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January 1st , 2009

New Year's Nuptials.

My body is currently using all of its energy to detox, so I'll make this brief. It was New Years Eve. There was a wedding. The rest went as you would imagine. Congrats Stov and Aarika. It was an honor to be your best man and the event was an unqualified success. Many happy returns. I expect to see you both out at the bar more often in 2009. You can see some of the debauchery here, courtesy of Ms. Sumbal's camera.

Posted 4:30pm
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December 30th, 2008

One Fell Swoop.

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:01pm
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December 24th, 2008

Worst. Christmas. Ever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:55am
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December 19th, 2008

Hey! You've got to hide your love away

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

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

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

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

Or to switch metaphors, Star Wars.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:42pm
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December 18th, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:11pm
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December 17th, 2008

So fucking what?

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:10am
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December 16th, 2008

This week in indie rock

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:59am
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December 15th, 2008

I'm dreaming of a green Christmas

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:08am
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December 12th, 2008

tbaggervance's top ten albums of 2008

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

10. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals

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

9. Juno - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

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

8. Nada Surf - Lucky

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

7. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

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

6. She and Him - Volume I

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

5. Chris Bathgate - Wait, Skeleton

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

4. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs

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

3. TV on the Radio - Dear Science

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

2. Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell

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

1. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

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

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

Posted 9:21am
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December 11th, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:11pm
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December 10th, 2008

You've got to be fucking kidding me

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:31am
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December 9th, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

*not including servants. No shit.

Posted 11:05am
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December 8th, 2008

Bring on the night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:05am
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December 5th, 2008

Your indie rock weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Muppets + LCD Soundsystem = awesome.

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

Posted 9:49am
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December 4th, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:29am
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December 3rd, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:49am
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December 2nd, 2008

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:59am
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December 1st, 2008

Nutty nuptials

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 9:58am
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November 25th, 2008

As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:12pm
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November 24th, 2008

The sound of your foot hitting your uvula

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:14pm
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November 21st, 2008

Your indie rock weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:14pm
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November 20th, 2008

Robots and the sadness of solo concert attendance.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 9:53am
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November 19th, 2008

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:52am
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November 18th, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:52am
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November 17th, 2008

(Bad) Time to get ill.

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:12pm
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November 13th, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:36am
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November 12th, 2008

Turkey sandwiches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:53am
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November 11th, 2008

For a minute there, I lost myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:53am
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November 10th, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Napoleon = Snapoleon = Snaptown = The Snap

Posted 10:55am
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November 7th, 2008

Chokin' the chicken.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 3:44pm
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November 6th, 2008

Shaking off all this political vitriol.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:44pm
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November 5th, 2008

We win.

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:27am
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November 4th, 2008

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


from thisisindexed.com

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 9:45am
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November 3rd, 2008

Here comes the mandate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 9:55am
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November 1st , 2008

Toot toot.

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

Posted 4:20pm
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October 31st , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find more info on both props here.

Posted 9:26am
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October 30th , 2008

Get ready, 'cause here I come...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:16am
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October 29th , 2008

Home school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:44am
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October 28th , 2008

Piling on in the face of utter defeat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:15am
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October 27th , 2008

Drunken stumblebum.

Yup. Again.

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

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

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

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

Posted 3:20pm
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October 24th , 2008

The internet: now with video!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:07am
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October 23rd , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:46pm
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October 22nd , 2008

Biff! Pow! Snikt! Boom!

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:19am
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October 21st , 2008

Fuck you.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:45am
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October 20th , 2008

Pet Peeves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:24am
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October 19th , 2008

The penultimate in social networking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:56pm
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October 17th , 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:59am
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October 15th , 2008

A thousand thank yous.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:13am
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October 14th , 2008

Where have you been all night?!?

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

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

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

Posted 8:58am
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October 10th , 2008

Holy politics!

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:01am
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October 9th , 2008

Ask not what we can do for you...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donate to our team: Straight Pwnage

Posted 12:01am
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October 8th , 2008

That one.

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

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

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

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

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

- I couldn't agree more.

Posted 10:45am
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October 7th , 2008

Come on up for the rising.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 9:58am
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October 6th , 2008

Not even a golf clap.

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

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

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

Posted 11:44am
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October 3rd , 2008

Quick hits from Sparty Country.

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

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

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

- Celebrities say voting is important and cool.

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

Posted 1:27pm
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October 2nd , 2008

They call Alabama the Crimson Tide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:44pm
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October 1st , 2008

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:23pm
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