour ago we were playing Nintendo together and it was cool. Now you go and do this? I feel dirty. I need a shower. Wait. At the four minute mark of this 8:45 epic I realize something. This guy has made "Kashmir" interesting. His falsetto is actually good. Make no mistake about it, this guy has done a lot of drugs to get to this moment, and they were all in service of this goal. He has won me and my vote over. Whoops. No. Wait. Even he has lost momentum at the 6:30 mark. The falsetto is now off key and every note is a repetitive beatdown to my senses. I pray for the sweet release of death.

Amanda
"Constantly"
This girl has become the equivalent of watching home movies of my cousin's kids. Even if something interesting happens, I'm already so effing bored I don't care.

Monique
"Doll Parts"
To me karaoke is not about your ability to sing - at least not as much as it is about your ability to sell the performance and have fun. This could've been a winner, even with a decent albeit undistinguished voice, if she sold it. I'm not buying this.

Ahmed
"Proud Mary"
This guy clearly gets it. He's up there barring David Lee Roth showing up to cover "Sweet Caroline" Sing it Ike.

Jacob
"Let Her Cry"
Dude - I realize you may be gay, but stop it. Its fun for no one. You can sing - use your powers for good, not evil.

Nicole
"White Rabbit"
Ringer. Great voice, decent song and she owns it. Quid Pro Quo Ahmed...

The Kid of Id
"Fields of Gold"
How quickly we squander so much good will. I mean, its not that he's bad, its just that you start with "Dirty Deeds" and end here with a couple's skate? You're better than that, 65 year old Kid!

Amanda
"Wish You Were Here"
Incubus version. This is decent and her best song of the night. It just doesn't do anything for me at this point in the evening.

Jacob
"Lightning Crashes"
I should have known this guy would sing a song that had the word 'placenta' in the first 10 words. I could have called it. Again, great voice, but it makes me want to kick him in the balls.

Ahmed
"Hallelujah"
OK, you're pushing it Ahmed. First off, you're doing this is in the style of Rufus and not JB. And SECOND, are you trying to make me steer my car into a goddamn bridge embunkment on the way home? jeez...

Dre
"How do you want it?"
This guy may have talent, but when it takes you 90 seconds to find the rhythm, I've already checked out.

So that's it. I eventually voted for Nicole, then Ahmed, and then the Kid of Id. When the votes were tallied Nicole and Amanda won the night. Clearly each judge had their own criteria. Anyway, the contest goes on for the next several weeks, so look for a future entry where I'm not a judge but contestant, and I get all worked up into a tizzy about not winning. Have a good weekend kids...

Posted 10:32am
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June 26th , 2008

What did the five fingers say to the face?

Last night I was hunkered down with my copy of The Kite Runner, burning through the pages and several vodka sodas, mostly wondering why I was reading something that forced me to fight back tears with every single paragraph. I kept telling myself that it was because it was heartbreakingly beautiful and important, but I was still pretty miffed at the protagonist, knowing that he's likely going to find redemption by book's end. I mean, I hate this guy. He's ruined the lives of so many wonderful people around him, and yet I can't imagine he'll get his comeuppance rather than redemption. Maybe its just me and my problems with religion - I have a real problem with the way they do forgiveness and atonement. I mean its a great book, its just a sad and sometimes frustrating one.

Anyway, at some point in the evening the eyes get heavy and the brain stem has been marinating in alcohol long enough that reading becomes a chore and its time to put the book down. So I stopped, 100 pages from the end, before the d-bag narrator learns his lesson and I have to decide if its done in a way that I can live with (he's a wonderful writer so it probably will be, which will likely piss me off even more somehow. grr.) Anyway, I poured myself another drink and turned on the TV to watch my nightly respite from all the troubles in the world. The show that allows me to laugh at all the hypocrisy in the world in a way that soothes, comforts and relaxes.

Watching The Daily Show is as ubiquitous with daily routine in my house as brushing your teeth. Even if I get home late from the bar and have had too much to drink and really want nothing more than to go to bed, I usually still crank up the TiVo so I can get my fix of Jon Stewart before I pass out. Its one of the few things that I can count on day in and day out. It provides stability in a weary world. Which is why you can imagine my indignation last night when my sour mood was exacerbated rather than assuaged by my late night TV idol. Because last night, on MY Daily Show, the guest was Coldplay.

What the fuck? C'mon Jon. Seriously? Just when I need you for the full 22 minutes you have on Chris fucking Martin? Look at him? How do you not want to give him a two curl hop opened handed slap to the face? Agggghhhh! They say that in a relationship that you should never go to bed angry, but that's exactly what I did last night. I don't know how to fix this, as I can't remember when I was so disappointed in one of my idols. For shame Mr. Stewart. For shame.

- Joss Whedon. Nathan Fillion. Neil Patrick Harris. Do I have your attention? How about if I tell you that its a super hero musical? That's what I thought. I give you Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog (teaser only).

- Your oOo: Just how fucking cool is Barack Obama? This is what's on his iPod. Just when I thought he couldn't get any dreamier...

Posted 11:34am
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June 25th , 2008

Absolutely nuthin' (say it again!)

I was reading Stereogum yesterday when I came across this story about Under the Radar's top 10 protest songs of the 21st century. I was appalled! OK, maybe The Boss and Tom Waits I can see, but fucking Bright Eyes? I can't stand that douche. There's tons of well known protest albums that aren't even included here! As I listen to a lot of whiny liberal indie rock, I figured I'd throw out their shite 8 entries and fill them in with my own. I'm not going to order these, and I'm including entire albums as a cheat. So here we go, let's fuck the government:

The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine
The bands describes this album as "the story of a young couple who must flee a United States governed by fascist faux-Christians." Good stuff.

Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
Radiohead is never too shy to dive right into political fold, and while the title of their 2003 opus (according to Thom) isn't just about Bush, the phrase 'Hail to the Thief' and the 1984 drenched song "2+2=5" have been adopted as explicitly that.

Neil Young - Living with War
Neil Young has a long history with the protest song ('Ohio' being one of my all time favorites), so it was only natch that the prolific Canadian songwriter whipped out this gem of an album in response to our current administration.

Green Day - American Idiot
Protest album? Why not? It speaks to the degradation of our country as a whole and surely "I'm not a part of a redneck agenda", so I say sure.

Wilco - "Ashes of American Flags"
Jeff Tweedy laments what we lost in the most heartbreakingly beautiful way, by trying to salute what's gone.

Ted Leo - "Loyal to my Sorrowful Country"
Ted is an angry dude (I could have picked a dozen songs of his for this off the top of my head), and if there ever was a more simple statement of "I'm done", I haven't heard it. Note though how he'll still "change it if (he) can"

The Flaming Lips - "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song"
I always think of this as Wayne Coyne's riff on the old adage that 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely' - while he challenges us to question what we would do both given unlimited abilities and with those we already take for granted. With the bonus of being a great live concert sing along.

Josh Ritter - "Thin Blue Flame"
When Josh sings this song in concert, he dedicates it to Mark Twain and cites his quote "Loyalty to my country always, loyalty to my government when they deserve it." I concur. With beautiful lines like these, how could you not:

And those still looking in the clear blue sky for a sign
Get missiles from so high they might as well be divine
Now the wolves are howling at our door
Singing bout vengeance like it's the joy of the Lord

So there you go, one thing I'll miss about W when he's gone is that he was fertile fodder for artists and comedians. I mean, don't the door hit ya in the ass, but thanks (or something less than the white hot intensity of hate and loathing, which is weird.)

Posted 11:10am
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June 24th , 2008

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

- I've been saddled with the moniker of cynic more than once or twice in my day. Normally when I am assailed with such an accusation, I usually tell them that I'm not a cynic, but rather just a pragmatist. Maybe its a fine line, as no self-respecting cynic would ever refer to himself as one, as it belies by definition his adherence to said philosophy. Anyway, George Carlin died Sunday, as I'm sure you heard yesterday. He was acerbic and brilliant in a way that few (if any) are capable of maintaining for any length of time - especially while being liked along the way. Obviously these are traits I highly admire. One of his obits noted that he never liked to refer to himself as a cynic, but rather a "disappointed idealist". Thanks for everything George, especially the disappointed idealist line - which I will now be co-opting.

- There was quite a bit of fervor over the weekend regarding the Newsweek poll that had Obama up 15 points over McCain. I have a real love/hate relationship with polls. Being a news junkie, I love having new numbers to dissect and pour over, trying to gain any plausible insight from the minutia of the margins. But I also believe that, much like college football and the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle, that the knowledge taints possible future outcomes. To that end we try to temper our excitement over potential outliers and only give weight to trusted methodology and organizations. Which is why I love this guy, who appears to be trying to amalgamate all data as fairly as possible. I'll be watching him over the next few months.

- We talk from time to time around these parts about things that may be making Baby Jesus cry. Its our way of pointing the proverbial finger at the kooks and zealots, or just to talk about all things religious and the way they generally make things worse. Well according to the USA Today, people are moving away from 'religion', or at least not caring as much about the specific tenets of it. I don't know specifically how this would make Baby Jesus feel, but it feels like a positive to me - as much of my problem with religion on the whole stems from its demand for dog-like obedience to their dogmas. Of course at the end of the article they start to talk about the rise of Oprah in place of the church, which is something that the Baby J and I can both cry on each other's shoulders about.

- I don't know what their criteria are at this site, but according to them one should really be a genius to read this site. So kudos to you, my brilliant readers, and a pat on the back to me, for knowing multisyllabic words, probably.

blog readability test

- At this point everybody knows the power of CFLs. And chances are, given their super awesome long life and your recent adherence to their benevolence, you've yet to have one konk out on you. But someday you will. And there's something that they don't post everywhere about CFLs - that they contain small amounts of mercury. As you probably already know or could easily guess, mercury's no good for the environment. That means we shouldn't just be throwing them in the garbage. I realize that its a small pain in the ass, but Home Depot is striving to make it easier on your ass. This will now be the number one thing I associate with your store, moving past Gene Hackman's voiceovers* and your Olympic athlete support, and kicking the fact that I can buy and eat popcorn in your store, right out of the top three.

*Yup, I just figured out that he works for Lowes, not the Depot. So much for branding.

Posted 9:54am
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June 23rd , 2008

Tap-tap-tap-a-root

Growing up, the most famous person I knew was my dad. And while Moeman's position gained him local notoriety and afforded me trips to sporting events and autographs from people like Sparky Anderson*, it also meant that anytime I did anything stupid, it immediately got back to my dad; because I've spent far too much of my life being asked 'Aren't you Moe's boy?'

Fast forward to college, when I roomed with a guy who moved an 18 piece double bass drum kit into our living room. And then my other roommate took up the bass. And then my other roommate's cousin was looking to start a band. Stir it all in a pot, add a touch of Fred Durst, let simmer. That's Taproot. Knowing Taproot hasn't really been a boon of fame and fortune for me personally either, but its fun to see people get freaked out about meeting a guy you slept in the same bunkbed as for three years. Or that a guy's bass playing is admired, when you remember when all he could play was the first seven notes of the Night Court theme. That's who those guys will always be to me, no matter how many times I see them sign an autograph or pose for a picture with fans.

Which I got to witness again on Friday night as they played at Detroit's (Free!) River Days. It was a night that stood on the precipice of epic failure for me the entire evening, only to teeter back from the brink whenever things appeared most bleak. I won't bore you with all of the details, but here's how the night ended, which is pretty indicative of the Success!/failure... dichotomy of the evening.

One of the Taprooters had mentioned that he might end up at the local strip club after the show. We (the kids I had traveled down with) debated whether or not to go. Markie C decided that he would go win our cover charge at the blackjack table, thus removing any impediment to our seeing naked women. Well in half an hour, Markie C had doubled his money, and it was time to head to the boobie bar. Look how happy he is! Success!

But after cashing out (I had also turned one dollar into two at video poker. How do Casinos stay open?) and heading across the street, we were rebuffed by the fact that Club Bouzoukie closes at 2am and not 4 like we had anticipated. fail...

But all in all it was a good night. Being drunk, in downtown Detroit and cavorting with famous folks are all things I enjoy. Even when there's no nudity involved.

*This isn't even true. Truth is my dad asked me and my little brother what Tiger we wanted autographs from, my brother got Sparky, I chose Lance Parish. Not even Chet Lemon! Damn.

- Your oOo for Monday:
Its sad how quickly after we get out of high school and into the real world that we forget how government works. People get so caught up in the rhetoric of taxes and political pandering (that usually involve things that politicians are powerless to change) that they lose sight of the reality of the situation. Here's a great primer from Slate about what's at stake when it comes to the Supreme Court in the next election. Be sure to give it the appropriate weight when you pick your candidate and decide on the voracity with which you'll support him.

Posted 11:13am
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June 20th , 2008

Tent pitchin'

Like every boy ever to walk the earth from the beginning of time, I spent my entire junior high experience with an erection. At some point your penis becomes aware of vaginas, and when it does, the mere knowledge that they exist makes it sit up and take notice in perpetuity. Eventually the frequency and severity dissipates (allowing one to become a functioning member of polite society again) but until one learns a mind over matter self control*, boys and young men are still prone to seemingly random erections that could pop up at the drop of a hat. Or more accurately, the drop of anything that would cause a woman to bend over to pick it up.

While the penis will always have a mind of its own, most men most of the time have a modicum of control over whether it is at ease or at attention. You don't usually see your boss walk into a business meeting sportin' wood. Guys can watch porn together and still look each other in the eye because dick control means not having to be rock hard at the site of a woman's nipple. But sometimes, the kid in us bubbles up to the surface and we lose the focus and concentration necessary to keep our shit in check. Its never pretty, and all you can hope for is that nobody notices before you can realign your chi, so to speak. These 5 guys were not that lucky. Poor bastards.

- Speaking of public sex admonishments, this guy got denied by his neighbors when he wanted to open up an ATV store. So he decided to open up a sex shop instead, and name it after the chick who derailed his ATV business. He's my new hero.

*This does not apply to waking up with a gigantic hard-on. There's nothing in the world that can stop morning wood.

Posted 12:06pm
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June 19th , 2008

This week in indie rock

- Ah Daytrotter. Is there anything you can't do? Nothing makes me happier than to find out you've captured another of my favorite bands to magnetic audio tape (assuming you record to tape. Probably not though. I'm guessing you are digital, but you never know. I was just trying to be clever.) Anyway, Spoon! at Daytrotter...

- Any Ann Arborite worth his salt has played a game or two of whirlyball in their day. Probably in college, probably drunk. Good times. And while Death Cab hail from the great northwest rather than our little liberal hamlet, we imagine them as honorary citizens who would fit in quite nicely here. As evidenced by this.

- The Onion's excellent AV Club runs down the best songs of the first half of 2008 (yes, 2008 is nearly half over. I can't believe it either). Try to ignore the fact that there's a Coldplay song mentioned.

- Tokyo Police Club try to take the bad taste out of our collective mouths that was left by the latest Weezer album by covering Matt Sharp's old band. Every little bit helps. Oh yeah, and its to fight lupus. (Lupus?!? Is it lupus!?!)

- I don't totally agree with this (and completely disagree about the Beatles, obv.) but it raises some interesting points. I would reconfig. and call it "14 songs that should be banned from karaoke books" All songs over five minutes, I'm looking at you.

Todays oOo (obligatory Obama observation):
Obama's first commercial is out. I didn't swoon, but its nice. I mean, it doesn't try to scare the shit out of me like this McCain ad, but you know... (yes, I know that's a response to a Clinton ad.)

Posted 1:33pm
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June 18th , 2008

How green is your valley?

- I've been skeptical of hydrogen powered vehicles from the flop. The viability of making this work seems suspect to me. As Chrissy Hynde used to say, don't get me wrong, I'd love for it to become viable, but it seems like we're chasing something rolling downhill away from us. Of course, Honda farts in my general direction by rolling out these hydrogen/electric hybrids. I'm still skeptical, but here's hoping...
On a side note, actress Laura Harris (in the picture) of Dead Like Me and 24, used to be on my favorite awful teenage melodrama show on Nickelodeon when I was a kid. It was called 15 and was so laughably bad it may be the worst/best show of all time. I miss it terribly. Oh AND it was Canadian AND had Ryan Reynolds in it too. What are the odds?

- I don't know how to tell you this, but recycling isn't all its cracked up to be. I know this is from the Washington Times, but it does make a lot of sense. Penn and Teller called Bullshit on this a while back (you should watch the whole thing, as with the whole BS! series - very informative) and its an eye opener. That said, I'll still be sorting trash, because, well, its not all a waste of time, and its what there is until they figure out some other way to make use of the crap that we can get behind.

- Here's the thing, gas tax holidays and off shore drilling are pure political pandering. Neither will have any significant impact on your bottom line. The gas tax thing saves you maybe $20 over the summer (assuming that oil companies don't raise prices to cover the drop (they'd never do that, would they?)) And in the case of offshore drilling (as with ANWAR), its a minimum of five years to see any benefits, and the benefit would be 10 cents off per gallon. What a panacea! I hate rising gas prices as much as anybody, but this has been a long time coming people, we're going to have to learn to live with it. And if it makes people drive a little less, there's worse things - even if it now costs me $80 to drive to Chicago.

- Despite frequent blog commenter LJV's recent "Gore is not green" finger pointing, the truth is that green home tech is an investment that gives back, hard and fast. Take these Ann Arborites who chose wisely and have cut their energy costs to $525. Annually. Not everyone can afford to invest the $50,000 that they did to make it happen, granted. But let's start with those new fangled lightbulbs at least, shall we?

- Since the moon has no atmosphere, we don't have to worry about saving it yet. I'm sure it'll be an issue one way or the other someday, but that's for some other, down the line generation. In any event, check out the big ball of cheese tonight, as it will be like, totally huge.

And now for today's obligatory Obama observation (or oOo)
- I know it doesn't really matter, as Bush used his two skin of his teeth, lose the popular vote wins as mandates for him to gut the constitution and do whatever the fuck he wants, but I'd really like a juggernaut type win in November. You know, a pop the champaign at 10pm win, rather than a "go to bed drunk at 2am, hoping there's an answer in the morning" one (maybe that's because when I awoke in the morning the last two times the news wasn't good). Anyway, here's some good news to that end, even though I doubt in the end he takes Florida.

Posted 11:47am
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June 17th , 2008

You too can be part of the technorati (and mo'bama)

- We're celebrating our inner nerd, as firefox (our favorite browser, and it should be yours) version 3 is due out today. Its yet to show up on their website, but a promise is a promise, so we're annxiously awaiting some nerdy goodness.

- The whole myspace vs. facebook thing has gotten out of hand. When facebook came on the scene I was excited - it was so less annoying as it limited users ability to 'pimp' their profile. But then facebook apps started taking over and the only way to not be annoyed by either site was if your friends showed restraint in using every slideshow/template/bumper sticker/music embed they could get their hands on. Well myspace is about to undergo a redesign, so my fingers are crossed that it can find a balance between customization, usability and the ability to not annoy me to the point of telling kids to get off my lawn.

- As you've no doubt heard, the new iPhone is out, cheaper and faster than ever before. The net result is that its now easier for every rube you know to try and whip it out and impress you with the fact that they know how to use a phone. Except for the the fact that whoops! its not actually cheaper in the long run.

And yes, last night was Obama at the Joe (wsg Al Gore!). It was awesome and inspiring and something I'm certain both Sid and I will remember for a long time. Some quick highglights:

- The line to get in when we showed up (40 minutes before doors opened, 3+ hours before he was supposed to go on) was several thousand deep. Sid and I walked what seemed like halfway to Pontiac and waited patiently on the banks of the Detroit River.

- We found some seats that weren't necessarily close, but were a straight shot back from the podium. Its hard to tell, but that's Chauncy Billups introducing Gov. Granholm (who got booed pretty hard).

- The rest of the night was your standard uplifting swoon. We don't need to get into all of it again, but damn, I was in the same room as Barack Obama and Al Gore. That's hot shit. And I don't know what genius staffer came up with this, but it was easily Sid and I's favorite part of the night:

I need that t-shirt ASAP.

Posted 10:21am
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June 16th , 2008

Obama at the Joe!

"When your Marxist father gets done with you, come see me and I'll set you straight."

That's what one of my more conservative friends told Siddhartha Friday night when we were excitedly talking about going to the Barack Obama rally tonight. That's right you sexy, liberal ladies of Southeast Michigan, these lefty hunks will be cruising the Joe tonight. Yesterday Kara witnessed the two of us peering over a game board, trying to solve a problem and noted how much we're starting to look alike (its a glasses thing). Sid fired back 'That just means I'm getting more handsome.' Nothing like your kid kissing your ass on father's day.

- The Detroit News has a preview about the focus of Obama in the mitten (and an op-ed that makes no sense whatsoever. Seriously, I don't get this guys point. You're a columnist?) Politco offers up what won't be his opening remarks and as you can guess, Kwame? Not so much.

- I'm not sure whom I am backing in the Obama Veepstakes yet. All the choices scare me or don't excite me on some level. I flirted with Gov. Sebelius, but Slate says ha. Jim Webb seems balancing and tough, but also conservative and scary. Edwards is out whether he's taken his name out or not, and despite Salon's two parter on Hillary Yes? or Hillary No?, that train has sailed. And thank God Strickland is out (you hate to pick a guy BECAUSE he's from Ohio. It'd take more than 8 years to get that taste out of your mouth). I guess right now I'm leaning toward erstwhile governor and current senatorial candidate Mark Warner - but that could change in a heartbeat.

- Here's a nice quick read about this precedent setting race ahead of us, noting the gaping hole left by the death of Tim Russert. Also, Obama is looking at strategies that DON'T involve Florida or Ohio, and historians laugh at McCain's chances. All good stuff.

Posted 10:44am
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June 15th , 2008

I love it when you call me big poppa

I just realized that I talked about my mom on mother's day, so its only fair to give props to pops on father's day. Moeman was always bigger than life, but in many ways a pretty laissez faire parent. By the time I hit middle school, the only discipline I remember coming out of Moe's mouth was 'Why do you upset your mother like this?' But he was always full of wit and wisdom, and right about things so often that it almost got annoying. At some point I definitely went from wanting to be nothing like my dad (mostly for choosing to keep me in podunk Napoleon, Ohio until I could leave of my own volition) to wanting to be exactly like him. Almost anyway.

There's a really simple memory I have of Moeman that I think really speaks volume about who I am and my sense of humor and why I love my dad. This was maybe 10 years ago, my mom was receiving some big award from one of her colleges as a distinguished alumnus, and so we had to spend a beautiful, hot, sunny Saturday afternoon attending the ceremony. So there we all sat, on some lawn somewhere, slouched over on folding chairs doing our best to honor mom. Halfway through the program, my dad reaches down and starts pulling fistfuls of grass from the lawn and piling it on top of my shoes. It lasted all of about 60 seconds. He never said anything, just pulled out enough grass to cover the toes of both of my feet, then went back to suffering through the festivities. He never acknowledged the proceedings, but I could feel the smile on his face as he sat next to me, politely looking forward. To me, that's my dad. Sid's a lucky kid that I had such a fabulous role model for fatherhood.

Speaking of my Buddha, he's a pic from yesterday of him laughing at the word 'humps'. Apples and trees...

Posted 12:22pm
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June 13th , 2008

Orphans

It was a week of 'ongoing features' here at tbaggervance.com (and we didn't even use '5 innocuous things...' nice!) and as usually happens, as soon as I write a post with one of my prescribed headlines, I find something the next day that I wish I would have included. Given that circumstance and my lack of having anything concrete to write about at the moment, I'm throwing all the orphans that missed being in a post this week due to bad timing into today's post. Eh, its not exciting, but its still good stuff you need to know, so read on...

Monday: This Week in Indie Rock
Two streamers hit the internet this week AFTER I decided to write about TWIR on Monday. The first is the new Hold Steady album, Stay Positive, is up on their myspace page. Its dreamy. The second is that there's a live Josh Ritter show over at NPR. Listen to both as you're starting at the clock this afternoon waiting for five o'clock to come.

Tuesday: Tuesday's are for politickin'
There's literally about a dozen political links I could highlight on any given day, as Obama makes me feel like a teenager with a crush and McCain seems intent on setting a record for malapropisms during a campaign. But here's something substantive and objective that is pretty eye opening and thus worthy of our discussion. The Tax Policy Center (a nonpartisan group) has a report on what your tax bill will be next year if all of the candidates proposals were immediately implemented. Its of course not the be all end all, and the disturbing thing is that the end result of both the plans is an increased deficit, but under the 'tax and spend' liberal Obama, 90% of Americans pay less tax than they would under McCain. I'm sure that fact will be lost on everyone (like my dad and older brother) who like to sit around and 'Democrats grumble grumble Taxes grumble grumble Liberal' but now when YOU hear stuff like that, you can at least try to disarm them with the facts. Not they necessarily care about things like that.

- And this JUST in - Obama is going to be at the Joe on Monday night. Siddhartha and I are going. Anyone wanting to carpool and stand in massive lines for an evening, let us know.

Wednesday: What is making Baby Jesus Cry this week?
This may be a little bit of a 'Well of course...' moment, but there's a new study out showing that as intelligence increases, belief in god declines. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Thursday: As seen in and around Ann Arbor
Today is Siddhartha's last day of seventh (SEVENTH!) grade. Yesterday his class went to Cedar Point for the day as their class trip. One of my biggest complaints about the Buddha is that he's always been a bit of a wimp. Adventuresome would never be a word I used to describe him. But apparently yesterday he broke his rule about not going on 'rides that go upside down' and rode the Corkscrew (and the Gemini!). Way to finally sack it up, son. He's certainly getting better in his reluctance towards new, scary things. And yes, in 33 days I will have a teenager. On paper that is wrong on so many levels, but while I like to joke about having a nervous breakdown at the prospect of being the father of a teenager, its really actually all kinds of awesome.

Posted 11:39am
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June 12th , 2008

As seen in and around Ann Arbor

- As anyone who has ever taken advantage of it will tell you, the Ann Arbor District Library is tits. I myself go at least once a week to see what books, movies and CDs I can unearth. And those unfortunate enough to leave A2 will tell exactly how much all other libraries suck balls in comparison. Here's a great feature about how fucking awesome it truly is.

- I am of course really proud that A2 makes the list of the top green cities in the country, but I'm really sad we're not higher. I mean, I get we're never gonna reach the mass transit numbers that an actual metropolis gets, but we should at least be able to beat Milwaukee!

- We discussed the relative merits of this last night at the bar for some time. As you can see from the comments section of the article, its a quite the incendiary topic. I can see the business merits of it, but anything that happens to that space that's not a cool indie bar like Leopolds was will be a disappointment to me.

- Like him getting braces, Siddhartha needing vision correction was an inevitability. Sorry 'bout your gene pool son, take the good with the bad. He doesn't need them all the time supposedly, but he's immediately impressed with the results of being able to see things at a distance. Plus everybody knows that people who rock the specs are the coolest.

- And this has nothing to do with the deuce, but I'll shoehorn it in here anyway. MSNBC aired this highly concise recap of the Primary season. Relive all the joy and pain of the last 6+ months. It naturally has more cringe inducing moments than anything. I think my most memorable moment will be driving through a blizzard in Canada, looking for a bar that was open after midnight on a Tuesday so that we could get a drink and ask them to turn the TV to election results. 'Hi. We're from the States, can you turn on CNN? You guys have that here, right?'

Posted 11:38am
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June 11th , 2008

What is making baby Jesus cry this week?

- A few weeks back, Sid and I were watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (in preparation for Indy 4) and in it there's a scene where Indy has to go to Germany and we're treated to a depiction of a good old fashioned Nazi book burnin'. Sid asked me what they were doing, and I said something along the lines of 'The Nazi's burned books that contained ideas that they didn't agree with.' To which Sid succinctly replied 'That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of.' It made me feel good to know that my son, being raised largely without religion, is much more tolerant and understanding than these fucks. "As I tore the pages, I felt a generational curse of immorality and perversion breaking off my family." Or maybe it was the tears of the Baby Jesus you felt, washing over you in disgust. And of course I'd be remiss not to point out this instant piece of hypocrisy:

"I am not a doom and gloom preacher, I am a truth seeker. But we are at the threshold of dark days," Crawford told the congregation.

You know, I'm not sayin' we're going straight to hell in a flamin' chariot, I'm just sayin'...

- There's a new movement afoot by those nescient creationists to weasel their way back into that which they have no place - the science classroom. Their latest attempt at shoehorning faith into a place of strict reason is to introduce the phrase 'strengths and weaknesses' when talking about evolution. Oy vey! Of course, this is lamentably happening in Michigan. How can we continue to laugh at Ohio if we entertain this asinine notion?

- Underage girls have suffered from an age old problem for too long now. How do they let people know that they intend to hold on to their virginity until they meet that special someone (or at least a guy with a camaro)? Well fret not, my vestal teenage waifs, K-Mart has the answer! I for one, can't believe I didn't think of plastering a platitude about chastity across my daughters ass and two inches from her vagina. And for the 8,347th time, thank you baby jesus I didn't have a daughter.

- Bill Maher has a movie coming out this summer called Religulous. It is sure to make many a zealot call for his ostracizing from pleasant society, and us pagan heathens laugh like hairless monkeys. In conjunction, he's started a website at disbeliefnet.com to help keep you abreast of what's happening in the world of the pious. Good stuff.

- And then there's John McCain. I understand he has to reach out to those wacky evangelicals. And it makes me giggle that they aren't warming up to him, despite his hatred of gay marriage and abortion. Of course this fucking supercilious pandering makes me want to spit nails. I will be working on raising the dead corpses of John Locke and Montisquieu to come bitch slap him and remind him what every high school student knows, that the constitution was built on the ideas of the 18th century enlightenment. Oh yeah, and it goes without saying that God isn't in the constitution and your job as president is to uphold and defend that document, not walk hand in hand with baby jesus in judeo christian tradition. #1 issue my ass. Shame on you, you hapless fuckstick.

Posted 10:53am
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June 10th , 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin'

No more primaries for the talking heads to drone on about during Tuesday nights anymore! Whatever will we do? Thankfully there's one big vote left, and we've got 5 months to dissect the minutia of all the things that have no bearing on who should be the next President. And hopefully maybe a thing or two that actually do matter.

- I've often talked about (as have countless others) about the overwhelmingly positive effect that electing Obama would have around the world merely because of his race. People are excited at the prospect. As a 62 year old widow in New Delhi puts it "This is close to a miracle. I was certain that some things will not happen in my lifetime. A black president of the U.S. will mean that there will be more American tolerance for people around the world who are different." Holla!

- If you really want to read objective reporting on the U.S. presidential race, your best source is likely British (The Economist should be required reading). Here's the BBC's take on how the world views Obama vs. McCain.

- If you're still still on the fence about who to vote for, consider this: Zimmy believes in Obama, McCain loves ABBA. Done and done.

- I kind of have a love/hate thing with moveon.org. I think they're often the equivalent of the assholes on the right who spew venom just to spew it. But I also believe that they only exist as a reaction to those guys, and I tend to agree with them more than not. Kind of like the ACLU in my opinion - I shake my head at a lot of the stuff they do, but I'm still a member. Anyway, they're giving away free Obama stickers, and who doesn't have someplace they'd love to stick one of those?

- Finally, I freely admit I'm a huge emotional sap. So not surprisingly, this nearly brought a tear to my eye and makes me want to walk through walls to make this man my president. There's more here.

Posted 10:53am
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June 9th , 2008

This week in indie rock

- About a year ago I finally got to see indie punk hero Ted Leo and and his Pharmacists at the legendary Magic Stick. After a blistering 90 minute set he blew a fuse in his amp and the show was sadly unable to go on. After coming out and apologizing, Ted took requests and sang a couple songs a capella. It was pretty fucking cool and more than a little impressive. The man is a consummate professional, as witnessed again by this performance on MTV.

- Unless your names are Mike D and Ad Rock, five white dudes in a cover band should never try to play 'Rapper's Delight'. Ever. You're going to look stupid in your earnestness, even to the drunks. Trust me. I was tortured with the blandest white funk ever Friday, and I'm still trying to get the taste out of my mouth.

- Here's an interview with Ben Gibbard. Its pretty meh journalism, but man is he dreamy!

- There was a time when Metallica seemed to embody the very essence of the independent rock spirit. They managed to become hugely successful without ever making a video or receiving any airtime on the radio (note to tbaggervance.com's younger readers: late last century, bands became popular through FM radio and MTV. It was a quaint but antiquated system of gentrification.) Until they did make a video. And then moved their speed metal to the center so that it was palatable to the masses. At which point they became the biggest band in the world and simultaneously totally douche-y. Remember when they sued Napster? Well they are showing how well they understand their fans and the internet again, this time by playing their new album for bloggers and then threatening them when they blogged about it. Who saw that coming?

- And as a warning, there is of course the complete opposite of everything the indie rock aesthetic strives for: Coldplay. They have a new album out. Do your best to avoid it. Staying completely unaware is impossible, but something to aspire to.

Posted 10:40am
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June 6th , 2008

Honestly its all just one big long DrunkFest

Growing up in rural NWOhio, summertime meant fest time. There were the big three - Schutzenfest, Libertyfest, and Hamlerfest. They were all ostensibly the same - put up a huge tent in the middle of nowhere, play polka music, serve massive quantities of bad beer to underage kids and really, really old Germans. Good times. Needless to say I haven't been back since I was legal. But living in SE Michigan, I have access to tons of sweet festivals where local and national artists play music (for free!) and serve massive quantities of good beer to me. He's a rundown of the highlights:

Detroit Festival of the Arts
June 6-8
http://www.detroitfestival.com/08/
I've never had the privilege of attending this fest, but hey, its free and appears to feature all kind of eclectic presentations of 'the arts'. I for one am intrigued by the band Babylon Circus, described as French Ska/Punk/Reggae. C'mon. You aren't curious?

Ann Arbor Summer Festival
June 13 - July 6
http://www.annarborsummerfestival.org/
OK, let's be honest, unless you're into overpaying for high brow crap at the Power Center, this is basically Top of the Park, featuring almost nightly music and movies in the heart of Ann Arbor. The highlight comes near the end, June 30th to July 4th, when we get Juno, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Simpsons Movie and Blades of Glory on back to back to back to back days, followed by music from NOMO on the fourth.

Detroit River Days
June 20 - 23
http://www.detroitriverdays.com/
Detroit's River Days are highlighted by the Target Fireworks display on Monday the 23rd (almost two full weeks before the 4th of July!) But we here at tbaggervance.com would like to point you to the Bank of America National Stage, where on Friday, Rick Springfield opens up for Taproot. I'll be watchin' em with those eyes...

Comerica CityFest
July 2 - 6
http://www.newcenter.com/cityfest/2008/home.html
This is the even formerly known as 'Tastefest' or 'Taste of Detroit'. That means lots of sweet food and beer, coupled with some amazing and free music. Last year I caught Spoon and Cheap Trick here. This year's highlight - George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic on July 6th. Nothing but the dog in me baby.

ElvisFest
July 11-12
http://www.mielvisfest.org/
The weirdness that is Ypsi boils to the surface every year for this oddity of oddities - The Elvis Fest. I myself have never participated, as they have the balls to charge admission to this thing. But curiosity will eventually get the best of me. Maybe this is the year?

Ann Arbor Art Fairs
July 16-19
http://www.annarbor.org/events/artfairs.asp
As any seasoned Ann Arborite will tell you, the 'Art Fair' is actually 'Art Fairs', plural, all with their own personality and snooty attitude about how theirs is better than the others. But despite all that, its just one seamless clusterfuck that makes it impossible to do anything in A2 for an entire week. Wait until they announce the live music and try and catch some cool local tunes if you choose to wade through the suburbanites who come to clog our streets.

Beer Fest
July 25-26
http://www.michiganbrewersguild.org/festinfo.asp
This speaks for itself. Its not free, but its worth every penny. Be sure to designate a driver, preferably one of your friend's pregnant wives who will come to Ypsi and pick you up when you're absolutely hammered at 6pm.

Woodward Ave Dream Cruise
Aug. 16
http://www.woodwarddreamcruise.com/
I only mention this as something to be avoided, as I inevitably find myself bent over by this debacle on a yearly basis, just because I always forget when it is and am inexplicably always in Detroit when it happens. Its a giant ball of suck.

Pontiac Arts, Beats and Eats
Aug 29 - Sept. 1 (Labor Day Weekend)
http://www.artsbeatseats.com/
The seasons closer, they usually have an act or two worth making the trip for. They also never seem to have their act together, and don't announce the festivals lineup until waaaaay late in the game. So let's agree to remind each other about this in mid-August, when all we'll care about is the start of football season.

There's also the Common Ground Fest in ELansing July 7 -13 and the Rothbury Music Fest in Grand Rapids July 3 - 6, but we deem these to be A.) Not in SE Michigan B.) Overly expensive and C.) Subsisting of largely shitty music. They are to be avoided.

Posted 9:16am
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June 5th, 2008

Ben Gibbard is the sexiest man alive

Last night Markie C rolled into downtown Detroit so that I could drool and swoon over Ben Gibbard for two hours. Of course swoon I did, as Death Cab for Cutie played an amazing set. They hit all the highlights and even played stuff from all the way back to Something About Airplanes (which most of the crowd clearly didn't recognize). But I was in love. Ben is so dreamy and Death Cab truly rocked my face. Some highlights:

- The Fox is always more ornate and impressive than I remember. Their website claims its the nation's second largest theater, which I find suspect, but it is fairly cavernous. Here's a pic I snapped of the ceiling:

- About two songs in Markie C noticed that directly behind us were two girls who couldn't have been more than 10 years old. Since we had a fairly open view in front of us and they were 5' 2" and we are 5' 10", we offered to swap spots with them - to which they jumped up and down and screamed at a pitch that only dogs can hear. They continued to do this the entire show. It was actually pretty cute. Markie C thanked me for bringing him to his first ever show with actual screaming girls. We we're arguing over Death Cab's biggest hit during the course of the show, but the girls settled the debate for us with their reaction to "I Will Follow You Into the Dark". Ear piercing.

- Many, many years ago I was at a Matthew Sweet concert and watched the couple in front of sway and make out to the song "Someone to Pull the Trigger." Last night the couple directly to my right was dancing to "I Will Possess Your Heart" and the girl looked at her boyfriend and told him 'You possess my heart baby!' Um, do you know what that song is about? C'mon people.

- As any Detroiter will tell you, the Fox is about 500 yards away from the State Theater. Last night while we were enjoying Ben and the boys, Stone Temple Pilots were reuniting and rocking just a stone's throw away. As we were walking out of the theater, the kids behind us remarked 'Who was at the State tonight? Stone Temple something?' Seriously? I'm that old?

- Of course as fate would have it, last night was also game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. During the second to last song someone a few rows in front of us yelled 'We got the cup!' and ran out of the theater. By the time we got out to street level people were celebrating all up and down Woodward Ave. Not one's to eschew our fortuitous good luck, we joined in the reverie. Hey, Hey Hockeytown...

Posted 10:07am
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June 4th , 2008

Mostly I will remember the pant suits (and the crying)

I'm pretty sure you can imagine how I felt last night, watching Barack Obama announce that he was the Democratic nominee for president. I won't gush with platitudes too much, because this was a foregone conclusion for weeks and there's still a long row to hoe. But I do feel like my side won a little bit. Against impossible odds, the best possible option won out. That doesn't happen every day. And in every respect this is an historic day in American history, one that should inspire awe and pride. But I'm not about to rest on my laurels, let's quickly move on to the next step.

I once loved John McCain. I feel like I can sit a little higher on my high horse when I can in good consciousness get behind a republican. Back in 2000, before Al Gore found his calling and was still the world's worst campaigner, I was desperately hoping for a chance to vote for McCain. He was a reformer and a maverick. You knew he was a republican, but you felt like he wouldn't cow tow to the crazy religious right wingers that Gringrich sold the party to. A good, solid, bipartisan, smaller government, state's rights kind of guy.

I guess you never can tell what disappointment will do to a guy. Now Karl Rove never accused me of having a biracial baby out of wedlock (Screw you Rove! Its already public knowledge.) so I can't say what that does to a man's psyche (when it isn't true.) But apparently, it can cause the infamous, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em' mentality. When I look at McCain now, I see someone who wants me to get off his lawn. Someone who contractually has to jiggle Pat Robertson's balls whenever they are in the same room. A once proud reformer constantly looking to reach across the aisle now in the pocket of big business and religious fanatics. In other words, George Bush with a war record. Is this what we're forever stuck with? Is this what Karl Rove has wrought on the party? That it takes the party line to rise in the party of inclusion? You'd think after the last mid terms they would have learned their lesson. Maybe another spanking in November is what they need to rethink their agenda and strategies. My fingers are crossed.

- While we're scolding the old man, let's look at the guy who's supposed to be the stronger on foreign policy and the military and his take on Iran. Now we all know that he doesn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shias, but that can't be integral to understanding the problems there, can it? Then he scolded Obama for wanting to to talk to Iran, even though that makes sense to the majority of Americans. THEN he chided Obama on his Iran policy AGAIN and said what we should do is divest from there and implement sanctions. That makes sense, right? It sure did to Obama when he proposed that course a YEAR ago. Oh yeah, and McCain opposed that very idea back then. Four more years!

Posted 9:44am
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June 3rd , 2008

And I think its fly when girls stop by for the Summer, for the summer

Its summer (finally!) so that means plenty of stuff to look forward to (Of course there's also things to dread, like a Michael Bay Ouija board movie (I fucking shit you not) and the new Weezer album (what happened to you, Rivers?), but we're trying to maintain an air of positively here (for once)). As with every brief respite that we get here in Michigan from the awful , shitty weather - summer means bbq, Oberon, fun on the water, trips to Cedar Point and Put-in-Bay (what you say?), and general day drinking. But every summer also brings special once in a lifetime, summer defining moments. These are the books, movies, music and people that define whatever your summer ends up being. Here's a few things I am looking forward to for summer 2008:

- I've been pretty low key about this (because I know many of you were 'enough with the Death Cab already' a while back,) but the first great show of the summer is tomorrow, as I go see Death Cab at the Fox! Its only my third time peeping DCFC, and the first time in two years (minus the Ben solo gig Ayesha and I caught.) So I very well may be like a 60's teenager when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan by the time Mr. Gibbard and company take the stage. Markie C, my oldest and most sage concert going buddy will be in tow, so I'm sure he'll smack me like I deserve should it come to that.

- I first started reading David Sedaris back when my Mom get really sick. Sitting by her side reading is how I spent the majority of my weekends back then, so I burned through books pretty quickly. When I started reading Naked, I couldn't help but laugh out loud as I sped through the pages. Before you knew it everyone's curiosity led to me reading it out loud, me hoping that Judy either wouldn't notice or mind too much all the references to drug use and homosexuality. She never said anything, and I'm sure I'll flash back to that when I'm reading When You are Engulfed in Flames.

- It took me FOREVER to finally see No Country For Old Men (as in, like, I finally saw it two weeks ago). I love the Coens, but I'm more into the wacky, lovable, only occasionally needlessly violent Coens. This of course means that I will not be waiting for this to come out on DVD before checking it out.

- And this looks like Kevin Smith has finally made the movie I've been waiting for - i.e. a great comedy that doesn't feature Jay and Silent Bob. I mean, I love those bastards, but let's see what else you got. Chasing Amy is your best movie, and they are only cursory, deus ex-machinas in that. Let's hope Zack and Miri cleanse the palate after the awful tasting Jersey Girl.

- I recently got a random txt from Markie C asking 'Is it just me, or is The Hold Steady the new Springsteen? Indeed they are. A drunker, more rockin' Springsteen - but one just as capable as providing you a soundtrack to your summer. Which is why you should immediately get Stay Positive and drive around town in your pickup drinking PBR. Or some generic approximation.

- Last summer will forever be defined by my cross-country trip to move Ayesha out to Arizona. It was truly a once in a lifetime thing that surpassed any expectation I had for it and totally lived up to its billing (those two statements seem perhaps redundant or perhaps even contradictory, but its exactly what I mean, so stop analyzing). There's a pretty good chance that summer 2008 will be remembered by Ayesha's return to Michigan in July. There's no great plans or expectations, just Ayesha back in town for 3 weeks. So it may not have the quite the snazz or panache that last summer's epic journey had, but that really doesn't matter. I haven't seen her since the semi-debacle in March, so truthfully, getting to see her is all I am really looking forward to.

Posted 10:47am
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June 2nd , 2008

This little piggy went 'ow fucking damnit.'

Sometime late last millennium I decided to stop wearing shoes. Well, at least as much as its feasible. Living in Michigan this only means portions of the months May through September, but as soon as the weather breaks the shoes come off and its barefoot hippy time. I store flip flops in key places like under the front seat of my car for things like going to the store, but otherwise I'm usually working on making the skin on the bottom of my feet black and coarse.

Of course this is not without its perils. From time to time I can get careless (drunk) and step on something I shouldn't. Or like yesterday, when I was playing '500' barefoot, jumped up and came down just right to break my pinky toe. I've never broken anything severely enough to warrant a cast, but it seems like I'm constantly fracturing parts of my body where medical professionals are saying things like 'Yeah, its probably broken, but there's not much you can do.' Great. So I'll just sit here and suffer then? Perfect. I'm going to need some more Oberon.

- But the broken toe was only the second most disappointing thing of the weekend, as I finally made it out to Indy 4. Blech. Why George Lucas insists on continuing to shit on my cherished childhood memories I'll never know. My pre-review review in the comments section the other day was more or less right, although I enjoyed it even less than anticipated. Bottom line - Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg are great, the script and George Lucas are awful. I mean I had fun and everything, but its like they forgot why we love Indiana Jones in the first place, and that hurts worse than any broken bone.

Posted 9:41am
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May 31st, 2008

Big wheel keep on turnin', Proud Mary keep on burnin'

I've had a life long love affair with the water. Its a somewhat tenuous one, as I have neither the complexion nor the wealth that makes such a lifestyle easy. When I was a kid, we spent a lot of time on my parent's rich friend's 40' sailboat on Lake Erie. I suppose that was the genesis of my infatuation. I suppose it was also the pinnacle, as ever since the boats have gotten quite a bit smaller.

My first stint as captain of my own vessel came in the sixth grade, as canoeing was part of the curriculum at Camp Palmer. I honestly don't remember much about that, as I was much more concerned with sneaking out of the bunk to meet with girls to make out and feel them up. Because as everybody knows, that's what camp is really for. Fast forward to after college, when the tailgate crew started annual trips to Northern Michigan to canoe and drink on the many quick, winding rivers of the sub-U.P. Even back then I was always one of the few single dudes, so finding a canoeing partner was always a chore. I always managed to pair up with one of the few other singles or someone who's sig. o. was out for the weekend, thus avoiding the dreaded kayak. No one wants to see me on one of those things.

But in the several years of making that trip, I never had the same shipmate twice. Canoeing is about teamwork, so while all my partners over the years were more than capable (except maybe that one year Stov and I were together), I never really got a chance to develop an actual rapport with anyone to become an elite canoeing machine. That's why now that my Siddhartha is neigh on his teenage years, I figure what better opportunity to force a little father/son bonding and create a canoeing team the likes of the rivers of Michigan have never seen.

We had our first foray today with about a 90 minute trip down the Huron right here in Washtenaw Co. The only real snag was when we had to port the canoe around a damn - Sid wasn't much help there. But other than that we weaved in and out and around the river Huron with great aplomb, and someday when we're paddling circles around those other saps going sideways down stream, we can point to today as our genesis.

This is our first grand tradition - touching the oar to the underneath of every bridge. Someday it will lead to a massive spill, and if you're lucky enough to be there when that happens, you can see a father and son blame each other for being cold and wet for the following 30 minutes. I for one can't wait.

Posted 9:15pm
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May 29th, 2008

Act your age.

I was having drinks a while back with my good friends J. and H. (I'm not sure why I am protecting their identities, as it will be painfully obv. to most who these people are and I doubt they care, but anyway...) I've known both these people for 10 years, and they both know me pretty well. They know each other through me, and have a pretty decent working knowledge of each other. J. is male, H. is female. I think that's all the exposition we need.

So we were enjoying some $2 happy hour Oberons and for whatever reason at some point, H. says "Isn't J. older than you?" I started to laugh. "Thanks for the compliment, but I'm actually older. But only by like 3 months." "Oh." H. retorts. "Well J. just seems more mature because he has a kid."

J. has a baby less than one year old at home. And I, as H., J., and everyone knows, have a burgeoning teenager.

Mortified, H. explains "Well it never seems like you have a kid. You're too irresponsible."

Oddly enough, I guess, I take this as a compliment. Especially around my friends who aren't procreators (of which H. is one) I do my best to separate my role as parent and that of gregarious drunkard. No one thinks your kid is as interesting as you do, and I try to remember that. Of course I can run off at the mouth pretty easily when people inquire about Siddhartha, but on the whole I try to keep kid time kid time and adult time adult time. (Not that one ever stops being a parent, but you know.) One can debate the merits of this approach, but I am apparently doing a decent job of it.

- While I've never actually seen a dart related injury at the bar, I've seen many a close call. In any event, this made me laugh.

- And this made me absolutely livid. I've always known that Michelle Malkin was stupid fucking bitch whose popularity is entirely based on the fact that she's a conservative with a vagina who's above average looking (the Asian Ann Coulter). Like most conservative assholes, she trades intelligent discourse for volume and spews shit that there's no way she believes just to make noise. Which is why I am so disappointed in Dunkin' Donuts. Come fucking on! You folded like you just got raised by Doyle Brunson. Show a little backbone. That scarf is about as 'Arab' as I am.

Posted 10:53am
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May 28th, 2008

Yes, yes, seriously? and fuck yeah!

- I didn't think much of the Hannitoba Manitoba pics that were in Vanity Fair. I mean, mildly creepy at best in my opinion. But these, these are awesome. This is my kind of train wreck girl. Countdown to sex tape in 5... 4... 3...

- A lot of you bloggy blog readers are at least less than a day trip away from the Windy City, so I draw your attention to Pitchfork's guide to some of Chi-town's finer street festivals, featuring big name indie rock talent. The events kick off this weekend (with Ted Leo!) and include stuff like Maritime and Josh Ritter later in the summer. So attention couches of Chicago - my drunken head may need a place to rest for a few hours some warm summer evening.

- Swear to God, this Clinton supporter says Hill-dog should get 78% of Michigan's delegates because she won 55% of the vote in our non-primary. Based on that logic, no wonder she's still 'in the race'. I mean je-sus. What's next? She claims that she's the senator of Puerto Rico while begging Obama to debate her? That's just ridiculous. Or maybe her husband can tell us that Obama will lose to McCain and that fact is being covered up via a vast media conspiracy. Seriously, these people are starting to look dumber than W.

- Speaking of, did you hear about Scott McLellan's new book? All I can say is that its the most I've ever agreed with anyone in the Bush administration. Oh yeah, and no shit.

Posted 10:39am
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May 27th, 2008

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

Hmm. Well I was in ELansing for work on Friday (had some great Thai, check out my review on Yelp) and was lazy over the holiday weekend, so the blog took its biggest vacation in months with the quintessential 4 day weekend. Here's 5 things I enjoyed over said period:

- Twin Peaks
Maybe 6 months to a year ago I saw the first season of Twin Peaks at the library and decided to grab it and hold onto it for a rainy day. Well said rainy day turned out to be a gorgeous Sunday night where I was so beat from biking around all day that going out wasn't going to happen (more on that later). Anyway, hard to believe that it was 18 years ago that my sister was trying to get me to watch this fucked up boo butt© of a show with her. All I can say is man, does it hold up fabulously. Its every bit as weird and wonderful as I remember. I'm actually excited to get season 2, even though I know it starts to fall off.

- More doppelgangers!
Of course watching TP made me remember one of my all time great conundrums:

Sherilyn Fenn vs Lara Flynn Boyle
in
Which one of you was Laura Palmer?

OK. Go back and watch Twin Peaks. Go on. Now tell me it didn't take you like three episodes until you could tell these two apart without pausing for a 'Wait is that...?' Why David Lynch would cast these two identical girls with identical hair styles for those two parts is beyond me. But its David Lynch, I'm sure he had his reasons. And aren't their names like EXACTLY the same despite not being at all similar? I mean, for like 3rd rate semi-famous B actresses?

- Border to Border
Who knows how long this existed without my knowledge (not long, since they are apparently still working on the Ypsi side of things) but Washtenaw County has a 'Border to Border' trail that runs the length of the county along the Washtenaw river. I spent every day this weekend riding my bike up and down it, as it is flat (thus easy) and scenic (potential hot girls jogging; and nature and stuff.) Anyway if you're in town and looking to get outside, its good stuff.

- Oberon
I know, I know. This makes me happy all summer every summer, but if there was a theme to this weekend it was 'Bikes and Booze' and by booze I mean Oberon. I'd ride all day, and then come home and undo all the good I'd done to my body with the sweet nectar of Oberon. Its becoming that maybe Oberon cannot be considered innocuous at all. Hmm... interesting.

- Politics
...as in there was none! I spent the entire weekend (OK, I watched Meet the Press on Sunday. Old habits die hard.) without thinking much about politics at all. There was some drunken political ramblings on Friday, but that was mostly just liberals agreeing with each other while imbibing. Otherwise, I eschewed the news and took a welcome respite from getting all worked up over nothing. Yes, even Hillary's unintentional RFK/Obama comparison. Of course I'm back in the saddle this morning, enjoying these Obama vs McCain swing state numbers.

Posted 10:45am
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May 22nd, 2008

Hit me on the hip.

It was almost 10 years ago (jesus...) that I got my first real-life, after college job. In actuality, it was the same job I'd been doing for the previous 2 years. But my department had just lost a ton of funding and the majority of staff had to be laid off. For some reason, at the same time people were losing their jobs, I was taken aside and offered a full-time, salaried position with benefits (as opposed to the temporary, hourly rate one I then had). I remember feeling a little guilty about it at the time. These people who had been around for a while, these people with families and jobs, were getting laid off, while the kid who just graduated 6 months prior was getting a raise. Not too guilty though, as I now had health insurance AND didn't have to go looking for a job. Which is something I loathe - as witnessed by the fact that the job I am talking about is ostensibly the same one I have today.

Anyway, to celebrate my official foray into the working world of respectable adults, I took my raise and went out and bought my very first cell phone. This was justified by a.) my newfound wealth b.) my status as a parent, needing to be available at all times c.) my nerdy love for gadgets. OK, mostly C. There it is! On your right! Why I still have my first cell phone is an enigma, but nevertheless... It had an old school LED display, extendable antenna and even remembered phone numbers! You had to remember who's number it actually was, but it was there! The sound was crappy and the coverage was weak, but it fit in my pocket! (mostly) How cool is that?

Next to my giant yellow friend is my newest buddy. When all closed up, he's 2 inches shorter, an inch thinner and weighs roughly half of his big brother. He also takes pictures, plays mp3s, sends txts and even remembers phone numbers that you can designate to people by name, picture, ringtone and flashing light display. It'll work pretty much anywhere, even without that cool extendable antennae.

Its pretty hilarious to think of how cell phone use has changed since I first went wireless. Back then, your phone called people. In an emergency, because the minutes were expensive! And again, that's assuming you could get service. Cell phones were status symbols, and man did I love whipping that thing out. Now, cell phones are a ubiquitous part of our culture. People don't even have landlines anymore. I have so many minutes (for basically the same price I was paying ten years ago) that I can call people whenever I want. Not that I usually do, as the txt message has become my default mode of communication with the world. And thank fuck all for that, because I love my phone, but man do I hate talking on it.

Posted 11:04am
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May 21st 2008

Wasn't he that one guy in that one movie?

My powers of recall generally border on the superhuman. Knowing the names of actors and directors, composers and cinematographers is what makes me an unstoppable force in the arena of trivial pursuit. But occasionally, even I come upon a case of juxtaposition. Certain people are just too similar to keep straight between the synapses. So here I offer you, dear readers, some of my ultimate Achilles heals when it comes to the question of 'Which one was that again?' Enjoy...

Andy Garcia vs Jimmy Smits
in
La Muerte de los Hermanos

Given, Andy tends to get the more douche hole roles (Oceans 11) and Jimmy plays the benevolent good guy (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith). Maybe that's why Jimmy seems to be the much more affable real life persona (see his turn on SNL). But either way, it at least takes a minute to remember which one was in When a Man Loves a Woman?

Toby Maguire vs Ethan Embry
in
My Spidey Sense is Tingling!

OK, this one isn't the brain teaser it used to be. Playing everyone's favorite webslinger in three movies will do that for your career (and he played Seabiscuit! or something like that...) But remember back in the 1990's when they were indistinguishable in movies like Pleasantville and Can't Hardly Wait?

Leelee Sobieski vs Helen Hunt
in
Not Without my Daughter!

Yes, this is a cheat. No one's going to confuse the star of Mad About You with that girl that was in that TV Joan of Arc miniseries. But damnit if they don't look exactly alike. Someone someday will confuse the two.

Omar Epps vs Taye Diggs
in
Always Bet on Black.

Two good looking black men around the same age who both spend time doing TV and movies. I'll always remember it was Taye in How Stella got Her Groove Back (just because) but damned if I know which one was on ER and which one was on House (both Omar Epps, by the way, which doesn't seem possible and adds to the confusion.)

Kathy Griffin vs That Girl from News Radio
in
Does the Carpet Match the Curtains?

OK, this isn't such a tough one now, but there was a point late last century where both of these raven haired ladies played quirky office mates on NBC sitcoms. Who knew that Kathy would whore herself out to remain famous and end the confusion. Except for the pause one needs to remember which one played George's secretary on Seinfeld (its the other one).

Chris Cooper vs William Sadler
in
The Future Wilford Brimley

Yes, Cooper has the Oscar. But a bit of doppelgangers no? And they are both character actors who disappear into roles, so when it comes to bit parts, they are pretty interchangeable. The first one to gain forty pounds and get really crotchety becomes our next Wilford Brimley. Diabeetus.

David Koechner vs Rob Corddry
in
He's Bald Jerry!

Funny side-kicky bald men. They're a dime a dozen. Both of these cats are near the top of their game though. From The Daily Show to The Office, these buffoons often steal the show when they appear on screen. Which one is which however, is anybody's guess.

Mister Mister vs Mike and the Mechanics
in
Which one of you guys was in Genesis again?

Regardless of the fact that these are bands and not actors, I'd be remiss to not mention them here. Its "Broken Wings" vs. "The Living Years" time. Which bland song was sung by which bland band has been lost to history...

Posted 9:03am
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May 20th, 2008

Must love booze.

The other night Ayesha and I were having a 'discussion' about the genesis of our relationship and during the proceedings she whipped out the original craigslist ad that brought us together. She went on to suggest that I post it on the blog for all to see. Even I started to blanche with apprehension at the initial thought of this. Then I thought 'Why the fuck not?' Its not any worse or embarrassing than the previous three plus years of content. So for those of you who always wondered what made a gorgeous girl like Ayesha fall for the likes of me, this is where it started. The rest was thanks to alcohol.

On the off chance the girl o' my dreams is reading this

Here's the deal - I've posted stuff before. I usually get some interesting responses, have some interesting email based conversations, and then end up at the same place I started a few weeks later. But its been fun every time, so here I go again (not a Whitesnake reference)

I'm a 30yo average looking guy. Maybe above average, but this way I can't imagine you'll be disappointed. Its all subjective anyway. Avg height, avg weight, no physical deformities. I went to college, have a job, a car, a life - just no woman currently. If you read the above and said 'That's sorta like me' (except the guy part) here's some more things you might be that would be a plus in my solipsistic view:
The last album you bought/downloaded was this century (I have a new music fetish)
You get my Top Gun references AND would watch a subtitled movie with me.
If I called you to go out for a drink on a random Wednesday evening, you might find yourself amenable.
You've read a book not purchased in paperback form in an airport in the last five years.
You will play Trivial Pursuit to the death.
You will argue with me about stupid pop culture things and have everything be OK afterwards, because it was about a stupid pop culture thing.
You can make me feel dumb about something.
You are silly.

The pretty much dealbreakers:
If you have a problem with someone who drinks (quite a bit).
If you are religious and take it seriously.
If you are a stay-at-home kinda person.
If you embarrass easily and/or can't handle being teased.
If you REALLY can't wait for me to meet your cat/dog/ferret.

Too much? Too little? How does one know? Those still reading and looking for good email possibly leading to an embarrassing first meeting, you know what to do. Pics beget pics and all that stuff...

So there it is. Ayesha noted that she still meets and/or exceeds all of the preferences outside of participating in mortal Trivial Pursuit. I think this speaks to the effectiveness of my choices in requirements. In any event, let us all never hope I never have to resort to such ridiculousness again. Oh the humanity...

Posted 12:52pm
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May 19th, 2008

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

- Maybe its the leftover expectations of prom night. Maybe its the elevated and elegant level of dress that usually accompanies it. Or maybe its just that there's no reason to ever stop drinking. Whatever the reason, limos are breeding grounds for debauchery. Saturday night I tooled around SE Michigan with some friends in a stretch limo (as a result of a lost bet, so I was riding for free. Score.) and drunk doesn't begin to describe the evening. I even managed to win some money at video poker along the way. I love that we have casino in Detroit and don't take near the advantage of them that I should. Anyway, drunk, limo, hooray!

- I love me some Leopold Bros. Its picnic tables, board games and beer that packs the punch of Cold Cock Malt Liquor. I have many fond memories of dates, birthday parties and rabid Trivial Pursuit games at Leopolds. Which is why it is with great sadness that I have to inform you that Saturday is its last day in Ann Arbor. But I totally intend on one last night there this week - to enjoy your 8% alcohol beer and what may be the greatest juke box of all time.

- The website Black Cab Sessions is up there with Daytrotter when it comes to indie rock benevolence. Which is why we shouldn't be surprised that Black Cab is serving up Death Cab. Be still me heart...

- I was back in Snaptown, OH for a bit this weekend to say hi to the family. It was great to see everyone, and of course as with having to spend any time in that godforsaken state, good to come home. But time with the family + alcohol means that politics would eventually rear its ugly head. We didn't get too deep into it, but I do remember specifically making an argument to my dad about being green and noting 'You know what they pay for gas in Europe?' Well here's an even more well thought extrapolation of that point. Its going to have to be about modifying behavior as much as anything people.

- As I'm sure I've noted several times on the ol' bloggy blog, Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite movie of all time. Its a perfect film. So I am naturally teeming with anticipation over this week's premier of Indy 4. It sounds like I should temper my excitement a tad, but its not like I'm expecting the second coming. I just want to feel a twinge of the excitement that seeing an Indiana Jones movie as a kid brought. And no matter what else happens, a few whip cracks should be enough to placate me.

Posted 10:17am
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May 16th, 2008

If only I could revoke people's ability to use the internet.

Being a computer nerd, my tolerance for technological stupidity can wear pretty thin on any given day. I mean, I have no problem with a somewhat inane question, especially when people come hat in hand and say 'this may sound dumb, but...' But when you get people who think they know what they're talking about refusing to follow your directions because of either some smug sense of superiority or complete inability to listen, well let's just say that I can get condescending real quick. Witness the following email exchange:

From: fuckstick@umich.edu
To: brubaker@umich.edu
Subject: Help!

Can I call you today and get you to walk me through this problem I'm having? I'd really appreciate it.
Thanks
-fuckstick

From: brubaker@umich.edu
To: fuckstick@umich.edu
Subject: Re: Help!

I'm in my office until noon today, feel free to call.
Thanks
-T

--
Tyler Brubaker
Systems Administrator
Substance Abuse Section/ Bioinformatics
phone: 734.232.0228
email: brubaker@umich.edu

From: fuckstick@umich.edu
To: brubaker@umich.edu
Subject: Re:Re: Help!

what's your number?
-fuckstick

From: brubaker@umich.edu
To: fuckstick@umich.edu
Subject: Re:Re:Re: Help!

20228, just like it says below in my signature.
-T

--
Tyler Brubaker
Systems Administrator
Substance Abuse Section/ Bioinformatics
phone: 734.232.0228
email: brubaker@umich.edu

From: fuckstick@umich.edu
To: brubaker@umich.edu
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re: Help!

what are the first 2 numbers, I'm calling from home

From: brubaker@umich.edu
To: fuckstick@umich.edu
Subject: Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: Help!

734-232-0228 - just like it says right below in my signature.

--
Tyler Brubaker
Systems Administrator
Substance Abuse Section/ Bioinformatics
phone: 734.232.0228
email: brubaker@umich.edu

My hand to god that is a real, actual exchange. Only the names have been changed to protect the woefully ignorant. Thankfully its Friday and I'm going home at noon.

- I'm a little sensitive about Looney Tunes. I feel that Bugs and Daffy are two of greatest comedians ever, and those that don't find them absolutely hilarious are not to be trusted. I once broke up with a girl because she called Looney Tunes 'boring'. And I once threatened to throw a girl out of my house because she called Bugs Bunny 'stupid'. 'I don't come to your house and call Jesus stupid!' was I think my exact response. Drinking may have played a role and that last one. Anyway, here's a list of every Acme product to appear in a Looney Tunes short. I'm saving up for an ACME Little Giant Do-It-Yourself Rocket-Sled Kit

- Speaking of Acme, I know no one cares about this but me, but I had always assumed that the Pipe Full O' Fun Kit #7 was an Acme product. After not seeing it on the list, I got the enjoyment of verification. I say, I say it was the Ace Novelty Company! And its always nice to see a Warner Bros short based on an Akira Kurasowa classic.

- California, America's bellwether of progress, has declared that gay marriage is guaranteed by the state's constitution. I understand that many people out there are scared of the gays, afraid they might catch some gayness or start lisping if they spend any amount of time in their presence. But why deny them the right to be married and miserable like us breeders? I mean, if your religion doesn't like it, don't let them get married in your church - that's your right. But seriously, if you're threatened by gay people, you're either stupid, misguided, or in the closet.

Posted 10:17am
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May 15th, 2008

Nemesis

Last night I was talking to Ayesha and she asked if I had an arch enemy. Now I don't know if you find that question as easily answerable as I did, but upon reflection, it may be a bit disturbing that by the time the word arch was out, the name of my nemesis was already on the tip of my tongue. For reasons of not giving her the satisfaction should she ever come across this by any means, I won't mention her by name. But chances are that if you knew me between the years 1988 and 1994, you know who I am talking about.

Here are some of the qualities that I find detestable in people: pseudo-intellectuals, kiss asses, tee totalers, phonies. My nemesis embodies all of these characteristics. She's a two-faced bitch that walks around with a smug sense of entitlement. She always has a smile on her face even though I doubt she's ever had five minutes of fun in her life. If she were a character on a teenage melodrama, she's be the one who immediately got a look of menace on her face when people's backs turned and the ominous music began to play.

I can't really point to the genesis of my nemesis. It just became apparent over time that due to our abilities and proclivities we were going to be thrown together for a lot of school related stuff, and that we were going to butt heads every time that happened. I always wanted to skirt the rules and do things the fun, quick and easy way. I wanted to make myself giggle with every step, and everything else was secondary. The nemesis was well, the opposite. Cantankerous, complaining, and eventually without fail, running to some person of authority to rat me out.

The end of our senior year she really tried to play the 'I know we fought a a lot but I think we're better for it and I really do respect you' card. But you know what? I don't respect her. She's a cunty bitch with a stick up her butt. I don't know if I've talked to her in 14 years, but I've seen her now and again and have heard the occasional updates from mutual friends. She sounds like the same person I remember. Chances are that I'll never have a real interaction with her again, but she will forever be my arch enemy, and that's the most credit I will give her for anything.

Posted 11:35am
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May 14th, 2008

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Nothing raises my ire more than when people try to co-opt science for religion. Religion is faith, science is fact, and never the twain shall meet. We've discussed this before ad naseum, so let's move on. Almost as egregious is when zealots try to co-opt dead scientists for religion. Its disgraceful on so many levels. Like all those creationists who claim that Darwin renounced evolution on his deathbed. Imbeciles. Another widely mis-maligned (in my view anyway) icon has always been Albert Einstein. The devout have always pointed to quotes like "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind" as proof of Al's belief in the divine. I've always found these claims dubious and in the past, pointed to my own suspect evidence as proof for Al's agnostic tendencies. Well let us, as they say, close the book on that one. Sorry Baby Jesus.

- Speaking of religious kooks looking to prove faith... everyone who has a masters degree in science raise your hand - not so fast Institute for Creation Research.

- Those of you who have been touched by his noodley appendage will be happy to see the FSM so proudly on display. R'amen.

- Its not a 'Baby Jesus' post without a quick rip into Scientology. This week they lost their richest member - some casino billionaire from Australia. We offer one Baby J crocodile tear for every member of your precious little cult, Mr. Cruise. Sorry, religion. Eh, fuck it, same thing.

- While we here at tbaggervance.com assume Baby J has no political affiliation, we want to believe he'd support Obama - what with the hope and the coming together and whatnot. As such, boo West Virginia for making the Baby Jesus cry yesterday. HOWEVER, tears of joy for Senator Obama openly stating that he'll end the fed getting involved in states' medical marijuana laws. Because Obama, like Jesus, wants to ease people's suffering - not cling to arcane laws enacted out of ignorance and fear that do more harm than good.

Posted 12:24pm
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May 13th, 2008

Two great tastes that go great together.

Its finally here! Death Cab Day hath arrived and there was much rejoicing across the land - for those that still procure their music through legal channels. So for those of you just popping in the disc for the first time or are finally transferring your iTunes purchase to your iPod or other mp3 player, sit back, relax, grab yourself an adult beverage and prepare yourself for the nuanced sonic onslaught. You're going to love it. Those who remain unconvinced that Narrow Stairs is for them, you can stream the whole thing via AOL, or read The AV Club's stellar review (just remember to ignore those fucking pompous d-bag ass heads over at pitchfork.)

Speaking of Death Cab, yesterday Fuse had them in studio to play some live tracks from Narrow Stairs. And I couldn't help but notice as I stared lovingly at my television, soaking in all the Benjamin goodness, that my dueling bromances had a little cross-affection going on. Because there it was on Ben's guitar, a gorgeous and stunning yet subtle Obama sticker. Just when I think my love can't grow any stronger... See if you can catch it when they play Letterman tonight.

- Pay no attention to the West Virginny primary happening today. Trying to glean anything noteworthy from today's outcome is an exercise in futility and the only reason anyone will try is because newspapers have pages and networks have time to fill.

Posted 11:43am
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May 12th, 2008

Molding young minds.

When I was growing up, it seemed like every adult I knew was always volunteering for something. From collecting money for the United Way, to belonging to some public service club like the Optimists - there never seemed to be a lack of institutions that needed people's time, and while I'm sure it wasn't the case, it never seemed like anyone said no. Certainly not my mom and dad, who where chairpersons, organizers and volunteers for so much stuff I often wondered when they ever relaxed. Public service and giving back were just a way of life.

Now I'm an adult (at least statistically) with a kid and I haven't done squat. Well, that's not totally true. I've always been the first to sign up when something Sid was involved in needed an adult. Baseball coach, Science Olympiad volunteer - I've done a lot of that shit. But that's pretty self-serving, looking out for your kid based volunteering. It doesn't exactly reek of altruism. I've been saying for a while now that once Sid got a little older and didn't need as much supervision (not that he ever has) that I wanted to volunteer at 826Michigan. 826 is a group started by Dave Eggers and the folks at McSweeneys that helps teach kids how to write. Loving both McSweeeneys and words as I do, it seemed to be a natural fit for some of my ample free time. And then as I was talking to Ayesha last night and she was submitting her own application to do some volunteer work, she gently reminded me that 'Weren't you going to volunteer at that writing place?' Fine. I'll look into it. Well 45 minutes later I had an application submitted and 12 hours after that I was signed up for volunteer orientation to take place 33 hours later. So much for dipping a toe and seeing if I was going to freeze my ass off or not.

So I do not know what I will be doing as of yet. Clearly my strengths of making obscure pop culture references and my effective use of hyperbole and colloquialisms will come into play - while downplaying my use of profanity and reliance on self-referrential alcoholism jokes. Maybe they will look at my writing style and tell me I am welcome to come and sweep the floors. In any case I'm sure I will meet some hip cats and people who love to read and write. We're a dwindling number, and I guess I want to do anything I can to stem the tide on that as much as anything.

- Hillary is a psycho ex-grilfriend stalker with the crazy eyes. And she made some really dumb mistakes (in hindsight, natch).

Posted 1:11pm
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May 9th, 2008

M is for the many things she gave me...

Sunday is mother's day, which is always a little sad for me. Its been almost six years since my mom passed away, and not a day goes by where I don't think about her. Judy and I fought - a lot - as I was growing up. Seemed like we were always butting heads over something. That something was usually school (how I'm not applying myself) religion (how I'm going to hell) or booze (how I'm drinking too much, which is to say at all when I was in high school). As Jer said after she got really sick "She was always looking out for us. We probably should have listened more." In our defense, that's hard to do when you're 17 and you know more about everything than everybody.

But honestly, my mom and I got along for the most part, especially as I got older and realized I didn't quite know everything yet (Moeman always says the older you get, the smarter your parents are, which I suppose is true.) She was really an amazing woman, going back to school after her kids were grown and getting her Masters degree in her fifties. She spent her life teaching kids in preschool, and there's hundreds of kids in Henry County who had Mrs. Brubaker as their first teacher ever. Anyway, everybody loves their mommy and I'm no exception. There's a hole somewhere that was created when she died, and it'll never quite be filled again. I guess I'm lucky that I had such a great mom for as long as I did, and that I have all the lessons she instilled in me to get me through the rough patches.

One of the all time great trump cards she gave me happened after she got sick. She was on a lot of medication, and she used to sit in the recliner in the living room all day, drifting in and out of sleep. One night the whole family was sitting around said living room, drinking and telling stories. Mostly we were swapping anecdotes about how we got caught doing stupid stuff as kids by Judy B. (all of mine involved coming home drunk, natch.) All of this took place with mom sitting right next to us, assumedly fast asleep. Then, apropos of nothing, in the middle of some story about someone getting caught red handed, suddenly we hear mom's voice: "I always thought Tad was gay." We all lost it. Well, except maybe my oldest, very hetero brother Tad. She went on to explain and clarify her remarks, none of which I remember at this point, because I was already imagining all the ways that, for the rest of my life, I could look my brother in the eye and say "Mom always thought you were gay." Thanks mom. I love you.

Posted 11:00am
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May 8th, 2008

Booze should be egalitarian.

When I was in Cananada recently, I was in awe of how many bars there were. Since I usually travel sans agenda, we were just driving along, looking for some place to grab a cocktail or two. "We could go there... or there... or that place looks cool..." It appeared that every five feet was yet another place to imbibe. If I believed in heaven, it would be the truest representation I had ever seen. Why can't we have such a wondrous setup in the States? The short answer is, of course, that we're repressed, puritanical fucktards - mired in blue laws that have been on the books since prohibition. Maybe someday we'll all start acting like adults, but I'm not holding my breath.

Of course one of the many reasons I love Ann Arbor is that its often ahead of the curve on these things (like our $25 pot misdemeanor) So it was like Christmas had come early when I read that the city had 807 (807!) new liquor licenses to offer downtown businesses. That's 807 (807!) new bars to drink at! Its going to take me forever just to visit them all once, much less several times! Of course immediately the mayor (who has subsequently lost my vote in the next election) starts with the backlash about 'we have to have a conversation about this.' Harrumph! Even LESS surprising is the owner of uber-downer bar The Arena is all up in arms about the competition this may provide. Because let's be honest, who needs one less reason to drink at the Arena? It should be noted that at the end of the original article, the owner of ABC says 'Hey man, its cool.' Indeed it is.

- Giant amazon women are coming for your cult worshiping action heroes! The second picture here is my favorite. He's so tiny and cute! Like she's going to pick him up and put him in her purse! I want to hear him sing "We represent... the lollipop guild!'

- Speaking of hipsters (Remember? Yesterday?)

- I've always loved The Rules Attraction, both in book and movie form. Here's a fond look back at the flick, which pretty much sums up exactly how I feel like it.

Posted 11:26am
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May 7th, 2008

Na na, na na na na, Hey hey hey...

In the past year (starting on May 18th, 2007) on tbaggervance.com, there have been approximately 25 posts that make mention of Barack Obama. Making him probably second only to booze as a topic of conversation around here. In that time my man crush for the Senator has only gained in strength. Naturally, as he went from improbable also ran to full on front runner, there were many moments of doubt. There were plenty of times that I was sure that the establishment wasn't going to let this happen. I was worried that the people who I talked to a year ago who told me that the country wasn't ready for a black man to be president were right. Mostly I was worried that the powers that be would find a way to coronate Hillary in the same way they did it to W 8 years ago. From a political insider's point of view, that name and that female genitalia seemed like the surest thing ever. But if Barack Obama has taught us anything, its to believe in hope.

Last night Obama all but delivered the knock out blow to Hillary's chance of getting the nomination. You could here it in her voice during her conciliatory 'victory' speech, and in the analysis of the pundits, who were finally saying 'Its over.' Not 'She no longer has a clear path,' nor 'How does she convince the superdelegates?' but 'Its over.' They were plotting her 'exit strategy' from the minute Indiana went from 'Too early to call' to 'Too close to call.' And really, its about time. We really need to start talking about delineating between Obama and McCain - the latter who just yesterday talked about wanting more judges like recent Supreme Courters Alito and Roberts. Fuck me. You should really only be allowed to vote McCain if you A.) Make over $250,000 a year. B.) Are so socially conservative that you think masturbating makes the baby jesus cry or C.) Want to continue an ill conceived war that puts American lives at risk for reasons passing understanding. Otherwise, come to where the flavor is. Come to Obama country.

- I've always had no problem admitting that I'm somewhat of a hipster, albeit in what I consider a completely non-douchey way. But if this is any kind of metric, I apparently have a long way to go.

- I've made the argument (after amalgamating it from several sources) that the mere election of an African-American as President of the United States sends a huge message to the world and the appearance alone helps us regain some of the cachet and respect we've lost over the past 8 years of ineptitude. Want evidence? In his spare time, Obama has help negotiate peace in Nigeria. Seriously.

Posted 11:14am
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May 6th, 2008

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

- Sid and I saw Iron Man on Saturday and it may have been our greatest joint movie going experience yet. We were both excited going in, and both in love on the way out. Usually, one of us is being dragged into the theater on some level and/or I'm dealing with some level of disappointment afterwards. But as far as Summer popcorn movies go, Iron Man is absolute perfection. It pops with all of whiz bang eye candy that you'd expect from a movie about a billionaire flying around in a robot suit, and manages to (on at least some level) deal with the themes of guilt, redemption and the sliding scale of morality that permeate the comic book (Iron Man was always my second favorite comic growing up behind Daredevil, and we all know how that adaptation turned out, so this was a big win for me personally). ANYWAY, if you're at all inclined to enjoy a comic book movie, Iron Man is up there with the best of them. Those with issues regarding the suspension of disbelief, well let's be honest, this wasn't on your radar to begin with...

- Diabeetus.

- This would have fucked me so hard in high school. Seriously, its prom, let them eat cake. Delicious, intoxicating, booze cake.

- I caught just a glimpse of Michael Moore on Larry King the other night as I was headed out of the house. Larry asked Mike when the Democratic race would be over, to which he responded something akin to 'whenever you guys decide to stop covering it like its not already'. Well here's hoping Indiana is smarter than Ohio and Pennsylvania and we get a death blow today. Because as the numbers will tell you, people want Obama.

- Speaking of, I may or may not have once said that I would vote for John McCain before I voted for Hillary Clinton. First off, I'd like to note that if I did ever make such a proclamation, I was drunk when I said it (has to true, right?) Secondly, I take it back. See, when I drunkenly maybe made that statement, I was thinking of 1999 John McCain. Remember? The straight talker who was a maverick republican and not the one who has run to the most vile conservative base of his party in order to get elected? He's Bush, people. An older, shorter tempered Bush. OK smarter, but still...

Posted 10:07am
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May 5th, 2008

I am old. Then young. Then ultimately old again.

Concerts make me feel young. Although I realize that I am well above the median age of those in attendance at most of the shows I choose to go to, once the music starts I don't feel that way. Rocking out in the confines of your own personal space as a bunch of 22 year olds play poppy noise rock at a break neck math rock speed will make anyone feel young. Well, OK, it makes me feel young anyway. Last night Tokyo Police Club rocked my face with their 3 minute rock assaults and the only lamentable thing was that it was a Sunday night and I was beat and instead of going out for more bar and shenanigans afterwards, I went home and crashed so I could make it up for work the next day. So feeling young and being young aren't remotely the same thing.

Speaking of which, two things that happened last night did make me feel decidedly old(er). The first was the two kids standing right in front of me and Markie C who were going for the Link look. Little stocking caps that came to a droopy point in the back, wisps of hair coming from everywhere, pointy ears. OK, they didn't have actual elvish features, but you'll never convince me that these guys weren't consciously trying to look like the hero from the Legend of Zelda games. We saw one of the Links after the show riding his bike, prompting Mark and I to sing the Zelda theme song. It wasn't easy to explain to those around us exactly why that was happening, but it never hurts to appear crazy when in downtown Detroit.

The second thing making me feel elderly was a long time in coming. The opening band was Smoosh, who as we discussed last week, are a pair of sisters under the age of 16. I always knew there would come a day where I'd see a hot young girl and wish her not for myself but for my son. I didn't expect it to happen at the Stick when Sid is yet to hit teenagerdom. But Smoosh rocks, and while they are far too young for me to find them remotely sexual, after they got off stage I txted Ayesha, telling her that I wanted Sid to date the drummer from Smoosh. Of course her response was 'Date someone in a rock band? That's how teen pregnancy happens!' I laughed and called her W.

Posted 10:32am
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May 3rd, 2008

I just went from six to midnight.

Our long national nightmare is over*. I may or may not have the new Death Cab. It may or may not make the hair on my arm stand on end. It may or may not make me feel like I did at the junior high dance when I was cheek to cheek with the unbelievably hot transfer student. There's things like sex and booze and pizza that you know will always be great and are sometimes transcendent. But nothing other than falling in love feels quite like hearing a new album that stirs the soul for the very first time. I guess that because, in a way, it is falling in love. For me anyway. Tonight, all is right with the world.

Here's some impressions after a cursory half dozen listens.

1. Bixby Canyon Bridge
I love lots of things about Death Cab, but my favorite thing may be when they take their usual heartfelt, emotional songwriting and let it fucking rip. Make no mistake my friend, DCFC will rock your face. "Bixby Canyon Bridge" builds and swirls around Ben Gibbard's perfect tenor into a melodic chaos that simultaneously makes you lament the frustration of questions that don't have answers while wanting to go out and look anyway.

2. I Will Possess Your Heart
I imagine those not familiar with Death Cab think of them as whiny, love sick emo rockers who have made a career out of some girl who dumped them in high school. Those who have ever heard more than one track will tell you differently. "I Will Possess Your Heart" may sound like a lovesick plea of someone forlorn, but its actually a dark, mid tempo groover about a stalker intent on proving that the object of his affections belongs with him. Its dark bitches, and that building four minute intro is absolutely appropriate.

3. No Sunlight
This is the up tempo rocker that was missing from Plans. Everything on Narrow Stairs is under produced (in a good way) and this is the track that may benefit most from that. I long to hear this live, feedback obscuring melodies and Ben screaming out lyrics that he sings in the confines of a studio. That shit always gets me.

4. Cath...
I heard an acoustic version of this several weeks ago and loved its aching beauty from the get go. But I knew that the personality of the song would change drastically with full instrumentation. Let's just say that my anticipation was well deserved, as this songs pumps blood they way only Death Cab can, with pure, raw, unadulterated emotion. That poor Cath, I feel awful for her.

5. Talking Bird
Hmm. A slow saddy. Ben just wants you to spread your wings and fly, the opportunity is there! But if you stay, he'll love you with all he's got. I have no doubt that this one will be on repeat someday, making me sob over and over again.

6. You Can Do Better
As a fine Irish lad, there's few finer things in this world than a woe is me lyric set to a good Irish drinking song melody. And the characteristics that go part and parcel with being Irish (you know, loud, running at the mouth drunkenness) make the following line one that's run through my mind many a hangover Saturday - "Because you can do better than me, but I can't do better than you."

7. Grapevine Fires
Anyone who's seen DCFC in concert knows that Mr. Gibbard is an erstwhile drummer. "Grapevine Fires" seems to be tangible evidence to this, as its completely driven by its marching band snare beat. Of course its layered with Chris Walla's pungent guitar noodling and some crafty organ work, but the thing just moves on that snare drum, stopping short at the end of the song, wondering if those fires ever got put out.

8. You New Twin Size Bed
We talked earlier about those that view the Death Cab as love sick emos. Well, this is the song they're pointing to. Its a little trite, but only because our boys set the bar so high. The back masked guitar that's gently inserted into the prechorus makes me grin from ear to ear, so I'll forgive a trite metaphor here and there.

9. Long Division
Remember how I said "No Sunlight" was an up tempo rocker? It ain't got nothing on this track. Ideally, this song should only be listened to in a car with the windows and top down, driving well over the speed limit on a winding road next to a body of water. This goes on every road trip mix tape I make from now to infinity.

10. Pity and Fear
Unless you are Led Zeppelin or the Police, I am wary of big name bands trying to distill world music influences into their songcraft. "Pity and Fear" definitely starts completely entrenched in African and Middle Eastern influences. I think as it starts to rock, it manages to transcend them and not completely feel like a late Led Zep period rip off as performed by Death Cab, but my infatuation may be blinding me. I know that even if it is, its sloppy and beautiful and I love every single second of it.

11. The Ice is Getting Thinner
The second compulsory slow saddy. This time, punctuated by a little Walla slide guitar, hinting at a county twang. I kinda wish the album didn't end like this, its my only real complaint. But hey, its minor nitpicking. I can only suck so much dick, you know?

So that's it. If I had heard the new Death Cab, that's what I would think of it. Its perfect in its imperfections. I am one smitten kitten, and I don't care who knows it. Hear the gospel, be converted. You'll thank me later.

*Unless you are a member of and/or are associated in any way with the RIAA. In which case, I don't even know what the internet or a death cab is. I swear.

Posted 12:19am
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May 2nd, 2008

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

- Ever since I became aware of his presence on the national scene, I've assumed that everything that comes out of George W Bush's mouth is a lie. Or at least a half truth or a self serving slant on things or one of those things that's technically true, but when you find out the totality of the thing, its clear he was trying to dupe you. But most of the time I have neither the time nor the inclination to go and look up the facts and prove myself right, I just assume that I am. Well thankfully every once in a while, the media does its job and saves me the effort of things like fact checking. Witness Keith Olberman debunking every single syllable of Bush's economic address the other day. Every one of you who had the fucking unmitigated gall to vote for this man not once but twice (TWICE!) owes me an apology. I am waiting.

- Iron Man. Sid and I are pumped. It looks like it will not disappoint despite sky high expectations. Speaking of...

- I, like most self respecting individuals, love me some Judd Apatow. So naturally I was looking forward to seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Of course when you're on a roll like Mr. Apatow has been, there is the problem of managing expectations. I had set the bar impossibly high for the flick, and as such I ended up only thinking that it was really, really good. Don't get me wrong, I laughed out loud consistently, thought it insightful and that Mila Kunis is unfuckingbelievably hot. But I didn't fall in love. (With the movie anyway, I may be in love with Mila). So yeah, bottom line, go see it. I guess after Iron Man at this point.

- I think I once referred to The Hold Steady as the unofficial house band of tbaggervance.com. If I didn't I certainly meant to, and since I am de facto doing it now, let's just move on. There's a lot to love about THS. They're my age, they love booze and rocking out (just like I do) and they just happen to be really fucking good at it. That's why we are very excited that the new Hold Steady album will be released July 15. Your life could be their band. Heavy.

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - We are getting spectacularly close to having heard every song on the new Death Cab album, even though we've really only heard one. Follow me? Well prettymuchamazing.com has six (SIX!) new DCFC songs, bootlegged from a show in Oregon earlier this week. Now if you will please leak the studio tracks of these and everything else on Narrow Stairs we would greatly appreciate it.

Posted 12:48pm
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May 1st, 2008

O! Gas Prices!

So I was putting gas in my car yesterday to the tune of $3.74 a gallon and I thought of a piece I wrote about 5 years ago or so about the fluctuations in the price of petrol. So into the archives I dove and sure enough, there it was. Its not quite as good as I remember, which explains all the looks I used to get when I would perform this type of stuff. But it is funny to imagine complaints about $1.50 a gallon gas. How naive we all were! Anyway, here it is, for your enjoyment. Or whatever.

Ode to Gas Prices

O! Gas prices
How I love you so!
The way you fluctuate
,
Sometimes hour to hour
and always day to day.
$1.47 on my way to work
magically becomes $1.54 as I go to lunch.
What will you be on my way home?
'All in due time' you seem to say.
I thank you gas prices,
as my anticipation of what you will be
brings sunshine to my otherwise cloudy day.

O! Gas prices
How I love you so!
No one can bring me
such an easy gotten feeling of accomplishment.
As I drive my car through town
I see you leering at me from your stately place high overhead.
$1.62, $1.67, $1.69?
and then like manna from heaven
$1.59
I spot you hiding, playing coy,
but you wanted to be found.
You have given me victory
snatched from the jaws of defeat,
created a feeling of satisfaction
as I know I saved as much as 90 cents on my 8 gallon purchase.
I thank you gas prices.
And when you happen to defeat me,
I say well played.
It only makes my next victory that much sweeter.

O! Gas prices
How I love you so!
I remember when you were under a dollar.
People said it wouldn't last.
People call those the good ol' days.
But don't worry gas prices.
When I hear such nonsense
I just smile a wry smile to myself,
because you and I know
that the thrill is the hunt,
not what you paid.
Like that time last summer,
when I drove around with the fuel light on for two whole days,
waiting for you to go below $1.40.
You almost broke me gas prices.
But then, just as I was down to my last fumes,
there you were:
$1.39.9
I wasn't embarrassed to let that single tear stream down my cheek
as I unscrewed the cap.
I thank you gas prices.
Me and you, BFF.
Don't ever, ever change.

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - I'm pretty positive the blog has yet to go international (minus the occasional Canadian) but if any of y'all are British, you can go hang out at your local record store to hear Narrow Stairs. Giving us ample reason to hate your limey butts.

Posted 9:52am
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April 30th, 2008

No, its Morgan Freeman, do you have any bones that need collecting?

There's something inherent in my personality that makes me a collector. I enjoy the process of accumulating and cataloging things. The fastidiousness with which I practice this is Sid's ultimate trump card when we're pseudo arguing over who is the biggest nerd. ("You have a spreadsheet for your comic books!") Over the years I've had several obsessions to occupy my need to seek out and gather groups of things. Usually the time comes where I say 'What am I doing with all this shit?' and it all ends up on eBay.

The one exception to that is my music collection. I started downloading mp3s sometime last century, when Napster was nothing but a glint in Shawn Fanning's eye. I've ripped the hundreds of CD's I 'bought' from Columbia House in college; I go to the library on a weekly basis, looking for something intriguing that isn't yet on my hard drive. On October 12, 2006, I blogged about the acquisition of the 700th to my collection. Now, 566 days later, I've finally reached quadruple digits*. Album number 1,000 is Smoosh's She Like Electric. Smoosh is a pair of sisters, aged 16 and 14 (they were 12 and 10 when this album was released) who play beautiful, biting power pop. Its a sad fact of life that they rock 10 times harder than I ever will. They are opening for Tokyo Police Club this Sunday, which was the impetus of me seeking out their stuff. Its incredible. Anyway, hooray 1,000. I guess it will be a while before we hit another number to get excited about, so enjoy the celebration while it lasts.

- Speaking of yin and yang (remember? It was yesterday), this guy is like my polar opposite. How do you not know about Mike's Hard Lemonade? I mean, I wish I didn't know about it, but that awful flavor is seared into my memory.

- I've wondered about these things myself over the course of my life, and continue to wonder how many of them I am doing to my son.

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - I was really hoping to time it right so that Narrow Stairs would be album 1,000. Que sera sera. Here's a track by track review of the new disc, that should stand your fur up, make you moist, or just depress the shit out of you because you don't have it yet.

* That's an album every 1.89 days

Posted 10:53am
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April 29th, 2008

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

The Moeman has always been found of saying 'What goes around, comes around,' which I suppose is intrinsically a very Zen way to look at things. Now given, he's usually applying this to sports teams, making note that nobody is on top forever, and that everyone gets their turn to be King Shit. But he obv. will extrapolate this to life at large given half a chance.

I like to fancy myself somewhat of a pragmatist, and am at least intrigued by the idea of yin and yang, if not a full on believer. Karma is a fantastic idea, and I like the supposition that being positive and generous will generally find its way back to you, but ultimately I imagine that there's a general balance to things and at the end of the day, the universe is pretty zero sum. To put it in its most simplistic terms, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have - the facts of life.

Which is why today is like rain on your wedding day, or a free ride, when you've already paid. Death Cab paid a visit to one of my favorite sites on the whole internets, Daytrotter. Daytrotter basically records small live studio sessions of your favorite indie rockers, and then let's you download the tracks for free. I know, right? The Death Cab Daytrotter session is available here, complete with two tracks off of Narrow Stairs. Its the yummiest placation we've had yet and will actually make me not jones for the entire album for at least the next few hours. Thanks guys.

What, you ask, could sully such a splendid event? What evil in the world could counteract something so good and pure and positive? Coldplay. Their new single came out today, available for free via their website. Please, stay far, far away from it. Corrections may be inevitable and there may be a yin out there for every yang, but I have to believe that we can fight against it. We can turn the tide and beat back some of the dreck and dreariness that infects us on a societal level. Let us start with Chris Martin.

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - The whole post was a DCW, right? Two weeks from today, the wait is over. No snarky comments as I am buoyed by Daytrotter. Back to status quo tomorrow.

Posted 10:34am
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April 28th, 2008

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

- The number one issue this election cycle seems, for most, to be the economy. So its a good thing for us Obama fanatics that two noble prize winning economists overwhelmingly believe that Barack would be best for the economy. Not that its necessarily a ringing endorsement, as Hillary seems mired in old world Clintonian thinking and McCain readily admits he knows nothing about economics. But still, hooray!

- I already feel bad for this little Hanitoba Manitoba girl (who I swear to Jesus tapdancing Christ, I couldn't have picked out of a lineup before this morning), as it appears that the public at large will spend the next several years secretly waiting for this little girl to fall apart. But the fact that its starting with this innocuous photo makes me laugh. Its ridiculous how much of a prude we collectively are sometimes.

- I'm pretty out of my mind excited about Iron Man opening up this weekend. As a kid, this was my second favorite comic book hero, and all signs point to this being a perfect kick ass adaptation (nobody makes a better condescending prick than Robert Downey Jr., and no comic hero was ever more smug than Tony Stark). So fingers crossed, let's get this one. Here's the AV Club's list of 18 great summer blockbusters NOT directed by Spielberg. Its a decent attempt, except Con Air? Seriously? Say it with me kids 'Fuck Michael Bay!'

- Since I'm fairly obsessed right now with both being green and being in shape, I've been attempting to ride my bike when headed out and about whenever possible. Sunday Sid was supposed to have tennis practice at the high school from 2-4, so I jumped on my bike and started to peddle towards Pioneer, which is less than 3 miles down the road from my house. Of course when I got there and there was no Sid, I quickly realized that I was supposed to be at Huron High, not Pioneer. So I figured fuck it, might as well trek across town. It wasn't as bad a ride as I anticipated, and by the time I got home later that afternoon, I had biked over 10 miles. Super green! It makes me want one of these super cool backpacks like Ayesha had out in Arizona.

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - The other day Ayesha and I were discussing whether or not the moniker of 'geek' could be applied to uber man crush Ben Gibbard. I argued that his unnatural fondness for Woody Allen movies makes him a pretty big geek on some level (natch). And while the following quote doesn't go as far as mentioning Lord of the Rings or Star Trek, I think it definitely qualifies as the musings of a huge (music) geek: "Roger Waters doing Dark Side would be like Ringo performing Sgt. Pepper's" I know right? Thank god I agree with him. Also note that the first sentence of the piece notes that Narrow Stairs hasn't leaked yet. Balls! And oh yeah, 15 days.

Posted 11:13am
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April 25th, 2008

Your indie rock weekend.

- I'll never know how deja vu or the world's great ironies and coincidences work. Sometimes things happen that defy logic to the extent that they appear to be supernatural. I guess that's why people still believe in Jesus and the Tooth Fairy. This morning I awoke with the song "(The Angels Wanna Wear my) Red Shoes" by Elvis Costello stuck right in the front of my brain. This is a song I haven't heard in months. Its a great Elvis song, but certainly not one of my top ten favorites. Nevertheless, there it was, running through my head as I lay in bed this morning. THEN I get to work and start to wander my normal path down the internet, perusing all my favorite sites. And lo what do I come across but this excellent primer on the music of Elvis Costello! The first song they mention in Costello 101? Yeah, that one. Weird right?

- For those of you without TiVo and/or foresight, here's the Radiohead performance from Conan the other night. If nothing else, you don't want to miss Thom Yorke calling Bush a twat. Recycle your shopping bags Co-nan!

- A week from Sunday I have two tickets to go see indie fuzz rock dance pop band Tokyo Police Club at the Magic Stick. Currently, ticket number two is unspoken for. Wanna go? I'll be listening to all offers from 'I'll go for free if no one else wants to go' to 'I'll drive and pay for your drinks if you give me that ticket.' And yeah, I'm just praying for one person to offer the former to be honest.

- Flight of the Conchords finally dropped their album of tunes culled from their HBO show. So if you're anticipating this album, there's really nothing new here, other than lush production values and laughs built mostly on memory at this point. But hey, that's totally OK because it still kind of rules.

- My buddies and former roommates Taproot have recorded a new album and are looking for distribution and playing some live shows around the mitten, which is all good news. I saw them at the Pig about a year ago and the played a new song that pretty much rocked my face. I will note that the post linked to above appears to be posted by Phil, meaning that he refers to himself in the third person in the second sentence. Rock stars...

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - It was pointed out to me that yesterday's Death Cab Watch© didn't actually have a link to the video I talked about. Whoops. That's fixed now. And here's some more, this time for the tune 'Talking Bird'. Its getting harder and harder to placate myself with this bullshit. I lay all of my substance abuse from now until I get Narrow Stairs at the feet of one Benjamin Gibbard. Live with that, sir.

Posted 10:59am
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April 24th, 2008

Where do you think you're going?

I'm pretty sure I've written this blog before, but I couldn't find it in my cursory perusing of the archives, so I'm doing it again. If I don't remember exactly what I said, neither should you. Let's just all pretend its new information and move on. ANYWAY, I don't stand in line to get into bars. A.) I'm too old and B.) I generally don't aspire to be in a bar that is either pretentious or busy enough to warrant a line. This is never a problem when I'm left to my own devices, but every once in a while someone insists that 'We have to go to this one place!' and I find myself standing outside some fuck hole bar that I'm going to hate once inside because the drinks are $8 and the people give me the stink eye because I'm wearing chucks. (That line is so true in scares the shit out of me. I once, after waiting in line to get into a bar in Chicago, almost tried to fight a 250 pound black bouncer because he told me 'Next time you come here, wear better shoes.' Douche bag.)

HOWEVER, while I usually feel a tad guilty doing it, nothing feels more powerful than circumventing a line outside of a bar. Last night after the Pistons game, some friends and I decided to head to Mitch's for another drink or two. Sure finals were wraping up and graduation was Saturday, but how busy could it be? Its 10:30 on a Wednesday right? Well we pulled up to about 25 college kids standing in line, waiting to gain entry and pay cover for the privelege of drinking $2 pitchers. Luckily, the two guys I was with just happened to work at Micths. So naturally instead of waiting patiently in the queue for our turn to get in, we did a lot of 'excuse me, pardon me' to walk right inside. Of course this will always illicite tons of dirty looks which, let's be honest, makes you feel pretty damn cool. Last night some stuck up bitch felt it necessary to yell at us the entire way as we walked inside. "EXCUSE ME! Where do you think you're going? I don't know who you think you are, but there's a line." We sallyed forth, grining a grin, imagining how fun it would be to stop, turn around, and tell this girl how the world works. Its not what you know sweetheart... So yeah, I do despise the whole concept and generally eschew the whole waiting in line scene. But man is it fun to walk right to the front.

- Ann Arborites! Remember how we were going to drive our cars less? Google Maps now will tell you exactly how take the bus from one location to another! And of course, if you're a UM employee, the bus is free! Hooray public transportation!

- This douche tries to make a list of the manliest cocktails inthe world, and fails miserably. Tequila Sunrise? Seriously? We all know that the only way to order a drink is in liquor/mixer format. Like 'Vodka Soda' or 'Captain and Coke' or 'Scotch Neat'. That's as complicated as it should ever get people. (We obv. hold exemptions for things like Bloody Marys and Car Bombs and anything that includes jaeger.)

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - Who knew Ben Gibbard was such a prude? I feel like I have the worst case of blue balls ever waiting for this damn album. Here's the equivalent of an unenthusiastic handjob - cell phone video featuring the new track 'Your New Twin Size Bed'.

Posted 10:29am
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April 23rd, 2008

Sobriety is no accident

Are you sitting down? Good. This may seem trivial to some of you, but I assure you its quite significant in my little solipsistic bubble. I, tbaggervance, have been sober for the last 7 days. By choice. Not one drop of booze has parsed my lips for the past week.

About a month ago when I was in Arizona, I off the cuff remarked that I should quite drinking for a week or two, just to see what it would do to my body. Ayesha immediately escalated it to 'We should both stop drinking for a month!' and for whatever reason, I immediately agreed. I figured why not? It was a lofty goal but one that I wouldn't feel terrible about not reaching when I utterly failed a fortnight into it. But then plans changed and Ayesha was out. And then she was back in. And then 48 hours into it she drank. So without a partner in crime, I decided that my original premise was a better one, and I'll be back to drinking whenever the next really good opportunity presents itself (which will naturally be this weekend.)

When I was talking with Ayesha about how to post about this (and theorizing ways to throw her under the bus for ditching me) she suggested I title it '30 days to prove that I'm not an alcoholic' Which, is a great title, but kind of wasn't the point. I just wanted to see if I could do it. See if my body would react in any way. See if my belly shrank and my wallet grew. I guess a week in, all I've really noticed is that I really miss booze. Its such a part of my life and I actively miss having it around.

So yeah, I'll probably break the fast and have an Oberon or two sometime soon. But I'll also continue to curb the booze for a bit to see if I can notice some positive results. I mean, this is the longest I've been without alcohol since when, 1994? Easily. I'm sure that's sad to many, but after the week of no booze, I'm realizing it makes sense to me. Hi. My name is Tyler, and I love booze.

- Speaking of no booze, I always suspected this to be true, and now I am vindicated by science. You don't need to quit drinking on antibiotics! What a fucking conspiracy.

- A little Earth Day addendum. Radiohead will be on Conan tonight, live via tape as to not increase their carbon footprint by flying over here just to perform. We should all be as cool, green, thoughtful and intelligent as Thom Yorke.

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - For those of you who are super cool and have TiVos that pick up any show that contains the words 'Death Cab', you got a little surprise when you got home last night. Ben and the boys were on some show on Fuse called 'Steven's Untitled Rock Show' Its basically an interview show interspersed with videos, hosted by some d-bag who is appropriately named Steven. Anyway, if your TiVo didn't pick it up, check your local listings for repeats or keep checking the website, I'm sure they'll have video up soon. And yes, 20 days till Narrow Stairs hits the shelves. Damn you Ben, what have I become?

Posted 9:44am
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April 22nd, 2008

Its sometimes surprisingly easy to be green.

Its Earth Day today. Fifteen years ago, I could have given two shits about Earth Day. But as I get older and the evidence continues to mount, I'm more and more convinced that we're ostensibly fucked. But that doesn't mean its not worth trying to do some simple things that can have an actual impact on our environment. Now I'm no Ed Beagly Jr. with an electric car and a compost heap. And while I love Paul McCartney, I'm not about to follow his lead and become vegetarian. (Of course let it be said that all the aforementioned ideas are good ones, I'm just only so dedicated.) I'm all about practicality. If you want people to be green, you need to make it easy and provide some incentive that makes these behavior modifications worth while. So here's tbaggervance's 5 tips to going green that are easy and incentivized.

1. Drive less/drive better
I've been saying for years that if the car you drive to work every day gets less than 25mpg, you ought to be shot - or at least be paying some sort of exorbitant tax for your gasoline. I realize that it may be impractical to run out and buy a Prius, but you should certainly consider your mpg when buying your next car, and think of ways in which walking, biking, and public transportation could enter your life. At $3.50+ a gallon, you can hardly afford not to.

2. Stop it with all the plastic bag nonsense
Some places have gotten smart and banned these landfill fillers all together. But until they wise up in your area, get ahead of the curve. Use and reuse paper bags, or better yet, get your self a tote, stick under the front seat of your car haul around your groceries in that. You can even get a snarky one to help express yourself. Your uptick in coolness is your reward.

3. Seriously? Enough with the bottled water
Bottled water has gone from laughable to status symbol to ubiquity in the last 10 years. Its time to relegate it back to laughable. Hydration is important, but buying it 20oz at a time is uber wasteful. Get yourself a reusable bottle and start filling it up from your tap at home.

4. Turn off the tap
The water we waste as individuals borders on criminal (I'm as guilty of this as anybody). Don't let the water run while you are brushing your teeth. Take shorter showers (or use the buddy system). Run the dishwasher or washing machine only when full. And for god sakes, use cold water for your clothes. It makes all kinds of sense.

5. Migrate to CFLs
Even if you ignore the rest of the list, you need to get on this train toot suite. If for no other reason, it will save you money. Its not even a huge investment. Make it your goal to replace any bulb that goes out in your house with a florescent. It almost literally the least you can do.

So that's it. Unless you live in Pennsylvania. Then vote Obama. I don't have any links to back this up, but trust me, you'll be making the world a better place.

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - Death Cab blah blah blahs on why "I Will Possess..." is 8 minutes long. C'mon guys. Enough of the making out. I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Don't make me turn the Death Watch into a countdown to the album's actual release date. That's so last century.

Posted 12:57pm
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April 21st, 2008

Family Feud

I don't want to go so far as to call myself the black sheep of the family, but in a relative sense, that's exactly what I am. I was the child who pushed my parents boundaries the furthest as a teenager. I was the one who smoked and constantly came home drunk. I got in trouble at school for poking the beehive. Oh yeah, and I'm the atheist who had a kid out of wedlock at 19. So there's that. I'm also the only true liberal amongst the bunch and to say that my tastes in pop culture run a little more esoteric is putting it lightly. So its not like a meth addict who's been disowned by my kin folk, but if you put us all on Sesame Street and and started singing 'One of these things is not like the other, one of these things, does not belong,' even a four year old would point right to me.

My favorite illustration of this goes as follows: After my mom passed away and my dad decided to move from the house with the pool to the smaller condo where things like yard work were taken care of for him, my siblings and I had to 'consolidate' my father's holdings. This meant throwing away decades of stuff that had been mostly accumulated by my mother, much of which had a religious connotation. So we sifted through the garage and attic and tried to be judicious about what to keep and what to pitch. Sure enough, every time we came across something with a crucifix or the picture of the virgin mother on it, rather than pitch it themselves, my siblings handed it to me, saying something along the lines of 'Here, you throw this away. You're already going to hell anyway.' It was kind of a joke, except not. Good times.

I bring all of this up because right now my eldest brother and sister are having a pissing contest, and I feel like the only mature person in the room. Me, the irresponsible heathen. Let me try to quickly elucidate the matter. Over Christmas the whole family went out to eat, along with some friends of my oldest brother. The plan was to have dinner and then come back and exchange gifts amongst the siblings. After wrapping up dinner, my brother's family decided to extend their visit with their friends and promised to be home in an hour or two to exchange gifts. So the rest of the family went home and waited for them. Long story short, they showed up just in time to see my sister storming out of the house and heading home, as she was tired of waiting for them to show up. They have barely spoken since.

Now in my sister's opinion, this behavior is just another instance in a long string of my brother assuming everyone will bend to his will and plan our family's togetherness around his schedule, only to be spurned for his friends. My bother naturally thinks my sister is being a brat and blowing things way out of proportion and that he shouldn't be punished (or have to apologize) for being late once and forgetting to call. Stalemate. My sister won't call my brother. My brother calls my sister, only to be condescending about his penitence, if showing any remorse at all. As such, I've told them they are both acting like spoiled juvenile brats. My sister is blowing things out of proportion. Yeah, my brother was rude and acts entitled, but how hard is it to realize that's the way he is and take it for what it is? My brother is trying to be principled about something so trivial its imbecillic. True, my sister is still throwing a fit over something that should have been forgotten the day after it happened, but how hard is it to honestly tell her, sorry I was rude, in the future I'll try and be clearer about where and when I'll be around.

It just all seems so trivial to me. They are both in their 40's acting like high school girls. Maybe this is some weird side effect of Mom not being around to scare everybody into getting along. I guarantee she wouldn't have stood for this petty shit. I also know that she wouldn't have predicted that I'd be the one telling people to grow up. I guess its surprising to me as well. Who would have guessed I'd be the mature one, in any situation?

- Today's Death Cab Watch© - While you're waiting for Ben to give it up like a prom date, you can read about the top 13 leaked albums of all time over at EW. COME ON ALREADY!

Posted 10:29am
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April 18th, 2008

Slap it up, lick it, rub it down - Oh noooooooo!!!

It takes all of about 30 seconds for people to figure out that I'm a pretty big music snob. But that in no way means that I can't enjoy the cheesiest of pop cheese - especially when it comes tinged with nostalgia. Ayesha's roommate posted an album on facebook the other day with the following title:

I don't need permission, make my own decisions

I got about four words into that sentence before I was not so much reading it, as singing it. Leading me to sing the rest of 'My Perogative' for about the next 45 minutes or so. A process which has been repeated every time I've taken time to log onto facebook (and one that's taking place right now. Damn it!) Then on the heels of my Bobby Brown inundation, I ran across some of his buddies. Maybe I'm just really white, because while I've been talking about going to see Eddie Money at the Knob every year for the last ten, when I saw this I thought it laughable. Nothing screams "cash grab" like a reunion tour for a group that seemed dated 18 months after they debuted.

- Its finally warm here in the Mitten (70 degrees!), melting away all the bitterness brought on by having to where boots and scrape off your windows in the morning. What an appropriate time for some new Weezer! There's something about Mr. Cuomo's songwriting that makes it a perfect soundtrack to warm weather - whether he's writing about taking his surfboard to work or actually being on an island in the sun. Anyway, go to weezer.com and you can hear their new pop goodness, 'Pork and Beans'.

- Everybody knows that I hate Intelligent Design with the white hot intensity of 1,000 suns. That makes this movie worse to me than a Michael Bay movie starring Vin Diesel and Russel Crowe. You can view what appears to be about the first 8 minutes of the movie here, and realize just how ridiculous it is. Or you can read Salon's take, pointing out the obvious fact that scientists don't talk about Intelligent Design because its not science. OK, its the weekend, I refuse to spend anymore time on this and get upset about it.

- Today's Death Cab Watch© was again snagged by mouse in yesterday's comments, as he clearly is on a mission to undermine everything I've tried to build here over the last few years. Anyway, DCFC has a video out for their first (Epic!) single, "I Will Posses Your Heart". You can read a little bit about the making of the video over at Billboard. Then immediately go back to watching the video over and over again to see Ben in all his dreaminess, longing for the day when he 'accidentally' leaks his new album to the internet.

Posted 11:24am
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April 17th, 2008

Strap your hands across my engines.

Can anyone explain to me why the first 40 minutes of last nights Democratic debate was limited to useless questions about the campaigns? Not questions of policy or diplomacy or really, anything of substance, but questions like 'Why are you friends with that one guy?' or 'Why did you kinda sorta exaggerate that one story?' I've always blamed the public for voting for candidates for the shallowest and stupidest of reasons. W was always cited as 'The guy you want to sit down and have a beer with.' Does anyone still believe that to be true? And if it is, what fucking kind of justification is that for thinking someone competent enough to run our fucking country? Anyway, after last night, I now hold the media accountable for all of this as well. I mean, yeah, they've been feeding the problem for years, but somehow last night was the last straw. It shouldn't matter at this point anyway. Yesterday The Boss endorsed Obama. If there's anyone who speaks for the destitute and downtrodden in this country, its Bruce. So this should really sew things up and we can finally move on to pointing and laughing at how old John McCain is and how much he cow tows to his religious right, neo-con base. Baby we were born to run...

- If you're under 40, the theme from Super Mario Bros is as ubiquitous as hit song or ad jingle of the last quarter century. Which means all of you should watch this and marvel at its ingenuity - while being saddened that anyone has this much time on his hands.

- Today's Death Cab Watch© was going to read as follows:

I just can't stay mad at Ben for not giving me his new album for free weeks before its officially released. Not when he writes this beautiful, introspective piece for Paste mag. There. I was nice. Now put the fucking lotion in the basket Mr. Gibbard!

But blog reader mouse beat me to the punch in yesterday's comments. Assuming all of you mine every section of the blog every day for any new content, I'll assume you've seen it and provide you with a new, tasty morsel to keep you from going through the DT's whilst you wait for new Cutie goodness.

Want to hear more new Death Cab while you wait and suffer in agony? Go to NPR's All Songs Considered and you can hear a portion of 'Pity and Fear', along with some critics blowing smoke. *Sigh*

Posted 9:58am
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April 16th, 2008

I am ensconced in hatred and bitterness.

I'm kinda over stadium concerts. Way back in the last century when I started going to shows, it was all I did. Metallica at the Silverdome, Van Halen at the Palace, The Who at Pine Knob - these were the shows I attended in my youth. Shows with giant parking lots where everyone in attendance apparently drove two cars. Seats that were so far from the stage that you had to bring your own oxygen to ascend all the way to them. Beers that required financial aid. Good times. Luckily, my taste has grown a little more esoteric and most of the concerts I attend these days are at seedy bars where me and a few hundred other hipsters guzzle $3 PBRs and park on the street outside the bar for free. Last summer Stov and I trekked to the Palace to see The Police in all of their reunited splendor. There were all of the usual pain in the ass aspects of a show at a ginormous arena, but let's be honest, it was totally worth it. Now that that particular dream has been realized, I was trying to think about who could get me put up with all the hassles of the big rock show and schlep back to some enormo-dome. I've seen almost all of my idols and favorites at this point - certainly all of the ones who merit the grandiosity of festival level venues. Then it occurred to me - Radiohead. I've never seen Radiohead. How is that possible? Well, this article helps to explain it. I guess its going to be an even bigger pain in the ass than normal to make this dream a reality. I guess I'll just have to focus on finally making Stov and I's dream of going to this a reality.

- Speaking of bitterness, The Onion helps to explain reaction to Obama's recent remarks.

- More bitterness? I STILL don't have the new Death Cab. So until I do, I'm installing a new feature here on the blog - Death Cab Watch© - where I bring you something to satiate your need for Ben Gibbard until the new album hits the ether. Today's morsel is some crappy video from a surprise show that they did with Dave Matthews and the Dalai Llama. That's right. Dave Matthews, Ben Gibbard and the Dalai Llama were all hanging out in the same place at the same time and yet I STILL DON'T HAVE NARROW STAIRS. Clearly either god hates me or the apocalypse is neigh.

Posted 10:10am
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April 15th, 2008

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

- I love when pundits and media types (usually conservatives) turn words and ideas that we should aspire to into something twisted and evil. Liberal means favorable to progress, believing in maximum personal freedom and free from bigotry. Yet its used as a slur on someone's character in political arenas. The same thing happened over the weekend with charges towards Obama that he's 'elitist'. You what 'elite' means? Best of the best. After 8 years of folksy down home leadership, how about we try someone who might be smarter than us, not dumber? Anyway, Obama still leads nationally by 2 points, despite getting hit by those bitter hillbillies in Pennsylvania.

- Here's an article on the 50 greatest comedy sketches of all time. Its not all that great and only mildly interesting, but it does feature one of my favorite sketches of all time at number 47 - $240 worth of pudding. We cook and we chill...

- From McSweeneys - Film school in three lines or less.

- Back when Ayesha was here in February we had designed an entire PSA ad campaign around her wit and wisdom, designed to teach children some of life's hidden wisdom. I wish I could remember some of the specifics of what started the idea, because it was a fantastic running joke for a couple of days. I know that's not a very good story, but its what I thought of when I saw this.

- Every once in a while when I really want to express how much I think of someone, I'll refer to them as one of my five favorite people in world. Given my hyperbolic nature, I've obviously got way more than five people in my top five favorite people in the world. But we can easily justify that by pointing to the transient nature of favoritism. There are certain people though, who have over the years taken up fairly permanent residence in that top five. It just so happens that two of them are celebrating birthdays today. Stov is my oldest and dearest friend in the world and if I could've picked anyone to be there for these last 23+ years, it would have been him. And Ayesha - well let's just say that I never would have thought that the most beautiful girl in the room would also make me laugh uncontrollably and challenge me intellectually. I love both you guys and wish you the happiest of birthdays.

Posted 9:22am
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April 14th, 2008

I am a spoiled baby.

Today is April 14. It is a Monday. Taxes are due, and Ayesha and Stov turn another year older tomorrow. In 29 days, less than a month, the new Death Cab album drops. So WHY DON'T I FUCKING HAVE IT YET?!? When I was in college, we used to go to places called 'record stores' on Monday nights at midnight in order to get a new album the day it came out. I specifically remember waiting in line to get Pearl Jam's Vitalogy, then running home and listening to it over and over again in my dorm room while chugging Natty Lights. Then later when I wrote for the Michigan Daily, we'd occasionally get 'advanced' copies of CDs, so that you could publish your review the day the CD was released to the public. Getting to review a concert or a CD for a popular band always produced infighting and politicking around the office, but advanced copies were the source of some of the nastiest Machiavellian machinations imaginable. This was before the days when one could easily copy a CD and hand it out to all their friends; or rip it your hard drive and share it with the world. It was a precious resource. If you couldn't be the one who got to write the review, you at least wanted to get invited over to listen to it - so that you could hear the next big thing before anyone else.

And then somewhere along the way in the last five years, release dates became inconsequential. 'Advanced' no longer meant a week early. 'Leaked' became the new buzzword. I start looking for albums now upon hearing a band is in the studio. Once I hear the album has a name, I expect its contents to be on my computer immediately. None of this waiting around like the rest of the rubes out there to purchase their copy at Wal-Mart. I want it now damnit! I know the recording exists - people have heard it! I should really be one of those people.

Saturday morning I set my alarm so that I could wake up at 10am and purchase tickets for Death Cab's June 4th show at the Fox in Detroit. And even in my superbly hungover state, as soon as I finished paying $85 for my two seats, I immediately felt like I should have the album. Right then. I paid the ridiculous surcharges and fucking ticketmaster fees, give me the album. For free, right now. What an entitled asshole Ben Gibbard must think I am.

Posted 11:28am
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April 11th, 2008

Let's travel round the world, Just you and me punk rock girl dude.

When I was in junior high/high school I had a mullet. There I said it. I actually don't look on those days with too much horror. I mean, I was trapped in rural NWOhio hell where only so much cool dripped down from places with actual culture. All I wanted was to look like Joe Elliot from Def Leppard. But when I turned 15-ish I decided I also really wanted to get my ear pierced. My mom, deciding that she hated my hair more than she hated the idea of me putting holes in my head, offered to 'let' me get my ear pierced if I agreed to get the mullet shorn down. (as an aside, when she finally saw my tattoo several years later, her reaction was 'You know that doesn't come off? Thanks Mom.) Anyway, loving change the way I do, I got rid of the hair in favor of the hoop. All of which is thankfully embarrassingly documented.

Notice the environmental T-shirt, proving that I was green before Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio told you it was cool.

Anyway, a few weeks back Sid mentioned that he wanted to dye his hair red. Bright red. I was immediately on board. I wish I had been cool enough to consider such a thing at his age. So I began to spitball ideas and talk about how much he wanted to dye and exactly what he wanted to do when he mentioned 'Well mom says I have to get my hair cut really short to do it, and there's no way I'm getting my hair cut like that.'

Ahh! This is exactly the kind of sacrifice I didn't want my kid to ever have to make. I think parents impose such restrictions because of their own comfort level, not anything to do with their children's. So I told Sid I'd talk to his mother and we'd work something out. She acquiesced pretty easily, and agreed to the dye job but there would be a hair cut involved. I told the both of them that if they could find a compromise they were both happy with then fine. My official position remains he can do (pretty much) what he wants, but we have to keep mom happy too.

So I took him to get the hairs cut. Which led to this before and after.

Way shorter than I thought he would allow. Such shearing would make me cry, but he rolled with it, noting that his hair grows fast. And then a few days later, we added this:

I've started calling him Knives Chau, which is a REALLY inside joke, but we think its funny. I assume that now that the wall has been breached the hair will get grown back out and more forays into coloring will ensue. The whole thing excites me to no end. I'm not going to go as far as calling Sid punk rock, but he's definitely himself, which makes both of us very, very happy.

Addendum
I told Ayesha as soon as we were done coloring and she wanted to see the results ASAP rather than wait for the blog post. So I hoped on gmail and sent her a couple pics, accompanied by a few lyrics from the song 'Punk Rock Girl' by the Dead Milkmen (which Ayesha didn't recognize at all, making me feel old). ANYWAY Google always provides you with some links/ads based on the content of your email (which is WAY big brother and should scare you more than it does) and I happened to notice this link:

Emo Teens
Explore Emo Style & Personality. The Latest Family Topics!

How intriguing! I needed to know how the internet thinks I should deal with a potential 'emo' teen. The article is written exactly like you would imagine. Very clinical, stereotypical definitions of 'emo' in 2008 from the view of some staid adult who probably wasn't very hip to whatever trends were popular in their day. EXCEPT for when they list the 'typical' emo bands:

Some EMO bands include the following list: Rites of Spring, Fugazi, Embrace, Jawbox, Bluetip, None Left Standing, Frodus, Promise Ring, Jawbreaker, Mineral, Texas is the Reason, and Impetus.

I'm actually very, very impressed. Not that I like ALL these bands (nor do they all fit my personal definition of emo), but this is a more comprehensive and accurate listing of emo than I ever would have expected from this article (meaning that they clearly stole it from somewhere or asked someone probably old and very cool. Like me). I would think they'd talk about fucking Panic! at the Disco or Fall Out Boy as emo. But they mention The Promise Ring! The fact that they go on intimate that listening to Texas is the Reason leads to cutting yourself is forgiven.

Posted 12:11am
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April 10th, 2008

Absolutely I do.

The writers strike of 2007-2008 taught me that there are only two things on television that I really need. Only two shows whose absence from my life left serious, gaping holes that left me feeling emptier than a sorority girl doing the Saturday morning walk of shame in last night's miniskirt. The first was The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Despite it (probably) not being true, I felt less informed without TDS. What is definitely true is that I was without the commiseration that TDS provides - the feeling that there are others out there who share your snarky, cynical viewpoint about our government and know that laughing at things is of the utmost necessity.

The other gaping hole was left by The Office. Its been somewhat easier to fill in the sense that there are three seasons of DVDs to peruse when I'm laying alone in the dark, in the fetal position wondering what Jim and Pam are up to. But the hole is much too large to fill with even the specialest of special features. I started watching The Office because I was a fan of the original British series, half expecting an Americanized version to suck the bag. But I quickly fell in love with it as it separated itself from its Anglo counterpart while maintaining its dry, absurd temperament. Then somewhere in season two Sid caught on and my already bursting affection busted out of its too tiny frame, just like the Grinch's heart. Finally, during season 3, it became weekly ritual for The Jesuses, Ayesha and I to gather in my living room every Thursday and watch the episodes as a family. That's when The Office became the most important thing on TV to me.

And after a long, cold winter, it returns tonight with all new episodes. I'm totally geeked that Dwight K. Schrute and the gang will be back in my life, but it is tinged with sadness as it will be the first time in a year and a half that I'm back to watching them alone. My cohort of Office fans have all picked up stakes and high tailed it west, leaving me to chortle and giggle alone. If anything can enhance the Office experience (other than alcohol, natch), its enjoying it with others who are laughing out loud uncontrollably. I don't know if the Jesuses (who are traveling) or Ayesha (who is sans cable) will be watching tonight and laughing their asses off like I will be, but I will be thinking of them when I do. Anyway, here's some stuff to help you pregame. Dinkin' flicka:

- Apparently they are planning an Office spin-off for next fall. It will most likely suck and detract from your enjoyment of the original, but that's what I thought when they announced the British version was coming to the States, so...

- Here's a waaaay too long chat with Jenna Fischer (Pam) and the AV club's interview with John Krasinski (Jim). Both seem to be pretty much straight out of central casting.

- Finally you can go the official NBC site to watch video clips from tonight's episode, as well as interviews with the cast about their time off on strike. Both should chub you up nicely for tonight's triumphant return.

Posted 9:11am
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April 9th, 2008

This week in indie rock.

- Everyone's favorite Kiwis have their debut full length album set to drop April 22nd and are promoting it with a tour. Yes, they visit the Michigan Theater right here in A2. Unfortunately, tickets for Death Cab ALSO go on sale this weekend, so I may have to make a very difficult decision. Who am I kidding, I'll pick Death Cab. Sorry Bret and Jermaine.

- By know you know my disdain for the blandness that is Coldplay. Here's evidence that their crappy adult contemporary 'rock' will put your ass right to sleep. Its science.

- A while back I was having a conversation with the Jesuses and I was making a case for Elvis Costello being the coolest person on the planet. One of my points was that he is congenial and entertaining enough to fill in for David Letterman as host of Late Night. Apparently someone heard our discussion and has decided to give Mr. Costello his own talk show. I'm so there.

- Smartest man on the planet Chuck K explains the relationship between declining music sales and '90's credit card debt. Its like he's inside my head!

- A few months back some selfish d-bag decided that my life was too easy and the fact that all my favorite concerts were 30 minutes away at the Magic Stick needed to change. So he stole the Stick's concert booker and opened up a new venue all the way up in fucking Pontiac. So that's where I'll be headed tomorrow night to see The New Pornographers. I hope the stage is big enough for their 18 members.

- Finally, this has nothing to do with indie rock, but the rest of the week is planned out so I'm going to shoe horn this in here anyway. One fabulous thing I got to experience when out in AZ that I didn't write about was a store called Fresh 'n' Easy. Its a combination of Trader Joes and Costco and all kinds of fabulous. Here's a big write up in USA Today about them and how people aren't quite taking to the concept as well as they thought. All I can say is that if they want to put one within driving distance of my house, I promise to do 80% of all my grocery shopping there.

Posted 9:28am
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April 8th, 2008

When in doubt answer C.

I've always been a good test taker. I was in the 99th percentile on my Iowa test of basic skills in elementary school. My IQ tests were a breeze and I had no problem scoring over 30 on the ACTs despite being hungover to the point of wanting to die. That happened not once, but twice. (I must have been some kind of arrogant asshole to let that happen the second time.) Anyway, I'm really not trying to brag or prove to you that I'm smart, but rather that standardized tests are a walk in the park for me. But that in no way means I think they are a good idea.

Let me rephrase. Standardized test scores have little to no bearing on how smart someone is and should never be cited as evidence for an individuals ability to learn or grasp any specific concept. I knew plenty of people in high school who were great test takers and in all of the accelerated classes that I wouldn't trust to fold my laundry. And of course I've known just as many people in my day who work very hard to appear obtuse while maintaining the ability to drop some serious knowledge on you should the occasion present itself. That's why most reasonable people and institutions don't put all their eggs in the standardized test basket. When you apply to college, they want your test scores, but only as one piece of the puzzle. Sure there's minimums and getting a certain high score probably guarantees you a spot most places unless you didn't manage to get that sex offender charge expunged. But without the grades and extra curriculars to back up your 22 ACT, you're headed to community college. Or Ohio State.

And when I was a kid, standardized tests helped to identify the kids who were so smart they were bored or struggling so much to learn conventionally that they needed help. And that's OK too. On some random Friday our teachers would tell us that the following week was test week, so get a good night's sleep, eat a good breakfast and bring plenty of sharpened number 2's with you Monday. Then we'd take the test and that'd be it. It wasn't really discussed outside of the actual taking of the test and we certainly didn't spend any class time working on materials geared towards said test. That had changed by the time I got to high school.

Some brilliant legislator thought it a good idea to have high school students pass a series of proficiency tests in order to graduate. There would be a series of levels of distinction on your diploma based on your performance on these tests. And I guarantee you that we as students were all the poorer off for it. Instead of teachers teaching students in any organic way geared towards their student's experiences and the teachers expertise, you get teachers teaching towards a test. Its insulting to the teachers and students alike. Raise your hand if you think that taking practice exams helps you understand the constitution better than having an enlightened discussion about it.

Of course these days we're stuck with the brilliant logic of No Child Left Behind, where standardized test scores can determine whether or not your school receives funding from the government. Now I'm all for accountability and finding ways to make our schools more effective, but how can this possibly be the best way? In this age of computers and the internet where information is readily accumulated and categorized and sorted, can't we find a better set of measures to suss out who's effectively teaching and who's effectively learning? There must be a metric out there that can combine grades and performance trends and rubrics and account for student attrition and ESL kids and people who for whatever, just don't test well. Because what we have no does none of that. We have teachers focusing way too much time and energy on passing a single test rather figuring out how to best impart the most amount of knowledge in the limited time they have, and isn't that closer to their job description? Stop. That's time. Pencils down.

Posted 1:55pm
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April 7th, 2008

I'm apparently being punished by the universe for taking too much vacation.

Funk has turned into something just sort of anger, as every waking second of my day seems to be a dick slap to the face. Sid's on Spring Break this week so I decided to take a couple days off, and it is clear that I'm upsetting the natural order of the universe. Anyway, I wrote the following last night while high on Oberon. I refuse to edit its awfulness. Enjoy.

So Ayesha and I were talking about the blogosphere the other day and she was busting my balls about my affection for a certain blog out there that I read on a regular basis (more on that in a minute) ANYWAY, she suggested that I write a post about my favorite blogs out there on the internet and I thought it an intriguing idea (Ayesha gets the award for most awesomest suggestions for posts that come to fruition. Not that its a competition, but I am keeping score). But the more I thought about it, the more I became apprehensive. Mainly because I crib from these cats all the time. What use does one have for tbaggervance.com if I freely give up my sources like a drunk prom date? But good writing is good writing, and it goes against the mission statement for me to hold out on you guys. So I'm going through with it. These are mostly pop culture things, so apologies to deadspin.com and mgoblog.com and the like. I love you, but I've got to narrow the field somehow. So anyhow, on with the list.

5. The Blog-A-Log at nerve.com
This is the blog that Ayesha turned me on to and then came back to tease me about. Its basically a place for people to blog about there dating experiences, which in the hands of someone who can string coherent sentences together, is an infinite mine for blogging goodness. There's a lot of shit to wade through here, as a lot of the people are abject d-bags, but I can highly recommend Charlotte_Web and girlgonemad.

4. Pulp Culture
I can't even remember how I came across this, but I've been reading this tiny blog out of Delaware (of all places!) for ages. To say the author and I share the same pop culture sensibilities is an understatement. I steal from here often.

3. The AV Club Blog
Everybody knows that The Onion is America's finest news source, and that their AV Club features insightful interviewing and reviewing. But it takes some clicking to find the AV Club's blog. It has fabulous ongoing features and insightful pop culture musings that just don't fit anywhere else in the Onion universe. Worth checking daily.

2. Stereogum
There's at least half a dozen music blogs I check on a regular basis, but this is the first stop of the day, every day. It doesn't hurt that I share the same musical tastes with stereogum, and that they have connections to news and information that would take me hours of surfing to culminate. Plus they used to have a picture of Ben Gibbard wearing a sterogum t-shirt, which makes them my hero.

1. Pop Candy
The mother of all Pop Culture blogs. She starts every morning with all the pop news that fits, making you in the know as soon as you get to work and are done checking your email. This might be my dream job.

So that's it. You can sally forth without me from now on. Feel free to stop back for a 'Man was I drunk last night; story now and again.

Posted 2:58pm
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April 6th, 2008

When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide.

It seems to me woefully unfair that during this first truly spring weekend here in Michigan that I've been in an indeterminable funk. Maybe it was being inside all day yesterday. Maybe its just the bad timing of the things that usually get me down coming to bear at the same time as the sun decided to shine. Maybe I need to shake things up. Maybe I need more normalcy. Who the fuck knows? I know that there are two things that you, dear readers, have to see. It is of the utmost importance that I bring them to you ASAP. Maybe it will change my karma.

- Helter Skelter may be my favorite Beatles song. To paraphrase Markie C, the sound of the bass on that song is the sound of evil. And now I don't know if I will ever hear that song the same again. I fucking shit you not, former presidential candidate and whack job Mike Gravel has recorded a cover of it, replete with video. I think watching it my have been the equivalent of having my soul swallowed whole. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

- Chances are, to know me is to have had a drink at Mitchs with me. For 10 years give or take, its been the default hang out spot in Ann Arbor - due in large part to me knowing and playing softball with the majority of the bartenders there. Of course to keep with our theme of the lamentable, I haven't been there in seemingly months. Most of my friends no longer tend bar there, or do so sporadically. And more importantly, I'm getting a tad old to be there. It used to be I could go there by myself and sit at the bar and talk to whomever was working and my night would me splendid. Now I mostly just think about how I'm ten years older than everyone else there. I don't have many friends who want to go be surrounded by college kids for $2 pitchers on a Wednesday. They're all married, having babies, or moved to Arizona. But soon summer will be here and the college kids will head home for the summer and Mitch's will be imminently more tolerable, and perhaps there will be a renaissance. I need something to fill my summer nights. ANYWAY, Ayesha somehow found this review of Mitchs. If you've spent any time there (and we all know you have), you know Manhatten guy. Its a right of passage to be barraged by this, perhaps oldest and scariest fucked up boo butt© on record. Man I miss that place.

Posted 10:33pm
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April 5th, 2008

The Crowe and the Phoenix.

Like all fathers, I have the highest of aspirations for my kid. In my wildest fantasies, Cameron would be a star quarterback, a crafty lefty with wicked junk and an indie rock superstar - all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and having esoteric interests in film and literature. What I got is a kid obsessed with videogames.

Which is why when we saw the flyer for a two man team tournament in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, I immediately knew how I would be spending my Saturday. Cameron enlisted his friend (and tennis buddy) Joaquin and we were off to compete with Ann Arbor's finest video game nerds. It was obvious to me that their team name should be The Crowe and the Phoenix - but they looked at me like a was a schizophrenic patient off of my meds, so they went with 'Bottlecaps Revenge' instead. I'm told it 'doesn't mean anything' but I have my doubts about that.

The actual tournament was mass chaos - a debacle of Bushian proportions. I guess what do you expect? Trying to wrangle a hundred teenagers when your station in life hasn't risen above manager of CyGamZ at 27 can't be easy. So we waited. And we waited. In the meantime Cameron wowed some of the teenagers on hand with his prowess in the game Rock Band. He stepped on the stage and began to dish some tasty licks next to a 16 year old asian kid weighing in at 110lbs and sporting some shaggy orange dyed locks. I immediately realized that I was looking at my sons future. I asked him later how it was to rock out next to his future self, and after pondering it for a minute (and with a little explanation) he said 'Yeah, I can see that.'

After three hours they finally called their team name. It was time to pwn. But of course their opponent didn't show. Instead of an epic battle they won by forfeit. Its at this point that his partner's dad lost his patience and decided it was time to go. We offered to bring him home later with us, but his dad was clearly even more frustrated by the situation than I was. At least I think he was. English clearly wasn't his first language and he struggled to explain himself, but I think I got the picture. We made enough of a stink to get our $20 entry fee back, and headed to Pizza Hut (chain yes, but Sid's choice. What are you gonna do?) as a consolation prize.

So that was that. Fortunately Sid has a great attitude about such things. He showed up to have fun and compete with kids who had shared proclivities and in that respect, the day was (mostly) a rousing success. Sid may have eschewed the sports I love for tennis (tennis!) and the only guitar he plays is made of plastic and plugs into a Playstation. But he's a wicked smart kid with great tastes in pop culture who is imminently comfortable in his own skin. And at the end of the day, that's all any parent really truly wants.

Posted 8:14pm
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April 4th, 2008

Open doors.

The last couple of days I've been frustrated by my gym's puny parking lot and rather than A.) Wait for some schlub to leave B.) Pay to park across the street or C.) Park a mile away, I've gone home and ran through the neighborhood instead. I figure the temperature is finally above 50 degrees, I might as well get outside a bit. Since I don't want to carry my keys with me as I wheeze around the block, I usually just leave my back door unlocked so I can get back in when I am done (attention area burglars!) And after running a few miles and pulling the giant sliding glass door open to enter my abode, I've been aghast at how hot my apartment seems. Apparently I live in a relative sauna. So as I stumble into my living room and kick off the running shoes and collapse onto the floor, I leave the door ajar. And I don't think I've ever realized before how transcendent an open door can be. To feel the cool breeze run its way through the house makes it seem like the cruel hand of winter has finally lost its grip on things. Of course after 20 minutes its freezing in my living room and I have to close things up again, but that little window of possibility is sometimes enough to get me through.

I think its the same thing with Ayesha. I got out of my wallowing stage much more quickly than anticipated because I think we're still not done with each other. I don't know if we'll ever be together again on any level, but there's a door open somewhere. Maybe we'll find it. Even if we don't, right now knowing that it exists somewhere buoys my spirits. I can feel the breeze coming in through that door, so I need to enjoy it. You never know when it will get too cold and you'll have to close it again.

- The trailer for Hellboy II is out. It looks hella-cool.

- The Heroes soundtrack (of all things) has an unreleased Wilco song on it. You can get it free here.

- I'm totally gay for Wong Kar-Wai, which is why when I saw the headline 'Wong Kar-Wai, the middling director film geeks love to love' on Slate I immediately got enraged and excited. His new movie My Blueberry Nights opens today. Its getting mixed reviews, but its got Norah Jones in it (who I'm TOTALLY hetero for) and its in english, so my excitement continues on unabated.

Posted 10:56am
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April 3rd, 2008

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

I'm bloggin for today at 12:01am because I am in ELansing tomorrow, where they don't have the internet. Or indoor plumbing. Sparty on...

- If Michael Cera was a little older I would be in full-on man crush mode. But as I still kind of see him as a kid, I want to stay away from any admissions of having a boy crush, because that's just creepy (If any NAMBLA members read the blog, please stop. You're human filth). ANYWAY, Mr. Cera's roll continues forward as he apparently has signed on to play the part of my newest favorite evil boyfriend fighting pseudo superhero, Scott Pilgrim. Nothing could make me happier.

- If you want to make some cash in this crap heap of an economy, do it by going green. Soccer mom's driving SUV's love to reduce their carbon footprint to offset the fact that they're killing our environment! And they'll likely do it in expensive, ridiculous ways that they'll never take the time to check if its even making any difference. All to feel a little better about themselves. Its cognitive dissonance at work! Might as well make a buck or two off of it. I can say this because I recently signed up to participate in this. I have no idea what good it will ultimately do, and I'm very likely just paying extra for my electricity when I don't have to, but hey, I feel good about it and who knows, maybe the electric company is being straight with customers. On second thought, don't think about it, just be happy.

- One of my friends lists the following as his favorite musicians on his myspace page: Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, All-Time Quarterback, Ben Gibbard playing a jug. Needless to say that his mancrush on Mr. Gibbard is standing on the verge of a bromance. But I'm interested to see how he feels about Benjamin's latest side project, Just Jazzin'. It truly must test the limits of his affections (although for the record I would totally "buy" this album). Ben's little escapade was my favorite April Fool's joke, followed by this (if only...) and H. telling everyone she was pregnant (whew...)

- If you're not watching How I Met You Mother on Monday nights, why not? Its hilarious, has hot chicks AND Doogie Howser. I suggest you get your ass to the store and start with season one, as you should really watch them in order. ANYWAY, one thing they really do well is actually creating the websites they talk about on the show. Like last Monday, when a girl talked about creating the site tedmosbyisajerk.com? It exists! And so does Barney's Blog, which is almost as hilarious as yours truly. Well, mine is updated more often anyway.

- A while back Ayesha had told me that her roommate was 'friends' with Matt Leinert on facebook. I immediately went apeshit, encouraging her to meet him in person and give it up like a prom date. Then I thought about it for a while and decided (no offense to Ayesha's roommate) "Why would a millionaire NFL QB go trolling for ass on the internet?" So I dismissed it out of hand and didn't really think much about it much afterwards. Then I saw this and A.) Immediately scanned the pics for any glimpse of Ayesha's roommate B.) Lamented the fact that the surfacing of said pictures will probably send Matt into hiding, ruining Ayesha's roommate's chance at (and my hearing about) NFL QB glory. Maybe she can get Chris Young's phone number.

Posted 12:01am
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April 2nd, 2008

Blueberries.

Everybody has some form of booze they can't drink. For some people its tequila, others its coconut rum. Whatever it is, its usually the first liquor you get mind numbingly black out drunk on. For me its Jack Daniels. When I was about 16, I decided it would be a good idea to try and drink a whole fifth of Jack by myself. Needless to say my 140lb frame couldn't hold that much liquor. I got black out drunk, did some wildly inappropriate things (so I am told), and then puked for two days straight. Its certainly the closest to death I've ever felt. I couldn't smell rubbing alcohol without getting queasy for about two weeks. But time heals all wounds. Sort of. By the time I hit college I could drink something that contained whiskey, by 21 I could stomach a shot. But to this day, there's a pang of fear that goes off in my gut everytime somebody asks 'Whiskey?'

Naturally, I consider this to be a completely reasonable alcohol aversion. Everyone is allowed one (and only one) of these - and it should really be whiskey or tequila If its say, Hot Damn!, we'll let it slide. If its Snow Peak Peach Boone's Farm, get out of here. Seriously. As for those of you who 'Don't don't drink beer' or say 'Red wine gives me a headache', you're clearly suspect. Your parents should be ashamed and it will be a miracle if you don't end up alone.

But I do have a caveat. Of sorts. Different types of booze will have different effects on your body, and red wine will always give me yuck mouth the next morning. Last night I drank a bottle of wine. It was yummy and delicious. When I polished off the bottle, I drank a glass of water, brushed my teeth and went to bed. This morning, I awoke, drank a glass of water and brushed my teeth again. And guess what? It still feels like someone pooped in my mouth. I haven't looked in the mirror lately, but I'm guessing my tongue could use a good shaving. A year ago I went in to have a little skin tag lopped off the end of my tongue. The night before I went in, Ayesha and I decided to power through two bottles of wine. When I got to the hospital and the doctor looked in my mouth he immediately asked me 'Did you eat a bunch of blueberries last night?' And it actually took me a second before I was like 'Oh! No, just some wine. It always gives me yuck mouth the next day.'

So draft beer may wreak havoc on your digestive tract, tequila may make your head pound in an extra special way and red wine may give you yuck mouth the next day. These are unfortunate facts of life, but they shouldn't preclude you from enjoying a pint of Oberon, a short of Patron or a glass of Shiraz. Just know your body and be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Posted 11:01am
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April 1st, 2008

The soundtrack of our lives.

Let's get one thing straight: soundtracks are basically the adult equivalent of star wars action figures. Once you're of a certain age (assuming you're not in some suspended state of adolescence) and movie t-shirts and lunch boxes and beach towels become pathetic and sad, there's still that one respectable way to take that little piece of the flick with you after you've left the theater. A way to try and connect with the emotions and feelings that you had in that darkened arena, now that you're commuting home behind the steering wheel.

And I'm not talking about original cast recordings of big budget musicals or those of you weirdoes out there who listen to original scores. I'm talking about all y'all who rocked the Garden State soundtrack for 6 months after seeing the movie (and being exposed to the Shins for the first time). I'm talking about how for 6 months in 1992 we would drive to Toledo every weekend and all the up and all the way back we'd listen to the Singles soundtrack (on cassette). I'm talking about how you got home from seeing Juno and the first thing you did was hop on iTunes, hoping there was an album that could let you hold onto that feeling for just a little longer.

Soundtracks are fabulous for music snobs such as myself because they often tend to expose people to the esoteric (I'm obviously talking about a certain subset here that doesn't include most of the stuff on this list, except O' Brother, with apologies to Purple Rain and Footloose). When these things become phenomena its usually because they take an eclectic group of pop songs that the public en masse aren't exposed to on a daily basis, and due to their association with a popular film suddenly become much more palatable. Pick up a soundtrack to a Wes Anderson movie, or one by Quentin Tarantino. They have the same feel as their movies. They're filled with forgotten gems and undiscovered treasures. They're idiosyncratic mixed tapes from people who you've already shared a good time with. The Shins don't exist on the same level they do now without Zack Braff. No one remembers 'Stuck in the Middle with You' without Reservoir Dogs. Hell, there was a swing revival in the 90's based on a movie that nobody really saw (especially not in the theater). All these are positive things. So thank you soundtracks, for jumping off the screen and becoming not just the music that informs the moving pictures we pay to see, but being part of the soundtrack of our lives.

- On a related note, the Juno soundtrack was apparently popular enough to merit a sequel. Hooray for more Kimya!

Posted 11:43am
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March 31st, 2008

Fresh, hot cinnamon roles.

I've started this thing about 5 times now, and each time I decided that what I was writing was either boring, or scattered or made me look too stupid and pathetic for a Monday morning. So rather than some brilliant, cogent, cohesive essay, here's the weekend (etc) in bullet points:

- My friend was telling me about how he likes to bake fresh cinnamon roles in the morning when he is entertaining the ladies. "No one is ever disappointed to awaken to the smell of fresh hot cinnamon roles." he quipped. My natural retort was to point out that he must have been making up for the disappointment of the night before. Its a thank you/apology in the form of baked goods. And then of course I remembered how Ayesha always accused me of giving her the bum rush out of my apartment in the morning and realized that I don't ever remember making breakfast for anyone. Apparently I'm a dick. Or just not a morning person.

- I succumbed to the evils of Oberon Friday night - getting black out drunk on enough of the stuff to choke a donkey. Yes kids, Oberon is delicious, but its not to be trifled with. That's as drunk as I've been in some time (which as always, is saying something.)

- Markie C and I commiserated Saturday night for the first time since we're both now truly in the same situation - dumped and still pining. But as he pointed out to me over and over again, its not quite the same as I still talk/txt/IM with Ayesha all the time. I tried to argue that I don't know if my situation is better or worse, because I'm in some sort of limbo and he knows where he stands. Neither of us was buying it though. I still have outs to get what I want (theoretically). If it doesn't work out in the end, then we can talk about how I drug things out and was ultimately worse off, but I still don't think that means Markie C wouldn't trade places with me.

- Watch! The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters Read! Sleepwalk by Adrian Tomine Hear! Elephant Shell by Tokyo Police Club. They were my pop culture consumption for the weekend and they were all fabulous.

Posted 11:28am
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March 28th, 2008

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

- Its 2008, so almost all of retail is chain based at this point. But I started writing yesterday with chains period in mind. As I edited (I edited! Aren't you proud? I almost never do that.) I realized it made much more sense to keep things to the restaurants exclusively. But here's an excerpt from the edits, featuring a sentiment I've expressed on these pages before:

Target - As far as chain retail goes, Target feels somehow upscale (despite its bargain basement prices on dish detergent). They also make a big deal about giving 5% of their revenue back to local communities, which at least shows effort. For whatever reason, I don't feel like I need a shower after shopping at Target, unlike...
its evil equivalent: Wal-Mart. Universally known for swallowing up competition while criminally underpaying its workforce, there may be none more evil than America's Superstore. I take great pride in the fact that I live a good 5+ miles from the nearest Wal-Mart. Not many can say that anymore.

- Flight of the Conchords have a 'new' song on their MySpace page that you can download. I say 'new' because fans of the show will recognize it, but I assume its a new recording from their upcoming album (due out April 22nd)

- Atheists/Agnostics are 4%! This report on American religious beliefs shows that people swap, drop and pick up religions like baseball cards and hairstyles. As Edward G Robinson once said, 'Where's your messiah now?'

- Due to my mourning period (coupled with financial concerns) I haven't been to the bar since I've been back from AZ, which means that I haven't been to the bar in Michigan in three weeks. I'm pretty sure this is a record for the 14 (14!) years I've lived here (we're looking into the validity of that). That all ends tonight as I head to Bdubs (chain chain chain) to watch Michigan hockey and March Madness. Will they have Oberon on tap? Perhaps. Will I drink it if they do? You bet your sweet, round, perfectly shaped ass.

- I've been so bipolar about this whole election cycle its pathetic. I've gone from resolute beliefs of 'Obama gets the nomination' to 'The rug will be pulled out from underneath me at the last second I just know it' back to 'Ladies and Gentlemen, the next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama!' I'm leaning towards 'He'll get the nomination and then the Republicans will photoshop a picture of him next to Osama bin Laden and McCain will be President until he gets pneumonia during his inauguration and dies'.(If that happens by the way, the $20 I put on it in Vegas nets me 2.2 mil.) Anyway, people are kinda sorta starting to agree with me: The Hillary Death Watch.

Posted 12:05pm
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March 27th, 2008

Chain Chain Chain.

I deplore chain restaurants, have for some time now. I think its the epitome of bland to go to the Chili's or TGI Fridays on the row of chains a few miles from your house rather than to try something local and unique and different. I realize that I live in a somewhat unique situation where its easy for me to do this constantly and never run out of choices to try, but that makes it all the more egregious when someone who doesn't have a plethora of choices comes to town and says 'Let's go to Max and Ermas.'

So with the above in mind, I'm honest enough to admit that chains are inevitable. Sometimes they're just too convenient. Sometimes their just too cheap. And every once in a while, they are just too delicious. So that in mind, here's a few of my favorite chains, along with their evil equivalents.

BW3's - OK, 'Buffalo Wild Wings' for the kids out there. Let's face it, the wings are good and when you want to watch sports, you want convenience not the esoteric. It doesn't matter if you've been in so many that you could walk into a fresh one and know your way around blindfolded because you're so familiar with the layout, they have big beers!
its evil equivalent: Applebees. Feelin' Good in the Neighborhood? Have you ever seen a group of people having a raucous good time in an Applebees? That's what I thought.

Taco Bell - This is sustenance when you absolutely have to have it. Whether drunk at 2am on a Friday night, or hungover at noon on a Saturday, Taco Bell hath saved my life too many times to mention.
its evil equivalent: McDonalds. Does anything taste good here? Would anyone still go to McD's if they didn't have a massive billion dollar ad campaign to indoctrinate children and set them up for a life of tasteless failure? I think not.

Chipotle - Taco Bell's younger, better looking, more successful brother. You don't necessarily feel like a degenerate an hour after eating here. And they have fresh ingredients that are spicy enough to make your nose run. Score.
its evil equivalent: Panera Bread. As Stov once said, everything that's wrong with America can be traced back to Panera Bread. I'm not sure what he meant, but I was in a Panera once, and I wanted to punch about half the people in there in the face - just on principle. Haven't been back.

Dennys - First, re-read the Taco Bell entry, remove the part about Saturday 'morning', and then add a +100 guilty feeling for when you sober up the next day. Because you will feel guilty after Denny's. Its like a last call bar hookup. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but now its the walk of shame - to the toilet. Eventually, you'll get over it, remembering that you enjoyed it in the moment and will probably do it again.
its evil equivalent: Cracker Barrel. Trying to upscale the Denny's concept is just wrong. And adding a retail component is infuriating. Bad quaint rural atmosphere! Bad!

Outback Steakhouse - Want a cheap steak? Sometimes we all do. If you're somewhere without an actual steakhouse, this will do in a pinch.
its evil equivalent: TGI Fridays - billed as fun, tasty and affordable, it is none of the above. Outback has its mildly irritating Aussie theme, Fridays has an intolerable atmosphere of forcing you to have a good time by being kitchy, making you want to gouge your eyes out. It is also one of the original restaurant chains, so ultimately responsible for all the evil spawn that came after it.

There's tons more. And at some point, the 'chain' designation gets specious. Is Cottage Inn a chain? It has multiple locations in multiple cities. But is it Dominos? Certainly not. I can't get Cottage Inn outside of Michigan (I don't think). I used to think Mongolian BBQ was a cool Ann Arbor thing. But now they have like 50+ locations in like 6 states. Does it make me like them less? Yes. Did I eat there last weekend? Absolutely.

So chain when you have to. Its just an unavoidable matter of fact in this modern life. But next time you take out the Misses, or meet your friends for a drink, think about going some place that doesn't advertise during Dancing with the Stars. You may find a new favorite place to tell all your friends about. And trust me, The Olive Garden will still be there next time you get a craving for all you can gorge on salad and breadsticks - no matter where you are.

- Unless you're totally gay for Ben Gibbard like I am, you will be sick of Death Cab references on this blog by the time Summer rolls around. Here's another new DCFC song, performed solo acoustic by Benjamin on the BBC.

Posted 10:09am
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March 26th, 2008

Nectar of the gods.

November through March are the worst 5 months of the year here in Michigan. Not because of the bitter cold that rips through the state; that's biting but bearable. Not because of the driving snow that piles up and then melts away and then turns to ice and slush until it snows again; that's malevolent but manageable. Its not the expanding potholes nor the fact that women are forced to dress in parkas rather than tank tops. November through March are the months where time seems to stand still because that's when Bell's stops making Oberon. Sure, their Winter White is fine. And the Consecrator Dopple Bock Boike treated me to on Saturday tasted like a creamy, rich, dark heaven (with 8% alcohol). But there's nothing in the world quite like an Oberon. If summer has a taste, it is that of the Oberon. So imagine my glee as I was browsing through my Busch's circular and saw this:

Ah sweet Oberon! My heart is ever at your service! There is nothing quite as supple and sweet. Nothing so refreshing nor intoxicating on a warm spring evening. Nothing so soothing and relaxing when sitting in the shade on a hot summer day. Nothing so uplifting when its the end of March and the forecast is for snow. Oberon, you make me see the light at the end of the tunnel. And you can hold my hand all the way through that tunnel until we reach the other side.

- Being a giant music snob, I love to pick over the minutiae of every part of an album. I'll talk about the producer and the label and what effect they have on how much I like an album. Of course the most subjective criteria in this over dissection is the cover art. I'll freely admit that a good album cover can elevate a mediocre album, while a bad one can make the road to listenability an uphill battle. Anyway, the point is that I'm not that thrilled with the cover of the new Death Cab album.

Posted 9:38am
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March 25th, 2008

The sun comes up a little later, so you can drink a little longer.

OK, so just a little residual emo. I cut off the next line where Davey sings 'I wish I had a dream last night, so half the time you'd be here.' See? I'm getting better. At least I'm keeping my 'a broken heart is like herpes' analogy to myself.

Over Xmas break I ran into my old boss, who I also happened to be pretty good friends with. She used to work from home on Fridays and would always find reasons for me to come work on her home computer on those afternoons - which would end up being 5 minutes of work that turned into - eh, its already 3, let's just sit outside and have a beer (or three). Anyway, she moved away years ago and I rarely get to see her. The last time our path's crossed was the summer before I started dating Ayesha. But anyway, she was in town for New Years Eve and I got to have a drink or two with her at a friend's house before we both took off for our evening's endeavors. During our interaction, she was throwing out compliments and mentioned seeing a picture of me and Ayesha from several months back and noting how she hardly recognized me, at which point H. chimed in with 'that's probably because he was happy for once.' Despite recent trends I've always thought of myself as a pretty happy guy. Even while people call me crabby or a curmudgeon, I can somehow meld those two seemingly disparate emotions and have them both be true simultaneously. But that wasn't the first time friends noted how happy I looked when I was with Ayesha (most did it in less disparaging ways than H., but that's not surprising). Anyway, that is (of course) what I thought of as I read this article about how hot girls should marry less attractive guys (its science.) It naturally closes with the line "Men are rated as more likable and friendly when they have a wife who is very attractive." Science!

- For the love of all that is holy, this has to be a sign of the pending apocalypse. It makes the Kidz Bop kids seem rockin'. May Joe Strummer rise from the grave and smite you all.

- I started to do this quiz and got all but like 4 of the first 25, but then my eyes started to cross. I found that if I just relaxed my eyes and kind of soaked in the words randomly I was just as successful as if I systematically tried to make sense of it. I missed 6, 10, 11 and 15 for those of you who want to get competitive.

Posted 10:17am
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March 24th, 2008

On your machine I slur a plea for you to come home
But I know it's too late, I should have given you a reason to stay

Barring any unforeseen Monday evening setbacks (which I can't imagine what they'd be, but I take nothing for granted at this point) this'll probably be the last 'emo' post. My melancholy is far from abated, and I'm sure the weekends where I am sitting home doing nothing, imagining what fabulousness Ayesha is up to will be especially bad. But I need to suck it up, this I know. So no more pinings from Ben and Davey as headlines; no more lamenting my misfortune to start the day. I still have plenty of venom to spew that will be therapeutic enough without (hopefully) being pathetic.

- Yesterday Sid and I went to lunch at Mongolian BBQ with his mother for her birthday/easter celebration. Sid's Mongolian meals consist of noodles and imitation crab meat, which he then eats bundled up in a tortilla. Anyway, yesterday we're having lunch and I noticed that he was using a fork AND one chopstick to shovel his noodles into the tortilla before picking it up to eat it. It of course immediately occurred to me that this was the perfect hybrid utensil use for my little half-breed. I asked him if all Chaulkasians honored their dual heritages thusly when the opportunity presented itself. He laughed pretty hard.

- I got my first pair of Chucks when I was in junior high and have owned at least one pair ever since, usually multiples at any specific period in my life. When I first started wearing them, a lot of my classmates thought I was being strange - which in my mind is still one of the best examples of how small a backwater I grew up in. I remember just a few months back, talking about my wardrobe with a recent acquaintance and noting that 'Suit jacket, T-shirt, jeans and Chucks - that's pretty much my armor until spring, when I take off the jacket, trade the jeans for cargo shorts and loose the shoes all together.' So I love my Chucks something terrible. Here's a really interesting article on their relationship with rock and roll.

- Since Kurt Vonnegut passed, I don't think there's a clear cut answer as to who is America's greatest living author. I can think of plenty of good candidates that one could make a case for, my leader in the clubhouse being Salinger (too bad the canon is soo small). ANYWAY I think that maybe MAYBE - if he stays around long enough, the title one day could go to Bret Easton Ellis. Here's a pretty great article/interview with author.

Posted 10:02am
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March 23rd, 2008

Hanging around, you turned me upside down
You stole the clock when you left town

Today was, in a very relative sense, pretty sweet. We had our fantasy baseball draft, which is like a holiday around my house. A few beers, a few well timed insults, lots of jokes and all the while trying to screw over your buddies. Good times. And Ayesha and I have been in contact. I mean, we have been through this entire process, but I'm getting less bitter quicker than I thought I would. I don't know if that open door she talked about will ever be walked through again, but I'm on my way to being OK with it on some level. That's probably convoluted to you, and I can't quickly and succinctly explain it. Ayesha and I have this habit of being too honest with each other. Most of the time its one of my favorite things about us - but there are times we do it despite knowing its potential for harm. And the good of it way outweighs the bad, but its time like these that it scares me. But scared is better than sad, so hooray new emotions! Just in time for easter!

- Given the swirling drama surrounding my life the past week, I managed to not enter an NCAA pool for the first time in neigh 20 years. So I've also managed to watch less of the tournament than I have in any year over same said span. But while drafting today, we got the added pleasure of watching Duke lose, and you don't have to follow anything or be in any pool to enjoy that. Ahh, sweet shadenfreude.

- Siddhartha and I share a lot of things. Other than 50% of his DNA, we also have pretty similar tastes, mannerisms and sense of humor. But when it comes to pop culture we can only share so much. A lot of the stuff I'm into goes over his head (and is sometimes too 'adult', although that field is shrinking) or is just too 'old'. And of course he's immersed in the culture of video games and japenese culture that I either left a while ago (the former) or am, again, too old for (the later). ANYWAY I stared reading this series of graphic novels about a Canadian guy in his early 20's who's in a band, dates a high school girl, then falls for an American who travels in his dreams, only to find out that he has to fight her 7 evil ex-boyfriends to date her. Its called Scott Pilgrim and its absolutely fucking fabulous. Anyway, given its manga influenced art style, its video game references and anime fight sequences, I told Sid he should try reading them with me. And now after I read them, he'll come out and read me passages out loud while I'm making dinner, laughing his balls off all the way. I think there is nothing sweeter in this whole wide world than my son enjoying something that I also think is the bee's knees.

Posted 12:32am
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March 22nd, 2008

There's no blame for how our love did slowly fade
And now that it's gone it's like it wasn't there at all
And here i rest where disappointment and regret collide
Lying awake at night.

Yesterday felt like the worst day of my life. As I was cleaning up my office I was going through some old files and I found a blog post from two months ago that I started and never finished. It was about how all my friends were pairing off and procreating and how I eschewed that for so long. But yet how in the face of not believing in true love or marriage or any of that I had maybe turned a corner and had found someone that had changed all that. So that sucked. Then I tried to drive home in a driving snowstorm and my car refused to go up any incline steeper than 5 degrees. So I put it in a parking lot 2 miles from my apartment (after getting stuck three times over 90 minutes during a 6 mile drive) and hoofed it home through two inches of snow in my low top chuck taylors. Along the way I txted Ayesha about how life sucked and I wanted to die, which made me feel like the most pathetic sap in the entire universe. Needless to say I went home and drank two bottles of wine.

- Here's a brief third person review of UTC (with picture!) Consensus is we rock.

- When I was having dinner with Ayesha's married friends out in AZ we somehow started to talk about music. Ayesha's coworker's husband was a big hip-hop guy, and she asked him what his favorite album of all-time was (which I now can't remember. I think maybe he said Straight Outta Compton). Anyway Ayesha then looked at me and said 'What's your favorite album? WAIT! Jim (coworkers husband) what do YOU think Tyler's favorite album is?' And without much hesitation, he said 'I don't know, something by Elvis Costello.' I then went on about how I adore This Year's Model and then diatribed about the nature of favorites for a while. I think I ended up saying Nothing Feels Good (foreshadow much?) But we were talking about it afterwards and I was like 'Clearly he said that because of the glasses', which of course I started to wear partially because of Elvis in the first place. So, perfect. ANYWAY, Elvis has a new album out soon, vinyl and digital only, and its got the super fucking hot name of Momofuku.

- Jeff Tweedy is almost a cliched rock star genius drug addict. Except that its mostly due to his debilitating migraines. He blog's about it eloquently here. I'm sure when his tragic lyrics make one of my post breakup headlines he'll feel much better.

- If I were a gay multimillionaire cult follower I may try to marry a former star of Dawson's Creek star to ease my pain. Lucky for me (?) that's not an option.

- Remember how Elvis is shaking things up a la Radiohead in the way he's releasing his new album? Jack White one ups him. (and yes, I already found it.)

Posted 12:04am
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March 21st, 2008

I'm not as good as the interstates are, I just can't take you that far.

I'm back bitches. Sort of. Let me explain. My first night back in Michigan was torturous. I unpacked and dabbled in some masochism as I went through everything Ayesha has ever given me before (largely) putting it away. And then I of course got spectacularly drunk. And even though I didn't pass out till 1:30, I couldn't sleep past about 6:15. Of course the weird thing is that I fell asleep and woke up writing blog entries in my head. So clearly my little non-blogging plan isn't working. Right now its 1:30am* and I'm scribbling in my little black book because I was foolish enough to think that 3 double gin and sodas would put me out. My natural reaction to this insomnia was to pour #4 and that a little scribbling couldn't hurt. So here's my intentions going forward - to blog around the following loosely based rules until normalcy resumes enough to go back to what we're all used to. Its all pretty arbitrary, so take it for what you will. History dictates that I'll take it all back in a day or too (obviously).

1. Headlines will become sad pseudo-emo lyrics that have no bearing on the actual post itself. All headlines will be assigned point values so that you can play name that tune along your fellow blog readers. Guessing '...that one Death Cab song' or '...some Promise Ring tune' merits you nothing. They will obviously be mostly DCFC and TPR songs. Today's lyric is worth 500 blog points. Its from one of my favorite songs and of course is one that has a special history for Ayesha and I (natch).

2. After the headline will be the 'tbaggervance and the infinite sadness' portion of the post. I'll do my best to keep it short, but it will be a deposit for whining and feeling sorry for myself. Feel free to skip it.

3. The rest of each days post will likely be random pop culture links followed by quick observations of said phenomena. No groupings of things innocuously making me happy (which is nothing) or things making baby jesus cry (everything), just whatever I don't want you to miss.

4. The email notification service is dead. For now. It returns when the blog returns to normal. This effects very few of you. No complaining.

5. Speaking of complaining, no complaining or bitching via the comments or direct emails about the format or Ayesha. And as far as that goes, no showing concern or sympathy for me neither. I don't want or need any of it. This is my little bitchfest and you can either abandon ship or suck it up. Right now (pouring double #5) I don't give shit.

So that's the low down. Sad and angry for a little while at the top, but good stuff you don't want to miss following that. Let's get this party started. You know the rules...

I awoke my first morning back in A2 quite convinced that I was asleep in my bed room that I grew up in. My parents moved after I graduated high school, so I slept there for years and then when I went off to college, I had no home to return to. At least not one that I recognized. Anyway, this feeling I had was coupled with the fact that my mom kept showing up in my dreams the night before. And of course both of these things probably point to a desire to run home and be comforted by things that no longer exist. But I was wide awake in the dark and I swear I could kinesthetically feel the dimensions of my old room. I even mapped out the path in my head to the bathroom that I so desperately needed - the path through my old room to my old bathroom, not the one I've traveled to every morning for five + years (I wish I could tell you that I peed in closet or something hilarious like that, but I shortly got my bearings.) Anyway, I don't know that any of this is surprising or insightful given that it basically says when you're as sad as you've ever been you run home to mama, and sometimes your home and your mama are gone. But it freaked my shit out. So there. On to the links.

- Mr. Show was one of the funniest shows ever to grace TV, and the birth place of the phrase King Shit of Fuck Mountain©. I am pleased to announce that its creators (Bob and David) are returning to HBO with a new show. Please don't suck.

- They are bringing back 90210. It will suck. I will watch it.

- New Death Cab! Just in time for me to curl up in the fetal position in the dark and listen to it over and over again!

- Joss Whedon films musical for the internet, starring Neil Patrick Harris. It will be legendary.

*technically its 9:20am as I type the transcription and do some sweetening, but you know...

Posted 9:54am
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March 19th, 2008

Addendum

So Ayesha has a blog as well. Its only viewable to a select few, so not publicly available. Anyway, she gave me permission to repost her synopsis of things for all y'all. I thought it'd be a nice perspective for anyone that's interested in our little drama. Enjoy.

how i ruined vegas.

Although my blog hasn't spelled it out, Tyler and I have been back on for a couple of months now. We had that huge falling out in October, didn't talk for two months until I made a drunken phone call (are you surprised? you shouldn't be) and then we kind of just started back up where we had left off before all the bad stuff came on. We ended up spending two blissful days together when I was back in town in December and have been in constant communication since then. There has been talk of marriage, true love and forgiveness. Tyler and my old roomie formed a band together and somehow I was bought a plane ticket home for their one and only concert. He had also planned an 8-day trip out to the West in the near future. Prior to my arrival and his visit, it was clear that the next month would hold the answer to whether or not Tyler and I should be together.

My Michigan visit was great. Tyler loves me more than anyone I've ever known. He knows my soul to the core and believes in me. He is, a wonderful and beautiful person. However, my Michigan visit was filled with doubts and a feeling of defeat. I had to dig deep and figure out if I was capable of forgiving and forgetting all the bull shit that had torn us apart in the first place. Is it possible to go back to a time when you wanted to spend the rest of your life with someone, even after you have spent months attempting to get over them? Would I be able to make the distinction between loving him, and being in love with him?

So, he arrived last Tuesday. We've been having a great time together- but the doubts were resurfacing full on. Spending twenty-four hours a day with him is just like old times, but something inside of me has changed. I had nightmares and would awake to him next to me, smiling. We would drink, and I would stop myself because I was afraid that my big mouth mixed with alcohol would blurt out something I wasn't ready to share. I worked through it, and had come to the realization that there is no way I am ready to be with Tyler again. This realization was awful and guilt-ridden. Here is this person that loves me so much, and I used to love him the same way... why can't I go back? What is wrong with me?

Unfortunately, while in Vegas, I forgot about my drinking/big mouth problem and blurted something out that forced us to have the conversation. We were both a wreck, crying in our very perfect hotel room. I explained over and over again how much it hurt to do this to someone I really care about, and he said he understood and broke his 4-month no smoking streak. Unfortunately, Vegas is probably Tyler's favorite city and I ruined our one night there. Needless to say, I'm not only filled with guilt about having to break it off but also that I ruined our last couple of days together, including a nice in Sin City and St. Patty's Day.

Jeane said something that hit a chord with me- something to the effect of how not only do you need the right person, but also the right timing. Tyler may well have been the right person, but timing has not worked in our favor. Every time I want to be with him, he is on the other side of things (and vice versa). We've had fun, it has been quite the roller-coaster, but I think it is fair to say that we need to call it quits. For now.

Fingers crossed that I made the right choice. I'll be hiding under my covers until further notice.

Posted 11:01am
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March 17th, 2008

By the time I get to Arizona... (part 2)

The following was scribbled in my little black book at about 3am last night. The transcription is pretty word for word, with just a tad of sweetening. The only caveat is that after writing it, I did go on a bit of a bender, downing 8 vodka sodas in just over an hour. A hooker told me that I looked so sad she'd almost blow me for free. Almost. What a sweetheart...

Things fall apart. Deteriorate. That's what they do. Sometimes even with the best of care you can't stop the eventual erosion. That's what happened to the second half of my vacation. First slowly, then spectacularly.

Saturday morning we awoke early to head out to the most fabulous of holes, the grand canyon. But here's on thing about the American Southwest for the uninitiated - there's only one way to get anywhere. Its not like going from Ann Arbor to Detroit where there are half a dozen completely valid routes - there's one way. Period. And Saturday, after traveling for an hour towards la gash grande we found out the route to get there was closed. That's right - the grand canyon was ostensibly closed. So we headed home in frustration and stared at the wall for a bit. We got some Mexican food and decided to meet up with my fellow Naptowners that have migrated to the desert.

And here's the other thing about desert dwelling - everything is far away. If you want to have any kind of fun imaginable, prepare to drive a minimum of 20 minutes. This erodes friendships and makes being a successful drunk a home based business. I imagine a lot of phone conversations in the PHX area going like this: "You come here." "No, you come here." Anyway, we schlepped to the other side of the valley of the sun and hung out with my old high school bandmates. We drank and played guitar. Life was good for a moment. Little did I know that I was walking eyes closed towards life's grandest of holes.

The next morning we packed our shizz and headed to the desert's giant gold plated turd - Las Vegas (thankfully, not closed. But we did have to drive through a torrential snowstorm to get there. I shit you not. I love it when life is operatic without even trying.)

Anyway, we hit the strip and checked into our ultra fabulous room, which had a TV in the bathroom mirror and a telephone within arm's reach of the toilet. I thought that was a tad ostentatious, but we decided to stay there anyway. We met my buddy RJ and had some cocktails and shot some crap (Ayesha got hot throwing dice and made us a bunch of money, then we pissed it all away. Yes, it will be an apt metaphor of foreshadowing, wait for it...) RJ had to take off for work shortly thereafter and we were left drunk and alone to ponder life's mysteries. And that's when she dumped my ass.

It started out with her making an innocuous off the cuff remark that snowballed and escalated into both of us crying in our hotel room. We both used to joke that we should never do Vegas together - her being a clubber and I a degenerate gambler. Turns out we were right. Vegas was the end of us.

After much boo-hooing I ran down to the casino floor for some much needed booze and a pack of cigarettes (Vegas always makes me smoke. Damn you Sin City.) I eventually composed myself enough to head back to the room so we could go find dinner and talk some more about thoughts and feelings. Good times on the strip.

I wish I could tell you that I later went on a spectacular bender the likes of which Vegas has never seen - but I didn't. We went back to the room and passed out around 10. Five hours in the car and a few hundred bucks for this. Swell.

I don't want to trash Ayesha in any way. I still love her. Still am in love with her. She just didn't feel the same way and chose a completely awful time to tell me so. That's what our relationship came down to in the end - bad timing. It happens. Its not necessarily anyone's fault. I saw all of this coming. I tried to plug the hole in the dam but couldn't. Other holes cropped up and I ran out of fingers. That's all. She left a door open for the future, but it feels like guilt more than anything. Hey, with our history, who knows...

So given my flair for the dramatic, prepare thyself dear reader for a little radio silence. Its time for some heavy drinking (even by my standards) and then some self-evaluation. I think neither of those things will be blog inducing. Strike that. They will likely be spectacularly blog inducing, but I'm going to put down the proverbial pen for a while instead. I think it too much right now. I'll be back, probably shortly, to regale you with whatever is next in my sad little existence. If you see me between now and then, buy me a drink, and please don't ask about Ayesha. See you on the other side...

xoxo,
tbaggervance

Posted 5:13pm
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March 15th, 2008

By the time I get to Arizona... (part 1)

Its been approximately two years since I got a plane and took a vacation. Not that I haven't traveled and imbibed across this great land of ours in the meantime, but an extended, no agenda excursion to some place much warmer than Michigan in an effort to escape the doldrums of a midwestern winter is something quite different. Turns out its something quite necessary. So being back in Ayesha's good graces, when she asked me 'When are you going to come visit me?' my immediate response was 'As soon as you'll have me.'

So after work on Tuesday I threw some clothes in a bag* and ran to DTW to hop a plane and like a modern day Tom Joad, head West in search of a better life. For a week or so anyway. Of course my flight was delayed and was packed with 50+ junior high kids playing slap tickle the whole way, but I was surprisingly calm about everything. The flight was actually quite bearable, perhaps because I was about to see Ayesha and gain the ability to walk outside without a coat. I guess we'll see how I tolerate the return flight if it contains similar annoyances. Anyway, I touched down in the desert and there was my gorgeous psuedo-ex/perhaps future girlfriend. No one knows what the appropriate label is, but she was a sight to behold regardless of an appropriate moniker for what we are to each other. We grabbed the bags and after a quick booze run on the way home, settled in at Ayesha's place for a quiet evening of throwing back some Mooseheads. (Moosehead! In the desert! I know, right?)

One of the things we had planned on during my desert excursion was to do some hiking around the greater PHX area. We started off with a pretty easy little trail on Wednesday morning. This is us at the top of the thing:

Yes, I'm wearing a hat. This is what I am forced to stoop to when taking a shower before going outside to sweat makes no sense. Afterwards we did a little running around then headed back to Ayesha's for some poolside grilling (in March!) After about five minutes in the sun the little brown desert dweller got some sort of heat rash and had to move to the shade, but my white ass powered through. I'm certain the proximity to St. Pat's Day has bolstered my immune system - or something like that to explain this irony.

After a nap and a shower, we decided on a trip to BevMo and then out for drinks. Remember in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original Gene Wilder one, natch) when he opens the door to the factory and the kids stand there, mouth agape while he sings 'If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it..'? Well walking into BevMo made me feel like Charlie Bucket.

Everything I'm holding cost less than $25. So far its keeping me very lubricated out here in the heat. Anyway, we then went to some trendy little part of PHX where they turned a bunch of old houses into hipster bars. No place has a sign or any real indication that they are an actual bar as opposed to somebody's domicile, but the places we stopped took our money and gave us booze in exchange, so it all worked out. I felt at home. Even after Ayesha made me order and drink this $10 martini:

Being a hipster hurts sometimes. The next day we decided on another hike - this time a much more difficult, double black diamond trail. Warning. The following pic includes massive amounts of lilly white flesh.

The view was gorgeous, and even though Ayesha's legs shook the whole way down from over exertion, we both felt it was worth it. We also felt that we had earned some pizza and a beer, which is what we did immediately afterwards.

Later that night we met up with Ayesha's friends (and coworker) Jim and Jeane. They're good people. Jeane is a cheesy art teacher and Jim seems like my kind of degenerate, so we all got along pretty well.

The next morning I decided that I really needed to see Michigan get clobbered in the Big Ten tournament. Since Ayesha doesn't have cable and the game was on at 9am, we were faced with the daunting task of finding a bar that was open early enough to feed us beer and let us watch ESPN while the rest of the world was being productive. We eventually found Barwinkles - which turns out wasn't open, but the lady let us come in and drink anyway. Beers for breakfast!

We tried to take this picture several times with Ayesha frowning for having me drag her out of bed for such ridiculousness, but this was the one that turned out. Don't tell anyone that she's wearing a maize and blue shirt.

We had planned to go the Mariners baseball game at 4, but like a real fucking rube, I had got the east coast starting time, so when we showed up at 4, we found people leaving the 1pm game that just ended. We went home dejected, drowning out sorrows with more poolside grilling.

And lucky for us, there was a game that night at 7, so we headed back to the ball park and snagged some sweet lawn seats. Ayesha would want you to notice the super cute purse by her feet that she just received in the mail.

We spent most of the game people watching, marveling at how parents let their kids run amok in public. No one teaches couth anymore. Oh, and since we missed out on J.J. Putz, Ayesha had me take this picture instead:

I don't know how it measures up as far as consolation prizes go, but it made Ayesha laugh, which is always worth it.

Since we were headed to the Grand Canyon the next morning, we decided to go home and do some arts and crafts and watch a movie. And booze. Here are the Artist Trading Cards I made. Countdown to Boike calling me gay in 3... 2...

And for the record, Dan in Real Life is about the biggest craptacular we've ever laid eyes on. It made us both violently angry and physically ill. Should have known when we saw Dane Cook's name in the credits. Douche nozzle.

We woke up today and packed up the car for the Grand Canyon, but got the Heisman from the I-17. It was shutdown for construction and as it was our only route to the canyon, we turned around and headed home. Getting to meet one the of the 7 natural wonders of world doesn't seem to be in the cards. We're planning on meeting up with AZ Naptowners instead, which, no offense to the grandiosity of some canyon, is a fabulous consolation prize.

Anyway, that's first half of the trip. Its been a whirlwind of awesome ever since I got here, with no signs of letting up. Tomorrow Vegas, Monday St. Pats and Nada Surf, Tuesday some museums and some Minibosses. Wednesday back to frozen tundra of the mitten. Look for part two then...

* Yes, we all know I am far too anal for this to be even remotely true, but I'm telling this story, so shh.

Posted 2:03pm
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March 11th, 2008

Jesus H. Ridout-Norris.

A little over 6 months ago I helped pack up my girlfriend of a little less than a year and moved her to the opposite side of the country. It was an event that was nearly as life changing for me as it was for her (role with my hyperbole please). Ayesha and I had become pretty intrinsically tied together during our all too brief time in Ann Arbor, and while we were doing that, more and more of my friends got paired off or started breeding. So by the time I dropped her off in the desert, I was resigned to return to Michigan utterly alone. My formerly single friends were now in time sucking relationships, and my married friends who were formerly regularly social were now home changing diapers. I, of course, was being overly dramatic about all of it.

But a funny thing happened during this grand transition. I found myself returning more and more to Ayesha's old house to hang with her ex-roommates the Jesuses. When Ayesha and I started dating I had fashioned the Jesuses in my head to be the polar opposites of us. They were Christians. They got married young. They didn't really drink. They seemed to live a lifestyle quite the opposite of us. They sometimes referred to Ayesha as their 'daughter' and that's pretty much what it felt like. But not for long. I eventually got to know the two of them beyond the initial stereotypes I assigned them. And with Ayesha gone and me trying to cling to some part of the past while still moving on, I came to be good friends with AJ and MJ.

And better friends one could not have. We've been to some amazing concerts. We've traveled to foreign lands. We've stalked celebrities, played hooky, and fought and clawed to win trivia contests together. It's been difficult at times, trying to keep them from being caught in the middle of some of Ayesha and I's drama. But someday should us two crazy kids end up together, we'll owe something to the Jesuses for being there during some trying times. If nothing else I can never properly thank them for that.

Tonight I fly West to spend a glorious week with Ayesha in the desert, and when I return, the Jesuses will be gone. They've decided that their time in A2 is at an end and are moving lock, stock and barrel to the hills of South Kadota. So its the end of an era once again. No more UTC. No more Green Door Chapel. No more happy hours at the Grizz, no more pizza buffets at Aubrees, no more games of lighter toss on my living room floor. Goodbye Jesuses. Ann Arbor, and even more so Sid and I, will miss you. In the grand scheme of things it was an unlikely friendship, but I think that fact will strengthen the resolve to maintain it. Turns out everyone can use a little Jesus in their life. Even me.

Posted 11:07am
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March 10th, 2008

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

Tomorrow I leave the frozen tundra of Michigan for the balmy desert of Arizona. I don't know how much if at all I'll be posting the next 10 days. There could be daily updates thrown up while Ayesha takes a nap, or I could completely eschew my blogging responsibilities until I get back and provide one massive travelogue. Only time will tell. Anyway, I'm pretty much just sitting around daydreaming until I get on the plane, so here's some of the stuff that's making me giddy with anticipation.

- The low in AZ for every day over the next week is a minimum of 10 degrees warmer than than the high in Michigan. So, suck it Michiganders. Until a week from Wednesday anyway, then suck it tbaggervance, too.

- I was kind of disappointed in the new Nada Surf album upon first listen. Two great songs, a bunch of mediocre ones. That was my initial reaction. But the rest of the album is starting to grow on me. This only increases my excitement for their St. Patty's day concert we will be attending.

- Spring training in baseball takes place in two different areas - Florida's "grapefruit" league and Arizona's "Cactus" league. I've managed to take in a Tiger game or two in Lakeland, FL during a couple of my reluctant visits to that cestpool of a state, so I'm excited to see the left coast's version of inconsequential baseball. And to point out my sadness, one of the deciding factors in which game to go see was that U of M's J.J. Putz plays for the Mariners, coincidentally right down the road from Ayesha's apartment.

- Years ago I cam across a band called the Minibosses. Their stock in trade is recreating the music from original NES games as a four piece prog-rock outfit. Needless to say that this colliding of my love for music and my love for old-school Nintendo is about the coolest thing to me since Vodka met soda. And because apparently I've built up some kind of positive karma over the years, they are playing in PHX my last night in town. I'm sure this will be just short of torture for Ayesha, as when I mentioned it as a possibility, her response was "That annoying band is fine with me." She must really like me.

- The best part of traveling to me is seeing friends that have dispersed throughout the country. 95% of all of my adult travel (not related to Michigan athletics) has been based around seeing one friend or other who has relocated to some exotic locale. Not only is it exciting and comforting to be with people you love in a far off land, but it usually allows you to crash on a couch rather than pay for a hotel room. Of course the impedance for this trip is to see Ayesha, but I also hope to catch Jer and Pants (seen above in 1994 prom splendor) in nearby Scottsdale, as well as RJ (who gets spared high school photo embarrassment) when we make our quick stop over in the Vegas. These are some of my favorite people in the world, so its kind of amazing to me that they're all so close together so far away from where we all grew up. Its going to make a sweet trip even sweeter. Or perhaps a drunken extravaganza even more drunken. Or both.

Posted 12:53pm
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March 9th, 2008

Indefatigable.

in.de.fat.i.ga.ble [ indi fattig'b'l ] adjective Definition: untiring: never showing any sign of getting tired or of relaxing an effort

Its the word of the day around our house. Tonight Sid and I went out at midnight to wait in the freezing cold, surrounded by dudes who have have never touched an actual girl, to pick up his copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Its the game he's wanted for the Wii ever since we got it 14 months ago. I stood there, shivering, wondering how many of these nerds had less sexual experience than my 12 year old son. I reminded him of all the Sunday mornings that I (and Ayesha and the Jesuses (thanks again team)) stood in similar conditions to get the system in the first place. He just stood there (jumping up and down), dreaming of the nerd nirvana he was about to be in. It was kind of adorable to see him so excited. He was like a meth head once he got it. "I can't believe I finally got this effing game! I can't wait to get home and start this shit." (Yes, my son is already learned in the ways of cussing like a sailor). I have no doubt he'll be up long after I am passed out, unlocking characters and finding the nuances of this shit.

Me? I'm thinking happy thoughts of thawing out in the desert in a mere 72 hours. I don't get actual vacation but once in a great while. So when it comes, I border on obsession about it. I dream of driving with the windows down. Of traversing the Grand Canyon and hanging out in the Vegas in the ways that only a true degenerate like myself can. Of spring training games and hiking and concerts. And most of all, of just being with Ayesha and letting the cares of the world melt away. Its not often that you can build up an experience in your mind and still know that it has little to no chance of disappointing you. And assuming that I haven't just jinxed it, this is one of those times. The whole thing just makes me so... indefatigable.

Posted 1:27am
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March 7th, 2008

Erin Go Bragh.

Dearest blog readers, you know how I hate to intrude on your kind and gentle nature. My causes are my own and while I aspire to inspire from time to time, I do my level headed best to have my call to actions be ones of the 'do something' variety rather than the 'do this'. But friends, this time I cannot stay silent. This time I am imploring you to stand next to me and fight a battle worth fighting. Its an idea who's time has come and one that's a rallying cry for an entire generation. My good friends at Guiness and I are asking you to help us make Proposition 3-17 a reality.

Prop 3-17 is an effort to make St. Patrick's Day an official honest-to-goodness holiday here in the States. The Italians have Columbus Day; the Pilgrims Thanksgiving. The Christians even get a whole day off for the baby Jesus. But what about us drunks? Where's the love for us? What about those of us who realize that Columbus didn't discover America, buckles on your hat look stupid and Jesus is a bed time story? How about we honor the hearty Irish stock that helped build this great nation? Most importantly, how about we don't all have to fake call in sick on St. Patrick's Day every year?

I know you guys are behind me. Together, we can make this sweet, sweet dream a reality. St. Patrick has done so much for you over the years, isn't it time you gave a little back? And just think, if St. Pat's is a holiday, it'll be so much easier to take off the 18th to recover.

- I swear to god, you'll read this and think I wrote it. The dude sucks of Death Cab so much it almost makes me uncomfortable. It also makes my pants really tight (if you know what I'm sayin').

- I've never watched Human Giant, but this makes me want to.

Posted 11:05am
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March 6th, 2008

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

- My mom was a big Hitchcock fan. Growing up, I had seen most of the man's catalog by the time I was 12 - which is disturbing on a lot of levels. The Birds will mess up a kid's head, man. Anyway, I was steeped in the man's genius and over the years have come to enjoy every nuanced piece of the man's style. Which, as any Hitchcock buff will tell you, owes quite a bit to Saul Bass. Saul was a graphic artist and title designer that worked with Hitch and Otto Preminger quite a bit back in the day. That's why this little exercise made me giggle over and over again.

- Now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb... This will probably go straight from suck to blow, but the idea is intriguing for certain of us nerds out there.

- Stov sent me this link (and I think the Spaceballs one as well) and it makes me laugh out loud every time I look at it.

- For those of you who got the Loblaw picture from yesterday's Cananada extravaganza, here's an Arrested Development quiz.

- Its been a whirlwind last couple weeks, which means I've barely had time to process the fact that I'll be in AZ in less than a week. We've got quite a bit planned (Vegas, Grand Canyon, Spring Training, Nada Surf) but I think we're both kind of looking forward to things being low key and easy. That and the weather. Someone tell fucking Michigan that its March and I'm officially done with putting up with this shit. Officially.

Posted 10:55am
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March 5th, 2008

They're never going to believe this back home!

Its been almost 2 years since I made a foray into our neighbors to the North (or if you're from Michigan, our neighbors to the East). Windsor is less than an hour away, but there's really no reason to go there. Unless you're only 19 and want to drink or are really insistent that your fully nude strippers come with the ability to drink booze on the premises, its just kind of a dirty low rent town with funny looking money. But I recently realized that if you've only been to Windsor and you tell people 'I've been to Cananada', its a lot like saying that you've been to New York because you were once in Hoboken.

We hit the border and when the customs guy asked us what are business was in Cananada, we told him that we were headed to Toronto to see Josh. His immediate response was 'Didn't he just play in Michigan last night?' Apparently, Canadians love Josh Ritter! They had immediately endeared themselves to us as a whole. We also quickly learned that Cananada's love for their flag puts us to shame. Look at this giant one:

That little maple leaf is fucking everywhere! Thanks goodness its completely badass. Also note in the back ground that Canadians are not insistent that their gas prices end in nine. We managed to see prices ending in every integer imaginable, save 0, 2 and 4. We agreed that the elusive 0 was the real get, but we also noted that it may even be mythical in nature.

As you undoubtedly also know, those quirky Canadians also use kilometers instead of miles, so watching the numbers get smaller so quickly made the trip fly by. Before you knew it we were in the heart of Toronto, where apparently Bob Loblaw practices law.

When we hit our room at the Days Inn, we were inundated with the Canadian differences. First of all, they are apparently a tall people, as our ceiling was vaulted like a motherfucker. It also smelled of baseball cards, which was nostalgic for those of us with a penis. We also poked around to notice that while one would imagine it as inconceivable, the french word for shampoo is shampooing! Our minds were officially blown.

Of course after those initial observations, it was time to start pounding some booze. The cups in the room were microscopic, so I decided to use the coffee decanter instead. MJ thought this was about the funniest thing she had ever seen.

After getting sufficiently crocked, (and getting really excited about what we thought was an awesome teenage melodrama but turned out to be One Tree Hill. Damn you, Cananada!) we headed out into the Canadian wilderness. We figured we'd find the venue and then find a restaurant/bar that was close. When we parked the car (Canadian cross walk figures have feet, btw) it took all of 5 seconds to figure out we were smack dab in the middle of Toronto's gay district. You'd think the sign we saw that said 'Big pumpin', All humpin'' with pictures of shirtless dudes on it would have tipped us off, but we didn't know for sure until some very effeminate older gentleman came up to AJ and I as we were feeding the meter (not a euphemism) and told us "I think I have a looney if you need change." We politely declined his looney in case it was, you know, a euphemism.

So we hit the first gay bar (Churchmouse and Firkin) and began to ask around for where we could find some poutine. The Jesuses, as veterans of the Canadian experience, are obsessed with this concoction of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. Our gay waiter claimed to have no clue where we could find it, so we finished our appetizers and beers and headed across the street to the next gay bar, where of course they had authentic poutine.

They made me try it. It tastes like poverty.

We finished up and headed to our next stop, Zeldas, which from the exterior made Ann Arbor's Aut Bar look positively straight. We headed in only to find out that the place was booked because it was "Canadian Drag Idol" night. We were seriously disappointed we were going to miss out, but decided to just head to the venue and get our drink on there.

Now by this point I'm pretty lit. MJ says she wants to play a game and suggests that AJ and I see how many pieces of clothing we could exchange without making a scene. I of course immediately tell her that we could exchange every stitch of clothing we had on. She laughed and said 'Like you're going to take off your pants in the middle of the bar.' Which I viewed as a challenge and immediately dropped trou. There is a picture of this. You won't see it here. Instead, here is Josh Ritter.

The show rocked. We stood five feet from the stage and were practically sweat on my Mr. Ritter. After the show it was MJ's goal to meet Josh and get her picture taken with him. So we went outside only to find a driving snowstorm. Not to be deterred, we stood outside the bus as ice formed in our hair and the wind nipped at our noses. After 40 minutes I had had enough and stated that if I didn't get a Mooshead on draft soon I was going to die. We eventually found a bar that was open (it being almost 1am on a Tuesday) and even though they only had the Moose in bottles, they did have a sweet fake Marijuana plant right by our table.

We had them turn the TV to CNN (would you mind? We're from the States...) and got the evenings bad news. We tried to soldier on with the evening anyway. We stopped and got some awful latenight pizza and headed back to our hotel. It was then that we noticed that the french word(s) for shower cap are bonnet de douche. AJ is wearing a douche bonnet.

Then it was pass out time. We dug the car out next morning and headed back. I have to say, I love me some Cananada now. I would like to suggest that their tourism board immediately start a campaign in Michigan along the lines of "Come to Cananada. Its not all like Windsor!"

Posted 9:09pm
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March 4th, 2008

You're motorin'

I'm headed to Cananada as you read this to see indie folk hunk Josh Ritter, so no major posting today and perhaps tomorrow. But I wanted to share a little revelation from Sid's Sunday tennis match before I go. This is Sid and Christian:

They're both half breeds and we've been telling them they could easily pass for brothers. I especially noted that they both have the same pasty complexion, thus dubbing them 'Chaulkasians'. I immediately thought 'What a great name for their doubles tennis team!' Kara insisted that doubles teams in tennis don't have names, to which I replied 'The T-shirt I'm going to have made up says otherwise.' Then it hit me, like a lightening bolt. It was a truly eureka! moment. 'Chaulkasians' was all well and good, but it belies the obviously most truly super-awesome, radical name of all time. Ladies and gentleman, dearest blog readers and tennis fans everywhere, I give you A2's hottest all half-asian doubles team: Sidster Christian.

They're 2-0 in 2008, by the way. 7-2, 4-2. It's true...

Posted 10:02am
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March 3rd, 2008

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Friday night's debut of Urinary Tractor Convention was a rousing success. I got way drunker before going on stage than I promised myself I would, yet screwed up less than anticipated, so pretty much perfect. There was a some concern when Ayesha brought me a shot of Jaeger halfway through the set, but we persevered. There's photos and videos on facebook for those of you young enough to take advantage of such things. I'll be sure to let you know if they ever make it to youtube or any other public domain type thing. Again, thanks to everyone who showed up - I hope you had half as much fun as I did, and that you weren't too offended by the encore.

 

- The drummer for Nada Surf is interviewed here, and comes off as a cat I'd love to go out drinking with - even if we had to start a fight over somebody disrespecting Ringo.

- Unofficial band of tbaggervance.com The Hold Steady has a new album preped and ready, its called Stay Positive.

- Aging hipster Mike Doughty is interviewed here. We use that fact as a reminder to all y'all that Soul Coughing was once King Shit of Fuck Mountain© as far as we were concerned.

- Most of you probably heard that Maxim reviewed the new Black Crowes album without actually hearing it. As we pride ourselves on having the utmost journalistic integrity here at tbaggervance.com, we publicly condemn this action. But having seen the review and not having heard the album, we can't imagine how it isn't 100% accurate.

- Glen and Marketa are headed out on tour under the monicker The Swell Season. I'm not sure how excited I am to see this live, but I'm sure its pretty incredible.

- Here's a 45 minute video of the Conchords explaining SXSW - although it is well documented that tbaggervance.com offcially endorses the Hamtramck Blowout over Austin's precious little mainstream lovefest.

- Finally, here's Brit Daniel playing I Summon You in the back of a cab in London. He will rock your face.

Posted 11:11am
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March 2nd, 2008

Always worth the wait.

Ayesha and I haven't always made sense to me. I fell for her hard and fast in a whirlwind romance about a year and half ago and pretty much nothing in my life has been the same since. Early on in our relationship we were on our way to Bdubs and stopped at the punishment light*, listening to Nada Surf when she looked at me and said something akin to "I really want to make out with you quick but this is so new and I don't know what to do." As she would continue to do from then on, she had expressed my thoughts perfectly.

It wasn't long after that I knew I was in love in a big way and throwing myself into terrible peril. She's 7 years younger than me, from a racial and ethnic background that's almost diametrically opposed to mine and was always moving to Arizona. Of course I threw myself in head first anyway and wouldn't change a second of it for the world. Even through the bad times and the ugliness, Ayesha and I have always worked. (OK, there was the thing in October, but we're past that and done mentioning it.) The thing is that my life makes eminently more sense with Ayesha in it. I don't know if I believe that there's a right person out there for each of us, but if there is, then Ayesha is it for me. We seem to get each other, and that's not something you throw away for anything.

The last three and a half days she was here were pretty much like the best of times. The only real problems were that we had so much planned that there wasn't enough downtime for my liking and Ayesha kept reminding me that she never wants to endure a Michigan winter again (its just one of the myriad ways the weather in this state has fucked me this year.) We of course were too busy with the drinking and whatnot to have any serious discussions about what any of this means, but its a scant 10 days before we get to spend a week together out in the desert. I suppose there will be time between between all the drinking and the sweating to have philosophical and practical discussions about things going forward. My feelings on whether or not I think things will work in our favor flip back and forth like a schizophrenic on a tilt-a-whirl. But I'm hopeful. It would be cruel and unusual for the bottom to drop out now just when things are starting to consistently make sense.

- There's tons to blog about, including the UTC wrap-up. I'll get to it. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who showed up. It meant the world...

* Stadium and Brockman. You will never not have to stop here.

Posted 5:32pm
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February 27th, 2008

Here comes my girl...

The Jesuses are leaving our fair state and AJ and I are playing our first last concert together. It seemed only right to have Ayesha around for this final round of shenanigans. So when MJ suggested that we all pitch in to bring her here for one last hurrah, it didn't take long for everyone to get on board. The four of us have had a somewhat bizarre and metamorphic relationship over the last six months or so, but one last weekend with all of us back in their house on Packard (The Green Door Chapel) before this specific period in all of our lives comes to an end seemed the only appropriate way to celebrate such a wonderful whirlwind that the last year and a half has been.

And of course there's the whole Ayesha and I thing independent of everything else. The other day Ayesha asked me if I was getting nervous for her impending visit. I told her that nervous wasn't the right adjective. She started to say something about getting nervous when studying for a test in college - at which point she realized she had poorly executed her joke and that it was coming out as awkward. I let her off the hook, but continued to think about the analogy for quite some time after. I think that Ayesha and I's rollercoaster relationship is at yet another crossroads, and that the next few weeks will help to determine where the train is headed. So yeah, I guess there is an atmosphere of a test in the air. However, I have no doubt that upon Ayesha's arrival that we will fall into the line of best fit that we always seem to find around each other. And that we have so much fantastic stuff planned that the extended weekend will be a magnificent maelstrom of booze, music, laughter and sex. I guess that's why even if their is a pretext of this being some sort of test, I'm not at all worried. In my mind, we've both already gotten A's.

Posted 11:22am
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February 26th, 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin'

Its a fact of life - politicians will look you straight in the face and lie their asses off. Its kind of their job. But mostly, we know we're being lied to. Or at least being exaggerated to. I mean, we're all adults here. We're capable of reading between the lines. But I never get tired of being irate over the combination of delusional precepts and bold faced lies that come out of W's mouth. Like this speech, where he recently told people that he knows we'll get a Republican President, House and Senate, because "I understand the mentality of the American people." If this doesn't make you want to beat him about the head with a whiffle ball bat, you need to check your outrageous indignation meter. I'm not sure how a wealthy son of a privileged family, who never had to work a day in his life and was given job after job in which he failed miserably - has managed to convince a majority of the American public that he's a good ol' boy, but its gotta be one of the great all-time snow jobs. He also went on in his speech to say that American's still value the core Republican ideals of strong defense, low taxes and personal freedoms. And that may be true to a large extent. But then that only begs the question of why HE DID THE EXACT FUCKING OPPOSITE FOR EIGHT GODDAMN YEARS. He's weakened our position militarily throughout the world, and he's acted the opposite of a fiscal conservative while consistently eroding our personal freedoms. See, I don't have a problem with Republicans. I like lower taxes as much as the next guy. But I do have a problem with someone who manages to be a fucking elitist and an anti-intellectual at the same time, and manages to sell the same lies over and over again despite having never even feigned action towards fulfilling those false promises. FUCK. I can't wait for it to be over.

- Clinton and Obama debate tonight in Ohio (presumably they are, as we speak, working on parsing their language to remove as many multi-syllabic words from their stump speeches as possible.) The Clinton campaign has spent the last 2 weeks finger pointing and whining like a bunch of petulant children. Anything that doesn't go their way is someone else's fault, and its getting embarrassing to watch. (Texas looks like it might go to Obama? Then it doesn't count anymore.) That's like McCain coming out and saying the war in Iraq will be over soon because, hey it turns out nobody wants to be there for a hundred years. But the straight talker would never do that, would he? Anyway, I know we're "yeah proletariat" around here, but I've said it before and I will say it again, what does it portend when the informed and the educated are voting Obama and those that are neither swing towards Clinton?

- Inflation is rampant, foreclosures are at an all time high, and I live in the state with the worst economy in the nation. All is well, nothing to see here.

OK, that's enough vitriol for one day. I know there is no new information in anything I've written above. They're all points I've made before. But sometimes the bile backs up and needs to be purged. More hearts and flowers tomorrow, as Ayesha will be on her way here and the month of goodness begins in earnest.

Posted 11:16am
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February 25th, 2008

Oscar Hangover.

I really try not to give two shits about the Oscars. I didn't even get home until after 9 last night, showing how little it meant to me to be there for the start of the show. Of course once I plopped on the couch (with a severe food baby in my belly) I turned on the telecast and stayed glued to the set right until the end. I didn't have much of a vested interest in who one what. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men were going to take down the big awards - and as of right now I've seen neither. I mean, I will eventually, and I'm sure I'll like them both, but its not like I can actively root for films I've yet to watch.

On the other hand, I was on the edge of my seat for two very important categories. The first was Best Original Screenplay. To me, this is the best picture award. This is where the Academy honors the esoteric and independent. Where they spotlight those who went out on a limb and took a chance to do something different. Its where Pulp Fiction won the year Forest Gump stole its thunder. And where Fargo bested the English Patient. This year, it was where I hoped Juno would make its stand. Firstly, the movie is largely a triumph of the script. Everything about it is great, but what makes the movie work is really there on the page. But more importantly, its where I thought it had the best chance to win. The big two movies of the night weren't represented, and while Ellen Page and Jason Reitman are fabulous, they were dark horses at best to win the awards they were nominated for. So I sat with fingers crossed that this tiny idiosyncratic movie would get recognized as the Best Original Screenplay of the year.

The second, even more important category that actually made me nervous was Best Original Song. The nominees were as follows: some insipid gospel song you've heard 8,000 times before from some terrible movie that starred Felicity; 3 (THREE!) songs from that live action Disney princess movie, each one more middling than the next; and the transcendant "Falling Slowly" from Once. Even without my unnatural love for the little indie Irish movie, it was important to me for society as a whole to recognize an actual artistic endeavor instead of the same old trite bullshit designed to make small children clap their hands to the beat. So this was the make or break moment of the evening for me.

Luckily the universe had chosen to treat me like a spoiled 2 year old and give me everything I wanted. Diablo Cody won best OG Screenplay for Juno and Glen and Marketa won for Once, giving speeches that couldn't help but make you feel like this is what events like this should really be about. So hooray for recognizing those that stand up and put themselves out there and attempt to provide the proletariat with something visceral and real. It doesn't happen near as often as it should.

- Jimmy Kimmel responds to the fact that his girlfriend is fucking Matt Damon. This seemed destined to be a colossal failure, but its just the opposite. Harrison Ford! Brad Pitt! You've got to be kidding me!

- A 3 year old synopsizes Star Wars - every bit as succinctly as most adults I know could.

Posted 11:56am
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February 23rd, 2008

Urinary Tractor Convention?!?

Its well documented on these here pages that I like to imbibe from time to time. And as such I tend to surround myself with people who share my most prominent proclivity. Unfortunately (mostly for them) there are those who don't feel the need to throw back cocktails like its the last night on earth every time they leave the house. And it is these people who call you on your shit. Who show up a week after you hung out on a random Tuesday and say things like "Remember how you said you'd drive me to the airport?" or "So did you call that girl back who you were making out with at the end of night?" All you can do is scratch your head and with a look of bewilderment mutter "I did what?"

This has apparently become the Jesuses stock in trade when it comes to me. They have a seemingly endless catalog of things I said and promised while under the influence that most people would throw away and attribute to someone who just likes to drink to much and is a little too in love with the sound of his own voice. And while I know these utterances (despite the ol' maxim of en vino veritas) would never hold water in a court of law, the J's have an uncanny way of making them stick. That's the basic story of how and why this is happening:

The short story goes like this: Mr. Jesus (AJ) took up the guitar about 6 months ago or so. Being a long time veteran of the instrument myself, I agreed to show AJ a trick or two. We played together several times, I showed him some simple songs and old tricks that a hack like me has managed to pick up over the course of 20 or so years. Cut to a few months back when the Jesuses and I were drinking at some bar (natch) and discussing their impending move to Kadota when I (apparently) drunkenly blurt out "AJ and I are going to play a concert in front of an actual audience before you guys move." Of course I was as shocked as you are now to hear this revelation when Mrs. Jesus (MJ) asked me a week later "When is this concert going to happen?"

So after getting over the shock of making such a proclamation and sussing out the details of what I actually said, we decided to get down to work. We picked some songs, picked a date and a venue; started practicing. Now that evites have been sent and arrangements to fly in special guests have been made, all that's left to do is intentionally embarrass myself in front of all of my closest friends. It shouldn't be all that different from all of the times when I unintentionally do it.

- I'm not sure how to explain the name or so many other things, but please come Friday, or at least be our friend on myspace. Feel free to print out the above flyer and post it around town as well.

Posted 7:52pm
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February 22nd, 2008

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

Its another of tbaggervance.com's irregularly regular features - our look at religion on the internet. It tends to be snarky and snobby, and if we're wrong in our worldview, man are we in trouble.

- Oh-oh. Baby J isn't going to like this. We talk a lot about religion and morality around here, but how about religion and prosperity? Well, they don't go hand in hand, according to this study. And were we to assume affluent societies are less prone to criminal activities, we're again left with the conclusion that religion and morality have little to do with each other. The fact that the U.S. sits as an outlier on the scale and happens to have such a higher crime rate than most other affluent countries helps to serve my point (yes, my petty correlational point. Its still better than yours).

- They say a good compromise is one that leaves both sides unhappy. That is surely the thinking behind this decision, as 83 years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, Florida adds 'theory' of evolution to its state education curriculum. I'll never understand why people can't let government run institutions have their secular views and let their churches have their religious ones. What's wrong with a science teacher saying '99% of the worlds biologists take this as fact', and a pastor saying 'we believe differently.' Are children not capable of understanding the differentiation, or are their parents just not capable of making the delineation?

- As noted the other day, Pakistan had successful democratic elections earlier in the week. What we didn't talk about, was that it was the secular political parties that won by devastating margins, as people wanted to throw out an eight year incumbent that ruled through the military, through religion, through scare tactics and through abuse of authority. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Please let it be a precursor.

- Even though even Baby J thinks that Bono should probably get over himself just a wee bit, we still assume he's a fan of The Joshua Tree. I mean, its a great fucking record - even if it did give name to a crappy teen melodrama and less than 10% of kids who watch it are probably aware of that fact, making me want to slap them in their silly faces. ANYWAY, given everything just mentioned, we here at tbaggervance.com are unequivocally sure that little Baby Jesus shed a tear over this.

Posted 10:52am
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February 21st, 2008

When reruns of Dawson's Creek just aren't enough.

Yesterday we talked about fancast and its ability to let you watch your favorite TV shows old and new over this thing we call the internet. Well today I am here to tell you that there are perfectly good alternatives to the same shit TV you watch night in and night out, right here on the interweb. So here's a few options for those of you looking to keep things fresh.

- Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick have a long history with quality tv melodrama. First there was thirtysomething, which I roundly ignored because it came out when I was a teenager and there's nothing more boring to a teenager than people in their 30s, although I imagine had I given it a shot I probably would have been sucked in. Then there was My So-Called Life, which perfectly captured teenage angst and juxtaposed it with adult concerns, setting the tone for all of the Dawson's Creeks and O.C's that followed. Then there was Once and Again, which was little seen and largely ignored, but too poignant for words for a sap like me. It was 40 year olds getting divorced and dealing with kids and all that bullshit. Now there's a new web series from Messrs.. Herskovitz and Zwick called quarterlife and I'm completely obsessed. Its 20 somethings that all want to sleep with each other as they struggle through jobs and petty problems and the things that generally give people in their 20's angst. Of course as in all Herskovitz/Zwick endeavors, the people are impossibly good looking and have vocabularies that put mine to shame. Plus this show has blogging, so you know, right up my alley. Anyway, there's about 30 10 minute episodes available, and if you're at all like me, you'll be stuck to your computer until you get through each and every last one.

- For those that don't have the same quasi-14 year old girl tastes that I do, there's We Need Girlfriends, a show about dudes just out of college whose long term girlfriends all dump them - a predicament that they are sure will ruin their lives. It was just sold to CBS, so go watch it online before the suits get a hold of it and turn it into the next soul crushingly bland sitcom that saps your will to live.

- Of course if you missed it before when I linked to it and now that you've seen Juno and Superbad you're finally on the Michael Cera bandwagon, here's Clark and Michael. You're going to love it.

Posted 1:58pm
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February 20th, 2008

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

- If it weren't for the fact I've spent thousands of dollars on an HD TV with HD TiVo and 5.1 surround sound, I'd be starting to wonder if an actual television was really necessary. Enter fancast, which yes, is a product of the evil empire known as Comcast, but which also provides thousands of hours of your favorite TV shows both old and new. Go ahead - watch the WKRP in Cincinnati where Johnny Fever and Venus get drunk and test their reaction times - I did. Of course a four inch streaming version of The Office isn't nearly as fun as watching it live in HD with the Jesuses, but when looking to kill some time at work, its a beggar's banquet.

- Speaking of internet video, I was reading a feature on the 10 best viral videos of 2007 on Nerve the other day and came across this. Now I'm not a big National Geographic channel/Animal Planet type of guy, but if I told you there was a video with water buffalo, lions and alligators that had a twist ending, you'd watch right? Well do it then!

- 8-17 Michigan knocked off 17-9 Ohio State Sunday at Crisler Arena. Its not all that much to brag about, OSU isn't even a tournament team now and its the first time we've beat them in four years, which is sad. But it was unbelievably satisfying, and here's why: 1.) We've struggled all year and finally managed to win 3 in a row - culminating with a win against your rival who's at least decent. 2.) Beating OSU is never not satisfying. 3.) Most importantly, there were a few hundred HUGE douche bags from OSU who showed up just to show how classless OSU fans tend to be. Now I have no problem showing up and cheering and showing spirit, but to fucking be dicks when our new coach is giving a speech is classless. Take your never ending string of 8 foot tall white guys with no basketball ability back to the trailer parks from whence you came.

- I haven't been on an honest to goodness job interview in over a dozen years. And who knows, I may never go on one again (although I'm starting to finally think that may not be for the best). But if and when I do seek gainful employment, I'm going to have to purge the shit out of the internet. I can imagine many, if not most or all, potential employers might scoff at some of the things they would find here at the ol' bloggy blog, or that are readily available via MySpace and Facebook. So I was glad to hear that should such drastic measures become necessary, its now a little easier to hit the permanent delete key.

- In one week Ayesha is coming back to the Mitten for a few days to watch a little UTC and say goodbye to the Jesuses in Michigan. I tend to have trouble focusing and being productive when such fun looms large on the horizon, so pardon any scatterbrained-ness you may experience out of me in the next week - I'm just excited.

- p.s and +1...
Lunar eclipse tonight. Look up before you go to bed. NASA tells you when.

Posted 11:41am
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February 19th, 2008

¡Viva la revolucion!

- Not being old enough to even remember the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro is mostly a punchline and trivia answer to me. He's cigars and that uniform and that beard and little else. Which is why even though I know its significant that he's resigning, its hard for me to get worked up about someone who is little more than cartoon character to me. That is why I link you to the USA Today's coverage, as they are the Yosemite Sam of American newspapers.

- Pakistan held actual elections where even the losers didn't cry fraud. (For this we direct you to the NYTimes, which as everyone knows is the NYTimes of American newspapers). I'm not versed enough on international relations and diplomacy to render much of an opinion, other than to say A.) Man I wish Bush wasn't in office to try and navigate a relationship with a new Pakistani government and B.) Pakistan can have elections where the loser says (Teddy KGB style) "He beat me. Straight up." but we can't?

- Stov sent me a link to this article that suggests blue collar white males will largely determine the upcoming presidential election. He sent it to me in order to raise my ire, because blue collar dudes in Ohio come off as either racist or sexist in the piece. Of course being from Ohio, this isn't the least bit surprising to me. Lamentable sure, but not surprising. I was having a discussion recently about the place that caucuses have in modern society (correct answer: none) and took the stance that while yes, it makes it easy for uninformed idiots to determine the course of our country, we should be working to make voting as simple as possible. I just wish that those efforts didn't help hicks in Ohio decide who gets to be President.

- I know that was a lot of heavy stuff for a Tuesday, so as a palate cleanser, watch this video of Ron Burgundy asking Tom Izzo "Technically, are you a dwarf?"

Posted 10:31am
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February 18th, 2008

Is this you?

Sometimes, even for a member of the technorati such as myself, technological advances are lamentable. Sure, most of the time they make our lives easier and more convenient - even when promoting such paradoxes as email and txt messaging - which make it simultaneously easier to contact AND avoid people. Think about it. Yes, it really works both ways. Let us pause as you put back the pieces of your mind now that is sufficiently blown.

But as any of us old codgers will tell you, sometimes technology takes the character out of things. I love easier, faster, more as much as the next guy, but easier, faster, more is not always better. I wouldn't trade my iPod for anything (in fact I just bought a Nano yesterday, as my OG 20gb with the monochromatic screen just bit the dust) but I also still collect my favorite stuff on vinyl. Music will always sound better on a quality turntable, even if its a fragile, clumsy media that takes up way too much space in my living room.

Similarly, I miss me some old fashioned jukebox. It used to be that the largest determining factor in whether or not you wanted to hang out at a certain bar was the quality of its jukebox. Did contain an eclectic mix of old and new? Was it devoid of cringe inducing crap that some douche could saunter in off of the street and torture you with? Did it have hidden gems and time tested favorites that could help you evaluate your companions by? You know, as you play darts and hear something near and dear to your heart come on and you turn to your drinking buddy and ask 'Is this you?' Their answer can really make or break a friendship, much less an evening.

But nowadays everyone has these new fangled machines connected to the internet and capable of playing just about anything your heart desires. Its not a few carefully selected CDs or 45s that the owners and patrons of the establishment have grown to love - its just everything. Its not a group of music from a few precise genres that add to the overall ennui of a place - its just whatever you can think of. This means that I can be at B-Dubs in Ann Arbor, MI and some asshole can come and torture me with Garth Brooks. It means that some fuckstick can walk into the 8 Ball and play Fergie much to the chagrin of everyone in the place. This is not technology that helps. This is trying to please all of the people all of the time - another step towards the blandification of America.

The only positive element of the kitchen-sink type jukebox is that it makes the game of Worst Jukebox Ever much more fun. Introduced to me by Stov, its exactly what it sounds like. Who can find the worst possible piece of crap in the entire jukebox. Score is kept on overall consensus of those at your table, with bonus points if you can conclusively determine you've made somebody get up and leave the premises. I mean, if they're going to take away the charm of an idiosyncratic jukebox, let 'em know how you feel with a little Mike and the Mechanics, you know?

Posted 1:54pm
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February 15th, 2008

Its Friday afternoon and I've never been more livid.

As you undoubtedly know by now dear reader, I am prone to fits of rage. Sometimes I just snap and the vitriol spews. Often these diatribes find themselves at the feet of the undeserving, once in a while they hit their target. The other day I was reading this article by local pundit Jack Lessenberry and I kinda lost my shit. (For those who don't click on links (MJ) its about how the Michigan Democratic Party botched our primary and suggests that they don't want to make things right because they favor Hillary. Grrrr.) ANYWAY I immediately went to the Michigan Democratic Party's website and looked for ways to vent my anger.

I immediately saw the 'Contact us' link and went in and told them the following:

I want to make it known that I am absolutely livid at the leadership of my party in this State. I feel that I have effectively been disenfranchised by those who are supposed to bring us peoples of like ideals together. If the MDP doesn't fix this mistake and get us a caucus so that the actual will of the people can be known, you'll be losing the support of myself and any other Michigan Dem with any sense whatsoever.

Its pretty tame in my eyes, but gets my point across. And I felt a little bit better. I mean, I know that no one of any import will ever see it much less craft a response, but I let it out and it felt better. Time to move on, right? Not so fast...

I started to poke around the site a bit and saw this video from our beloved party chairman and I started to seethe with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. He called this a 'regular primary'. He said our delegates will be seated! HE TOLD ME TO VOTE UNCOMMITTED!! Sir, I am not uncommitted. I never wanted to punch somebody in their smug little bitchface so badly in my entire life. Instead I sent him this:

To: mbrewer@michigandems.com
From: tbaggervance
Subject: How you botched our primary

You sir, have disenfranchised me. Your little power play during this primary season and subsequent calling of the National Party's "bluff" have effectively left me without a voice during the most important presidential election of my lifetime. I have never been more livid. If you had any self respect whatsoever, you'd spend every waking moment working towards getting us a caucus so that the will of the people can be known. Afterwards, save some face and immediately resign, because you've obviously been entrusted with responsibilities that you are clearly ill equipped to handle.

You're a douche bag,
-T

Maybe the douche bag part was a tad over the line, but at least its not inaccurate. Again, I don't expect a response, but somebody has to at least try and tell those little fucksticks to straighten up.

- Oh yeah, and THIS is the festival we get in Michigan? Fucking Dave Matthews and Widespread Panic?!? God damn dirty hippies. I feel cursed.

Posted 11:33am
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February 14th, 2008

All you need is love.

There is always a danger that someone who is capable of being as sappy as I am will be completely saccharine and disgusting on a day like today. Especially given the fact that the girl I want to be my Valentine is 2,000 miles away. But you can thank me, as I have decided to skip the sappy platitudes about Ayesha or love in general and instead just wish you and yours a Happy Valentines Day. Here's hoping you have someone to love and you find them within arms length tonight. If not, I'll be out getting drunk later, come commiserate. Or here's some things you just may love:

- The first trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie is out. It is boner inducing. There's also this for the new Star Wars cartoon. I'll admit that I wish they'd have stuck with Gendy Tartakovsky and his unique vision, but I will still probably watch this like the huge nerd I am. Its got to be better than the actual prequels, right?

- Its always great to see an artist you love covering a song of someone else whom you admire. It doesn't get much better than Josh Ritter doing Tom Petty's Walls. Unless you count the time I saw Ben Gibbard cover my favorite Neil Young song ever.

- Speaking of Ben, the new Death Cab album has a release date and track list. It sounds depressing as shit, which is exciting. We here at tbaggervance.com do not recommend getting blind drunk and sitting in the dark listenting to Death Cab over and over again on days like today, but we've also been there, so no judgement if that's really what you need right now.

- Finally, Thom Yorke is pumping out big love on NPR today as guest DJ. You should be able to download it later on today from here.

Posted 10:14am
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February 13th, 2008

Scarlet Letter.

Back in college we used to occassionaly go to a bar in BG called Gargoyles. The one notable thing about the joint was that their hand stamp was so giant and black that it was the equivalent of rolling the entire inkpad over the back of your hand. Well apparently, the Pig is the new Gargoyles. This is my hand this morning:

That's after 45 minutes of scrubbing the back of my hand with Comet and a toilet brush in the shower this morning. I'm having the same imagined, one sided conversation in my head over and over. "This? Oh yeah, I was at a bar last night. Yup, out drinking after normal, respectable people were fast asleep. And yes, it might have had something to do with why I was 20 minutes late this morning."

Posted 10:19am
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February 12th, 2008

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

- Another Tuesday, another round of caucuses/primaries. Obama is looking to make it 7 wins in 7 tries, making me cautiously optimistic. Last night Michelle Obama was on Larry King. I kind of love her too. After watching this video, I wondered if they met in some kind of debate/dramatic oratory club in college, or if Barack is capable of clapping his hands Miagi style and imparting the power of affecting an audience.

- In an effort to provide equal time, I don't know if this is sanctioned by the Clinton campaign, but I hear she could use the money, so, you know, look into it.

- It appears that the writer's strike is finally in its death throes. To find out what happens next for your favorite shows, TV Guide has compiled a handy list. What you really want to know: The Office returns in April/May.

- Its the tenth Anniversary of one of the albums I recently featured in my 12 years, a dozen perfect albums post. Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is double digits, so Pitchfork is giving the masterpiece its due, with features here and here.

- Finally, I'm headed to the Pig tonight to see prep rockers Vampire Weekend (!). Its an all ages, sold out show - so I'll be surrounded by annoying kids and people not old enough to drink who will get in my way and spend the night txting while the show is going on. I will give them evil old man looks to get them to move as I make 87 trips to the bar over the course of the evening. I can't fucking wait!

Posted 12:04pm
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February 11th, 2008

Weekend Throw Roundup.

- Cleaning up vom is never pleasant. When a houseguest has too much to drink and splatters your bathroom with late night NYPD and you find little remnants caked into the tile around your toilet, you're ready to explode like Mount Vesuvius. When you do it to yourself, its slightly more palatable but nonetheless disgusting. And when your progeny gets a virus and spews diet coke all over your beige carpet, it takes the patience of a saint to tell them 'Its ok, don't worry about it.' as you're on your hands and knees with the carpet cleaner, but that's what you signed on for when you checked the 'Yes' box on the parenthood form. I'm already practicing my 'Guess who gets to clean that up?' speech for when the offspring pukes over things he did to himself. I figure if you can rub a puppies nose in shit, its only fair.

- Obama sweeps four (FOUR!) primaries/caucuses this weekend, which basically ties the delegate count (and pulls him ahead of Clinton nationally, as well as showing him as the clear choice to take down McCain in November). Good things portend for tomorrow and over the next two weeks, setting the table for a Death Blow on March fourth. Yes, I'm pinning hopes on Texas and Ohio.

- Ann Arbor residents, let me reiterate a position I have held for a long time - Don't ever go to The Ark. I mean, fuck that place. I suppose the fact that shows begin on time and everyone sits down in the blackness rivaling space appeals to a certain demo in the Ann Arbor area that doesn't mind overpaying for tickets just so they can see their bland favorites play in downtown A2. But if the above criticisms aren't enough or readily apparent, did I mention that you have to be a member to drink there? I mean, a member can purchase drinks for anyone and I could have become a member for the night for the mere price of $5, but fuck that on principle. I was there to see the opening act, and I wasn't about to stay for the guy on next who was a Jack Johnson/John Mayer wannabe - and that's even more offensive than actually being either of those two milquetoast assholes. There'll be a marquee pic in the appropriate section when I get home later - to serve only as a warning.

Posted 2:14pm
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February 8th, 2008

After 12 years on the internet, I finally feel like a voyeur.

Despite the best intentions of things like nytimes.com or even wikipedia.org, the internet is about voyeurism. As with all technological advances, it started with porn. Porn built the internet - don't let Al Gore or anyone else tell you different. And its still the fuel that turns the turbine to be sure. But what's the new hotness? Myspace. Facebook. Youtube. While they may contain some actual traditional entertainment content, these are ostensibly tools for rooting around for information about your friends. Its polite stalking.

Because you're not looking at anything that someone didn't post for all the world to see. I guess in that way, one could argue that the internet is about exhibitionism. But as someone writing on a blog that occasionally delves far too deep into my personal business, we'll leave that analogy be. Let's just concede that you can't really have one without the other and move on. Besides, these days most people are setting their profiles to private and choosing to share their info with only the chosen ones, so its more like a private newsletter than exhibitionism.

And while I've fallen prey to the temptations of google stalking and in weaker moments find myself perusing the profiles of those I know just to get a glimpse of what they're up to, I never really felt like a voyeur. Sure by any reasonable definition I was, but I was only interested in those I had personal connections with, which in my mind made it more palatable.

I've recently crossed the threshold and am venturing into Body Double territory. OK, not nearly that creepy (have you seen that movie? Its fucked up), but I've become obsessed with the lives of others. Ayesha turned me onto a site called nerve.com, where they pay people to blog about their dating experiences (look for the blog-a-log), and I am totally hooked. Its almost as bad as my recent obsession with Dawson's Creek reruns on The N (yes, this is gay even by my standards, I'm over it, you're over it). I'm particularly in love the bloggers ILoveYourMom and GirlGoneMad (both in the archives). I love hearing people talk in a real way about their sexual conquests, and these chicks are good at it. And as my friends get older and more monogamous, this turns out to be my outlet. God help me, before you know it I will be watching reality TV. If one more person tells me to watch Celebrity Rehab I may vom.

Posted 3:23pm
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February 7th, 2008

I am the wanderlust king.

February just started and I have cabin fever. Maybe its the disappointment over last night. Yesterday afternoon MJ shoots me an IM that says 'I really want to go a concert tonight.' As one could imagine, I don't take such challenges lightly and immediately took up the mantle of concert provider. I started where anyone would start when looking for live music in A2 - The Blind Pig. I checked out Wednesday night's lineup and started perusing myspace for glimpses into the evening's musical fare. The first act of the evening was all the deeper I got before I told MJ - "I've found our concert".

So I was excited. Finding random good music to go see for $5 on a Wednesday is - if not the finest thing in life - certainly up there with booze and blowjobs. But then it started to snow. Hard. Right after it had rained. Hard. Michigan had become a solid sheet of ice. Of course this was in no way going to weaken our resolve to have random good times. But we had to travel a few blocks, not the hundreds of miles that the musicians were forced to trek. So when we arrived at the Pig ready to be entertained, we were met with darkness and locked doors. We salvaged the evening with a few beers at the Grizz, but my thirst for adventure remains unquenched.

I think a lot of it is that a month from now I'll be fresh off our trip to Cananada to see Josh Ritter and mere days from my pilgrimage west to see Ayesha. I was hoping that a little Wednesday night indie folk would help satisfy my wanderlust. Thankfully I've got a quick trip to the Ark to see Chris Bathgate on Saturday. And there's tennis on the island Sunday. And shit Vampire Weekend is next Tuesday! Let's hope that satisfies my urges. March can't get here soon enough.

Posted 1:07pm
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February 6th, 2008

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

- Last night I clicked back and forth between CNN and MSNBC for 5 straight hours (I'd really like to just stay on MSNBC minus commercials, but CNN is in HD and its just so darn purty). I burnt out at about midnight, as my alcohol soaked brain couldn't take it anymore, and they called California for Hillary and I was dejected anyway. But I feel good this morning. Obama won more states and (apparently) more delegates. So, victory is ours!

- And by the way, the next 9 states all hold significant Obama advantages. Which is a good thing, because after that is Texas and Ohio, and if history is any barometer, those two fucked up boo butts© will surely try to screw the pooch.

- Last night I asked Sid who he would vote for. He initially answered a wise 'I don't know enough to make my decision'. When I eventually pressed him he answered a sage 'Obama'. I tried to get him to name some reasons for that, and when he came up short I asked him if it was because they both had big ears or because they both were biracial. He said no, but I think Obama is likely winning the big-eared, biracial demographic.

- The one thing that really is still pissing me off about this whole election is Mike Huckabee. I hate that people are voting for him because of Jesus, even though the man is an irrational fucktard. And I know he has a 0% chance of winning the nomination, but there was a lot of talk last night about him being McCain's running mate. If this happens, and the worst case scenario comes into play where I have to choose between Hillary Clinton or voting for a ticket where a gay hating, rapture awaiting, televangelist is a heart beat away from the presidency - well, shit. I guess its Cananada or Ralph Nader time again.

- Finally, for those of you who don't give shit about politics (shame on you), here's some exciting news about an Arrested Development movie, complete with requisite Lucille Bluth montage.

Posted 11:33am
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February 5th, 2008

Second Coming.

I sometimes have a hard time sitting still. There's something somewhere in my genes that makes me a pacer. It makes me the type of person that needs to walk out of the room and clear my head when waiting to find out the outcome of something I care about. I like to pretend I've got that whole zen thing going on, but anybody who's ever watched a close Michigan football game with me knows that nothing could be further from the truth. Given a vested interest and an uncertain outcome, I can be a bit of a mess. Normally, this behavior is reserved for football Saturdays and traveling by aeroplane. But tonight, for maybe the first time in my life, I'll pace for politics.

As with most people born after 1970, I've spent my life being disillusioned by all things political. Constant disappointment, desensitization to scandal, resignation to a 'lesser of two evils' approach, and outright apathy - these are the emotions and realities we've come to expect and accept. I once voted for Ralph Nader because I felt that the choice at the time was between a fucking yokel and a guy with a stick so far up his ass that if he opened his mouth wide enough you could see it tickle his uvula. And then four years later, when it was inconceivable to me that my countrymen would vote for someone who represented failure and anti-intellectualism at unprecedented levels, guess what they did? And they did it with a shrug of their shoulders and moved on like nothing happened.

So now, four years after that debacle, I find myself on the cusp of something that I didn't dare dream of at that time. I saw Barack Obama give the keynote address at 2004's Democratic National Convention and was inspired. I wanted him to be my candidate. I wondered if America would be ready in 8 years (after two terms of John Kerry's presidency - I'm not always right) to elect a black man president. Since then I've read his books and followed his career, and four years later, here we are. For the first time in my life, I want to believe.

So tonight when I sit down in my easy chair with a cocktail in hand, it won't be for long. I'll have to get up and walk to the kitchen every 5 minutes as I flip from CNN to MSNBC (to minimize commercials). I'll walk back to the bedroom and immediately forget why I did so as Tim Russert explains the delegate count. My hands will fidget wondering where the cigarette is. I will pace and worry about the fact that our kicker is KC Lapota the Hispanic vote in New Mexico. Obama may not be the second coming. His policy differences may be marginal and his ability to implement change questionable. But he's given me hope. He represents change. And that's more than any candidate has given me in 32 years.

Posted 10:31am
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February 4th, 2008

No Fucking Way.

I'm fairly sure that not even Eli Manning believes that he won the Super Bowl last night. I mean, Eli Fucking Manning? Come on! Inconceivable! But I'm pretty sure that's what happened. Somehow, he broke that fucking sack and threw up a miracle ball to David fucking Tyree in the fourth quarter and went on to win the game. Jesus Christ. I mean, the game was fairly sloppy. No scoring, no standout performances - just overthrows, poorly run routes and missed opportunities. The commercials even pretty uniformly sucked. And when did Tom Petty turn in to the crypt keeper? I just don't know about any of it. My poor Tom Brady. I'm not sure how this happened yet, but I'm already sick of hearing about it. There might have to be a moratorium on ESPN in my house for the rest of the week. More time for Dawson's Creek reruns I guess.

- I'm sure you've all seen this already, as a half dozen people have forwarded it to me, but its still hilarious and has succeeded in bringing a smile to my face on this day of mourning.

Posted 10:38am
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February 1st, 2008

Your Indie Rock Weekend.

- Our love for Josh Ritter is well documented around these parts. I've agreed to go back to Cananada to see him live, which should tell you something. Anyway, for fans (or doubters not sold yet) here is on Letterman last week. Tell me that doesn't look fun and sound fabulous.

- Let the Vampire Weekend backlash begin! I've managed to score tix for myself and the Jesuses to see the VW at the Blind Pig (PIG!) in about 10 days. At this point I'm sure the majority of hipsters will see them as sooooo 2007. But my affections are steadfast and resolute. Here's the usually snarky Pitchfork's review of their stellar debut, and here's them live on NPR.

- I had two artists that I absolutely had to see in 2008 - Vampire Weekend (which, as we just discussed, is happening imminently) and my other current indie crush, Tokyo Police Club. Well fret not, dear readers. I just procured two tickets to see them on May 4th at the venue of venues, The Magic Stick. Now I just need to find someone to drag with me. Interested parties should submit their application via the comments section. Willingness to drive, drinking proclivities and thoughts on how low cut of a top your willing to show up in (females only) should be included in your submission.

- When things from my youth start celebrating birthdays that near legal drinking age, it gets a little sad. The first 'indie' label that I really knew by name was Seattle's Sub Pop. Living in rural Ohio, the grunge revolution was about as alternative as things ever got, and Sub Pop was a big part of that. So naturally I clung to anything that embodied the counterculture, and Sub Pop was at the forefront of that. Anyway, Sub Pop is 20. * sigh *. Here's their 10 biggest selling albums, which were surprising even to me after you get past number 5.

- Quickly: The Hold Steady are recording, Thom Yorke rocks the BBC, Zooey Deschanel is adorable and can sing a little, Ted Leo is both a better musician and political diatriber than myself (dick), I apparently like what all bloggers like, and country music makes you dumb.

- Finally, its more news to make you swoon. Death Cab has announced the title of their new album (coming in May!) And they've also got a neat little video up on their site of them doin' some recording. Come on already May! Where are you?!?

Posted 10:06am
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January 31st, 2008

Obama, Brady and Sumbal.

Yesterday there was a convergence in the desert. My 3 biggest crushes (OK, one's more than a crush) were all in the same place at the same time. The vibrations that it caused in my psyche gave me goosebumps even though I was 2,000 miles away. I think that had I been in Phoenix yesterday my head would have exploded. OK, I'm way out there on the extreme end of hyperbole, but stay with me, I'm just excited. Yesterday Ayesha attended a rally for Barack Obama (so jealous - again, I hate you Michigan Democratic Party) and it occurred to me that Tom Brady was ALSO in Phoenix for the Superbowl. So more accurately, the three people who make me swoon the most in the world were all in same metropolitan area yesterday. But its not as exciting when worded such. Ayesha attended said rally with a friend of a friend who happens to work at the hotel where the Patriots are staying while prepping for the big game, which allowed her to see Tom Brady and Barack Obama on the same day. OK, I need to go calm down.

- Speaking of Brady swoonage, there's no guarantee that I wouldn't act exactly like this reporter were I ever to be in earshot of Captain Dreamboat.

- We somehow missed hitting those kooky scientologists yesterday, so here's a list of the cult's biggest donors. Prepare to have a cow, man.

- I saw the headline of 'Most Romantic Cities in America' and clicked on it. Truthfully, anytime I see 'Most ______ Cities' or any derivative thereof, I always check it out to see if A2 is listed. Sure enough, our beloved hamlet is the 5th most romantic city in these United States. As I scratched the noggin and tried to justify this in my head, I read that it was based on "sales data of romance novels, relationship and sex books". Oh well yeah, we do read a lot and tend to over analyze everything, so now it makes sense.

- Here's something fun for you to do. Can you unscramble the letters?

Posted 11:32am
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January 30th, 2008

What is making Baby Jesus cry this week?

Its another of tbaggervance.com's irregularly regular features - our look at religion on the internet. It tends to be snarky and snobby, and if we're wrong in our worldview, man are we in trouble.

- Perhaps our biggest pet peeve with religion is that its too often a process of indoctrination. By the time most people think to question what they've been brought up to take on faith, outside viewpoints don't stand a chance. And OF COURSE we love when religion and science meet! Which is why we loved this evisceration of a 12 year old's science project that attempts to correlationally prove that religion leads to a higher standard of morality. We here at tbaggervance would also like to point to the avalanche of evidence suggesting that atheists and agnostics are actually more moral people than their christian brothers, including divorce rates and the relative morality of atheistic nations. We know that poking fun at a 12 year old for her belief in god makes Baby Jesus cry, but its not like we're doing it to her face.

- We don't really have a stance on Dana Jacobson here at tbaggervance.com. We saw that First Take thing once and found it pretty awful, but not really because of her, so eh, whatevs. But when we say 'We don't really...' we mean we DIDN'T really, because now we kind of love her. For those of you who missed it, DJ got drunk at the Mike and Mike roast a while back and told Golic "Fuck Notre Dame," "Fuck Touchdown Jesus," and "Fuck Jesus" I only wished this happened next September, so it would be fresh in everyone's mind when I wear a t-shirt with a picture of DJ that says "Fuck Jesus" to South Bend. OK, I don't really have the balls to do that. But I kind of wish I did.

- Of course tbaggervance.com is down like four flat tires with venganza.org, home of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and those Pastafarians who have been touched by his noodley appendage. But there's a hot new religion sweeping the internet, and its the Church of Google. They've been kind enough to provide us with proof that Google is God. I have to say, its more compelling than anything I got in 18 years of going to church or approximately the same amount of religious education.

- Here's one man's list of pet peeves that I found to be quite amusing. But I also thought this last one might make Baby Jesus cry:

I've been all over the world and have lived among every kind of culture and I can say, without any hesitation, that the most ignorant, rude, selfish, and self-centered people on earth are babies.

Poor babies! Shhh! I think I can hear the Baby Jesus starting to whimper...

Posted 9:24am
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January 29th, 2008

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

So last week, tbaggervance.com presented a first annual celebration of our '5 innocuous...' feature. In hindsight I realized that there was one big omission from that segment - Ayesha. She's been the biggest single entity that's made me happy in the past 365, and it was a tad strange to have her not represented there. Sure, it could be easily argued that nothing that Ayesha has brought to me has been innocuous, but that's selling things short on some level.