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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.

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