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December 29th , 2009

Ritual de lo habitual

The holidays are about rituals. The food. The gift giving. The quality time with family. Most of us can predict with pinpoint accuracy what's going to happen - how, when and with whom. Right now my living room is witnessing day four of Siddhartha sitting in front of the television playing video games for about 12 hours at a time. It's been this way for about 10 years. He vacillates between being completely immersed in a world of explosions and voraciously explaining to me what is happening. I won't go as far as to say his explanations of what he's doing make me feel old, but it might as well be in a different language most of the time. He gets so excited, I don't even have to feign interest, just fib about what I actually find interesting.

As for me, I always get the week between Xmas and new years off. I generally use this time to live out my ultimate life goal of waking up late, reading and watching movies and then drinking the night away. So far, so good. Yesterday I gave blood so it was officially a Monday night bender. If I could perpetually keep myself a pint low on the hemoglobin, I'd save all kinds of money on booze.

I did manage some to find some traditions in the making this year. The Downtownerz et al spent Xmas eve drinking, exchanging gifts and watching bad Xmas movies starring Tori Spelling and William Shatner. It was all kinds of awesome. With any luck it makes its way into the holiday routine.

- Sid's big gift this year was a PS3. I had no problem ponying up the $300 as it gives us another media streamer and hello blu-ray. Talk about clarity. I'm not going to tell you to run out and convert your movie collection, but if you see a convenient avenue to get on the train, it's tits.

Posted 4:17pm
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December 22nd , 2009

Home for the Holidays

I feel like I've been in a fog. Off the grid. That happens when you go to Ohio where people still connect to the internet by dial up. I always get back from the hinterland amazed that the world continued on while I was blind, deaf and dumb. We have health care reform? Did any more of Tiger's whores give publicly embarrassing interviews? What's the dumbest thing a Republican said while I was gone? Paul Krugman and David Brooks wrote op-eds that came down on opposite sides on an issue and I agreed with both? What the fuck is going on?

All part of a standard trip down south, where things move a little slower and people don't care much for subject/verb agreement when they speak. But always good to see my family. My little brother grunts at me. My sister and big brother frustrate each other and she claims she's "only like this when I'm around you guys." Moeman tells the grandkids to settle down and goes to bed by 8. Good times. Routines like that are comforting if you can keep them from driving you batshit crazy. I suppose alcohol helps.

I imagine most families sit around and accuse each other of behavior of which they are all guilty. The Brubakers are nervous and anal. We are loud and stubborn. We take every opportunity to bust anybody's balls about any slight foible we perceive in them. I love every one of these peccadilloes. Being around them feels appropriately like home. Perhaps more importantly, it serves as great reminder of what I'm prone to, and helps to steer me away from some of the not so pleasant aspects of my nature. Even though we all know I'm by far the least anal of us.

- Fark's headlines of the year. Enjoy.

Posted 12:53pm
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December 18h , 2009

Oblivious

When I turned 30 my friends threw me a surprise birthday party. Despite all of my friends being there, I was unaware that it was happening until about 30 seconds before it actually occurred. At the time I thought "Man, my friends are really good at this. I had no clue!" Now I have adjusted this line of thinking to "Man, there must be a whole world out there that I am completely oblivious to."

Two weeks ago I wrote about My Taxi. My friends being who they are, really know how to to take a theme and beat the ever living shit out of it. Last night I emerged from my apartment to walk up to the gas station and as I passed by the back of my car I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It turned out to be this:

I got Downtownered. My initial assumption was that this has been here since my birthday and I am a total dupe. Thankfully it's only been a few weeks - since around the time of this photo:

I had just opened my trunk and loaded it with a werewolf astronaut. Oblivious.

Posted 12:25pm
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December 17h , 2009

Excelsior!

Things are still hectic around here and I'm having trouble forming coherent narratives in my head. Unfortunately this debuted today, forcing me to watch it 7 consecutive times with an erection the size of Texas. This is no way to productivity, but man, it's so fucking  C O O L.

- Speaking of boners, there's new Vampire Weekend up on their myspace page. The latest release is by far my favorite of everything that's leaked so far from Contra. Can't wait for the rest.

- Slightly less awesome, but still totally sweet: Hot Tub Time Machine.

- I'm not usually a big fan of Nick Kristof, but he did a nice job of highlighting Valentino Deng and the problems of Sudan today. If you haven't read What is the What, you should.

- Does anyone actually think that Nickelback is the best band of the decade? Is there anyone who doesn't think Let it Be was the best album of the 1980's? Probably, but they are stupidheads.

Posted 12:50pm
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December 16h , 2009

Fuck him up his stupid ass

A few years ago I was playing some silly subjective board game where you read a question on a card, everyone answered said question and then one person had to decided who wrote what. It was slightly less maddening than a rousing round of Apples to Apples. Anyway at one point the question came up "If you had to kill one person on the face of the Earth, who would it be?" I had to figure out whom said what out of these choices:

W, President Bush and George W Bush

Let's ignore the fact that the three people above were attempting to stick us with President Dick Cheney for at least 2 years. I can't remember if I guessed right or not, it's immaterial really. Cute girls are about the only thing that can get me to participate in such nonsense. I only mention it because right now, I wish I could put a bullet in Joe Lieberman's brainpan.

Here's the facts: Lieberman represents the great state of Connecticut, home to many of your favorite insurance providers, who also provide him with over a million dollars in campaign contributions. At the start of the health care debate, Joe opposed a public option, threatened to fillibuster any bill that contained one. So, three months ago, he proposed a medicare buy-in for those under 65. Great. Let's do that, said the Senate. Guess what Joe opposes now? And while we're at it, let's not forget dickhead's attempt at removing the filibuster back when that's what suited him.

Are the Senates arcane rules stupid? Yes. Should people be able to use those rules as they see necessary? Yes. God knows I'd do the same fucking thing. What I wouldn't do, is use them to grandstand. To wave my dick around and then wait for everyone to come kiss my fucking ring. This guy is bitter. He is irrelevant outside of the fact that he's the 60th vote. If there's one thing I can't abide it's hypocrites, and Joe Lieberman is one giant fucktard of a hypocrite if I've ever seen one. State of Connecticut, I swear if you elect this pompous, vindictive assface again, I got a good goddamn mind to get a huge public works program going, where we dig all they way around your stupid state and let you float off into the fucking sea like an elderly eskimo on an ice flow. Or one of you can start to feel appropriately guilty and put Senator Lieberman out of all of our misery.*

*This is hyperbole. I don't advocate actually killing him, although I do wish he were dead.

Posted 2:14pm
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December 15h , 2009

But the lows are so extreme, that the good seems fuckin cheap

OK, that's hyperbole, but who doesn't love a good Rilo Kiley quote? And who sends a message to 200 hundred computer users two weeks before we all leave for the holidays that they are rebuilding their machines, so back up your data and oh yeah, any important software you use may or may not be there when you get back? Well after the best possible start to my day, that's kinda what happened. And by kinda I mean exactly. The colossal ineptitude of the hospital's IT support group (of which I am not a member, thanks) astounds me.

I generally don't bitch or even talk about work because a.) everybody can bitch about work - if you believe in relativism than someone out there has it worse than you, so shut your trap, and b.) the rest is boring. But christ on a bike why does the stereotype of IT support guys having bad people skills have to translate to the way an entire organization goes about its business? No communication, and when there is it's so uninformative, trite and condescending that it does more harm than good? I've spent my day calming people down and placating them, while telling the powers that be how awful they are at their jobs and to get out of my way so I can do mine. It's working, but man, not how I wanted to spend my day. I need to go back to the beginning and remember that sometimes when you're on, you are really fucking on.

- There's good news a plenty if you live in the District. First, weed! Second, gays! Really. Fucking. On.

Posted 4:26pm
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December 14th , 2009

tbaggervance.com's top ten albums of 2009

Welcome once again to my little exercise in vanity (I suppose one could argue that's the entire blog, but shut up) as I opine on what was the best of the preceding 365. As always, a year from now I'll probably regret a lot of it, but hindsight and all that. Also welcome the only reason to use myspace anymore! But I digress - on to what you should have been listening to in 2009.

10. Eugene Mirman - God is 12-year-old Boy with Aspergers
http://www.myspace.com/eugenemirman

I first became truly aware of Eugene via this, the best commencement speech I've ever heard. Here he holds the weird energy for an entire 45 minutes. It's smart and different and most importantly, hilarious.

9. The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
http://www.myspace.com/flaminglips

It should make the list for the album cover alone. Of course it's the Lips so the disc is a giant ball of wonderful weirdness - this time out pulsating with a fuzzy energy and fury that is relentless. But not in a techno/rave/dance sort of way. This is rock and roll.

8. The Swell Season - Strict Joy
http://www.myspace.com/theswellseason

It's a thin tight rope to walk when you're both sad and hopeful. Glen Hansard does it with great aplomb. Like a more wistful, higher registered Van Morrison, I'm never sure if Glen is making me cry tears of sadness or joy at just how fucking beautiful everything is. Either way, "I'm feeling the Pull, Dragging me off again, I'm feeling so small against the sky tonight." is a lot prettier than saying you've got cabin fever.

7. Throw Me the Statue - Creaturesque
http://www.myspace.com/throwmethestatue

This is largely an album of two brilliant pop songs and a bunch of filler. Not that there aren't moments of bliss otherwise contained here in, nor that the filler isn't worthwhile, it's just that those two songs are so good that they will stick in your head like that image of your parents having sex from when you were 9. And nothing will ever be the same after that.

6. The Thermals - Now We Can See
http://www.myspace.com/thethermals

My reaction to the news that the Thermals follow up to 2006's The Body, The Blood, The Machine (an album about the perils of religion) would be an album about evolution, was "Of course it is." Naturally it's also every bit of a pop punk masterpiece that its predecessor was. Thank God.

5. Death Cab - The Open Door EP/Spoon - Got Nuffin EP
http://www.myspace.com/deathcabforcutie
http://www.myspace.com/spoon

Death Cab surprised fans with an EP of Narrow Stairs cast-offs that were every bit as good as the stuff on the album they were orphaned from. Spoon threw an EP out that was more of a teaser for next month's Transference. It's a safe bet that these two artists will always make every one of my top ten lists as long as they have eligible material.

4. Hockey - Mind Chaos
http://www.myspace.com/hockey

Sure, it's basically british dance rock via Portland, OR. But if you came up to me and said 'there's this great dance rock band that's 100x better than Franz Ferdinand is anymore,' I'd say sign me up. You should sign up for Hockey.

3. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
http://www.myspace.com/nekocase
Did I say the Lips make the list for the album cover alone? Uh, hello Neko:

Oh yeah, she also sings like an angel. If American's liked actual country music instead of bullshit pop songs dressed up as country, Neko would be like a Super Shania Twain - better looking, better voice and 100x more ass kickin'. I love you Neko. Call me.

2. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
http://www.myspace.com/wearephoenix

I feel similarly about Phoenix as I do about Throw me the Statue - 2 pieces of pure pop brilliance surrounded by a bunch of filler. It just so happens that Phoenix's entries are better on both sides of the equation. Summer 2009 will be remembered by their song "Lisztomania" and "1901" is sure to grace my playlists for years to come.

1. Brendan Benson - My Old Familiar Friend
http://www.myspace.com/brendanbenson

My Old Familiar Friend is pitch perfect pop album along the lines of Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend or Wilco's Summerteeth. It's a bunch of songs about girls and being in love (and not in love) surrounded by the hookiest guitar lines ever laid to wax. Thirty years ago this album would've played non-stop on FM radio. Unfortunately these days it's relegated to huge music nerds and people who follow the Jack White family tree. Fortunately I fall in both those camps and now you too are aware. Spread the good word.

That's it. That's the list. For historical perspective about how wrong I am every year: 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005.

Posted 10:27am
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December 11th , 2009

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

- I'm not quite sure how New Years Eve is going to shake out yet. That happens when you have a kid and so does your bdgf and you're both good looking and popular and get invited to several things. But the odds on favorite is probably Mittenfest, whose only downside is that it takes place in Ypsilanti. Wouldn't it feel good to support 826 with your NYE dollars? AND to ring in the New Year with Chris Bathgate? He's super dreamy.

- Sunday I'm headed to the Michigan Theater to see It's a Wonderful Life for FREE! I'm a huge sap that cries at almost every movie one is supposed to cry at, and there is no bigger trigger in the world than the last 10 minutes of this movie. Merry Christmas movie house!

- As we mentioned the other day, up next on the gay marriage undercard is a bout in New Jersey. Thankfully the Boss has spoken, which basically means it's already law in the state. I always thought the line "Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims, and strap your hands across my engines" sounded like a gay pick up line, so there you go.

- Attention uteruses (uteri?) of the world: watch this at your own risk. Jen always warns people that just hanging around me can get you pregnant, and I imagine so could watching this video. It makes me feel like I should have been forcing something like this on Sid when he was that age. That's basically what he looked like. Of course it wouldn't have been a Jason Mraz song, but what evs.

- Finally, I don't generally talk to specific people via the blog or use it to send messages, but I make an exception in this case because, well you will enjoy it too.

Stov,
One of us has to get this tattoo. Let's make it part of some elaborate bet where the loser ends up with Bea Arthur in ink on their body. Because if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew, you would see the biggest gift would be from me.
Thank you for being a friend,
-T

Posted 10:57am
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December 10th , 2009

Snow day (wish I was)

Back in the times of Ayesha and the Jesuses (before they made their exodus from the state) I came up with the theory of the inevitable snow day. It was an idea that had its genesis in the Circle of Shame© incident of 1994, and to this day serves as impetus for others to throw caution to the wind and hang out and drink with me. It goes like this: forecast is for snow. I'm not talking an inch with some blowing, I'm talking SNOW. But as surely as we've all been burned before by pills claiming to make our junk bigger, the weather man isn't always 100%. So what dear friends, can we do to ensure that the Superintendent will see it our way and tell everyone to stay home for the day? Why the same thing we do to relieve all of our other problems - drink our faces off.

I first posited this argument to MJ and Ayesha (both teaching at the time) that if we went out and got spectacularly drunk, there'd be no way they could make it into work the next day - but it wouldn't matter because we'd given the universe no choice but to cancel school anyway. Then I too would call in 'sick' the next day and we could all sleep until noon and then go to the pizza buffet. (and then once, pub crawl through Washtenaw County. What a day that was!) Hooray! Snow Day! It's been a while since I tried this trick, but to the best of my knowledge we were 3 for 3 with it. And who knows, the BDGF is of the teacher persuasion, so I may just get a chance to try for a fourth. There's nothing more satisfying than coaxing people into getting drunk with you.

- All I'm saying is that when I was in the dorms, it was tens of thousands.

- Get ready Michigan smokers, our long, long run of being civilized is about to come to an end.

Posted 4:00pm
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December 9th , 2009

We are a nation of stupid, stupid people

- I saw this in the Economist yesterday:

Percentage of Americans who believe in angels: 55
Percentage of Americans who believe in evolution: 39
Percentage of Americans who believe in anthropogenic global warming: 36
Percentage of Americans who believe in ghosts: 34
Percentage of Americans who believe in UFOs: 34

Now we should note that these numbers are not from one comprehensive study but an amalgamation of several. Still, what the fuck? First of all, we need to stop using 'believe' when it comes to evolution. We don't 'believe' in gravity (exceptions for Chuck Jones Warner Bros. cartoons). As we say here at tbaggervance.com, it's science. And less people believe in global warming? Well I guess we all need to start praying real hard that Jesus will decide to start cooling the planet with his daddy's magic air conditioner, because otherwise we are fucked.

- Given the above numbers, this should surprise no one.

- I generally like fair fights. It's much more fun to watch two evenly matched wail on each other tit for tat rather than say the lion devouring the gazelle. But when an overmatched opponent is someone you hate with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns and the beat down they're receiving can be seen as a well deserved comeuppance, well then that's just good times. That's why this is perhaps one of the most enjoyable blood baths I've ever seen. Rachel Maddow utterly eviscerates this fuckwad who thinks he can turn people from gay to straight. And - wait for it - he 'used' to be gay! And of course he's had a few 'relapses' since he was cured. It's a real life Mr. Show sketch.

- Joe Lieberman is an insecure asswipe who needs people's attention like I need booze. That's why he can publicly say things like 'Yes, the public option would lower costs but I'm not voting for it.' all while taking millions from insurance companies. What a douche nozzle. How did he get elected? How did Gore pick him as a running mate? Truly we are a stupid, stupid people. Luckily, it looks like there's been a compromise, and it's a good one. So suck it Lieberman. Time to go back to your hovel and dream up new ways to get your name in the paper that simultaneously make everyone who has ever voted for you or even heard your name regret your mere existence.

- Just to cheer you up, here's a trailer for CANADIAN sketch troupe The Kids in the Hall's new miniseries. Welcome back gentlemen, you've been missed.

Posted 10:39am
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December 8th , 2009

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- A lot of Atheists come off as dicks. We're smug and arrogant and convinced we're right, so you know, bound to happen. That's why I'm thankful for guys like Richard Dawkins. He's at least 37% less smug than your average Atheist. Plus, he's so well reasoned and credentialed, even the devout would have trouble arguing with his logic. Just kidding, they'd totally argue, they just wouldn't have an actual leg to stand on.

- Xenophon vs. Xenu? FIGHT!

- Rick Warren is a colossal fuckstick douche bag. But hey, it's "not his job" to take sides - unless of course you're talking about abortion. So much hate. I've read a lot of scary stuff about The Family as of late and their role in Uganda and other places. It shivers me timbers.

Update December 10th:
Warren must have reread his contract as he picks a side and disowns the Uganda bill. So sorry about the colossal fuckstick douche bag thing. I have a feeling I'll find ocassion to use it again, so you got a free one coming pastor.

- Kirk Cameron: Evolutionary Biologist.

- Here's an interesting argument against Creationists and New Agers being eligible for public office (and it's by Roger Ebert!) I'd throw Mormons into that pile myself, wiping out your three front-runners for the GOP's 2012 nomination. Look, Obama's not perfect. He does a whole shit ton of stuff that infuriates me. But right wing fucktards refer to him as Spock as criticism. Cool, calculating, considering every angle? That's exactly what I want in my leaders. W rode around brandishing his flaming sword as given to him by divine right and look where that got us.

- Nobody plays a better victim than Sarah Palin, which compounds my seething rage when I see her toting around her Downs Syndrome baby. You can be a narcissistic attention whore or a good mother. Pretty sure you can't effectively be both.

- New York (ironically, the second gayest state in the union behind California) passed on gay marriage. Boo. The fight now moves to Jersey. Come on kids, we could really use a win.

Posted 11:14am
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December 7th , 2009

Happy Birthday to us!

Back in 2004 I started this weblog as a way for me to quiet the voices in my head. The constant, droning voices. Who would've thunk that we'd be here five years later? That this blog would become a repository for my drunken antics? That people would read it? That it would consistently piss people off and get me in scads of trouble? Yes, some people may have seen that coming.

Perhaps it was all inevitable. I like to say that I don't do things half ass (because what's the point) and if that's true, then of course I'm going to mention sex and drugs and Jesus and whatever else that makes family and girlfriends and friends of friends stop speaking to me for large swaths of time. Now that I think about it, of course that's what was going to happen. It's really not my fault for writing that stuff, it's your fault for reading it. You don't watch Glenn Beck and then get surprised when he says something stupid.

For those of you who do keep coming back: a sincere and heartfelt thank you from all of us here at tbaggervance.com. I'm still shocked that anybody reads this drivel, much less the eclectic group of readers that admit to it. Ex-girlfriends, girlfriends exes, my former teachers, my family and people whom I've never even met. All of you are reading this. Hello. The interns and I hope you mostly leave here smiling. But hey, if from time to time you're offended, let's not feign shock. You knew it was going to happen.

Posted 10:42am
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December 4th , 2009

Your indie rock weekend

Last night I went to see A Pony for Christmas. You remember them - they're the band that I used to be the lead singer of for five minutes who fired me for writing a lyric that compared Jesus to Ron Popeil. Good times. But hey - I'm still good friends with the bass player and I've been in enough shitty bands over the years to know that it's always appreciated when someone shows up at your gig. But then my so called good friend went and pulled a total dick move. My time in the band was short lived but I wrote one really great set of lyrics to one pretty good good song. And guess what? The band is still using the lyrics. Nevermind that they never once asked me if they could. Nevermind that they're using my creative output without credit nor compensation. Not so much as a fucking heads up. Someone call Alanis, because they fired me for not liking my lyrics but continue to use the ones they thought were OK. Isn't it ironic? Douche bags.

- This new Spoon song makes me wonder what I'm going to do with the giant erection I get every time I listen to it.

- New Ted Leo too.

- I'm the only person I know that likes The Get Up Kids - but don't expect me to apologize for it. I missed them on their reunion tour in October, which made me very sad. Fortunately, it looks like I'll get a reprieve.

- More fun with record covers.

- What will they think of The Beatles in 1,000 years? And yes, Scottie Pippen is as ugly as you remember.

Posted 9:48am
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December 3rd , 2009

Oh my drunken mouth

It's well documented around these parts that I have a penchant for getting drunk and saying things that I later regret. Especially when it comes to making grandiose future plans in which I have to perform some ridiculous act or feat. Guess who opened their drunk mouth again and painted himself into a corner?

Monday night we were at Joey's comedy club for Dr. Doctor's birthday. We've kind of fallen in love with the bad, awkward comedy that exists there on amateur and open mic nights. Anyway, we spent our dinner before the show arguing about which one of us was going sack up and participate in the open mic comedy by getting up on stage and making a fool of themselves. I was the odds on favorite, but I had nothing prepared and concentrated on putting the onus on C Jason, whom we established an act for in which he would get on stage and pee his pants. In the end, it wasn't even open mic night and thus a moot point.

Until later in the evening. After seeing some colossally bad comedy and imbibing about 10 vodka and sodas, I agreed that at a future time, we would return to Joey's and I would bite the bullet and get on stage. Don't ask when this will be, as I'm not in the business of advertising train wrecks. Rest assured that I will need to get drunk to do it, I will tell a lot of dick jokes, and no one will laugh. Between now and then I will be feverishly writing jokes in my head for most of the day, so please do something funny in front of me toot suite.

- However this, this is funny.

Posted 11:07am
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December 2nd , 2009

My Taxi

Last Fourth of July I was hanging out with my fairly new friends Amy, Jason and Dr. Walker. We hadn't known each long and didn't know each other all that well, but if you can't bond with people over booze and explosives, well then what hope is there?

Anyway, Dr. Walker and I and a few others were enjoying some Oberon (mmm Oberon. I miss you already!) waiting for Amy and Jason to arrive. That's when I got this txt message from Jason:

Mytaxi?

I had no idea what he was talking about. I now wish I never figured it out.

About six years ago I was forced to go shopping for a new car. While I still owed about $2,000 on the car I was driving at the time, it needed $800 worth of repairs and if I had that work done, it would have brought the cars value to about $500. So I did what I always do when it's time for me to purchase a vehicle: I walk on to as many used car lots as I can and ask them "What do you have on the lot for $10,000 that has a manual transmission?" That's when they shake their head, show me the one car that fits my criteria, and we both walk away bitter.

Unfortunately, due to the dangerous condition of my car at the time, I didn't have the luxury of fucking around for a month or two, perusing every lot in SE Michigan. I was literally driving around hoping that my wheels wouldn't spontaneously fall off, or that I'd get out of the car, slam the door and the entire thing would collapse like I was Elwood Blues.

This led me a shady dealer on Michigan Ave just past Ypsi. I was told they had cheap foreign cars. I showed up and threw out my usual salvo, and they had a veritable plethora to choose from: a 2002 black Honda Accord and a 2002 bright yellow Mazda Protégé 5. I tested out the Accord and it felt like I was driving my dad's 1982 Coronado. I was a boat captain. Eight year old Siddhartha hated it too. So it was on to the Mazda.

The Protégé was peppy. It cornered like a dream. It had a moon roof. Sid loved it. I could learn to live with a bright yellow car right? You just have to own it. Besides, I would never have to worry about finding my car in a parking lot ever again.

Back to Fourth of July. Jason and Amy finally show up to the soirée and I inquire as to what the message Mytaxi? meant. Turns out there was another yellow hatchback in the parking lot that day with a vanity plate reading 'Mytaxi'. And while they claimed that they didn't think I would put anything so ridiculous on the back of my vehicle, they admitted that they didn't know me that well, so they were just asking.

Of course I was incredulous. How dare they? Yes hap and circumstance led me to drive a ridiculous yellow mode of transport, but "Mytaxi"? Naturally my display of disdain ensured that as long as I drive that car, the Downtowners et al will call it "MyTaxi". People will write "Mytaxi" on the windows in the backseat when they fog up in the winter. Six year olds will get in on the fun. All I can do is cry and die a little on the inside everytime someone says it.

- Regardless of color, I wish I didn't have to own a car. If it were only a little warmer and a tad easier (the AATA doesn't go all the way out to my building at work) I'd bus it every day and use ZipCars to do things like grocery shop. Alas I'm not there yet. Fortunately for me, A2 is one the 15 best places to live if you hate to commute.

Posted 11:07am
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December 1st , 2009

Subterranean 826 Blues

About a month ago I got a message from 826's interim director asking for my participation in an idea. She wanted to do a parody of Dylan's 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' centered around 826 Michigan. If I could write a song, then they would film some of our students doing their best imitation of Zimmy flipping over cards. They wanted to play it at the 826 National meeting, in front of people like Dave Eggers and Sarah Vowell. Oh, and could I do that in about 5 days? Thanks.

As all of you surely know, I have a hard time saying no to one more drink, smart pretty girls and 826. So I spent a day or so with my guitar trying to come up with something that would be an original song in the style of 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'. I had a few flashes of inspiration and thought I was well on my way. But of course it was Halloween weekend and I had other plans that didn't involve holing up in my apartment and writing music for a couple days. So I procrastinated under the guise of "I work better under pressure of deadline anyway."

Sunday came and I had nothing. I now had 24 hours to congeal whatever had been rolling around in my head for the previous few days. First thing I did was abandon the original song idea and decide to go straight parody. Boom, half my job done. Of course I had concert tickets in Pontiac that night, so after writing about half my lyrics, I had to go get spectacularly drunk.

Monday morning I felt like death, but I still had two verses and some polishing to do. So between answering emails and praying for someone to put a bullet in my brainstem, I had my notebook open to write down a line or two as they came to me. By five o'clock I had a full set of lyrics and a karaoke backing track downloaded from Amazon.com. I went home, recorded the sucker in two takes and sent it out. It eventually came back to me like this:

 

Not bad eh? I think we can all agree that the moral of the story is if you put stuff off and drink your life away, you can still pull your shit together at the last minute and be moderately successful. I mean, I never heard from Sarah Vowell personally, but I assume she absolutely loved it and thought it was adorable.

Posted 3:17pm
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November 30th, 2009

Pass the turkey - and my daughter's virginity.

Most* of my previous girlfriend's parents were predisposed to not like me because I was white, had knocked up their daughter, or both. This manifested itself as either semi-open disdain during holiday get togethers, or a denial of my existence in whatever naive way plausible. I don't want to overstate how much this sucked, I clearly don't have an overwhelming need to be liked (attention, yes; liked, no). However, it does add an extra level of suck to holidays. It turns your drinking into the not fun kind.

And the thing is, despite the fact that I can be somewhat of a curmudgeon and my default position is to openly express my views and poke beehives when necessary, I am also capable of being somewhat charming. Yes, first I need motivation and of course I can be fairly easily derailed, but controlling for all other variables I'm generally able to impress children and old people for finite spans of time. Parents generally want someone to listen to them and for you to prove you're not too cockamamie, kids just want you to be goofy (and if you can make the kids laugh and hold their interest for 5 minutes, so much better in the eyes of the parents).

I spent the weekend with parents of the gf variety and otherwise, and it is amazing how much easier things are when when people don't automatically despise you from the flop. I don't want to get into hyperbole (for once) and clearly people are capable of being polite whilst seething on the inside, but I got thrown into several situations this weekend that had the potential for being superawkward, and from my perspective, I came out unscathed. Everyone smiled and poked fun and had a good time. Perhaps more importantly, no one said awful things about me in a foreign language while I was in the room.

I guess time will tell if I performed as well as I thought I did. One enters these situations from a position of survival: keep your head down, do one or two things that might impress, stay out of the way the rest of the time. I feel like I mostly managed to do that. Hey, if I screwed up, I sent thank you notes this morning. In the mail. Parents love that.

*all

- This is all over the internet, so you've no doubt seen it, but hey - Star Wars Facebook Status updates.

Posted 10:42am
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November 25th, 2009

You can't possibly be getting anything done at work today.

So I don't know about you but I've mentally checked out for the holiday already. I'm forced to twiddle my thumbs for the next four hours or so. If you are in a similar situation (or if you're one of THOSE people who are sitting at home by now, family getting on your nerves already and you're looking for something to distract you) here's some lovely videos, courtesy of the internet:

- Muppets. Queen. Enjoy.

- Aren't hugs sinful? I mean, when you hug someone, your genitals are aligned! What would Baby Jesus think? But what can we do to non-sexually greet people we casually enjoy? Yo, side hugs y'all. (BTW, I assumed this was totally fake because what the holy fucking hell? But it appears to be legit. I may have to leave the country soon if this escalates.)

- Are you prepared for schmaltzy onslaught that is the Christmas season? Yeah, me neither. Thankfully people like Patton Oswalt exist to help us give voice to our rage.

- Hey, Dana Perino said that there wasn't a terrorist attack on this country during the previous administration. I would call this a slip up and ignore it, except for that a.) She's a former Press Sec. and b.) it's kind of a retarded Republican talking point that 'they kept us safe', which let's just say does a tad more than obfuscate history.

- Lego Matrix. Bad ass.

- Last night I was talking with the bdgf about video games and I noted that while I don't really ever play anymore, I will probably always obsessively play any new Zelda or Final Fantasy game - to the point that I take days off the work and miss going to the bar to stay home and play. Guess what? New Final Fantasy! Looks like it comes out just after March Madness, so perfect timing.

- Speaking of the bdgf, this one's for her: Canada's favorite son goes home to Bel Air.

Posted 10:55am
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November 24th, 2009

It wouldn't be such a big deal if we traveled in tubes already.

Two years ago I decided that I had enough of the pressure and traffic that accompanies Thanksgiving vacation and decided to stay home. I'll see my family in a month, it seems superfluous to me to move heaven and earth to spend a few days with them in November. That was also my year to have Sid on Turkey day, so I had family around. I made food, we played games and watched DVDs. It was a stress free, relaxing and enjoyable experience - exactly what the holidays are supposed to be but never are.

Last year I got roped back in to going to Chicago. Don't get me wrong, I love my brother and had a good time, but I longed for my utopian Thanksgiving at home. So the minute the topic of Thanksgiving came up for this year, I made the executive decision to replicate 2007's wonderland of pajamas, football and laying on my own couch. Turns out I have no executive power.

First I lost my family component when Sid got co-opted by the babymama. Which, OK, she deserves the consideration for being so football flexible all fall, and I don't have to have a partner in crime to enjoy bad Detroit football and my stupendously comfortable couch. But then I forgot about all of my other preexisting partners in crime.

So while the particulars and logistics have yet to be finalized, I won't be spending my holiday in a bunker like a hermit, half drunk and shirtless working my way through seasons two and three of The Venture Brothers. Instead I will be surrounded by friends and loved ones, telling jokes, playing games and eating delicious food. Woe is me, I know. Yet I implore all of you - just one time - stay at home. Don't fight traffic. Don't spend all day cooking. Don't shower and get dressed. Just relax and enjoy the fact that the government has decided to give us one mandatory four day weekend a year. Then wake up at 5 am to run out and elbow a septuagenarian in the chest to get the last half off blu-ray DVD player. Because we all know that's what Thanksgiving is really about.

- Looking for alternatives to my alternative Thanksgiving? Here's takes from the University of Andy and the hedonistic nerve.com. I can safely endorse both of these as they are wholly solipsistic in their approaches.

Posted 12:49pm
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November 23rd, 2009

The nightmare ceases

Somewhere between the Moeman getting tipsy at happy hour Friday night and DPS coming by our tailgate at 11pm Saturday to tell us to put out our bonfire, there was a football game. I don't have many thoughts on what went down specifically. We were doomed from the start by youth and inferior talent. Afterwards I ran into one of my friend's dads and shook his hand noting, "Well, that's about as well as we could have played." His response of course was "That's the problem."

The pragmatist in me feels a little bit like a battered wife. All I can do is put on a smile and make the best of the rest of my day - to not have expected the beatings to continue would have been naive. After all, what choice did I really have? But whatever still exists in me that can be considered optimistic sees it quite differently. I'm a Wolverine. That's the K and there's nothing to be done about it. So I fight and defend to the best of my ability and try not to let losing battle after battle ruin everything else.

Saturday's 3 hour football game was ensconced in over 12 hours of tailgating. I cracked the first beer before 9am and when I left after 11pm, it was largely because I could barely stand. The important thing was that the atmosphere was more celebrating than mourning. I can't say if it's because we're too tired to care anymore or because there is a certain sense of accomplishment in surviving this year. I do know I wasn't going to let five turnovers from a freshman QB ruin my enjoyment of the holiday. I think that's quite an accomplishment coming from a guy who used to sit for hours in silence after a loss. Now if Tate can mature in the next 9 months to the equivalent of my progression over the last 15 years, we may finally be able to stop telling our loved ones "Oh, this? I just fell down, it's nothing."

- Here's a decent riff on the old meme of "tOSU fans are drunken hillbillies and Michigan fans are elitist snobs." I love a good stereotype that no one disagrees with.

Posted 1:01pm
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November 19th, 2009

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

- I don't expect everyone to go out and read Thomas Friedman's brilliant book Hot, Flat and Crowded (although you'd be smarter and generally better off if you did). However, you can take 3 to 5 minutes to read his op-ed piece in the Times from Tuesday. It's like cliff's notes that provide a quick jolt of liberal guilt - something I have no problem with in this case.

- New Between Two Ferns with Zack Galifinakis. Always something to be thankful for.

- I've made an executive decision to stay in Ann Arbor for Thanksgiving this year (more on this later). While I'm very excited about that decision in and of itself, it has the added bonus of allowing me to go the bar on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for the first time in about 7 years. Back in the day, Thanksgiving Eve was one of the biggest nights of the year and something to look forward to, because debauchery would surely ensue after a pint of Mad Dog and a 12 pack of Busch Light. 2009: I'm ecstatic that Bar Louie has $3 pints of Bell's ALL NIGHT. My life is imminently better now, and I may sleep in the gutter.

- Yesterday friend and fellow nerdy Beatlephile* C. Jason sent me a link to this, which caused me to spend nearly 2 hours combing through the Beatles catalog. The good news is that I got answers that are at least plausible for 13 of the 15 songs. The bad news is that those last two (along with the other 5 or so I'm not 100% on) with plague my brain until I figure them out. Blerg.

- Needless to say I'm off tomorrow in anticipation of Saturday's holiday festivities. I don't hold out much hope for victory Saturday. I'm resigned to watch offensive turnovers and defensive big plays that defy explanation and ultimately hang my head and wait for next year, wallowing in memories of John Cooper's 2-10-1. But at the end of the day OSU and it's fans are largely drunken, ignorant, inbred, truck driving hillbillies and I am a Wolverine. In the bleakest of times I can always hang my hat on that and the immortal words of the Moeman: what goes around, comes around.

*Apropos of nothing (other than a demonstration of how nerdy we sometimes get) we once contemplated creating a Wikipedia page about Beatles songs that reference other Beatles songs, e.g. "Glass Onion", "Savoy Truffle", "All You Need is Love", etc. Oh, and he once dared to txt me a trivia question about side 2 of Abbey Road during a football tailgate that pretty much ruined my enjoyment of the day trying to come up with the answer. Good times.

Posted 12:00pm
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November 18th, 2009

This week in indie rock

- Early 2010 is going to be all about Vampire Weekend. Here's a feature on the fresh faced lads from Vanity Fair. You can also listen to their new song "Cousins" and see their newest batch of tour dates (that completely bypass the midwest.)

- The list of the decades best albums and recordings keep flooding in, some good, some obvious attempts at sensationalism. NPR lists the 50 most influential albums of the decade - in alphabetical order! - that's good. NME lists their 100 best albums, and while we here at tbaggervance applaud a bold choice of Is This It? at number one and Whatever People Say That I am, That's What I am Not at four, you blow your credibility by putting Yankee Hotel Foxtrot at 43 (43!) right behind Vampire Weekend. Idiots.

- Before Craig Finn and Tab Kubler formed the world's greatest bar band in the Hold Steady, they plied their wares to more alterative-rocky band called Lifter Puller. LP is getting a full reissue treatment, and for those of you who enjoy Craig's brand of singing, it's well worth your time and money. Read the man's thoughts about it here.

- Parodies walk that fine line between clever and stupid - especially dated ones. So despite it's comic pedigree, I was wary of this "Do They Know it's Christmas?" video. I should have known by the people involved, it's pretty fucking fabulous.

- Your obligatory OSU/Michigan tidbit of the day: Here's some science that explains how winning after your hopes are dashed leads to greater euphoria when it comes to fruition. Which like, duh - after the 1997 win my favorite is probably 1995, when OSU was undefeated and we were supposed to get crushed, only to see Timmy Biakabatuka rumble for 313. If something like that happened Saturday, I'd surely die from a brain embolism, but with a smile on my face and an erection in my pants.

Update 1:33pm
Neko was on Fallon last night. Watch and swoon.

Posted 1:51pm
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November 17th, 2009

The age of diminished expectations

I've always listed the Michigan/Ohio State game as my favorite holiday of the year. All my favorite people get together to drink and celebrate. There's food and games and all types of fun imaginable. Over the years there's been more drunken makeouts, fall downs, pass outs, throw ups than you could possibly imagine. There's been footraces in street. People fell through roofs. Children were conceived in bathrooms. And that doesn't even include what's gone down at Heinygate.

The build up to the game is a several week long verbal barrage of opposing factions disparaging each other in any way imaginable. At least it used to be. This Saturday will represent year three in which the loyal Maize and Blue enter the game with the most diminished expectations. It's neigh on impossible to jaw against the hillbillies to the south when you know it will likely take a bus crash and a miracle to win the game Saturday. Honestly, if that perfect storm were to happen, I guarantee it would be Thanksgiving before I dared believe it. I'm as jaded as a hooker offering $10 blow jobs.

So there's a little luster missing from this year's proceedings. It's like having to drive four hours to spend Thanksgiving with your in-laws who don't drink. Don't get me wrong - I will be spectacularly drunk for the entirety of the weekend and there's plenty of things to still make fun of when it comes to tOSU fans, it's just not the same when your hopes for victory start at about 10% and rapidly diminish after kick off. Technically it's still a holiday, but I won't have trouble falling asleep the night before hoping Santa really brings me what I asked for.

- Something the state of Michigan still rules at: making beer. Here's a list of America's 25 Best Breweries - 3 of which are in Michigan - including one that has a satellite operation two blocks from my house. My only qualm is the placement of Bells, which clearly should be number one.

- And this looks suspiciously fake, but I totally expect Barlow to pull the equivalent of this over the weekend.

Posted 11:48am
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November 16th, 2009

When they say T and Sid, they mean da assholes...

Update 12:37pm
AnnArbor.com has a story up about the event, in which Sid and I are compared to the Cobra Kai. You'll find it's pretty much how I described things, but with pictures and Peter Cetera.

Last year it was Skrabbel for Cheaters. Sid and I practiced our asses off and raised a shit ton of money. We eventually lost to what everybody agreed were the assholes of the tournament who took all of the fun out of the proceedings with their over-seriousness. This year, the shoe was on the other foot.

Sid and I needed no practice for Euchre for cheaters, as we both have Malcom Gladwell's requisite 10,000 hours necessary to become de facto experts. We knew our game, and figured with our $376, we had enough to take home the gold*. Little did we know we'd have to piss off a room of strangers to get to where we did.

Here's the thing - Sid and I play fast. We know the rules and at worst, you have a 20% chance of playing the right card. In a tournament scenario, we expected at the least to have everyone on the same page of following suit. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Our first game we played a team who had barely a cursory knowledge of how the game is played. While we were habitually four suited and playing against superior cards, we managed to eek out a win by calling out reneges and euchering bad calls. It took longer than it should have, and we had our first instance of people calling us 'intense' but we advanced to round two.

This is where it got ugly. By stupid rule of bequeathing money only to those who defeated you, we were outgunned financially in round two. Every hand had someone throwing money down for cheats. When we called this team out for reneging, they were immediately indignant. We thought we were as nice as we could be about them not knowing the rules - but apparently some people are sensitive about being called out on their stupidity. We eventually took them down, but they wouldn't have looked us in the eye if you paid them after we won.

Round three we hit our stride. We started the round free and easy. After the contentious round two, we were happy to find people 'on the same page' as us and started to roll. Of course, after we had to call them out on reneging, we were the assholes again. It probably didn't help that we won 10-0.

The finals were a horse of a different color. We were up against our friend (and 826 program director) Amy's parents. They are super nice, super friendly, and Amy took us aside and explained the following - "Everybody here thinks you guys are assholes, which I know you don't care and is fine, but this is my parents. Act appropriately." We were fine with that. Besides, several teams had given Amy money and said "Give this to whomever plays Tyler and Sid in the finals," so we were looking at a 3-1 financial deficit.

Long story short, we lost a close game to the Sumertons. Ironically, it was truly the most fun we had all day. The Sumertons were used to playing the game as it was intended, and animosity took a back seat. We finished in second, but assured that we were the most skilled team in the room. And most importantly, 826 made several thousand dollars to fill their coffers. So yeah, we're the assholes - for wanting to play the game the way it was intended and ensuring that our opponents played by same the rules. We walked away happy and frankly, we've got plenty of friends and didn't show up looking to make more. That may make us assholes, but such is the price of being good.

* A note on this. Seriously people? We are generally humbled by everyone who made an effort to donate. You guys rock and your thank yous are in the mail. We know - we hate fundraising too, but this is something we really believe in and every single dollar you donate went straight to helping kids get help. So awesome. But those of you who couldn't be bothered? Fuck you. I'm specifically thinking of those of you who who have asked us for favors in the past year - to which we've never said no - and couldn't pony up five bucks. We made a list. Just FYI, we're busy the next time you need your computer looked at or plan to move or your kid is selling wrapping paper for their school. Seriously, regardless of our outcome in the tournament, fuck you. That is all.

Posted 10:55am
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November 13th, 2009

All things 826...

I hate to do this two days in a row, but I feel like I should give you one last warning before I (and by proxy Siddhartha) have to shun you. You have 48 hours left to donate to Euchre for Cheaters. Let me make one last impassioned plea: 826 helps the childrens. It helps nerdy kids who love to write find like minded individuals. It helps kids who can't write very well learn to tolerate, nay enjoy, the process. It tutors kids in every subject they can throw at us. It helps teachers give students the one on one time that budget cuts won't allow. And it does all of this FOR FREE. How do we manage such a feat? By people like ME goading people like YOU into giving as little as $5. Come on - donate $5 (or more - those of you with two incomes and no children - you know who you are). I'd do it for you - just sayin'.

- On to more pleasant things: I hear some of you out there saying, 'I'd love to help out 826 Michigan MORE, but I only gots the $5, is there anything else I can do? Funny you should ask. Ann Arbor's Main Street Area Association is having a holiday window contest. As such, the army of 826 volunteers spent last weekend and all of last night constructing what I have to say is the damn finest window I've ever had the privilege to be a part of.

(That's 826's own Amy S. coming in the door) The concept* is a robot family (The Gearbots) sitting around during the holidays watching their version of It's a Wonderful Life (which we deem to be The Day the Earth Stood Still). I was more involved in large scale construction on this, along with brainstorming the initial concept, but here was my one big creative idea:

You can't see it from the outside, but this is the sign that hangs above their door. Anyway, we are all super proud of our creation and we would LOVE it if you took the time to vote for us. Once a day. From now until whenever the contest is over. (You can win prizes too!)

Special thanks to my favorite neighbors the Baughmans and the StovRiggs, who provided materials and tools with which we would have been lost without. You guys are dear dear DEAR friends and 826 and I thank you. And of course thanks Siddhartha, who spent the nicest Sunday EVER in November inside, helping me hang doors and construct walls. So vote. We could win $500! As you know, it all goes to the kiddies.

- My second favorite 826 event every year (behind the cheaters tourney) is Mittenfest: Four nights of local music at a local bar where the money from the gate goes to 826. This year it runs New Years Eve through January 3rd. Put in on your calendars now, and keep checking here for the highly anticipated lineup.

- And apropo of NOTHING 826, the RNC opts out of abortion coverage for people under its employ. You stay classy, big tent party.

* I assume better pictures (not taken with a camera phone) will be up at 826michigan.org later. Better yet - stop by - it has to be seen in person to be believed.

Posted 1:51pm
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November 12th, 2009

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

I'm back to work but only at say 85%. My head is still in a vice, so you get the following, with no real insight attached:

- This kid (in ARKANSAS) refuses to say the pledge of allegiance until we recognize the legal rights of the gays. That's balls people. I promise never to get married until the gays can also get married in every state in the Union. Even Mississippi.

- Here's a list that I simultaneously agree with and feel guilty about, since I've yet to watch an episode of The Wire, Mad Men or Breaking Bad. Truth be told, I know they're great and I will undoubtedly like them, but I am completely unmotivated to digest any of them. I have almost every other series on this list on DVD, so you know, feel free to request a loan.

- While this in no way makes me think for on ass hair of a second that Sean Hannity is any less douchey, I do enjoy hearing him say "You were right Jon Stewart."

- The AMA tells the government to stop being so uptight about marijuana. Which, like, duh. I'm not saying make it legal tomorrow*, but can we all agree there are legitimate uses and it should at least be studied? For the love of Jesus, it's worse them stem cells.

- We've raised $236 so far for 826 Michigan's Euchre for Cheaters tournament. That is amazing and we are humbled by your generosity. To those of you who haven't taken 5 minutes to donate $5 to an organization that helps children become better writers and learners FOR FREE - what the fuck is going on in your head? I've never donated to your bullshit before? I haven't taken my valuable time to help you move? To fix your computer? To listen to you drone on about how you'll never find someone to love you? I thought we were friends? At the very least you read this blog on a semi-regular basis and are mildly amused/bemused/infotained by it. That certainly is worth $5 A YEAR**!?! Kick off you shoes and put on your swim fins people. Or be dead to me. The choice is yours.

*tomorrow however, I will say make it legal today. I was acquiescing for argument's sake.
** I pledge not to ask you directly for money again until this time next year. For realsies.

Posted 2:26pm
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November 11th, 2009

All night long (all night...)

My mom used to say that nothing good ever happens after midnight. I of course was of the opinion that the only really good things happen well after 12. Her argument really started to take on water when she added the addendum "There's nothing you can do after 12 that you can't do before." She obviously wasn't privy to how long it takes a booze enthusiast to get drunk, and how one's inhibitions aren't truly gone until it's technically the next day. Or more likely, she had a pretty good idea and that's exactly what she was worried about. Either way, I bet I could count on one hand the number of times she was actually out past midnight, so her argument is specious at best.

I've always been a nightowl. My internal clock says bedtime is around 2am and morning rolls in around 10:30. For the sake of societal structure that dictates a 9ish to 5ish workday, I've managed to tweak my natural proclivities so that I can remain gainfully employed. But believe me, when the weekend rolls around, I revert to my natural state like a dog chasing a squirrel.

As such, I'm not always ready to call it a night when last call rolls around. When the night hasn't peaked by 2am, there's usually someone willing to host after hours to keep things rolling. This is, more often than not, a disaster. The momentum from the bar gets lost on the ride home. You usually end up with two people making out on the couch, someone passed out as soon as they walk in the door, and one guy calling everyone else pussies, as he tries to drink the entire case of beer he bought on the way there that no one now wants to drink.

So how to combat this tragic scenario? Well the State of Michigan Legislature has finally heard my pleas. There's a bill out there that would allow bars to stay open until 4am, AND allow liquor sales on Sunday at 7:30am. The later just recently becoming important to me as Sunday DrunkBrunch© has started to become a staple of my existence. Anyway, kudos to Michigan's attempt to join civilized society by throwing off the shackles of these puritanical bullshit laws. I'm probably too old to truly take advantage of the change, but someone has to think of the children. I for one believe they are the future - teach them well and let them lead the way.

Posted 1:51pm
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November 10th, 2009

Bedhead.

I'm currently incapacitated with the sickness. My fever is mild to nonexistent, so I doubt it's the swine. Then again, given my spectacular immune system, perhaps H1N1 just makes me mildly sore with a fever of 100 and turns me into a cranky pants. This is what I look like:

Thirty-one years ago anyway. In all that time little has changed about being sick. I sleep until The Price is Right comes on. Then eat some soup, go back to sleep. I generally have bedhead and just want my mommie to bring me stuff so I don't have to move.

OK, so some things have changed. Mommie's not around to bring me anything and Drew Carey is no Bob Barker. On the plus side, they still have Plinko, the bdgf checks in on me and gives me the sympathy I crave, and now I have the internet and a DVD library of Blockbuster proportions to keep my mind occupied between bouts of passout. And most importantly, skipping work is way better than skipping school, seeing as how I still get paid and I have underlings to minimize my make up work upon my return. It'd be a shame if that fever came back just enough that I had to stay home again tomorrow. Maybe I can start downloading Mad Men and finally catch up with the rest of you hipsters...

Posted 1:25pm
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November 9th, 2009

F A I L.

Every year Sid comes to at least one Michigan football game, in which he's allowed to bring a friend so they can occupy themselves with anything that isn't football and dad and his drunk friends.

Saturday was supposed to be that game, but Sid's friend Bisquick came down with a last minute case of the swine. So instead of hanging out with his friend's, he was stuck with mine. My boss called me late Friday and offered me tickets for Saturday's hockey game vs. #1 Miami. Sid gave me the thumbs up on making Saturday a Michigan sports double header, and it was going to be 65 degrees and sunny. What could possibly go wrong?

Theoretically, everything. Michigan got up two touchdowns on Purdue and then pissed away the lead and the game to an inferior team. Later that night the hockey team played with less energy than a fat video game addict with mononucleosis of the lupus. They turned what should have been a perfect day of father/son bonding into a case of Stov eating a jello shot:

Stov knows how to drink. I would never impugn his ability to hang, as after 17+ years of drinking together on at least a weekly basis, I know he can go toe to toe with anyone. But Stov has an inability to remove jello shots from their containers. When his friends see a jello shot in his hand, a crowd silently gathers to watch the spectacle. We point and laugh at the fail. Saturday he tried to avoid the humiliation by eating his jello shots with plastic tableware. This was judged to be an even bigger fail.

Alright, truth be told the weekend wasn't a failure and theoretically, nothing went wrong. Sid and I hung out Friday and I showed him Swingers for the first time. Saturday the weather was perfect and Sid and I hung out OUTSIDE the house for over 12 straight hours and had quite a good time. Sunday I went to drunkbrunch and then spent the day building the window at the Robot Store*, again with Sid helping in the construction. As a night cap the bdgf and I went and saw It Might Get Loud, which is basically for guitar nerds and people who swoon over Jack White, because he's a Detroit bow-tie wearin' bad ass. Luckily we both fall into one of those two categories.

So yes, outside of things that happen on the fields of play and are decided by 18-22 year olds, everything is still going swimmingly. Except for Stov and his jello shot taking prowess. Here's hoping RichRod stays away from whatever the football equivalent is of trying to take a shot with a plastic spoon.

* more on this later this week. It's going to be awesome and you're going to be impressed. Also, you now have S I X D A Y S to donate to Euchre for Cheaters and not be shunned by our clan.

Posted 1:08pm
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November 6th, 2009

Call me Salacious Crumb.

I'm in ELansing today, surrounded by Spartys and the faint smell of cow dung. I'm also stretched for time. So I'll just offer you this and say have a good weekend:

My inner 10 year old's head just exploded. Oh, and I may be drinking at Whole Foods for happy hour today. Stop by.

Posted 12:03pm
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November 5th, 2009

This week in indie rock.

- New Spoon! Britt and the boys just announced that they'll drop their new LP Transference on 1/26 via Merge records. Hooray! THEN they went and leaked (or somebody did anyway) a song off the album. It's vintage Spoon, so you know, awesome.

- New Tokyo Polica Club! TPC leaked this little acoustic diddy and hinted that their Forthcoming LP is close to completion. I obviously can't wait.

- New Vampire Weekend! VW's Contra is out in the US on 1/12. Here's some cellphone video of the track "California English". The audio is terrible, but you get the idea.

- New Ted Leo! Well, sort of anyway. When you're a bad ass like Teddy, you dress up as Glen Danzig and do two sets with your buddies as The Misfits for Halloween. Fuckin' A.

- New William Shatner! I love Shatner. His 2007 album Has Been is a masterpiece. That's right, I said it - masterpiece. Anyway, if you ever watch Conan you may have seen the Shat on there recently giving dramatic readings of Sarah Palin's tweets. Well Bill is back, this time to read Levi Johnston's twitterings. 100% pure Columbian awesome. And let me just say for the record that I love Levi Johnston. He seems to get what a joke he is, and he's clearly exisiting only to poke Palin's beehive at the moment, which is sweet.

- Paste went ahead two months early and posted their 50 best albums of the decade. I say huzzah and kudos, other than the fact that Bright Eyes and Arcade Fire suck, and YHF trumps Illinoise. But still, solid Paste. Solid.

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November 4th, 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good:
Yesterday was a great day for weed. Maine passed a law licensing pot stores and Breckenridge, CO legalized marijuana.* And positive for the gays: you now have rights in Washington state. Perhaps my favorite election result from yesterday: Owens takes down Hoffman in NY-23. Suck it Palin; Suck it Beck; Suck it Rush; Suck it teabagger movement. I'll take my name back now.

The Bad:
Maine's all for pot smokin', not for pole smokin'. Setbacks suck, but are part of any movement like this. I'm encouraged by the turnout at the polls, but blech - what's wrong with you people?

The Ugly:
Washtenaw County's education millage got crushed yesterday. I'm sad for Siddhartha and all of my friends who work in Ann Arbor schools, but I'm pissed for the following reasons:

1. Ann Arbor voted yes. Unfortunately, stupid fucking state law prevents passing things like this on a city level, so we're tied to fucking towns like Saline and Milan. Fucked over by hillbillies.
2. Asshole real estate developers spent a lot of money to defeat the proposal. I mean, are the inefficiencies in how the schools spend money? Sure. Does that mean we shouldn't try to cover a shortfall that exists because the state is slashing funding? Albert Berriz, you sir, are a dickbag.

I should be used to not getting my way in elections, as outside of a year ago I rarely have. But I can't help but feel disheartened on a day like today. I'd very much like to go to lunch, get drunk and then go lay on the couch all day and watch bad TV. Or perhaps old spaghetti westerns scored by Enio Morricone.

*Still illegal in the state.

Posted 10:54am
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November 3rd, 2009

V O T E.

I've spent the last couple days producing a parody of Dylan's "Suubterranean Homesick Blues" as a favor for 826 Michigan and quite honestly, I'm feeling a little spent creatively. Especially since in the next 10 days we have a new window to put in at the store and there seems to be a lot riding on this one. Daunting.

So this might not be the articulate, empasioned plea that it could or should be, and for that I apologize. But for anyone residing in Washtenaw County, get out there and VOTE today. And when you take 20 minutes out of your day to perform one of the few civic duties asked of you, please vote for the school enhancement millage.

I love teachers. They have a really hard job and we shouldn't make it more difficult by denying them resources. And if you want things to get better in Michigan, the education of our children is a pretty solid place to start. Making them wicked smart is step one, we can worry about getting them to stick around later.

I KNOW I am preaching to the choir, because we here at tbaggervance.com have seen our demographic reports, and you guys are educated, smart, good looking and fabulous dancers. People with those characteristics would never vote against children AND teachers, would they?

- Speaking of voting, here's a great article about how gay marriage and marijuana (along with less important things) will soon be legal. It's a cogent version of an argument I've been making for a while now, so needless to say I agree with it. Your kids are going to think we were awful silly about all of this.

Posted 10:49am
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November 2nd, 2009

Tyler Brubaker is in a relationship.

I've been on Facebook for over three years now. Back then you had to have a university email address to even become a member, and I was wrangled in by then girlfriend, her noting that it was much, much better than myspace.

She was right about that. Going back and reading old blog entries it seems quaint how much I used myspace. Granted it was for music and not social networking, but still, when was the last time anyone was on myspace? I digress. Despite being on fb all these years (before it got co-opted by teenagers and people I went to high school with and haven't thought about in 15 years) my 'relationship status' has always been single. Ayesha has some ongoing joke with her bff from college where they were in an "it's complicated" relationship. Which was fine with me, as back in the day no one was even on facebook (remember 2007?) and let's face it, anyone I care about knows exactly what's going on in my life via this blog or my big, drunken mouth. Despite the preponderance of people who use it exactly for this express purpose, I don't tend to use fb as a way to let people know what's going on in my life. It's kind of an unintended consequence of the thing as far as I am concerned.

Well the entire world now knows that the single status days are over now. After a whirlwind weekend of booze, costumes and live music, I'm officially entrenched in a relationship. At least according to facebook anyway. I've actually been in a relationship for a while now, but you dear blog reader, probably knew that already.

If I hadn't figured it out before this morning, it was certainly brought home when I woke up and was confused for a second because she wasn't there next to me. Maybe I should have made that my status "Tyler Brubaker is alone in his bed." But as it was pointed out to me several times this weekend, the bdgf and I are sickeningly happy together, and we don't want to throw that in everyone's face more than we already do. We'll do our best to dampen down the adoreableness, but hey, what do you want, we're in a new relationship. Just ask Facebook.

Posted 1:17pm
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October 30th , 2009

The internet: Now with video.

- There's really only one reason for today's post and this is it: Drunk History. I implore you - nay insist - that you immediately watch this masterpiece. I'm so upset that I never thought to do something like this, because it may be one of the greatest ideas ever. My personal favorite is Danny McBride as George Washington, but really, there's not a bad one in the bunch. Alexander Hamilton. He's on the ten.

- I have to thank C Jason for pointing me to the aforementioned genius. He also recently turned me on to this, which is comedy gold for all you Star Wars nerds out there. We got Death Star! We got Death Star!

- It could be argued that pwning Melissa Joan Hart is no great accomplishment, and I would be inclined to agree with you. But this sir, takes balls.

- Ted Leo is a punk rock lefty vegan who writes angry pop songs about things like eating disorders and war hawk branches of government. This means Fox News does not consider him a 'Real American' and why I have a giant man crush on him. Here he is playing a new song acoustically, not surprisingly in the msnbc.com digital cafe.

- Want to play guitar just like your favorite artists? Here's a video series that shows you how to play along with bands like Vampire Weekend and The National, taught by the artists themselves! I'm going to bet its going to take more than a 3 minute video to get me to play my ax like Ezra Koening though.

That's all I got, but really, Drunk History was worth stopping by, no? I took a half day, which means I've been here an hour and I'm already mentally checked out. There's minikegs of Oberon AND Two Hearted in my fridge right now (jealous much?) so stop by for happy hour folks. William Henry Harrison, God bless you.

Posted 1:43pm
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October 29th , 2009

Free free, set them free.

I once had a girlfriend call me by her ex-boyfriends name in the heat of the moment. To say that brought things to a screeching halt is an understatement (it's where boners go to die). In hindsight, I'm not sure how I didn't kick her the fuck out of my bed and never call her again. What did happen was a lot of talking and explaining and reassuring followed by some semi-awkward sex. Not my finest hour. I honestly don't know if I've ever told that story before because on the one hand it kind of makes me seem like a pussy. Oh well, it's out there now. Any story that ends in sex can't be all bad, right?

The truth is that I don't sweat the exes. That may be because I think in my personal history most of the exes I've had to hear about were dumpees and not dumpers. This cuts down on the unrequited love factor by about 9000%. When you're dating someone and they were the ones who broke it off in their previous relationship, you get to hear about how awful that person was, providing a blueprint on how not to act, which is always helpful. I suppose some might worry that the person is going to wake up one morning and realize they made a huge mistake and float a test balloon to their ex on facebook which could lead to drinks and then her blowing him in the parking garage while you sit at home txting her asking when she's coming home. That's bad times, especially if it happens more than once. But I certainly am not interested in anyone who doesn't want to be with me, so while the multiple BJ scenario would hurt, I'd enjoy the getting really drunk and ranting about "what a fucking bitch" part.

I guess all of that is pretty dependent on being the dumper. Dumpees are a little trickier. Start dating someone too soon after a relationship where they got shipped, and you inevitably have to confront the truth that if the person you are dating had their way, they'd probably still be with someone else. While every relationship has to go through a period of comparing current person to all that became before them, you're really playing from behind the 8 ball if the last person you're being compared to is still idealized (other than that one fact that they left - but you know, details).

The one thing to remember is that you ain't Magellan so you ain't discovering shit. Everyone has exes. They mostly serve as object lessons of what we don't want and help to light a path to getting where we want to be. And if your current significant other wanted to be with their ex, that's probably where they'd be. Just remember to take the hint if they call you the wrong name while their hand is on your genitalia.

Posted 11:44am
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October 28th , 2009

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

- Euchre! Seriously team, I find almost all of you in dereliction of duty. Now I know for a FACT that you have five bucks. Come on dude, I saw it in your wallet. Take the next two minutes of your existence (that you were just going to use to check facebook anyway) and donate to Sid and I's Euchre for Cheaters team. Even if you think I'm a d-bag, won't you do it for Sid? He's adorable and deserves better than me having to explain that nobody donated to our team because our friends are lazy assholes. Won't you think of the children? (Here's my dear dear dear dear DEAR friend Amy talking about the tournament. Oh, and did I mention that the Robot Store has a new website? It's super terrific happy awesome.)

- Chuck K has a new book of what he does best - pop culture essays. It may surprise you to learn that I have not purchased and devoured it yet. When it comes to a hotly anticipated book, I have the exact opposite need to be first that encompasses me with music and movies. I want to be in the right headspace. I want to be able to find some time to block out and leisurely enjoy reading said tome. I'm thinking Thanksgiving. Anyway, here's an interesting interview with Chuck (courtesy the AV Club).

- I have an unnatural love for Pulp Fiction, so if I had wicked editing skills, too much time on my hands and gave up drinking, I might have come up with this. No worries, none of the above is going to happen, probably ever.

- I was one of the naysayers when this lawsuit was filed. To quote the article, "the wrong claim in the wrong court in the wrong state at the wrong time." But after reading the article, maybe I was wrong. I mean I've said all along that I really hope I am wrong, just sayin'. And speaking of the gays, if you missed Colbert talking about 'everything but marriage' in Washington, check it. Good, gay times.

- Halloween is this Saturday and I haven't a clue what I will be doing and/or wearing. This is completely out of character for me and I'm trying not to freak out about it. The good news is I have options. Chances of me getting very drunk in some minimalist costume with fabulous people are 100%. Where was I going with this? Oh, this has a 90% chance of being fake but is still 100% awesome.

Posted 10:49am
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October 27th , 2009

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week: excommunication edition.

The short answer for what's making Baby J cry this week: me.

Last week I wrote a post in which I wanted to talk about volunteerism because halftard Glenn Beck equated it to communism, which pissed me off. I like volunteerism and think it's pretty important, and I remembered that despite the fact that I'm an atheist, I was raised hard core Catholic and huh, that may have something to do with all this. Weird. And before we go any further, let me say that I went back and read the post and I don't even think it's that offensive. I mean relatively it's ostensibly not at all - I say worse stuff all the time. Yes, I said christians we're being duped and called them automatons. And I suggested that many of them don't think about religion, but like, duh.

But as we all know, offensive is in the eye of the beholder - and behold the comments section of that post. Big sister shaka didn't take none too kindly to what I still think is a pretty innocuous post - and one that could be argued is as nice a thing as I'm going to say about religion. Shaka clearly didn't see it that way, telling me to shut up and grow up, calling me a tyrant, and reminding me that I am going to rot in hell. I freely admit that in my response to her vitriol I was both pithy and condescending, which wasn't the most measured response, but hey, this is the internet and more specifically, my blog. You all knew what you were signing up for.

Here's the thing I have a problem with: grow up and shut up? Not being called a tyrant, not the threat of my sister not 'defending (me) to people' (since pretty sure I can defend myself) or even not being accepted anymore. Shut up? You can't tell me to shut up on my own blog. How dare you? I didn't even invite anyone here. Don't get me wrong, glad you came, but despite my erudite writing style, this is not a conversation I am having with you personally. This is my place to espouse my views, because I enjoy doing it. And grow up? Between the stories about being drunk and making dick jokes, I think we occasionally have grown up conversations around here. We at least ask grown up questions and once in a while provide a grown up answer. Yes, even about religion (or lack thereof).

Maybe it's just the fact that I use the word 'atheist'. Perhaps that fact alone raises my sister's ire. But what if I was gay? Would it be wrong to 'run my mouth 24/7' about that? It makes me wonder. I generally think I'm a decent human being and that should be all that matters to Baby J or members of my family. Of course I don't have thousands of years of religious dogma to dictate how I feel about things, so it may be a little easier for me.

- Here's Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League and clearly, batshit crazy zealot. Moneyshot:

The culture war is up for grabs. The good news is that religious conservatives continue to breed like rabbits, while secular saboteurs have shut down: they're too busy walking their dogs, going to bathhouses and aborting their kids. Time, it seems, is on the side of the angels.

If we were to analogize, Big sister shaka would be 'Bill' and I would be the 'secular saboteur', which is probably a step below tyrant.

- I won't speak for shaka on what she believes in matters of science, but I hope she's in that 39% minority that believes in evolution. I assume she's in the 79% that knows the Earth revolves around the sun and not around Jesus.

- Still not sure where you fall on the religion spectrum and want to know if you have a belief system that might get you kicked out of your family? Here's a handy flowchart that might help you out. (Flowchart for your family's ensuing outrage not included).

- Finally, I'm no fan of Paul Haggis. While the movie Crash is the type of film my sister would assume I like (because it's people sitting around talking about supposedly heady things) I pretty much actively hate it. I won't get into it, especially because of this letter that Paul just published renouncing Scientology. Good stuff yo. Took you long enough.

Posted 10:49am
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October 26th , 2009

Placation in the age of diminished expectations

Somewhere in the doldrums of a rainy, disappointing first half performance by the Michigan varsity football team Saturday, a man in his late forties sitting in front of me with his family clapped sarcastically for about the fifth time after Michigan's young, struggling team made another mental mistake. I'd finally had enough and tapped him on the shoulder.

tbv: Hey, if you're going to clap sarcastically, either put on some Penn State gear or get the fuck out of my stadium.
dbag: (incredulously) Are you mouthing off to me?
tbv: You're god damn right.
dbag: (ready to fight) I'll act however I want.
tbv: Go ahead and be a douche in front of your kids then.

He tried to give a look to Dr. Walker, either looking to her for agreement that I was a drunken idiot or to warn her that someone better get me in check. She just stared back at him as if to say "You heard him, now turn around."

Historically I don't handle days like Saturday very well. It's well documented that after we lost to Ohio State in Columbus my freshman year that I didn't utter a sound for several hours afterward. A lot has changed in the intervening 15 years but me love for Michigan football certainly hasn't waned. Even after a year of 3-9 and even playing a team that I know is empirically better than us, I hate to swallow hard and take it like we did Saturday. It's not something I do well.

Most of my life I've been referred to as a cynic. As a cynic I am usually wont to point out that I'm not a cynic but rather a pragmatist, but that subtlety is usually lost on people trying to prove their point that I can be a crusty old curmudgeon. They're right in that regard and I should let it go - but as we noted, I don't do that well. At least, historically anyway.

If it's true (and it is) that we all eventually turn into our parents, then I may be quickly finding the Zen of Moeman. Moe has found a certain evenness in his aged wisdom. It's had to upset him. He's seen it all and knows that what goes around, comes around - so there's little point in getting too upset as the pendulum swings a way you don't like. This is something that isn't comprehensible to an 18 year old who has just seen his University lose to its arch rival, and something that's a little frightening to a 34 year old who craves the highs and lows that passion provides.

Maybe it's that things will never be the same since we lost to a I-AA team and had a losing season. It could be that the aura and mystique of all the streaks that are now dead are lost and we can never get them back. Maybe maturity provides a perspective that allows you to absorb certain pains more readily while still allowing you to enjoy the highs. What I do know is that game sucked and I was kind of over it by the time I got back to the tailgate. I know that what I will probably remember most about Saturday is that someone told me to shotgun a High Life so I did - for the first time in at least 10 years.

I think that if nothing else, I've found ways to concentrate on things other than the pain of your alma matter letting you down for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. That the foibles of a bunch of 18 to 22 year olds shouldn't spoil Oberon outs, chili cook-offs or time with the BDGF. And if I ever start to worry that newness and passion are waning in my life, I can always shotgun a beer and call some douche on his shitty fandom. Certainly Moe would know better than to participate in such nonsense.

Posted 10:48am
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October 23rd , 2009

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

- I love it when things I love interact with other things I love. Who doesn't appreciate two great tastes that go great together? Take, por ejemplo, this excerpt from Chuck K's new book that centers around Michigan football. I know right? Our how about the news that The Hold Steady's Craig Finn is writing a screenplay based on Klosterman's Fargo Rock City? Fuckin' A. It's like getting a blow job at a Death Cab concert while Tom Brady brings you a bottomless Oberon.

- So super terrific awesome happy times: the FCC is starting to implement laws to ensure net neutrality. Hooray! Everyone who isn't a corporate whore can agree that the internet should be open and free, right? Enter world's biggest fucktard Glenn Beck, who argues that net neutrality (an idea whose sole purpose is to ensure no one can pay for favoritism) is government control of content. Jesus H Christ on a bike who watches this douche nozzle? And for those of you who voted for McCain and think we'd be better off if he were running things, he introduced a bill today to block net neutrality. You sir, are a douche bag.

- If you've never been to Slow's BBQ in downtown Detroit, you my friend are letting one of the finest things in life pass you by. For those of you who are already converts, you'll be happy to know they are expanding. You'll still wait 40 minutes for a table at 10pm on a Friday night, trust me (still worth it though).

- I may have mentioned it already, but I kind of like the new Weezer song. And after watching a Weezer concert on cable a few months back and being thoroughly depressed by how old Rivers looked, I'm glad to see him looking boyish again in the video (even if its just Hollywood magic). And we can all agree that he shipped that girl because she's not Asian, right?

- Quick hits: This is some awesome CSPAN porn. Here's some pickup lines from throughout history. Ohio State schadenfreude. And if you're reading this on Friday and want to go drink a beer with me around five today, holla.

Posted 12:17pm
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October 22nd , 2009

Paper or plastic? Neither.

I haven't quite figured out why yet, but Target treats plastic bags exactly the opposite way every grocery store (at least in Ann Arbor) does. When I'm at Busch's I throw my canvass bag at the checkout/bagger person and if for some reason all of my groceries don't fit, they automatically give me paper bags (because I assume they know I will reuse them.) They give me nickel discount for being green and we all move on. This is true at Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joes you name it. I imagine if you didn't bring your own bag to the Produce Station they'd spit on you.

This scenario couldn't be further removed from trying to do the same thing at every Target to which I've ever been. It usually goes like this: I hold my bag out to the cashier and they avoid eye contact with me. They then start swiping my merchandise and placing it their giant oversized Target branded plastic bags. Then I have to tell them "I have a bag." The first time they either completely ignore me or stop to look at me like I'm a special needs child, then continue scanning. Again: "Hey! I've got my own bag." The cashier stops again, puzzled. They look at their bag and finally notice my bag. You can see the wheels turn. Smoke leaks from their ears. They again stare at you like a child wrapping his head around adding numbers together without using their fingers. Finally "Look, I don't want your god damn plastic bag!" At which point the cashier looks at me like I just sent my steak back because it was touching the mash potatoes on my plate, because they have to take 10 seconds to remove my goods from their plastic bullshit and place it in my nicely worn canvass bag. Sorry to put you out, 16 year old minimum wage slave who can't really wait to go on break so they can txt their bff about how stupid Billy was in 7th period today. If you would have listened to me in the first place, we wouldn't have to go through this whole rigmarole where you bag my deodorant and $10 T-shirt twice.

Yes, I realize that was a long way to go to tell you maybe that will change in the near future.

- This is a pretty inspiring piece of video that should make anyone you might know who is anti- gay marriage feel about two inches tall. He's 86 people. I'd love to shake his hand.

Posted 11:50am
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October 21st , 2009

Euchre for cheaters

If there's one thing I've tried to engender in my son, it's that you play to win at all costs, and when you're done, you shove it in the face of those you have beaten (I made sure his favorite book growing up was The Prince.) All those years of indoctrination into Machiavellianism are about to pay big dividends as we enter 826's Euchre for Cheaters tournament.

We talked to Malcom Gladwell and he assured us that the 10,000 hours we've spent playing this game over the years makes us experts and all but assures us that we'll win the tournament. Vegas has installed as a 1-5 favorite. But winners like us leave nothing to chance.

That's why we're asking you - our friends whom over the years we've helped move, fixed your computers, taught your children life lessons and made home improvements on your dwellings - to sponsor us. The more you give, the more we can cheat and ensure that some young upstart euchre team won't come and usurp what is rightfully ours.

So give what you can - we've gone over this before, you know what a GREAT organization you're helping - and live forever in our hearts as one of the few bright, shining lights in a weary world. Or don't and be dead to us.

Hugs and Kisses,
-T and Siddhartha

Posted 9:51am
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October 20th , 2009

Should we or should we not follow the advice of the galactically stupid?

Outside of weddings and funerals, I haven't been to church in about 15 years. Before that, I was in church every Sunday of my life. This despite the fact that I've known since I was about 10 that I don't believe in God. This made for an awkward 8 or so years where I was forced to participate in an overly ornate ceremony on a weekly basis that I in no way believed in. It's really hard to stand up at 12 (or 16 or even 24) and scream "You people are all being duped!" - especially when you know saying that would mean your mother would never be able to look you in the eye again. So of course you bite your tongue and have a lot of conversations with yourself in your head whilst reciting centuries old prayers like the automaton that religion requires.

For the longest time the only thing that this consciously engendered in me was a searing hatred of religion as a whole and specifically Catholicism. Once I started being open about being agnostic/atheistic, I realized that all those years sitting in a pew and being forced to attend CCD gave me tons of ammunition to defend/argue my worldview with the devout (not that it's generally that hard to win an argument about something people are more indoctrinated into rather than spend any time actually thinking about - and by 'win an argument' I mean frustrate someone into telling you you're going to hell.)

After I got (mostly) done with being an angry young man, I realized something even more positive about my Catholic upbringing. A year or so ago I met some friends at a bar after a bout of volunteering at 826. I explained where I was coming from and there was general disbelief amongst the crowd that I had spent any amount of time doing something for nothing. That's when one of them noted "Well you were raised Catholic right? That's a big part of that religion." I quickly realized he was 100% right. There's a definite through line between my volunteering and the behavior my parents modeled for me growing up. Now believe me, I am in no way suggesting that religion is required to convince people to give of themselves. I like to think I'm modeling the same behavior for Siddhartha and he knows exactly how I feel about religion. But hey, my parents were really Catholic and really gave their time to things they believed in. So if I'm feeling magnanimous, thanks Jesus, I guess.

And that's why this made me seethe with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. How dare you sir? I realize you're an egomaniacal fuckstick with a two cent head, but what kind of retarded person hears someone say - without agenda - "Why don't you do something for someone else without expecting anything back other than the sense of satisfaction that comes from such endeavors?" and DISAGREES with it? I realize that calling Obama a communist stokes the flames of the toothless troglodytes that hang on your every word, and thus gives you both the money and adoration that helps to fill your empty, soulless existence, but SERIOUSLY. If there was a God, he'd give you cancer of the AIDS of the rectum and make you sit cross legged on a cold rock watching obese, unattractive people have loud sex for the rest of eternity. Amen.

Posted 11:23am
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October 19th , 2009

Turning your orbit around.

Someone asked me my address this morning and I literally couldn't come up with it. She had to start "441..." and I took it from there, but I still might be standing there if she hadn't helped me out. I see this is a testament to just how good my weekend was. It went something like this:

- As per usual, things started with Friday Happy Hour. Dr. Walker and I started at the Red Hawk and they reaffirmed what we've been noticing for the last week or so - Oberon is almost gone. While this is sad, I'm learning to embrace the Two-Hearted. Even though our waiter - who was a dude - gave us our bill like this:

but I couldn't concentrate on that for very long, as the BDGF called up to tell me that she had just procured 4 free tickets to see Wilco in less than two hours, and less than 200 yards from where I was sitting getting drunk on Two-Hearted at that very moment. Serendipity! Here's a crappy cell phone picture that doesn't do justice to the fact that we were in the eighth fucking row:

As always, it was a fabulous show. My favorite part was when Jeff Tweedy stepped out from behind the mic and let the crowd sing "Jesus, etc." You were right about the stars... Somehow the night ended up with Stov and the BDGF yelling at each other about health care reform at Old Town - which if you're me, is all kinds of awesome.

- Then it was football Saturday. I think I can say unequivocally that there was less pre-game activity and excitement for this game than any other I've attended in the 15 years I've lived in Ann Arbor. That didn't stop the small band of merry revelers we managed to assemble. Now normally I don't like to brag about the amount of alcohol consumed at any event - it's a little gauche. You and I have a tacit agreement that it's a lot and move on. But man did we put it away Saturday. Even I was impressed. You can probably tell by the looks on our faces:

Needless to say we were a little late showing up to the game and a lot early to leave it and go back to drink some more. At one point post game there was running and at another some prescription drug abuse. Somehow Turtle and I made it out to the bar later that night (after a well deserved nap) where I know I drunkenly rambled on about myriad things incoherently. Good times.

- Sunday started the way every Sunday should - with bottomless mimosas at Bar Louie. This is the best way to start any day and I highly recommend you experience it with all expediency. Then the Downtowners et al took a trip to an Apple Orchard for a little Agri-tainment. I have a few pictures but I stupidly left my camera at home this morning, so come back this evening if you want to see Siddhartha trying to stomp a pumpkin, or Amy trying to shake off one of the world's worst hangovers.

As noted by my inability to remember where I live this morning, some of you may start to wonder or worry if this pace and lifestyle are sustainable. To those nonbelievers I say there's only one way to find out. This weekend is an Oberon-out tailgate and Heather turns 40, so yeah, the train doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon.

Posted 10:16am
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October 16th , 2009

When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.

I'm in Elansing today, which means I'm surrounded by filthy Sparties. This makes me cranky, irritable and in dire need of massive amounts of alcohol post haste. Luckily I've got just such a scenario on the docket. Turtle is coming to A2 and I plan to put him straight into palsey mode. Come join us downtown this weekend and celebrate an MTD Mow-Em-Down Inning.

- Did you know that Whole Foods has a FUCKING BAR inside of it?!? Yesterday I was on my way to do some shopping at America's favorite overpriced hippy organic superstore (because 5% of proceeds went to 826. Hooray!) when C Jason txted me: There's a WINE BAR at this Whole Foods! FANCY! Well I jammed on the long skinny peddle and got over there toot suite. Turns out (after we scratched our heads for several minutes and a nice lady came over to answer all of our queries) that not only is there a bar, but you can carry around your booze AS YOU SHOP. It is now my goal in life to make enough money so that I can do all my shopping at Whole Paycheck Foods.

- Every once in a while when Ayesha and I were dating, we'd be holding hands, walking down the street and we'd garner a stare or two. Usually Ayesha would ask "Do you think that's because you're 7 years older than I am?" and I'd have to tell her "No, that's because I'm really white and you're really not." I suppose it was a good thing we lived in the liberal North, because down in Loosiana, the interracial thing engenders more than stares. How did they ever elect Bobby Jindal?

That's all I got. As the headline suggests, my life is pretty perfect (The Buddha (the real one, not mine) was a pretty smart guy). And I say that being stuck in Sparty country at the moment! Come have a drink with me, my good fortune may rub off.

Posted 12:27pm
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October 15th , 2009

This Week in Indie Rock

Time again to sonically inform you as to how to be a better, hipper, happier person. Those looking for stories of my love life, my drunk life, or political whining (and those that whose musical interest peaked when they still rocked a mullet) will have to come back tomorrow.

- Hockey is fabulous new band from Portland (I know, right? I would have guessed Cananada too). They played Ferndale Tuesday night (with Throw me the Statue!) and I missed it. Redemption (sort of) lives in the form of Jimmy Fallon tonight. Tune in (or better yet, TiVo then fast forward, as Fallon is unbearable) to catch their version of Arctic Monkeys/Franz Ferdinand dance pop mashed up with the voice of Greg Dulli/Hamilton Leithauser.

- Speaking of late night talk show rocking, check The Flaming Lips rocking "Watching the Planets" from Conan the other night. Warning: watching this while standing may knock you flat on your ass.

- I've been a fan of Garfunkel and Oates for a while, but "This Part Took a Turn for the Douche" may be their finest hour yet. Congrats ladies.

- I have very fond memories of walking out of the State Theater a few years back after having fallen in love with the movie Once. It totally knocked me on my ass in a completely different way than Wayne Coyne does. Glen and Marketa are still making music together and it will still make you swoon. You can stream their new album right this second over at NPR.

- Brendan Benson has a session up over at Daytrotter. Totally worth it to hear him rock the Superdrag alone.

- There was a time in my life that I had no idea that Neil Young was a polarizing figure. I thought that I had rightly assumed that while their were varying degrees of how much one enjoyed Neil, that he was universally respected and recognized for the musical genius that his career clearly mandates. Apparently I vastly underestimated people's lack of taste. Turns out there are those that find his voice nasal and whiny and, believe it or not, his songrwriting depressing. Now maybe these people have just never gotten really baked and listened to Harvest. Or maybe it's just that Neil gets too close to the truth and makes them uncomfortable to be alone with their own thoughts and feelings. Who's to say? Thankfully these uncultured dolts are only a vocal minority and the rest of us can appreciate the godfather of grunge for what he is - the chunkiest guitar player of all time with more beautiful sorrow in his voice than is sometimes bearable. To wit there will be a celebration of his music at the Vancouver Olympics in February. An all star lineup (including Broken Social Scene and Joan as Policewoman) will pay homage to the Canadian rocker's oeuvre. Keep on rockin' in the free world Neil.

Posted 11:04am
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October 14th , 2009

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

- It's been suggested to me twice now (perhaps jokingly, but my ego won't let me believe that) that I enter the Washington Post's Next Great Pundit contest. That leaves me a week to come up with 400 coherent words about something I have an opinion on. I'll be taking topic suggestions through the weekend...

- 30 Rock returns tomorrow! Here's a list of 5 of their funniest moments. Plus, since Halloween rapidly approacheth, treat yourself to the full version of Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. (Spooky, scary... Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves...)

- This probably doesn't need to be said, but fuck all this cold weather bullshit. I shouldn't need a winter coat in October. Hot Cider and Captain shouldn't make an appearance at a tailgate until November. And there certainly shouldn't be snow in the forecast before Halloween. Its still fall for fuck's sake. Speaking of, there's a rumor that I may be heading to a Cider Mill on Sunday. Despite living in Michigan for 15 years, this would be a first for me. I pretty much know what to expect, outside of the surprises of 'goat walk' and 'bee hive'. (I'm trying not to concentrate on the fact that it's called 'agri-tainment <<shudder>>) Question: Do I bring my own booze? Because I'm looking forward to some pumpkin humping.

- 826 Michigan is hosting a Euchre tournament (for cheaters!) on November 15th. Once again, Sid and I are entering and Vegas lists us at 1-5 to win the whole shebang. We're pretty much the prohibitive favorites. Of course this means we'll soon be asking you for a donation to help our cause and that of 826 Michigan, so prepare thy wallets. However, if you think you got the sac to compete, they are still looking for teams to actually play. Get in touch and I'll let ya know how to get involved. Sure you've been beaten by Sid and I at cards before, but in a tournament format? Don't miss this rare opportunity...

- So after what may have been an admittedly too short dalliance in being single again, I somehow find myself in a relationship. Luckily I'm wizened enough at this point in my life to not dwell too much on the quick turnaround but rather how lucky I am to have found someone so gorgeous and smart who likes me back (because these things don't happen every day). Of course it's been less than two months so we're still in stage one according to this. Here's to the slow, inevitable decline.

Posted 1:30pm
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October 13th , 2009

Yoooooo Hooooooo! (aka This Week in Gay)

- Last weekend was the National Equality March in Washington D.C. And while it was significantly toned down from what we all probably imagine in our heads to be a gay pride parade, the gays still make way wittier signs than the tea party protesters. My favorite may be the guy in the Veritek jersey saying "I really shouldn't have to be here." No Jason, you really shouldn't. Those that want to deny you what's rightfully yours are clearly both scared of something that doesn't exist and/or black and evil on the inside.

- Speaking of heartless bastards who trade in fear, here's the worst anti-gay marriage ads. My favorite is the one clearly targeting the homophobic hipster youth vote. Biggest waste of anti-gay money ever (which of course we here at tbaggervance.com are fans of).

- I'm so afraid to say that I think this would be effective. Not with old crusty nicotine addicts like myself mind you, but for the babies. Unfortunately I'm not willing to trade decreases in lung cancer rates for an uptick in homophobia.

- Here's an article that was in the Times magazine a few weeks back about gay teenagers. If this doesn't make you empathetic, at least it should show you how silly homophobia is going to seem to your kids.

- DADT remains one of the true barometers of the Obama administration for me personally right now. It represents one of the many things that most of us who voted for him want him to do that seems really easy and there's a lot of us starting to ask why it isn't done yet. I'm still a believer, so I'm patiently waiting on action, telling myself that there's coalition building or some other political bullshit going on behind the scenes that justifies all of the posturing. This is at least placating. I mean, keep up with the governator. For a smart, even handed analysis, as always turn to The Economist.

- I'm going to hear David Cross speak at Borders today over lunch. I'm hoping he will sign my copy of The Man Inside Me.

Posted 10:21am
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October 12th , 2009

You said we could sleep in a pile!

Six months ago I went camping in the Grand Canyon. In preparation for said event I actually looked at the forecast and noted the 30 degree overnight temperatures - thus I managed to appropriately prepare myself. Don't get me wrong - I was in a tent and it was 30 degrees and I froze my ass off, but still, I was prepared both mentally and physically for what I was going to endure. In the end it was sort of a source of pride - I camped out at the Grand Canyon when it was freezing overnight. Suck it.

But my outdoorsy nature has limits. I can handle most situations but it's not like I'm out there actively looking to test the limits of human endurance. I've got no problem going and out and being cold or wet in order to have a good time, but give me a warm bed at the end of the day. I'll stand outside at a tailgate while it snows for 4 hours, but give me a warm Captain and cider to sip on at the very least. Needless to say that when the perfect storm of drunkenness, stupidity and hubris hit Saturday night and I had to sleep in an RV without heat when the temperature was below freezing outside, I was not amused.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here was our rental Sammy:

Ain't she a beaut? It came replete with shower (which we used to store our fire pit) range (which we used for its ambient heat) microwave (which we didn't use at all) and bathroom (which we used for LIQUID WASTE ONLY). We loaded up our tailgate gear and hit the open road around 9am Friday. The drive was pretty uneventful once we got used to the way things rattled around in the back and the fact that we were eye level with truckers as we passed them. Six hours and two seasons of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia later we were in Davenport.

Yes, Davenport. While the University of Iowa is in Iowa City, our RV parking lot didn't open for several hours, so we decided to stop at the Front Street Brewery to see if we could get drunk before actually showing up at our destination*. An hour later we were pulling into our lot and cabbing it downtown to the bars.

The next few hours were a blur. I know we went to several bars. I know I won money by winning several games of darts. I know I bought a pack of cigarettes in some dirt ball convenience store and then went on a rant to anybody who would listen about how this place sucks because they don't have Winston lights and cigarettes cost $7.25 a pack. I bet a stranger $50 that Iowa wouldn't get 150 yards rushing (which they didn't. I'm not holding my breath for the cash, even though I texted him several times to remind him he owed me). And I also had this conversation with a bartender:

bartender: What do you want?
drunktbaggervance: Pitchers.
bartender: We're all out of pitchers.
drunktbaggervance: Then just beer.
bartender: What kind?
drunktbaggervance: I don't care. Cheap.
bartender: How many?
drunktbaggervance: I don't know, 8?
bartender: That'll be $24.
drunktbaggervance: Awesome.

Sometime later I rode back to the RV in the trunk** of some girls car. The rest of the guys started a bonfire, I went to sleep.

Oh how I wish I had checked out the heat situation before I did that (not that I was capable of doing so, mid you). Turns out four drunk dudes should check in advance how stuff like how not to die of hypothermia works, because I awoke shivering the next morning (afternoon) in the fetal position. I looked outside and sure enough, it had snowed. That's right. October 10th - snow.

So I put on all the clothes I had and we began to get drunk again. We took a lot of shit from Iowa fans and did our best not to say anything stupid to anyone who was drunker or bigger than us. After a lot of meandering we ended up here:

Four guys dressed in white amongst a sea of black. We may have stood out a bit. The game was the game. By the time it was over I couldn't feel my feet. When we finally reached the RV again and fired up the heat, we were pretty much spent. A day of standing up and shivering while trying to drink enough to raise your body temperature even one degree takes a lot out of you. Luckily we were sober enough from being at the game when we got home that we figured out the heat. Which is a good thing, because if we would have to sleep in a pile to keep warm, it may have been the end of these road trips.

* We did. Except for our DD, he only had two beers.
** It was a hatchback, not that big of deal.

Posted 11:08am
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October 8th , 2009

East West bound and down...

That there Clark, is an RV. Tomorrow I embark on an adventure of truly biblical proportions. Boike, John, Al and I are loading up and heading to Iowa City to watch Michigan take on the Hawkeyes. While we surely aren't the first group of aging boozehounds to attempt such an undertaking, it certainly feels like we are breaking some sort of new ground. That we are attempting something both simultaneously foolhardy and can't miss. That we will assuredly be successful, yet have a weekend filled with abject failures. Did I mention it was a night game?

Will we stop at breweries along the way? Of course. Will five minutes pass by without gambling on something? Absolutely not. Will we run our mouths and rile the native Iowans to the point that we besmirch the good name of our entire state? Naturally. Truthfully I can't predict what will happen to us this weekend, and that's the real fun. To say there will be debauchery is a given, but what form it will take is a mystery. We've been taking these trips since 2006 and each time we've come home with a slew of stories and new colloquialisms. From being stuck at the corner of First and First to "Neck Fat, to the Beer Cave!", we've gotten pretty good at this whole road trip thing. So keep your eyes on twitter, pray for my liver, and most of all, hope I stay sober enough to form memories so I can tell you all about it on Monday. Certainly I'll be relying on my compatriots to help be reconstruct large swaths of the weekend. Between the four of us I hope to find some sort of narrative. As per usual, I'll make up the rest and leave out anything that would get me in too much trouble with the law, family or my bdgf.* Wish me luck and Go Blue.

- You probably find Keith Olberman smug and righteously indignant. Me too, but since I have a lot of self love, I tolerate those qualities in others as well. I thoroughly enjoyed his hour long diatribe on health care reform. And smartest, sexiest man alive Paul Krugman sees hope, so I'm sighing relief.

* Just kidding sweet.

Posted 11:11am
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October 7th , 2009

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

It's been a while since we poked the Baby J beehive, which means like whoa is there a backlog of Jesus tears to wade through. Let's get crackin'...

- I've often theorized that would an antichrist exist, it may very well be walking among us in the form of Karl Rove. If the Turd Blossom isn't the walking epitome of pure unadulterated evil, I don't know what is. While his power has been usurped and he's now a shallow, feckless empty shirt, he's still trying to dispatch minions. Rove has endorsed science hater Marco Rubio for Florida's Senate seat over somewhat likable* Republican Charlie Crist. Rubio, recently trying to get Creationism taught in schools, noted "And for me, personally, I don't want a school system that teaches kids that what they're learning at home is wrong." Ironically, this is exactly what I, you, and everyone else should exactly expect from our public schools when parents are telling kids that the Earth is 5,000 years old.

- Speaking of gay, Congress is holding hearings on repealing DADT. You know what's next. Which Republican will be first to compare Homosexuality to bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia? Why it's Rep. Louie Gohmert of (naturally) Texas. Now to be fair, he "hope(s) this doesn't offend," but someday some court is going to say "If you're oriented toward animals, then that's not something that can be held against you... toward corpses, toward children... " Good times. Texas and Baby Jesus both might want to rethink their representation.

- We haven't talked about this in a while, but net neutrality is a big deal and of course, it's facing opposition from the GOP. If we go back to scripture, it was Baby J himself who said "Whatsoever you do to the least of my websites, that you do unto me."

- While we here at tbaggervance.com have yet to hire a full time theologian or biblical scholar, enough of us went to Sunday school as kids that we are convinced Baby J is for health care reform. So in a placating hat tip, here's some Republicans who seem to get it. Of course none of them are in any position to do anything about it, and Bill Frist is still a douche bag.

- This picture was the real reason I started to write this post today, but it appears that the citizens of the internet have crashed the site. I spent about a half hour with it yesterday, and it is 100% awesome. I for one, never knew that Jesus wrote the constitution. (Maybe that's what Hannity means when he says 'America is the greatest, best country God ever gave man') I'm also wondering if Mr. McNaughton has ever read Jefferson's version of the Bible, where he edited the Gospels to remove all the miracles and hocus pocus. Perhaps my favorite quote from the painting (should the interactive portion ever come back up, you can see all the fun): Fifty Stars - Represents the fifty states of the Union. Some stars shine brighter than others. You stay classy, christians.

*relatively - I know he's a homophobe (and probably gay).

Posted 10:25am
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October 6th , 2009

Don't panic.

At some point as a child I remember making a decision to not care what other people thought of me. OK, that's admittedly hyperbolic. I do, however, remember thinking that you could have an infinitely more amount of fun if you don't care what random strangers you're likely never to see again think of you. I first remember thinking this during our yearly family vacation to Cedar Point, where I would try just about anything to get my sister to laugh. So what if a bunch of people at a theme park thought I was weird? It's not like they are going to show up at school on Monday morning and call me on it.

This apparently engendered some sense of honesty in me whilst removing whatever filter most people have about talking about certain things in mixed company. For almost five years now I've used this blog to both pontificate on the world at large and share stories of what's happening to and around me. And while my readership includes the majority of my family, coworkers, former teachers and current/ex/possible future girlfriends, that fact has thus far failed to stop me from writing about sex, occasional drug use, and copious amounts of alcohol consumption.

I've also managed to piss quite a few people off over the years. These transgressions range from contrarian opinions to classic overshares (and, believe it or not, undershares). I don't want to relive any of them specifically, but for any of you thinking about putting your life on the internet, you're going to get feedback from those around you, and not all of it good. I guess maybe it could be just me and my hyperbolic one sided telling of stories from my idiosyncratic point of view. That or some people are just overly sensitive.

Anyway we're all friends here so you may not have noticed, but I recently had to lock down my facebook page and twitter account. I'll be honest, it stung a bit. I've managed to justify it thusly: 1.) I haven't changed any content and nothing has been redacted. 2.) You can still see everything if we're friends, and I'll pretty much friend anybody.* 3.) This is a temporary measure due to outside forces beyond my control 4.) It occurs at the request of the bdgf**, and I'm a pushover for that one. 5.) The blog soldiers on unchanged. I've only begrudgingly redacted one thing in the five years of tbaggervance.com, and as this little drama has unfolded I was worried I was headed for more. But fret not dear readers - I promise to always be as inappropriate and open as possible here, we just may have to get used to a pseudonym or two.

- New Vampire Weekend. Hooray!

* this offer applies to the internet only and is null and void if you bombard me religious or conservative bullshit.
** more on this later/ask me in person if you haven't figured it out yet.

Posted 10:27am
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October 5th , 2009

I don't like Mondays

I've got a wicked cough and think it would be best if I went home and spent the afternoon on the couch. I'm taking an RV to Iowa this weekend and need to be 100%. Here's the quick skinny on how I spent my weekend:

- Krugman! Every bit as dreamy in person as he is on the pages of the NYT and on This Week. He talked and then answered questions for about 90 minutes. If you would have told me even a year ago that I would be absolutely enthralled listening to an economist wax poetically about globalization, trade and the financial crisis, I would have asked if I could have some of whatever was making you so high. The whole thing went by in a flash.

- Sid! Now 4-0 in tennis. His final two matches are today and tomorrow (weather permitting). I'm hoping for an undefeated freshman campaign, but he's already a success no matter what happens today tomorrow. Still, kill those fuckers (or whatever it is you say to cheer on a tennis player).

- Gervais! The Downtowners taught an impromptu class at 826 Friday (more about that here) and then we swapped a sick Amy Sumersquala out for a healthy Sid and went to see The Invention of Lying. If you like The Office (BBC), Extras, Jennifer Garner, early Monty Python movies about religion and/or tons of cameos by famous people, I highly recommend it.

- Sparty! So fun day, bad outcome. I'm not going to go into 500 words on what happened, let's just say man oh man do I hate Sparty. Now they're gonna run around like they own the place for the next year. So annoying. Adding insult to injury - we couldn't make a tackle and force the field goal in overtime? I had Michigan +3.5. Blerg.

- Sunday! Is a day of rest. I still managed to run the requisite errands, fix a door knob, procure some jeans for Siddhartha that don't display his ankles, and catch a night cap with the most exquisite girl imaginable. I'm a lucky man.

Posted 10:44am
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October 2nd , 2009

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

- It's Michigan State weekend! Since the game's at Michigan Agricultural College this year, we'll be traveling up to Flinttown area where we are likely to end up at a bar with populated with plenty of Spartys. It's always fun to watch some football with your little brother.

- This afternoon I'm off to hear Paul Krugman speak (and it's streaming on the web, so you can see his dreaminess too!) What's perhaps even more exciting than just getting to bask in presence of one of my favorite Nobel Laureates, is that I have a date who actually wants to go and isn't just placating me! Hooray cute nerdy girls!

- Here's an interesting article about some sitcom sets from hell. As you can imagine, I especially enjoy the Growing Pains bit. Although I should lay off Kirk Cameron, as I imagine he's sitting in some dark corner, curled up in the fetal position after reading this. I'm sure he'll find something new to annoy me about now that the evolution thing is settled. Maybe he can team up with Michelle Bachmann over in school abortions?

- Quickly: Ann Arbor has microbreweries, David Foster Wallace is a better writer than Dan Brown, a weekly A2 beer column that mentions the pajama pub crawl you foolishly missed, and Pitchfork posts the top ten albums of the 00's. I'm trying real hard to concentrate on YHF at #4 and NOT Funeral at #2. Gawd damn Arcade Fire.

- I had the same roommate in college for 3 years. We bought an old set of dorm bunk beds our sophomore year so it was a lot like summer camp for me in the mid 90's. An alcoholic summer camp with lots of sex. (Come to think of it, that's kinda all college really is - an expensive summer camp where you learn to do keg stands and have sex for longer than 90 seconds). Anyway we always had a tacit agreement that if one of the roommates were lucky enough to coax a lady back to the room, the other would dutifully go find somewhere else to crash. No one wants to hear much less see your buddy have sex, and taking one for the team by crashing on the couch is a rite of passage. But sometimes you have a party and there's an extra 20 people crashing at your place and there's nowhere to go. Other times you're in a relationship and it's not fair to ask your roommate to sleep on the couch 4 nights a week. The point is, eventually there's going to be some moaning emanating from the bunk above/below you. At this point, you can clear your throat and hope to get the "Sorry! We thought you were asleep!" or you can once again take one for the team. Look, it's not pleasant, but there's a lot of things that you do in college that are perfectly normal in the moment that you'd never condone outside the loose moral/low hygiene environment that is University life. That's why it's so sad to see that Tuft's has banned (BANNED!) banging in front of your roommate. One can only imagine the troglodyte fun governors that complained enough to get this fascist rule passed. Someone needs feed them two Smirnoff Ices and bend them over a desk while their roommate reads the Cliff's Notes to Ulysses five feet away. I guess what I'm trying to say is I miss college.

Posted 10:25am
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October 1st , 2009

Come with me, and you'll be, in a world of pure imagination...

I'm currently running on 4 hours of drunken sleep and the only thing propping me up is diet coke and the will to not get fired. OK, mostly the former. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that this is really important and I will in no way be able to do it justice in my current state of impaired cognitive function. So, apologies and all that.

Last night was the Where the Wild Things Are Pajama Pub Crawl. I told you about several times. For those of you who weren't there, not only did you miss being at the bar in your jammies, but you also missed our impromptu Rod Stewart sing-a-long medley. And that was before 10.

Needless to say the night was a complete success. Jammy drinking is every bit as fine as you would imagine it to be. I know there are a ton of photos from last night, and I look forward to seeing them (especially from later, as I'm sure I had a bunch of fun that I don't 100% remember. Good times...) But I should really get to the good part, as I've really buried the lead.

Yup, guess who won dinner, hotel, drinks and a PRIVATE TOUR OF BELL'S BREWERY?!?!?!!! I am LITERALLY* Charlie Bucket. Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three. It's like someone handing you the thing you wanted most in the world, except you never would have been to articulate that exact thing, because it's beyond your wildest dreams. I'm going to Bells. You know what happened to the boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted?

* I know, not LITERALLY literally.

Posted 10:37am
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September 30th, 2009

My kid is exponentially better than your kid

Please indulge me while I get excited about how awesome a parent I am, or rather, how lucky I am that Siddhartha is pretty much King Shit of Fuck Mountain©.

- Yesterday Sid had his third tennis match of his JV tennis career, which also happened to be his first singles match. I patiently waited in the gray, windy field for my offspring to take the court. After an hour of shivering in the cold, he finally ran up and informed me "I'm on court three. Supposedly this is their number 2 guy, so I'm probably going to get crushed." I tried to fortify him by reminding him (as I've done countless times over the years) that you don't get better by playing patsies, but by taking on those better than you.

Then I saw the kid. Keeping in mind that Sid has shot up over 4 inches in the last year and is still barely cresting 5' 2", this dude was as tall as me. And while his build lacked my tight muscle tone, he was clearly years ahead of my kid in body development. I'll be nice and say he was a sophomore, but he easily could have been a junior.

Then I saw him hit. Sid being who he is both mentally and physically, is pretty strictly a finesse player. This Goliath had straight gas (What's the correct metaphor here? He hit like a truck? His balls had serious heat? I don't know the tennis lingo, so I have to mix my sports metaphors. Luckily you can't make fun of me because it's tennis.) I immediately felt bad for my kid. After starting his career 2-0, he was gonna get his ass handed to him and blemish his perfect record. Ah well, if anything he could always use a humbling, and I had places to be later on, so at least we were getting out early.

They started to warm up and it looked like everything was going to go according to script. His Herculean opponent had already played one set, and was smashing the ball all over the court. Sid, on the other hand, was having trouble getting his serves over the net. Sid served first and got broke toot suite. Federer junior barely had to return a ball. He had won his previous set 6-0, and it looked like this was going to go the same way. Then a funny thing happened. Little Nadal missed a couple serves and the second game found itself at deuce. I started to think well, if Sid can hang in there and get lucky, he might steal a game. They then proceeded to battle back and forth for the next 15 minutes. Deuce. Add in. Deuce. Add out. Deuce. You get my drift. Finally Sid hits a cross court winner to take the set and we're tied 1-1.

The next 30-40 minutes were a replay of that second game. After trading points they'd find themselves at deuce and then sit there for ten minutes. I started to wonder, can you wear a 16 year old kid down? More back forth and suddenly we're at 2-2. By the time Sid went up 3-2, I think both of us were sure he was going to win. When he went up 4-2 I started to wonder why I ever doubted him. I got slightly nervous at 4-3, but felt silly for that at 5-3.

Now here's what happened next in my mind. McEnroe lite wins a game on an unforced error to make it 5-4. But he's wiped. He knows he's beaten. He knows at best he's going into whatever you do in tennis for tiebreakers, and at that point he'll barely be able to stand - especially if they continue to trade back and forth on deuce like they have. So he calls his coach over, says "Coach, I've got leg cramps." and he forfeits the game. I'm pretty sure I saw tears in his eyes as he walked away, head hung low after conceding the set to Sid with a handshake and "Good game."

I waited for Sid as he talked to his coach and all of his Asian tennis buddies after his match, thinking about how to congratulate him and what to critique a bit to keep him humble. He finally ran over and before I can even high five or congratulate him, the first words out of his mouth were "I can't believe I was ever down to that guy." Yup, that's my boy.

- It's pretty well documented around here that Sid is a pretty big lefty bleeding heart liberal like his old man. He's only 14, so I don't exactly expect him to read the Times every day or turn on MSNBC when he gets home from school, but I like it when I get stuff out of him that shows he's at least somewhat informed. So I was over the moon thrilled when I sat down last night to watch the previous night's Daily Show and Sid walks by and notes "Oh, it's a good one." A good one? You watched it? When did this happen? These are things I wanted to say, but instead muttered a simple 'nice.' Of course it was a little awkward when I started guffawing at the "Qumshot" joke and Sid ran into to see what was so funny and goes "I know, right?" Yup, that's my boy.

Posted 11:20am
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September 29th, 2009

Wormer... dead! Niedermeyer... dead! Stupak...

I love Las Vegas. Not the family friendly Vegas that passes off a giant gold plated turd as some sort of opulence, but the seedy underbelly that built all that. I don't shop in Vegas. I don't see shows. I don't care if my hotel has a pool and the less people I have to tip when checking in, the better. Give me cheap gambling next to cheap hookers. Places that local dealers go after work to cash their paycheck and grind out a few hours playing $5 blackjack. That's my Las Vegas.

Which made Bob Stupak my patron saint. Stupak was an old school Vegas carnival barker. He perfected every reel 'em in and then fleece 'em scam that Vegas has ever seen, and invented dozens more. His entire empire was built on smoke and mirrors and the thinnest possible veneer to cover up the ugly underneath. He was old school Vegas. The new guys on the strip saw him as a joke, but Bob squeezed blood from a stone in ways that behemoth gambling conglomerates could never fathom.

The Vegas that Stupak dwelled in and I love is slowly dying. Our shitty run down gambling parlors keep getting swallowed up by corporations in attempts to polish that gold plated turd a little more. Soon all the Westward Ho's and Ellis Islands will be gone, wiped clean by some recreation of the Taj Majal or a - god forbid - a giant fucking ferris wheel. Stupak passed away last night and in my mind, a little part of what Vegas is really about died with him.

- You know how Glen Beck is a total asshole? It's not a new thing.

- Here's a pretty good blooper reel from How I Met Your Mother's last season.

- This is a really well written and reasoned argument about freedom, democracy and California's Prop 8 from Dr. Drew.

- If you didn't get your tickets for next week's screening of Where the Wild Things Are yet - too late sucka, they sold out. HOWEVER - you can still come to tomorrow's PAJAMA PUB CRAWL. I keep telling you - pajamas, pub crawl. Why wouldn't you come to this?

Posted 10:47am
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September 28th, 2009

Killer parties almost killed me

So that was just about the best birthday week eva. It came to a close like this:

- Friday I hosted a small gathering of the usuals at my place. This pretty much sums it up:

If that doesn't, how about this?

I got goosed (photos: C Jason). I may actually be moving backwards towards my college days after all. Anyway, back to pic one, where yes, crown and hell yes, whiskey fountain. If I told you we literally drank a gallon of whiskey (L I T E R A L L Y - a gallon) would you believe me? You should. Oh yeah, and a half batch of pink panty pull down, two growlers and a another random 20 or so beers. Ugly is the word you are looking for.

Somehow the Downtowners managed to hide 'presents' all over my apartment and I'm still finding them. I mention this mostly because I found something this morning and it was signed "Love, the DT's". Which made me laugh out loud and say to no one in particular "Ha, we're the DT's. That sounds about right."

- Saturday it was tailgate breakfast with mimosas. Boike thought is might be funny to get me a fifth of the apple liqueur that I got black out drunk on last November. It was funny. And delicious. It really adds a nice kick to your champagne and orenthal*. The Michigan game was more interesting than it needed to be, and the post-game tailgate featured more talk about my love life than was necessary, but good times nonetheless. Then, this:

That's us in the first row, 40 yard line of the Doyt (photos: Al). This was followed by us hitting downtown BG like it was 1997. Highlights: Boike declaring "I want to fuck this beer" about his Two-Hearted, me going unconscious** and scoring 69 at pop-a-shot in the back of the Brat Haus, ordering 4 beers and 4 shots and it costing me $18, and capping the night with some 3am Myles Pizza. At least I think there was Myles. There's pizza sauce all over my jacket and I have a credit card receipt from there, so probably.

- Sunday: recovery. Plus a little wine and some very frank conversation at the end of the day under the stars with a beautiful girl. That's become a little complicated due to outside factors, but it's remarkable how much easier things are when everyone acts like adults. Plus: I'm still smiling like an idiot, and that my friends, is what's important at the end of the day.

*aka OJ.
** not literally. Until later.

Posted 11:21am
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September 25th, 2009

Strap your hands 'cross my engines

I share a birthday with Bruce Springsteen. He turned 60 on Wednesday to my 34 - which as it turns out, is the same age as his masterpiece Born to Run. (1975 was a pretty good year). The Boss spent 6 months recording just the title track in 1974. Six months. One song. Since I wasn't even a zygote at that point, I can only speculate what it was like to pour over a song day after day for six months. I do know what it's like to sit around and tweak something that you feel is on the verge of perfection, and I am privy to Bruce's results. So while I imagine those six months were fraught with frustration and consternation, I also assume that most of it was done with a sense of unaltered joy.

I imagine it was a lot like the first six months of a new relationship. First you decide that this is an undertaking worth your time and energy. (Most songs and relationships get abandoned pre-flop). Then you spend a month or two playing around, enjoying the newness of the thing. (If you hit that two month mark and it doesn't still feel fresh, then it's probably time to walk away). Months three and four you start to settle in, make peace with the things you don't like, try to project if the idiosyncrasies you initially found cute won't be utterly annoying a year in the future. Then those last two months you tweak. Fiddle the knobs of how the two of you work together and set things up for going forward, because at some point you're going to have to live with how things stand.

OK, maybe that's a really forced metaphor. Truthfully, this was an idea I had while drunk last night that seemed really important at the time. I was drinking, listening to great music and experiencing some dating drama that I was completely amused by and I had just read that article about Born to Run, so I may have pounded a square peg into a round hole. Yes, there is dating drama at 34 kiddos. And maybe it's this particular situation or particular girl, but so far it's fun, no worries drama. Maybe I'm finally old enough to not let the innocuous worry me? Probably not, but right now I ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines, so who cares?

- I love Sen. Al Franken.

- Clove cigarettes are now illegal. I feel like I wasted my breath telling Sid all these years "...and whatever you do, don't be one of those d-bags who smokes cloves."

- Krugman drops some knowledge on climate change today. I've got tickets to see him speak next Friday, so I'll let you know if he's as dreamy in person as he is on the pages of the Times.

- Penultimate night of birthday week is tonight. Stop by and enjoy a cocktail. Tomorrow: Tailgate, football, then Boike, Stov, Al and I to BG for BG/Boise. Sunday: death.

Posted 11:41am
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September 23rd, 2009

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

- Schadenfreude! When we beat Notre Dame two weeks ago, Michigan State and Ohio State also lost that same day. When you win and your three biggest rivals lose, that's some sort of quad-fecta, because the only thing that approaches the warm feeling of a Michigan win, is a Buckeye or Sparty loss. That's why this article is like straight porn. Quoth the Moeman: What goes around, comes around.

- Fall starts today, and that's usually a great time for indie rock. NPR's All Songs Considered has a great fall music preview, including songs by Ben Gibbard, The Flaming Lips and The Swell Season. If you're not into 'new' music, here's a documentary called loudQUIETloud: A Film About The Pixies. Sometimes I feel like my head will collapse, because there's nothing in it.

- That crazy Mike Seaver is back at it again. He's distributing Darwin's Origin of Species with a special 'intro' that explains how Darwin and Hitler were buddies and God will smite us all for our insolence (or something like that). After seeing this I spent a bunch of time over at www.livingwaters.com and wayofthemaster.com. I just love the delusional.

- I've had some well documented forays into internet dating in the past. Stigmas clearly don't bother me and like most things I throw myself into, as long as I get a decent story out of it, we'll call it a success. Before the internet however, there was this (which incidentally, makes me want to watch a Chuck Woolery 'Love Connection' marathon). Not sure I could bring myself to that.

- Tonight I'm going to a swanky benefit dinner with a date who is sure to turn heads. Then I will return to Ann Arbor for drinks, drinks and more drinks with people who make me laugh, laugh and laugh some more. Its not even 11am and I've already received well wishes from people in half a dozen states (update: eight). I hope all you kids out there are even half as lucky as I am.

Posted 10:47am
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September 22nd, 2009

Welcome to the last day of my early 30s.

I turn 34 tomorrow. As people keep reminding me, that means tomorrow I enter my mid-thirties. I'm not really sure how all this happened. It seems like just yesterday I was a carefree kid spending every night at the bar, and now I'm a grizzled old man spending every night at the bar. Man, things have changed.*

But honestly, I couldn't care less. As we've been noting around here as of late, I've been on a bit of a roll. Outside of the fist 45 minutes of the day when I wake up in a stupor, I mostly feel like a 17 year old. That makes me a senior and my son a freshman, which is a little weird, but thankfully I have a sweet afterschool job and we manage to make ends meet.

I can't imagine it's overly entertaining to continue to hear me gush, even though that's what I want to do. I assume it all comes off in a very "Dear diary..." sort of way. But man - from the tailgate crew to the Downtowners I have the most amazing group of friends. And we're having the most amazing time lately right? So thanks team. Congrats, high fives, kudos and cheers. I know it's human nature (or at the very least my nature) to assume that this will come spectacularly crashing down at any moment, but I'm too busy having too much fun to even contemplate that at the moment. Let's just see how far we can stretch this bitch out.

- For those of you not on facebook, that's me last night in the babydoll T I won at trivia. I hope it doesn't shrink when I wash it, because I'd like to wear it this weekend. (photo credit: C. Jason)

- Shockingly, gay marriage did not make Iowa implode. I'm headed there in a couple weeks and despite my football team opposing yours that weekend, I'd like to give your entire state a collective high five.

- Holy shit, you mean this is what diplomacy looks like? I'd forgotten.

- This is 100% super awesome and actually makes me want to go to a Lions game. No, I didn't type that last part with a straight face.

- I don't know whether to 'Awwww' or 'NOOOOOO!'

* I never watched the show thirtysomething as a kid because I remember thinking "Man, does that sound adult and boring." Now that I am thirtysomething and awesome, I feel like I should go back and watch that show. I'm sure it's dated, but maybe it's also kind of awesome, like me.

Posted 11:01am
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September 18th, 2009

The look ahead...

So last night was sort of amazing. I got some free booze, a private tour of a really interesting building, and I saw Marcel Duchamp's autograph. I even sort of won tickets to this hoity-toity event (and by won I mean Jason won and couldn't go so I somehow ended up with them. Thanks Jason.) Later in the evening I even saw my first episode of Project Runway. Well, half an episode anyway. It confirmed my suspicion that I'd really love to have cocktails with Tim Gunn. There's other fabulous details I'll leave out for sake of brevity, but trust me, last night was good.

But what's past is past. The question du jour is what's next? We know about Saturday's double tailgate, but let's peer into our crystal ball and see how long this hot streak I'm on is going to play out.

- Wed., Sept. 23rd: tbaggervance turns 34. I know - whoopty shit. I've already got said hoity-toity event, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't buy me a drink at some point later that night or any night of that week for that matter. If for no other reason than I'd do it for you...

- Sat., Sept. 26th: Aye Ziggy Zoomba. Saturday morning Michigan takes on the fightin' Hoosiers of Indiana, and then later that day, the Falcoons of BGSU host Boise State away from the smurf turf. There is a rumor afoot that we may be attending both of these gridiron clashes. Personally I'm excited to go back to all the BG bars of my youth and wonder how I ever had a good time at them.

- Wed., Sept. 30th: Where the Wild Things Are Pub Crawl. We talked about this. Drinking in pajamas. Why don't you have your ticket yet?

- Fri., Oct. 2nd: Paul Krugman at Hill Auditorium. Pulitzer prize winner, NYT columnist and all around dream boat is coming to speak at Michigan! What will he speak about? Health care reform and the public option? International monetary policy? Keynesian macroeconomic theory as it relates to our current fiscal crisis?!? Whatever it is I will be there to soak it all in (and stare into his gentle brown eyes.)

- Tues., Oct. 6th: Where the Wild Things Are red carpet premier. 'nuff said.

- Sat., Oct. 10th: Michigan @ Iowa. Four guys in an RV road trippin' to Iowa. You heard me. More on this later.

- Tues., Oct 13th: David Cross @ Borders. The man behind Mr. Show and Dr. Tobias Funke comes to Border's flagship store. I will stand in line waiting to get my book signed, trying to think of something interesting to regale him with, and then fail utterly miserably.

Just a few of the choice events on my social calendar. The good news? You are invited to almost all of them. I keep trying to tell you that life is really good right now and you should jump on the bandwagon. If you fancy a boozy good time, then come aboard - we're expecting you.

Posted 11:01am
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September 17th, 2009

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

- Siddhartha played his second JV tennis match yesterday and is now officially 2-0. In his parlance, w00t!

- The Flaming Lips were on The Colbert Report last night, rocking the first single on their forthcoming ball of weirdness Embryonic. You can stream the whole album right now (and through the weekend) at ColbertNation.com (it's that box on the left hand side of the page). You can bet your sweet ass it's what I'm doing right now.

- Tonight it's back to Detroit for more art and more cocktails. Yelp has invited its elite members (toot toot, that's me) for some free booze and grub at the Scarab Club. I've never been to the Scarab Club, but I enjoy art and I love booze - especially when both are free. I'd say I'm becoming part of the D-town art scene, but really I just stand in the back and make jokes, along with trying to decide which Beatles song best represents each picture. Try it sometime! It's fun.

- Also tonight - for those not lucky enough to be escorting me to boozy art galleries - The Office and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia return. Here you can can see two clips from tonight's Office premier, and somewhere on this page is a Sunny preview (seriously FX, your video page sucks ass). Also, I saw the pilot of Community on the internet a while back, and it looks promising as well. Check it out, losers.

- The other day in the comments MJ called me out on something I drunkenly said three years ago. The Jesuses had a habit of that - since one of them was always sober, they'd take my off the cuff drunken remarks at face value and call me on them in the sober light of day. Usually this was some hyperbolic statement that I would then have to try and halfheartedly defend, but sometimes it was drunken promises that turned into things like Aaron and I forming an acoustic duo for one night only and playing a concert. I guess ultimately, being held accountable is a good thing, as we generally got good times out of it. Turns out I've done it again - different people, same result. Friends (and fellow Downtowners) Amy and Jason are having an apartment warming party to celebrate moving in together. The problem is that they have a ton of friends and a tiny apartment. Their solution? To invite people in shifts, keeping the amount of people in the apartment at any one time to a minimum. My drunken solution when they told me this? Dr. Walker (fellow Downtowner) and I will host a tailgate in your front yard to keep people entertained before and after they take their turn in your apartment. So guess what I am doing Saturday after the Eastern game? Anyone looking for a little post game tailgate, come on over for drinking games and pink panty pull down. That's right, I said it.

Posted 11:46am
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September 16th, 2009

Fuck you, Stephen Malkmus

Every so often, some d-bag hipster somewhere in SoHo decides to like something just to be different. OK, this happens a LOT, but every so often they choose something that sucks harder than a boo butt with daddy issues and for reasons passing understanding, it spreads like wildfire and we all end up paying for it. Nobody thinks trucker caps are cool. The mustache boom may be hip, but you still look like a pedophile. The worst for me is when this happens musically. There's usually four or five bands a year that manage to cobble together one good song and have some obscure blog somewhere proclaim them as the next thing that will save rock 'n' roll, and we're all forced to consider if that's true or not for about 10 days - before hearing the rest of the album and realizing it's clearly not.

You want ultimate proof that these people are desperately trying to just be different and not spread ideas that ultimately merit it? When that said album is actually good, there's an inevitable hipster backlash. Take Vampire Weekend, who went from sheik to geek from the time it took their album to leak and then actually hit the shelves. People aren't looking for something good as much as they are different that they can then hold on to and declare you lame for 'not getting it'.

None of the above is news of any sort. It's not particularly insightful nor clever. I'm just filling space to get to my point: I hate Pavement. They are the ultimate example of the above phenomena. They have the ultimate exponential modifier in that they broke up in their 'prime' allowing d-bags everywhere to wonder what could have been. PLUS! they almost had a sort of hit with the song 'Cut Your Hair', which was ABOUT selling out! See what they did there? Pavement rules!

Except they don't. Pavement sucks. Go listen to them. They wrote a bunch of shitty pop sucks and deliberately made them more shitty by allowing to Malkmus to sing them and having a general disdain for knowing how to play their instruments. You're going to hear quite a bit about these assbags because they reuniting for at least one show (look how excited Pitchfork is. That's a red light douche alert). No matter what anyone tells you, Pavement sucks. If someone looks at you and says "You haven't heard Pavement? They were my favorite band in college!'" you immediately punch them in the face and/or junk. Trust me, they've had it coming for a long time.

- Speaking of a-hole d-bags, here's a cool story from super nerd Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson in which James Cameron comes off extra douche-y, and the super nerd wins in the end. Hooray science!

Posted 1:28pm
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September 15th, 2009

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Swayze...

There's certain brand of actor that will get you through a hangover Saturday like nobody's business. Their films aren't necessarily great, but they're constantly on TBS and they contain a certain dated charm that comforts you in a way that you really need when laying on the couch unshowered and unwilling to move. Kurt Russel. Van Damme. Bruce Willis. But perhaps no actor typified this more than Patrick Swayze. I dare anyone reading this to flip through the channels (try it anytime, it's probably on right now) and catch a glimpse of Roadhouse and not watch at least 20 minutes if not the whole thing. And of course he had a great sense of humor about himself, as witnessed by his SNL appearance that netted this classic sketch and of course, this one. RIP Patrick, we'll always have Point Break. And I think its fair to say, no one ever put Swayze in the corner.

- Here's an article that names Ann Arbor the second foodiest small town in America, and then mentions the Fleetwood and Bilmpy Burger? I mean I agree with "Ann Arbor is filled with forward-thinking smart people who love good food," but they ain't hanging out at the Fleetwood. In related news, the new Jolly Pumpkin opens on Main Street tomorrow, and we should go have a drink there after I get out of the Robot Store at 8. Please?

- Call me a sycophant if you want ljv, I agree with our President.

- Last night I had 'Capsule Night' at Sid's high school, where you walk around and meet all of the teachers and get the low down on what's going on. A.) I learned almost nothing that I didn't already know from the conversation I had with Sid after his first day and B.) To quote Jean-Paul Sartre, "Hell is other parents." In ever single 'class', some idiot parent (usually more than one) would feel the need to extend my torture by asking some inane question that the teacher had just spent 10 minutes going over. And the amount of parents that I saw going through their kids lockers! Those poor kids. Sometimes it's easy to see how I didn't screw Sid up.

Posted 10:17am
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September 14th, 2009

Wow. Just wow.

Friday I predicted this:

- This will approximately be my weekend: Happy Hour -> Detroit for an Art Opening -> Slows BBQ -> A2 for a drink -> sleep -> wake up and march -> tailgate -> drunk -> beat the ever living snot out of ND -> victory party -> dance party benefit for 826 -> sleep? -> breakfast mimosas -> Annie sing-a-long? -> NFL -> zzzzzzz. I'm getting so good at living life, I should teach a class.

Replace 'Annie sing-a-long?' with 'lay underneath a tree in the diag with a pretty girl for two hours, then go drink two Oberons' and I was spot on. I was worried that I was getting obnoxious with all my happiness and success, but reading everyone's facebook updates yesterday I realized that it's not just me - all of you are making life your bitch as well. Good times people. Anyone feeling like they're not hitting on all cylinders yet, come get a drink with me, I think it rubs off*.

Some notes on the specifics:

Friday happy hour lasted a little longer than expected, meaning we were drunker than anticipated for the art opening, and due to said happy hour's extension and I96 going down to one lane, we ended up getting there very late (all of this was exacerbated by trying to pee at two different gas stations that had no public restrooms. This forced me to pee behind an abandoned building. Thanks Jason for driving over and shining your headlights on me.) Anyway, Dr. Walker and I decided to wear the ties we found in Amy's back seat to make up for our lateness and drunkenness.

Saturday. Oh Saturday. You were there or you saw it.

It felt so good. Like a four hour long orgasm. When you play a team like Notre Dame - one that you hate with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns - you get both the satisfaction of a win for your team, and the sweet schaudenfreude of seeing someone you hate crushed. We may have a banjo mouthed hillbilly for a coach, but he's really, really good at his job. Later that night I danced my ass off at the Elks Lodge. You'll be happy to know that they don't allow any of that 'rap' music that the kids are all playing on their ghettoblasters.

Sunday we had breakfast at Bar Louie - mostly because they have a $9 bottomless mimosa. This is a very, very good idea (for us anyway, they took it on the chin). And despite the fact that it was the opening Sunday of the NFL season, I spent most of the day outside enjoying the waning days of summer. It's been a great one, I really hate to see it end.

* not in a literal or sexual sense. Probably.

Posted 10:27am
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September 11th, 2009

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

- As MJ noted in yesterday's comments, 826 Michigan is getting an advance screening of the sure to be phenomenal Where the Wild Things Are on October 6th. Tickets are $20 and sure to be worth every penny (or only $15 for volunteers!). AND there's a whole week of wild things in celebration of our red carpet premier. The one you really need to know about: Wild Things Pub Crawl. In your pajamas. Best. Pub Crawl. Ever.

- Top 20 (20!) Zack Galifianakis web moments.

- The new Beatles Remasters are so good, even Pitchfork is being reverent. Needless to say I've been listening to them nonstop. Last night I had a transcendent moment as I returned home from the bar. I was listening to Sgt. Peppers and walking to my front door as the album was apexing and "A Day in the Life" was coming to its climactic crescendo. I just happened to swing open my door as the whole thing came crashing down. It was so cinematic I almost cried.*

- It's dramatically different when you start to go out with someone and you have mutual friends. Also, when it is your friend's sister. One of these things is ostensibly good, one is kind of awkward. Fortunately, if you have ball busting friends like mine, the mutual friends make as many inappropriate jokes as possible to help mitigate the awkwardness. In any event, I smile a lot lately. Go figure.

- This will approximately be my weekend: Happy Hour -> Detroit for an Art Opening -> Slows BBQ -> A2 for a drink -> sleep -> wake up and march -> tailgate -> drunk -> beat the ever living snot out of ND -> victory party -> dance party benefit for 826 -> sleep? -> breakfast mimosas -> Annie sing-a-long? -> NFL -> zzzzzzz. I'm getting so good at living life, I should teach a class.

* or I actually cried. But you can't prove it.

Posted 10:59am
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September 10th, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things

Today we talk about booze and sex, because as the announcer at Michigan Stadium is fond of saying "You can't have one without the other..."*

- This just in: Playboy is irrelevant. Who needs 10 pages of airbrushed nudes for $8 when I have pornhub.com? Besides, I am convinced that someday I will come across amateur porn of someone I know. There will be much celebration and I will officially retire my penis from internet masturbating**. Want further proof? Here's Playboy's 10 Sex Acts That Should be Retired. (marginally NSFW) First of all, if you've been in a relationship long enough, everything should be on the table to keep you at least mildly interested. But handjobs? Role playing? ROAD HEAD? I may never get that last one again but good god people, do not let the finest things in life pass you by like that.

- 15 Uses for Vodka. I've managed 7 of these, 3 on a regular basis. I might get to the rest this weekend - big plans.

- Why do women have sex with men? "I saw him cheering on his favorite sports team and I just had to have his cock in my mouth" conspicuously absent. Not listed? Booze. Which we all know is the only way anyone ever has sex. Come on science, you're better than that.

- I don't really play video games anymore. Especially now that my hobby of boozehounding takes up the majority of my time. But wait! What are two great tastes that go great together?

*He might not be talking about booze and sex specifically, we usually miss the band pregame show.
**This will never hold up in court, so don't bother calling me on it when it never comes to fruition.

Posted 10:17am
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September 9th, 2009

A little not-so-light reading

Turns out there's some things on the internet that aren't exactly pithy and flippant. While it's certainly not us, we still occasionally enjoy things that are important and go on for more than 500 words. Here's a few:

- We here at tbaggervance.com love us some Paul Krugman. We follow his blog, read his column in the Times and cross our fingers every Sunday morning in hopes that he's on the panel on This Week with George Stephanopolis. But even we blanched when we saw this article was 8 (8!) pages long. So honestly, we put off reading it. Then we got forwarded it by our fiscally conservative, Harvard MBA friend and felt obligated to oblige. We're glad we did, and encourage you to as well, even if you are not a follower of Kenyesian economic theory (but you should be).

- Tonight President Obama addresses Congress in an attempt to finally lead on the subject of health care reform. We're REALLY REALLY hoping he gets this right, but given how this thing has gone so far, we're couching our expectations (we also have plans tonight so we won't know how it turned out until tomorrow). ANYWAY, here is Matt Taibbi droning on for 7 (7!) pages about where we are, how we got here, and where we should have been already. Ignoring the particulars, he is 100% right and this is an excellent primer that everyone should read. Yes, we are biased because our friend posted the article on facebook and noted "This is what I imagine you'd write about the health care "reform" debacle, if you had the time. Okay, I also imagine that you might use a few more well-placed expletives..." We blushed, and then noted yes, we would have gone much further than simply calling Max Baucus a dick (solipsistic fucktard, off the top of our head).*

- As you've probably noticed, the Beatles re-invaded this week. All of their albums have been remastered and re-released, and they've got their own edition of Rockband (3 part harmony?!?! Swoon...) We here at tbaggervance.com believe in that old axiom that more Beatles is always a good thing. We also believe that anything Chuck K writes should be read at least twice and digested over time - then taken as gospel truth. So how about Chuck K opining for 2000+ words over the entire Beatles catalog? Yes please. A cursory warning: like most Chuck K efforts, this requires a fairly advanced degree of pop culture/Beatles knowledge to get everything here, but hey, you're a tbaggervance.com reader, you'll do just fine.**

- Not much of a reader? New episode of Between Two Ferns with Zack Galifianakis. Enjoy.

*Synchronicity! Krugman (quickly) on the public option. (A sleep trance, a dream dance, A shaped romance...)
**Synchronicity II! Obama apes the Beatles. (Many miles away, Something crawls from the slime, At the bottom of a dark Scottish lake)

Posted 10:17am
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September 8th, 2009

Maybe this weight was a gift?

Editor's note: I had a really great post half written in my head about what was (hyperbolically) Best. Weekend. Ever. But that changed this morning. So this post is more for me than you. Sorry, I try not to do it that often.

Remember that scene in Swingers when Ron Singleton is consoling John Favreau about his ex-girlfriend? Favreau wants to know why she won't call him and Singleton tells him that they never call until you don't want them to call anymore. That kind of happened to me this morning. Sort of. Not really but it seems somewhat analogous and it fucked with my head.

The last few years it's felt like my romantic interests have been somewhat tied that of Michigan's varsity football team. This theory was first postulated in 2006 when Michigan was improbably awesome at football and I was falling in love. Then Ayesha moved away and we lost to Appalachian State. And it arguably got worse after that. Then last month Ayesha and I called it quits after almost three years.

The only reason it didn't completely devastate me was that it felt like it was a foregone conclusion for months before that. I found myself able to move on and be OK with things quicker than expected. I still thought about her a lot and a lot of the stories I tell are still tied to our time together, but it was all healing over at a remarkably steady pace. So much so that I allowed myself to become smitten with someone again.

That of course wasn't the only part of my life that was starting to open up to possibilities. After two years of pain - both the dying and the growing kind - Michigan maybe, just maybe was on its way back. The quarterbacks are young and the defensive depth is razor thin, but just maybe there's reason to hope.

By now you know the football team crushed it Saturday. I danced and smiled my way through the day and generally felt like an 18 year old who just lost his virginity on prom night. The long dark night was finally breaking and I was there to once again let the warm golden rays of the sun beat down upon me.

The romantic situation isn't quite like that. But there is this girl who makes me smile. Stupidly. Hyperbolically. It's a remarkably complicated situation but I don't care. It turns out my default position is that of wanting to hurl myself off of the cliff - not expecting to meet a violent end but willing to risk it in case I can actually fly (or barring that, at least land safely.)

So things are better than a schlub like me has any right to have them be. And while it's only been a month, I didn't think about Ayesha at all this weekend. That's a positive, necessary thing. Of course guess who I got a voicemail from at 3:30am last night? Turns out someone was playing catch up on the last month or so of posts here at tbaggervance.com and didn't care for some of the things I wrote. Huh.

What exactly is on that extra X chromosome that allows you girls to do that? Just when the stars had aligned and I was feeling on top of the world, bang. The voicemail ostensibly doesn't change anything and just serves to fuck with my head, but man, timing, right? I hope it is in no way any kind of omen for Notre Dame.

Posted 10:17am
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September 4th, 2009

Hail! To the Victors Valiant!

I remember coming home for Thanksgiving in 1994. The previous Saturday I had been in Columbus for my first Ohio State/Michigan game as a student and we had lost. It was a pretty brutal weekend and as an 18 year old I was taking it especially hard. As I was moping around the house, I overheard my mom say to someone "Poor Tyler, what if they never beat Ohio State why he's there?" Thanks for cheering me up Judy.

But that was just my mom being who she was, and thankfully she couldn't have been more wrong. The next two years we weren't very good and Ohio State was, but we went in and kicked their ass anyway. And then 1997, my senior year... let's just say there's no better graduation present than going to Pasadena to watch your alma matter win the National Championship in the Rose Bowl. It's been up and down since then. Sure the last two years have been abysmal, but let's not forget that the year before that we were one bullshit late hit penalty from playing for the National Championship again. Damn you Shawn Crable.

To invoke my other parental unit, "what goes around, comes around." That's the steady, even handed, almost zen-like Moeman. Now while this may not be true if you're say Indiana, for the Leaders and Best, surely it's an axiom worth remembering. Yes, we've had some embarrassing losses over the last two years. Yes, 3-9. Yes, our coach is a hillbilly of Aldo Raine proportions. Yes, our expectations have been lowered to 'Come on, winning record!' But no matter what the ass-bag Michigan hating fucktards at the Freep tell you, this is still Michigan. Not long from now the last two years will all be a distant memory, shredded by slot ninjas and left in the dust by quarterbacks who move at the speed of sound. What goes around comes around, and we start coming back around tomorrow.

I hope. I know that I'm nervous and excited. But other than that, I know nothing with any certainty. Will our secondary continue to soldier on in ineptitude? Has the punt return team found someone who can catch the ball? Have we really pinned our hopes on an 18 year old kid named Tate? If I was a freshman I don't know that I'd be able to handle it. Hopefully we all really do become our parents, because I'm working real hard to find my Moeman zen-center. I need to sing the lyric "Hail! To the Conquering Heroes!" again and mean it.

Posted 10:41am
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September 3rd, 2009

Make sure you're connected

There's something about wanting to be wanted. I take that back. That's a song lyric that doesn't get to the point. At least the point I want to make. Wanting to be wanted is for the lonely and heartbroken. Wanting is the search for. To want is to not have. I'm thinking more of being wanted, and that, my friends, is everything.

It's a sad fact of life that most of the time when we're out there looking, it's impossible to find somebody who wants you. We get in our own heads and worry about the possibility of never finding someone who wants you. We get obsessed with our own baggage and that of those around us, convincing ourselves that should we somehow find someone wants us, we surely won't want them back. And that scenario usually folds in on itself, sending us further down the spiral. Eventually we find ourselves at the bottom in complete despair, ready to throw in the towel and give up - free ourselves of expectation and resign ourselves to the status quo.

But if you can get to that place and avoid the inherent bitterness of such a position, often times that's when it happens. When we stop looking and come to terms with the fact that there's no timetable for connection, that's when it happens. Everytime I've ever really had that thing, that spark with someone, was when I least expected it. When I stopped worrying about whom I was supposed to be with or what was expected of me was when it happened. When I got out of my own head and decided to enjoy whatever it was that was happening, when I ignored the advice of everyone and opened myself up, that's when I've found myself staring at someone with that unstoppable, unmitigating smile that is connection.

Look, maybe this is all me ret-conning history to fit the narrative of one too many teen comedies that have been rammed down my gullet. Maybe it's hap and circumstance that I've found myself enamored with someone - or more to the point found someone enamored with me and I'm excited to find there's reciprocity there - at any one specific time. Or maybe, just maybe, that connection finds us not when we're looking for it, but when we're open to it.

It's a difficult trick to pull off for sure. Letting go of our insecurities takes brass ones. Trusting your instincts after so much failure is daunting. Being open to connection requires one to lose their fear of failure (and in this author's opinion, all of the above require copious amounts of alcohol). But when the proverbial stars align to everything above, that's when, at least for me, I've found myself making an honest to goodness connection. And that, my friends, is everything.

Posted 10:17am
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September 2nd, 2009

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

- I'm not the biggest fan of the Guitar Hero/Rock Band video game series. Ultimately, I feel like being able to play an actual guitar is detrimental to being good at the game. AND it allows for no creativity. You press what it says when it tells you to. That's not how music works. That being said, they are still fun from time to time. I'm not about to go out and spend the hundreds of dollars these things cost and have my living room perpetually littered with plastic instruments, but you know, I'll bang out a tune or two if you've got one laying around. Especially if it's the new Beatles edition of Rock Band. Here's an interesting list of the easter eggs hidden in the game.

- Sometimes when I mention working out people look at me incredulously. They assume my debaucherous lifestyle doesn't permit time for cardio. I suppose this is somewhat intuitive. I started to actually workout in earnest the first time I quit smoking, for fear of replacing cigarettes with food and becoming a great big fat person. I've kept it up (more or less) through being on and off the smoking wagon over the years, because my metabolism will slow and my booze consumption will not. Again, still single, can't afford to be a great big fat person. Turns out I'm not the only one. Here's a study that shows that regular drinkers exercise more. It's science.

- Nate Silver is one of our favorite nerds here at tbaggervance.com. His election coverage last year was insightful and original. His site - 538.com - is still pumping out stat laden coverage of politics in America. This article is interesting for several reasons, but I want to focus on the last paragraph, where Nate notes "...as for their morning program: Wow. I've never met people more terrified of what might happen if they actually tried to engage in a rational discussion." Not that this should surprise anyone who's ever seen five seconds of the show, but just a confirmation for the next time you see Steve Doocy get righteously indignant about something.

- Will Ferrel, as George Bush, on Global Warming. 'nuff said.

- This list seems like a lame, generic forward that used to clutter my inbox 10 years ago when people were still excited about sending a piece of electronic mail. Thankfully that annoyance has been replaced by annoying facebook apps that I can ignore once and never here from again. Turns out this list is actually kind of new and insightful. Both for it's inclusion of what is kind of this blog's credo (3. Bad decisions make good stories.) and the fact that yes, I do this (34. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.) But not to you...

Posted 10:15am
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September 1st, 2009

Your Fall Preview

One week from today my son begins high school. That reality set in yesterday as I watched him play his first JV tennis match (which he won, btw, 8-5). Sid is still 5 foot nothin', but seeing him stand around a bunch of upper classmen that are burgeoning adults - yeesh. There's high school girls that could get me in a ton of trouble. And that's where I was when I was Sid's age - on the verge of getting into things that parent's classify as trouble. He seems to have a much better head on his shoulders than I did when it comes to that stuff, but then again he's probably never had a girl he has a crush on offer him a beer at a party. It's all downhill from there. I consider it my job to make sure he's at least being safe in his stupidity, because Sid, I understand.

- Fall means the return of first run TV episodes. Here's a handy schedule to let you when everything's coming back. Two dates to mark with your highlighter: Thursday the 17th, when The Office and It's Always Sunny in Phildaelphia return, and Sunday the 20th, for the return of Curb Your Enthusiasm and NPH hosting the Emmys - which will be totally gay and awesome.

- Fall also means the return of indie rock bands actually coming to your town. After spending the Summer at festivals, indie rock returns to the grind as the temperature drops to release albums and play at venues where I can actually get within a 100 yards of them. Here's a list of upcoming releases. Look out for releases from Yo La Tengo, Muse, Mission of Burma, The Clientele and Sufjan Stevens.

- Rounding out fall's pop culture: 25 indie movies to see this fall. The Coen Brothers, Michael Cera and tons of Woody Harrelson (?) are all on the docket, so look out Michigan Theater, here I come.

- Finally, I'm not touching the Michigan football controversy. Other than to say the following:

1. The Freep is populated with assholes. I knew Michael Rosenberg when we both worked at the Michigan Daily, and he was a douche bag back then and he is now. Between him and Drew 'ass hat' Sharp, I've never seen two alumni who have more disdain for their University.
2. That's not journalism. That piece was about as objective as me talking about Ohio. But of course it was presented otherwise, and for no other reason you should never read the Freep again. I know times are tough, but you can't fire all of fact checkers and copy editors guys.
3. No program in the country expects their athletes to only spend 20 hours a week on their sport. It's a ridiculous notion. I don't if we committed an according to hoyle violation or not, but it's all gray area anyway. It's fucking arbitrary. This, like the AA News 'investigation' into athletics and academics a few years ago, is a witch hunt designed to sell papers. Nevermind how much of it is true.

That being said, we'll pry go .500 or slightly above. We'll struggle and sometimes appear brilliant, giving us all hope for next year. Go blue.

Posted 11:02am
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August 31st, 2009

I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind

It occurred to me last night that when people drink they either become their best possible selves or their worst possible selves. The people whom I chose to hang out with generally just get a little louder and a little less inhibited whence alcohol is applied. Of course there are those who get so loud it becomes violent and those whose inhibitions are completely necessary to function as a normal member of society. These are the people we try to avoid.

So anyway, I'm as tired as I've ever been right now. I honestly am nodding off every third word. Last night was AndyFest/826 prom. Everyone was dressed to the nines in their finest salvation army wear, and then proceeded to get as drunk as possible whilst dancing their asses off (I'm sure I'll get tagged in some facebook photos soon). Why it was on a Sunday I'll ever know. What I do know is that I was out until 2:30 and I woke up at 7:03 this morning. I am too old for such shenanigans. I totally should have called in with a case of the brown bottle flu.

I'm still trying to make sense of everything that's happened since Thursday night. It's a lot to process. I saw a lot of comedy about racism and rape. I tried to skip out on a bar bill accidentally. I got drunk on champagne. Twice. In one day. I saw Inglourious Basterds (again). I worked on robots for a Where the Wild Things Are themed store window. I went out for breakfast. Twice. And then I went to prom, drank my body weight, and now I'm here. At the moment I am completely satiated in every aspect of my being, save for sleep. I could totally sleep.

- The headline for this reads 'Death Cab for Cutie Jumps...' and it totally should have finished with '...the shark.' I have no idea how I am going to make peace with this. I think it might be worse if the song is good. Fuck.

Posted 10:55am
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August 27th, 2009

After the boys of summer have gone

Depending on one's perspective, this may be the last weekend of the summer. Most will tell you that next weekend is, due to the large mushroom stamp on it's forehead given to it by Labor Day. But college football starts next weekend, which means its fall. Those who tell you it's the weekend of September 18th (due to the Autumnal equinox on September 23rd) are douche bags. Stop being friends with them. Anyhoo, being it's the last weekend of the summer, I'm taking off around noon today for an extended weekend. And oh what a weekend. It's a long story, but tonight we're going to a shitty comedy club in Livonia, that we're so excited about we got a hotel room in anticipation of how much fun we're going to have. At this time tomorrow I'll be drinking mimosas. Later suckers.

- Want to relive all those awesome things that were popular on the internet for five minutes? Know your meme.

- Nothing is funnier than a hacked facebook account when it's done for reasons like this. "You are permanently invited to the "love-cave between-my-legs.""

- America's 25 douchiest colleges. I'll spare you the drama - Ohio State only clocks in at 19.

- I thought this was funny - Rich Dicks.

- And finally, I saw Inglourious Basterds last night. I'm happy to report that it's fucking brilliant. I don't know how to talk about it in a real way without blowing it, partially because I'm still processing a lot of it. But fuck is it a twisted piece of genius.

Posted 9:43am
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August 26th, 2009

Happy Birthday 826!

OK, not literally. But being that it is 8/26, let's take a moment to celebrate what a wonderful organization 826 Michigan is. 826 teaches kids to be writers. It takes kids who loathe writing and teaches them to tolerate it. It takes kids who love writing and encourages them, providing an outlet and support system in what can otherwise be a lonely world. It does a million other things that make an actual difference in actual people's lives on a daily basis. And oy! the plethora of bad ass volunteers that make this place hum. When I signed up to start volunteering here 15 months ago, I thought maybe there'd be a like minded soul or two. Never would I have imagined how many cool of human beings populate 826, nor how good of friends some of them would become.

Enough gushing. You've heard it all before. I love this place, so should you. Many, many of you have donated to it in the past, and I am humbled by that. This year there's rumblings that the Scrabble tournament will be replaced with a euchre tournament. Sid and I and giddy at the prospect of this. We will no doubt be soliciting your good will and cash money in a month or two. IN THE MEANTIME, there's two awesome ways in which you can support this wondrous organization right now (or shortly):

1. shirt.woot.com - Today at shirt.woot.com you can get an awesome robot shirt designed by the super awesome Chris Ware. Awesome, right? What if I told you that it's only T E N B U C K S. And that the profits benefit 8 2 6 ?!? NOW BUY IT.

2. The Wild Things are Here. You've seen the trailer for the new Spike Jonez/Dave Eggers adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, right? If not, here. Are you back? Wipe those tears away and prep yourself, because 826 is hosting its own PREMIER of the movie on October 6th!!! Tickets go on sale September 10th. It will T O T A L L Y sell out, so get yours fast - it's not to be missed. And by the by, Dave Eggers will be there for a Q & A after the film. We're practically BFFs at this point, so it's not that big of a deal for me, although it will be nice to see him.

And of course if you're in town tonight there'll be a birthday picnic in West Park from 5 to 7. This occurs during my weekly shift at the robot store, so I made this sign to denote I'll be closing it down to attend the picnic.

You should come by. Sid and I will gladly own you in bocce balls.

Posted 9:53am
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August 25th, 2009

Numbers game

I was recently having a conversation with Markie C about a girl I have a crush on and this exchange took place:

MC - She's a lot... whiter than the girls you usually date
tbv - That's a misnomer! The overwhelming majority of girls I've slept with were white!
MC - Eastern European and the like don't count.
tbv - Well... it's still a majority!

My last girlfriend loved to make lists. We spent a lot of time on my couch drinking (naturally) and many a time we'd have a discussion that would lead to her (and subsequently both of us) writing things down on scraps of paper. They were often competitions or games, but they usually fell under the auspice of getting to know each other. Or from my perspective, her trying to glean information off of me in a non-confrontational manner.

Case in point: on two occasions, she had me list every sexual partner I've ever had. I suppose this is a conversation most couples have at some point and at their own peril at some point in a relationship. In this instance(s), especially so since in two separate attempts to determine my "number", I provided two different answers. I realize the assumption here is likely that I was trying to bolster or just straight lie about my history, but you'll have to trust me when I say that wasn't the case. In my head there were three contributing factors to the disparity:

1. We were drunk. Both times. Shocking. The only thing my last girlfriend loved more than lists was drunken confrontation. Trying to list by name every person you've ever banged after 4 double vodka sodas is difficult. Because...
2. Define sex. In the course of one's sexual existence, there is inevitably an experience or two that begs the question 'Was that sex?' This can range from getting your penis half way into a vagina and then her roommate walks in putting the kibosh on things and then the next day she gets hit by a bus, to waking up next to someone and asking each other "Did we have sexual intercourse last night?" And sometimes in the latter situation, you don't stick around for the answer.
3. I don't care. As much as I parse the minutia of my life, how many people I've 100% strictly according to hoyle had sex with is completely unimportant to me. Sometimes sex is a competition and that can be fun, but notches on the bedpost are no point of pride. At least not when viewed collectively.

Besides, what's normal? I could throw my approximate number out there and I imagine most people would go 'that makes sense.' The US government says the median number for men is 7. This site says the average in the US is 11. And this survey gives an average of 20 and a median of 8. We used to have discussions about the hypothetical conundrum: Would you rather date someone who has had sex with one person or with 50 people? People who got married early tend to say one, whereas those of us in our thirties and still single tend to be freaked out by that. The point is that unless your number is some sort of anomaly given your age and history, who cares if you slept with 5 people or 15 people? Well, I guess I know first hand that there are clearly people who care, I'm just not one of them.

Posted 10:17am
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August 24th, 2009

Celebrating the gays

- I got a txt last Friday from MJ saying 'Baby Jesus isn't crying today!' I had no clue what she was talking about, but sent her back a 'Hooray!' anyway. Turns out she was referencing this, which very much does deserve a hooray for homos! I knew Jesus was down with the gays.

- Here at tbaggervance.com we're fond of noting that by the time we're old, this whole gay marriage debate is going to seem so antiquated and silly, our grandkids will laugh at us and our backward ways all the way back at the turn of the century. Want proof? Here's some data that notes "If people over 65 in each state made the laws, 0 states would have gay marriage; if people under 30 made the laws, 38 states would have gay marriage." (and guess where those 12 states who wouldn't have it are...) And here's Nate Silver weighing in on the age gap. They gay storm is here y'all. Might as well start with the getting over yourself.

- Of course right now it's still OK to be outwardly homophobic. As it turns out, your reasons don't even have to be any good. Here's the President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, citing the top 5 things that gay marriage will bring down upon our nation. As the link points out, 4 of the 5 things are positives in my mind. But don't listen to me, I like the gays and don't believe in Jesus, thus clearly un-American.

Posted 10:59am
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August 21st, 2009

Your Indie Rock Weekend

I know some of you couldn't give two shits about my music snobbery, so in an act of appeasement: Here's a list of the most annoying types of facebookers (and it's from CNN! which I find weird) and here's the argument for health insurance reform, explained on the back of a napkin. It's actually concise and fairly comprehensive (although it doesn't explain death panels). Now onto the rock...

- Tomorrow night, two blocks from my house, Markie C and I are headed to see Detroit's own Brendan Benson. Brendan, aside from being buddies with Jack White and a member of the Raconteurs, writes brilliant power pop that takes me back to the heady days of early 90's Matthew Sweet. If you're in town, you should check it out. At least check out his blissful song stylings on myspace. That's right, myspace - still viable when it comes to quickly checking out a musician.

- Hey guys! There's new Weezer! And it doesn't suck! (It sounds like they've been listening to a lot of Phoenix) Someone pointed out to me the other day that Weezer will never be as good as they were on Pinkerton again because the guys in Weezer all hate that album. That is lamentable. It makes me want to try and alienate Rivers Cuomo and make him ashamed of his love for Asian women to try and recreate that time period in a Boys from Brazil kind of way. Oh, and if you're really excited that their new album might actually be good, check the name, it's where boners go to die...

- Fellow trivia nerd RJ sent me this 'name the band' quiz. He finished it faster than I did, but I still nailed it with 90 seconds left.

- I just finished this book about the rise of digital music and how it has changed the record business over the last 15 years. It's pretty insightful, and it actually assures me that the music I love will always be available, which is comforting.

- Radiohead have decided to stop putting out albums and instead now just throw single tracks out into the ether whenever they've got something they want us to hear. I've always worried/expected that Radiohead would eventually implode like the Beatles - stop touring, decide they don't like each other, leave fans to debate the merits of Thom Yorke vs the Greenwood brothers. I just hope that this isn't the beginning of it, or at least that they go out on one more tour. I've never seen them live and I'd hate to have to put 'Never saw Radiohead live' on my tombstone.

Posted 10:11am
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August 20th, 2009

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

- The great 'pop vs soda' debate seems to be one largely had be those early in their college careers. I remember being dogmatic in my insistence that southerners and both coasters assimilate and refer to it as 'pop' - no exceptions. I guess being a midwesterner my entire life I felt the need to defend our regional eccentricities. Now I could pretty much care less - although I still consider 'pop' correct and in my house if you ask for a 'coke' you get a coke and if you say 'soda' you get clear water with bubbles. In any event, here's an intense breakdown of who says what when they mean a flavored carbonated beverage.

- Going to the movies - especially in the summer - is about managing expectations. Beware the hype, as it will turn on you faster than a golddigger in heat. In the last two weeks I've seen two very disparate sci-fi movies that at least met if not exceeded my lofty expectations. The first - District 9 - is a popcorn blockbuster for nerds that has no business being as smart or good as it is. If you're the type of person who is at all interested in this type of thing, you've heard of it if not seen it. If you've only heard, go see. Then last night we saw tiny indie movie Moon, directed by son of David Bowie Duncan 'don't call me Zowie Bowie' Jones. Its a taught, ethereal treatise on isolation and identity that like District 9, plays with a lot of sci-fi conventions in interesting ways. If you can find it and my description isn't pompous enough to turn you off, I recommend it as well.

- This video belongs in yesterday's crying Jesus post, but I just saw it so, you know. "I know you're going to hell and I don't want you to go to hell." It's fascinating to me how ignorant and dogmatic the little christian girls are, especially in comparison to the Indian girl who readily admits she doesn't have answers. I'm thinking about making a School House Rock video about indoctrination (Indoctrination!), with dancing Krishnas and Moseses and Jesuses and Buddhas, and then have Jack Sheldon singing "You know, maybe your parents don't know as much as you think they do."

- We're a tad over a fortnight away from the start of the Michigan football team's 2009 campaign. I'm excited for myriad reasons, including but not exclusive to: we're going to be at least marginally better, I'm going to Iowa in an RV, and we may see an episode or two of 'The Wolverine Bachelor". But more on the latter two as things get closer. I completely expect us to get above that .500 bar and be back in a bowl game (albeit a shitty one) But hey, if we're fun to watch and I end up in Detroit for the Motor City Bowl over the holidays, I'll be a happy camper. No matter what, I get to play washer toss again real soon.

- Last night I walked home from the movie in the rain. It was warm outside and there was something about it that made me feel preternaturally young. I look forward to doing it again.

Posted 12:26pm
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August 19th, 2009

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? Special political edition

- Remember the last President we had that said he thought it was God's divine will for him to be President? Well if that doesn't shake the foundations of one's belief in a higher power, then I suppose nothing will. That is unless everyone's favorite congressional idiot Michelle Bachmann gets the call. She's waiting by the phone, apparently. You know, Ben Franklin once said that "Beer is proof that God love us and wants to be happy." Well I for one would view a Michelle Bachmann presidency as proof that God hates us and existence is a cosmic joke. That is unless he's calling her to run for my pure amusement, knowing that she'd never win - in that case good times.

- Speaking of Michelle, you should be wary of any group that's willing to demonize all of congress EXCEPT her. That's these people, who are saying that 'Obamacare' is making Baby Jesus cry. Please read the article, its quite astonishing the way they come to that conclusion. God created the government, and if we reject the government, we reject him. But then Obama wants us to put our faith in government and not God, even though he just basically said they were the same thing? It's dizzying logic. No where does he mention that there are millions of Americans uninsured and suffering, and if I remember correctly, Baby J once mentioned something about that which you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, that you do unto me. Or something like that. I guess I'm not pious enough to know the priorities.

- And we don't want to forget our favorite political punching bag, Sarah Palin. Here's a pretty accurate article comparing her to Joe McCarthy. She comes in and yells 'death panel' and then runs away. What a dumb fucking bitch. As someone who's been through an end of life process with a loved one, I'm here to tell you that you're going to want to talk to someone, which is all we were talking about here. But instead of covering something that can both educate and console people in the most difficult time of their life, let's invoke my down syndrome baby as a political tool one more time and try to scare people back into the status quo. Baby Jesus is appalled at your lack of compassion Sarah Palin.

- Oh Mormons. So cute in their crazy, homosexual hating beliefs. Even Baby J shakes his head at your magic underwear. But were they really that naive that they thought they could mount a multi-million dollar campaign against gay marriage in California and not get some backlash? I mean right now it's just dude on dude action on their front lawn, but what's next? I for one can't wait to see what they come up with.

- I don't have any biblical evidence of this, but I imagine that Baby J is an environmentalist on some level. He'd certainly be using CFCs. And he walked everywhere, so I'm thinking he'd use public transportation or at least drive a hybrid. That's why I'm sure he'd be thrilled that Ann Arbor banned lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus, and lo and behold our waterways cleaned up, just like that! Go ahead, smile for once Baby J.

Posted 2:05pm
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August 18th, 2009

When I'm home, feeling you holding me tight (tight, yeah...)

Once Sid was old enough to stay home by himself in the summer, I figured it was my parental duty to find activities for him to fill his day. The most consistent of these tasks was the 'Album of the Week' experiment. This consisted of me choosing an album for him to listen to, and then coming up with a ten question quiz about the albums themes, instrumentation, etc. These albums included:

The Beatles Revolver
Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy
The Beatles Sgt. Peppers
Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The Police Zenyatta Mondatta
Beck Odelay
Ben Folds Five Whatever and Ever Amen
Weezer Pinkerton
Violent Femmes Violent Femmes
Death Cab for Cutie The Photo Album
The Postal Service Give Up
The Beastie Boys License to Ill
Cake Fashion Nugget
Green Day Dookie
Matthew Sweet Girlfriend
The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour
Radiohead In Rainbows
Josh Ritter The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
Spoon Kill the Moonlight
Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend
Ted Leo + Pharmacists Shake the Sheets
Rage Against the Machine Rage Against the Machine

We stopped doing it this summer because A.) He's pretty busy otherwise and capable of filling in his own time and B.) I've indoctrinated him enough. He's forming his own musical sensibility now and it's time for me to stand down a bit (albeit not completely - I still maintain my sphere of influence.)

Now it's time for movies. We've been knocking out most of the classic comedies over the past year (Caddyshack, Animal House, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Revenge of the Nerds, Blazing Saddles, etc.) and tonight we're going to the Michigan Theater to see A Hard Days Night on the big screen. It's a nice little end of summer tie-in with the old music listening tasks. I've only got so much time left to exert my impeccable tastes upon Siddhartha, and I need to make sure he never comes home from college listening to Big and Rich and watching Michael Bay movies on DVD. That would be a total parenting failure on my part.

- Speaking of movies, here's a list of 15 of the worst direct to DVD sequels of all time. And I have to admit I kind of want to see the last two on the list. Malcom Reynolds and Starbuck in the same movie? Sign me up for some of that terribleness.

Posted 11:30am
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August 17th, 2009

Reunited and it feels so awkward.

So two bits of housekeeping before we throw ourselves into it. One: I took a mini vacation last Thursday/Friday that was only partly planned, so I apologize for being away and not telling you. My bad. HOWEVER, the comments were down for almost two weeks and no one said anything?!? Yes, this was technically because I screwed up, but shoot me an emails yo's. I mean I'm over it, but next time speak up.

So, Saturday night was my 15 year high school reunion. I had deemed this very early on as an un-worthwhile endeavor. I in no way felt it necessary to listen to my former classmates drone on about their children, nor to state 20 times "I'm up in Ann Arbor, I work for the University," and then hope they don't want anything more specific. I mean don't get me wrong, I can be a pretty nostalgic person now and again, but I still see the majority of my high school friends on a semi-regular basis, and the rest, well, isn't facebook enough contact for people you sat next to for 40 minutes a day 15 years ago?

But then RJ decided to fly in for it from Vegas. And then Jer signed on from Arizona. Add those things to a mild sense of duty as senior class president (and the hopes of a decent blog post) and things started to be justifiable. I figured if I showed up half drunk and then proceeded to get really drunk that I'd be all right. I'd stick to the shadows, avoid eye contact, see a few friends and get out without too much collateral damage. If somebody tried to pull out a picture of their kids for me to look at, I could just walk away.

So after some mild social lubrication I hit the American Legion hall and I unhyperbolically tell you that the first five minutes were every bit as awful as the nightmare scenario I had envisioned. Upon entry I quickly scanned the room and didn't recognize a soul. The reunion organizers had failed to provide nametags, which was supposed to keep me from embarrassing myself throughout the night. This led to implementation of the buddy system for the rest of the night. Don't move about without someone to go with you - they might bail you out by remembering someone, or just provide the buffer of looking like you're already in a conversation and don't want nor need a new one.

It wasn't long however (3 or 4 vodka sodas) that things started to get a little easier. Hang out by the bar, have as many sustained conversations as possible, and run out the clock. I did have fun reminiscing with those I don't get to see as often as I like, and by the end of the night I actually had to seek a few people out for fear of them leaving before I got to talk to them. I even successfully avoided talking to the one person I was really trying to avoid, and didn't even win the uncoveted "first to procreate after high school" award. Score.

The last paragraph has been redacted.

Posted 11:53am
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August 12th, 2009

The perils of minutia dissecting

Last week when I got picked up by that guy at the bar, he initiated the rendevouz by asking what I was writing (as I was at the bar by myself writing in my moleskine) to which I responded "My girlfriend just broke up with me so I'm writing down every negative, awful, crazy thing she did to me over the course of three years." He looked at me skeptically, but it was gospel truth. Now I would love to post this (it would blow your mind) and you would love to read it (because its funny and, of course, mind blowing), but alas, I can't. Or at least I shouldn't.

You see, anyone can read this blog. Anyone. And while I clearly don't have many issues just putting myself out there for your scrutiny and enjoyment, sometimes that has consequences. I learned this the pretty hard way the first time Ayesha and I broke up, when I said some not-so-nice things about her. It didn't help the situation when we got back together two months later. Of course not writing things has consequences too. I once had a fabulous first date with a girl and failed to mention it here, and after a week or two, she clearly was offended that I had failed to post about it. Apparently women are sensitive.

So while I don't do so out of deference for a possible future together, I can't publicly list all the negative things Ayesha did while we were together. Mostly because I think it's kinda mean and ultimately I'm not mad at her nor do I want to appear attempting to garner sympathy. It's just something I did to try and make peace with all that's happened in the last month. Besides, she broke up with me both in Vegas and via txt message, that pretty much says it all, right?

ps
Of COURSE discussing these things with me over a beer is a totally different story. That's neither public nor mean. I consider it continuing therapy for your enjoyment.

pps
I also have a really great post written in my head about being single again and having a giant crush on someone and all the awful anxiety and awesome anticipation that goes with that. But again, ANYONE can read the blog and I can't write about it without it being really obvious who the person is, and that's a childish and awkward way for someone to find out you fancy them. Besides, if you've been around me lately, it's either a.) really obvious or b.) I probably already talked to you about it. Likely both. I don't hide these things well.

Posted 2:05pm
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August 11th, 2009

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

- I agree that their commercials featuring Alec Baldwin and Seth McFarlane are not that funny, but if you haven't checked out Hulu yet, you are seriously missing out. For example, here's the awesome public television show Live from the Artist's Den, featuring hour long performances from people like The Hold Steady, Ingrid Michaelson and Josh Ritter. And here's my current favorite TV show - Spaced. Its the guys from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz before they started making movies. Its got a really high geek quotient, so enjoy.

- While the HuffPo has a real downer take on the trend, I see women drinking more as a win/win for everyone. Of course the DUI thing is bad. Ladies, I live a block from downtown. Feel free to call me when you you've had too much and can't drive home.

- Speaking of drinking, here's an Onion slideshow about the subject. I am kind of disappointed that the very fist headline "Having-One-Beer Plan Goes Awry" doesn't feature a picture of Stov and I.

- It's a common neo-con talking point that history will be kind to the presidency of George W. Bush. Now this elicits something between seething bile and rolling laughter from me, especially since I've finally figured out the right parenting metaphor for him. He was clearly the offspring of a three-way between Jake and Elwood Blues and Joan of Arc. How else does one explain the fact that he was on a mission from God?

- If you ever find yourself in the Corktown area of downtown Detroit, you may come face to face with this:


I can't really get that into what the Unicorn Lovers Club is all about, other than to say membership has its privileges. If you can figure out the complicated password/secret knock, a cornucopia of pleasure awaits you. Its like walking into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for the first time...

Posted 11:36am
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August 10th, 2009

I was born a poor black child...

Growing up the only black people I knew were an affluent family from New York whose father wore awful sweaters and mugged a lot for the camera. This of course quickly changed when I went to college, and while my black friend count is still fairly low, there at least is one. It's something I generally don't think about too much unless I'm hanging out with people of other ethnicities and I need to make a quick decision on whether or not to make a racially insensitive reference in an attempt to get people to laugh. I'd say I make the right choice about half the time.

I spent the weekend getting in touch with my blackness, even if it wasn't necessarily with the company of African Americans. Friday night I went to the Ann Arbor Soul Club, where DJs spin old Soul and R+B 45's at the Blind Pig. Good times. Then Sunday, we went to Detroit to see the documentary Soul Power and have some BBQ at Slows. I'd say that's quite a bit of black culture for a white boy such as myself, except for the fact that between the documentary and the BBQ, we watched West Side Story on DVD in a minivan. And that my friends, is as white as it gets.

- Sid spent the weekend at Lollapalooza and got to meet his favorite band - Vampire Weekend - in the autograph tent. I noted how cool this was in a txt message exchange with Mrs. Jesus and she retorted "He's closer to their age than we are. Ponder that for the moment." Of course a quick check of the internet allowed me to reply: "I will not. The take home is that I introduced him to them and my kid may someday be as cool as me. And for the record, the lead singer is 24, making him closer to my age. Suck it." Thanks Ezra for being born when you were and allowing me to still feel cool for a little longer.

Posted 10:32am
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August 7th, 2009

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. John Hughes...

The summer of 1987 I was 12 years old. Somehow we ended up with a copy of Ferris Bueller's Day Off on VHS and over the course of that summer I swear to you without an once of hyperbole I watched that movie 50 times. I'm pretty sure that by the time school started I could have performed the entire movie from memory.

I feel pretty lucky to have grown up in the age where John Hughes was writing and directing his specific brand of teenage comedy. Make no mistake about it, your kids and even their kids will someday watch The Breakfast Club and feel like someone finally gets them. I remember how excited I was when I watched Ferris with Sid for the first time, and how happy I am every time he suggests we watch it again. There's a lot of directors out there that I admire and would just like to shake hands with and say thanks. Thanks for all the good times. Certainly John Hughes is one of those people. Rest in peace John. Thanks for all the good times and for making all of us feel a little less like an outcast.

- Here's a John Hughes montage worth wasting your time on.

- Last night I tried to go to the bar for one beer. Some guy in his late 30's who's wife was out of town sits down next to me and next thing I know he's paying my cover and buying me drinks at the Blind Pig. I got worried for a second that I was going to have to put out but luckily he proceeded to work his way through the bar hitting on every girl in it. Oh, and his favorite band was Tesla and I had to listen a lot to how Five Man Acoustical Jam was the best album of all time, so I guess nothing really is free. This has nothing to do with John Hughes, but it was a weird night and needed to be documented.

Posted 10:32am
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August 6th, 2009

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

- Usually fake or faux is a bad thing. From pleather to RC Cola to everyone Holden Caufield ever met, you get what you pay for. And don't get me started on fake boobs. They almost always look like they hurt and I bet 9 times out of 10 girls would be better off learning to live with what the good lord gave them. But sometimes the imitators get so close to the real thing that you don't care. Like imitation crab meat. Or Jennifer Love Hewitt. That's how I felt when I watched this video. Clearly fake, yet still pretty awesome. Kudos.

- I fucking hate Tucker Max. The guy's a giant unapologetic douche hole. A lot of people over the years have mentioned him to me, assuming I'd be a fan, or on a few occasions, suggested their was a comparison between the two of us. This makes me want to slap said person in the face and then go home, sit in the dark and reevaluate my life. It really irritated me that his crappy book about what a fuckstick of a human being he is got made into a movie. Until I saw the trailer. Looks like the movie is going to be an even bigger piece of shit than Tucker Max is. Finally, some justice.

- After avoiding the entire phenomena for about 10 years or so, some friends finally got me into watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer a few months back. Of course I thoroughly enjoyed it. But even I was shocked that I liked the spinoff Angel even more. I just finished watching all five seasons and I'm kind of sad that it's over. It was so much fund and it always excites me because there's got to be other undiscovered gems out there waiting to be devoured by my voracious pop culture appetite on hangover Sundays. Anyway, here's a list of the top 10 Angel episodes.

- There's a new Radiohead tune. Always good times. Well, melancholy times?

- I don't want to sugar coat this too much, because in many ways my kid is a typical teenager. His hygiene is suspect, his room is a mess, his attitude about most things is 'whatever', and occasionally he does something so mind numbingly stupid I wonder what could possibly be so flawed in my DNA (I usually just blame it on the other half). But sometimes Sid totally blows me away. Yesterday I got home and found the dishwasher had been run and emptied - and no one told Sid to do it. Now I completely assume there is some solipsistic explanation to this wherein he needed his favorite bowl and it was dirty so he just ran the dishwasher, but still, good times. So shines a good deed in a weary world.

Posted 12:02pm
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August 5th, 2009

On being the perpetual bachelor.

Let me get it out of the way up top: I don't truly believe any of this. Which is to say, this is my typical hyperbolic, over-the-top response to a query Jen made and never intended me to answer (see here). And while I do see these things as true on some level, they are in no way reasons I don't need a wife. I should probably have a wife or some suitable wife-like substitute. Someday. In any event, here's 10 reasons I don't need a wife.

10. Friends wives. I have Jen and Aarika and Anee to make sure I buy appropriate wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, and coordinate food for tailgates.

9. Procreation. Marriage is an institution largely imbued with the continuation of the species. Not only have I already done that, I'm quite uninterested in doing it again.

8. The 'Barney Stinson' effect. Every group of friends needs a perpetually single male friend to serve as the always available drinking buddy, to provide them with drunk stories when they no longer create their own, and to live vicariously through by setting him up with their single female friends.

7. Food. Many males need a female in their life to ensure they eat right. I do not. I don't eat out very often nor do I indulge in prepackaged, processed foods. I can cook for myself.

6. There is a ton of porn on the internet. Yes, we all need a little release. But I could whack it a half dozen times a day from now until I need Viagra and I'll never run out of free, awesome pornography.

5. Wives are expensive. From the wedding, to the house, to having to buy TWO of everything when we go out, wives are expensive. Certainly if you can find me a sugar mama I'll eat my words, but its more likely for me to date a teacher, academic, or (gulp!) employee of a nonprofit that would be a strain on my already tight budget.

4. I'm all set on obligations. Work, volunteering, child rearing, drinking... I have a pretty full life. I don't want to have to worry about quitting softball because "We never spend any time together!" and now I have to take a Spanish cooking class.

3. Historical incompatibility. Let's face it, the last two significant relationships I've had went to school at rival Big Ten universities and had families that hated me. There's little doubt I'd marry someone who went to Notre Dame and had parent's that were heavy into Scientology. That's exactly what I don't need.

2. I'm a huge snob. I have an opinion on everything and am very specific and idiosyncratic with my tastes. There is 0% chance I'd find someone who is 100% compatible on these things, meaning a lifetime of suffering from bad reality TV, or sappy chick flicks, or shudder to think, country music.

1. I still got it. Despite my advancing age, I can still pull girls in their mid-20's. We're coming around on the first round of divorces and there's a lot of ladies who, to quote Brett Michaels, aren't looking for nuthin', but a good time. How can I resist? Shouldn't I hold on to that for as long as possible?

Organized responses in the comment section are encouraged.

Posted 1:11pm
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August 4th, 2009

We only hang out like 3 times a week! That's not even half the time.

At what point do we stop making new friends? I suppose the short answer is never, but that's only true technically. As we get older the likelihood of making new lasting friendships dwindles significantly. I think this becomes exponentially more true when you're in a couple and cusps being infinitely true when you have kids. When more and more of your time is spoken for by work and family, you're probably not going to meet someone and start hanging out on a regular basis. If you've got free time to hang out, it's probably spoken for by friends you've had for a while now.

Two years ago when Ayesha moved to Arizona and left me alone in Michigan I became terrified that I would be forced to sit in the dark and twiddle my thumbs while I drank copious amounts of alcohol and listened to music that most of my existing friends didn't like. Ayesha and I were spending about 75% of our free time together when she left, so my routine was about to be severely disrupted. That's when I realized just how precarious the position I had found myself in was. Most of my friends were married. Most of them were having their first or second kid. Those that weren't married and procreating were coupled and spending most of their time with their significant others. My existing friends were busy being adults and as a guy in his 30's, making new friends felt daunting to say the least.

I know. Woe is me. For a while I managed to become pretty tight with Ayesha's ex-roommates, the Jesuses. They liked going to see obscure concerts with me and one of them was always up for being the DD, so good times. But then they left too. That's about the time I decided to start volunteering at 826. I figured at worst it'd occupy some of my free time with something worthwhile, and if I got lucky, well there might be some like minded individuals there who also like the booze and the indie rock.

As it's well documented around here, it went better than I imagined. After a year I had made several new friends with which I can do the random things that old friends may be too busy for or just uninterested in. And as of late, a small group of these kids have become my most constant companions. As a foursome we hang out 3 or 4 nights a week. We have plans for every weekend through the end of August. They are cool, nerdy, inappropriate and love booze. They are my kind of people. Here's hoping none of them decide to move away anytime soon.

- Here's a pair of top 100s - one listing the top sci-fi movies (which, I think is BS, but it did make me want to watch several movies, including Westworld!) and Wired's list of things your kids will never know about. It's often humbling to get old.

Posted 11:31am
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August 3rd, 2009

My rhymes are so potent that in this small segment I made all of the ladies in the area pregnant

So as expected, my trip to PIB largely centered around my new official status of being unencumbered. Along with lots of recounting of the end of my previous relationship and discussing the prospects of things to come, I finally read my list of reasons I don't need a wife to Jen. In their drunken stupor the ladies failed to provide much of an organized retort, other than to yell things like "That's reason number 7!" when some hot chick would walk by. Of course the weekend was capped, as it always is, with breakfast at Big Boy on Sunday. As the waitress took our orders and all of the couples noted that they were together for purposes of check splitting, she got to me and gave me the sympathetic "Awwww, you're all alone?" Jen rightfully assumed her point was made. Other things of note:

- We learned that you can take chicken dinners into the Roundhouse. I learned that I am willing to still eat my dinner after dumping it all over the floor of the bar. Yes, I expect to get a strange rash or a burning sensation when I urinate any day now.

- I shook my ass on the dance floor lots. Jen estimated I impregnated up to seven girls without even touching them.

- I didn't bother to pull the couch out when I got back to the house to finally crash Saturday night. My neck will pay for this for several days to come.

I took no pictures. Facebook friends will probably see me tagged in various compromising positions as others post their pics over the next few days. In the meantime, let the countdown to PIB 2010 begin. I've 360-ish days to find someone to bring with me. No one hold their breath.

Posted 1:16pm
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July 28th, 2009

How much douche could a douche bag bag if a douche bag could bag douche?

I often get the feeling that people don't get how much of a bully douche bag ass hat Bill O'Reilly is. Other than his disdain for things like facts, history and analytical thought, my real beef is his claim to being an independent. Yes, I realize he's no Glen Beck or even Rush Limbaugh, but he purports himself to be this high minded idealist when he's a blowhard shill obsessed with his own fame. Here's some evidence:

- It's a common conservative conceit that liberal permissiveness is ruining America. Bill picked up that meme when talking about legalizing marijuana recently and noted what an awful place Amsterdam is. Then Amsterdam responded with this. Suck it, ass hat.

- People who watch O'Reilly are always so sure that they are on the right side of things because they have all of these facts! And they can refute your liberal point point with logic! Like Bill did with this bit of mathematical genius. Suck it, ass hat.

- Bill does a lot barking and attempts to intimidate anyone who comes on his show with whom he disagrees. He shouts over them, turns their mic off, and never lets them finish a point. On his show, I suppose it works and his viewers think he really 'nails' his guests. Here's what it sounds like when he tries those tactics on someone else's show. Thanks Triumph; suck it, ass hat.

- And while we're here, in fairness, Bill is a moderate compared to Glen Beck. Here's a guy with zero credentials to comment on anything, calling the President a racist and saying he has a "a deep-seated hatred for white people." If you are still watching Fox News, you are an ass hat and should be made to suck it.

- And, for fun, more Shatner doing Palin. She's harmless and from now on I treat with the empathy I have for picked on teenage girls. She's cute and helpless! Save her!

p.s. Off tomorrow, PIB Saturday. Pray for my liver.

Posted 10:50am
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July 29th, 2009

Ice cold beer here...

Three days until I'm at PIB, drinking beer like it's my last night on earth. Here's what's going on this week booze.

- So the Ann Arbor News is no more, and has been replaced by annarbor.com. I saw their reporter at beerfest asking people what their favorite beer quote was and thought "Huh, that's a pretty stupid way to cover this event" After reading the report, it's exactly as informative as I imagined. The talkback at the bottom though is pretty funny, including the guy who'd rather stay home and drink his 22oz Bud.

- Speaking of craft beer versus mass produced swill, I was very concerned when I heard that premium beer sales were in the decline and 'subpremium' beers were growing. That is until you realize that 'premium' beers means Budweiser and Heinekin, not Shorts and Bells. Turns out actual craft beers are doing just fine thank you.

- Main Street is getting another brewpub, and it sounds like things are starting to happen. Jolly Pumpkin will be a welcome addition to my rotation of booze - especially if they make good use of the rooftop outdoor seating at that location.

- Anyone want to head to Lake Placid for some free booze? Who doesn't love a good boozehunt?

- And unrelated to beer, here's proof that Tiffany Theissen is still hot, and Michelle Malkin is still crazy.

Posted 10:57am
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July 28th, 2009

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

- PIB week! I'm getting my arm twisted to go with the early crew now that I am solo. Two couples are headed to Cedar Point Thursday and then staying on the island Thursday until Sunday. This sounds like a fabulous idea, except that this month I paid for football tickets and put new tires on my car, so cash is tight. Whether its a late Thursday or early Saturday arrival for me, its still less than four days until this:

- I know that we all collectively swoon at the thought of the Spike Jonez/Dave Eggers adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, so here. Enjoy.

- Like many things over at McSweeney's, I really wish I had thought of this. And of course, this is a match made in heaven. I can't decide if I want the pretty lady with the two cent head to just go away or to stay around so we can make fun of her.

- Since canceling my satellite radio, I've had to find daily fresh material to fill the sonic void in my life. The biggest boon has been old episodes of Loveline. Now, this is a show I never listened to on any sort of semi-regular basis when it was in its heyday, but here I am obsessed with Adam, Dr. Drew, B-list celebrities and 17 year olds who want to know if they can they still get pregnant if they do it standing up. Good times.

- Breaking up is certainly hard to do, even when it's not a violent screaming and yelling bitchfest that comes out of the blue, but rather a slow crumbling of trust and connection that meanders down the mountain for months. What makes it easier and sometimes even palatable is your social safety net: the friends that listen to you bitch, the ones that prop up your self-esteem, and those that trash your ex and reassure you that you are better off. So thanks to all y'all who have been doing that over the last few days (and months) and those that will continue to do so in the near future. I promise to make it the fun kind of healing that involves alcohol and hitting on women inappropriately, and not the wallowing 'woe is me' kind as much as possible.

Posted 10:44am
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July 27th, 2009

Heartbreak, booze and vacation - 3 great tastes that go great together

There are three things that I need to impress upon you with all the post haste I can muster. These are those:

1. Beerfest happened. While meterologists of every stripe tried to tell us we were going to be constantly barraged by buckets of water falling from the sky, the weather was actually all kinds of perfect. Oh yeah, as was the beer. Here's the few photos I took. Here's the beers I drank:

1. Bob's Witbier (Darkhorse Brewery)
2. Chipotle Mango Ale (B.O.B.s Brewery)
3. Golden Rule Organic IPA (Shorts Brewing)
4. Can I get a WITTEness (Traffic Jam and Snug)
5. Orange Lotus Hopsun (B.O.B.s Brewery)
6. Kid Rock's Badass American Lager (Michigan Brewing)
7. Oops-a-Hefe (Big Rock Chop and Brewhouse)
8. Summer Wit (Royal Oak Brewery)
9. Second Wind Wheat (Mt. Pleasant Brewing)
10. ClockWork Orange Belgian Wheat (Grand Rapids Brewing)
11.
Organic Wit (Rochester Mills Beer Co.)
12. Summerbrew (CJ's Brewing Co.)
13. Some Cherry Bullshit (Khunhenn Brewing)
14. Red Tao Amber Lager (Black Lotus Brewing)
15. Summer Hefe (Olde Peninsula Brewpub)
16. Chipotle Mango Ale (B.O.B.s Brewery)
17. Golden Saison (B.O.B.s Brewery)
18. King Lager (King Brewing Co.)
19. Custom Blonde Lager (Woodward Ave Brewers)
20. Ghettoblaster (Motor City Brewing)
21. American IPA (Redwood Brewing)
22. Second Wind Wheat (Mt. Pleasant Brewing)
23. Schwartz Black Pilsner (Schmoz Brewing)
24.
Golden Rule Organic IPA (Shorts Brewing)
25. Resession Ale (Copper Canyon)
26. Hefe-Weizen (Woodward Ave Brewers)

The Chipotle Mango had to be tasted to be believed, and Kid Rock makes terrible beer.

2. It's Put-in-Bay Week. That means I have already mentally checked out of all of my responsibilities and am dreaming of being drunk on an island and gorging myself on late night chicken dinners.

3. PIB is notorious for being a relationship killer. Many a man has brought a girlfriend to PIB only to find that she was no longer his girlfriend shortly after. 2009 was supposed to be my first time bringing a girl to PIB - to test my luck with the curse of Catawba Island. Alas, that's not going to happen. Ayesha and I officially and for reals called it quits Friday night. She did it via a text message from across the apartment (a scathing critique of my behavior followed by the words "We're done") but it had been coming down the pike for some time now. We had beat each other up for too long and the strain of being 2,000 miles apart finally caught up to us. I know that this is the third or fourth time we've done this, but this was the quiet, no screaming or fighting breakup where you both just say it's over and walk away. So yeah, the not quite 3 year oddyssey is finally done. Ayesha's a fabulous person and I wish her well. As for being single again? My loss is probably the blog's gain, so prepare thyself for that.

Posted 10:44am
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July 24th, 2009

The impending extravaganzical mess that is Beerfest

It's finally here! Another year of waiting is over and 24 hours from right now I will be predrinking for Beerfest 2009. If you want some historical perspective, here's the 2007 wrap up and of course 2008's. If you want some 2009 info, here's the Michigan Brewer's Guild website, along with a list of all the brewers that will be there and what they are bringing. Here's some (probably a little late) info on Michigan Beer Month/Ann Arbor Beer Week, and here's a weak sauce article on craft brewing in the Freep. If you're cool enough to be there tomorrow, stop by and say hi. We'll be the one's that are so good at Beerfest. Here's hoping it doesn't rain.

- Chicago soft on weed? That's my kind of town.

- Longtime neighbors the Baughman's were a little distressed recently at their inability to find their son a bike helmet that resembled those of Michigan Wolverine varsity athletes. So when they started to talk about paying someone to paint a regular helmet maize and blue, I said nonsense, I will give it a whirl for nothing. Here's the results:

It was a lot of drunken man hours for such an imperfect result, but hey, anything for a future Wolverine.

Posted 10:09am
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July 23rd, 2009

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

- Back to back great shows. Wilco rocked my face for well over two hours straight, and Neko Case was as lovely and charming as you would expect her to be. Ayesha claims she looks 'old' in person, but either I'm blinded by lust or she's participating in some cognitive dissonance, because I was still smitten (for the record, both those things were totally going on).

- I swear I long for the day when I don't have to talk about her anymore. I honestly believe we all get a little dumber and die a tiny bit on the inside whenever she enters the public consciousness. But I can't ignore this: Sarah Palin's resignation speech, copy edited and fact checked. This just in: she's dumb.

- I'm not quite old enough to remember Walter Cronkite as an actual newsman, but looking back on his body of work it's hard not to respect the shit out of him and understand why he was the most trusted man in America. He has been and will continue to be missed. The question is, who takes the baton? Who, in this post-modern world where everything is meta and folds in on itself and the blurred line between information and entertainment has imploded and no longer exists? If you said Jon Stewart, you are correct. Yes its an online poll that is as unscientific as Glen Beck trying to explain the Constitution to you, but it makes a certain amount of sense. No, there's not much of a through line linking Cronkite to Stewart, but in today's jaded culture where there is no unbiased reporting, Stewart's point of view is as reliable and honest about its agenda as anyone. Plus, I guarantee that people who only get their news from The Daily Show are better informed than those who listen to Rush or O'Reilly.

- Here's a fascinating chart that gives you an idea about how much time we have left before we start running out of things. The good news: We've got plenty of aluminum. The bad: No data on hafnium!?!

- Some friends and I were talking about going to see the new movie (500) Days of Summer, and then a few days later seeing the old movie The 400 Blows. This was followed by the suggestion that subsequent weeks we could view the homoerotic gore fest 300, then 200 Cigarettes, and on and on down the line. Of course as my loyal readers would expect, I took this to the nth degree:

500. (500) Days of Summer
400. The 400 Blows
300. 300
200. 200 Cigarettes
101. 101 Dalmations
93. United 93
60. Gone in 60 Seconds
57. Passenger 57
50. 50 First Dates
48. 48 Hours
42. 42nd Street
40. The Forty Year Old Virgin
39. The 39 Steps
34. Miracle on 34th Street
32. 32 short Stories about Glen Gould
28. 28 Days Later
27. 27 Dresses
25. 25th Hour
24. 24 Hour Party People
21. 21
19. K-19 The Widowmaker
15. 15 Minutes
13. Friday the 13th
12. 12 Angry Men
11. Ocean's 11
10. 10
9. Nine to Five
8. 8 Seconds (Starring Luke Perry)
7. Se7en
6. 6 Days Seven Nights
5. V
4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
3.14 Pi
3. 3 Days of the Condor
2. Two Mules for Sister Sarah
1. Once

That was without the help of the internet, I'm sure you could fill it in a bit. That's what the comment section is for...

Posted 11:48am
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July 21st, 2009

This week in indie rock

- Tonight! Wilco! I'm not head over heals in love with the new album, but live Wilco is always something that makes me giddy with anticipation. If you can't make tonight's sold out show, their latest concert film Ashes of American Flags is playing now and again on the Sundance Channel. It's a highly recommended live Wilco substitute.

- Tomorrow! Neko! The irony of me being in love with a red headed beauty who sings country music is lost on no one, especially me. But then look at this:

I mean c'mon, right? How does that not curl your toes? If she asks me tomorrow to leave my job and follow her across the country, it's been a pleasure to have you read my blog these past few years, but later suckers.

- As all you good little indie rockers already know, The Flaming Lips latest opus Embryonic drops 9/29. But you can hear two songs from the upcoming freak out here. Its every bit the headscratcher that you've come to expect and love.

- Speaking of awesome things coming in Spetember (no, not me turning 34) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia returns to FX. Here's a little promo video of people covering the rock anthem 'Day Man'. It features Ted Leo + Pharmacists, so double awesome terrific happy fun time.

- There's was something about Thom Yorke's previous solo effort (The Eraser) that didn't quite hold together for me. Frankly, its like it needed the rest of Radiohead (much in the same way I usually feel McCartney and Lennon's solo stuff always misses each other, if not the rest of the Beatles). But hey, in all aforementioned instances, it's still compelling and better than most dreck we are subjected to on a daily basis. Anyway, there's rumors of some new Thom Yorke solo stuff coming down the pike, and he may have given us a preview last weekend. Good times.

Posted 10:44am
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July 20th, 2009

Just like high school, I get voted "Most Jaded"

This was written when I was drunk and is transcribed below, just fair warning, as I have a disdain for editing.

Everyone suffers from fear of rejection on some level. Some people freeze up at the mere thought of public speaking. Others are fine until they get outside of their comfort zone - be it singing karaoke or merely being forced to be extemporaneous. Personally, I'm good until it comes to approaching a complete stranger of the opposite sex. In my cognitive dissonance that ends up being less about 'What if she doesn't like me...' and more about 'What are the chances I'll like her? Slim to none, so why waste the effort?' Its a convenient lie I tell myself to keep myself on the sidelines whenever I find myself single, since I can usually remain relatively happy even in the absence of regular sexual conquests.

But in every other aspect of life I relish the opportunity to put myself out there. Try being a lead singer in a band? I'm on it. Perform at free form poetry night? Count me in. I fear neither rejection nor reprisal when it comes to having some group of strangers judge my artistic integrity. OK, well, it does induce a certain level of anxiety, but in a good way. I'm willing to take the blank stares on the off chance that a few people will actually have a visceral response to something that either makes me giggle or that I somehow find important. It's an unparalleled rush that neither booze nor sex can provide. I seek it out despite the somewhat crushing anxiety that often comes with it.

So when I heard about 826 hosting their first annual Ann Arbor Art Fair Film Festival, I knew I had to partake. I don't think I've put image to celluloid for the judgment of others since I was in high school. There was a time when it was a common conceit due to class projects - but despite my penchant for screenwiritng and general artistic endeavors - filmmaking isn't something that has reared its head in some time. But when the organization that I hold most near and dear to my heart announced the call for submissions to make films centered around the Art Fair, I couldn't resist.

After some germination on the subject, I decided to use the most obvious theme - the bane of Art Fair's existence - Art on Sticks. Not owning a video camera, the modus operondi of my endeavor also became crystal - I'd write a song and set it to still images. The fact that Ayesha was in town with her camera and Macbook with iMovie meant the entire project came together in a snap. So the Sunday before Art Fair I went to Grizzly Peak and wrote my script. I wrote the words and imagined what the appropriate images might be, and then immediately forgot about it until the morning it was go time.

I awoke on production day knowing that I had to write the score toot suite or the whole thing would never get off the ground. As my easily embarrassed 14 year old son will attest, I write several songs a day about whatever I find fascinating around me, so writing the music took all of 20 minutes. It was then time to head out into the belly of the beast and actually shoot footage. This was perhaps the easiest part. With my mental shot list, a few hours of standard Art Fair browsing gave me more material than I needed. For the record though, most artisans at the fair aren't exactly keen on you taking pictures of their wares. We did a lot of "OK, I'm almost in position, take the pic in 3... 2... 1..." We still managed to get the shots with being accosted. It helps if you're accustomed to dirty looks.

When we got home it was time to record the score. After some brief technical difficulties, I recorded the music on my guitar and then started to attempt lay down the vocals on top of it. After about 10 attempts at 10:30 at night, I hear someone yell "Shut the fuck up!" followed by a stomping on the floor above me that both broke the lightbulb in my ceiling lamp and nearly scratched my passion for the project all together. After a much needed booze break and some quiet reflection, I got the vocals recorded, learned iMovie, and finished the project. This is the result:

Given more time and my druthers, it might have been a little different/better, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It premiered at the festival Saturday night and won the coveted "Most Jaded" award, which the judges informed me was an award not just for the film, but for my view of life in general. I also worked on this film, winner of "Most Romantic" and this is the film that won the night's top prize, the Stick d'Or. Thanks to Aeysha for all the help and 826 for once again, getting me out of my comfort zone.

Posted 11:17am
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July 17th, 2009

The thing is, they knew I was going to say yes...

When is an invitation not an invitation? This is a question that one seemingly should never have to ask. If someone says "Hey you should totally come over..." then you should be able to reasonably assume that they totally want you to come over. You shouldn't have to pause and question the intention of said invitation, they asked hoping you'd say yes. Inversely, if someone mentions their plans and doesn't give you a "Hey, you should totally come with..." then guess what, don't show up in their driveway the next day in your swim trunks asking "What time are we headed to the pool?"

But sometimes when someone says "If you're not doing anything, stop by..." they really mean "Hey, we both just discussed our plans, so I will extend you an offer to join us as to appear pleasant and cordial, but under no circumstances are you to accept the invitation." This recently happened to me. Maybe twice. Let me start off by noting, not that it needs to be said, that it is public knowledge that I love booze, and I love to booze in public. Worst kept secret in the tri-state area. One can only assume that if you ask me to have a drink, that I will always say yes in absence of other plans.

The first incident was only slightly awkward and the invitation I accepted was probably genuine. Working at the Robot Store recently, female friend #1, as she was walking out the door, says too me "We're drinking #1 PBRs later at Seva, you should totally stop by when you get off." I say something to the effect of sounds good, maybe I will. Then an hour later, female friends #2 and #3, as they are walking out the door, note "We're headed to Seva for $1 PBRs, I'm sure we'll still be there when you close up, you should totally stop by." Now I have 3 invitations to drink cheap beer with at least 3 people I enjoy, of course I'm going to go. But when I show up to pound a few cans of Milwaukee's finest, I find female friends 1, 2 and 3 enjoying some vegan appetizer and drinking a bottle of wine. My first thought was "Um, you were serious when you invited me right?" I mean hey, I sat down and ordered a PBR after PBR and rolled with it, but for a second it was like showing up to a party in costume when everyone else is in formal attire.

THEN just last night, it happened again. Only worse. After enjoying a couple of Oberons with some 826ers, I got home and decided that I might like another beer or two, yet didn't have any on hand. So I grabbed an empty growler and started to walk up to Grizzly Peak. As I started to stroll up the hill on Ashley, I get stopped by a former co-worker who just happened to be getting out of her car as I passed. We chit chat, I tell her that I am headed to the Peak to get my Growler filled. "Oh, my boyfriend are headed up to Old Town. You should totally stop in and have a drink with us." I think for half a second "Isn't it a little awkward to invite me along with just the two of you?" But then imagine a few scenarios where it wouldn't be weird and immediately say yes. Guess what? It was weird.

We walk into the bar and it turns out that they are meeting another couple to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The four of them are all nicely packed in to a booth and I'm the drunk that followed them in off the street who has to pull up a chair to the end of the table. I quickly order an Oberon and drink it fast enough to give myself an ice cream headache as they exchange inside jokes and tell stories about people I've never heard of. I then throw quickly throw $5 on the table and mention that this growler I'm carrying isn't going to fill itself and high tail it out of there.

So let me say, for the record, because apparently there are people out there who haven't figured it out yet: if you ask me to go drinking I am going to say yes. If I say no, then chances are I really don't like you. Conversely, if I ask you to totally come over, I mean you should totally come over. As a rule I don't extend invitations out of courtesy. But you probably already knew that too.

Posted 10:51am
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July 16th, 2009

Stay low key, BG

Today my little Buddha turns 14. He's a precocious little scamp who now borrows my clothes, has no problems dropping a casual cuss word into a conversation, and has become obsessed with becoming a 'regular' at several businesses downtown. Every year I give him a new nickname* based on the number of years he has accumulated on this earth. At 12 it was domino, 13 was Tiger Beat. 14?

BG, in honor of our benevolent savior Brian Griese. He's off to take a test today in an attempt to skip freshman math. I couldn't be prouder of my little bus riding liberal. I've got a year until he get's his learner's permit and I actually start to panic about having a teenager, so let's all enjoy the next 365, shall we? Happy birthday Siddhartha. Four more years and the free ride's over.

- I heard this story on NPR this morning and thought it worth posting because a.) I know the reporter, Jen Guerra b.) Its about UM students and c.) Harry Potter ends up being intrinsically tied to Sid's birthday. He's taking some friends to see the new movie Saturday night actually. Consider this a warm up.

*None of these nicknames actually take, I still almost always call him Sid.

Posted 9:25am
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July 13th, 2009

Staycation

Ayesha has returned for her annual pilgrimage to her home state, so I'll be taking days off here and there over the next couple weeks. This likely means less posting, but more pictures when I do. Judge for yourself whether that's good/bad/both, in any event it's what you get. We'll also be participating in the following:

- Creating a movie for 826 Michigan's first annual yet to be named Art Fair Film Festival. I'm sure you'll get to see it. Its going to be weird.

- Seeing Wilco and then Neko Case on back to back nights. And for the record, it was Ayesha's idea to see Neko, so if our eyes meet at the concert and we fall madly in love, it's Ayesha's fault for putting us in the same room.

- Beerfest. 'nuff said.

- PIB. This will be the first time I bring a girl to the island. No, this historically has not gone well for others. I put the odds of Ayesha surviving the weekend at pretty high (me being a drunk is not news) and the odds of her making it to the end of the night for a chicken dinner at drastically low.

Them's the highlights anyway. I'm sure we'll see a movie or two (saw Whatever Works last night. Liked it. If you like Woody and Larry, you pry will too) and participate in other drinking themed events (like trivia tonight!) So you know, my normal routine but with a partner in crime, so better.

Posted 10:51am
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July 10th, 2009

One of us! One of us!

Its an end of the week clean-out-the-bin sort of post. Expect no coherent theme, other than tbaggervance is slowly staving off the DT's until happy hour.

- I've been harping on this for a while now: bottled water is evil. You'll save in myriad ways by getting yourself a plastic or stainless steel reusable bottle. Want it filtered? Buy a Britta. But now there's a new tact I can take other than "Seriously? You know what plastic is made out of right?" Turns out that there's almost zero oversight as to what goes in those bottles. But have fun paying all that extra money.

- This is sad but true. I don't know why they chose Ann Arbor, but it made it hit home with me.

- This week in gay: some straight talkin' on DADT and if this doesn't get to you, you have no soul.

- Every proponent of religion of any sort has to face palm at this one: "The Earth has been here 6,000 years, long before anybody had environmental laws, and somehow it hasn't been done away with. We need to get the uranium here in Arizona, so this state can get the money from it," - Arizona state Senator Sylvia Allen (R). Having visited AZ several times now, I really feel like its gotten shortchanged on how much of a conservative, hillbilly backwater it truly is. It explains why there's so many OSU alums out there.

- Finally, Barack Obama is a man of the people:

It's my duty to please that booty.

Posted 11:33am
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July 9th, 2009

Ancient Chinese Secret

I know that my affinity for girls with skin tones other than white has been an oft discussed topic around here over the years, usually to the point where I imagine most of you saying to yourself (or perhaps outloud) "Methinks he doth protest too much." So you know what? Screw it. I like Asian girls. Certainly expressed as a percentage of time I've spent in relationships with Asian girls versus not, it borders on fetishism. I'll spare you counter-arguments where we dissect the racial and ethnic backgrounds of all of my sexual partners and overall number of dates with WASPs and nice Irish Catholic girls and just embrace it. I mention this because there's a whole book that explains why I am this way and how I am both at the mercy of history and in the majority. Its science.

- Unfortunately, this puts a pin in my hopes of ever being asked to co-host an ingratiatingly annoying and hypocritical morning show on Fox News. See, over there, they don't get down with the race mixin'. We shouldn't be humping other 'species'. Christ on a bike do I hate the far right.

- Here's a list of the most powerful columnists in America. I note it because Michelle Malkin is number four. FOUR! And despite her being Asian and attractive, I'd rather blow Andrew Sullivan than have sex with her.

Posted 11:23am
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July 8th, 2009

News from in and around my apartment

Sometimes I write posts like this and just immediately want to apologize for assuming anyone cares about the minutia of my life. But hey, you're already here. I promise to make it quick and as relatable and interesting as possible.

- Tired of being at the mercy of the worlds most off time bus (the UM intercampus commuter shuttle) today I tried the bike/bus tandem. The AATA bus only stops about three quarters of a mile from my building, so I threw my bike on the front of the bus and then rode into work the rest of the way. It cut about 20 minutes from my average commute time. While I wasn't a big fan of exerting myself before 9am (even the little bit I had to) I think this is the move going forward. Unless there's rain of course.

- The biggest problem with my new downtown location is grocery shopping. It requires a car and thus makes me cranky. Busch's isn't far, and its right on the way home when I drive to work, but its hard to believe that there's no market downtown at all (just the insanely expensive Beer Depot - fuck that place). Well hold your water - that could all change toot suite. I mean, this is A2 so it is an 'indoor farmer's market' but it could work for certain things or in a pinch when I am hungry. Plus, if you read carefully, you'll notice one important word in that article: microbrewery.

- Of course I'm indoctrinating Siddhartha into the wonders of public transportation. He regularly takes the bus back and forth between babymama's house and mine, saving us the headache of driving through one of A2's heaviest traffic areas. I doubt he will be dissuaded from getting his own transportation with all possible expediency however.

- Our neighbors apparently play shitty techno music during the day when I'm not home. I know this because Sid told me "Dad, the neighbors are playing shitty techno music. Let's crank up our stereo and blow them out of the water." Of course we will son, of course we will.

Posted 10:54am
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July 7th, 2009

All I can think of is a Dave Matthews reference, which like, not gonna happen

So I just canceled my satellite radio subscription. The reasons for this are myriad:

1. They upped the price. Not by much, but I was always weary of 'paying' for the radio to begin with, and increasing the 'paying' turned me off to say the least.

2. They started charging money for listening on the internet. Honestly, this was where I listened to Sirius the most. I would put on Howard Stern when I got to work and he would take up most of my morning. When they instituted a fee to do this, I balked, citing reason #1. Turns out I didn't miss it. There's tons of NPR podcats to listen to, and chances are they're doing me more good than Howard was.

3. I am now the Eco Warrior. At least that's how Markie C made fun of me over the weekend. I hate having to take the car anywhere, which means I don't do it that much anymore. Since that's the only place I could listen to it anymore, it began to make zero sense to have it.

I could also argue that Stern had become less interesting to me and since the merger with XM, by favorite indie rock station on Sirius became all techno-y and shitty. But really, it was a cash + availability to listen thing. I don't hate the satellite radio now. I would highly recommend it to those of you who drive a lot and have the disposable income. I'm not that guy. I will really miss the 'Left of Center' channel. Its where I first heard bands like Tokyo Police Club and Vampire Weekend, so I owe 'em big time for that. Who knows, I may be back some day. As some friends of mine pointed out recently "You should really get a girlfriend to live with you if for no other reason than to split the expenses. We can afford to get HBO now!"

- Speaking of the indie rock, Merge is 20. Happy Birthday, you glorious bastards.

- This is your representation at work, Ann Arbor. Hooray Beer Month!

- Here's a quiz for you sci-fi nerds and political nerds alike. Being both, I aced it.

Posted 1:25pm
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July 6th, 2009

I have a hangover worthy of our founding fathers

So here's some things that happened on the fourth:

- We paid one of our friends to pee off of a pedestrian bridge crossing the Huron River in broad daylight. It went from $2 to $7 to $13 to a whopping $33, at which point he grabbed the cash, walked over and waited for an all clear. He stepped on the bridge just as a family on bikes was crossing, people in canoes were going by underneath and the Amtrak was going by in the background. If only that would have happened mid-stream...

- We launched a pineapple off of the third story of a parking garage via a water balloon launcher. It cleared the pool, so 50yds? We plan on making this tradition.

- I discovered a fabulous new drinking technology, thanks to Dr. Walker. Take a freeze pop, bite of the top couple inches, and then replace that void with vodka. Its a tasty treat that would make Ben Franklin proud.

- I took half a dozen photos, mainly of us trying to get creative with cheap ass fireworks. You can find those here. Someone took a picture of me that I think really encapsulates the day and may be one of the best pictures I have ever been involved in. I'm working on securing the rights so I can show it to you, but it doesn't involve bodily secretions and potential partial nudity, so we'll see. Cross your fingers.

Posted 11:15am
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July 2nd, 2009

America! Fuck Yeah!

Happy Birthday America! Let's celebrate with a three day weekend, lots of meat and booze, and of course, explosions...

- I have this conversation at least half a dozen times every June:

a2newbie: When are Ann Arbor's fireworks?
tbaggervance: Ann Arbor doesn't have fireworks
a2newbie: Huh. Really?

Really, we don't have fireworks. Urban legend is that the moonpie religious zealot who works across the street from me used to purchase them and put on a show for the town, but at some point he deemed us either unworthy or ungrateful heathens. Either way, no official fireworks. Some crazy people who really enjoy blowing things up gather here and put on their own show, but its far from official. Here's a handy list of places to go if you really are jonesin' for explosions.

- Summer is supposedly a time for you to read more. This has never made much sense to me, as there's so much more to do in the summer. I guess the idea is that you're going to be outside where there are no TVs. That's a sad notion to me, but hey, if you're going to read more, kudos I guess. Here's NPR's summer reading list, as well as Newsweek's. tbaggervance has read recently/is reading the following and highly recommends them one and all:

Paul Krugman - The Conscience of a Liberal
Gregory McDonald - Fletch Won
Richard Russo - Straight Man
Dexter Filkins - The Forever War
Robert Bolanao - By Night in Chile
Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming - Who Killed Rettro Girl?

- There's a new Wilco album, which would usually mean that it would serve as the soundtrack to summer 2009. Unfortunately I pretty much agree with this review and it just hasn't taken yet. But fret not! Although I'm not 100% sold on the album in its entirity, Sid and I agree that 'Lisztomania' is the song of the summer.

-This has nothing to do with the Fourth, but here's a list of the best movie robots. Not as cool as my robot timeline, as it includes BOTH robots from the The Black Hole.

- And its the weekend, I wanna be in the show/Come on baby let's go

Posted 10:02am
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July 1st, 2009

Wednesdays are for politickin'.

- This piece on Sarah Palin is getting a lot of publicity - and rightly so. Even though you likely have your mind made up about her already (either you think she's a complete toolbox or you are) its a fascinating read. Her family is The Wasilla Hillbillies. Maybe my favorite bit:

More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin's extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of "narcissistic personality disorder" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy" - and thought it fit her perfectly. When Trig was born, Palin wrote an e-mail letter to friends and relatives, describing the belated news of her pregnancy and detailing Trig's condition; she wrote the e-mail not in her own name but in God's, and signed it "Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father."

That woman was almost a heartbeat away from the presidency. Its scary how close to seriously fucked we were. I really hope she runs in 2012, because we'll get to see more stuff like this. Hathos indeed.

- Obama and the gays aren't getting along. There's some buyers remorse amongst certain groups who feel that campaign promises aren't being kept, to which I say whoa, just hold your water. Four years people, not four months. No, everyone won't get everything they want - it doesn't work like that. But I think that this general sentiment - "I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration." will hold true for homos and non-homos alike. Well, at least amongst those of us who voted for him.

- Speaking of the gays, they're ruining everything. Which is ironic, since I'm not even sure there are gays in Oklahoma.

- Yesterday ljv and I had a conversation about Ricci v. DeStefano, Grutter v. Bollinger, the difference between the two and whether or not George Will is a douche bag. For the record, I cam down on the subject(s) thusly (a little out of context, but you'll get it)

I wouldn't go as far as a d-bag for that.

I don't think they are quite the same thing, and neither did the Supremes apparently. The line between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome is a blurry and winding one. I happen to think Ricci kind of got screwed and Grutter was a whiny baby with a sense of entitlement, but hey that's me. I understand his (George Will) wanting to be able to "simply insist that government cannot take cognizance of race." but we're going to have to go through these individually for a while longer, probably long past either you or I being around to judge talking head's responses as "d-bag or not d-bag."

- Finally, Happy Cananada Day! I love me some Canadians and was recently informed (by an American) that Cananada Day in Cananada rocks harder than the Fourth in the States. I don't know about all that, but I do hope all you crazy hosers enjoy whatever it is Cananada Day commemorates. Here's some Canadian remembrances (including one from A.C. Newman!) and here's one of my favorite Canadians performing a rousing cover version of "A Day in the Life" with a special guest. Had I been in attendance, my head may have exploded.

Posted 10:48am
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June 30h, 2009

That's my jam!

We often talk here at tbaggervance.com about fleeting things that float into our lives that, while innocuous, bring us joy. Today we talk about some things that always make us happy, every time we experience them. They may or may not be innocuous, but they are consistent purveyors of happiness, and should be appropriately celebrated.

- I love smart people. Can't get enough of them. I want to read things they write. I want to have conversations with them. I want to be humbled by their intellect. There's nothing better than that. That's why I love Paul Krugman. That guy's my jam. I wasn't sure how to feel about Waxman-Markey until I read this. Thanks Paul, I trust your judgment implicitly.

- I love movie trailers. Have to be at the theater in time to see them all or I won't even bother. There's something visceral about them, the way they have to grab you and get their point across in under 2 minutes. I end up going to the movies by myself too often, which isn't a big deal and something I don't lament, other than the fact that I have no one to turn to after every trailer and give my summary judgment about whether or not I intend to see said movie based on the previous two minutes. Its probably my favorite part of going to the movies. Anyway, so I clearly spent an hour yesterday going over this list of the greatest trailers of all time. In my opinion, they nailed it. And it really made me miss Don LaFontaine, he's my jam.

- I love a good chart. There's nothing better than a good graph that gives you information in an interesting way. That's why I love this site. Its why I am a fan of Nate Silver and this episode of HIMYM was one of my favorites. And this site? This site is my jam. Seriously, its a huge intersection of a lot of nerdy things, but ostensibly about sports, so not. Baseball nerds, hold your head high.

Posted 11:01am
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June 29th, 2009

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

- So this happened Friday night:

and a bunch of other stuff that was preceded by the line "This is NOT to end up the internet, OK?" So yeah, you guys missed out.

- Last night a sold out performance of Twelfth Night led to a viewing of The Brothers Bloom. I highly recommend it. Funny and sad and quirky, not unlike a Wes Anderson movie, although I feel that's a trite analogy.

- Speaking of movies, this trailer and this trailer make me want to go see those films. I'm totally gay for Michael Cera.

- Surprise! A new Spoon EP is out tomorrow. It will be awesome. If you don't absolutely love Spoon, then clearly you haven't heard them yet. Every one of their albums is pure sonic bliss. Get out there and and fall in love with Brit Daniel.

- And can I just say one more time, for the record, that living downtown is the best thing to ever happen to me in the history of the universe outside of the invention of Oberon. Last night Sid and I were walking home from Top o' the Park and despite the fact that he had just lost his cell phone, all felt right with the world. I recommend that you too, with all expediency, move to a central location that allows you to walk and take public transportation to all of your obligations and favorite things. The quality of your probably already fulfilling life will get exponentially better. Its really just amazing.

Posted 11:16am
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June 26th, 2009

Don't stop til you get enough...

Last night I was watching ESPN when it came across the bottom line: Entertainer Michael Jackson dead at 50. All I could think of was "Wouldn't it be funny if it said 'Alleged child molester Michael Jackson dead at 50."

That's the sad truth. The man who was King Shit of Fuck Mountain© in 1983 will mostly be remembered for diddling little boys by a large swath of people. And while I in no way excuse any of the strange and/or illegal behavior he exhibited over the years, that's what happens when you make your kids become dancing monkeys and their star explodes. Not many people can handle that loss of innocence, and even fewer can manage when its coupled with that level of fame. Yes, you get to write songs with Paul McCartney, but you also are forced to build an amusement park in your backyard in order to regain some part of your childhood.

But enough psychoanalysis. Personally I never really cared for much of what he did after Thriller. I mean, "The Way You Make me Feel" and "Smooth Criminal" are good songs, but let's be honest, MJ wasn't Bad. I never bought him as tough. My 8 year old self was captivated by the single gloved one, and my adult self will still spin "PYT" or "ABC" at any party, because they're about as good as it gets. But the shy, charismatic entertainer who I loved died around the same time his head when up in flames on the set of that Pepsi commercial. Turns out Neil was right, better to burn out than fade away.

- And let it be said, the biggest loser in all of this: Farrah Fawcet. MJ totally cockblocked her.

- Tonight I am singing at a party with the band that gave me the boot a month ago*. They really wanted to play a couple of the tunes I wrote lyrics for, so they asked if I wanted to get up and do 3-4 songs. I immediately said yes for 2 reasons: 1.) I don't really hold any grudge 2.) I feel that the songs I sing on will be the best things they do all night and everyone will tell me so. So if you ever wanted to see me sing a song I wrote - in front of people - without a guitar in my hand - tonight is the night. First time, probably last time. Seriously, you're all invited. Swing on by - there will be booze, potential nudity and guaranteed embarrassment of tbaggervance by tbaggervance.

*That's Jesus 1, tbaggervance 1. Tie ballgame!

Posted 10:12am
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June 25th, 2009

Summertime and the livin's easy?

Don't get me wrong, summer is awesome. Almost as good as fall, better than winter and edging out spring. But it can also be a bitch, as witnessed by my following summer pet peeves:

- Heat. And humidity. Its 90 today but it might as well be 110. When your car's AC is busted and your too cheap to fix it (like me) its an extra bitch. I hate running out for lunch and then being sweaty at my desk the rest of the day. Blech.

- Michael Bay. Summertime means I have to suffer under the oppressive awfulness of whatever stupid explosive bullshit Hollywood has assigned Mr. Bay this year. This is slightly mitigated when everyone agrees that said claptrap sucks harder than a freighter's bilge pump. At least this is confined to the summer.

- My fat. Every year I swear I am going to be ready for it and be completely comfortable taking off my shirt. Every year I fall short. This may be nitpicking in a sense of relativity, but it genuinely bothers me, because I am shallow and vain.

- Sunblock. I hate putting it on. What a pain in my asshole. This inevitably leads to sunburns, another sucky summer thing.

- Vacations. Not mine, other people's. Seems like everytime I try to get people together for something as simple as a happy hour, everyone is 'out of town for the weekend'. Why can't people just get drunk outside and call that vacation? Its what I do.

- The dearth of rock shows. Really? Yes. Summer is a time for festivals. I'm not big on festivals. Its hard to booze, they're filled with snot nosed punks and they inevitably only contain 3-4 bands I want to see out of 20. And all these cool bands filling festival bills means nobody is out on tour solo. This is why fall rules - the best month for shows is October.

- Bugs. Seriously, I fucking loathe bugs. They are everywhere in the summer. Not just mosquitos either (which, incidentally, require you to lather your skin with another chemical). All bugs suck. Figuratively.

All right, you can drink outside and play bocce ball and watch baseball and being on the water rules. And Oberon. Sweet, sweet Oberon. But if we don't nitpick here, we'd eventually be down to making fun of Lindsey Lohan or some bullshit.

Posted 1:52pm
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June 24th, 2009

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

- If someone doesn't support gay marriage, I usually tend to ignore them because they are an ignorant, hateful person. But if you want to get in an argument and be prepared/foresee the outcome, check out this handy sorta-flowchart.

- The bus is awesome. I am actually upset that I had to drive my car to work today for time constraint reasons. Not only did I finally finish The Forever War (thanks ljv) I get to relax on my way to work without having my temper flare due to people's inability to follow the rules of the road. I've outsourced my road rage.

- We finally have the internet in the new apartment! Unfortunately, we had to suck it up and get cable too. My garden level place at the bottom of a hill doesn't seem to want to pick up any digital signals that just float through the ether. But hey! I got hooked up with U-Verse from AT+T, which from my 5 minute interaction with it this morning, kicks Comcast's stupid fucking ass.

- As witnessed by the post made recently about my grandfather, I love me some old timey racism. I think we can all learn something from it in all of its blatent ugliness. Speaking of, turns out Tricky Dick wasn't a fan of oreos...

- It is humid as a mofo out there today. I'm hot, sticky sweet. And its supposed to storm later. The good news, I don't think the heavy stuff is gonna come down for awhile yet.

Posted 1:40pm
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June 23rd, 2009

Clap your hands everybody, everybody clap your hands...

I've always tried to walk some sort of line between jock and nerd. OK, you're right - jock is taking it a bit too far. I've always been a nerd who loves sports. Left to my own devices, I may have found it completely unnecessary to care about sports, but from a young age I realized that as much as I loved Spider-man I also liked having friends (and girls, incidentally). This required sports. It didn't hurt that writing about sports was what my dad did for a living and that in rural northwest Ohio you either liked sports or were gay. Whatever casual innate interest I had in sports got brought to the surface toot suite.

So while I do things like read for fun, enjoy sci-fi tv shows, subscribe to comic books and tinkering with computers, I also have season tickets to Michigan football, play softball, participate in fantasy sports and watch baseball - for fun, on TV*. These things never seemed mutually exclusive to me despite their disparate natures (and what 1980's comedies told me about nerd's exacting their revenge). Perhaps that was just my desire to keep my foot in both camps, as there are plenty out there who don't see it this way. This is most apparent as of late when one of my literary nerd friend's from 826 stares at me like I'm going to beat them up when I mention sports.**

But the other night John Hodgman explained how our Commander in Chief is a sporty nerd (I knew there was something I liked about that guy!) He then went into detail (on Olbermann) about how the more we allow ourselves to exist within both philosophies, the better off we are. I realized that this was a dichotomy I had been endorsing my whole life. So jocks - read a book; nerds - play a game of softball. You'll be better off in the long run (even if a nerd laughs at you at the library or a jock throws a ball at you and makes you cry).

- Speaking of nerds exacting revenge, here's Paul Begala beating up on Meghan McCain. I suspect the reasoning behind this is that he's always had a hard time getting girls to talk to him, and he's not used to winning fights, so he pounces on an inferior opponent. This is kind of awkward, because Ms. McCain should get credit for going on shows like that in the first place, and her only real message is 'Get with it, Republicans.' On the other hand, she's ill informed and plays it off with an ironic "I'm a young dumb blonde" routine. The latter is more detestable.

*yes, it could be argued that the first two are largely about alcohol and the third is at least as nerdy as it is sporty.
**The first time I played kickball with these people, I asked them all 'Who knows how to run the bases?' They all stared at me - or rather, the ground.

Posted 1:40pm
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June 22nd , 2009

I am a fabulous human being - with even better friends

I've been saying 'Plus I can take the bus to work!' when describing my new apartment ever since I signed the lease. And while the excitement was genuine and my intentions true, I always secretly worried that I would chicken out. That I would get lazy and hit the snooze bar and tell myself 'Aw shucks, missed the bus. Guess I'll have to drive!' That I would ultimately be a green poseur.

But after a restless night's sleep, I was actually laying in bed, staring at my alarm clock waiting for 7:30 to roll around and the beeping to start. Thirty minutes later I made the five minute walk (five minute!) to the main bus stop and awaited my ride. Long story short, I made it to work without major incident. However, it did take me an hour to get there from the time I walked out the back door. Now I can surely cut at least 20 minutes off of this, but its still going to be a 40 minute commute. One that I can spend reading and watching podcasts, but still, I could drive my car and be there in 12.

So it may not happen every day. My goal going in was 3 days a week, and I'm going to do my best to beat that. But it is a little weird to not have the freedom that your own personal automobile parked outside affords you. But hey, its about sacrifice.

- Speaking of which, I also gave blood today, after a 15 year lapse in my donating schedule. It felt good. Not literally, but you know.

- And as green and giving as I am, my friends rock harder. Specifically, the Baughmans and Stovcsiks. I had plans to leisurely take a few loads of my stuff from old apartment to new apartment Thursday night, then at some point over the weekend, rent a truck and finish up the big stuff. Little did I know that the former Naptowners had different ideas. Before I knew what was even happening, Troy had the minivan (with seats stowed and ready to go) loaded with my mattresses and Jen was throwing everything in my closets into garbage bags. The Stovcsiks showed up and it was a caravan of cars carting my goods across town. A few hours later and old apartment looked like it belonged in Whoville, post Grinch. So thanks team. I don't know what I would have done without you.

Posted 1:48pm
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June 18th , 2009

Our house, that was where we used to sleep

Its my last night in my apartment*. I've lived there for 7 years, so it comes with no small amount of nostalgia. Sid did a large swath of his growing up there. Ayesha and I fell in love there (which will probably be my most enduring memory of the place). There's lots of stories that happened at F-44, too many of them chronicled here already, so let's not get too teary eyed. That place had also really started to suck ass, and we are truly moving to greener pastures.

That's pretty much it. I was going to wax nostalgic about all of the things that happened to me over the last 7 years, but I've been talking about this for months and all the great stories have probably been chronicled here already, or are lost to one drunken stupor or another. So that's it. Come see me at the new place. Or feel free to crash there when you're too drunk and too cheap to get a cab - that's why I moved there.

- This guy makes great charts. I like this one. And this one.

- Want to have a great weekend? Do what I do - Friday night head on down to Kzoo to see the reformation of my favorite band from college Circus McGurkis. Then Saturday you can support 826 AND dance your ass off at the Robo BANG! I guarantee you won't be sober for any of it.

*This is probably not true. Its supposed to rain all weekend so I may postpone tomorrow's moving o' the furniture...

Posted 11:41am
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June 17th , 2009

Movin' on up

Moving is a time of evaluation. Its full of large somewhat existential questions like 'Why are you really moving?' and 'What do you hope to accomplish by it?' but also lots of little ones like "Do I really want to expend the energy to move this chair that mom got me after college but I never really liked anyway?" I have a pretty good handle on the larger existential questions and have talked about them here before (the gist: I want to walk to more bars) so let's look at some of the more innocuous queries:

- Ashtrays. I have a shit ton of ashtrays. Some of them were stolen, some of them were won as prizes, some were stolen as prizes from my parent's house when they moved 15 years ago. But my new apartment is strictly non-smoking and there will be no need for ashtrays of any sort.
Verdict: Pitch everything but ma and pa's trays

- Paving stones. When I moved in there was a patch of dirt 2.5 feet by 8 feet at the end of my patio that was supposed to be for green growing things, but no seed would find purchase due to the fact that sun never shines there. So I went out and bought 12 really nice paving stones to extend the deck out and make use of the space. My new space has no need for such a thing, but they are nice and weren't cheap. I'm sure the next tenant would appreciate them.
Verdict: Donate them to a friend. Fuck my apartment complex up their stupid asses. Nothing against whomever lives in my place next, but I'd rather have my stones go to one of friends with a house who could use them.

- Goose. In college hap and circumstance led us to stealing a concrete goose one night. We used it to play pratical jokes on each other, as it weighs about 50 pounds and once you put it somewhere (like a drunk guys bed) it was a bitch to get out. Somehow, over ten years later, I still have the goose. I love it, but it is ugly and heavy.
Verdict: Undecided. I really want someone to tell me its OK to jettison this icon of my youth. Failing that, it'll pry come with me. He really deserves a more fitting end than being abandoned at Arbor Village.

- Baseball cards. For reasons passing understanding, I have a 20 pound box of baseball cards from the late 1980s. I've moved them several times (out of nostalgia?) knowing that they aren't worth the cardboard they are printed on.
Verdict: Recycle. And don't lose any sleep over it.

- The couch. I have this funky, ugly couch that I got from Kara when we split up. It is older than I am. It is 7 feet long. I've had to replace the inner working with things like 2x4's more than once. But man is it great to sleep on, and I built the color scheme and decor of my last place around it.
Verdict: Keep it. Forever. Dump any girl who tells you to get rid of it, marry the one who offers to have her cousin who restores furniture take a look at it for you. Some things you hold on to past their prime and/or usefulness.

Posted 2:03pm
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June 16th , 2009

What's making baby Jesus cry this week?

- What's happening in Iran is amazing. Surely Baby J is crying over sham elections that are held under the jack boot of a theocratic government that isn't christian. There's no good way to link to the overall story. Here's an attempt. I hope (and baby J does too) you're all paying attention and pulling for freedom. Unless you're a neocon, in which case this clearly mean bomb the shit out of them.

- If there's one thing Baby Jesus wants you to hate and fear its H-E-double hockey sticks. So why do we use the word everytime we meet someone? Texas to the rescue!

- Clearly Baby J's got a lot of people who consider themselves latter day apostles, and chief among them is Newt Gingrich, who clearly fancies himself as one of the sons of thunder. Recently Newt noted "We are in a period where we are surrounded by paganism, and paganism is on offense." citing America's ties to religion going back to Jefferson. Retard. I want a level headed conservative party in this country, but I fear Republicans will always be too tied to Jesus for me to ever take them seriously at this point. Or maybe Huckabee is right and God did defeat gay marriage in California. Who knows?

- Jesus hates gays, so he hates American Idol, right? (this is not even an Adam Lambert joke!)

- Not all news is bad news. Jesus 1, Atheists 0.

Posted 12:05pm
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June 15th , 2009

The farmer takes a wife, the cheese stands alone

Recently a friend of mine had triplets (ouch). This is on top of his two stepkids that are in their teens (double ouch). Your heart has to go out to people about to attempt such an overwhelming undertaking. As such, fellow Ann Arborite and long time friend Jen said that she was going to send them some food from Schwans, as it might help ease the pain of finding time and energy to do things like eat. She offered to let me in on the action. Spit spot, done and done.

Now while I immediately thought 'What a wonderful idea' when Jen suggested this, it is clear that I would not have thought of this on my own. I'm a guy, so I consider it a victory that I wished him well on facebook after his kids were born. But thanks to Jen, I look appropriately thoughtful and helpful during my long distance friend's time of need. So when Jen informed me that the gift had been ordered, I thanked her and jokingly noted "This just reaffirms my belief that I don't need a wife when you guys take care of this sort of thing for me." Jen did not take it with its intended humor.

"I propose you come up with the top 10 reasons why you do not need a wife. We, your supportive group of friends, will come up with the top 10 reasons why you do need a wife. We will compare the lists - I think you'd be surprised that nearly half, if not more of the reasons you think you don't need one, we perceive as the reason you do."

Ouch. Now I have homework? I make a little joke and now its intervention time? Let's face it, there's no way I'm going to come out looking good in this. But hey, I'm nothing if not a good sport. So I'll start working on my list of 10 - quid pro quo Jennifer.

(For the record, no I don't see the necessity of marriage outside of reasons having to do with children, but yes, I'd like to find someone who would tolerate me for infinity. And yes, having a wife would straighten out aspects of my life that most people would agree need straightening. I'm still making the list.)

Posted 1:28pm
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June 12th , 2009

He's Flipish: half Filipino, half Irish

Last night we were talking about old timey grandparents and their crazy ways, which meant I got to tell my racist grandfather story. It goes something like this: 10-12 years ago I was visiting my grandparents and my grandpa told a story about how he saw a white woman with a black baby at the Wal-Mart and how that wasn't right and why couldn't people stay with their own kind. He told this story as my two year old half-breed rolled around on his living room floor, making it all the more fun/offensive.

Now I'll confront anyone who maligns the Beatles in anyway and I'll confront most people - including family - on homophobia and racism, depending on the context. But there wasn't much to gain by pointing out the irony in my grandpa's diatribe given the affection he'd always shown his great grandson. Especially since I was all of 22 at the time and my grandpa chopped wood everyday and at 80 something could still put me through a wall. It was a que sera sera situation if there ever was one, even though it made me mad and uncomfortable. Ah well.

Anyway, here's the real bad news for Sid: as I was telling the story and referred to Sid as half-asian at some point, I was interrupted with 'Oh is that what he is? I wasn't sure.' This came as a quite a shock to me, not unlike when people started telling me I didn't have red hair. It was explained to me that he was obliviously not 100% white, but that he could have been Indian or Middle Eastern or some other mix. I suppose this is fair, just something I never considered, as Sid is pretty into being Asian. I guess lookout kid - you're not as obvious as you think.

- And since its Friday, let me leave you with this bit of happy, wondrous news: Beer hydrates you better than water. It's science.

Posted 10:29am
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June 11th , 2009

Dads and Grads

Blech. I hate that phrase. I mean, is there a more pandering slogan that's also more nonsensical in its pairing? No, no there's not. First of all, these two demographic groups have nothing in common. A dude in his late forties is the furthest thing from an 18 year old girl that you can possibly get. Yet there they are, together. Side by side in that trite little slogan.

So why pair them? Obviously its because people tend to graduate right around father's day and households everywhere will be out buying gifts for these two disparate entities. It's really easy for advertisers to tap you on the shoulder and say 'Hey, don't forget your morally obligated to get these people gifts.' And it just so happens that 'Dads and Grads' rolls off the tongue better than 'Fathers and Graduates'.

But the bottom line is that these two groups don't remotely want the same thing. Truth be told, you don't need to 'shop' for either of them. For the grad: cash. Straight money. They've either got college coming up or one last summer to hang out with their friends before everyone leaves them in the dust. Either way, they're going to need booze money, not a leather bound date book. For the Dad: leave them alone. If you insist on spending money, buy them a pizza and a six pack. Then go to the movies. Double feature, take the kids. Let them sit home alone and watch golf in peace and quiet. It will be the best father's day ever.

- Speaking of grads, I give to you the best commencement speech ever. Seriously. Take five minutes and watch it. Seriously. "The main difference between yesterday and tomorrow is that you can now go to the bathroom whenever you want. Its a big repsonsibility, but you've earned it."

- Here's a great message to graduating seniors. I know a guy who might have seen this and taken it a little too much to heart, since clearly once you've graduated you can bang away.

- Siddhartha is on his class trip in D.C., so guess what he'll probably remember most? I won't hold my breath waiting for conservatives to apologize to the DHS in light of yesterday's tragedy. Not surprising that this list features the most ignorant, slimy, douche bags in Washington.

Posted 11:03am
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June 10th , 2009

Moon River

We don't often offer disclaimers here at tbaggervance.com, but well, even we realize the semi-questionable nature of this post. So - those with a heart condition, pregnant women, people offended by foul medical conditions and especially, any females who may ever want to find me sexually attractive again - please don't read this. You've been warned.

Regular readers may have noticed that we're at least a day and half behind in our posting around here. Well, it all started yesterday morning when I awoke at 6am after a night of moderate to heavy drinking with a pain in my asshole that suggested nothing short of sodomy by something surely larger than a baby's arm. But let's back up a bit first for some context.

I've had a hemorrhoid for several years now. Its never been that big of deal. It flares up from time to time, goes away after a brief period of time without much fanfare. I figure its something you learn to live with - a kinder, gentler herpes. That's why when over the weekend I started feeling that twinge back there, I didn't think much of it. But instead of a minor fading annoyance, it started to get worse, not better - culminating in the sharp stabbing pain that felt like someone was trying to up the size of my poop shoot. It was bad enough that I called my doctor's office the minute they were open. This from the guy who walked around on a broken ankle for two days and waited 12 hours to get a massive head wound looked at out of convenience.

So several excruciating hours later, the doctor finally waltzed into my exam room. "It's never good when I walk in the room and the patient is standing up." he drly noted. After some brief chit chat about what was happening to my asshole, it was time to get down to brass tacks. "Drop 'em and lay down on your left side." I obliged and the doc got down and gently spread my cheeks. "Whoa. Nice." My hand to god that's what he said. "I've seen a lot of people claiming to be in pain today, but you win. That looks excruciating." Apparently my hemorrhoid had developed a blood clot, causing it to swell up and feel like death. Go figure.

I kinda of liked this guy, but of course my standard doctor critique still applied - he couldn't offer me a cause or solution. He gave me a cream and some vicodin (vicodin!) and told me that in a few days it would go away and never bother me again. That was the good news. "You may have some bleeding. Not that you'll bleed to death or anything but its a lot of blood for sitting around at home." As far as he knows anyway.

So I've spent my time since laying on my side and having my head swim with the sweet mellow malaise of vicodin. There's worse things, other than my ass is still pretty tender to say the least. But at least when its over it will be over for good. And chances are I will have some vicodin left over for a rainy day.

Posted 7:05pm
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June 8th , 2009

Recapping the weekend that was

Siddhartha is out of town this week on his class trip to Washington D.C., so its bachelor week here at tbaggervance.com. This basically means that I get to go to trivia tonight and don't have to leave the bar early after softball tomorrow. That and I'm likely to be more like 30 minutes late to work rather than 15. I'm looking forward to it. It's also my last official week in my apartment of 7 years. I started to pack shit up last night, and its odd to say the least, but more on that later. Here's some shit that went down over the weekend.

- I managed to see Up and The Hangover this weekend and I highly recommend both. I almost made it a trifecta with The Brothers Bloom yesterday, but I would have had to see it at the State, and I avoid that place like it's the Necto. Anyway, Pixar has yet to make a bad movie and Up fits well into their pantheon. As for The Hangover, it totally deserves the hype. Funniest thing I've seen in the theater since Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It somehow makes me even more anxious for Year One.

- After Up I went to the bar with some kids who couldn't give two shits about hockey - which is a problem when its game 5 of the Stanley Cup. Luckily the Wings took care of things quite handily, and now have two shots at winning the Cup over the next four days. Keep this stat in mind as you watch tomorrow night.

- Oh, and those on facebook or twitter already know that I had to crash on a couch downtown Saturday night because I was incapable of riding my bike home. This is reason number one I am moving. Doing the walk/ride of shame on a Sunday morning is bad enough, but it really sucks when you live next to a giant Catholic church and mass is getting out just as you're getting home. Classy.

- The first real litmus test in the middle east post Obama's Cairo speech turned out pretty well. I'm not attributing causation here, but just sayin'. For what I consider to be dead on analysis of the actual speech and what we're trying to do going forward, peep Andrew Sullivan.

- Elvis Costello was on Letterman Thursday night, dressed like a pimp (Thanks GLane for the heads up). I get nervous when Declan makes genre records, but this one at least has its moments. I'd prefer he make stuff like last year's Momufuku over and over, but I guess he wouldn't be Elvis Costello then, would he.

- Finally, I didn't watch the Tonys last night because, well, I'm straight. But this closing number from NPH is pretty brilliant. It also should make you appreciate his playing Barney on HIMYM, because how gay is NPH? The answer is very, very gay.

Posted 10:52am
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June 5th , 2009

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

- We win! Our 0-4 kickball team played our last game last night against arch rivals Neutral Zone. And let me just say that we raked, 13-3. I take some small measure of credit for teaching a bunch of literature nerds how to run the base paths. Onward Robots!

- I'm not sure how much of a cultural touchstone Magnum P.I. is anymore, and that is sad. Fortunately, Han Solo is still universally regarded as awesome, so folks young and old alike should get something out of this. If you're over 30, watch this second and you'll realize just how awesome the first part is.

- This morning I went to my son's 8th grade graduation ceremony. Let me state - unequivocally and for the record - I am against all graduation ceremonies other than high school and college undergrad. Guess what? You're done with junior high? Great, back to work as you've yet to accomplish shit. But hey, I missed one international night at Sid's school 5 years ago and he never let me live it down, so I begrudgingly attend these asinine timewasters (even though Sid is smart enough to know that this is bullshit by now.) Anyway, I suppose this officially means that I have a high schooler now. Kind of hard to believe, kind of awesome. I get excited, as the older he gets the more adult fun he gets to have. Plus, I'm so close to being done!

- And while it is with a heavy heart that I report David Carradine apparently has killed himself, let us remember him for how fucking cool Caine was. He was so cool that Tarantino used him as a spiritual aspiration in Pulp Fiction, and then went on to cast Carradine himself in Kill Bill - which I will watch this weekend in his honor - either drunk or hungover, enjoying every frame.

- I took today off in honor of 'graduation', so its time to go drink. Its really starting to feel like summer...

Posted 2:16pm
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June 4th , 2009

Which of these is the dumbest thing said this week?

- Up first: colossally un-self aware actor Craig T. Nelson. Now I want to point out that he said this on Glen Beck - a man generally considered to be in the running for the top five stupidest people on television. How did he out Glen Beck Glen Beck? Anyway, here's what Craiggers had to say about America and its lack of ability to pull itself up by its collective bootstraps:

They should be allowed to go bankrupt! What happened - we are a capitalistic society. OK, I go into business, I don't make it, I go bankrupt. They're not going to bail me out. I've been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me out? No. No.

Now I've got no love for the show Coach, but everybody loves Poltergeist, so while I want to ignore the inherent lack of acknowledgment that the U.S. government bailed out Craig T. with, well, welfare and food stamps, I cannot. Craig T. Nelson - you are the worst kind of hypocritical conservative asshole.

- Second - Senate fuckwad Lindsey Graham. Lindsey first came on my radar, not ironically, during the Alito confirmation hearings, where he gave the justice-in-waiting full out felatio on the floor of the senate. Now, he seems to have a problem with President Obama's pick of Sonia Sotomayor:

Sonia, you would not believe how much I want to vote against you. It is literally insane, the level of hatred I have towards you, personally.

That's what he supposedly said, by his own admission, to her face. After meeting her and admitting that she was quite friendly. Hopefully there are enough Senators to just know it in their hearts that Sonia's got it going on, since Lindsey is currently 'literally insane'.

- Third, Dick Cheney, all around creepy curmudgeon and a man clearly desperate to convince anyone that damnit, he kept us safe for, well, 7 years 3 months anyway. But who's to blame for that one little spot on his record? He finally let's us know:

You know, Dick Clarke. Dick Clarke, who was the head of the counterrorism program in the run-up to 9/11. He obviously missed it. The fact is that we did what we felt we had to do, and if I had to do it all over again, I would do exactly the same thing.

The problem with that, as even the moderator told him, is that Clarke repeatedly warned them about al Qaeda. Of course Cheney's response to that? "That's not my recollection, but I haven't read his book." Har har Dick. You can watch Jon Stewart eviscerate the former VP here. You dick.

Posted 10:26am
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June 3rd , 2009

Town Crier: A2 edition

- I always feel a rush of hometown pride everytime A2 is in the NYTimes. Doubly so when it has to do with how green and awesome we are. Here's a cool article about our LED streetlamps.

- Speaking of green A2, buried in this city council article is the decision to delay the decision on banning plastic bags until Spetember. Just do it already,chicken shits. People will learn to suck it up.

- Nothing is getting my attention more locally these days than whether or not to get rid of the Argo dam. My position, in a nutshell, is fuck the goddamn crew assholes and blow it the fuck up. They seem to be the only ones advocating keeping it, and the rest of us would be better off without it. Who wouldn't rather have class one rapids than a bunch of douche bags in a skinny boat? I think my side will eventually cave to the rowers, but they can still suck it.

- Another 'Should we or shouldn't we?' debate - closing down Main Street more in the summer. I don't have a strong feeling on this one way or the other. If it's only on the weekends in the summer, I guess I'm for it - especially if it provides more outdoor seating upon which I can get drunk. But I'm not adament like I am on the dam thing. Seriously, I'm not taking it in the butt for goddamn rowing.

- Missed in the Summer Festivals write up was 'Restauarant Week' here in Ann Arbor. Mostly because this just seems like a scam designed by Main Street Ventures to separate you from your cash. But hey, if you're into it, go try some new grub - I'm sure there are deals to be had.

- Finally, this is a fabulous idea: Grab a bus to downtown Detroit for $16, round trip. Better yet - these trips are specifically designed around Tigers games and general drinking and debauchery. The next one is this Saturday, and July 12th is Casino Night. If only I knew people who liked to drink and gamble...

Posted 10:26am
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June 2nd , 2009

When the totally unexpected comes to fruition

- In the parking lot of the Eddie Money show we had a discussion about who would be our generation's Edward Money: Really popular for an extended period of time, go away for a while, come back and play the oldies circuit (daughter as opening act optional). We had a lot of bands that didn't meet the popularity quotient (Hootie and the Blowfish) some that never went away enough (Dave Matthews Band) and some that we thought would never stoop so low as to come back and play the oldies circuit (Pearl Jam). The best answer (IMO) was the Counting Crows. In ten years, I can see my high school buddies clamoring to catch them some fat, bloated Adam Duritz. But wait! What's this? Pearl Jam is the musical act on the first night of Conan O'Brien? Wait - they're making an ad for TARGET!?! Huh. So much for the guys who refused to play venues that sold their tickets via Ticketmaster. See you at the Knob in 2020 boys. Totally worth the $5 ticket.

- OMG we're socialists! The government is taking over corporate America, as evidenced by this chart in The Atlantic:

As they note, the government owning GM makes for an interesting debate and one that has far reaching implications. When you start taking about how we're socialists now, its a lot less interesting debate.

- Pro-life killers? I'm not going to get too into it - I'll let The Onion do my talking for me.

- And in news completely unrelated to today's headline in any literal or sarcastic way, Burt's Bee's is giving away 1,000 tubes of lip balm a day for 25 days. They tend to go fast, so you need to check the link every morning and get lucky, but hey, that's shit's expensive and totally awesome, so worth checking out.

Posted 10:11am
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June 1st , 2009

That's when the internet bites you on the ass

Most of you know by now of my burgeoning long distance, one sided romance with Ms. Neko Case. If you need a reminder, well, OK - let's show the album cover one more time:

That's Neko. She's raven haired, has the voice of an angel and well, she's crouched on the hood of a muscle car with a spear in her hand - of course I'm in love with her. Me and every other over 30 aging hipster in the universe who's ever been to see The New Pornographers.

But of course not everyone sees my obsession as cute and hilarious. This weekend Ayesha was discovering what Neko (Neko! Isn't her name just adorable?!?) actually sounds like, and we exchanged several txt messages in which I reiterated how hot she is. This culminated in me finally receiving this txt:

Dude, seriously.

Now I think celebrity crushes are healthy things. I'm never going to meet Neko Case much less have a drink with her. Therefore no one should ever have cause for jealousy over my hyperbolic obsession with her. I would never feel threatened by a girl's obsession with say Clive Owen - even if she chose to be over the top about it in the way I express my feelings for Neko.

But then I got to thinking, what if there was cause for alarm? Not in the sense of 'What if your significant other is involved in a celebrity affair?' but more along the lines of 'What does your celebrity crush say about you and your relationship?' That's a huge topic, so specifically, is it better to have your significant other obsessed with a celeb that is similar to you or wholly different? One could argue that having your s.o. obsessed with someone who is nothing like you indicates their preference for something different and a rejection of your specific qualities. On the other hand, if they show a preference for a celebrity you share a number of qualities with, you may sleep a little easier knowing that you're at least in the ballpark. Of course the opposite of those could be true as well: idolizing something different is just celebrating diversity whereas looking for something similar is an indictment of your specific shortcomings.

Ultimately, I think if you're actually worried you either have trust issues or your relationship has problems that extend beyond the celebrity crush. There's much more to be concerned about if your s.o. is obsessed with someone actually in their life that isn't you. I think if your girlfriend keeps talking about how hot the new guy at work is, you might want to pay attention. As for their love of redheaded Canadian songstresses, well that's just a healthy appreciation of talent and beauty. Unless said songstress ever google's herself and comes across this - in which case call me.

- A very important person in my department just commented on a comment that I made to another employee's facebook account. Six months from now when I am jobless, remember this moment as the beginning of the end.

- Those who check out the flickr page may have noticed that I posted a pic of Dutch Leonard last Thursday after hearing him speak. It's a grainy cameraphone pic from a band angle, but hey, it's what I could get. Well over the weekend I got a request from the AADL, asking to link to the photo from their photostream. This would seem like an honor, but what if I captioned the picture by noting that Dutch is King Shit of Fuck Mountain©? Did the AADL notice that and over look it or just not see it? Well I approved their request, so let's hope that no overly sensitive library patrons see it and throw a fit.

Posted 10:11am
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May 29th , 2009

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

- Elmore Leonard is King Shit of Fuck Mountain. I listened to him, his son and some other dude speak at the public library last night and just, wow. The cat's eighty-fucking-three and smarter and quicker than anyone in the room. If you enjoyed watching Get Shorty or Out of Sight or Jackie Brown and have never read Elmore (Dutch to his friends) then you are not living life to its fullest my friend.

- Speaking of timewasters (as we were yesterday), here's a great one celebrating Empire's 20th anniversary. I'm stuck on 30/50 and will kick myself when I figure out what Shakespeare on the rings is.

- Sometimes, when you're that asshole who has to have every bit of music the minute it hits the ether, you don't get exactly the same album that the rest of the world does. Por ejemplo, My copy of The Strokes 2001 debut Is This It was built piece meal off of Napster or Limewire or whatever was the downloading program du jour back then. As such, my copy of the album has demos and alternate takes and ultimately sounds nothing like the version of the LP that made them the saviors or rock of and roll of the day back then. But guess what? I love my copy. I tried to download the official version once and hated it - even though I knew it was arguably a vastly superior effort. It just wasn't what I fell in love with. Anyway, I recently came across something similar. I had Vampire Weekend's eponymous debut at least 3 months before the street date. In those 3 months, I gave it to everyone I knew who had an even cursory interest in good music. Well it turns out - 18 months later - that my copy was missing a track. I knew of the existence of the song "m79", but I thought it was a b-side or something. Nope. Its track five. Can't say why my copy was missing it, but it was. So I now apologize to everyone I passed that album on to - you got shorted. I promise to make it up to you.

- My kid makes me happy in all of the important non-innocuous ways, but I often find the innocuous much more satisfying and visceral. Recently he used a phrase that he heard when we were hanging out with Tom and Sarah that dates back to my college days and it made me beam from ear to ear. "When they say Thomas, they mean da asshole." That's my boy.

- Its Friday. Happy hour approacheth. That makes me a kid on Christmas morning.

Posted 11:38am
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May 28th , 2009

Timewasters

I got nothing. Here's some shit to waste away the day.

- Here's an exhaustive list of comedians that are available for you to follow on twitter. I am very pleased to announce that this resource not only proves just how funny @mitchfatel and @michaelianblack truly are, but also how funny @carlosmencia and @danecook aren't.

- Here's another giant waste of time: Name that movie in four frames. I wish it was better setup so that it was more of a game, but if you are careful with your scrolling, you can go for hours.

- I will have something to say about this subject at some point, but it won't sound as girlie as this does.

- The Yahoo! Answers service is laughably bad at providing information, but awesome at being laughable.

Posted 11:25am
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May 27th , 2009

Wednesday's are for politickin'

- You can decry identity politics, say she's too liberal or not liberal enough. You can wail about her statement about the policy making court of appeals and claim her resume is too thin. But you can't argue two things: she saved baseball from itself and more importantly, she dicked over Maurice Clarett. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

- Yes, Prop 8 in California was upheld by the California Supreme Court. But fear not, leftys, liberals and friends of the gays everywhere - I know it hurts, but its going to be OK. Here's a liberal reassurance that it doesn't mean what you think it does. It just means that when the gays get married they can't call it marriage (yes, this is stupid, but its the game we play as we move towards equality). And here's the gay conservative voice on the matter, espousing the case against what could be seen as judicial fiat. See? We'll all be fine one day soon, and you can tell your grandkids about how naïve and backwards we all once were.

- Gambling? On the internet? Say it ain't so, Joe! Speaking of the gays, Barney Frank has introduced a bill to legalize online gambling in United States. Your first response to this may be 'Online gambling isn't legal?' Yeah, so, this changes little to nothing, as anyone who's ever wanted to place a bet on anything hasn't probably had much of a problem doing so (I certainly haven't). This basically is a pandering argument about whether or not Congress should save us from ourselves and "Won't you think of the children?" But hey, more gambling is something I am always for, so, yay!

- OK, so Mancow Muller is a douche nozzle. He tried to be Howard Stern when that was popular, and then took on a conservative bent when Rush Limbaugh seemed to be the way to go. But I also don't think this is a stunt in the sense that it he didn't plan on having to say this was torture. Let's be honest, it was six seconds and he could stop it at the drop of a hat. How about when you aren't in control? And if Sean Hannity still has your respect, you're a respect slut and you should try having some for yourself.

- And just so we hit all of our peccadilloes, here's the Freakanomics Quorum on pot legalization, as well as a video history of weed, courtesy of the show Weeds.

Posted 11:25am
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May 26th , 2009

Overheard and overseen over the weekend

That was maybe the most perfect weather weekend Memorial Day has ever seen. Just 70 and sunny for 4 straight days. I did my best to take advantage of it, going to concerts, barbecuing, and drinking my way through the holiday. Here's a few things seen and heard during that period:

- Stov and I showed up at the Eddie Money concert Friday and realized that we were way over the median age of attendee, which was the opposite of what we expected. We had a blast, but perhaps the most memorable moment was when a kid who looked like he was my son's age came up to me and asked "Y'all ain't got no weed?" I told him "It's 'Excuse me, do you perchance have any weed?'" and sold him a dime bag of shake.

- It wasn't just Stov and I at Eddie Money. As we sat in the parking lot with our minikeg of Oberon, we realized that Boike both might be willing and able to come to the show. After some hemming and hawing, the txt message exchange went something like this:

stov: Shall we get two tickets to paradise or three?
boike: Baby hold one for me.

You should really come to Eddie Money with us next year. Seriously, take the afternoon off and come. We'll make it our official summer kickoff event.

- Saturday as I was riding my bike through campus I noticed a group of college kids sitting in the back of a pickup truck that was parked in their front lawn. I immediately thought that this was a rather hillbilly way to spend an afternoon, and behavior more fitting of Columbus than Ann Arbor. That was until I got closer. Because this wasn't just people using a tailgate as furniture. Oh no. These future leaders of men had lined the bed of the truck with a tarp, filled it with water and were using it as a swimming pool (no diving). I suddenly found myself very nostalgic for my youth and wishing I was still in college.

- Being smart is pretty tied up in how I see myself. This is evidenced by my hubris of trying to take on four people (who are wicked smart) in Trivial Pursuit by myself Sunday night, after about 8 hours of drinking (there is no hubris like drunken hubris). That may point to me being a jackass more than anything, but honestly I just really wanted to play the game, and the jackassery ensured we did. Anyway, I point to this because then wouldn't you think that this might be the worst possible thing to ever say to me?

You'd like him. He's really smart. Almost as smart as you. Maybe smarter.

Even if one were joking, or teasing or whatever, that's not going to go well. You might as well say Oberon sucks, Wilco is boring and Tom Brady is gay in the same breath.

Posted 10:06am
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May 22nd , 2009

Kickball Douche Bag of the Week

Its really a shame. I've been playing some flavor of 'Recreation Department' adult sports for over a decade now, and the pattern is so shockingly stable that it makes you wonder where all the d-bags are coming from. You know the guy/girl I'm talking about. The one that takes things way too seriously. The one that is reliving some past athletic glory - back when they had the world by the balls and they felt like they were King Shit of Fuck Mountain©. They argue rules. They say the most annoying things, make unbelievable gestures when they succeed. They are douche bags.

Usually its one person on a team. Softball seems to lend itself to having that one person infect everyone else, but there's still one guy at the heart of the matter. The guy who thinks he knows more than the ump and is actually pissed that he's playing against your team and its clearly inferior athletic prowess. How he's never been punched in the face you'll never know. But that's to be expected in a sport like softball. A bunch of overweight dudes who used to play baseball reliving past glories. That makes sense. Well sadly I'm here to tell you that this phenomenon exists even in kickball. Among non-profits.

It seemed like an innocuously fun thing to do: play a kids game with a bunch of people who are less athletic than I am? Oh to play sports and not worry about being the worst player on the field! Against people who are doing this to strictly have fun? Why not? Well because even the Red Cross has douche bags.

The first week it was the former high school softball pitcher. She was out for blood. She threw the ball towards the plate with as much velocity as she could muster, and defensively she was a general - barking out orders with a voracity that would indicate life or death. I can't remember the last time I wanted to punch a girl in the face that much.

Week two it was former frat boy douche bag. From his position at short stop, he made every play in the infield (often pushing his teammates out of the way to do so.). In the last inning (which was just for fun to extend the game - it didn't count, they had already won.) He deliberately kicked the ball into the outfield towards a TEN YEAR OLD and even though the ball was in the infield as he rounded second, he kept running all the way home and slide into the plate to just beat a tag. Congrats dude. You are totally awesome.

That last guy also had a teammate who insisted we couldn't throw the ball at her. That we weren't playing that way, even though it explicitly says in the rules that we are. After we lightly threw the ball at her on her way to second, she stood there, arms crossed, saying "No, I'm not out. We're not playing that way." Of course frat boy douche bag had her back. Man I wanted to punch him.

So there's little chance we'll win a game, and the fact that I have to do all the base coaching and pitching on our team probably makes me our team douche bag by default, but eh, I've been called worse.

Posted 10:06am
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May 21st , 2009

Should or should we not, follow the advice of the galactically stupid?

"If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex. Trust me. Nobody."

That's Bristol Palin, the wise sage who went from 'Abstinence isn't realistic' to 'Abstinence is the only way!' as soon as she realized she was a single mother, needed a job, and could get one doing nothing other than being the quasi-famous daughter of a national joke and telling kids that sex is evil in the eyes of Jesus. But I'd like to examine that statement for a second, as it may be the most bitter/stupid thing I've heard in some time.

First let's take the bitter aspect of what she said. My first thought when I read it (after I said out loud "Well that's not true", but we'll get to that in a second) was that Levi Johnston clearly doesn't know how to bring it. I think it's the "Trust me. Nobody." kicker that brings it home for me. I can almost picture her holding up a hand with just the pinky out for the visual as she says it. Like she needs a t-shirt that says "I had sex and all I got was this lousy baby." Poor Bristol needs the big O, and I'm not talking guest spot on Oprah. And was her kid in the room as she said this? I was a teenage dad and I've never referred to my kid as a 'consequence.' I mean I'm sure that Levi, in addition to being hung like a fruit bat and having the skill set of a Jesuit priest, is a deadbeat dad and you're going this alone, but even if the reality of the situation is that your kid is a consequence of some unfulfilling teenage fumbling and contraceptive ignorance, you don't need to say it out loud. It sounds bitter.

Now let's talk for a second about how this may be the dumbest, most reality denying statement ever uttered in the history of the spoken word. First of all, if you told teenagers that in order to have sex you had to play Russian roulette afterwards and there was a one in six chance you'd end up with a bullet in your head, most of them would still take the chance after two Bud Lights (as long as the sex came before the gun). Everyone will always take colossally stupid chances to have sex, especially when they're young - no matter how smart and educated they are. Now how can we help to mitigate the danger of that fact? First off, let's not act like sex = pregnancy. Thousands of people try to get pregnant every day and fail. Second, you know what the consequences of sex are when you're on the pill and I wear a condom? Outside of whatever guilt your religious upbringing has instilled in you, nothing. No offspring, no painful sores. If we're attentive and lucky, we'll both have toe curling orgasms and then fall asleep satiated. So shines a good deed in a weary world.

Look, I have a 'sexual consequence' who's about to be in high school and my biggest fear in world is that he's going to do something stupid (like a Bristol Palin). But thank God I'm smart enough to know that the surest way to ensure that he will would be to tell him not to have sex. So let's take our heads out of the collective sand, shall we? Next time People comes a'callin Bristol, lets try this: "If kids realized the consequences of unprotected sex, they would take more precautions. But since nobody thinks about that when their dick is as hard as a diamond and they've done 6 shots of apple pucker, let's drill it into their pea brain heads until putting on a condom is a pavlovian response." I won't hold my breath.

- Second dumbest statement of the week? This douche bag. That someone with so little understanding of basic science could be elected to public office irks the shit out of me. Fuck you, Texas.

Posted 10:23am
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May 19th , 2009

tbaggervance.com's 2009 guide to summer festivals

Its time again for tbaggervance.com's annual guide to Michigan* Summer Festivals** - in which we here at tbaggervance.com provide you the reader with a convenient guide to what's free*** and fun this summer in the mitten. It will live as a link over there in the sidebar, so feel free to access it all summer long, whenever you want to plan a weekend or just forget what's playing at the TOP. Now come, grab an Oberon, and let us plan our summer together...
* and other driveable distances
** and other various assorted concerts/events/things to see and do
*** or not so free in some cases

Edward Money
May 22
This annual kick off (in 2 days!) to the Pine Knob Summer Concert series is an institution in SE Michigan. And this year, after several of maintaining that 'We're definitely going this year,' Stov and I will finally attend the extravaganza. It certainly is a herald for what cannot help but be the best summer ever. If you click on the link, you can laugh at how comically old the picture of Edward they used is.

Taste of Ann Arbor
May 31
This is kinda meh to me, as I've eaten at all these restaurants before. But hey, if its nice out, walk around and have a taste of everything! Plus there's always a clown or juggler or something to make everyone feel awkward.

Sonic Lunch
June 4 - Aug. 27
I always meant to get downtown and check this out last summer, but my lazy ass never quite made it. I tend to get down more often these days to lunch with my architect friends, and heck, I will live there soon, so look for me here on Thursdays.

Ann Arbor Summer Festival
June 12 - July 5
The ol' A2 standby, featuring music, movies, and teenagers participating in behavior that will surely make you uncomfortable. Too many good acts/movies to mention individually. Make TOP a part of your drunk night out in A2!

Detroit River Days
June 19-21
These dimwits have yet to announce any sort of a schedule, so I can't really comment on whether this is worth your hassle to head downtown. Last year though we did catch Taproot here, and Weird Al and Rick Springfield have been featured performers in the past, so something may show up here that merits your attendance.

Naper Days/Taste of Randolph Street
June 20-21
I'm strongly considering a trip to Chicago for back to back great rock shows for under $10 this weekend. Saturday night features Matthew Sweet in Naperville at 'Naper Days' (nice name). Naperville is 45 minutes southwest of Chicago proper, and more importantly, 20 minutes from my brother's house. Then Sunday its the Taste of Randolph Street featuring The Hold Fucking Steady. Hopefully a friendly Chicagoan will offer up their floor so I don't have to stay sober and drive home after the show...

Detroit City Fest
July 1-5
Formerly Taste of Detroit. Two years ago Spoon played here. The year before that? New Pornographers. Before that? Fucking Wilco! So where is the awesomeness gone for two straight years now? No offense to De La Soul or Buddy Guy (or even Ray Parker Jr), I'm just not down enough to drive down and pay $8 a beer to see you.

Rothbury
July 2-5
I have lots of disdain for Rothbury - for being so close to me and so lame. However, there is hope. Last year there wasn't a band playing here that I'd cross the street to pee on. This years lineup has four (four!) bands that I've already seen (The Hold Steady, Bob Dylan, Black Crowes and Hard Lessons) and another 3 or 4 that I could actually sit through. However, 4 day passes are $249.50. This does not include the $23 'ticket fee' nor the $10 ($10!) shipping fee. Alas, Rothbury, you can still lick my balls.

Common Ground Festival
July 6-12
Holy Shit! Stone Temple Pilots?! Billy Squier?! HUEY FUCKING LEWIS AND THE GODDAMN NEWS?!? All are playing Common Ground this year. Unfortunately, the festival is in Lansing, the above artists are playing midweek and this thing costs $26 per show. Thus tbaggervance.com cannot endorse Common Ground, but could be talked into going to see Mr. Lewis with you.

Elvis Fest
July 10-11
This doesn't do anything for me personally, but hey, whatever blows your hair back.

Ann Arbor Art Fair
July 15-18
I'm living downtown for the first time, meaning I am sure I will seethe a whole new level of hatred for the Art Fair. No, you can't park at my house.

Pitchfork Music Festival
July 17-19
Best bang for your buck festival around. Sunday you can see The Thermals, The Walkmen and The Flaming Fucking Lips (plus 15 other bands) for a mere $35 - which is what you'd be happy to pay for the Lips alone. Let's get on this, shall we?

Beerfest
July 24-25
If you don't go to this you are lame. Stop reading my blog, you do not meet the coolness quotient.

Lollapalooza
August 7-9
This fucker's so big that there's bound to be something here for everyone. And by something I mean several things. Unfortunately the headliners are meh, so I'll be waiting until at least next year for this one - at which time I will again weigh the cost/benefit ratio of this and Pitchfork and see who wins.

Woodward Ave Dream Cruise
Aug. 15
As we do every year, we note this as a public service, so you can completely avoid it and the entire Detroit Metro Area this entire weekend.

Pontiac Arts, Beats and Eats
Labor Day Weekend
Yeah, its in Pontiac. No, there hasn't been much worthwhile in the past few years that merits the fucking drive. I'll keep an eye out and let you know if something comes up when they announce the schedule, but we'll all more than likely be too geeked about football season to care.

Posted 10:24am
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May 18th , 2009

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

- Over the weekend MJ and I were talking about the role of the Federal government and what they should and shouldn't do. Its a delicate subject and oftentimes a fine line. This, however, is a long time coming. Air pollution, energy consumption and global warming are national issues, best standardized by the Fed. Otherwise we all know that the south would still be producing energy by lighting old tires on fire.

- Here's two great "Ha-Ha religion is stoopid." videos from the kids over at videogum. In the first, Pat Robertson tells a woman to dump her atheist boyfriend and manages to insinuate that she's a slut in the process. And second, we have the trailer for the straight-to-DVD movie about a MOOT court trial centering around abortion. Awesome. I almost wish I was still had catechism class, where I surely would have had to watch this. Almost. Oh! And as a bonus, here's Jesse again talkin' torture. This time, he schools that idiot Hasselback on The View. Seriously conservatives, get someone out there who's not an utter embarrassment to abstract thought.

- Here's an interesting map of North America's best sports cities, based on winning percentage since the year 2000. All I can say is once again, fucking Lions dragging us down.

- One of the coolest things about the internet is that I don't have to sit through a 90% boring season of SNL in order not to miss the 10% that's really good. There was a time that I was more than willing to do this, because I had the time and hadn't discovered the wonders of alcohol yet. But the decline in quality of the show and the rise in my love of booze means I haven't seen an episode of the show this century. But now I can enjoy the good parts, skip the crap, and still go out drinking on Saturdays - thanks to sites like this.

- Tonight will be the last junior high choir concert that I ever have to attend. Ever. With any luck, it will be the last choir concert I ever have to attend period. Sid generally loves music and singing, but is appropriately embarrassed when an element of choreography seeps into these things. As of now he is not signed up for high school choir and the box step requirement should keep him out of any show choir type thing, so I appear to be out of the woods and safe for the time being. That being said, he absolutely loves this album, and I'm sure he'll end up watching this, so shit ain't over. Why can't he just join a garage band and be in the musicals like me?

Posted 10:47am
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May 17th , 2009

Your Indie Rock Weekend (That was...)

I was in ELansing on Friday and never got around to writing up this blog post that I had already planned, so you get it now, 3 days later. Its still fresh, trust me...

- The new Wilco album is streaming over at their site. I'm trying hard to get into it, and while there are definitely things I like, I'm not in love yet. But as we all know, sometimes it doesn't happen right away, but that doesn't mean its not going to happen.

- The Flaming Lips are headlining Pitchfork! This officially makes it the festival of choice this summer, besting lame lineups for Lollapalooza and the perpetually disappointing Rothbury. The Thermals and The Walkmen are also playing Sunday, so we should totally go, right? The Lips also have a new album in the works btw, and its a double.

- John Legend sucks ass. He can't even really sing. If you've seen him live*, he's all over the place and needs 18 backup singers to make it sound at all like the album. Or that he's not tone deaf. Anyway, there's also no way he should be above Cake and Radiohead on this list.

- Brian Williams: Indie Rock Blogger.

- Remember how we were talking about Vampire Weekend backlash recently? If you didn't get it then, read this and it might begin to gel for ya. It certainly made me like them less. I mean I still love them, but no jeans or t-shirts? Fuck you in your pretentious assholes.

- We all lament how far Weezer has fallen. Now its come to this? Poor Rivers.

- Here's a cool list of the Next 100 bands that you should be listening to. If you're like me, you'll mostly go through looking for names that you recognize. If you read past that though, you might find something new to get excited about. It really made me want to go out and get the new Wavves album.

- Don't click here. You've been warned.

- Finally, Neutral Milk Hotel's seminal In the Aeroplane Over the Sea has been turned into a musical. It was only a matter of time. It has yet to bring Jeff Mangum out of hiding though. In my mind, he's somewhere in New England with J.D. Salinger being exasperated by all of the 'phonies'.

Posted 10:06am
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May 14th , 2009

They should make them sit through my kid's choir concert. Now that's torture.

I really find it unbelievable that this is a point of contention. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that certain people don't view Islamic terrorists as human beings. But how can that be true, because who would publicly hold a view that transparently racist?

My argument on this can be boiled down to the last two paragraphs of this piece by Matt Taibbi (and this response from Andrew Sullivan). Or how about the notion, as Dostoevsky once said, that "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." How obtuse do you have to be to not see the throughline of becoming what you are fighting against? We're fighting for freedom? We're preserving our way of life? Then we don't torture. Otherwise we're not the greatest nation on earth nor is there a case to be made for American exceptionalism.

I know the history - what we've done in the past. And I don't lose sleep over someone who wants to kill me (and as Sullivan noted, I'm on the top of their list) feeling a little pain during an 'enhanced interrogation'. But when we allow this, how do we feign outrage when the same thing happens to an American serviceman captured by our enemy? And spare me the 'it's not torture' argument. Jesse Ventura may be batshit crazy on a lot of levels, but the guy was a SEAL and has seen things that'd make you shit your pants, so when he says "You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders" I believe him.

The term 'Machiavellian' isn't a compliment for a reason. It's because the idea of the end justifying the means isn't a pleasant one. Winning at all cost generally means that the victory is tainted. Discretion is the better part of valor, so to speak. Otherwise it all ends up in some Lord of the Flies scenario, and I don't want to end up like Piggy.

- Yeah, so I'm not thrilled with how Obama is handling all of the above business. What do I like you ask? How about a common sense approach to drugs and scrapping abstinence only education. Thanks for reminding me why I voted for you. I hate that I needed it, but thanks.

- Here are 5 ways to make the Republican party viable again. Actual ideas! From a Republican! I'd vote for this dude.

Posted 10:27am
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May 13th , 2009

The most epic game of Jenga ever to be played in the history of the universe.

Its pretty well documented around here that I'm a competitive asshole and that I've passed down this trait to my only begotten son. Its a pretty Brubaker thing to win at all costs and throw it in your opponent's face when you do so. Those relatives of mine who think they are above this are lying to themselves and are just bitter because they don't win very often. You know who you are.

Sid doesn't have school today, so when I got home from softball last night, we decided to play some games. After he took me out 2-1 in Blockus, he said 'Let's play something we haven't played in a while.' Little did he know that he was about to initiate the most spic game of Jenga ever to be played in the history of the universe.

Luckily, technology makes it almost impossible not to document the shit out everything we ever fucking do. Often times this can be utterly soul crushing. But in this case we are all better for it, as I now present to you the most epic game of Jenga ever to be played in the history of the universe: the photo essay.

Posted 10:35am
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May 12th , 2009

Fruity, with a hint of oak.

Staying on top of new music is a chore. Its not hard to see why there is an inevitable decline in everyone's consumption of new music as the years drone on. First of all there's the whole becoming an adult and the accumulation of responsibilities. As we get older time becomes more precious, there's just less of it to go around. And who wants waste valuable time on something you may or may not like? Add to that the theory of large numbers: the amount of music available to you is ever expanding at an exponential rate. How does one even get to it all? And even if you can effectively suss out what you like from the dreck, there's only so many hours in the day. I still love a lot of music from ten years ago, meaning I have to balance listening to old favorites with exploring new infatuations. All this and I still have to make time for the Beatles.

A friend postulated a rambling theory recently that as we get older, music becomes like wine. You never stop enjoying wine and everybody knows basically what they like. But then there are those who really get into wine. The people who talk about tannins and regional differences and go to wineries on vacation and sit around and talk about wine. These people are usually assholes, but you have to become something analogous when you get over 30 if you want to stay 'into' music. Of course everyone knows what they like and will try new things from time to time when somebody thrusts it in front of the them, but mostly you casually enjoy old favorites. To go above and beyond that cavalier attitude is to get hyper involved and try to soak up as much as you possibly can.

Its really hard for me to argue against this, as I'll gladly sit around and discuss the merits of the new Camera Obscura album or what the ultimate impact of Clap You Hands Say Yeah is if they never make another album. I'm exactly that kind of asshole. And I guess I'm OK with that. I like being that guy who gets asked who sings what song, or when they hear something in Urban Outfitters, ask me to burn them a copy, assuming I already have whatever it is. Because I like wine, but I'll never be able to articulate what exactly it is about Malbecs that I love so much right now, I just know it tastes good and gets you drunk. That's more than sufficient as far as I'm concerned. I'll be sitting around drinking it enjoying some classic Spoon from when they were still on Matador records. No, you've probably never heard it.

- Last call for the super terrific screening of the hilarious and heartbreaking movie Away We Go. Its Thursday. Dave Eggers will be there. So will I and it will be all around awesome. You should come, proceeds benefit 826 Michigan.

- And finally, I saw this and thought "That sounds about right."

Posted 10:37am
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May 11th , 2009

Nothing beats a good 'pulling out' reference.

I can't seem to get it together this morning. Here are some video links:

- If you whack off in your car, close the sunroof.

- New Woody Allen with Larry David playing the Woody Allen part. That sounds about right.

- To paraphrase something someone said to me fairly recently "Do you think Rivers Cuomo knows what's happened to him?" I'm guessing by his train cap, no. But man, Pinkerton was the bomb diggity yo.

- Best Keyboard Cat yet.

- Obama was pretty funny at the White House Corespondents Dinner. So was Wanda.

- I didn't make it to Star Trek this weekend, but not for this reason.

Posted 11:59am
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May 8th, 2009

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

- Last night I played in my first kickball game in approximately 25 years. It was exactly as much fun as I remember. Well a little different, since the best part was that that the game lasted for 30 minutes and then we drank for three hours, but the game part was fun too. Two observations: A.) The league is made up of non-profits, so I'm pretty relatively athletic, which is fun. B.) People who stick around to finish a 30 pack of PBR after the game are my kind of people.

- Longtime readers will remember the creepy stalker lady who lives in my apartment complex. Well the weather is nice outside, which means that my sliding glass door is usually open, which means that creepy stalker lady can now talk to me when she slowly walks by my window and stares in uncomfortably. Tuesday night I heard the familiar call "Tyson! Tyson!" (I don't have the heart to tell her...) I eventually got up to go see what she wanted. She started ranting, exasperated by her auto mechanic and the person who lives above her who has the gall to walk around their apartment at all hours of the day and night. "Have you eaten dinner yet? Can I take you to Red Lobster? I'll pay..." Gulp. I've never been so glad to A.) Have already had my dinner and B.) about to be leaving for softball. I've always dreaded the day she would try and cross the line and get my phone number or try to come into my apartment. I feel like I should tell her I'm moving, but the prospect of that conversation literally scares the shit out of me, so maybe I'll just pull up stakes in the middle of the night. Its probably for the best.

- I'm kind of fascinated by Miss Opposite Marriage/Miss California. First of all, the PAGEANT paid for your boob job?!? Huh. You are so hateful and ill coached that you gave THAT answer about gay marriage to Perez Hilton? Wow. Topless photos? Cool. But after seeing these papers, it all kind of makes sense. All fathers should let their daughters know that all men with mustaches are gay.

- My friend Mariah (Michigan's official Yelp Ambassador) is featured in this CNN story of why people love Detroit. The biggest surprise? They found 13 people with something nice to say about Detroit. ZING!

- I've long searched for another redundancy in my birth control options, so this is exciting news. I'm on the pill, she's on the pill, I'm wearing a condom. Unfortunately that's just starting to sound safe enough for me. It sucks that I have to have a conversation with my son that goes something akin to "I don't care what she says she's on and/or using, you wear a condom," but now fathers everywhere will get to have the same conversation with their daughters, which I imagine is way worse.

Posted 10:26am
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May 7th, 2009

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

Its funny (to me), I always look to see how recently I've run the Baby J segment when I start a new one. I do that for no other recurring headline. I guess I don't want to beat up the kid too much.

- Yesterday I had to defriend another high school classmate. This time it was for joining a group called "Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman". I saw that the person had joined, so I angrily clicked on the link and then angrily read people's stupid justifications for like 20 minutes. I'm angry enough already without facebook getting all up in my grill, so defriend. Feels good.

- Speaking of gays, Maine caved on gay marriage, leaving Rhode Island as the only barrier between New England and total fabulousness. And in other gay news, Kelly McGillis and David Ogden Stiers are both tooooooootally gay. Take my breath away...

- Lots of news articles as of late about both the growth of Atheism and the lack of young people attending church. The second article is especially intriguing since its a 'news' story that basically equates lack of church going with the decline of western civilization. Trust me, we'll all be better off. All of your correlational data about people not going to church not voting and not giving to charity are from an outmoded paradigm. I find it kind of annoying that ABC News is running this is 'news' - no church, we're all fucked. Bring in the apathy and amorality! Ignorant fucktards.

- I'm totally fascinated with Bristol Palin. I feel like if I analyze enough tape of her, I'll find a facial tick that is spelling out S.O.S. over and over again, or hear a high pitched voice in the silence screaming 'Help me!' like in the original movie The Fly. You may remember in her first interview after she popped out her kid, she referred to abstinence as 'not realistic'. What do you think she says now that her official job title is 'Ambassador of Abstinence'? I guess single mom's have to take work where they can get it.

- Speaking of abstinence, this video shows just how scary their program of fear and shame and ignorance is. It did totally make me not want to have sex, but not for the reasons they want. Wait, yup, I'm over it. Ready to have sex again.

- And finally, maybe my favorite Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat video. I can't believe I never had an exchange like this with my mother. 'Because that's what Christmas is about - Jesus Christ.' The entire American retail economy might disagree with you there, mom.

Posted 10:43am
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May 6th , 2009

Throw out your hands, Stick out your tush, Hands on your hips, Give 'em a push...

Undoubtedly my first introduction to Dom Deluise was as a comic foil to Burt Reynolds in some early 1980's movie that involved a fast car or cars. Which I enjoyed, don't get me wrong. But it wasn't until I later discovered the works of Mel Brooks that I truly came to appreciate the man's genius. In small, brief roles - Pizza the Hutt, Emperor Nero, Buddy Bizarre - he was always memorable, always brilliant. He passed away over the weekend. I imagine him being greeted at the pearly gates by a chorus of angels doing the French Mistake. In addition to his associations with Burt and Mel, there's two other things I will always think of when Dom Deluise's name comes up: 1) His son Peter was on 21 Jump Street and 2) This impression of him by Chris Farley. Rest in Peace, Dom.

- OK, let's lighten the mood around here. For those of you not following me on facebook or twitter, I really wanted to show you this yesterday, because as I noted then, it may be the greatest thing that the internet has ever created. I'll let it speak for itself and just give you Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat. (most of my favorites are compiled here)

- I think the price of a rock show should be $20. You should be able to buy the tickets from the box office of the venue and that should be that. Most of the shows I attend abide by this. A lot of them are under $20, and I can usually circumvent service fees by using will call or paying cash at the door. The glaring exception to this is Wilco. Wilco tickets are always over $30, and since the shows always sell out, you have to get them right away online from ticketmaster or some other concert goer raping entity. I just bought 2 tickets to see Wilco in July at the Royal Oak Music Theater and it cost me over $90. Not that its not worth it, its just disappointing that its so expensive - especially relatively. I mean, I paid $12 flat to see the Thermals. And beers were $2.25 at the Pig, which they won't be in Royal Oak. Ah well. It almost makes me sympathize with Jay Bennett for suing Jeff Tweedy. I say almost, because we all know that Bennett is a whiny bitch. But I also know that Tweedy probably has $50,000 in his couch cushions at this point.

- Hey Ann Arborites! This Saturday you can recycle all of your old televisions, computer parts and other assorted electronics at Pioneer High School FOR FREE. And as cool as the Drop Off Station is, they charge $.50 a pound to recycle your TV, so grab this opportunity by the balls. Because if I ever find out you tried to throw away a TV in the garbage, I will kick you in yours.

Posted 10:50am
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May 5th , 2009

King Shit of Fuck Mountain©.

A few months ago, Sid and I were playing Wii sports and ended up, as we often do, playing through every sport that the game has. It just so happens that there are 5 sports to play on the game, so its easy to determine a winner by taking 3 out of the five contests. Usually Sid, having logged many more hours playing Wii than I, beats me 3-2. But this last time, I managed to eek out a win. And in our house, winning means bragging rights. And by bragging rights, I mean obnoxiously run your mouth until the other person is sorry they ever played in the first place. So I wrote something akin to the following on a post it note and made my son read it. Out loud. Because to the victor go the spoils:

Tyler Aaron Brubaker is King Shit of Fuck Mountain© at Wii Sports. We all bow to his vastly superior talent, techniques and ability, and thank him for descending upon high long enough to show his benevolence, by taking time to play with lesser beings.

Yeah. What a prick, I know. But I still think its pretty funny. Of course last night those chickens came home to roost. Sid came into the living room, tennis racquet in hand to inform me that he was going to go hit balls. I told him that I'd be up for some tennis. So we both headed across the road to the courts at his school. All the courts were taken when we showed up, so we hit the ball to each other on the sidewalk, sans net as warm up. Everytime I'd hit the ball and it would land on a crack, causing it to careen off into the grass, I would claim it as intentional and proof of my tennis prowess. Sid kept announcing that he was taking it easy and that he would destroy me once we got on an actual court. Guess who was trying to be funny and guess who was telling the truth?

We only had time for one set, but I got torched, 6-2. And it wasn't really even that close. As soon as it was over he started in on me. "Say it! Say Cameron Alexander Flora is King Shit of Fuck Mountain© at tennis. SAY IT!" So I said it. Out loud to his face. Because while I am a spoilsport and sore loser, I'm not a total prick. I can take my lumps, especially when they come in a bed that I have made of my own accord. In my house we call that teaching the kid humility.

- MGoBlog had a the coolest pic I've seen maybe ever yesterday (originally from here). And who knew the international hand symbol for Wolverine was almost exactly the same as the shocker? I also somehow came across this, which I laughed at out loud. Detroit: not as bad as Robocop would lead you to believe.

- And finally, I discovered two sites from @tedleo's tweets yesterday: fuckyoupenguin and fuckmenofuckyoupenguin. Thank you, internet.

Posted 10:45am
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May 4th, 2009

Correct me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they're gonna lock me up and throw away the key...

- Turns out that being a billionaire and the founder of one of the greatest, transformative companies ever does not make you an eloquent public speaker. Larry Page - Michigan alumnus - gave the commencement speech at Saturday's graduation ceremony for U of M's class of 2009. I scored a ticket and rode my bike down the block to hear Mr. Google himself spew forth some sage advice. Except eh, it was pretty meh. He mostly told a bunch of anecdotes about his and his family's connections to Michigan. He was nerdy and sweet, but neither sage nor zen like. His main point seemed to be 'keep a pen and paper by your bed', as he apparently thought of google one night as he awoke from slumber and happened to actually write it down before going back to sleep. Not bad advice, just more of the "In case of an earthquake, stand in the doorway" variety than actual wisdom. When I graduated Ken Burns - Ann Arbor native - was the speaker and he gave a stirring speech about the importance of history as we look towards the future. I know, go figure right?

- Sid and I had a blast at Caddyshack Saturday night. He wasn't even the youngest kid there, so I didn't have to feel too guilty about bringing my 13 year old son to a movie that has a bit of the nudity in it. It was a cool experience - you can read my yelp review for more. And yes, we did win this.

- We didn't, however, make it to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I heard mostly bad things, was sick over the weekend, and it didn't work out timing wise with our other obligations. I'd like to say I'll definitely get out there and see it, but Star Trek comes out Friday and before you know it, I will have forgot about it until it hits the $1 theater. But since I am a big fan of both Logan and my University's mascot, I enjoyed this article that asked the non-musical question: How strong is the Wolverine? College Football News answers that question (for 2009 anyway) with the answer: Motor City Bowl. Which I hate to say, would be all fucking right with me.

- And this didn't happen over the weekend, but I read about it then. Michelle Bachmann does not have a junior high student's understanding of American history. She simultaneously makes me hope she gets elected representative for life and that Minnesota's rights to participate in our representative democracy are revoked.

Posted 12:05pm
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May 1st , 2009

Picture pages.

I've always wished I was a photographer. The great and powerful Moeman is a helluva one, and big sis Chaka Khan dabbled as well. When I was little, Moe used to take us to the newspaper after church on Sundays and we would run around the office while he worked. I was always enamoured by the smell of the chemicals as he worked in the dark and under the redlight. The whole process was just - cool.

When I was in college I messed aroud a bit with a cheap autofocus camera. I would buy black and white film and develop it in Moeman's office at the Signal, recreating the Sundays of my youth. They were mostly pictures of Siddhartha. but the cheap camera and work of going back to Snap-town to develop them got to be too much, and my foray into becomming the next Ansel Adams was brief. Since then, I've basically counted on the women in my life to document things in pictures.

But last week I was talking to friend of the blog Lynn, and she had started a project on her flickr page to take picture every day and post it. Needless to say I was very jealous. So naturally I co-opted the idea and started doing the same. You can now go to my 'A pic a day' set on flickr, and visually see what's going on in my life. Yes, this is overkill. Yes, I am taking these pics with my low quality camera phone. It doesn't have any of the romance of black and white film nor the love and care and artistry of developing them in the back room of the Northwest Signal. But its a fun experiment. And cleary there's not enough of my life on the internet yet...

Posted 1:23am
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April 30th, 2009

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

- Thermals tonight! At the Pig! I've got a cold so its going to be a struggle, but I will suck it up. I even found people to go to the show with me! I know, you read all about it the other day. But speaking of Markie C - erstwhile concert buddy currently on the road with Taproot, he sent me the best txt message I've received in a while today: "Why was Wakko British anyway?" Truly one of the great unanswered questions of our generation.

- New England is becoming fabulous! New Hampshire joins the gay train that's barreling through America. NH fun fact - they are 6th nationally in median income. Who knew? Better still, favoring marriage equality is now in the (slight) majority in this country. Don't be the last one on the gay bandwagon folks (and don't worry too much about the Iowa backlash.)

- This weekend I'm taking Siddhartha to see one of the greatest comedies in the history of film - Caddyshack. Its playing at an old restored theater near Detroit. I remember the transcendent experience that was my first viewing, so here's hoping Sid laughs. Oh, and also, I'll most likely drag him to Wolverine too. Snikt snikt, bub.

- Of course nothing makes me more innocuously happy than when Michele Bachmann opens her mouth. This time she blames FDR for turning a recession into a depression with the "Hoot-Smalley Tariff." Of course FDR wasn't exactly in office when that one passed - it was W's 20th century equivalent, Herbert Hoover. These are serious times you obtuse fucktard. Go away. (Just kidding, I love you.) Incidentally, everyone should know that she got that wrong thanks to Ben Stein and Ferris Bueller.

Bachmann bonus! She also equated gays with pedophiles yesterday! Don't ever change!

- Finally, speaking of the gays, movies and politics - here's a movie I cannot wait to fucking see. There's nothing I enjoy more than getting righteously indignant over hypocrisy.

Posted 11:53am
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April 29th, 2009

Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.

I received this email from Stov yesterday. I didn't ask him if I could post it, but let's assume he's OK with it:

From: Stov
To: tbaggervance
Subject: Thank you for being a friend?

FOUR DAYS have gone by and no "in memorium" for Bea Arthur on the blog? And then there's Maude? Dorothy Spornak? No witty commentary on the fact she looked like a weird uncle in drag? Not even an Estelle Getty/Stop or My Mom will Shoot reference? Throw me a bone here. If you threw a party, you would now see the biggest gift would not be from me and the card attached would say Fuck you.

So yeah, Bea Arthur died. Stov made most of the appropriate jokes already. I mean, her name was Bea. I think you're born old with a name like that. She was a helluva broad though. I always think of two things when I think of Bea Arthur: 1) She had an abortion on Maude and 2) At a Comedy Central roast one time, after a really bad song by Sandra Bernhardt, Jeffrey Ross got up and said "I wouldn't fuck Sandra Bernhardt with Bea Arthur's dick." Rest in peace Bea. Thank you for having an incredible sense of humor about, well, everything.

- I wasn't going to touch the whole Swine Flu thing, because its mainly hysteria brought on by the too much information age. But then our new favorite person in God's America, Rep. Michelle Bachmann had to comment on it. She noted that it's an "interesting coincidence" that the last outbreak of swine flu also occurred under a Democratic President. Never mind that its not historically accurate. What a cunt. Here's where God is punishing us for electing Barack Obama.

- This kind of reeks of being fake, but I laughed - mostly because I expect to get caught in a similar sting someday.

- Arlen Spector is now a Democrat. People identifying themselves as Republicans are down to 21% of the population. Maybe the pro-Jesus/anti-gay platform isn't as sustainable as you once thought. I love the failure of realization going on here. When you lose your moderates, you don't get them back by running to the extreme end of your rhetoric. Republicans - you are bereft of ideas and have betrayed what should be the core principles of your ideology in exchange for winning a few elections based on fear. I hope you get replaced with Libertarians toot suite.

Posted 11:53am
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April 28th, 2009

This Week in Indie Rock.

Ever since the last residents of the Green Door Chapel picked up stakes and left town, I've been bereft of concert going buddies. Sure when Ayesha is in town we hit shows, and when Markie C is around and not working he's always willing, but too often I find myself weighing going out to a show I really want to see by myself or staying in the comfort of my own home, getting drunk and listening to the CD. The latter happens more than I'd like to admit.

I was facing this dreaded dilemma the other weekend and decided to head out across town to Ypsi for Chris Bathgate and Champions of Breakfast. It turned out to be an amazing show and once I got there, there were people I knew already in attendance, so double score. This gave me the resolve to go out an buy a single ticket for The Thermals at the Blind Pig this Thursday. I love this band and there was no way I was going to miss the show, concert going buddies or no.

But wait! I say unto you - aging single people with too many married friends and not enough willing debaucherous co-conspiritors: Behold the power of the twitter! Last night Sid and I were watching the season finale of Chuck and the opening song played in the show was the new single off the Thermals new LP. So I sent an excited tweet about the pending show, and long story short, I now have a few definite and pending concert going buddies for the show. Aging hipster saved by technology, ready to have his face rocked clean off come Thursday night. Rock.

- I've been to Oklahoma and it made even less sense that the Flaming Lips were from there after having visited. Its pretty backwards, and OKC shuts down at like 10pm on Thursdays. I find this unacceptable. Anyway, you may remember that Oklahomans voted the Lips "Do You Realize?" as the state's official rock and roll song. Sweet. Then the legislature yoinked it after a communist t-shirt dust up. Makes sense. BUT THEN the gov overruled them and signed it into law anyway. Huh.

- Here's an awful list of great 90's album openers. It sucks because it's totally pedestrian and even its cool choices (Radiohead and Beck) are so obvious it's painful (not to mention Nirvana at number one. Way to get out there on that limb). Try 'Divine Intervention' from Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend or "Race for the Prize from the Lips The Soft Bulletin. I mean, Rage or Foo Fighters would have been better choices than "Enter Sandman".

- Try as I might, I can't condone any Vampire Weekend backlash. Its such a good fucking album and I still love listening to it - I don't care how many people love it (which I realize is still a relatively small number of people - go figure). Anyway, good news - they're at work on a follow-up.

- Here's another crap list of Radiohead appearances in popular culture. It mostly sucks for how back loaded towards In Rainbows it is, but it also informed me that there's a Radiohead song in the FUCKING TWILIGHT MOVIE. I'm going to go kill myself.

Posted 11:53am
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April 27th, 2009

Two men enter, one man leaves.

I'm a tad competitive. I have a pretty intense need to win any contest I enter. Games of skill get pretty cutthroat pretty fast. Not surprisingly, I've largely surrounded myself with friends who feel the same way. Perhaps its the extra satisfaction of winning against someone who really wanted to win as much as you did. Its clearly not as fun dominating someone who's just playing 'for fun.' That's a phrase I've never understood, I mean, I play for fun too - the fun of winning.

Anyway, Saturday night Sid and I went out for dinner at my friend's house in the country. Since I don't have a significant other who can attend these type of things with me, I drag Sid around. This is especially apt when going out to Tom and Sarah's, because in a sea of competitive friends, they float near the top. When its just me, we're pretty limited in what we can play, but Sid makes four, and I've raised him to be a cutthroat asshole, so he fits right in.

I've known Tom and Sarah for 15 years now. I lived with Thomas for five years, and since they've been together the entire time I've known them, those five years were a lot like living with Sarah too. There's been several constants over the years we've known each other, but perhaps none more interesting than (Tyler + Thomas + Sarah) + games/competition - inhibitions that sobriety gives you = controversy. (This often times includes the fourth of Markie C.) The four of us once got so worked up over the game Cranium, that it has been banned from being played at their house. I can't tell you what the controversy was about, but it got ugly. Once, after beating Markie C in euchre, I was being such a prick about it that he looked me right in the eye and told me to get the fuck out of his house. He was serious. And I left. So yeah, we take this stuff way too seriously.

Which happened again Saturday night. After hours of drinking and playing Wii, we decided to sit around the table and play some cards. This devolved - as it usually does - into a game of spoons. Now amongst normal, civilized people, spoons may seem like a fairly innocuous game. But I'm here to tell you that spoons is violence incarnate. So much so that we've had to institute rules to help curb the carnage. If two people grab the spoon at the same time, the person holding the business end wins, end of story. Except of course, it wasn't.

After playing for about twenty minutes, Sid and Thomas both grabbed a spoon and had a hold of it. Neither wanted to let go, but Thomas noted he had the business end. At first that was that, but I was pissed because Sid had the spoon first. It wasn't close. Everyone at the table knew it. This quickly spiraled into a screaming argument. My point was that the idea is to grab the spoon first and Thomas was stealing the spoon - that the 'business end' rule favored people that grabbed second, not first - and that the rule was designed to solve controversies, not to allow stealing when everyone saw who grabbed it first. He argued for consistency and removing the judgment of the people at the table. We were soon screaming at each other. Hypocrite. Idiot. We finally walked away from the table in anger. Five minutes later we were all standing together and Sarah says 'Well that's over.' and Thomas and I almost simultaneously said 'Oh I'm still fucking pissed.'

Are we juvenile? Yes. Is this alcohol fueled ranting and competition healthy? Probably not. Am I still upset and do I believe I was right? Certainly. But will I go back out to Tom and Sarah's and play games again? You bet. Sometimes we even play and don't hate each other at the end of the night, but that's neither here nor there. Its just who we are, and while I am pissed at argument, I don't hold it against Thomas. If you can't get in a drunken argument about regional house rules for a game of spoons, who can you? He's just being a competitive asshole, and that's something I can respect. We just have another game for the banned list at their house.

- Speaking of friendship, here's some 'no shit' research.

- And this research reared its ugly head at me pretty consistently over the last week. I keep hearing Boike's voice in my head, when I was making fun of the people with small children when mine is practically grown: "Just wait T, you were the first, and you'll be the last. I'll be the one laughing at you in five years, I'm calling it."

Posted 11:53am
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April 24th, 2009

Jesus is my Yoko Ono.

Welcome to Friday's post on Thursday night. I'm half drunk so let's get started...

I was kind of kidding myself to think it would ever work out. I listen to Spoon and Death Cab and Wilco and they were doing some Primus/STP mid 90's hybrid thing. But much like a relationship you know is know no good for you, you're caught up in the fact that the sex is good and the idea of the thing is what you want, so you skate along and do your best despite the overly glaring evidence that neither of you is really happy. In the end, it wasn't a blindside but rather a coming to fruition of what everybody already knew. Ain't that always the way...

As you may have gleaned from the not so subtle evidence above, I got kicked out of the band tonight. It was done in an almost too genial way. It started with discussions of style of fit, and moved on to how great so much of the stuff I was doing was. After a while though, I was the one who had to say how things were. It was the quintessential breakup - we have a heavy heart, you're obviously a great person who knows a ton about music and wrote some of the best songs and lines we've ever been apart of, but we're just not happy, and to drag it on any longer isn't fair to anyone. These - arrogance aside - are all things I knew. In the end the only thing I'm surprised about is how they pussy footed around the thing. I'd expect a little more directness when being broken up with by dudes.

Truth be told I'm not all that broken up about it. It fell in my lap and it was fun for awhile. I challenged myself and produced some creative output. The likelihood that they'll ever be huge and famous, forcing me to carry a torch forever is nil. They're great guys and I'll be friends with Steve forever, so I wish them the best. But at the same time rejection hurts. I mean, they'll never find someone with the same combination of stage presence and writing skills as I have right? Besides, their shit was stale and who wants to be part of a rock and roll band that's 'not interested in offending anyone with our lyrics.' Because as I finish this post, that's the story I'll tell - they kicked me out of the band because I offended Baby Jesus. I never wanted to be in Creed anyway.

Posted 12:01am
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April 23rd, 2009

Me fail English? That's unpossible.

Hello. My name is tbaggervance and I can't spell.

OK, well all things being relative I spell quite well. But there was a time when I didn't take this blog seriously enough to even spell check it until someone pointed out to me how bad things had gotten. And my hand to god, every time I type the following words, I do so in the following way:

- bullit
- challange
- resteraunt

The thing is I know its wrong. When spell check reaches one of these words, I stare at it and go 'Really? Again?' Yet as sure you can can find me at the bar come 5 o'clock on a Friday, I misspell those sons of bitches (and countless others) time and time again. Thanks to spell check, people don't have to think I'm a first class idiot - except for the fact that I just told everyone.

- Ann Arbor has announced its Summer Festival Schedule - including movies and music for Top of the Park. Its fun, its free, and if you keep your eyes peeled, I'm sure you can catch my son hanging out like a delinquent, holding hands with his girlfriend and doing other things I don't need details on.

- Finally, I little capper on the NOM's coming homo storm. World's biggest sci-fi douche bag Orson Scott Card has joined the organization's board of directors. I've never read the man's prose before - he may well be brilliant - but I'll never know. Go ahead, click on his name above and read his political views on his Wikipedia page. Are you comfortable supporting a homophobe who denies global warming and blames violent crime on premarital sex, all while giving George W Bush an intellectual reach around and calling himself a Democrat? I am not. What a hateful hypocritical fuckstick.

Posted 10:26am
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April 22nd, 2009

Happy Earth Day! (and other lefty, communist causes)

Its Earth Day! A day so hippy sounding it even makes me what to hop in a Hummer and club a baby seal. But of course instead I will take the opportunity to encourage you to think about ways you can be a better steward of this rock. Drive less, turn shit off, and enough with the packaging already. Stop it with the plastic bags and the bottled water. In fact that's my Earth Day resolution - if you drink bottled water we can't be friends anymore. Get yourself a reusable bottle and we'll talk. Oh, and you should really apologize to the Earth.

- There's lots of cool stuff on the electric car front. First, they standardized the EV plug. Now you don't have to worry about buying the right car for the outlet your office building will be installing in your work parking lot any day now. Plus, no VHS/Beta style gang war to be fought. Suck it, backers of HD-DVD. Anyway, there's also this cute little bad boy, which I would totally try and snag if I, you know, lived in England. And oh yeah, Neil Young just released a concept album about electric cars. I shit you not.

- Want to know how stupid the average Republican is about the environment? George Hamilton wannabe and party leader John Boehner (OH) said its ridiculous to think that C02 is harmful to the environment because it clearly doesn't cause cancer! Zing! OK, maybe that isn't average thinking, but here's an interesting article about the GOP's discord on the topic.

- In gay marriage news, first there was NOM's 'Gay Marriage Storm' ad that you know, lied and featured actors and was pretty laughable. Then there was Stephen Colbert's hilarious response. Then NOM THANKED Colbert for showing how laughable their argument is, further proving how little they get it. Now here comes the compulsory part of my diatribe where I laugh at how silly and backwards this is all going to seem in 10 years.

- And in what is certainly one of the saddest blows to freedom here in Liberalvania in some time, the University of Michigan is set to go smoke free in 2011. Yes cigarettes are awful in nearly every aspect of their being, but man I miss being in college when everyone smoked all the time and (almost) no one gave a shit. At some point, probably for my son's generation, smoking won't even be antiestablishment, adult and dangerous anymore - just smelly, gross and expensive. Sure they'll live longer and be happier, but they won't look as cool.

Posted 11:11am
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April 21st, 2009

Censorship is UnAmerican.

I obviously have no qualms about offending people. No one's above being offended and in fact I think we all need it from time to time. So I don't worry about offending people's sensibilities in what I write or what I do. I generally don't try to be offensive just to be an asshole, however I am not going to not say something I believe to be true or interesting because it goes against what someone holds dear.

Has this gotten me into trouble over the years? Countless times - with my family, with friends, with members of the opposite sex. Perhaps obtusely, I carry on undeterred. I'm not going to stop asking what's making Baby J cry, or telling people they suck if they like Coldplay or letting Republicans who aren't rich know that they're killing themselves. My friends can take their turns telling me I went too far, and my family, well they're stuck with me. Sorry guys.

So I shouldn't have been surprised the other night when one of the guys in our band sent out a recording of one of the songs we've been working on, and the headline of the next email in my inbox was "Are you saying something about Jesus in there?" Fuck.

Just for some background, I started singing with these guys after they had been playing with each other for months. As a result, I've been trying to come up with lyrics and melodies to over a dozen songs as quickly as possible. Its fairly daunting. You have to throw a lot of ideas out there before something sticks and you become at all comfortable with it. Just sayin'...

Anyway, the offending lyric was "Jesus, Santa, Ron Popiel, None of it was ever real." It was a silly kind of throw away line that I thought was funny and fit the context of the song - which fails to come anywhere near religion or Jesus anywhere else. I don't love the line - can't guarantee I wouldn't have changed it on my own, but man does the whole discussion that followed piss me off. I'm offended getting emails that include the lines "Religion is something different for everyone and also the scale in which they devote themselves varies too."

Ugh. Like I said, I'm not trying to take some huge stand, am not in love with the actual line, and agree that it has the potential to be offensive (to dogmatic assholes who can't take a joke.) But I don't know that I'm comfortable being in a band where saying 'Jesus' sparks an intro to comparative religions discussion. If the band was wildly successful, the people that ever hear us once will likely cap out at the low triple digits. If half a dozen walk away offended, um, its Rock and Roll, isn't that sort of the point?

Posted 10:04am
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April 20th, 2009

You're so Money.

Those who follow the twitter will remember that after inviting you to come out for Oberon in the sun (it was awesome - your loss) I debated on whether to go to the close bar for easy booze or across town for sweet live music. Whether you follow the twitter or not, you can guess what I chose. And it was totally worth it. The night spiraled into a weird sort of pseudo debauchery and I ended up falling asleep sometime after I heard the morning birds start to chirp. This of course led to me wasting the nicest day of 2009 laying on the couch and doing nothing. Yay booze!

So I need some things to look forward to - to assuage my guilt for not being outside and active last Saturday. And because the forecast for the next two days includes snow. I'm serious.

- This Thursday we'll be back to 65 and partly sunny, and next Thursday I'll be headed to the Blind Pig to see Portland Oregon's finest pop punk trio, The Thermals. You should come with me and listen to them sing songs about Jesus and evolution and just generally be wowed at how every song is so catchy it sounds like you've heard it before, even though you probably haven't.

- The following Thursday marks the beginning of the Ann Arbor non-profit Kickball league. I'll be kicking for 826's team. This excites both because there will probably be post-game boozing, and I'm playing sports with a bunch of people who work for non-profits - the chance that I am on the relative athletic end of the spectrum are pretty good.

- Thursday after that? Special advance screening of Away We Go, a movie written by Dave Eggers and his wife, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Jim Halpert. Again, we should hang out and go to this. Especially because A.) Its a fundraiser for 826Michigan and B.) The screening is followed by a Q&A with Mr. Eggers himself. You may remember that we are practically BFF's now and I can probably totally introduce you. Buy tickets here or come by Wednesday and see me at the Robot Store.

- The next Thursday Friday, its the fulfillment of a lifelong dream that goes back 15 years. Every year the summer concert series at DTE Energy Center Pine Knob is opened with a performance by 80's icon and rock superstar Eddie Money. Tickets are like $5 and if you think you have something better to do on May 22nd you are wrong. Every year Stov and I swear we are going to this and for some reason, every year we fail to make it happen. NOT THIS TIME MOTHERFUCKERS! I am going to start summer 2009 off with Mr. Money and it will be the start of the greatest summer ever. You've been warned.

Update 11:36am
-Gah! Totally just noticed that Busch's has Oberon on sale this weekend only for $7 a six pack. The over under on number of cases I will buy is 1.5. Take the over.

Posted 11:28am
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April 17th, 2009

Apples and trees.

I've talked before about how my blogging is either spurred on or a reaction to the Moeman's career as writer, truthteller and raconteur. Its a complicated mess of mish mash, but certainly my dad looms large over my need to write and well, most everything else.

So it wasn't much of a surprise when Siddhartha started a blog of his own. Its - well - its the blog of a 13 year old, let's leave it at that. I'm happy he's writing and picking up the mantle. And man is he angry! You're foolin' yourself if you don't believe it...

He says he doesn't ever really read what I write here, and I think we're both thankful for that. I suppose someday he may get curious and start combing through the archives - I just hope that day isn't anytime soon. It likely takes a pretty strong constitution for a son to read some of the stories about his father that are contained within these pages.

On a happier note, here's another flickr set, featuring Siddhartha and I over the last 14 years. Enjoy the awkwardness. Its approaching 70 degrees and I'm going go do my favorite thing in the world that doesn't involve another person or my genitals: drink Oberon in the sun.

Posted 2:39pm
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April 16th, 2009

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

It must have been a rough couple of weeks for Baby J. We all remember when the (admittedly less adorable) Adult Jesus told us "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself - unless they haveth the same genitalia as thyself, then a hearty handshake sans eye contact shall be as close to 'love' that thy shall get. " So the tears must have been flowing with all the homo marriage legalization happening over the last fortnight. I'm hearing that its threatening the fabric of society. More bad news:

- I love a good advertisement for Jesus. They're almost always comically bad (apparently Baby J needs a new PR and Marketing department) This is especially true of the 'testimonial' ads - where people look into the camera and testify about whatever Jesus-y thing they're trying to get across. But what if those people aren't really awaiting the rapture but just, you know, actors? As Rachel Maddow points out "Pretending to be a straight person hurt by gay marriage is very very challenging." You can see the awkward goodness about 2:30 in.

- I've known two things for sure ever since I first heard that Katie Holmes was pregnant with Tom Cruise's baby: 1.) That she would be undeniably adorable and 2.) That at some point, before she hit puberty, I would want to mount a Temple of Doom style rescue effort to save her from her father's cult. That time may be now. What five year old needs a low carb diet? Mola Ram! Kali Ma Shakti de!

- Speaking of bad Jesus advertising, can anyone explain this one to me? Seriously. Best I can come up with is "Believe in God or you might as well kill yourself." Which correct me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't sound very Christian.

- Atheists generally get a bad wrap as smug, arrogant, religion hating assholes who look down on anyone claiming to have faith in anything. I realize that at times I may appear to be perpetuating that stereotype, but that's my cross to bear (so to speak). Truthfully, most nonbelievers hold nuanced positions couched in the concrete assumption that we don't have the answers. And while I have no contempt for anyone's belief in God, your actual religion and its dogma runs the gamut from pretty silly to downright hurtful and dangerous. Whoops. I got off track there. What I meant to say is that even I think this guy is a douche. I'd love to fist bump the Baby Jesus in solidarity.

- Finally, if there is a God, how can he justify this? Oberon is already $9.50 a six pack! A just Lord and savior would find another way to fight child abuse - like giving people who commit such atrocities horns and a tail and making their orgasms painful - not by punishing beer drinkers! C'mon Jesus, little help?

Posted 11:03am
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April 15th, 2009

Righteous indignation.

I can't say it any better than the Daily Show did last night, quoting Team America: America, Fuck Yeah! Obama gives the go order and Navy Seals take out 3 bastard pirates - who were stealing relief aid and holding an American hostage - with one bullet each. The whole thing is like a really cool late 80's Steven Segal movie. Now there are a lot of heroes in this story, and I'm not holding Barack Obama up as one of them per se, but those who like to describe the man as somehow effete can surely suck on this, no? I mean let's look at the evidence:


via Mottram Station

It reminds me of this email I got just the other day from my Uncle Shark*, entitled CHANGE has come to Washington:

Fire up the Lee Greenwood! Someone get Toby Keith on the line to write us an anti-Pirate anthem!

Then there's Boss Limbaugh. He gets on the radio and - as per the headline on his own website notes - talks about how President Obama Ordered the Killing of Three Black Muslim Kids. You fucking hypocrite fuckstick. Oh how I hate manufactured controversy and indignation. It reminds me a lot of that fucking idiot Glen Beck, crying socialism as the Administration scrambles to save capitalism. Its fucking fear mongering and if you listen or give any credence to these people you are part of the problem.

I'm all for the loyal opposition. Its quite necessary. But when you get what you want and cry foul anyway, you can go fuck yourself. When you manufacture dissent because it sells or you think it will get you reelected, you can cram it up your poop shoot.

* Once I was on my way to a bar with a bunch of people and we couldn't remember what the acronym for the Cream song SWLABR stood for. I said 'I bet my Uncle Shark would know,' so I called him and he reminded us that it was "She Was Like a Bearded Rainbow" (yes, seriously). Someone in the car noted, "I don't know what's cooler, that you have an uncle named Shark or that he knows Cream acronyms." Yes, Shark is pretty cool.

Posted 11:11am
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April 14th, 2009

You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

A lot of times I'm the last to leave. If you're not firm with me, I will gladly overstay my welcome. This is deeply rooted in years and years of being single and not having a sensible female on my arm saying 'time to go.' That and my concrete belief that you can always squeeze one more great moment out of a situation and that another drink is always a good idea. I know I've sat in your living room or basement, gotten up and asked if anyone needed another drink at some hour well after midnight and the minute I left the room you had an argument with your significant other about who is going to tell me to leave. Its OK. I usually get the hint when I come back and someone says 'Man, we are beat!'

There's just something in me that loves the night and drinking and playing games and telling stories and listening to music. If I could get a job doing that I'd be the happiest man on the planet. So when I'm in the middle of one of those situations, I don't ever want it to end. I try to extend it into the infinite. Who knows when it will happen again? OK, probably soon (probably tomorrow if its a Friday). But I guess I'm somewhat of a glutton. An addictive personality who wants more if there is more. And I'm willing to look for it if its not readily apparent.

But I'm not a petulant child. I will lightly goad and chastise when you say its time for you to hit the road or go to bed, but quickly let it go. I realize that you're probably making a smarter choice than I am, and that while its always sad when you're defeated by the night, it almost always eventually happens. Even I know that when you're sitting at the blackjack table and the sun starts to rise and you begin to wonder if this is what it must feel like to be a vampire because the sunlight doesn't feel natural on your skin, that its time to call it a night.

So the question remains, when will mondo douche bag of the decade Norm Coleman call it a night? The guy's holding onto a million to one shot - one that if it would manage to hit people wouldn't be slapping him on the back but rather in the face. "You fucker. Why are you dragging this out? You're making us all look like assholes." Can't you just hear them already?

And here's the real bitch of it - back in November, when Coleman led by the slimmest of margins, he told Franken to give it up. Concede and put this all behind us! Do it for your state, for your country! Even after he had a lead, Republicans told him to quit it. Then Coleman wanted a whole new election. Seriously dude, you reek of desperation and hypocrisy. Its over. Time to go home.

Posted 10:58am
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April 13th, 2009

Picture pages!

Last Saturday was Michigan's Spring football game. A few of us decided that outside + sunny + football + Oberon = yes. So we headed out to our normal tailgate spot for a little taste of fall in the spring. It was my plan to take lots of pictures in the warm spring sun and provide some sort of pictorial essay of the afternoon. This is as far as I got:

Oberon! Unofficial sponsor of, well, pretty much everything I do from March until November.

Here's Sid playing washer toss. Thankfully at this point he knows how to handle himself playing games with guys who are competitive assholes and guzzling Oberon. Speaking of...

We had such a good time drinking Oberon and playing games, we never actually made it inside the stadium. We instead decided to go get more Oberon and head to Johns to play...

...bocce. John and Boike beat us more often that not in washer toss, but Sid and I won bocce. I love that having my son as a teammate is not a liability.

So that's it. I hear the team looked good, and I know for a fact that our tailgating skills were in midseason form. Looking forward to a more successful season on several levels.

- Speaking of pictures and me and alcohol, here's a little trip down memory lane featuring me and booze.

- For those of you who enjoy female nudity, here's Padma Lakshmi, Chelsea Handler and Eliza Dushku stripping down for Allure magazine.

- And finally I saw this on Friday and thought it blog appropriate:

Posted 10:03am
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April 10th, 2009

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

- Happy Good Friday! Here's a video of Jesus showing the Pope what he thinks of his birth control policy. Thatta boy Jesus!

- Speaking of Good Friday, it always makes me think of the Good Friday party we had in college. It was sacralicious. Here's the flyer we used to promote it:

- Merge is one kick ass record label. They're celebrating with this appropriately kick ass compilation of kick ass bands covering other kick ass Merge artists. Its streaming here. Prepare to have your ass kicked.

- This was all over the internet earlier this week. Its farming! In Detroit! Of course I'm a huge fan of shit like this. It also bodes well for a future not of the dystopian Ridley Scott variety.

- And finally, as I've been telling most of you in private recently, I am now the lead singer of a rock and roll band. After years of playing shitty guitar in bad cover bands and some more years of doing acoustic covers here and there, I've somehow found myself behind a microphone, sans guitar, singing original music for the first time in my life. Its pretty frightening and challenging and awesome all at the same time. Hopefully at some point soon I'll be begging you to come to a gig so that you can tell me that we aren't that bad. Until then you can check out this trippy little video bass player Steve made of one of our songs. Thankfully its him singing in the clip and not me. You'll have to show up in person for that special form of embarrassment.

Posted 11:40am
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April 9th, 2009

Your time is gonna come.

OK, I'm a little obsessed with gay marriage as of late. I've always been pro gay marriage, as there isn't a cogent argument as to why the government wouldn't allow it. And its just silly. As the guy from Iowa noted in yesterday's cheesy video, its over. This is all going to seem unbelievably arcane and silly in 20 years. I know this because my 13 year old son joined the facebook group 'Make Gay Marriage legal in Michigan' before I did. Yes, if anything I have to worry about my kid being too liberal, but he's 13. Gay wasn't anything but a potential punchline when I was 13. This isn't a fight anymore, and you're shouting at the rain.

But of course we still have miles to go before we sleep and all that. So the question is when? Of course, Nate Silver of 538.com has the answer. By the way, I don't think I can quite make him King Shit of Fuck Mountain©, so I'm creating a new award for Nate. Let him be the first tbaggervance Smartest Man on the Internets©. Anyway, Nate did some math and Mapscroll made it pretty so that you can know when the gay chickens are coming home to roost in your state:

- And then there's this poor bastard. You should have the utmost sympathy for this kid while you laugh at him. His internal feelings and what the community around him are indoctrinating him to are going to be at odds for a very long time. And while it makes for good youtube video, its also kinda heartbreaking.

Posted 11:45am
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April 8th, 2009

Politics, politics, politics.

- Its official - the gays are taking over! I for one welcome our new homosexual overlords, as everything will likely be more fabulous, clean and organized. First - those pesky Iowans. Just when you think about taking away their way too important for a farm state early primary caucus, they go and nominate Barack Obama. Then just when you think its a fluke, a year later they legalize gay marriage! And I thought the only good things ever to come out of that state would be buddies Al and the Jesuses. Here's a cheesy little video that makes the very important point of 'You don't get it. You've already lost.'

THEN - a week later - from the 'What took you hippies so long?' department, Vermont followed suit. This time not from activist judges with gay agendas, but elected representatives in the state legislature - with a special "Fuck you, governor" veto override. Can you feel the whirlwind of gay pride? Let it wash over you and sweep you away. I am proposing that now that all the furor of state quarters has died down, we get one state to allow gay marriage every week for a whole year. Wouldn't that be exciting? Best year ever.

- I know there's a big hullabaloo over Bristol and Levi and who knew what and did what to whom when. This is old news and just information we all already knew coming to light. All these people are just this side of white trash, and the fact that its taking place in Alaska and that Sarah Palin's star on the national stage has officially burnt out, we won't get into it. The new hotness continues to be Michele Bachmann. This time she's warning of Obama placing the youth of America into reeducation camps. This is serious coo coo for cocoa puffs territory people. I can't wait to see what happens next.

- I want to create a montage of images like this and set it to 'God Bless the USA.' Fucking idiots. Here's a better idea - let's start kidnapping people wearing these shirts, throw 'em in the back of the van and then drop them off blindfolded in Harlem or Detroit.

- Here's some sweet sweet (correlational) science showing that soon we'll all not only be gay, but high as hell too. Yes, I think both of these things will make us better as a people. I do expect a movement in my lifetime for resuccession of the South - where they will form their own country to be named 'Biblevania'. I will be a leader in this movement, albeit one that doesn't want to live there.

Posted 11:03am
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April 7th, 2009

Sparty on.

Sometimes I say I'm from Detroit. This is always and only in sports related arguments with people I've just met and won't ever see again after we are finished getting drunk together. There's just a certain cache you're afforded being from Detroit. You're automatically a legitimate hockey fan. You've suffered the Lions for eternity. Your style of play is blue collar, and no one wants a piece of you. Its cool to be a Detroiter, but in that instance only.

Any other time its not respect but 'poor bastard' that accompanies Detroit. In fact, in any non-sports argument no one would ever believe me when I said I was from Detroit. It'd take all of 30 seconds for anyone to break me down. I'd be sheepishly admitting 'well Ann Arbor really...' in a heartbeat. But regardless, I still have a certain sense of pride about Detroit. I want it to do well, to come back.

So last night, I was reluctantly rooting for Michigan State. Had they been overwhelming favorites that had run rupshod through the tournament I'd have been actively cheering for their failure. People say Wolverines are smug and arrogant (and we are) but Spartys are just as big of pricks after they win - it just bothers us less than it bothers them because they're the little brother. But ANYWAY, last night I was hoping for a miracle.

OK, a lot of it was getting caught up in the hype. Sparty was an underdog not unlike the city of Detroit itself. ESPN was showing these long wistful segments about what sports mean to Detroit and what a Sparty win would mean to a city and a state that's been so beaten down. And then stupid fuckstick Mitch Albom* went and wrote this:

It will not save us. No basketball game can do that. No matter who wins Monday night, Tuesday morning the jobs still will be gone, the factories still silent and empty, the houses still for sale or abandoned altogether. The out-of-town media who see a national championship tonight at Ford Field as some uplifting salve for downtrodden Detroit are a bit misdirected.

And I was in full Sparty on mode. Way to spark the hope there Mitchy. Sports can be transformative. Sports can lift us up and make us forget whatever else isn't OK for the time being. No, it can't create jobs or make businesses solvent, but it can at least make people feel better about their miserable existence for five minutes. That is unless you read Mitch Albom and have him constantly flicking you in the nuts, reminding you that you'll still be miserable in the real world when its all over. You should not read Mitch Albom.

So Sparty didn't manage the gargantuan upset. Sorry Ayesha. And sorry Michigan. I was willing to get behind a rival's success for the good of my home state, but it wasn't meant to be. I just hope that next chance for the transformative power of sports to lift up the collective woes of Michigan comes from a Wolverine instead of a Spartan.

*You may know Mitch Albom from his appearances on ESPN or his stupid sappy fucking books about old people dying and Jesus and whatnot. Before all that he had a radio show in Detroit that I used to listen to now and then. About 10 years ago he was vehemently against the new Star Wars movies for glorifying violence. Anyone who's ever seen Star Wars knows that this is about the stupidest fucking statement on the planet and I will forever hate Mitch Albom if for no other reason. Fortunately for me, he keeps writing books that suck my ball sack, making up facts in his column, and writing complete fucking dreck like the Spartans are not 'some uplifting salve.' You're a douche bag, Mitch Albom.

- Last night they announced the winners of Mustache-A-Thon III (not me - and I blame you). Afterwards I ran into the bathroom at ABC and unsheathed my electric razor like a lightsaber and rid myself of 6 weeks of upper hair growth. Of course the sink in the bathroom was already clogged and cleaning up my face pubes tuned out to be quite the chore, but anyway, the 'stache is gone but not forgotten. If you would like to assuage the pangs of guilt you are feeling over not donating in time, fret not! You can still donate for another week.

Posted 10:54am
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April 6th, 2009

Mustache Mondays: Ultimate Edition.

T-minus 9 hours to go, then I can get this fucking thing off of my upper lip. No more thumbs up from construction workers, porn stars and NAMBLA members. No more mothers giving me worried looks and pulling their children closer as I pass. No more running my fingers over facial hair 900 times a day. Its almost over.

Which means time is running out for you to donate. C'mon man - $5 (or more). Its tax deductable. It goes towards teaching children. I've suffered for 6 long weeks, make it worth it! As a bonus, I promise to all of you (especially Ayesha) that I will not participate in this ridiculous exercise next year.

So you can pony up a little dough and remain in my good graces, or you can be a deadbeat prick and forever ostracized like one of those losers that always comes up short when you split the check. You KNOW that everybody else is going to tip like 40% to make up for your cheap ass. How do you sleep at night with such solipsistic behavior? I thought I knew you.

http://826michigan.blogspot.com/

Posted 10:58am
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April 3rd, 2009

Excuse me, but can you tell me how a bill becomes a law?

Last night Stov and I spent several hours at the bar enjoying the finest 12 pints of Oberon that money could buy (12 between us, not individually - we'd be dead.) In that time, we seamlessly discussed the following, in order:

- The viability of Old Town as a place to eat food versus its ability to get us drunk relatively cheaply. How A2 has tons of great restaurants but Stov always ends up at the same ones, and the relative risk/reward of different international cuisines, including, Indian, Thai, Ethiopian and Mediterranean. Also, how your significant other effects your ability to indulge in said cuisines, and how if I ever live with Ayesha I will likely be in a constant state of wanting beef.

- The Ann Arbor housing market and how one weighs location and amenities versus cost when choosing where to live. The overall attractiveness of Boston as a place to live and the various other locations that would be worth moving to (including Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Austin and North Carolina)

- Barack Obama's first hundred days, Geitner's plan to stem the tide of financial ruin, America's failing infrastructure, and the sea change necessary for green technology, including a light rail corridor in the part of the country that birthed the auto industry.

- The shamefulness of Michelle Bachmann, and the relative inanity of politicians and the entire state of Minnesota. How we could swap Minnesota for Puerto Rico, making the former a non-representational protectorate and the latter a state, and no one would have to wake up Bob Heft to change the stars on the flag.

- How getting older effects people's willingness and/or ability to randomly go to the bar, how relationships are affected by this, and overall, how people need space and their own interests in order to successfully be together.

- Nicolas Cage's acting career and just when he became completely unnecessary. How Ben Affleck gets a bad rap and was actually a better Jack Ryan than Harrison Ford (who hasn't made a decent movie in a decade) and that Alec Baldwin was actually the best of the three. How Sean Connery may have an affect on that truism and how he can completely turn a crap movie like The Rock into an enjoyable romp, and The Bourne Trilogy's influence on the Bond franchise's reboot, and how we could make a better James Bond movie than anyone named Broccoli.

It gets hazy after that. I'm sure there was more, but its a little known fact that Oberon doubles as a memory eraser in certain quantities. The point is, there is nothing quite so comforting as sitting and drinking with your best friend. I know that no matter what happens for the rest of my life, Stov and I will always be able to sit down, drink our faces off and never want for a topic of conversation. That's a pretty good feeling.

Posted 10:49am
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April 2nd, 2009

Tales of the colossally stupid.

- This story is colossally stupid and amazing on several levels. First there is the obvious - man gets DUI on motorized bar stool. Who would have thought? DUI on a BAR STOOL. Huh. OK. Second: it goes 38 miles an hour. A. How do you know that? and B. approaching 40mph on a BARSTOOL. As if things weren't stupid enough. Third: He TOLD THE COPS he had consumed 15 beers. Not "the arresting officer administered a breathalyzer and the idgit was found to be fucked up." He bragged about drinking 15 beers and then crashing his motorized barstool. Fourth: Its not 'Area Man' nor 'Local idiot' in the headline - just the dude's name - Kile Wygle - like we're all supposed to know who this village idiot is. And finally, it all takes place in Ohio. Excuse me, but that cherry on top is clearly just for me.

- I love me some green technology. I wish I could drive a car that ran on my own excrement that I had to convert in a still in my backyard. However, I understand that not everyone is as gung ho as I am, which is why I am a proponent of those technologies that are easy to adopt and save people cash - because those are things that we can get done en masse and really make a difference. This $120 light bulb is just colossally stupid.

- OK, so I may be nitpicking because ultimately this went my way, but hey, let us begin the shoehorning. Texas recently voted to remove the so-called 'Strengths and Weaknesses' rule from their science curriculum, which ostensibly was used to backdoor religion into discussions of evolution. The problem is that they didn't really vote to overturn it. It was a tie! And somehow the tie goes to the runner, which in this case must be evolution. Seriously - a tie. I know I should be happy that a huge bible belt state is getting rid of arcane anti-science, but a tie! Jesus Christ on a bike...

Posted 12:02pm
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April 1st, 2009

This week in indie rock.

- Ah lists. Nothing polarizes music snobs by ordering and arbitrarily ranking something that is supposed to be subjective. But of course that's why they exist, because they raise the ire of people like myself and serve as conversation starters. Well here is Amazon.com's 100 greatest indie rock albums of all time. The order is complete bullshit, but all my favorite bands are inlcuded, so you know, cool beans and stuff. And here is another bullshit list - the AV Club's albums that work best when listened to in order. This is a great idea executed with nothing but pure bullshit. The first thing you do when talking about albums that need to be listened to in order is to throw out concept albums. Duh. Of course you need to listen to them in order. Sorry AV Club, I love you but that is weak sauce. It is worth noting that both of these lists include Neutral Milk Hotel's In an Aeroplane Over the Sea, an album that made my list of 12 perfect albums of the last dozen years.

- Ah Neko Case. Your siren's song could easily lure me in to crash my ship amongst the cliffs. It does not hurt that you look like this.

- Art Brut makes an early entry for song title of the year: 'Alcoholic's Unanimous'

- Upcoming shows at the Blind Pig include Ezra Furman (with the Hard Lessons) and The Thermals. I am going to both. you should come get drunk with me.

- Wilco has a live DVD due out April 18th, and a new album set to drop at the end of June. It will be the album of the summer - mark my words.

Posted 11:45am
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March 31st, 2009

Home is where your stuff is.

Maybe I just need a shakeup in my life of the non-mustache variety. Maybe I just want to live closer to my friends on the Westside. Maybe walking access to downtown bars makes sense. In any case, after seven years at Arbor Village, its time for me to move.

Actually, all of the above are the reasons as to where I want to move. The impetus of it all is my current apartment complex. Ownership of my place has changed hands recently, and new management and I aren't exactly getting along. First, it was not plowing the parking lot of our complex on the worst snow storm of the winter, stranding me indoors for two days. Then it was the institution of 'residents only parking', pushing guests out to the street when parking in the lot is never a problem. And of course they are instituting a $50 per month 'association fee', despite the fact that we have no pool, gym, or free laundry. But the real kicker is how they treated me over vacation. I'll spare you the details, because I don't really want to relive it, but they lost my rent check, made we write another one, and the found and cashed the original one. The problem was the money was coming from different accounts, and long story short, their screw up cost me about $500 - all while they were ignoring me for an entire day and calling me a liar over the phone while I was on vacation. So while I enjoyed my stay, its time to go after 7 long years. Too bad I have to leave on a sour note.

So onward and upward. The current leader in the clubhouse is this place. I haven't seen it yet, but its two blocks from the Blind Pig, in my price range, and I am assured that all the money upgrading the joint has been spent on the inside, so its nicer once you get indoors (I hope I hope I hope). Of course none of it is a done deal, so anyone who knows a place close to downtown that has two bedrooms and costs under $1000 a month, I'm listening. Maybe I can get some of my moving costs subsidized by the bars I will now be frequenting more frequently.

Posted 2:04pm
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March 30th, 2009

Mustache Mondays: The Final Countdown.

All right fuckers. You have one week before you all are dead to me. The mustache is rocking at full force and you can't take 5 minutes to give me $5*. You disgust me. Do you hate children? Do you not want them to learn to be better writers? Who will write the episodes of Murder She Wrote you will watch when you are old and gray, if not the children of today? I'm asking you to make a tax deductible investment in our future and you are slapping me in the balls. And not in the good way.

I've spent a month walking around looking like a douchebag, and its almost over. You can say 'Hey, I feel bad for what Tyler had to endure, let me make a sizable donation to a worthy cause to show that it was not in vain." or you can take three curl hops and plant your foot squarely in my crotch. The choice is yours.

- I know you're sick of hearing about it, but its Oberon day. After the start of the Michigan football season and St. Patrick's Day, it may be my most looked forward to day of the year. As we get older, I think we need more carrots on sticks to get us out of bed in the morning. I do anyway. When that carrot is actually a frothy mug of Oberon, I run at full force.

*preferably more, but give what you can.

Posted 11:52am
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March 31st, 2009

Home is where your stuff is.

Maybe I just need a shakeup in my life of the non-mustache variety. Maybe I just want to live closer to my friends on the Westside. Maybe walking access to downtown bars makes sense. In any case, after seven years at Arbor Village, its time for me to move.

Actually, all of the above are the reasons as to where I want to move. The impetus of it all is my current apartment complex. Ownership of my place has changed hands recently, and new management and I aren't exactly getting along. First, it was not plowing the parking lot of our complex on the worst snow storm of the winter, stranding me indoors for two days. Then it was the institution of 'residents only parking', pushing guests out to the street when parking in the lot is never a problem. And of course they are instituting a $50 per month 'association fee', despite the fact that we have no pool, gym, or free laundry. But the real kicker is how they treated me over vacation. I'll spare you the details, because I don't really want to relive it, but they lost my rent check, made we write another one, and the found and cashed the original one. The problem was the money was coming from different accounts, and long story short, their screw up cost me about $500 - all while they were ignoring me for an entire day and calling me a liar over the phone while I was on vacation. So while I enjoyed my stay, its time to go after 7 long years. Too bad I have to leave on a sour note.

So onward and upward. The current leader in the clubhouse is this place. I haven't seen it yet, but its two blocks from the Blind Pig, in my price range, and I am assured that all the money upgrading the joint has been spent on the inside, so its nicer once you get indoors (I hope I hope I hope). Of course none of it is a done deal, so anyone who knows a place close to downtown that has two bedrooms and costs under $1000 a month, I'm listening. Maybe I can get some of my moving costs subsidized by the bars I will now be frequenting more frequently.

Posted 2:04pm
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March 30th, 2009

Mustache Mondays: The Final Countdown.

All right fuckers. You have one week before you all are dead to me. The mustache is rocking at full force and you can't take 5 minutes to give me $5*. You disgust me. Do you hate children? Do you not want them to learn to be better writers? Who will write the episodes of Murder She Wrote you will watch when you are old and gray, if not the children of today? I'm asking you to make a tax deductible investment in our future and you are slapping me in the balls. And not in the good way.

I've spent a month walking around looking like a douchebag, and its almost over. You can say 'Hey, I feel bad for what Tyler had to endure, let me make a sizable donation to a worthy cause to show that it was not in vain." or you can take three curl hops and plant your foot squarely in my crotch. The choice is yours.

- I know you're sick of hearing about it, but its Oberon day. After the start of the Michigan football season and St. Patrick's Day, it may be my most looked forward to day of the year. As we get older, I think we need more carrots on sticks to get us out of bed in the morning. I do anyway. When that carrot is actually a frothy mug of Oberon, I run at full force.

*preferably more, but give what you can.

Posted 11:52am
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March 27th, 2009

Behold: the greatest website I have ever seen in my entire 33 years, 6 months and 4 days living on the planet Earth.

The official Bell's Countdown to Oberon Clock.

Last night I was having a celebratory birthday drink with William and Mary when William said "Yeah, Oberon tasted a lot better back when it was called Solsun." I immediately started yelling at him, "Its the same damn thing!" He laughed. "Knew that would get ya." Sometimes I'm an easy mark.

I remember drinking Bell's Solsun back when I was a wee lad and thinking "Damn that's tasty, but who would ever pay $8 for a six pack of beer?" The answer, many years later, is of course me - over and over over again.

Last night I was telling John about how Bell's Brewery started following me on Twitter before I started following them - they apparently found me because I had sent a few tweets about Oberon. Anyway John noted "Greatest days in T's life: 1. Becomming a father 2. Having Bell's befriend him on Twitter." I told him that watching Michigan win the National Chapionship at the Rose Bowl was two, but otherwise he had it right.

So yes, my love affair with Oberon begins anew in a mere matter of hours. I literally can't wait. Its like an impending vacation - I'm nervous, excited and generally just don't know what to do with myself in the interim. I just want it to be here! Luckily there's a Michigan hockey game today at 3 (and hopefully tomorrow night) and I have two fantasy baseball drafts this weekend. In no way will these things placate nor satiate me and my waiting game, but much like nicotine gum to the quitting smoker, its hopefully enough to keep one from putting a bullet in their brain.

Posted 11:02am
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March 26th, 2009

Video on the internet is the adult equivalent of jangling your keys in front of a baby.

- Turns out I was a few hours early getting excited over still photos of Where the Wild Things Are yesterday, as the trailer dropped later that afternoon. You probably know this if you're at all interested in pop culture and you know, on the internet. But yeah, its fucking awesome.

- I'm not well versed in macro economic theory. Business isn't something I've really studied. But I pay attention to the news and have a college degree, so I'm not a dolt neither. You could say the same thing about Michele Bachmann. The first two parts anyway. This video provides no evidence that she pays attention to anything, has any formal education, or isn't a dolt. Seriously, Geitner and Bernanke look and talk to her like she's in junior high - because that's the level of understanding she appears to have (no offense, Siddhartha). Fuck you, Minnesota - you're clearly gunning to have all of your representation pulled.

- RJ sent me this. I had all but four correct with about 90 seconds left, but I never would have gotten the last four. It made me want to go to Pinball Petes (that means its really about video games and not internet video, but I shoehorn).

- Here's a list of 100 movies to see before you die. I've seen all but half a dozen of these, and its a pretty pedestrian mix of art and popular fare. Of course I had to completely dismiss the thing altogether by the end when I saw that it included Titanic. Its reasoning to see this gold plated turd before you die: It made a shit ton of money. Um, that's going to seem really stupid and trivial in about 10 to 20 years. And so will the film's special effects. Actually, the writing in this movie is so bad, to watch it again may actually kill me. They should make a note to watch this movie last I guess.

- As for non-internet related movie watching, I managed to get to two (TWO!) movies whilst out on vacation in PHX (and just for the record, I watched both of them before noon on consecutive Fridays. $5 morning movies!) Anyway, upon my arrival in the desert and tasting 70+ degrees for the first time in months, I immediately went to watch Watchmen in a dark theater for three hours. I agree with the basic consensus - it starts strong and loses its way at some point. Don't get me wrong, as an uber-geek for this book, I loved every second of it. But I honestly can't imagine it holding the attention much of someone who's never read the text. I also saw (this time with Ayesha) I Love You, Man. In short, its a not quite as good Forgetting Sarah Marshall. But FSM was fabulous, and this is merely a really great, funny movie (Ayesha liked it a little less than I). Highly recommended for a matinee viewing, a must for either the $1 theater or DVD.

- Speaking of comic book movies (and getting back to the internet video meme), one of my favorite scribes Ed Brubaker (maybe related? still working on that) wrote this cool web series called Angel of Death. Ed writes gritty street level noir, so draw your conclusions about this. No, no one has super powers.

Posted 11:57am
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March 25th, 2009

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

- New Death Cab! Ben and the boys are putting out an EP of Narrow Stairs orphans. All this week, Stereogum is previewing the tracks therein. You can already listen to "Little Bribes" and "A Diamond and a Tether". AND in other music you should love news, Peter, Bjorn and John's latest is streaming on myspace. And reluctantly, I admit that the Rothbury lineup for this year is not nearly as sucky as last year.

- The Ann Arbor News is folding. OK, this is a mixed bag. I of course naturally love newspapers and their slow and steady decline in this country is a source of sadness. I hate to see talented people who love the written word shown the door. But then again I didn't feel like their were a lot of talented people working at the A2News. Its like they hated the football team, even though U of M sports coverage was the only reason I and many others like me ever bought the paper. I guess when I read the Ann Arbor News I was mostly either frustrated or pissed off, so don't let the door hit ya...

- Speaking of Ann Arbor, city officials are considering doing away with plastic shopping bags. Yes, this is a very hippy town thing to do and yes I am very much on board with it. These fuckers are everywhere and we need to wean ourselves off of them. I mean seriously, how hard is it to put a canvas bag or three in your back seat and use it when you run into the store for 3 things? Learn the facts about plastic bags here. And if you're an Ann Arborite, you can take the city's plastic bag survey here.

- Growing up, Where the Wild Things Are was one of my favorite books. A few years ago, I heard that it was going to become a movie, which initially made me the good kind of queasy with anticipation, and then the bad kind realizing it would probably suck. Then I heard that it was going to be adapted by one of my favorite authors and directed by one of my favorite directors. I was queasy good again. Then it got delayed for a couple years with production problems and it was bad queasy time once more. Guess where I am at now after seeing these photos?*

- And most importantly, we are at t-minus five days until Oberon. I mentioned Oberon's impending arrival recently and one of my friend's wives scoffed 'Eh, overrated' (I won't mention her name for her protection) But anyway, I found myself actually offended. How dare she? Because right now, I imagine that some bar in Ann Arbor already has kegs of the sweet nectar, and all I want to do is run from bar to bar seeing if I can find that familiar tap handle. Here is some Oberon porn to satiate you until you can get your hands on some.

* if you said good queasy, 50 blog points!

Posted 11:25am
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March 24th, 2009

Are you guys together?

When you think about the aggregate facts, it makes sense. Ayesha is better looking than I am. She's seven years younger and her skin tone is 47 rungs farther down the darkness ladder than mine. She also has a penchant for striking up conversations with anyone within earshot. Take those, throw 'em in a box and wrap it in the fact that girls generally get randomly hit on more than guys, and it should be no surprise that dudes hit on Ayesha when I'm right next to her.

Up until last week my favorite instance of this was when we were holding hands in an elevator on our way to a club and the other single dude in there with us looked at her and said "Are you guys together?" She looked at me with a raised eyebrow and I reflexively said "Yes," followed immediately by "Fuck! I should have said no, right? That would have been so much more fun!" Then we got up to the club and the door guy told her that she could come right in, but it'd be $10 for me to enter. She turned to me and I said I refuse on principle. Maybe she would have been better off with the other guy.

But that's nothing compared to my first night in PHX this last trip. Ayesha had to work so I spent the day hoping around town on the light rail, ending up at a brewery in Tempe where I was to begin drinking and wait for Ayesha to get off work. Eventually she showed up around happy hour time and sat next to me at the bar. We chatted and recounted our days and enjoyed some delicious Four Peaks brews. Then the guy to her right asked her a question about one of the beers, parlaying that into a conversation about how he had just taken a job as the maintenance guy at the apartment complex across the street. Ayesha indulged in for a bit and then resumed our conversation. But the lothario took every lull in her attention towards me to stick his foot in the door. After about 45 minutes he got his check and excused himself, telling her it was nice to meet her - and awkwardly shoving this in her hand:

It was comical. He was obv. trying to do it on the down low, and he couldn't have failed more miserably. Because in his attempt to be sneaky, he ended up looking like a fourth grader handing a girl a note and then running away. I wasn't sure whether to feel respectful because he acknowledged me, or offended because he did so by calling me 'buddy'. Luckily I have both a thick skin and no reason to be jealous. Although during our week of spending every second of every day together Ayesha blew a gasket after about a week of me never allowing five seconds of silence enter my life. "Don't you ever want a little peace and quiet?" I just looked at her and said "Listen, I'd blow your mind..."

- For those of you who peeped the flickr photostream, you also got the unexpected treat of a couple videos that Ayesha took with her new Flip camera. Unfortunately flickr only allows you to upload two videos per month, and one of them wasn't the one Ayesha wanted you to see. So here's the one that Ayesha insisted on me showing you, in all its embarrassing glory. Yes, mule poop is an adjective.

Posted 10:51am
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March 23rd, 2009

That's the biggest damn hole I've ever seen.

Whew! What a week. I'm still reeling from the exorbitant amount of sunshine and booze. Needless to say, I had a blast. Ayesha and I always do, and I miss her already. Anyway, it was a big trip and I'm probably past the point where I can make a cohesive, coherent narrative about the thing. There are three things I do want to share though:

1. The Photos
I put up our photos (as I will likely do from now on for huge sets) on flickr. It will become a permanent link over there along with Yelp and twitter and the rest. We also got our pics taken by a pro, Tyson Crosbie, on St. Patrick's Day. You can view his flickr stream here.

2. The Grand Canyon Fun Facts®
Those of you following me on twitter or facebook may have already enjoyed my Grand Canyon Fun Facts®. But for those who didn't, I repost them now:

Grand canyon fun fact #7: it was built 2 billion years ago by robots from the future.

Grand canyon fun fact #34: even though it resides in az, there is EFFING SNOW on the ground.

Grand canyon fun fact #73: if u get lost, indians will befriend u and make u an honorary member of their tribe.

Grand canyon fun fact #89: most people gouge their eyes out after seeing a GC sunset, as it is the pinnacle of visual exp.

Grand canyon fun fact #102: the elderly love the GC more than hard candy and Murder She Wrote combined.

Grand canyon fun fact #117: the Mule poop is as ubiquitis as the asian tourists.

Grand canyon fun fact #132: hiking out of the canyon is the hangover to the bender of hiking in.

Grand canyon fun fact #155: hiking the GC turns your shoes a fun shade of orange!

3. The random thoughts
I did manage to write down a very few things. (Along with my Yelp Reviews) These are those:

- I took a bump on my flight home for a hefty flight voucher and a first class seat on a flight 8 hours later. All I can say is wow. First class makes flying not only palatable but enjoyable. I had a strong vodky sody in front of me the entire time - never an empty glass. And oh the room! I see now why these seats are so pricey - and that they are worth every penny.

- We went to see I Love You, Man on Friday and there's a joke in the film where the guy's fiancé doesn't know who the band Rush is. Ayesha turned to me and said 'Do you like this band?' 'Yes, I saw them in high school actually. Do you know who they are?' 'I know like Bush, but not Rush.' Consensus: I am old.

- Un-ironic mustaches are commonplace in the greater PHX area. This helps those wearing them ironically for charity feel less stand-out-ish, but nonetheless douchey.

- Nothing feels more like vacation than poolside bar service.

- Events like March Madness and St. Patrick's Day are best observed in college towns. PHX's level of excitement over these two things was so underwhelming it felt like a town of Stepford Wives.

Posted 12:01am
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March 12th, 2009

tbaggervance Gone Wild - Spring Break Edition.

About 24 hours from now I'll be basking in the 77 degree sunshine of Phoenix. I'm going to spend a week light railing around the city - drinking, going to movies, visiting record stores, drinking, shopping for comics, watching Michigan basketball and drinking. We're also squeezing in some spring training baseball and a trip to the Grand Canyon - where we will be camping despite the fact that the overnight temperature is supposed to be 27 degrees.

This also means sporadic to no blogging. Ayesha tends to take a lot of pictures (although maybe not with the 'stache hanging out on my upper lip*) so maybe I will get a flikr photo stream running and you can peep that. And there's always twitter. So really, it'll be like I barely left. I'm a little sad that these spring break trips to AZ keep making me miss St. Pats in Ann Arbor, but its a small price to pay. When I return, it'll be Oberon season and Michigan will be in the sweet sixteen. I guarantee at least one of those things will happen.

- OMG! Bristol and Levi are like, so over. Who would have ever thought those two crazy kids wouldn't make it?

*Why haven't you donated yet? Its five bucks. Put your disdain for me aside and do it for the children.

Posted 10:59am
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March 11th, 2009

My sartorial choices.

Its come to my attention as of late how easily people are fooled by fashion. Several years ago I started to cultivate a certain style in my wardrobe. I wanted to be as casual and relaxed as possible but not look like a complete slob. Because this is how I would prefer to dress every day:

Chucks, jeans, T-shirt, done. But even in a workplace environment that's as relaxed as mine, this is pushing it even on casual Fridays*. So how does one meet the minimum requirements without ending up wearing something that is both uncomfortable and inconsistent with your chosen aesthetic? This is how:

Throw on the suit coat and you go from schlub to "Why are you so dressed up?" faster than you can say nattily clad. Its amazing how impressed people are by this smoke and mirrors act. If anyone cracks how I can get away with this while wearing shorts, contact me ASAP.

- The weekly Yelp newsletter highlighted my review of the Michigan Theater in which I talk about running naked through the streets of Ann Arbor. Classy!

- I believe the children are our future. Thank God they are getting less and less religious.

*Unless the shirt said 'Michigan' across the chest, then its totally permissible.

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March 10th, 2009

The Facebook Saga - Part 2.

You may remember a few weeks back when we talked about facebook defriending. In short, I defriended a casual high school acquaintance on Facebook over some wholly ignorant, semi racist status messages/responses on her profile during Obama's inauguration. I wasn't sure if facebook notified people of defriending, or if the person would even care if they noticed, but it certainly didn't matter to me, so I blogged about it and moved on (as I am wont to do in said situations). But a funny thing has happened in the last fortnight or so - that person has come back with a re-friend request. Twice.

So now, I must admit, I am curious (not yellow). After a defriending and two Heismans at a refriend request, does she know I am giving her the gas face? Are her insistent requests a move to bring the situation to a head? Does she know I think she's an ignorant hillbilly or is this just obtuse facebook friend collecting? These are questions I could easily find the answer to by messaging her myself, but where's the suspense in that?

I realize that I largely reside on a day to day basis in my little solipsistic bubble of liberalism where everyone is multicultural, wants to help everyone else and higher taxes are a necessary evil as long as people are getting helped. I also know that that's an idealistic high horse than reality regularly knocks me off of. But as far as the day to day goes, its fun to pretend. I don't need pseudo casual acquaintances to bring reality crashing down around me*. Thus I will not silently condone someone who (about the inauguration) "hopes that America knows its making the biggest mistake EVER today!" by being their Facebook friend.

So, will this girl who may have sat behind me in math class or who I may have not picked for my dodge ball team in gym ever confront me with the evil that lies within her heart? Does she read the blog and secretly want to confront my socialist ass? Or am I constructing an overly elaborate narrative in my head to keep my imagination occupied? Time will tell dear readers, time will tell.

- Speaking of Obama and his give-you-goosebumps goodness, stem cells are back! Suck it: W, evangelicals, Catholics, Conservatives, Karl Rove, baby Jesus and the anti-choice movement. Hooray: Science, reason and victims of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and spinal cord injuries. Here's coverage from the Daily for you Ann Arborites/U employees.

*family excluded.

Posted 10:30am
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March 9th, 2009

Mustache Monday.

Strike up the mid-1970's wah-wah guitar music, because its Mustache Monday here at tbaggervance.com, wherein we remind you that our lord and protector, CEO and publisher tbaggervance himself is growing an awful mustache for charity. In a show of respect and reverence, we ask you, dear reader, to give a small tribute in appreciation for the suffering he endures. So give generously to 826 Michigan via their Mustache Blog. Its not only the feel good thing to do for Spring 2009, its also tax deductible. And its also the least you can do to show your appreciation for tbaggervance's month long residency of douche-ing up his appearance.

The pic on the right will be updated after tonight's meeting of the mustache farmers - where 826 tracks the progress of the sacrificial lambs and gives them a free pint to placate the itchiness. But trust us when we tell you, its pretty bad. In anticipation, we offer you this pic of our intrepid leader from Halloween, where he dressed like Dr. Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati. The real life stache is not this full or glorious.

Posted 11:55am
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March 6th, 2009

We can make the world a whole lot brighter...

Yes cats and kittens, Saturday night is the time to 'spring ahead' for Daylight Saving Time (I know, not savings time. Its still fucking with my head too.) For about the first 30 years of my life, DST meant 3 things: 1. The following Monday sucked. Its just science that springing forward fucks with your sleep routine and makes you inordinately tired. This is lamentable, but worth it because... 2. Hello daylight! Wasn't it just yesterday that I was leaving for work in the dark, only to get home and it was already dark again? Yes, yes it was. Now its tick tock you don't stop on outdoor goodness, as we all of the sudden have an inexhaustible amount of daytime. Sort of. But it has to get dark sometime because... 3. The bar is open an extra hour! Now some places are bitches about this and skirt the issue - missing out on one of the greatest drinking loopholes ever created. But at a quality bar*, the bartender will actually go up to the official bar clock at 2am and move it back to 1am, like you have cheated death for another 60 minutes. Its all kinds of awesome.

But sadly, DST has another unintentional negative side effect for yours truly. You see, Arizona is the only state in the 48 contiguous** that doesn't observe DST. This means that when Michigan 'springs ahead', Arizona - like an obstinant Simon Says player - stays firmly planted. This means that Ayesha and I go from a two hour time difference to a three hour time difference just like that. This is disastrous. You see, despite me being slightly*** older than Ayesha, a two hour time difference puts us on the same schedule. Her getting up at 6 and me getting up at 8 means we're on the same page. When I'm finally hitting the sack at 12:30, she's also observing her 10:30 bedtime. Even on the weekends, more often than not nights and mornings begin and end at around the same GMT, even though we are technically two hours apart. But add an hour and all hell breaks loose. She's drunk dialing me and waking me from my slumber. I try and talk to her in the morning when she's still fast asleep. Its amazing how frustrating an hour can be.

So while you can read 13 interesting factoids about DST here, you now know a 14th: DST is not great for a long distance relationship where one party is in Arizona, and one is in EST. I mean, I'll still take the daylight. And its usually accompanied by warmth so... and 24 days till Oberon! I'm headed to AZ in a week anyway, so welcome, daylight saving time.

- And for a Friday time killer - here's one of the greatest pranks of all time. Think its mean? Its in response to this.

- And if you're still struggling with the headline...

* by 'quality' I mean the kind of degenerate, sticky floor, $2 PBR places I tend to frequent
** also see Hawaii, not so fast Indiana
*** and by slightly I mean significantly.

Posted 10:30am
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March 5th, 2009

A plethora of peccadilloes and pet peeves for your perusal.

- I hate the Arcade Fire. There, I said it. I'm not cool - throw me out of your little indie rock snobbery collective. They suck ass. Its all a rouse started by a small group of hipsters who knew that championing this schlock would seem cool. Its the same thing with Pavement in the '90's. That's why I loved hearing King Shit of Fuck Mountain© Wayne Coyne give them what for in Rolling Stone. Seven people on stage - you knew they had to be douche bags. Here's the AF's Win Butler (appropriately douchey name) responding.

- Hey! Teen pregnancy is on the rise! Is it because everyone wants to be like Bristol Palin? Is it because we're becoming more morally bankrupt as a society? Or is it, as all the evidence points to, because abstinence only education leaves kids uninformed.

- The governments raiding of medical marijuana clinics is coming to an end. Hooray conservatism! Because if you're a true conservative and believe in state's rights, then the DEA needs to stay the fuck out of medical marijuana clinics. That's one sentence that I hope in my lifetime I will feel stupid about ever having to type.

- It wasn't just incompetence that made the last 8 years hell for any freedom loving citizen of the United States. It was the incompetence coupled with the hubris that they were above the law. Want proof? If thats not a dictatorship, what is? Just so you know, I'm never forgiving any of you who voted for him the second time. I officially think less of you - forever.

Posted 10:44am
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March 4th, 2009

Remember I'm doing it for the kids, not to them

About 18 months ago we had a discussion about how my former driver's license and the mustache I was sporting therein made me look like a pedophile. Its something that makes me shudder. Which is why it begs the question as to why I'd be bringing back the 'stache.

Than answer of course, is for the children. That's right, dear readers, prepare once again to be inundated with requests towards your generosity, because I am participating in 826 Michigan's Mustache-A-Thon III: Triple Crown.

It goes something like this: participants don't shave their upper lip for about six weeks, and those who either a.) Want to encourage these hideous abominations OR b.) Have great sympathy for those sacrificing themselves for this exercise can DONATE to these heroic individuals (and my individuals, I mean me.)

So yup, I'm asking you to once again kindly get out the e-wallet and throw some cash towards the very worthwhile 826 Michigan. I know the economy is rough, but $5 is going to break no one - and besides, what price is too high to help children learn? Why do you hate the children?

Again, donate HERE, preferably to me. The link will remain up on the sidebar for those who want to wait to see the 'stache come in, or donate multiple weeks (Yeah! You can TOTALLY do that!) I'm going to be bothering you about it for the next few weeks, so you might as well get it over with and get the guilt out of the way. Plus, you get to point and laugh and make Magnum jokes for the next few weeks every time you see me, and if that's not worth a donation, I don't know what is.

Speaking of which, I had the privilege of making the buttons for this year's Mustache-A-Thon, to help promote and explain our endeavor. I share them with you now. Every one who makes a donation of more than $5 can have one! Just get in touch with me.

Posted 10:16am
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March 3rd , 2009

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

I had a whole post ready to go, and then other parts of the internet weren't ready for it. So come back tomorrow. Until then, enjoy some things truly innocuous .

- Rush Limbaugh is a fat bloated idiot who has clearly lost his mind. And I don't mean his misquoting the Declaration of Independence and calling it the constitution - although that's funny too. I love that the Republicans are eating themselves and are having more infighting than 3 drunk Brubaker brothers over Thanksgiving. Yes yes yes - I want them to get their shit together and provide well thought out counterpoints to liberal/Democratic ideas. But THAT's not what they are fighting about. The opposite in fact. "One thing we can all do is stop assuming that the way to beat them is with better policy ideas. " That's Rush - during the same speech he reiterated that "I Do Want Obama to Fail". That's a traitorous idea buddy. Comparing it to the superbowl doesn't make it any better. For someone who claims I hate the troops for wanting to bring them home, its pretty circular logic. Pinhead.

- That's what she said.

- I'm a Paul McCartney apologist. Which is a weird thing to say, because I don't think there's anything to apologize for (Maybe Say, Say, Say - but c'mon - good idea at the time?) Anyway, lost in all the polarizing Wings stuff, there's the Paul McCartney immediately post-Beatles. In 1970-71, Paul put out two of the best post-Beatle albums of any Beatle. McCartney and the superb Ram. Anyway, outside of "Maybe I'm Amazed" these are pretty lost songs that deserve attention. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. For those into this sort of thing, I also recommend this - especially Ted Leo and Sufjan's contributions.

- For fun stuff to look at, here are - what I would consider - some interesting juxtapositions of high and low art. Even though I hate when stuff I like is considered low art - I'm still snooty enough to need the term in my arsenal, so I'll throw it out there.

- The temperature was single digits when I crawled out of bed this morning. Its March. I've had enough. Ten days from today I go back to PHX to see Ayesha and enjoy the balmy 85 degree weather, the Grand Canyon, and Cactus League baseball. Suck it, Midwest.

Posted 1:05pm
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March 2nd , 2009

Winter Beerfest

So no doubt, faithful readers, you've grown accustomed to annual posts from the Summer Beerfest. Well did you know (since we alluded to it on Friday) that there's also a Winter Beerfest? Its just like Summer Beerfest, except its blindingly cold. This makes it neigh on impossible to take notes, or pictures or do any other chronicling of said event that we usually provide you with during Summer Beerfest. In fact, here's the only evidence we have from the weekend:

That's us 'tailgating' with an emergency 12 pack of Miller Lite in the parking lot before we headed inside.

Once inside the first beer I had was the Smoked Amber w/Jalepeno from Original Gravity. It was unbelievably tasty and not some spicy gimmicky bullshit that I expected. I can't tell you what happened for the next five hours after that, because taking off the gloves to write things down was far too painful. Let's just say we drank a lot of beer. It was good.

We ended up at some townie bar called 'Our Tavern' later that night (which Boike suggested by googling "Grand Rapids + Bar + Shuffleboard") It was surely our kind of bar and had two gorgeous, long shuffleboard table in the middle of the place. We eventually got on and John and I acquired the rights to the table by defeating two overly tan twins (whose boyfriends watched on with vaguely clenched teeth.) The night ended with four dude's in the back of Pete's Saab, and ordering 30 tacos from Taco Bell.

Which, I cannot stress this enough - Grand Rapids is a backwater hole. You'd think Michigan's second largest city would have a modicum of 21st century amenities. Well first of all, the Beerfest was at the Minor League ballpark in town, and it is apparently the ONLY ballpark in America without a bar within 2 miles of the place (hence the tailgating outside). And I'm not sure why, but it is impossible to get a cab in that town (hence the end of the night). For some reason, when you do get a cab, they're generally pissed that you hired their services. I'm not sure how you operate a town of 200,000 without cabs, but GR is doing their best. Beerfest, I love you even when I have to freeze to attend you. Grand Rapids, I'm not impressed.

Posted 10:25am
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February 27th, 2009

grr...

- Fucking Republicans. I'll never understand a party that claims to be so rooted in christian values can spew such hate (the ignorance I get, but the hate is another story.) This week, members of the party of the inclusion compared being gay to murder, cheered the suggestion that Obama is a communist not born in this country, and struck a blow to the separation of church and state. Nice work, fuck holes.

- Speaking of, the dumbest, loudest conservative of them all may have went far enough out on the limb this week to break it. I think that there was pretty much universal agreement that Jindal sucked the bag Tuesday night. Unless of course you're Rush Limbaugh, and your head is big enough to have its own specific gravity. Rush wants nothing to do with anyone who said Jindal didn't do a good job in his response. Ever again. Don't you people know he's the next Reagan! Rush said "We cannot shun politicians who speak for our beliefs just because we don't like the way he says it." Um Rush? Hey, over here. Take it from someone who's been trying to get a Democrat elected to national office for a few years, more than anything else it matters HOW you say it.* Sad truth. W was bereft of ideas and beat guys of substance because they were wooden and about as appealing as waxing the hair off your ass. No wonder Republican Governors are calling you an idiot by proxy. And as for Jindal, here's the appropriate response.

- Tom Brady is officially off the market. <<sigh>> You can still "sleep" on my "couch" when you come to town, Tom.

- OK time to shake it off. Its Beerfest weekend! Drinking outside in subfreezing temperatures is fun! Oh yeah, and this kind of blew my mind.

*There's also the fact that Jindal's ideas were stupid, even from a conservative stand point. The Governor of LOUISIANA is making fun of funds for natural disaster preparedness? That is s-m-r-t smart.

Posted 10:31am
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February 26th, 2009

The indie rock on your horizon

Late winter/early spring seems to always be a great time for the indie rock. Albums get released and tours of small clubs get booked - all in preparation for the big summer festivals. Here's some things to look forward to in the next couple months.

2/13/2009 - Kinch/The Economic Chastisement
Oh AZ light rail, you just keep on giving. Ayesha pointed me to this site as something that might be cool for us to check out if they happen to recording something when I return to the desert in two weeks. And wouldn't you know it, the band Kinch is pretty bad ass. They just had an EP come out before Valentimes and you can download it for FREE (along with last year's full length) at their website.

3/3/2009 - Neko Case/Middle Cyclone
We're here to tell you that you can hear Ms. Case's dulcet tones streaming right now over at NPR. This is something we highly recommend. But more than anything, we wanted an excuse to run a pic of our new favorite album cover of all time. I'd buy this on vinyl even if I hated the music.

3/24/2009 - The Decemberists/The Hazards of Love
Those familiar with The Decemberists will find this description (via Amazon) of their forthcoming 17 song suite as no surprise:

The Hazards Of Love tells the tale of a woman named Margaret who is ravaged by a shape-shifting animal; her lover, William; a forest queen; and a cold-blooded, lascivious rake, who recounts with spine-tingling ease how he came "to be living so easy and free."

How do you not want to listen to that?

3/31/2009 - Peter, Bjorn and John/Living Thing
PB&J brought whistling to a whole new level of cool with their debut album Writer's Block. Now they're back to do the same thing for kids screaming over hooky drum loops. Trust me.

4/7/2009 - The Thermals/Now We Can See
The Thermals are back with more catchy punk trio goodness. Will there be as many religious allusions on their latest effort as The Body, The Blood, The Machine? Not possible, but we are certainly looking forward to seeing them at the Pig on April 30th.

4/14/2009 - Yeah Yeah Yeahs/Its Blitz
Karen O and the boys churn out more angry post punk dance rock. If you search the ether, you can find this bad boy already and the title says it all - it is blitz.

4/18/2009 - Record Store Day!
April 18th is National Record Store Day. I realize that many of you haven't been in a record store in years. Hell, I'm sure that there's plenty of you who have never been in a proper record store in your life. This is a crying shame. Record stores are places to unearth hidden gems and get clued into what ever is new and happening. Plus most of them have cheap used stuff these days, and I guarantee that the people who work there know more about music than the 17 year old who rings you up at Best Buy. You may find your new favorite band by striking up a simple conversation. Walk into your local shop on the 18th for all kinds of cool exclusives - including your first chance to get the new Wilco live DVD - Ashes of American Flags.

4/21/2009 - Art Brut/Art Brut vs. Satan
I'm still on the fence about Art Brut. Are they the future of pop or is Eddie Argos a one trick gimmick that burned itself out halfway through their first album? I guess I'm still interested in finding out the answer, so that's something.

Posted 10:41am
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February 25th, 2009

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

- I was busy at the bar drinking and playing games last night, but I thought the President struck the right balance of ambition and pragmatism last night. Yes, I'm biased yadda yadda yadda. Speaking of, man do I hate Bobby Jindal with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. He's half as charismatic as Obama and has one tenth of the political skill - making the comparisons more about age and skin tone than anything else. Way to get deep. I do find it funny that the consensus on the internet seems to be that he's Kenneth the Page.

- There's still some drama left to unfold in Michigan's basketball season, so I don't quite have the pangs of hunger for college football. However, there is good news for M fans - ticket prices are going down next year. Oh yeah, and guess which city is America's greatest college sports town?

- Two bits of pop culture news that have me positively giddy this morning: Michael Cera signs on and thus brings the Arrested Development movie to fruition (Come on!) and Andy Richter reteams with Conan. Staring contest in 3... 2... 1...

- More Pot Watch: The worlds most famous regression analysis expert Nate Silver predicts the necessary majority to make pot legal is coming... in 2022. And in what can only be described as sweet, sweet poetic justice, Kelloggs takes a hit over dumping Phelps. Hey man, they're like, greeeeeeeat... and stuff.

- I thought this was a pretty insightful account of the relationship cycle we all too often find ourselves in. May you laugh at it because you've moved beyond it.

Posted 10:22am
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February 24th, 2009

Its easy being green.

- We here at tbaggervance.com love adapting our lifestyle to benefit the environment. We just feel better about ourselves when we make a small adjustment that means we're using less energy or producing less waste. And we LOVE is when those things are super easy and save you money, because that's when we can guilt you to do it too. Here's the WSJ with some ideas on how to spend your tax return and make it work for you. All are practical and money saving. Then of course there's this list, which even I won't touch. Raw milk? Go fuck yourself.

- I've never drawn up a will since whatever little I have when I kick would by default go to Siddhartha, and that's good enough for me. The one thing I do worry about is someone trying to have some religious ceremony for me or put my body in the ground. I always assumed cremation would be the way to go, but apparently they can liquefy my body and turn it into fertilizer. Sign me up.

- I'm currently having a love affair with public transportation. I feel like carting my ass around is one thing I could be doing a much greener job of, and struggle with the best way to go about it. This might help a bit: here's a map of potential high speed rail lines that may get a green light because of Obama's pinko-commie stimulus package.

- Go from suck to blow.

- Winter's almost over, but its never too late to think about cutting energy costs. Its free money yo!

- Solar energy, in Toledo? Huh.

- One final bit of green news: California law makers have introduced legislation to make pot legal. Anyone who can convince me how this doesn't make sense wins $100.

Posted 10:40am
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February 23rd, 2009

Oscar Recap or: Ways in which I am Gay

- I love Hugh Jackman. And not just because he's Wolverine. Its because he's Wolverine and he's a total theater fag. And if Weapon X can sing and dance, it makes me feel totally hetero about by affections for the genre. He's so cornball about it, and I love it. I laughed out several times during the opening number - even Hugh had a hard time keeping a straight face, and that's why it works for me. And btw, if The Reader was anything like his interpretation, I'd be lined up to see that shit in IMAX 3D tonight (~6:00 into the video).

- Jerry Lewis made me uncomfortable in a whole new way last night. I mean, something about the man has always made me uncomfortable - and over the years he's found several different ways to do it. Last night was a new one. I don't like to think about it.

- Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are impossibly good looking and our collective obsession with them makes complete sense to me. It also makes me a little uncomfortable.

- Those of you who ran straight to bed the minute Hugh said goodnight missed this 'Coming in 2009' montage that rolled over the credits. Hooray Inglorious Bastards!

- I had no major award gripes (especially given what was nominated) A friend of mine tried to compare Slumdog's win to when Crash won best picture. Let me say this once and for all - Crash is the worst piece of fucking shit ever to win Best Picture and to a large extent nullifies any power or sway the award ever had AND for that matter, taints the Oscars as a whole (if Titanic hadn't already killed them). Slumdog is a really good movie that people like. In a year where nothing was truly transcendent, its worthy of the award.

Posted 10:30am
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February 20th, 2009

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Here's an interesting treatise on what it means to be an atheist - used in defense of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. My favorite line: As a nonbeliever, I don't ever "feel a twinge of doubt" that I might be wrong; I'm pretty sure that I'm wrong, about many things. R'amen.

- I got a lot of virtual and literal high fives after Barack Obama's inauguration speech where he name checked us nonbelievers. While this was a few weeks ago, he gave us more props - this time at the National Prayer Breakfast. It seriously gives me goosebumps when he does that. He's so intellectually dreamy!

- Remember those atheist bus ads we've discussed a few times before? Here's the christian response. Ugh. I'm done with this.

- A few years back my brother lived in Arkansas and before I went down to visit him, he gave me the equivalent of the 'keep you head down and mouth shut' speech (I *think* he actually said something to the effect of "You love Neil Young right? Well remember what Skynnard said about Neil - and this is Skynnard country.") Anyway, its pretty much exactly as scary as you would imagine down there for someone like me. And on top of everything, they won't even let me work for the government (or testify at a trial!) Hooray separation of Church and State!

- Remember back during the presidential campaign how the right lauded Bristol Palin for keeping her baby but we weren't supposed to talk about it because it was their business? Well now Bristol Palin is talking and its, um, well, pretty which what you would, like, imagine. As noted in this Slate piece, quoth the Palin:

I wish [getting pregnant] would happen in like 10 years so I could have a job and an education and be, like, prepared and have my own house and stuff. ... I hope that people learn from my story and just, I dunno, prevent teen pregnancy I guess.

Also: abstinence "not realistic at all," teen pregnancy "not something to strive for." Some people just have to find that one out the hard way. I honestly feel awful for this poor girl.

Posted 10:30am
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February 19th, 2009

A quick photographic essay in which we mostly wait for the light rail

Remember how much we love the light rail? Well in addition to its convenience and its greenness, its also apparently conducive to picture taking. Ayesha and I were perpetually 90 seconds late to catch the train we needed. How to spend those minutes? Picture taking! Here's a brief look at the PHX light rail stops:

Here are the custom Chuck Taylors I received for Xmas. Ayesha is jealous. You should be too.

Here we are in self portrait mode. Isn't she cute? Aren't I white?

Hands thrust in pockets in a failed attempt to stay warm. It should really never e this cold in the desert. Yes, its mid February at night, but I should be in SHORTS much less wishing for a coat. Otherwise, what's the point?

It was all star weekend in PHX. Here is proof of that, and our shoes.

Outside the arena, mere moments from tip-off. I may be tip-sy.

And as a follow up, here's that Buckeye from yesterday. He gave me his card but I can't find it, so I can't out him and tell you his name. He's Michael Doss's uncle (so he says) so maybe one of you Buckeye's know. He could still beat my ass, so I'll be nice.

Posted 1:03pm
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February 18th, 2009

Remember the Schembechler

Whew! Back after a brief hiatus. Sorry about that. I'm playing catchup at work and with life in general, but we're determined to get them postings resumed toot suite. Here's attempt one: My two favorite things about my brief trip to AZ over the weekend other than, you know, just being with Ayesha.

- Phoenix light rail fucking rules. My LEAST favorite thing about Phoenix (and the southwest in general) is that its so spread out. Doing anything requires a 20 minute car ride. And if you drink like I do (or even a quarter as much) this means that you need your own personal cabbie or someone is stuck being the DD - which is one only step above being my favorite new phrase - the fun governor (thanks angie). Enter the light rail. Ayesha and I were able to go out and drink WITHOUT her being a DD or racking up exorbitant cab fares. We even went all the way to Tempe! All for $2.50 a day. Needless to say I strongly believe that SE Michigan needs this will all expediency. Here's news from November saying its coming next year. I'm not holding my breath, as these projects are always rumored 'round these parts. But how cool would it be to take the choo choo to the airport? Or the Tigers game? Or just to go drinking in Greektown? C'mon, let's stimulate that SE Michigan economy!

- One afternoon we were enjoying a bottle of wine in the middle of the afternoon and just happened to be eavesdropping on the rather loud conversation happening next to us. I noted how the guy - a large gentlemen in his 60's - kept giving his resume. "I was VP of this, I was director of that..." My first thought was that was a whole lot of accomplishments for a guy drinking at 2 in the afternoon. My second was of course, he's making a lot of it up. Then he starts with the sports talk. It took me all of about 2 minutes to figure out that he was a Buckeye. I tell Ayesha "I think that guy played football for Ohio State." She wheels around and says "We couldn't help but over hear your conversation, are you a Buckeye?" He answers affirmatively and asks if she is as well. "Oh no, I'm a Spartan and my boyfriend here is a WOLVERINE." He makes some polite comments, complimenting Michigan's academics, and then goes on to say "You know I never lost a game to Michigan when I played there." I'm going through my head trying to ascertain when that would have been possible, and quickly wonder, how old is this fucker? Maybe he only played two years or something, so I ask him "Oh yeah? When did you go to school?" He said 1968-72. I said "Oh really, that's funny, because we beat your ass* in 1969." He hemmed and hawed and admitted I was right. "I don't know how I forgot that, I played in that game." Indeed.

We talked some more and eventually I went over and shook his hand - he was a fairly nice guy. Afterwards Ayesha wondered out loud if he just forgot, being an elderly gentleman. I said nope - he obviously loved to hear himself talk and probably (almost) never gets called out when saying things like "I never lost to Michigan." Not so much around son of Moeman. It felt good because honestly, I needed a win over a Buckeye pretty bad as of late.

*I should have been nicer in my phrasing, but yes, that's exactly what I said. I had been drinking...

Posted 1:07pm
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February 13th, 2009

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

- If we've said it once here at tbaggervance.com we've said it a million times - just legalize pot already. I don't say this out of my affinity for the drug - I'm a drinker and if I never smoked pot again I could care less. But the reasons pot isn't legal aren't based on what it does to you or any scientific reasoning. Its antiquainted, Puritanical notions. And of course the real kicker is both the cost of enforcement of this bullshit AND the lost revenue by not making it legal and taxing the shit out of it. Certainly in this economy we can use some new revenue streams, no? Well California is on it. And the numbers are staggering. America, let us toke our way out of this recession.

- Last week we noted that 'approaching dead to me status' Michigan Senator Debbie Stabanow was looking at holding talks on the 'fairness doctrine' and so I sent her a nasty letter. Guess what? It worked! I did it! Behold the power of tbaggervance.com. p.s. Fuck Sean Hannity.

- Here's Sid rocking some Ted Leo on his new ax. He pretty much beams with pride at the end.

- I'm headed to PHX tomorrow for a quick trip to see Ayesha. That is in no way innocuous, but I am happy to report that earlier fears that I would head west only to be greeted by lukewarm temperatures and rain have been assuaged. I mean, what's the point of the desert if its going to be cold and rainy?

- Speaking of Ayesha, towards the beginning of our relationship I (re)introduced* her to the band Nada Surf. She quickly fell in love and recently declared them her second favorite band of all time, behind only the mighty Radiohead. In honor of Valentimes tomorrow, here's their pitch perfect cover of one of my all time favorite songs. Remember kids, All You Need is Love.
*she knew the song 'Popular' when it was popular. This doesn't really have any bearing on Nada Surf's current incarnartion.

Posted 11:11am
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February 12th, 2009

Happy Birthday Darwin!

200 years. Don't they go by in a blink?! Today is Charles Darwin's 200th birthday and we here at tbaggervance.com are throwing a party. We just love Darwin (and people like him. Hooray Gregor Mendel!) around here because we love science and the scientific method and being analytical. We hold that if more people were able to celebrate these ideals we'd be a lot better off as a society. So come on! Let's learn more about the important work of biology's most significant figure!

- Here's a quick rundown from USAToday. Think of it as Darwin for beginners. For those of you who want to get down and dirty, here's the man's complete works.

- For those of you who like your history of the world with talking snakes and giant floods, here's a nice article about integrating Darwin and Christianity. But please read this as well (Its from Utah!) if for nothing else, you learn that there was a once a bill in Indiana that tried to set the value of pi to 3.2!

- For the beehive pokers, there's these billboards going up in places where they don't like none of that 'we used to be monkeys' talk. For the record - I hate people who try to teach creation in science classes like they are Hitler, I love the slogan "Evolve Beyond Belief", and could do without the "Freedom from Religion Foundation" URL that takes up half that sign.

- It also happens to be Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday today (I know, right!?!) Here's an awful, awful, stupid article about Darwin, Lincoln and gay marriage. His suppositions are wrong and his pretzel logic made me laugh out loud. He all but blames Darwin for starting a culture war. After saying maybe Lincoln didn't need to fight the Civil War. Next time, don't try to shoe horn it all in there Rabbi.

Posted 10:58am
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February 11th, 2009

Do you like me? Check Yes No

I can't pinpoint when I went on my first date. I do know that by the time I was in junior high, most weekends were spent at the movies where there were clandestine meetups and you'd conveniently find yourself sitting next to someone where there was an unspoken understanding that things were going to happen. It quickly escalated from there. Looking back it was all pretty laughable and a tad ridiculous. I'd shake my head to see two 12 year olds making out in the back of a movie theater now - but I was that kid.

My son has now fully immersed himself into cliché teenagerdom. He spends every second of his free time in his room, door closed, talking/txting to girls. Its a great source of fear/pride for me. Last Saturday after returning from tennis practice, I had to run up to 826 for some volunteering, and Sid said he was probably going to go hang out with friends, since, after all, it was 45 degrees outside. I told him to buzz me when he knew what he was doing. 90 minutes later this is the first txt I get:

Sid: "OK I'm going out."
Me: "Where and w whom?"
Sid: "Downtown"

This generic non-answer necessitated me going from txt to actual talk. Apparently he and his pseudo-girlfriend were walking up to campus to get ice cream and go the arcade. He assured me he didn't need a ride and that he would call me when he was headed home. He also tried to assure me that it wasn't a date.

I went on to explain to him that I wasn't an idiot, and if you spend all of your time talking/txting to a girl and then just the two of you go out for food and entertainment, that's a date. I don't care what you call it. I'm guessing the pseudo-girlfriend might have had a similar discussion with him, as they are going out again this weekend, and any attempts at caveats about what is going on and whether or not 'pseudo' is still a necessity have been removed. (Also, it will be at night, removing any arcane, ceremonial Ayesha imposed impediments about dates taking place when it is dark out.)

I'm doing my best to give the lad his space and not be too nosy about things - that's his mother's job. I'll just tell him to be a gentleman and open doors and pay for things and compliment her and remind him that no means no. I'm fairly sure that he's not going to be participating in most of the stuff I was getting into by the time I was in 8th grade, so I can sleep soundly. But hey, they've gotta start somewhere, and this is surely the beginning of the end. Deep breaths...

Posted 11:07am
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February 10th, 2009

Slap it up, flip it, rub it down, Oh nooooooo!

Valentines Day quickly approacheth, leading to dread for both the singles and the coupled throughout the land. The singles get barraged with schmaltzy reminders that they are alone, and the coupled get to worry about meeting Valentine's expectations. More specifically, men worry about buying/doing the right thing and women worry about men buying/doing the right thing.

But once the day finally arrives, assuming you haven't colossally blown it or drank yourself into a coma in an avoidance effort, the pressure usually melts away and Valentine's becomes something to enjoy. And I'm not talking in a "bask in the love that surrounds" sort of way. I'm talking Valentine's Day sex. If you're single and not taking advantage of all the other lonely, drunk single people at the bar this Saturday (Saturday!) you're a schmuck. Coupled women should get a man on his best behavior, and dudes should get lucky. Everybody wins. And if things all go to shit, if you can't find somebody to love, you can always love yourself.

- This is the best news ever. And an argument I've personally been making for years. Now I have science on my side - but I'll still be out there gathering anecdotal evidence.

- You have to feel sorry for this guy. If there's one thing you never wanna catch (outside of an STD) its a case of the sexual yips.

- There's two kinds of people in this world - those who masturbate and those who lie about it. And I don't want to impugn anyone's religion, but I for one couldn't worship anything that looks down on touching yourself. But kudos to these whack jobs. Have fun living a pleasure free existence.

- I'm only the eleventy billionth person to make this observation, but the SI Swimsuit issue is out - and completely superfluous. Sure, when I was in junior high the Swimsuit Issue was the pinnacle of publicly available pseudo porn. Now its laughable to think this would give a 12 year old a semi. This is better than the 3 Victoria's Secret catalogues I get a month how? I'm all for tradition and grateful for the hey day of Elle Macpherson, but give it up SI. Unless you can get Erin Andrews in a wet t-shirt, you are irrelevant. That said I'll still take a peek.

Posted 10:52am
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February 9th, 2009

He will rock your face

Sid seems resolved to be a guitar player. His father is a complete pushover and will indulge this recent obsession until he is completely broke. Hence:

I know I just talked about being thrifty. But how cool does he look? I figure he's the reason for all the government cheese aging in my bank account, he deserves his cut. Its a cheap beginners guitar, but man is it pretty. And it sounds good too - I mean, he's playing it through his computer right now as we don't have an amp, so its a relative thing. See? I didn't splurge for an amp yet! Thrifty! He should be a better player than me by the end of 2009 - at which point I will completely resent ever encouraging him. That's when I go out and buy the really expensive guitar and never let him play it. That'll show him.

- The Grammys are an exercise in futility to me. While The Oscars seem to award quality on some level, The Grammys are just this side of the People's Choice awards. I mean, Coldplay won Song of the Year and Best Rock Album. I didn't even know that Coldplay ever made a 'rock' album. Anyway, the one thing I did want to see was Radiohead's performance. Thanks to the power of this thing we call the internet, I was spared having to sit through cringe inducing shots of Chris Martin and just clicked here.

- This stings. As Dave Atell says "I was up $8900 - next thing I know, I'm blowin' a guy for a sandwich."

- I've never been much of a fan of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Things have gone to shit in this state under her watch. I realize a large part of that is hap and circumstance, but I still hold her accountable on some level. Then she goes and totally redeems herself by name checking Bells. 50 days till Oberon returns Jenny!

Posted 10:10am
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February 6th, 2009

Change I can believe in

2009 is going to be my year. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, but if I did, my yearly pledge would involve getting my financial house in order. Going to college at a school I couldn't afford and having a kid when I was 19 put me in a financial hole of which I've yet to dig myself out. Getting into credit debt doing things like taking vacations I couldn't afford may or may not have exacerbated things. Not that I have collectors hounding me or anything, but too much of my take home pay goes to interest and let's face it, most people my age live in houses and not apartments at this point in their lives.

So come January every year, I become resolute to let a little thrift come into my life. This usually lasts until February when Barlow and Stov plan a trip to Vegas, and paying down debt goes to plane tickets. This year however, I may have a shot. I've got a trifecta of financial windfalls coming into play, and I'm determined to make them work for me.

The first, as recently noted, is that the little yellow Mazda is paid off. This adds a couple hundred a month to the coffers. That alone allows me to breath a little easier. Secondly, my deceased grandmother left me a little bit of cash. That knocks out a credit card bill or two (plus might buy me a small extravagance or two - baby steps people).

But perhaps the coolest bit of luck is that I finally get a turn at claiming Siddhartha on my taxes this year. And god bless the government for subsidizing procreation, as my tax refund this year is six times what I usually get back. (This having a kid thing just might pay off yet.) And just to prove that things are really coming up roses for tbaggervance, I got a message from the IRS yesterday that they found an error in my tax return. Now that sentence is usually enough to strike fear into the hearts of the most stout individual. But as sweat poured down my back and I began to pee down my leg, I read on to discover that uncle Sam was giving me an EXTRA $300. I don't ask questions here. I just cash the check, say thank you, go home, jerk off, and that's all you gonna do. Onward to financial independence. Until Sid goes to college anyway.

- Frequent commenter (and noted libertarian) to tbaggervance.com 'ljv' let me know that Michigan Senator Debbie Stabanow is talking fairness doctrine. I sent her the following letter:

I recently read on Politico.com that you are interested in bringing back the so-called 'Fairness Doctrine' on some level. I implore you to let this nonsense die. Nothing screams of 'Ha-ha we're in power now!' partisan rancor more than stunts like this. Let pig headed, fear mongering conservatives have their little corner of the world. Getting involved in censorship such as this is just laying down in the mud with them. Please stay above it.
Thanks
-T

I encourage all Michiganders to do similarly.

Posted 10:52am
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February 5th, 2009

I can't believe I'm helping legitimize chain letters

We talked a bit about Facebook and its intrusion in my life a little last week. As noted then, Ayesha was my impetus for having an account, and spying on my son is my main source of interest in it at this point. So when they both 'tagged' me in this insipid little '25 Random Things About Me' chain letter going around, I responded out of a sense of reciprocity. I noted in my response that it shouldn't apply to me, as about 250 times a year I post random, embarrassing stuff about myself right here on tbaggervance.com. But then I saw that USAToday was covering the phenomenon as 'news'. Well, if the USAToday deems this as newsworthy, far be it from tbaggervance.com to disagree. Here's a reposting of '25 Random Things About Me'

1. Booze, booze, booze - I love booze
2. I judge people by their musical tastes
3. I swear I don't have an asian fetish, but I do love a pakistani girl
4. Don't get on the elevator before everyone gets off. I may smack you.
5. I will cry at every movie when I am supposed to. And sometimes when I'm not.
6. I'm not as well read as I should be.
7. I have 1200 albums. I don't feel like it is near enough.
8. I'm proudest of my son when he is himself - even when I disagree with it.
9. I hate the cold, but tolerate it because of the people around me who tolerate it.
10. I wish I was a writer for profit...
11. ...although working for the U is a dream come true.
12. People in Ohio assumed I was gay because I was different.
13. I love doing impressions of Ayesha that make her sound grumpy
14. I have to take a breath and count to ten when my friends talk about Jesus
15. If it weren't from my mother, I'd just be an atheist instead of agnostic
16. My dad will always be my biggest hero
17. I'm secretly ashamed I'm not a bigger Radiohead fan - even though I love them
18. I love the power of words - the bigger the better
19. I wish I could drive my car less and walk/ride/public transit it more
20. Chain restaurants are the devil
21. People should be called on their bullshit.
22. I understand if you don't get Star Wars, but Raiders of the Lost Ark is a perfect movie.
23. My intellect will always be my most prized possession
24. I am liberal and proud, and will take any opportunity to explain to you why you should be too.
25. I wouldn't change a minute of any of it.

There they is. Probably not 'news' for anyone who's been coming here more than a week, but maybe its interesting to see it in list form? I don't know. It seemed like a lazy way to write a post and I didn't have an idea for today, so suck it.

- My uncle and I used to wonder if Steven King would posthumously be considered a modern day Edgar Allen Poe. He's probably too prolific for such comparisons - because let's be honest, with the amount of content he puts out, there's going to be some schlock in there. But I still think he's a great writer. I mean, the man can write well. He can turn a phrase. He understands the English language. He knows plotting and pacing and how to use those things to manipulate the reader. Which is why I'm glad he agrees with me that Stephanie Meyer is a hack. Suck it, teenage girls and mormons.

- I know I got into a bit of trouble with the family on the last 'What's Making Baby Jesus Cry This Week?' feature, but this can't pass without comment. There's still some part of me that's Catholic - I mean, I was confirmed and have yet to be officially excommunicated, so that's something. As such, I still have some Catholic pride - want to see Catholics do the right thing and shake my head extra hard when they don't. Wanna guess my thoughts on the Pope reinstating a Bishop who's a holocaust denier, homophobic, misogynistic, a 9/11 'truther' and perhaps most egregious - hates The Sound of Music. Apparently after a fortnight of bad press they've asked him to recant some of his bullshit, but will that make it OK in anyone's mind? Suck it Jews, girls, gays, the NYFD and Julie Andrews.

Posted 10:17am
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February 4th, 2009

Its a new car!

Its official: for the second time in my life, I finally own my own automobile.

The first time was in 1993 when for $500 cash (a practical lifetime's worth of $5 birthday cards and $10 lawns mowed) I purchased a black 1979 Toyota Celica. It was a five speed that sat all of 8 inches off the ground and had a moon roof that opened manually. It had cracked vinyl seats and a tape player that you had to jam a pack of matches in beneath the cassette in order to get it to play. It will forever be the coolest car I will ever own. Sure you had to top off the transmission fluid about once a fortnight, otherwise you were liable to find yourself stuck somewhere unable to switch gears - but that thing felt like driving a spaceship and it was 100% mine.

Of course I went away to college the next year and my little brother - WHO INITIALLY REFUSED TO SPLIT THE CAR WITH ME BECAUSE HE WAS EMBARRASSED BY IT - got in an accident and totaled it. He didn't even have the courtesy to sustain any injuries during said accident. The bastard.

The next few years were car limbo. I was broke and in college, but kept finding myself 'borrowing' my grandmother's car to get back and forth to Ohio and spend time with Sid. Eventually that car became 'mine' and I drove the thing into the ground 2-3 years later.

The next car I actually 'purchased' was a '92 Mazda 626. Apparently I was still under the influence of driving cars built for old people, but at least this one had a moon roof and a manual transmission. I was a tad worried about it being 8 years old at the time of purchase, but it had low miles and seemed to be well taken care of, so I rolled the dice.

As you can imagine the thing was a disaster. It seemed like every 6 months I was throwing $500 into it. Finally something snapped and the mechanic wanted $1000 to fix something or other that I had no hope of either understanding or being able to pay. So while I still owed about $2000 on the thing, I deemed it was time for a new automobile.

Of course the problem was that I still owed $2000 on a car worth about $500 (and that needed $1000 worth of work) so I needed someone willing to work with me. Enter the shady Ypsilanti dealer on Michigan Ave. As with every car buying experience I've had (i.e. both of them) I walked on the lot and told them I wanted to spend no more than $10,000 and I wanted a stick. They showed me two cars - a 2002 Honda Accord (that seemed like it was the size of a battleship) and a 2002 Mazda Protégé 5. Siddhartha immediately expressed a preference for the zippy (or zoom zoomy) hatchback, so despite its gaudy yellow paint job, I took it.

They rolled what I owed on the previous Mazda into the payments and off I drove. And I owe Sid a big one, as the Mazda has proved quite the reliable roadster. Sure the tires are expensive and it slides around in the snow like Bambi on ice. And yes, I once slid into a curb and it costs me $500 and once I may have been a little tipsy and backed into a truck, costing me another $500 deductible. But these are clearly operator errors and not an inherent design flaw nor construction/material issue.

Knock on wood, I haven't had any major problems. And now comes the real test, because last Friday I paid off the final $14 owed on my little pac-man and it is now officially mine. I hope Sid doesn't regret his decision, because assuming she's still running, it gets bequeathed to him in 2 and a half years. At that point I can buy the smallest, battery operated thing available - hopefully some kind of exoskeleton with wheels that runs on urine and recycled grass clippings. Get the scientists working on the urine grass technology! Toot suite!

Posted 10:44am
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February 3rd, 2009

This week in Indie Rock.

Before we get started, I would be remiss not to remind you that you have until 2pm to get thee to a Dennys for a free Grand Slam. Now on to the tunes...

- Lineups for Coachella and Bonaroo have just been announced. I beg you - whether its to see Phish, Bruce or Snoop Dog, let's you and me plan a trip to Bonaroo. I'll drive.

- Speaking of concerts we should go to - Flight of the Conchords are coming.

- So is Death Cab (yes, I need you to go with me). Speaking of - some of you have become reliant on tbaggervance.com for all the late breaking Death Cab news and honestly, we're flattered. Of course that means we're liable to get admonished and chastised should we ever miss anything upcoming. So when one of you (who shall remain nameless) contacted us in a tizzy yelling "YOU DIDN'T TELL ME THERE'S NEW DEATH CAB!!!" - Shhhhh. Slow your roll. You CAN hear Ben duet with Feist on the Dark Was the Night compilation. And their song "Grapevine Fires" IS on the Obama Inauguration CD. And YES, if you're in a Starbucks anytime soon you can get the Sweetheart CD where they cover the Cure's "Love Song" HOWEVER we here at tbaggervance don't consider any of this to be NEW Death Cab. So, you know, hold your water.

- And proving that the universe is constantly conspiring against me - Maritime is coming to Lansing - the same night as Beerfest. Anyone who wants to pick me up in Grand Rapids and drive me to Lansing to see the show, holler.

- Here's some artists who twitter (or in some cases, here's some bands who's management twitters for them)

- It was 50 years ago today that the music died. Kind of ironic then that it was 40 years ago last Friday that the Beatles played their last public concert on the rooftop of the Apple building. I guess nobody told them music was dead.

- For HIMYM fans - Its Barney's video resume. Awesome.

Posted 10:21am
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February 2nd, 2009

Hey dummy.

How 'bout them Steelers! They didn't manage to cover the 6.5 - but should have. The over came in as did 4 of my 5 prop bets, so all in all a pretty good night. Some random observations:

- There was a lot of movie trailers during the commercials. And while I will never ever never watch Transformers (in part because Michael Bay is the devil) I was actually excited about the G.I. Joe movie. Of course the most depressing thing ever is the Witch Mountain remake. It had both Stov and I screaming 'Why God? Why?' The Rock? Seriously?

- The commercials on the whole seemed meh to me. The Doritos crystal ball and the careerbuilder.com 'Hey Dummy' were standouts though. You can watch them all again and vote for your fav at hulu.com.

- This review of halftime sums up my thoughts. The ref thing was gaaaahhhh hokie, but Bruce has still got it - even when crotching the camera.

- Watching the game with Steeler fans made for an odd ending. They so expected to win that when things got tight in the waning moments they kind of went into a nervous protective shell. And then when they pulled it out, it was more of 'Whew' than a 'Holy fuck yes!' But man what a game. Too bad a Buckeye got MVP. Kind of taints the whole thing.

- Can you name the ten players to win multiple super bowls? We had some trouble being definitive last night. The answer is on a side bar here.

- Unrelated the Super Bowl, I am the featured review of the day on Yelp. +3 to internet celebrity-dom!

Posted 10:21am
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January 30th, 2009

I'm taking the Browns to the Superbowl

I love what the Superbowl has become. I mean, I've been going to Superbowl parties since junior high, but in the last 10 years or so (maybe more, I lose track of time as I get old) corporate America has turned it into a giant gold plated turd of consumerism. The booze makers use it as a tent pole between the holidays at St. Pats. The entire grocery industry starts luring you towards processed cheese food substitutes and anything they can put salt on and stuff in a plastic bag. All so you can gorge yourself for four hours while you wait to watch advertising. Funny how that works. I for one, have no problems with it. Its good ol' fashioned American gluttony at its finest. I mean, we've got over a month after this till St. Pats/March Madness. Get out there and pretend your about to hibernate for the winter.

- There's years aging superstar being trotted out for a halftime spectacular of hits from 20+ years ago is Bruce Springsteen - who, fair enough, is still relevant. But are you waiting to here 'The Wrestler' between halfs? No. Its 'Born to Run' or get the fuck out. You can 'vote' for what The Boss's setlist should be here (not that you should expect to have any influence). If you're wondering which choice you should vote for, the correct answer is F - Rosalita, The Wrestler, Glory Days, Born to Run. Its not even close.

- Deadspin provides 20 rules to abide by during your Superbowl party. I pretty much agree with the entire thing - the first two especially. I know there will be kids at the party I'm at and I'm OK with it, and he's wrong about the partisan/nonpartisan dichotomy. Every party needs some beehive poking.

- I love the whole mobile sex worker trade. I find it fascinating that whores travel the country to where ever thousands of men will be on vacation. The Republican National Convention, Comic-con, the Superbowl. Here's a roundup of the hookers clipped in Tampa this week. Its mostly pretty scary.

- Every year certain groups design Superbowl ads that they know will never air, just so they get on the news for being rejected for broadcast and thus people see the ad without them having to pay $3,000,000. This year its Peta's sexy vegetarian ad. I never thought of vegetarianism as sexy but this causes me to at least raise an eyebrow.

- I was talking just the other day about my pro football allegiances generally lying with former Michigan players in the NFL. The Cardinals happen to have 5, but Jerame Tuman, Alan Branch and Victor Hobson were all inactive for their last game, which leaves Stevie Breaston and Gabe Watson playing for Arizona, and LaMarr Woodley and Larry Foot Jr. suiting up for the Steelers. This makes it a no brainer. Breaston and Watson had ultimately disappointing UM careers given their innate potential, and Woodley, well, Woodley is in the upper echelon of my favorite Wolverines of all time. So while even though Ayesha is an AZ girl, I'll be cheering with Stov and Troy for the Steelers on Sunday. I actually think they'll cover the 7 and hit the over as well. Call your bookie early and often.

- Finally, with football season coming to a close Sunday night, its time to think about pitchers and catchers reporting. This is for you Barlow. Cubs suck, you suck, Cubs suck.

Posted 10:05am
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January 29th, 2009

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

- As we mentioned earlier, Stov and Aarika's New Year's Wedding Extravaganza was a rousing success. The only thing I wasn't impressed with during the evening was the photographer. I mean, as a rule, wedding photographers tend to be a pretty strange bunch, but this guy was beyond. He wanted to take a picture of me putting Stov's jacket on him. WTF? I asked him if he knew that we weren't the ones getting married. Anyway, the entire wedding party was making fun of him all night, but I thought that was the end of it. Turns out there was much more drama than that, and let's just say the guy went from weirdo to total douche, even threatening to take his camera and go home and not give them the pictures. Needless to say, this totally reminded me of that guy. Stov and Aarika - LMK when you actually get your pictures back and you can start your campaign to trash the guy right here.

- Mmmm Ingrid Michaelson. Your dulcet tones keep me warm through the harsh winter months.

- Ding dong! the Republican party is dead! OK, not really. And while looking at the map makes me happy, there are two really big 'not so fast's about it. The first, as pointed out in the article, is the democrats have always suffered from a plurality of ideas that aren't necessarily homogeneous. This is a problem in national elections and when it comes to party unity. The second, is that the Republicans may get their reboot from the mormons. <<shudder>> Nobody wins in that scenario. Still though, that map makes me feel good about America's future prospects.

- This doesn't actually contain anyone from the actual Office, but I still kinda want to see it for the train wreck that it is. And for the sex. If you watch the preview (a tad NSFW), stay till the end. I actually laughed at the last 5 seconds.

- Finally, John Updike passed away on Tuesday. Since Kurt Vonnegut's passing, he might have been America's greatest living writer. I remember reading Rabbit, Run in high school and marveling at how the words went together. The man could turn a phrase (although - as this points out - not when it came to sex. I remember that too.) Anyway, thanks John. You believed in the power of the written word and that's huge in my book. As for who now holds the post of America's greatest living author - I'll defer judgment for a while, as the last two haven't fared so well as of late. McCarthy, Pynchon, Salinger, Roth - you're safe for now.

Posted 10:11am
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January 28th, 2009

Don't forget know what happened to the man that suddenly got everything he ever wanted...

I don't ever remember asking my parents for a guitar. As a kid I made 3-D instruments out of cardboard, masking tape and magic markers and spent an inordinate amount of time in my room listening to Van Halen, so I guess they figured there were more constructive ways to spend that energy.

As I remember it, an acoustic guitar was presented to me on or about my 11th birthday. A promise was made that if I stayed with it, practiced, and played at the church folk mass on Saturday nights, I'd eventually get an electric guitar. Ironically, the folk mass bit turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to my budding career as an ax man. It was forced practice with really good players using some really obscure chords. It made me a decent strummer in short order.

Of course by the time I was in 8th grade I was playing in bands. This would stay a constant throughout high school - my involvement in shitty cover bands replaced any peer pressured involvement I had previously felt to participate in organized sports.

Unfortunately I got to college and discovered that many of the friends I was making were professional caliber musicians. This was discouraging to my ego and with all of my free time already allocated to massive consumption of Natural Light, the guitar went somewhat to the back burner. I never stopped playing though - never stopped loving it. Years later I decided to shift the onus of my playing from hacking away at guitar solos I would never master to singing and playing at the same time. It was a much more natural fit for my abilities and temperament, and is something I know I will do for the rest of my life.

Enter Siddhartha. Ever since we was a wee lad I've tried to instill in him what I consider to be the proper musical background. I may have been a tad overbearing about some of it over the years as he's been a tad reluctant. Until recently that is.

He's finally listening to music of his own accord and once in a while he'll actually come out and sing with me as I casually strum away in our living room. So a week or so ago during one of his "I'm bored" fits, I offered him a guitar lesson. To my shock, he accepted.

So I diagrammed some chords, gave him some advice and let him noodle around. He seemed to get the basics. Then two nights ago I walked into his room and gave him the chord progressions to two songs that I knew he liked and were simple enough for him to play ('Counting Down the Hours' by Ted Leo + Pharmacists and 'Right Moves' by Josh Ritter). Last night, he spent five hours playing them. I've never been a prouder papa - although I have new found respect for my parent's patience- what they must have had to endure. But I'm not complaining, my son may turn out to be a musician yet. Don't forget what happened to the man that suddenly got everything he ever wanted... he lived happily ever after.

Posted 10:55am
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January 27th, 2009

Mellon Collie and the Finite Sadness

There's no reason to blow this shit out of proportion, but everything below is more or less kind of sad:

- We all watched Once a year and a half ago and secretly hoped that its stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova would perhaps find love in real life and give us all the real life ending that couldn't exist on film. Then lo and behold, as if wishing made it so, it happened. Of course we should have known that is was too good to be true, as the couple has apparently split. Of course they are still on tour and apparently still friends, so either they are two of the coolest, most sensible people in the world, or that tour bus is hell on earth.

- I never really got the whole Jessica Simpson thing. Part of it is that busty bleach blond bimbos do little for me. And no matter how hot you are, if I despise everything your career embodies musically, I will find you unattractive. Still though, this is kind of sad. If for nothing else, you have to feel bad for Tony Romo. 2009 is not his year. First he misses the playoffs and now this. Good luck chewing your arm off to get out of that bear trap Tony.

- Of course the kid would find it hilarious to live on Butt Hole Road. But to not be able to get a pizza delivered because everyone assumes its a prank call? That's just sad. It takes all the fun out of living on say, Spanker Lane. And yes, that story appeared in the New York Times.

- Living in (close to) Detroit for almost 15 years now has turned me into quite the Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings fan. I always kind of favored Detroit teams anyway and had no other allegiances to untangle, so it was an easy slide. HOWEVER, I just can't embrace the Detroit Lions. As it turns out, I have no pro football allegiance. I like whomever has my fantasy players. I like the Patriots because they have Tom Brady. I'll root for the Steelers Sunday because they have Lamar Woodley and Larry Foote - but if the Cardinals win I'll still be happy for Steve Breaston. And of course I LOVE any team that I bet on -2.5 who happens to win by 3. But the Lions? They're not even lovable losers like the Cubs. Its like being Catholic. I can't imagine anyone CHOOSING that lifestyle - some people are just unlucky enough to be born into it and are just self-loathing enough to never leave (some people can't even stop attending church. Poor bastards.) Anyway, if you're one of those people and want to embrace your team's recent perfection, here you go. The 'Owen 16' jersey is pretty funny.

Posted 11:37am
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January 26th, 2009

I don't think Freddie Mercury was singing about cabin fever, but that's why I want to ride my bicycle

Ayesha just bought a very kick ass bicycle and all the mentions of her riding around Central PHX are giving me cabin fever. I loved biking everywhere last summer and given the preternaturally short window of appropriate riding weather, I can barely even remember what its like to show up everywhere sweaty from peddling there.

One of the real benefits of the bike was riding it to the bar. It both negated some of the caloric damage I was doing to my body, and kept me from dipping a toe in the DUI danger zone. Of course if you get too comfortable with the safety of a DUI-less way to get home, you can find yourself drowning in that other danger zone - being too drunk to ride your bike home.

Lost in the great bicycle theft incident of 2008 was what happened on that final trip home on my now stolen two wheeler. If you remember, it was the night we had won our 3rd softball championship. We of course knew the possibility of this beforehand, and given the history of our championship celebrations, most of the team made 'alternate transportation' plans for the end of the evening. My big idea was to run home after the game and ride my bike up the bar. I clearly either underestimated the amount of alcohol that was going to be involved or overestimated my ability to drink and ride.

I do know this - when I awoke the next morning, not only had my bike been thieved, but my body had taken quite a beating as well. I vaguely remember going from wobbly to sprawled on the concrete a couple times on the two mile trip from bar to apartment, but didn't really know the extent of my injuries. It was mostly just scrapes and mild abrasions, but having not tended to them, my arm and some how foot (?) were covered in thick coagulated black blood when I woke up. Classy.

So now, in the doldrums of a Michigan winter, I'm forced to carpool, take cabs or control my drinking. These options do not provide the freedom nor fun that a bike affords (and the middle one is expensive). So I have one more very good reason to look forward to the onset of spring. Or to going to Arizona. Maybe I can borrow a bike and we can get Ayesha her merit badge.

Posted 10:55am
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January 24th, 2009

BFF. Don't Ever change.

This whole facebook thing is getting a tad out of hand. The first year or so I was on it I was basically friends with Ayesha and that's about it. I knew maybe two people outside of her and her cohort that actually had accounts. But then people my age started to learn how to use the internet and all of a sudden half of my graduating class from high school is on there. That's where the frustration sets in.

I started getting friend requests from people I'm not sure I ever talked to. I mean, I know their name and that we went to school together, but to ever call us 'friends' is quite the stretch. I always took a very laissez faire attitude towards this because 'friending' someone on facebook obligates you to exactly nothing. I don't have to have conversations with these people, never meet them in the flesh nor drive them to the airport nor help them move. They get to view all of my pictures and my 'personal info'. Whoopty shit. So can anyone else out there who points their browser to tbaggervance.com (there's actually 50x more embarrassing info here, if people want the dirt).

But there is another unforeseen consequence - the news feed. The news feed is actually a really smart, useful feature of facebook that allows one to quickly see all of the updates your friends have recently made to their accounts. But what about updates pertaining to people you don't have any rooting interest in? And what about updates that physically upset you? Do I want some chick that I never talked to in high school poking me on the shoulder with bible verses every time I log into facebook? No. No I don't.

But I don't want to be mean. So I accept every friend request I get (I don't know that I've ever requested someone be my friend on facebook outside of my son - if that says anything about my level of interest in this little social experiment) and if I'm finding a peripheral acquaintance a tad annoying - because, you know, we were never really friends and have absolutely nothing in common outside of where we went to high school - I just click on that 'less about __________ (said person)' tab under options and spit spot, move along. That is until last Tuesday.

Tuesday, you may remember, was inauguration day. I was checking facebook on and off throughout the day, as everybody had happy Obama status messages that were fun to read. Its the epitome of how social networking is supposed to work - it was bringing people together - virtually - for a shared experience. Pretty cool. Except that I see one status message that says '_________ hopes that America knows its making the biggest mistake EVER today!' It was followed by several comments on said status that ran the gamut from ignorant to racist. Now, I don't want to seem overly sensitive here. People have every right to be hateful and obtuse. But it immediately occurred to me that a.) I don't need this idiotic negatively in my feed or anywhere else, and b.) This person is not (and never really was) my friend.

So I, according to procedure, hit the 'less about __________' button under options. And I tried to move on. But I was having trouble letting go. I kept going back to her profile to see if anyone else wrote something racially insensitive or woefully stupid in response to her colossally uninformed status. I was looking around her profile to try and glean answers as to what would lead to someone being so completely clueless about the world. This is not healthy behavior on my part. So I de-friended her.

I don't know if she gets some sort of notice from the good people at facebook or if she has or would ever discover this fact on her own. Would she be outraged? Would she wonder why? Would she give two shits? I'm guessing nope. I'd say she could probably put two and two together after seeing me and my half breed son wearing Obama t-shirts in my profile picture, but given how galactically oblivious she clearly is, I'm guessing that's not the likeliest of scenarios.

I'll still use Facebook to try and catch a glimpse of whomever my son is talking to on the phone at 10:45 on a school night, or to peruse pics of my friends adorable offspring. And of course to giggle at the status messages of enlightened folks whom either want to make a point or make me laugh. But while I agree with Chris Rock that life is long, I still don't want to waste a second of it on the cretinous masses who equate an inauguration with the Tea Pot Dome Scandal - no matter where they went to high school.

Posted 12:21am
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January 23rd, 2009

Counting down the hours

By any measure I've had a very good week. And I say this as I sit here feeling pretty awful with a level 3 hangover. But good times come with a price, so I'm not complaining. You can't leave the bar when there's shirtless karaoke going on, can you? Anyway, good times abound and I'm all for living in the moment and all that, but there are some annual events approaching that I am very much looking forward to. Get your calendars out, as these are those:

- Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1: 9 days away)
Booze, food and football. Its like Thanksgiving without that pesky family element. Take the Steelers -7.

- Winter Beer Fest (Feb. 28: 36 days away)
Yes, drinking outdoors in February is not for the faint of heart. Which is why us professionals enjoy the Michigan Brewer's Guild Winter Beer Festival so much - its not all crudded up with you lightweights.

- Hamtramck Blowout (Mar. 4: 40 days away)
The world's greatest local music festival (suck it, Austin) descends on the hard drinkin'ist hamlet Detroit has to offer. If I had a conversation with god, I'd ask him to create the Blowout.

- Spring Break (Mar. 13: 49 days away)
Not mine exactly, but Ayesha's - so I get to head west and do things like go outside without a coat on. Hooray! Plus, I finally get to see the Grand Canyon. I can't wait to stand on the rim and tell it 'You're a giant hole.'

- St. Patricks Day (Mar. 17: 53 days away)
The mother of all drinking holidays. 'nuff said.

- Oberon Returns (Mar. 31: 67 days away)
Yes, in places like Florida Oberon is available year round. But screw those guys. Absence makes the heart grow fonder - and the Return of Oberon is clear sign that warmth and sunshine are on the horizon in the great lakes state.

Posted 11:17am
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January 22nd, 2009

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- We have a new president and one can only assume that the Baby Jesus is happy about that - if for no other reason than it appears we're off of that whole torture thing for the time being. HOWEVER - in his first speech as President he gives a shout out to us 'nonbelievers'! This is an unprecedented move. I, for one - given his background and demeanor - will always assume that Obama is a closet atheist who knew that to get elected to anything as a black man you needed the church. Not that it matters one way or the other really. Reason is back in charge and that's all anyone should care about.

- I've always had an affinity for the word 'vestigial'. Partly because of what it represents, partly because its just fun to say. Try it now. Vestigial. See? Here's a cool list of vestigial human parts that offer pretty compelling evidence for evolution. See! Evolution - not just for scientists anymore!

- Science and religion both have their problems and inherent limitations - but here's a good representation of the differences in those limitations.

- We here at tbaggervance.com recently chastised the "There's probably no god" ads appearing on London buses for being a tad, well, pussy. But we do like the quotes on these subway ads. I once had a friend try and argue to me that Einstein believed in god. Yeah, that went how you imagine it would.

Posted 12:51pm
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January 21st, 2009

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

- As long as I can remember, I've been a comic book reader. When I was really little, Moeman would bring me Star Wars comics from the drug store when I was stuck home sick. I eventually got to the point where I could go to the store myself to buy them and from that point on, all my surplus funds went to comics (except for a few months in the summer when I had to make some room for baseball cards). That is until I was about 12 and started to notice girls. And that girls didn't read comics. So bye-bye Spider-man. Fast forward a dozen years later when I heard that one of my favorite filmmakers (Kevin Smith) was to write one of my favorite superheroes (Daredevil) Bam! I was back into comics. This time I had a kid who I could share my love of the graphic novel with! But alas, Sid is not much of a comics man. He likes Calvin and Hobbes and Futurama comics, but he's not much of a superhero guy. Which is why I was over the moon the first time I read Scott Pilgrim. Its a mix of comics, manga and funny wrapped up in video game and rock and roll references. Sid fell as hard and fast as I did. ANYWAY - we're excited because in two weeks, Scott Pilgrim 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe drops. AND there's major casting news in the live action Scott pilgrim movie. Its a great day for a very specific kind of comic book nerd.

- I believe that we all have at least one superpower, whether we know it or not. Once we unearth these powers we can develop and exploit them for either good or evil. One of mine is the ability to find great parking spots really close to where ever I'm going. I almost never have to use the parking structures and even less frequently have to walk more than a block from car door to bar door. For those of you not so well endowed, you can see where there's spots available in A2 here.

- Ever since I've started spending an inordinate amount of time in bars I've been in love with Photohunt. Whether as social activity or time waster when you're at the bar alone, Photohunt is a booze hounds best friend. Over the years I've grown to love Word Dojo and Hollywood Match even more, but Photohunt will always have a special place in my heart - both because its the godfather and because Ayesha has such affection for it, it will always make me think of her. Anyway, here's some douche hole who claims to be the world's best Photohunt player. I'm betting he'd crush me sober, but if I made him go drink for drink with me while playing, he'd be passed out before I used one of my magnifying glasses.

- I thought Forgetting Sarah Marshall was one of the funniest movies of last year. It makes me excited for the prospects of this - check out the NSFW trailer for I Love You, Man.

- I got one of my first real tastes of teenagerdom last night. I was watching Michigan get crushed by Penn State in basketball and the game was approaching halftime. I heard Sid in his room talking on the phone and noticed that it was almost 10pm. I noted in my head that 10pm was pretty late to be on the phone for a school night for a 13 year old, but figured he knew the hour was getting late and would wrap it up soon. If he was still yapping away in 10 minutes, I'd go put the hammer down. But I somehow got distracted and had a 'Holy Fuck!' moment when I still heard him talking at 10:45. I immediately ran back and informed my teenage son that while I don't want to have to make rules about appropriate phone usage, 10:45 was pretty late to be on the phone for a school night. For a 13 year old. He agreed, hung up the phone, brushed his teeth and went to bed. I realize this is the beginning of several behaviors that I will need to find fault with and of which I will need to stem the tide - but secretly I'm kinda happy for him. 13 year old boys should be talking on the phone to girls to the chagrin of disapproving parents. And I will play the part of disapproving parent when necessary, but probably too often with a twinkle in my eye and an attaboy in my heart.

Posted 10:21am
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January 20th, 2009

Our long national nightmare is finally over

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, free at last! If you're half as excited as I am right now, you're finding it hard to sit still and keep lightly touching your crotch to see if you accidentally peed yourself. The bad man is goin' away - and he's never going to hurt us again.

I'll never understand how this fucker got elected twice. Its like we went from a nation of non-caring fucktards who were the most uninformed collective of citizens to ever comprise a country in 2004, to an enlightened cadre of people who believe in the power of individuals to change our collective fate just four years later. Its amazing more of us didn't give up in the interim.

And here's the thing - we can't go back to sleep. Obama may or may not ultimately be successful, but don't let his failure rate be determined by your apathy. Stay informed, stay involved, stay awake. We are all better than the last 8 years and its one of Obama's great abilities to make us see that and believe in the promise of it. Let's not let him or ourselves down.

- Stuck at work? Here's a comprehensive list as to where to get a feed for the inauguration.

- One of the big things I'm looking forward to is a return to science and reason - because the last 8 years were not so much.

- Obama has the most good will of an incoming president ever? While Bush has the lowest approval rating of an outgoing president (despite him trying to tell us what a good job he did)

- Want to hold Obama's feet to the fire? You can track promises kept/promises broken right here.

- Will Ferrel's Bush impression was pretty much dead nuts from the flop.

- I was hoping Siddhartha would be the Filipino Obama, but this guy takes that prize.

- You can get your own Obamacized portrait here.

Posted 10:21am
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January 19th, 2009

Abraham Lincoln once said, 'If you are a racist, I will attack you with the North.'

For reasons unbeknownst to anyone, I have to work today. You would think that since I technically have a government job I'd be home asleep in bed right now, waiting for TPiR to come on. Alas no, I'm at my desk, toiling away - almost like Martin Luther King Jr. never existed.

Except for the fact that there is a little liberal guilt loophole in today's work schedule. The U has an annual MLK Symposium featuring speakers and events throughout the day all over campus. And should you decide to attend one of these events, you shall be excused from your contractual duties for the duration. So, around noon I am headed home to grab Siddhartha and we are headed off to see Larry Wilmore. You may know him as The Daily Show's Senior Black Correspondent or for his memorable turn as the representative from 'Diversity Today' on the 'Diversity Day' episode of The Office. He's giving a talk called "Don't Take Diversity Seriously: Just Kidding!" (I tried to argue that hanging out with Sid should count on its own because he's half ethnic, but apparently he's too white or something.) Hopefully we'll go, we'll laugh, and we'll both walk away feeling a little more ethnic - despite our uber-whiteness.

I'll post an update later should I have anything of substance to give you. Otherwise, get out there and celebrate diversity. Hug a black person! High five a Jew! Have sex with an Asian chick! (my favorite) Watch old episodes of Good Times! or The Jeffersons! or Soul Train! Because there's no better person to help you find your blackness than Don Cornelius.

Posted 10:21am
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January 17th, 2009

From effete to elite.

Those paying close attention will have noticed the 'tbaggervance on Yelp' link over there in the sidebar for some time now. Those of you who are inattentive, go ahead and look now. See? Its been there awhile. And for those of you who have never taken the time to click the link and still aren't inclined after that tremendous buildup/scolding here's a quick primer: Yelp is a restaurant/business/service review site. It allows any old buddy to go on and tell you what they think about local businesses. Its pretty useful to find out about a place you're being dragged to, or to give piece of mind about a experience you had somewhere. Headed to Chicago and want to find a sweet tex/mex place near your hotel? Yelp is your elixir. Afterwards, go on and write your witty to retort to those who told you to go there. Its snarky. Its fun. Its useful. Rarely do we get such a trifecta on the internet.

So anyway, being a long winded blogger who visits a lot of bars (and restaurants sometimes too), I took to Yelp like a prom date to mad dog 20/20. Ayesha was using it to find her way to unique places in the chain hell that is West Phoenix, and while I've been almost everywhere in A2 after 15 years, its still fun to write up old favorites. Plus, Yelp has steered me to a new place or two that even a townie like myself was unaware of.

And while Yelp is for anyone who can string words together to form coherent sentences, the best of the best Yelpers are give special 'elite' status. Its a badge of honor that separates the funniest, most accurate and most involved yelpers from the rabble. Which is why I am proud to announce that I've finally been donned with the elite moniker by the good people at Yelp. Frankly, its about time. I was starting to feel unappreciated. But now all is right with the world and the sense of superiority I walk around with is finally justified. Hop on over if you're dying to find out what I think about Sidetrack (rocks my face) or Happy's Pizza (sucks my butt). Then invite me to go have a drink with you someplace I haven't Yelped about. I sometimes tend to stagnate without Ayesha around to drag me places.

Posted 3:50pm
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January 16th, 2009

Your Indie Rock Weekend.

Special all-audio 'Listen to this, motherfucker!' edition...

- The Decemberists next full length (coming out on the heels of their Always a Bridesmaid singles series) The Hazards of Love doesn't come out until March 24th, but you can listen to their first bombastic single right now.

- Neko Case's Middle Cyclone (you remember, the one with the most boner inducing cover ever) drops 3/3, but her Hall and Oatsian single 'People Got a Lot of Nerve' is ready now. Watch out boy, she'll chew you up.

- The music nerd tastemakers in the blogosphere are creaming their jeans over the new Animal Collective album. I don't get it, but decide for yourself.

- Those crazy swedish whistlers Peter, Bjorn and John have a new disc ready for public consumption on 3/31, so they sent their new single to Kanye West as a preview. Yup, that Kanye.

- Bono is now op-eding for the NYT. Every mention I've seen of this fact has suggested that you listen to Bono read it, rather than reading it yourself. As usual, the internet is right.

- Since we're having a listening party, may I suggest my favorite local musician, Chris Bathgate. I'd elevate him to mancrush status if he wasn't a friend of a friend several times over. Its just a little creepy to pine from so close. Be sure to listen to 'Yes, I'm Cold' when you get to his page.

- Finally, something not so indie rock, but its audio and worth your time. There was a How I Met Your Mother episode recently about whether a significant other was worthy of your affection if she didn't like Star Wars. While this kind of arbitrary prerequisite is right up my alley (and one of the many reasons I'm 33 and single) my affection for someone is in no way Star Wars based. Maybe its because I've dated Spartans and Buckeyes and feel like I can handle any difference of opinion after that. But when you think about it, girls aren't supposed to like Star Wars. Don't get me wrong, its great when they do and girls liking Star Wars get a special place in my heart, but its completely understandable if they don't. You don't expect dudes to like Dirty Dancing*. I think its just as cute and adorable when a girl has this cursory understanding of Star Wars. Now if someone can't at least agree that Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the greatest movies of all time, we may have a problem.

*in no way am I postulating that Star Wars and Dirty Dancing exist on the same plane of 'quality', only in their cross gender appeal. Nobody puts Chewbacca in a corner.

Posted 9:59am
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January 15th, 2009

Wormer... dead. Neidermeyer... dead. KAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHN!

- When I was a kid, Saturday nights consisted of two things - The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. I remember very little about either show and they were clearly over 5 year old head, but I looked forward to them every week nonetheless. So if that was the pinnacle of Ricardo Montalban's career, I'd still be mourning his passing today. But Mr. Roarke also gave us the fantasy of "rich, Corinthian leather..." in those Chrysler Cordoba commercials. But neither of those iconic turns means anything in comparison to his role as Khan Noonien Singh. In honor of Ricardo's passing, take a second to look up to the heavens and scream 'KAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHN!'

- Just a courtesy reminder - Flight of the Conchords returns this weekend to HBO. You can watch that episode online, read an interview with Bret and Jermaine, and in the future, but each episode's songs on iTunes right after you watch it. Then we can feel each other up on the couch.

- We are under a week to go in the Worst. Presidency. Ever. Let's celebrate with one of the few positive aspects of Bush's tenure - his butchering of the English language.

- Here's a quick list of TV's sexual milestones. The first dude kiss was Dawson's Creek? You're such a McPhee.

- Its currently -3 outside. As my friend C. Jason pointed out "That's 3 degrees less than no degrees at all." I have no qualms with living in a climate where there's an actual winter. Three(ish) months of snow is no biggie. 30 degrees and a little weather are quite tolerable. But negative fucking three? The forecast literally says "Bitterly Cold" That's a meteorologist telling you its so fucking cold outside, you'll be bitter about it. Bring on winter - I don't mind that it goes from 60 and sunny to 20 and windy in the span of 24 hours during March in Michigan. But you can taking negative fucking 3 and shove it right up your poop shoot.

Posted 10:14am
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January 14th, 2009

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

- I watched the Golden Globes Sunday night because, well I was home and they were on. And I can be a little fruity like that. Anyway, I was happy to see Slumdog Millionaire win several awards, even though the backlash is starting to set in amongst the above it all set. And my favorite moment was Tracy Morgan's acceptance speech for 30 Rock. Deal with it Cate Blanchette.

- I've become a recent fan of Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job. Its your typical late night, Adult Swim, stoner show. Ayesha and Sid both have walked in on me giggling while watching it and both gave me a "What the fuck are you watching?" I'm kind of in love with it the way I was Aqua Teen Hungerforce the first time I saw that. And supposedly this show is coming to Adult Swim and should be awesome as well. All I need now is to become a stoner.

- I really wish I had this at my disposal to dole out throughout the day whenever necessary.

- Last night was High School Curriculum night for next year's incoming freshman at Pioneer High. Yes, that includes my Siddhartha. It was mostly pointless and whatever I gleaned from the proceedings could have been just as effectively disseminated through an email. But I digress. The amount of opportunities at this place are like holy shit wow. There's like 100 clubs to join. They can take architecture classes! Its so mind bogglingly different than my high school experience that I can barely fathom it. But then I saw the way he interacted with his friends as we roamed around and I realized that its pretty much exactly the same as my high school experience. Here's hoping he stays a little more sober than I did.

- Along with the Golden Globes, Sunday was the 826 Volunteer Appreciation dinner for those of us who had given more than 100 hours of our time in the previous year. Along with the dinner as a thank you gift, we got a 2009 calendar featuring all of us volunteers of the month as robots. Everyone, that is, except yours truly. "I wanted you to be the only non-robot watching the robots play. With booze involved. I wanted a sadder picture of you too but thought that might be a tad much." Thanks Amy and C. Jason.

Posted 10:51am
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January 13th, 2009

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

- Ah Michigan, you're dichotomy never ceases to amaze me. You pass the anti-gay marriage amendment, then go and pass bills for medical marijuana and stem cell research. Must be time for a downturn, as the Michigan Department of Community Health just freed up 1.4 million dollars for abstinence only education. Fuck. I sometimes forget we're a state full of hillbillies outside of the little anchor of liberalism we have in the Southeast. I for one will be making a donation to Planned Parenthood to offset this. Abstinence only. You know what they call kids who only get abstinence only education? Parents.

- I suppose single people everywhere lament the miserable condition of their local dating pool. "I don't know any single people" has been uttered by everyone over 25 who's still unattached. This of course is universally untrue (assuming you don't live in some backwater where I suppose it could literally be true) and it turns out that people more often than not are just too lazy to look outside their immediate group of friends for people to sleep with. Witness, citizens of Ann Arbor! You live in one of the best cities for dating in the United States. Of course you live next to Detroit, one of the worst cities, so...

- This is so fucking scary, common sense true, it can't help but make you blanch and nod your head in a 'no shit' manner at the same time. We're a bus with no breaks. Beep Beep.

- Hey GOP, still wondering why you can't win shit anymore? Two of your biggest names are on TV fighting about who hates the gays more. You stay classy.

Posted 10:28am
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January 12th, 2009

Grammatical Asshole.

Sometimes I can't help myself. I have a modicum of self control when it comes to say, food, but in most areas I am a glutton. I seize opportunities even when I know self control should rule the day. I can almost see the impending embarrassing outcome and yet push through regardless. This is especially true in two areas. One is booze (natch) and the other is lecturing my son.

Nothing gets me more excited than dropping some science on the progeny. Any opportunity to opine, wax poetic, enlighten, expound, impart or lecture is not to be missed. Even after I see his eyes glaze over and his body language beg me to just stop talking, I can't help but continue my attempts at edification. I mean, I understand that a 13 year old doesn't care about etymologies or the historical context of Obama's political appointments or the lineage left behind by the passing of Ron Asheton - but that doesn't stop me from telling him. I always imagine that someday someone will ask some inane, arcane question and Sid will spout off some long forgotten nugget of knowledge in an almost pavlovian response and everyone will go "Whoa. Why do you know that?" and then he'll secretly thank me (because being smart is cool), even if he still shudders at the thought of ever giving me recourse to get on my soap box about anything. Ever.

And while that scenario may be a pipe dream, I sometimes get to see my efforts pay off in subtle ways. Siddhartha recently got a facebook account, and I'm constantly fighting my parental instincts not to stalk his every status update and photo taging, trying to glean any information possible about what he's up to. I do fairly well, considering. But sometimes you just can't avoid that shit. Hey, you can't stop the news feed. Anyway, I was a pretty proud papa to see Sid's list of favorite bands:

Ted Leo + the Pharmacists, Fall Out Boy, Ben Folds Five, Spoon, Death Cab For Cutie, the Beatles, Josh Ritter, and Nada Surf.

Take out Fall Out Boy and it reads a lot like mine. But that's just musical indoctrination - I kind of expected that. What I didn't expect was to see immediate proof that one of my lectures had taken root and worked. I had noticed a disturbing trend in Sid's status updates:

Cameron has tennis at 6...... fun

Cameron wonders about things...........

Cameron says that school sucks.............

The elongated ellipsis. Its a personal pet peeve of mine, and I decided to take the opportunity to explain this to my son. So I went in his room and asked him "Do you know what an ellipsis is?" he said "Yeah, dot dot dot." I said "That's right dot dot dot, not dot dot dot dot dot dot dot." and then broke out into a five minute lecture on the importance of correct punctuation, even on the internet. I could see the eyes glaze right around the time I was explaining that extra periods don't read as a longer pause, but went on to make my case for some time after that. Anyway, I assumed that it probably went in one ear and out the other, but then I saw his next status message:

Cameron is too good at Rock Band... yeah no ego at all.

Dot, dot, dot. I guess sometimes he does pay attention.

Posted 12:11pm
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January 9th, 2009

Bonus! A2 Snow Emergency Post!

I just saw this via the A2 Chronicle, and wanted to pass it on:

If you live in A2, you know snow removal here sucks ass. If you want to know if and when the plows are supposedly coming, there's a site to tell you. I can't vouch for its accuracy nor validity, but if it works, it might help you plan a route, or decide whether or not to leave the house at all. Bundle up kids. I'm headed to the bar to put on my beer coat.

Posted 3:33pm
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Cleaning out my closet.

The other night I realized that I had far too many of two things: tiny bottles of liquor and bottles of liquor with a tiny amount left in them. Fortunately for someone of my vast resources and tolerance, this was a problem easily remedied. Now my bar is stocked with only (mostly) full fifths and my recycle bin is full of tiny little bottles that are cuter than an alcoholic baby.

Those of you interested in a little inside baseball, let me give you a quick note on how things work around here. As I scour the internet on a day to day basis, I keep a txt document of any links that I find interesting or deem relevant for comment. Once I have a big enough cadre of links on any specific topic (or, more likely, I find a way to shoehorn disparate links under one heading) I throw it up and wipe my brow as another days posting is complete. But sometimes, I have two links under every heading and I struggle to make the incongruous congruent enough to make one coherent post out of. What do I do then? I write some bullshit intro about drinking a bunch of booze, write a boring paragraph about the process of blogging and then take out the trash. Here it comes.

- Here's a boring movie inventory where you check what movies you've seen and then can compare it to what I've watched. For the truly bored cinephile only.

- I, for one, welcome our new lizard people overlords.

- Someday we will equate the fight over evolution with that over the heliocentric view of the universe. Someday.

- Jeff Tweady channels Thom Yorke. My head explodes in an aneurgasm.

- Sanjaya? Eh, its hard to remember what the fuss was all about.

- There's probably no God? C'mon Dawkins, grow some balls. If you're going to poke the beehive, poke the beehive. This half ass attempt screams of acquiesce. I mean, I realize you're making a nuanced, reasoned argument here and I agree with it, but that's not how you poke the beehive. I'm not saying you have to go Nietzsche or take out ads that say 'Fuck Jesus', but that 'probably' says "I'm a dandy fop you may immediately dismiss." meh.

- While I am on board with the double whammy of public transportation as DUI deterrent AND green initiative, I don't think its necessarily a good argument for the public discourse. And for those of you who missed 30 Rock last night, Alec Baldwin had a great line, something to the effect of "Thanks for telling me what I already know. You should call yourself the Huffington Post."

Posted 10:23am
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January 8th, 2009

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

- Touching on posts of the past few days:

- UM was (shockingly!) named one of the best value colleges in the US - meaning that you must get a shit ton, because the bitch ain't cheap.
- Here's a backing band quiz sent to me courtesy of RJ the croupier. I missed 3, but still feel pretty good about my performance. Ziggy Marley?
- And speaking of New Years, Kelley sent me this noting "For some reason I saw this and thought of you." Thanks.

- The new presidents coming! The new presidents coming! And he's only about 8 years too late. Here's one last look back at W's job approval before he's relegated to 'Remember how bad we had it under W?' anecdotes. For those of you wondering what a graph of my assessment of W's job approval would look like:

- Mr. Zooey Deschanel and the boys were on Craig Ferguson a while back, and their introduction was pretty sweet.

- White America: your reign has ended. And its about time. All this talk about the melting pot meant, for a lot of people, assimilate and shut up. Well the chickens is comin' home to roost y'all. The good news: this means the end of the Republican party (or at least forces them to come to terms with some things). And no, I'm not excited about this just so I can date more girls of different races and ethnicities. That's clearly never bothered me in the first place.

- And finally, on some level, I clearly suffer from all of these. Like I needed more addictions.

Posted 10:23am
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January 7th, 2009

In and around Tree Town.

- Personally I've always considered The Stooges to be a band unto themselves, despite sometimes being referred to as 'Iggy and the Stooges' (they were billed thusly after a lineup and label change, but that's neither here nor there) ANYHOW, if I were able to shoehorn them into the greatest backing band debate from yesterday, I certainly would have. The Stooges were all about the title of their third album - Raw Power. They burned hot and bright and left an influential wake that touched everything that came after them. And yes, they called Ann Arbor, Michigan home. Which is why it is with extra sadness that we note the passing of Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton. Rest in peace.

- Having had several people visit Michigan over the holidays, they all note the same thing: "I can't believe you can smoke inside here!" Some say it with glee, others with horror, but it never goes unnoticed. Of course us Michiganders know its merely a matter of time before we succumb to the tyranny of government like the rest the country. Turns out we just got a stay of execution, but as Led Zeppelin used to say, "You're time is gonna come..."

- I'm always especially proud when UM alumni do well, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta getting a promotion is freaking sweet.

- Finally, my bid to become a local celebrity is progressing nicely. First, Ann Arborites may have noticed that I was quoted in this months Ann Arbor Observer (a local paper/magazine that provides local interest stories, business reviews and an entertainment calendar. It gets delivered to every house in town.) They did a couple paragraphs about The Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair Store, and I'm their source. I don't ever remember talking 'on the record', but I came off mostly ok, and there's no such thing as bad publicity so...

Second, some of you may be familiar with my reviews on the site Yelp (its been over there in the side bar for a year now. See?) Every once in a while someone will say to me "Hey! I saw your review of such and such on the internet!" They usually don't qualify whether it was any good or not, but again, no bad publicity. Anyway, Yelp is finally making a push in SE Michigan and I made it into their first newsletter. You can find me down under 'Fresh Lists', where I started to chronicle Sid and I's new restaurant initiative over the summer. Now please Yelp, grant me Elite '09 status before my head explodes.

Posted 10:18am
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January 6th, 2009

Back that ass up.

I got an idea sometime before the holiday break to do a list of the best backup bands of all time. And I don't mean bands that were 'bands' like the Beatles or Led Zeppelin or the Who - that's just arguing who the best band or rhythm section of all time is and that's boring - because the answer is still the Beatles even though they had to suffer Ringo. I'm talking backing bands. _________ & the ________'s. Bands that you can differentiate their leaders work with or without them. Here were my initial notes:

The Attractions - The organ work alone distinguishes all Attractions backed Elvis Costello from any of his other collaborations
The Heartbreakers - Again, Mike Campbell's guitar sets off Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers from solo Petty if nothing else
The E Street Band - Bruce is exponentially more fun when backed by the E Streeters
Crazy Horse - Neil is best at his loudest, and is at his loudest when backed by Crazy Horse
The Experience (?) - Does this fit my criteria? Mitch Mitchell certainly helped sell Jimi.
The Band - This was actually pointed out to me by Boike. I didn't initially think of it as I usually think of them as a band themselves, and I never consider it "Bob Dylan and The Band" - but he's right. The Band was huge and rocked faces.

I started to ask around and usually something would come on the jukebox and someone would offer "The Blackhearts" or "The Silver Bullet Band", both of which I dismissed out of hat. I also had one more note in my cursory musings, it was:

NOT - The News - any 'E Street Lite' bar band could have backed Huey Lewis.

This was mainly meant to be a joke, as no one would consider Huey Lewis and the News as anything but a pop cultural footnote at this point (despite The News' tight as hell harmonies - I mean no disrespect guys, really) but when I mentioned this to Patera he immediately said "No one knows who the News is." I laughed at him, at which point he asked our 20 year old waitress "Do you know who Huey Lewis is?" and she said "Who?"

So while I am sure, dear reader, you are of the age and ilk who at least remember "I Want a New Drug", and may have danced to "Heart of Rock and Roll" at a junior high formal or even felt your first boob while hearing "Power of Love" as you sat in the back row of the movie theater and watched Back to the Future. But nothing makes me sadder than when someone at the BAR doesn't get something I consider to be part of the permanent cultural zeitgeist. So terminate transmission now.

Posted 1:43pm
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January 5th, 2009

The holidays are always a good reminder that god must have intended for me to be independently wealthy.

I am smack dab in the midst of vacation hangover. Its amazing to me how easily I can fill the hours of the day (and I remind you, this is without being independently wealthy or the ability to do whatever I want whenever I want). As you may have noticed, I was so busy relaxing and drinking and whatnot I even neglected the blog.

For those of you curious, here's an approximation of a vacation day in the life of tbaggervance:

10:30ish - Finally rise and shine after waking up several times, looking at the clock and audibly telling it to fuck off.
11:00 - The Price is Right. Check email and the internet
12:00 - Family Feud. Lunch - usually two frozen burritos covered in Cholula hot sauce
12:30 - Stretch/Yoga/Exercise. The length and severity of this is extremely dependent on the level of hangover I am experiencing.
1:30ish - Shower
2:00 - Leave the house. This is important, even if its a fifteen minute trip to the library to get a book to read, go run important errands like purchasing TP, or do some shopping or see a movie. The important thing is to leave the house.
5:00 - Happy Hour
7:00 - Dinner
9:00 - The world is your oyster. Drinking? Music? Who knows what the night will entail. Perhaps tonight it will be comic books and red wine alone in the living room. But probably not.
2:00am - Pass out.

So that's the gist of it. I miss it already. Here's some more specifics from the holidays:

- Ayesha and I got to play house for about 10 days over the break. It was incredibly fun. Of course we're still in midst of negotiations as to how to make our strange relationship work, but it always works when we're together, and there is comfort in that.

- For the first time in a decade, I did not purchase one video game for xmas. Sid got a new iPod and the Complete Calvin and Hobbes Collection from Santa. Santa approves of these gifts and was happy to spend a little extra cash for music and reading over cartoon characters that electronically bash each other's skulls in.

- I saw Slumdog Millionaire and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The former is a top five movie of the year and an absolute must see. The latter is overwrought and overly long and to quote Ayesha upon walking out of the theater "I felt like I was trapped in a cage!" I liked it slightly better than that.

- Stov's wedding was the second nicest* wedding I've ever attended and probably the most fun. I apologize to any representatives of the Ford Motor Company whom I offended during my toast.

- I don't believe in New Year's resolutions per se, but here's to being a better person in 2009. More reading, more exercise, better diet and less drinking midweek at home by myself. At least a little bit less...

*The winner has to be Grizm's wedding, which was on Lake Michigan and had an 80 ft ferris wheel as the backdrop.

Posted 10:43am
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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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This page is written and maintained by Tyler Brubaker. All content is spewed forth from the author's brain, unless otherwise credited. He views his opinion as much more valid than yours, but welcomes all thoughts and comments.