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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.

Posted 10:14am
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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.

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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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