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September 30th , 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin'

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
-tbv

Posted 11:13am
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September 29th , 2008

David and Goliath.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:18am
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September 26th , 2008

The Office, Politics, and Office Politics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:46am
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September 25th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:35am
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September 24th , 2008

Son, you've got a future at Hallmark

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

I love the little asshole.

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

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

- Dave Eggers interviews underappreciated genius Chris Elliot.

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

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

Posted 10:37am
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September 23rd , 2008

Sun, sun sun, here it comes...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:38am
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September 16th , 2008

College football as it relates to existentialism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 9:52am
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September 15th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:01am
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September 11th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted 11:18am
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September 10th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:51am
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September 9th , 2008

They should be made to suck it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:04am
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September 8th , 2008

Before and After.

Last night I got this txt from RJ:

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:28am
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September 5th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:08pm
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September 4 th , 2008

Y'all can kiss my liberal elitist ass

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:58am
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September 3rd , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:50am
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September 2nd, 2008

Papa don't preach

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:31am
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August 29th , 2008

"We are a better country than this."

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:52am
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August 28th , 2008

The advantages of an obnoxious yellow automobile

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

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

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

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

Posted 2:32pm
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August 27th , 2008

Oh how I hate Ohio State

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

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

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

Posted 12:18pm
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August 26th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:23am
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August 25th , 2008

I am Harrison Bergeron's father

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

footballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootball
footballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootball
footballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootball
footballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootball

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

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

Posted 2:54pm
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August 23rd , 2008

My fucking kick ass Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:59pm
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August 22nd , 2008

What the fuck is going on?

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:14pm
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August 21st , 2008

Its not the years, its the mileage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 2:49pm
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August 20th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:54am
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August 19th , 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin' - Veepstakes edition!

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

The Democrats

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

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

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

The Republicans

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:14am
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August 18th , 2008

Who will resurrect the electric car?

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

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

- Speaking of hybrids, this is probably true.

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

Posted 10:38am
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August 15th , 2008

Your indie rock weekend - 1995 edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:09am
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August 14th , 2008

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

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

- Barack Obama, meet Rick Astley.

- Triumph at Comic-con. 'nuff said.

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

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

Posted 12:20pm
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August 13th , 2008

What's making baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:13pm
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August 12th , 2008

Thou shalt eschew that which sucketh beyond belief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**This is completely 100% paraphrased truth.

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

Posted 10:43am
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August 11th , 2008

The Female Sports Continuum©

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:43pm
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August 10th , 2008

Movies that are revolutionary AND unwatchable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 5:32pm
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August 8th , 2008

Hahahahahhahahaha

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

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

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

- Baboon butts.

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

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

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

- Kwame, we hardly knew ye.

Posted 10:07am
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August 7th , 2008

3 generations of newspaper men

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

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

Posted 8:56am
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August 6th , 2008

From Championship to failure

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

Posted 12:13pm
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August 5th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:00am
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August 4th , 2008

Drunk. Drunker. Drunkest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:55am
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August 1st , 2008

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:00am
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July 31st , 2008

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:01am
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July 30th , 2008

Welcome to our little offramp on this series of tubes

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

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

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

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

Posted 2:21pm
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July 29th , 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin'

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:11am
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July 28th , 2008

Beerfest 2008! Now with girls!

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:09am
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July 26th , 2008

Little black book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:01am
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July 25th , 2008

Keep it like a secret

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:23am
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July 23rd , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:27am
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July 22nd , 2008

Yeti vs. Robot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:21am
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July 20th , 2008

On death, in all its forms

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

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

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

Posted 1:08pm
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July 17th , 2008

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

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

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

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

Posted 11:16am
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July 16th , 2008

Thirteen down, five to go...

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

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

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

*Hmm, OK maybe once. Or twice.

Posted 12:01am
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July 15th , 2008

Tuesday's are for politickin'

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:25am
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July 14th , 2008

The economics of a good time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:42pm
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This week in indie rock

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:29am
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July 10th , 2008

Thou shalt support that which is cool.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:00am
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July 9th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:34am
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July 8th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:11am
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July 7th , 2008

Surprisingly, my weekend centered around booze

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 7:04pm
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July 5th , 2008

Get to the Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh yeah, and the antique cars.

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:14am
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July '11 - Sep. '11
Apr. '11 - June '11

Jan. '11 - Mar. '11

Oct. '10 - Dec. '10
Jul. '10 - Sept. '10
Apr. '10 - June '10
Jan. '10 - Mar. '10
Oct. '09 - Dec. '09
July '09 - Sept. '09
Apr. '09 - June '09

Jan. '09 - Mar. '09
Oct. '08 - Dec. '08
July '08 - Sept. '08
Apr. '08 - June '08
Jan. '08 - Mar. '08
Sept. '07 - Dec. '07
May '07 - August '07
Jan. '07 - Apr. '07
Sept. '06 - Dec. '06

May '06 - August '06
Jan. '06 - April '06
Sept. '05 - Dec. '05
Dec. '04 - August '05

The Essay Essays
Southern accents.
This is for the people of the sun...
Budget Boozehounding
Hamtramck Blowout '06
Notre Dame 2006
Put-in-Bay '06
My Very Own Stalker
PIB Photo Essay
Cubs AC pics

 

 

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.