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March 31st, 2010

This week in indie rock

Last night the BDGF and I were rocked by Spoon. Britt was in a bit of a mood to start the night, but they found their collective groove and ended up putting on a hell of a show. (Here's some photos for those of you who missed the event). Anyway, I am buoyed and need to spread the good word, thus another edition of TWIIR.

- There's more new Hold Steady hitting the 'net, and it's every bit as delicious as 'Hurricane J'. Craig Finn and the boys have eschewed Michigan on their most recent tour, so it looks like I'll have to head to Cleveland to see them. This is a giant pain in my asshole, but The Hold Steady is bar none my favorite live band at the moment and you don't miss an opportunity to see that spectacle.

- Attention Ann Arborites! Those of you who missed the special release day viewing of the new White Stripes documentary Under great White Northern Lights, there's a free screening on campus this Thursday. Don't miss a great opportunity to watch Jack and Meg rock your face - and hit on college age hipsters.

- This week on the AV Club Undercover: The Alkaline Trio do Archers of Loaf.

- A few years back I heard a singer/songwriter that struck a chord with me so deep that I fell hard and fast in love with him and immediately added him to the list of people who will have my undying devotion and that I will support in any way I can. Wanting to spread that joy and knowing the proclivities of my friends the Jesuses, I threw a copy of his CD on their coffee table and told them "Here's something to fall in love with." When they eventually listened to the disc, they quickly did. That's why I consider this live performance on NPR a belated birthday present to their daughter Ophelia Jane. I'm sure she'll fall in love with Josh Ritter too, and I can't wait to meet and fall in love with her.

- Finally, this isn't news nor indie rock, but Ricky Martin is gay. Officially. Just thought you'd like to erase the question mark on your "Are they or aren't they gay?" checklist.

Posted 1:26pm
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March 30th , 2010


A few weeks back I got an email announcing that 826 Michigan was producing a student newsletter and was looking for people to write articles, draw cartoons, do graphic design, etc. I immediately realized that I had never had my own comic strip, and frankly that didn't seem right, much less even possible. So I wrote back offering my amateur services and they were accepted.

Now what? Questions of format, tone and characters swirled through my head. I wanted simple, as to not overly complicate things and force myself to spend undo hours trying to produce it. It has to be for kids, so cutesy over edgy. And it's for 826, so robots and academia seem to be a given. It didn't take me long to settle on a three panel, 'Bazooka Joe' style strip called Studybots. I'm still learning lots o' lessons about layout and scanning. My tools are crappy and my method rushed, but that's me trying to lower your expectations and make excuses for the faults I see permeating the work. Below are the first two. I find the whole process amusing enough to keep doing it, so I'll link them to a page over there on the sidebar and let you know when there's new ones. Anyone with hackneyed robot jokes feel free to drop me a line, I could use the help. Oh! And 2,000 blog points to anyone who gets my obscure reference for the character names. Clearly I do a lot of things to amuse myself and no one else.

Posted 10:50am
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March 29th , 2010

You take the good, you take the bad...

I was 15 years old when Desmond Howard got tripped in the end zone on a two point conversion attempt, caught the ball anyway and won the game for us with no time left on the clock. We were ranked number one in the country and playing Michigan State, so this was a very big deal. It would have been a euphoric moment in my existence had the referee called the tripping penalty and/or signaled that Desmond caught the ball. As such he did neither and fucked us right in the ass - twice on one play.

I felt the same way last night when Michigan scored a game winning goal 4 minutes into overtime to head back to the Frozen Four for the 24th time. Hagelin darted behind the net and tried to shove it the puck in after curling around the back side. Miami's goalie was waiting, but the puck bounced out right onto Kevin Lynch's stick and he made it find the back of the net. Game over. Except on review the ref had blown his whistle a nanosecond before the puck found purchase, so the goal was disallowed. Nevermind that the whistle was unwarranted and due solely to the man who had blown it being out of position or visually impaired or both. Nevermind that earlier in the game in a similar situation the whistle was not blown, giving Miami the extra second it needed to punch the puck out from underneath Michigan's goalie to force overtime in the first place. Fuck.

Poker players will tell you that they remember the bad beats much more readily and viscerally than the big wins. I don't know if that's human nature or the nature of a poker player, but it's invariably true. And as a Michigan sports fan, I've got enough bad beats in my lifetime that make me wonder if I have masochistic tendencies, because I remember every one of those loses with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, and the mere mention of them make my blood start to boil - both over having been in some way wronged and at the possibility of what could have been.

But none of losses compare to the wins. In that way, it's not like poker at all. Last night hurt my soul, but we won two national championships in hockey while I was in school, and that's what I think of when I think Michigan Hockey. Sure, I'll always remember that goal that was taken from me, but the sting of it was immediately mitigated last night. Because yes - I saw us lose a game (that I never would have expected us to even play in a month ago) but then 10 minutes later, I got my first taste of Oberon in five months.

It tasted like victory.

Posted 11:23am
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March 26th , 2010

Everybody cut, everybody cut...

Teenagers are incredibly stupid. They suffer from a herd mentality and have an invincibility complex that makes them engage in idiotically risky behavior. They have yet to develop an adequate sense of consequences for their actions, and their lack of foresight makes it neigh on impossible to get them to accurately assess a situation and have them come to the conclusion that "this is going to be embarrassing tomorrow," much less a year or five from now. Unfortunately for them, the only thing more delusional than their peer group is their parents.

Despite having once been teenagers themselves and the mountain of evidence that is well, every teen movie ever made, parents fail to realize that the surest way to get teenagers to do something is to tell them not to. Slightly less obvious (but still more so say than a kick in the junk) is that signing a promisary note saying you won't do something carries about as much weight to a teenager as a parent's fashion advice.

So now that you, enlightened reader of, have taken the above postulates to be science fact and factored them into both your moral framework and deductive reasoning skills, time for a pop quiz: Brighton High School decides to ban "freaking" (sexually suggestive dancing) from its school dances and force students to sign a pledge saying they won't participate in such behavior. Which of these outcomes is likeliest?

A. Students dutifully sign said pledge and everyone has a wholesome good time.
B. Students sign pledge, ignore it, and impregnate each other at prom
C. Ticket sales for the event drop from the previous years total of 1,350 to 67
D. The cool kids hold an alternative prom where they get drunk and abuse IV drugs

While B and D are both highly plausible, the true story is C. Now I've seen the way kids dance and I find it appalling (and not just because I can't stand the music.) But I would never sign that piece of paper and if my son came home with it, I'd tell him not to sign it either. It's laughable. Anyone who's ever seen Dazed and Confused or Footloose or The Breakfast Club could tell you that.

Of course the real anomaly in the story is this Keith Yaple kid. He wrote a letter to the principal complaining about his fellow student's behavior? Has this kid never seen a teen movie? He will be mercilessly beaten and never, ever get laid. This is a fate he richly deserves - even if it's how the Karl Roves of the world are born.

- As I type this, it is approaching 11am, which means that it is almost 61 hours until Oberon is released. I'm thinking of going to Ashleys for the midnight release, which means the next time I type at you I will have been imbued and buoyed by the nectar of the gods. I don't care what the thermometer says, summer is here.

Posted 10:57am
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March 25th , 2010

This week in indie rock

There's lots of new music floating around in the ether, and I'm trying to fix a broken rss feed (sorry guys) so here's what's playing out there on the web:

- New Hold Steady! The first single from Heaven is Whenever is up on Pitchfork. "Hurricane J" is every thing a Hold Steady song should be, which you either get or you don't, so I won't bother trying to convince you.

- New Black Keys! The garage rock duo has a song of the upcoming Brothers streaming on Myspace (yes, it still exists).

- New MGMT! Their entire new album Congratulations is streaming on their website.

- Phoenix is letting you download a free live EP.

- The second entry in the AV Club's Undercover project? Fruit Bats doing Hall and Oates' "One on One". Simply fucking amazing.

- Finally, siblings are going to spar. It's a natural consequence of being put in such close to proximity to another human being. When you have to fight for affection and resources with that person, there's going to friction - from deep seeded disdain to physical lashing out (I once picked up my sister, carried her out into the street and then ran back inside and locked her out of the house - just because she wouldn't let me watch what I wanted on TV. True story.) But at the end of the day we'll violently defend each other, because family is family and just because I can call my siblings names, doesn't mean you can. That's why it should warm the cockles of your heart to see Jack defend his big sister Meg. It doesn't hurt that he's 100% right (and I say that as a possible reverse-contrarian hipster.)

Posted 10:11am
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March 24th , 2010

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

- Five fucking days until Oberon! You may remember back in October I won a golden ticket tour of Bell's brewery. That death spiraled into 4 months of back and forth and unreturned phone calls that nearly broke my will to live. Then like a phoenix from the ashes the trip is back on and we have a date and everything. My contact at Bell's has been super apologetic and nice since we've mended fences, and has offered to buy me my first pint of Oberon of the year Sunday night at midnight. I'm not exactly sure how life gets any better than this.

- I got upset with my sister yesterday for saying on facebook that Obama was full of himself for passing health care. Then I completely derailed after seeing the ignorant, ill-informed follow up comments. I had to take deep breaths and remember that we have to fight ignorance with facts and not name calling. OK so I slipped some name calling in there, but here are the facts: Support the day after sits at 49%. WaPo has a personal calculator to see how this affects you and The Times has a great write up on how this affects small businesses. Let us now move on to some substantive discussions.

- I agree with this article about the assault on smoking. I've struggled with nicotine addiction my entire adult life, but no matter where I'm at with it personally, I'm unwavering in my belief that you should always to be able to smoke in your own home, outside, and at concerts. Because no matter what your health teacher told you in elementary school, smoking is bad ass. Dirty, smelly and cancerous - but still bad ass.

- I was HUGE Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan in high school. The more esoteric humor is the better in my mind, so MST3K is like the holy grail of what I find funny. Therefore you can imagine my nerdgasm when I saw this was coming to the Michigan Theater. Cambot... Gypsy.... Tom Servo... Crooooow! Can't wait.

- Finally, I think I've mentioned before how I first knew I was smitten with the BDGF when she led me into a photobooth at a party late last August. It was a pretty cute and significant moment in our relationship, so for her birthday last weekend I finally took the photos from that occassion, enlarged them and had them framed. I share them with you now becuase, hell, we're good looking.

Posted 10:55am
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March 23rd , 2010

Sometimes, the blog is just for me.

It's not lost on me that people come to for disparate reasons. Some only come for drunken stories about my personal life. Others to argue with me about politics. Most of you skip the posts about indie rock, even though there's a select few of you who'd stop coming altogether if I didn't talk about it. But whether you're a voyeur looking for a laugh or a pop culture/political junkie, I'm guessing there's almost none of you who care about this:

The final chapter of Scott Pilgrim has a release date! Could you almost die? And how awesome epic is the teaser poster for the film?

Yeah, epic. Again, outside of C. Jason, I'm guessing you neither know of nor care for Scott Pilgrim's blend of Japanese manga, video game culture and 2 minute rock and roll. Outside of Siddhartha (who doesn't read the blog - no worries) I don't know anyone who's generally excited about it. But hot damn I am. If you have any proclivities towards graphic novels or funny cartoon comic books and are between the ages of 12 and 40, I highly recommend you give SP a try. Or not. Sometimes it's OK to be excited by yourself in your own little solipsistic bubble.

- I'm not a violent person. Outside of beating on my little brother growing up, I don't think I've ever thrown a punch, and my fighting experience involves trying to break up bar scuffles that usually ended up with me being escorted out by a bouncer for my efforts. And all of that was years and years and years ago. But man can you imagine the satisfaction of winding up and slapping Karl Rove as hard as you can across his fat fucking face? Hot damn does he have it coming.

- Here's some handy recycling answers to questions you may or may not have thought about.

Posted 11:27am
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March 22nd , 2010

Let's start at the very beginning. That's a very good place to start.

It was almost like I didn't have a horse in the race. At least not a personal stake. I spent a total of about eight months of my life without health care - when I got kicked off my parent's plan after college until I got hired in earnest by the group I had already been working for. That was 12 years ago. Since then I've had great, high quality health care for my kid and myself. The benefits at the U are probably the number one reason to stay, so just because insurance isn't something I've never had to worry about in my life, that doesn't mean I don't understand the importance of it.

Is health care a fundamental right? I'm still not 100% sure at this point, but I believe it's unconscionable to not try and provide it to as many people as possible in a country as advanced as ours. I was reading The Economist this morning and they said something to the effect of 'The U.S. had the most screwed up health care system in the industrialized world prior to last night. It probably still is, but at least it's less so now.' I'll agree with the Brits on that. This bill isn't perfect, but it's a great place to start.

I kind of felt the same way over the weekend. The BDGF and I hung out quite a bit this weekend with our collective children in tow. I've certainly introduced Sid to girlfriends before, but putting him together with the BDGF's girls, well this is new territory. It's a situation that's far from perfect or ideal, but we have to start somewhere. Luckily, all three of them are absolutely wonderful human beings. From hanging out at Chicken Jesus for the 7 year old's birthday to going to the DIA for the BDGF's birthday Sunday, the kids got along fabulously and genuinely seemed to have fun as a collective. Even when learning about Marxism via Diego Rivera:

Maybe it's a muddled concept or a forced analogy, but when something's not easy or potentially messy, that doesn't mean you bail and decide not to undertake it at all. And once you decide something is worth while, you've got to start somewhere. Right now I feel like the government and I have a great start on things. I'm going to make sure I hold up my end - you guys make sure and do the same.

Posted 10:55am
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March 19th , 2010

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

- Brackets! We may have talked about this in previous years, but have St. Pat's and March Madness always been on top of each other like this? Seems like I remember a time when I wasn't taking off St. Pat's and then turning around and taking off days to watch hoops at the bar, but I'm getting old and I think I remember a time when commercial radio was good, and that certainly can't be true. That's why now I listen to NPR and watch games streaming on my desktop at work. I totally called that ND upset yesterday too. That was some sweet Schaudenfreude.

- Health care! The vote should come this weekend, and I am probably naively optimistic. This post from the other day succinctly sums up the two sides of the debate, and the problems with the current bill notwithstanding, if you're in the latter camp you're kind of a douche. Krugman makes his final case today in the Times.

- iPhone! It's been in my life less than 72 hours and I have no idea how I ever lived without it. OK, this is only a slight exaggeration, but man is thing super terrific awesome happy fun time. I mean, yes, my previous phone had zero internet and no keyboard (and you had to press right click twice to get a space when texting) so I am operating under the hyperbolic circumstance of going from living in a cardboard box to a deluxe apartment in the sky, but I am officially in love. See how Amy and I feel about it:

Good times.

- Spring! It's been 60 and sunny here all week and to quote the BDGF "I'm not going back." It will be tough when it snows next week. But for now, break out the grills, bicycles and the bocce and enjoy it while you can. Last night I ran up and down the block stabilizing the BDGF's youngest as she learns to ride a two wheeler. Anyone who has taught a kid to ride knows the pain of squat running next to a tiny bike trying to keep it from careening to one side or the other. I don't know if I'm older and wiser, or if it's dealing with a girl (and not my kid), but teaching Sid to ride almost killed me, and last night was kind of fun. That's assuming my back/arms/legs hold out.

- Birthdays! Finally, its a big birthday weekend here at The BDGF and her youngest are both celebrating this weekend, as well as babymama's b-day festivities for her special day next week. Happy Birthday to all the lovely ladies.

Posted 11:59am
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March 18th , 2010

Catholic School Girls Rule

Tuesday I was sitting at a table inside Grizzly Peak waiting for the BDGF to show up when the bartender comes in from outside and tells me "There's a girl outside sitting at a table who looks like she's about 30 and she's dressed up like a schoolgirl." I laughed. "Maybe St. Patrick's Day came early," I said. Five minutes passed and the bartender repeated his astonishment to one of the waitresses and that's when it hit me. I txted the BDGF "You outside?" Sure enough. I hand my drink to the bartender, "My friend's actually waiting outside for me." "The schoolgirl?" "Yup, that's her."

I'd like to think I'm not overly concerned with staying young but my actions probably tell a different story. Yesterday I expected to fight through crowds all day, throwing elbows to get within shouting distance of the bar and then frantically trying to get the bartender's attention in hopes of procuring a drink. This was exacerbated by the fact that the first stop of the day was going to be Conor Oneills to see the BDGF's eldest dance a jig (again). But the reality was we walked right in. The bar was wide open and the bartender was asking me what I'd like to drink before I decided what I wanted. I guess most people aren't at the bar at 11 am on a Wednesday, even on St. Patrick's Day.

But I was, still trying to live my life like I did 10 years ago. St. Pat's means bar hopping. Luckily I know enough people in some state of arrested development that my travels throughout the day meant meeting different groups of people and sharing a pint or two to celebrate our somewhat muddled Irish heritage. The throughline I guess was me. People coming in and out of responsibilities to meet me at the bar, where I spent my day.

I suppose the difference is that 10 years ago I would have drank until I couldn't see straight, and probably wouldn't have made it to five o'clock much less all night. Now things are a little mellower and the subject of Irish carbombs didn't even come up until almost 8pm. It felt more like my taking the day off was just a head start, allowing me to leisurely drink my way through St. Pat's instead of guzzling green beer like it won't be on special for a month after as they try to sell off their leftovers. Most probably wouldn't find much maturity in that, but I'd argue for it - at least on a relative basis.

Back to Tuesday. The reason for meeting the BDGF for lunch was that it was finally time for her to get officially divorced. We'd been joking for months that once she was no longer married, I'd lose interest, the spark would be gone and we'd have to break up. Perhaps we'd begun to believe that meme a little too much, because two hours after the judge made it legit, we we're in the ATT store putting her on my wireless account (and getting iPhones!) and making a tacit agreement to be tied together for the next two years. I don't know if there's any real maturity there either, but it feels like it. It's grown up and has some sort of weight of responsibility. I say that in the best possible way, because I love my BDGF and don't want her going anywhere. It's not everyday that you find a woman who people think is 10 years younger than she is and dresses like a schoolgirl. You hold on to that - it'll keep you young.

- Pictures from yesterday are up on facebook. Enjoy.

Posted 11:48am
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March 16th , 2010

Dereliction of duty

Holy shit I am so sorry guys. Things have been so busy 'round these parts that I've almost completely ignored one of our most sacred traditions. People, we are less than a fortnight (FORTNIGHT!) away from the release of Oberon (OBERON!). It really hit home over the weekend when I started to notice some of the lesser bars in the area had let their supply of Two Hearted run out and failed to stock back up, since Oberon is imminent. While this is a sad fact that left me drinking non-Bells beer on more than one occasion in the last 4 days, that sadness quickly dissipates when I think about the sweet, sweet nectar that will soon pass my lips. You guys, Oberon release is March 29th. Prepare thy palates.

- Good times - Texas removes Jefferson as an important revolutionary thinker. This should offend everyone who's ever had a high school level history class. It should offend you as an American. It should offend everyone except for fans of Chuck Norris - who defends removing Jefferson from educational standards - by citing Thomas Jefferson. I fucking hate you guys so much I can't even stand it.

- The FCC, who spent 8 years under W being overly concerned that someone might hear a naughty word or see a part of the body covered by a bathing suit, just announced its plan for national broadband. While I would never live in a place that didn't have boradband in 2010, this is positive news (and largely deficit neutral. Hooray!)

- The AV Club Undercover debuts today with a doozy - Ted Leo and the Pharmacists covering "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". Watch and swoon.

- Finally, tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. Here's a handy primer of what's going on where in and around Ann Arbor. I of course have taken the day off, as I am a giant orange headed Irishman (and notorious boozehound). So come out and have a pint with me - we can put our arms around each other and sing "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral".

Posted 10:41am
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March 15th , 2010

Things overheard over the weekend.

- Friday night the Downtowners taught a workshop at 826 Michigan where we helped a group of 6-8 year olds write a bedtime story. Everybody showed up in their pajamas and we talked about what makes a good bedtime story, then created a protagonist and collectively wrote a story. I always judge 826 workshop success by how many hugs I get from the kids near the end of the night. Friday I got two, both of whom gave me the requisite "You're really weird, but that's why I like you," refrain. But that was nothing compared to what Dr. Walker got. About 10 minutes into the evening's proceedings, a 6 year old, somewhat manic kid with a thick British accent looked right at the good Doctor and said "Can I go to sleep with you?" You've got to admire the kid's moxie.

- Saturday was "St. Practice Day". I haven't decided if this is kind of a cool excuse to drink during the day on a Saturday, or a superfluous piece of bullshit designed by beer company conglomerates to squeeze a few extra dollars out of the amateur drinkers. In any event, the BDGF's oldest is an accomplished Irish dancer, so we were forced (FORCED!) to spend both Saturday and Sunday at the bar. BDGF's youngest was still playing the game where she shoots me and I die, or "sleep" - as I get to reanimate when she says "Tyler wake up." At some point after being shot for the 75th time, the BDGF noted how much time I was spending with my head down on the table (playing dead) and said "People are going to think you have necrophelia! Wait, what's the one where you sleep a lot?" Yeah, not necrophelia sweetheart.

- Also Saturday, the youngest and I were kneeling down front watching the Irish dancing and she asked me "Tyler, how do you get thin?" I momentarily panicked about appropriate body image issues and whatnot, but then remembered she's 6 and just told her well, you know, don't eat too much and eat healthy foods and move around a lot and exercise. She seemed satisfied with that and said "Oh, well THAT girl certainly isn't doing that." I'll leave the response to that to her mother.

- Finally, I always try and assume that everyone around me has a a similar level of intelligence and awareness that I do*. In my mind it's sort of an attempt to reign in my condescension. If I'm explaining every reference I make, I feel it comes off douche-y. Now I may have mis-calibrated and I know it can sometimes come off as asshole-ish when I do have to explain myself and it ends up sounding like "You don't know about THAT?" Anyway, Sunday we stopped by Heathers and I was telling her about the documentary about Maynard Keenan's winery that was playing in Detroit on Friday. Heather was trying to look up show times and having trouble, so I told her:

"Just type in Merkin vineyards, that's the name of his winery."
"Merkin, like the pubic wig."
"Like the what?"
"M-E-R-K-I-N, it's a wig for your pubic hair."

Apparently, not everyone has heard of a merkin. Go figure.

* almost anyway.

Posted 10:31am
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March 12th , 2010

Ways in which I am old, vol. 317

Last night the BDGF's almost 7 year old shot me. Over and over and over again. And each time I had to die. Dramatically. Over and over and over again. This usually involved me flailing and falling to her hard wood floors as violently as I could manage without causing major bodily harm. Which I thought I had managed to do. Then I woke up this morning. Christ on a bike I'm sore. There's a muscle a few inches below my right shoulder blade that I didn't even know existed that is screaming at me "You're 34 idiot!"

I'm at (or getting to) the point in my life where it's not that I can't get it done anymore, it's just that the consequences are greater. I hear people reference this line of thinking when it comes to drinking all the time. "I can't drink like I used to, I'm a wreck the next day." While that hasn't happened to me yet, the chickens have come home to roost in my pulled/strained/sore muscles. I mean this isn't a pity party. I beat on my body last night and I'm sore this morning in a way I probably wouldn't have been 10 years ago. This is not a major revelation despite what the muscles in my chest are telling me. Let's have the take home point be that I can do 40 prat falls and still get out of bed the next day. Tonight I'm teaching a workshop at 826 to a bunch of 6-8 year olds. Let's hope they don't want to see me fall over for 90 straight minutes.

- A mini-indie rock weekend update: Ted Leo is at the Crofoot tonight. I won't be there, so here he is on Fallon. Here's the AV club's awesome new feature I'm sure we'll be talking about for weeks to come. Pitchfork in 10's and 0's. And next Tuesday I'm apparently hosting a viewing party for the new White Stripes live DVD. You are casually invited.

- Finally, frequent blog commentator ljv sent me a link to this article this morning noting "Yep, let's ram it through." First off, let's stop referring to something that the majority wants as 'ramming' or 'jamming it down our throats' or whatever other oral sex metaphor that conservatives use to frighten the sexually repressed. Second, my response to ljv was that the article he sent me was filled with more lies than a conversation between me and my mother at 2am on a Friday in 1993. Thankfully, Dr. Krugman easily helps straighten things out for the haters. Pass the damn bill people.

Posted 11:05am
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March 10th , 2010

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

- I've been sort of personally evaluating where I'm at with Obama now that we've been living with each other for over a year. Things aren't perfect, but it'd be naive to expect to get everything I want. I feel like I'm on the cusp of being really happy, but I'm not quite there yet. This is pretty good evidence that if you voted for the man, there's reason for hope. And Sullivan lays out a best case scenario for the Dems going forward. Dems - don't lose your shit.

- Two videos popped up on the internet this week that hit me right in the core of my nerdiness. First, watch every Hitchcock cameo, then, watch a Star Wars flash mob. I hate to admit that had this been in A2, I would have thought about attending. Oh! And I assume you've already seen/loved this. Der Humpink is not a metaphor...

- I love Google. They're just really good at what they do. While people lament that they have to suffer a world in which Microsoft is all but mandatory, Google is becoming just as pervasive and I say hooray. I'm about to delve into the world of smartphones and I'll be honest, if I wasn't so invested in iTunes at this point, I'd be looking into something that runs Google's mobile OS. Because I rely on the Goog for mail and calendaring and RSS and contacts and on and on. I mean Apple is similarly beloved and the iPhone probably still has an edge due to Apple's nature of being a hardware company, but software wise, I'm a Google guy and probably will be going forward for some time. Anyway, here's a cool graphic that gives you Google by the numbers.

- I got a call from the BDGF the other day requesting help with a leaky faucet. To be fair, she merely noted that a faucet was leaking, hinted at calling a plumber and I said "How dare you?" I don't have any plumbing experience per say, but I love to fix stuff. I don't generally lament the fact that I live in an apartment (at least not in the way some of my friends yell at me "Dude, you need to buy a house.") other than the fact that I don't get to do home improvement projects. So when something needs fixed at the BDGF's, I get excited. Truth be told I'm way more in a hurry to get to work on the list of things she wants tweaked or upgraded than she is. As for the faucet, it got fixed pretty quickly, but I hear tell it's leaking again, so it might be time to purchase some new parts. More good times - I just wish she lived closer to Downtown.

- This weekend the Downtowners head to Cleveland for a getaway weekend. Mimosas will be drank, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be visited, Cleveland will be rocked. I have no idea what other trouble we'll end up in, but I look forward to finding out.

Posted 11:05am
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March 9th , 2010

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Having just returned from Texas, I'm happy to say that I found it to be a liberal, accepting atmosphere. That being said, I strongly believe that the difference between Austin and the rest of the state dwarfs that of say, Ann Arbor and the U.P. Take, por ejemplo, this long and scary article from the Times about the frighteningly powerful Texas schoolboard. Of course Baby J has tears in his eyes because the main dickhead - the one who'd have you believe Jefferson wanted prayer in schools - just lost his seat. I'd say 'Comeuppance!' but that would require something along the lines of forcible sodomy.

- Speaking of Texas, here's some good ol' boys who only hate one thing more than people who celebrate Earth Day - and that's fags. What a friend we have in Baby Jesus indeed!

- To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, what's the harm? Sometimes we're overly sensitive. On the other though, if I had to stare at "All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed By Their CREATOR," everyday, I'd likely do nothing but seethe with anger. It's those all caps that would poke at me non stop.

- If the most anti-intellectual, rapture-awaiting channel on TV is ABC Family for continuing to give airtime to Pat Robertson and the 700 Club, than the ying to its yang is - Comedy Central? Viva la Stewart!

- My friends the Jesuses moved to South Kadota a few years back, and despite the moniker, they're smart, science loving people (the good kind of friends o' Jesus). Which is why they were so upset about this. Remember guys, Ann Arbor will never use Astrology to explain global warming. Cross my heart, hope to die from increased levels of CO2.

- I remember something from my religious upbringing about Jesus loving the little children. Apparently not so much if the child has two mommies.

- Remember all the hullabaloo when Sarah Palin wrote notes on her hand? Yeah, I know, whoopty do. We shouldn't be surprised that someone with a two cent head needs to tie a string around her finger to remember what her core values are. However, did you also know that Jesus' dad did the same thing?!? Apparently the girls in my junior high (who wrote everything on their hands) were the most pious people I've ever met.

Posted 10:40am
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March 8th , 2010

I nub noo, I nub noo! No autographs, pease pease.

That was a weekend. One of these days I'll get to lay around on Saturday and Sunday without a care in the world. It will be rainy and I will feel zero guilt about being the laziest man on the planet. Unfortunately this is scheduled for sometime in late 2012. Until then, I'll be busy drinking and cavorting and generally having the time of my life.

- Over the years I've become quite adroit at avoiding the paparazzi. I know some people say you can't let them alter your life and you should just go about your business like they're not there. I, on the other hand, find that if you're smart about things, you can avoid the flashes and questions about your love life as you exit restaurants. Of course sometimes the press is unavoidable and in these situations I find it's best just to briefly pose and move on. This conveys respect for the photographer 'just doing his job' and usually allows both of you to move on and enjoy your evening. That's what happened at The Blowout, where the BDGF and I got snapped by the Freep (#44 of 67). Such is the life of being this young, good looking and fabulous.

- There was lots of good stuff on the television this weekend, and if you're like me and have a life, you probably missed it. Thankfully, someone thought to invent the internet so we all can catch up on what we missed! First, Vampire Weekend and Zack Galafinakis visited SNL. Then Jimmy Kimmel got kicked out of Club Handsome. Finally, Iron Man 2 gets another trailer. Good times.

- I was reading the Current this weekend and it casually noted that Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail was set to begin service by the end of the year. As a lover of the public transit, this is a super cool development. But why hadn't this already been on my radar? Luckily there was a website, but unfortunately it's so convoluted that it left me feeling like I knew less for having visited it. Redemption was found here, which kind of confirms and lays out where we're at. I can't wait for the day when I can take the train to a Tigers game.

- Finally, I spent Sunday watching 200 girls (and 6 dudes) do this for about three hours. As a parent I've sat through numerous sporting events, concerts and all day science competitions, but none of that quite prepared me for three hours of Irish dance. As any mom or dad will tell you, it's great to watch your kid perform, but that usually comes with the price of watching a bunch of other kids do the same thing who of course are no where near as interesting or talented as yours. It was almost two hours of one Irish dance bleeding into the next before the BDGF's eldest even got on stage. Of course when she did she was graceful, elegant and beautiful, but I don't know if I'll be recovered in time to hear more Irish folk music on St. Patrick's Day.

Posted 11:05am
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March 5th , 2010

Your indie rock weekend

For reasons passing understanding, I've completely missed the last three Hamtramck Blowouts. Some years I had to stay home with the kid. Others I was poor. And sometimes it was just hard to find a willing partner (This guy knows what I'm talking about.) Anyway, it's just about the saddest factoid in my otherwise brilliant existence. Thankfully, all of that changed as of yesterday. Last night love lifted the Blowout and I up where we belong. I was back baby! Smalls! Paychecks! Dudes who couldn't play their instruments! Guys with beards! All the old Blowout staples were there including some new trends (The good one: guys playing an entire song with a lit cigarette in their mouth (cool). The bad one: instrumentals (lame)). Seriously, if you have any love in your heart for live music, this is a spectacle not to be missed. My favorite new band from the evening: Macramé Tiger. Go see them live, but cover your drink during the confetti cannon (trust me.)

- The indie rock gods are smiling down upon me, as it appears that every band I love is putting out new albums in 2010. Spoon and VW already rocked my face, and The Hold Steady, New Pornographers and Nada Surf we've already talked about. The latest: The National. I can't WAIT for summer.

- I know I just saw them, but Maritime is playing in Grand Rapids on May 22 - further proof that God loves me and wants me to be happy.

- Speaking of tours, The Flaming Lips are going to trot around Dark Side of the Moon this summer.

- How much of a douche has Billy Corgan become?* Try this quote on for size: "Do I belong in the conversation about the best artists in the world? My answer is yes, I do," We all still love Gish Billy, we really do, but get over yourself. I think dating Jessica Simpson may become an official celebrity cry for help.

* entirely possible he was always this much of a douche and it's just as of late people are willing to give him column inches so that we can laugh at him, who's to say?

Posted 10:34am
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March 4th , 2010


I've already written about 5,000 words this week, so I'm a little spent. Here's some quick hits from around the internet that will technically, in the loosest sense of the word, count as a post:

- Some candid, scarcely seen Star Wars photos.

- The Daily Shows best comic book moments. Damn Jon Stewart was young.

- By now you've probably seen OK Go's Rube Goldberg video. But if not, it lives up to the hype.

- If you were at the Brendan Benson show with me last Thursday, here's a nice trip down memory lane.

- I've never been to Russia. It sounds cold. Unlike a planet conceived by George Lucas, there surely must be more than one climate in a place so large, but if there is, it doesn't get much publicity. As such I've never had much desire to go, vodka fetish notwithstanding. However, during a bout of drinking Saturday night, John, Stov, Al and I concluded that with a few practice sessions, we could surely rise to the top of the sport of curling and displace whatever yokels are in line to head to the 2014 games in the former Soviet Union. I mean, we're already really good at bar shuffleboard, how much different can it be? Look for stories four years from now about four local boys make good, and it all started here.

Posted 10:34am
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March 3rd , 2010

How can I help?

- Perhaps you've heard that Google plans to wire some medium size U.S. city with gigabit fibre optic ethernet. Perhaps there's two or three words in that previous sentence you don't understand. In short, Google is going to bring superfast internet to some lucky bastards. Ann Arbor is throwing its hat into the ring. The U is on board, Comcast is not. Obviously YOU - Ann Arborite - are in favor of this. Who wouldn't want the internet at 10x the current speed? Who wouldn't want ANYONE other than Comcast as their ISP? Good news! You can help. Google wants to give this to people who are excited about it, so go to and join the facebook group and write a letter to Google. Or do nothing and stick with overpriced shitty Comcast internet, up to you.

- A few years back The University of Mississippi finally ditched their pseudo-racist mascot, bringing them into the 20th century only a 100 years or so after everyone else. Well they're finally getting around to replacing him and guess who's the leader in the clubhouse? That's right, Admiral Ackbar. Join up on facebook, go to Or do nothing and continue to hate on Ole' Miss just because Eli went there (which we'll admit is somewhat valid, but not nearly as cool as having a Mon Calamari as your mascot).

- Despite what comes out of Republican lawmakers mouths and despite the actions of almost EVERYONE in Congress, deregulation has screwed us all harder than a navy officer on shore leave after six months at sea. Of course thanks to the deep pockets of the financial industry and the spinelessness of our politicians, trying to get anything in place to protect the American people, much less something with actual teeth, is going to be next to impossible. What can you do? First watch this video and remember how good Dana Carvey is at doing Bush 41. Then follow the instructions at the end and contact your Congressmen. Or do nothing and watch your credit card rate spike to 35% the next time you post a payment a day late.

- There was good news in marriage equality this week, as the Supreme Court denied a request to put a moratorium on same-sex marriage in the District. And to be fair, it was Chief Justice Roberts who denied the request without even convening the full court, proving he may not be Cheney-level evil (although we're still operating under the assumption that this is part of a larger plot to pull the rug out from under us at some later date.) Anyway, there's not a whole lot for you to do here other than stay informed, but you can get all of the implications etc here.

Posted 10:34am
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March 2nd, 2010

Southern accents.

Editors note: all links to bars/restaurants go to my Yelp reviews, of which you can see a full list here. As for larger versions of the pictures, they live on facebook.

Living in Ann Arbor is an experience that tends to fold in on itself. People move here because of certain proclivities. They're generally liberal, intellectual types who enjoy the arts and good food. You take an individual with such peccadilloes and surround them with 100,000 other like minded souls, and liberalism and intellectualism beget liberalism and intellectualism. It's like a snake eating its own tale. After a while, you can forget that you live in an isolated bubble and that the rest of the world isn't largely populated with Atheists and the overly educated and people who eat dinner after 7.

I'll readily admit that I forget from time to time, but when I start to plan to leave our little utopian hamlet I become acutely aware that the rest of the world is not Ann Arbor. However, there are a handful of places smattered throughout this great land of ours that while I've never been, I just know in my heart of hearts that they are my kind of place. Portland, Athens, Seattle - I intend to get to all of these places eventually, but before I step foot on their streets I'm already in love. Their lore is already seared in my brain and while my expectations are high, I couldn't fathom being disappointed.

At the top of this list of cities is Austin, TX. While the rest of the state scares the ever living shit out of me, Austin is my kind of town. I've known it for some time and long before the BDGF said "You know where I haven't been back to in 15 years..." South by Southwest, Austin City Limits, Stubbs BBQ - hell it's the Live Music Capitol of the World. If that doesn't scream "tbaggervance, come on down!" I don't know what does.

So yeah, foregone conclusion couldn't be more apt. And let me tell you dear readers, there's no better feeling in the world than having colossally preposterous expectations and then have them exceeded. That was my exact experience in Austin. Here's how it went:

Drinks on a Plane, walkabout, and popcorn for dinner
steps taken/miles walked: 25,080/13.2 mi

To tell you about Sunday, we first have to back up to the day before. Saturday the BDGF and I made trip number one to DTW to drop her girls off. They were headed to Oregon to see their father, which was what made this trip possible in the first place. We made it through security with relative ease and got her girls safely loaded on their flight and then had to wait for them to be airborne before we could leave. While we calmed the BDGF's nerves in the airport bar, we had an unpleasant revelation. We had unwittingly booked our flight for 9am on Sunday, 3 hours before the state of Michigan allows the sale of alcohol. Ouch.

As one would imagine, I like to have a couple of cocktails before flying. While I have no fear of crashing to a fiery death, I find the entire experience of air travel to be quite unpleasant. And nothing mitigates such circumstances more than alcohol. Alas I was going to be forced to get on a plane stone cold sober for the first time in, well, ever. So we crossed our fingers that once we were in the air that international law would go into effect and we'd get drink service the minute the plane leveled out. Karma worked in our favor and we were soon satiated.

Upon arrival the sky was blue and stretched farther and wider than imaginable. After stepping outside to 70 degree temps, I felt a lot like Matthew Wilder. We got to the hotel before being able to check in, so the front desk watched our bags and directed us two blocks south for what turned out to be pretty crappy Tex/Mex. But hey, first Shiner Bock in Texas and we weren't wearing coats! It would've taken baseball bats to get the smiles off of our faces.

We finally got to check in and our hotel was stinkin' adorable. Concrete floors, heated patio and less than a mile from the heart of downtown made it ideally suited for us. The BDGF didn't even have to bring her own sheets! (although in hindsight, this was probably done solely so I would think her less crazy, and I wholly expect to be resheeting hotel beds in the future.)

Once checked in it was time to explore. We basically meandered around downtown, checking out the lay of the land. Eventually my dear friend and Austiner Kelley got in touch and it was time for happy hour. We had tickets to see a Beatles cover band play with a full orchestra later that evening, but that still left plenty of time for drinks with Kelley. It was the BDGF's goal to drink only beers made in Texas while we were down South, and there was no better place to start our week than The Ginger Man. They had at least 40 beers on tap and a whole section of the menu dedicated to Texas brews. We sampled many, and fell in love with the 512 IPA.

We were having so much fun that we inadvertently forgot to eat dinner. Before we knew it showtime was upon us and we were off to the Paramount. Crunched for time, we decided that theater popcorn would have to satiate us. This may or may not have contributed to us both dancing in our seats and singing along to every song as loud as we could. It definitely had an impact on the BDGF asking me on the way home "Will you still love me if I can't walk in a straight line?"

Bevo, Class of '87, and trivia at the Irish Pub

steps taken/miles walked: 14,222/8 mi

Monday came and we had no agenda. We decided to hop on a bus and ride up to the University of Texas campus - maybe have some lunch, a drink and check out a museum or two. So we hoped on the 1L with all of the other schizophrenics and made our way to Bevo country. Unfortunately, all UT museums are closed on Mondays (a fact we probably could have looked up prior to getting on the bus but didn't.) So we meandered around campus and ended up at Rubys for our first BBQ of the trip. All I can say is holy shit. While I generally scoff at such notions, you haven't had brisket until you've had it in Texas.

We slowly made our way back south, stopping at pretty meh record store and a totally awesome English Pub along the way. The Dog and Duck was my first encounter with what I found to be a transcendent Austin experience: the Austin juke box. Unlike most bars here in Michigan that have gone the way of the internet jukebox, allowing you access to every song imaginable, Austin is old school cool. Just a few well chosen discs that give the place ambiance and an atmosphere all its own. I don't want to give people access to Bon Jovi when I'm in an English Pub - they should make me choose between Elvis Costello and the Clash and if I don't like it I can bugger off. Oh yeah, and the BDGF 'beat' me in darts. Without going into it, I call shenanigans.

The BDGF had been in touch with an old high school friend, so it was three for Tex/Mex at Vulvas. I don't know what the female vagina has to do with salsa, but there we were nonetheless. I got to hear all about who Tommy married and what Beth was up to. But on the other side of dinner was trivia, so I bided my time. It turns out that the local Irish pub has trivia on Monday nights just like Connors in A2. Given the symmetry, we were obliged to attend. Unfortunately we showed up a little late, but grabbed a sheet to play along anyway. Before you know it we had been amalgamated into a team playing right next to us, serving up answers like we were there every week. At the end of the night we ended up tied for second with another team - a tie to be broken by chugging a beer. I was immediately tapped to stand up and defend our team's honor, but somehow a dark horse stepped up in my stead and, wouldn't you know it, totally bitched out. He bought us a beer in apology, but for the record, I would have owned that other dude.

Snow day!, Pub Crawl, and Topaz
steps taken/miles walked: 9,040/4.9 MI

Against all odds, after two days of temps in the 60's and 70's, Tuesday's forecast was for snow. Like good Michiganders, we stocked up on booze should the pending storm confine us to our room for any period of time. And while 'snow' is putting it politely and even though the temp never got below 31, we decided to play it safe and stay inside most of the day. I frightened the BDGF with my passion for The Price is Right and we rented movies from the front desk. Decorum prohibits further details.

Eventually hunger (and the fact that Michigan was playing basketball on TV) got the best of us and we decided to rejoin society. In searching for a bar in an old house in a residential neighborhood, we came across Iron Works BBQ. We decided to fill our bellies and get out of the cold here, but it turns out we should have kept walking. Compared to all of the other BBQ we had during our stay, this was seriously weak. But hey, we had drinking to do. When we couldn't find the bar in the converted house, we stopped in here to again, warm up and get a drink. They just happened to have the wine made by Tool front man Maynard James Keenan, so we bought a bottle to save for a special occasion. They also happened to have directions to the bar we couldn't find, so after a drink we headed off.

After watching Michigan get its ass handed to them (again) Kelley was finally ready to join us. Turns out the snow and the fact that it was Tuesday kept most people away from the nightlife, but we still enjoyed ourselves at Mugshots (where we were the only customers) and Side Bar (where people were watching Lost. Seriously?)

But the big event of the night was waiting back by our hotel. One Austin's many famous music clubs, The Continental Club, was literally a stone's throw from our room. We felt obligated to check it out and besides, we wanted an authentic Austin music experience. It just so happened that my friend Heather's favorite musician Topaz was playing there that very night. We were pretty silly drunk by the time we showed up, but there was assuredly dancing and I think Topaz remembered Heather. That or he was being polite to our drunk asses.

Museum day, Stubbs, and 'In and Out of Love'
steps taken/miles walked: 27,146/15.1 MI

Wednesday we decided to return to the UT campus to mill around all of the museums we were denied access to on Monday. But first things first: lunch. Kelley had casually mentioned Torchy's Tacos the previous night, and I almost dismissed her as batty. We had passed it on our previous trip, and its strip mall location and cartoon logo made the snob in me chuckle at who would eat at such a place. It was across the street from Taco Bell! If that's their competition, than I'm sure there's plenty of authentic tex/mex out there I'd rather try. Thankfully I trusted Kel, because hands down, they were the best tacos I've ever had. No foolin', like boner-inducing good. I long for them even as I type this...

After our mutual tacogasm, it was off to the museums. First was the natural history one, where we saw dinosaurs and flying squirrels.

This was the BDGF indulging me again, and I thank her for it. We also learned that not all of Texas is bible thumpin' cretins like their former governor, as the whole third floor was about evolution. Apologies to the museum if I just inadvertently outed you and someone comes to shut you down tomorrow.

Next was LBJ's presidential library, followed by a movie exhibit at the Ransom Center and some art at the Blanton. The latter two didn't allow photography, but we saw cool stuff like Travis Bickel's coat and lots of pre-Renaissance representations of Jesus. Here's some photos of us traveling through history and in a 7/8ths scale of the Oval Office.

We had some drinks at the hotel before going to dinner at the legendary Stubbs BBQ. As we walked up to its front door we heard a thumping bass and roaring crowd coming from the general area of the restaurant, but couldn't figure out from exactly where even after we sat down to eat. Then the BDGF took 20 minutes to go to the bathroom and when she returned, explained why. She led me downstairs to where Stubb's giant outdoor amphitheater (and the ladies restrooms) were. I really wanted to see a show here, but judging from the music and crowd playing that night, I think it was best saved for a return trip.

After dinner it was time for our marquee show of the week - Michigan's own Brendan Benson. The BDGF is in love with Jack White, so this was a great proxy. The club was your typical sparsely decorated warehouse in a sketchy neighborhood, which suited me just fine. It also was Brendan's last show of the tour, so the band was super tight and screwed around during the encore with some Tom Petty and Superdrag covers. Faces, rocked.

Southern Comfort, sunshine, and America's Senior Black Corespondent

steps taken/miles walked: 16, 136/9.5 MI

Thursday was souvenir day, but not before the BDGF satisfied her craving for a childhood favorite - chicken fried steak. She'd been going on and on about it and was resolute that we quelch this desire toot suite. Luckily a famous southern comfort food restaurant was 3 blocks from our hotel. But it turns out that sometimes childhood experiences are best left dormant lest they be tarnished. The BDGF took about two bites before she wondered aloud "What was I thinking?" At least the Dr. Pepper hadn't changed. Afterwards we lounged in the sun for a bit to soak it up as we were approaching our last 24 hours in the South. We forgot our suits, but the water would have been well warm enough. Good ol' Texas...

After picking up some cowgirl boots and hat for Chloe and some T-shirts for me and Sid, we were on the prowl for some 512 IPA to bring back as thanks to those that took care of our Ann Arbor responsibilities while we were away. Our concierge assured us that the flagship Whole Foods downtown would carry it - he used to work there! So after a 2.5 mile hike, we found the biggest WF you ever saw. Guess what they didn't have? The guy stocking the beer shelves notified us that 512 doesn't bottle their beer - at all. So we left with some alternates and caught a cab to meet Kelley before our show at the comedy club. (Next time I travel with a growler.)

We headed north to Trudy's - home of the stuffed avocado (which apparently is to die for) and Mexican martinis - drinks so strong there is a two per customer limit. After gorging it was off to see The Daily Show's Larry Wilmore. We walked in to the sparsely populated club and there he was! The BDGF got a quick pic and we gushed over how much we enjoyed him and where had seen him before (BDGF at the actual TDS and me on his book tour at U of M). We watched the show, Larry killed, and then afterwards, there he was again, so Kelley got a pic. (Yes, his jacket is from the Super Bowl 8 years ago.)

The shuttle, the snow, and the capper

steps taken/miles walked: 7907/ 4.1 MI

Friday we had little time to take anything in. We woke up and had some mimosas as eye openers and packed up our things. The BDGF's high school friend benevolently offered to take us to the airport, saving us some hassle and making me really glad I paid for her dinner the previous night.

It's important to note here that we'd been hearing about a BBQ place called The Salt Lick all week. The catch was that the only one in Austin was inside the airport past security. The idea of airport food made us skeptical, but we had time to kill and empty gullets. As we were ordering lunch, I suggested we grab some sauce to take back with us; the BDGF said let's see if we like it first. The minute we finished eating, she went and bought four bottles. 'nuff said.

When we arrived back in Michigan we finally saw all of the snow we had been hearing so much about. After digging out the car we were off to dinner at the Motor City Casino. The BDGF's good friend is a high roller there, so we had a comped five star meal and the BDGF got an hour long massage to release all of the tension that returning to the cold and snow obviously gave her. We finally got back to A2 around midnight and promptly collapsed.

And that was that. The BDGF got to return home after too long of an absence and I got to finally live out some of my long held Austin dreams. Thanks Kelley, Tamitha, the collective bartenders of Austin and Jason and Al back home for looking after things while we enjoyed the food, the booze and the music.

People keep asking me what my favorite part was. I could easily say that it was just being around all of the clubs I'd spent years hearing about and imagining. But intrinsically, it was just getting to go away with my BDGF and come back more enamored with her than when I left. I always knew I'd love Austin, but getting to experience it with her was off the charts. I can't wait to do it again, be it Austin, Seattle or anywhere in between.

Posted 10:21am
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March 1st , 2010

Since you been gone...

Christ on a bike what a week! Well that was certainly one of the greatest vacations ever. Not that there was any doubt in my mind, but the BDGF is the best kind of travel companion - spontaneous, a fantastic good time, and willing to occasionally indulge me. Add in my friend Kelley's travel guide recommendations and her excellent proclivity for accompanying us to happy hour, and a better vacation has never been had. The full report will be up in a day or two, but for now you can see the facebook photo album and read my Yelp reviews. But it turns out that while I was enjoying the sun and all of Austin's amenities, the world kept turning around. Here's some things that occurred in our absence:

- The Hold Steady announced a new album! And it's coming in May! You should prep for the release by coming with us April 13th to see them in Cleveland. Not your thing? How about this new Nada Surf song and tour, or the announcement of new New Pornographers? That's what I thought.

- I was recently interviewed by my old newspaper, The Michigan Daily, in anticipation of 826 Michigan's upcoming Mustache-A-Thon. (Don't worry, I'm neither growing nor asking you for money this year.) However, it's a great cause, great article, and if you are so inclined, you should donate once the ball gets rolling.

- Due to poor scheduling, upon return from Austin I attended the Michigan Brewer's Guild Winter Beerfest. Obviously I wouldn't miss this for the world, but to be honest, I would've liked to spend Saturday recovering with the BDGF. As it were, I was forced to stand outside for six hours drinking the finest craft brews our great state has to offer. As per usual, we pregamed by drinking bad beer in the parking lot then heading in for more IPAs, stouts, and hefes you can shake a stick at. Despite the fact that my shoes had holes in them and my feet were wet all day, I enjoyed myself in the usual fashion. Afterwards (allowing for dinner and a generous nap) we hit downtown Grand Rapids and went to a bar where I enjoyed some traditional spirits and lots and lots of David Bowie. End the night with several "Barkley Boxes" from Taco Bell, and you've got yourself another year of Beerfest. Good times.

Posted 10:17am
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February 19th , 2010

The stars at night, are big and bright...

It's been a while since I've had a proper vacation. OK, that's not exactly fair. I've been to Arizona quite a bit the last couple of years. And while the initial drive out there was amazing and I always had fun in the desert, returning to the same place year after year doesn't exactly satiate one's wanderlust.

So when it became clear that the BDGF had a week off with no kids, the only question was where should we go. After bandying about several places that have warmer climates than southeast Michigan, we came to a quick consensus. The BDGF went to school in College Station and despite her drawl after two drinks, hasn't been back in fifteen years. I've been dying to go to Austin ever since I saw my first episode of Austin City Limits in 1989. Sun, music and mexican food? Sign us up.

So we'll be spending next week being outside as much as possible and drinking a lot of Shiner Bock. We also have tickets to see a Beatles tribute band play with a full orchestra, Brendan Benson and Larry Wilmore (BDGF's dad really wants us to check out the basement of the Alamo too, but we may struggle to fit that in). I've spent years hearing about places like Stubbs and Emos, so finally getting around to visiting them is a big deal for a music nerd like me. Super friend of the blog Kelley S. has promised to show us around a bit - or at least come drinking with us - so we're in good hands.

Needless to say the blog will be mostly dormant next week. I suggest we use this time apart to work on ourselves and really contemplate what it is we want. That and me avoiding getting my picture taken wearing a cowboy hat.

Posted 11:36am
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February 18th , 2010

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

- It's tax time! I finally got around to doing my taxes yesterday and guess who paid the federal government only $4 more than he needed to last year? This guy! True, it's always nice if you can pull a big return from the IRS, but that windfall comes with the knowledge that you basically gave the government an interest free loan over the course of the previous year. So yeah, nailed it within 4 bucks. Nice.

- Despite what your Bible may have told you about small but mighty kids with slingshots taking on giants, experience tells most of us, to quote Sean Connery, "You don't bring a knife to a gun fight." Enter Glenn Beck, the cry baby with a two cent head. First there's the errant folly of him making fun of Bill Nye on matters of science. But hey, Bill Nye isn't going to fire back at Beck. Who will? Enter Rachel Maddow. It was hubris to go after Nye, but sheer stupidity to call out Maddow. I mean, no, his viewers will never know about any of this, as they are unthinking drones, but still, somewhere his credibility is drooping.

- I love teachers. I don't think you can overstate their importance nor would I ever begrudge their compensation. But I hate teachers unions. They protect the worst of their lot and generally behave in ways that isn't in the best interest of students. The teachers at my high school went on strike my senior year and they generally behaved like spoiled assholes, so maybe I'm overly sensitive on this issue. In my mind, much like firefighters and policemen you are public servants, and striking isn't an option. That's why this superintendent is the latest King Shit of Fuck Mountain©. Nothing like calling a collective bluff.

- Clearing out the indie rock folder before I head to Austin: New Ted Leo, Cap'n Jazz reunited and it feels so good*, and the Vatican (THE VATICAN!) releases their list of best rock albums and I don't hate it. Go figure.

- For the last few weeks the BDGF's eldest daughter has been anxiously awaiting to find out if she got into Ann Arbor's premier public hippy high school, Community. It's one of those places that gives you unicorns jumping over rainbows when you do well and sad pandas when you do poorly instead of grades. Attendance is more 'encouraged' than 'required' and you can walk downtown for lunch for two hours as long as you express yourself while you do it. It's exactly the kind of non-structured environment that would have led to me spending most of the day in high school standing outside smoking cigarettes and reading the newspaper**. But I'm sure it will serve her much better, as she finally heard yesterday that she was one of the lucky applicants to get her number drawn! Congrats to her and her mother, couldn't be happier for you two.

* Lieberstein, we should so go to this.
** This is basically what I was doing anyway by senior year.

Posted 10:30am
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February 17th , 2010

Atheist Bible Stories

Hopefully by now you've seen the Drunk History series on Funny or Die. It may be my favorite thing on the internet and certainly is worth your time. It was Downtowner Jason who first turned me on to the series, and after I watched them for the first time, we lamented how few there were and that given that were made several years ago, we'd probably seen the last of this brilliant premise.

Which of course meant that we immediately pondered the idea of making our own. We know a few entertaining drunks that love to pontificate, so it'd be easy enough. But alas we never really gathered the necessary momentum to make it happen. But then I got an even better idea. A couple Sundays ago I was enjoying a lazy afternoon with my BDGF who was, point of fact, raised in an atheistic household. But of course being intelligent and well read, she's now without knowledge of biblical events. It turns out though, if you haven't had these stories drilled into your head as a child, sometimes the facts run together. Like did you know that Cain and Abel were Noah's sons? Or that Mary Magedelene was at the Last Supper?* If you didn't, you should talk to the BDGF.

She knows the basic facts, but they're fused together with pop culture misnomers and stories tend to get amalgamated together. If you have a working knowledge of these stories and find them silly already, you should really hear the BDGF tell them. But after considering putting these on tape, I decided that it might be too niche a market. The pious might think we're just poking fun of them. The apious might not have enough background to find the inaccuracies hilarious. So again, this probably won't go anywhere other than to endlessly entertain me, which is still pretty awesome.

But wait! Redemption lives! Funny or Die has a new tv show premiering on HBO this Friday at midnight. Guess what one of the segments is?!? Drunk History is back bitches! I can now go back to being lazy about creative endeavors and just basking in the glory of other's efforts. Hooray!

*She swears to have no knowledge of The Da Vinci Code and I for one, believe her.

Posted 10:30am
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February 16th , 2010

Drift apart in the night never know why and not know how

Every parent struggles from time to time with the choices their children make. And not even the "Please don't get in a car with someone who's been drinking" kind of choices either. We all occasionally want our kids to be little clones of ourselves. Yes, we all outwardly say and hopefully promote them figuring out who they are on their own (with our subtle guidance), but sometimes even not so secretly we want them to love the things we love. I wanted Sid to be a baseball player and instead he loves tennis. I'd rather he spent time drawing or creating instead on logging 5 hours a day playing online video games. Sure what I got is all kinds of awesome, it's just sometimes I wish he'd go to more Michigan football games with me.

But all of that is moot. None of it matters in the least because what I wanted more than anything is for Siddhartha to feel at least some of what I feel when it comes to music. It's well documented that I did whatever it took to foster a love of the RIGHT kind of music in my son, and now it appears that somewhere in the process a little of the performance bug wore off on him. Last night this happened:

Of course I couldn't be prouder. When it comes to apples and trees, this is the one that mattered more than anything to me, and apparently when he fell off the branch he rolled right back next to the trunk. Congratulations Sid - here's to a long career of this kind of fun and foolishness. I have no problem being upstaged by you each and every time.

- This also happened:

It's probably best there's no video of Jason and I's 14 minute rendition of Weezer's Pinkerton. It was meant to be a drunk and sloppy sing-a-long, and that's exactly what it was. Those are the kind of things that are best lived in the moment, and video would make it seem even less than what it was. I think the people in attendance had fun though, even if they were still talking about Sid.

Posted 1:00pm
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February 15th , 2010


I've been a groomsman more times than I can count. Twice I've been asked to be a best man. It's always an extreme honor. To me it's someone saying to you "This is one of the most important days of my life and I want you standing next to me." So I take it seriously. I don't force strippers on the groom at bachelor parties. I don't tell overly embarrassing stories during toasts. It's my job to help give them whatever they've built up in their mind for the day to be. I figure it's the least I can do when someone provides me with a four hour open bar.

As you may remember, recently two of my bestest friends and favorite people decided to get hitched. We're still all reeling from the excitement. But now that the adrenaline of the proposal is beginning to ramp down a bit, it's time for Ann Arbor's favorite newly engaged couple to get about the business of planning an actual wedding. While Jason and Amy are planning a small family-and-bridal-party-only wedding, the date is in August so things have to get moving. Thus begs the question, will I once again get the nod to stand up and be a witness to their wedded bliss? While I love Jason and Amy, truth be told I haven't known them that long. It's only in the last year that we've become close friends. So in my mind, I would be honored to be asked, but understood if I wasn't. Since I am dating Jason's sister, I was already in for the wedding via the + 1.

Last Thursday Dr. Walker stopped by my office to chat and informed me that Downtowner Amy had asked her to be a bridesmaid. Well of course! Now I've gone from kind of sort of wondering to kind of sort of expecting. It would be a little slap in the face to be the only Downtowner not standing up there. On Thursday nights Jason and Amy and I all head over to the BDGF's house, so I was expecting something; just not what actually happened.

Previous to Jason and Amy popping the question to me, Jason had to reassure with my BDGF that a.) we'll still be together come August and b.) if we're not, we can be adults and hold it together and not ruin their wedding. She gave him a thumbs up on both, so the stage was set. Turns out that I won't once again be donning the responsibilities of groomsmen. I've instead been asked to be the officiant at their ceremony. Without going into the irony of my getting somehow ordained to make this official, I couldn't be more honored. It's obviously a completely new experience for me. I know how to me a groomsmen and even best man, but master of ceremonies? How do I navigate this one? Will I sing a song? Tell jokes? Give praise and glory to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

Truth is I have no idea what to do. I'm trusting that they picked me for a reason and that they have an idea of what they want and will provide me with some direction. I mean, they know what they've gotten themselves into. Ironically, my biggest fear at the moment is falling back on religious dogma that I've endured all these years. Hopefully I can make it special and give them exactly what they want. That and stay sober long enough to make it through the vows. It's the least I can do.

Posted 1:45pm
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February 12th , 2010

Cuomo is for Closers

Perhaps this is premature, as it was an idea born in several bottles of wine and hubris. Honestly I have no idea if and how we can pull it off, but it's consuming my brain right now and it would be the coup de grace of my musical career were it to come to fruition, so it has to be attempted and thus talked about.

Last night I was hanging out with Downtowners Amy and Jason and somehow we started singing Weezer's "El Scorcho". After the joyous rendition, Downtowner Amy said "You guys should have played THAT for the Love Hangover." We agreed. Then we proceeded to sing several other songs (read: all of them) from Weezer's sublime and seminal album Pinkerton and we noted "We should have just played the whole damn thing!"

Well despite Jason and I's half ass guitar playing skills and DESPITE the fact that it is a mere 3 days away, you can guess what we decided. Jason and I will be closing The Love Hangover by playing Weezer's Pinkerton, in medley, sing-a-long fashion. This is of course contingent on us figuring out how to do that in 72 hours (half of which I will be in Chicago for), but really, once the idea was proffered, we had little choice but to make an attempt. 'Cause I can't even look in your eyes, without shakin', and I ain't fakin' - I'll bring home the turkey if you bring home the bacon.

Posted 10:29am
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February 11th , 2010

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

- Two days from now I'll be headed to Chicago to see one of my favorite musicians of all time - Davey von Bohlen and his band Maritime. That's Davey and I back in 2006 when we became BFFs. We haven't had a chance to see each other or talk or email since then, so I'm sure he is as excited to see me as I am to see him.

- Four days from now it's the premier performance of Tyler Brubaker and The Too Big to Fails at The Love Hangover (a benefit for 826 Michigan and HuRAI). Our drummer fell through, but we still should be able to provide some solid face rocking. Plus you don't want to miss my 14 year old's debut as a rock star. I couldn't be prouder, as it wasn't until I was 16 that I started drinking in bars.

- Ten days from now I will be on a plane headed for Austin, Texas. I'm excited for the music, the food, and an opportunity to make the town move up this list a spot or two by my mere presence.

- Forty Seven days from now: Oberon returns. 'nuff said.

- One hundred thirteen days from now my little brother is getting married. This seems like a long way away, but that's only because I'm not the one getting married. I'm excited for a lot reasons, mostly because I'm happy for Taggart. But it also doesn't exactly suck that he decided to get married in Hilton Head, South Carolina. There's nothing quite like a mandatory vacation, even if it means I have to dance in hog trough.

Posted 1:01pm
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February 10th , 2010

This Week in Indie Rock

- We here at are still dealing with the sad fact that Franz Nicolay has left The Hold Steady. But we are buoyed by the fact Craig and the remaining Steadiers have announced a spring tour. Cleveland anyone?

- Speaking of announcements, Bonaroo has announced their lineup for 2010. With so many bands, there's bound to be tons o' goodness, but any lineup that starts with "Dave Matthews Band" is a snoozefest. As an aside, last night on College Jeopardy, they asked a question that basically amounted to "What band had an album called Under the Table and Dreaming?" and NO ONE knew the answer. I felt old but strangely optimistic about the future of our country.

- And yes, I've buried the lead, because fuck Bonaroo, screw SXSW and punch Lollapalooza right in the junk - The Blowout is back! The world's greatest music festival's lineup has just been announced. Prepare to have your faces rocked, Hamtramck style.

- Remember the Strokes? They were pretty awesome and Is This It? would definitely make it into my top ten list of the last decade. Anyway, they are back in the studio attempting to once again save the soul of rock and roll.

- New music floating around in the ether: VW cover Rancid, plus new tunes from Josh Ritter and The Thermals. Enjoy.

- Finally, The White Stripes were a tad miffed that the Air Force used one of their songs as a recruiting tool, but I think we all would agree to get on board with this.

Posted 1:01pm
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February 9th , 2010

It's like being broken up with via txt message

While I literally haven't been there in months and know that I am far too old a human being to be hanging out at such places, this still felt like a stab in the back. I wanted one more night! After the thousands of hours and dollars I've spent in the place, I felt like they owed me that. One more chance to have some drunk boo butt to ask me to take her to Jimmy Johns. One more opportunity to see someone pull something off the wall and beat someone with it. One more game of flip cup, one last time to hear "Don't Stop Believin'". But alas, Mitch's Place unceremoniously shuttered its doors last night. And I had to read about it in The Daily! You couldn't have called? You couldn't have twittered that "Tonight is our last hurrah!" You couldn't have given me one last time of drinking copious amounts of alcohol all night, then as I ask the bartender what I owe him, have him shrug and go "Five bucks?" Then again maybe that's why you're closing.

- In defense of Republicans, here's an actual Fox analyst - backed up by his interviewer - defending the repeal of DADT. It might be the only sane thing I've ever seen on FNC. Because let's be honest, this is what we have come to expect.

- Part two: Meghan McCain goes on The View and takes up half my talking points from yesterday. If only I had a vagina and a father who ran for president, I could do the same thing.

- OK enough of that: let's go back to laughing at tea partiers.

Posted 10:47am
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February 8th , 2010

Mondays are for politickin'

- I've always kind of loved Al Franken. His brand of humor is custom built for snarky, over educated people such as myself. While that might not be universal, hatred of Comcast pretty much is. We all can agree that their customer service is awful and they force product you don't want down your throat and make you pay out the ass for it. So even if you don't especially care for Senator Franken, you should still be able to enjoy him reaming Comcast and NBC. Come for the video, stay for all the reasons Comcast buying NBC sucks for you - not that that fact is just inherently reprehensible.

- Who's the biggest douche bag in America this week? In a walk it's gotta be Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama. I'm sorry to say this because I know it not to be blanketly true, but Republicans are assholes. Please America, don't fall for a stupidly obstructionist agenda. Putting Republicans in power so they can throw around tax cuts isn't going to fix things. Until they give you a concrete idea about anything, you best just ignore them.

- Runner up goes to former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who basically gave a speech that said non-white people and the illiterate shouldn't be allowed to vote. You stay classy Republicans.

- Then there's America's empty headed sweetheart Sarah Palin. Nate Silver provides a nice summary of her bone headed assuredness, but how do trust a woman who calls for her "enemy's" head for saying something, and then kisses her friend's ass for saying the same thing? And honestly, she mounts any serious campaign in 2012 and you should all be ashamed of yourselves. I honestly can't allow myself to believe that it's a possibility and if it does happen, I swear I am leaving. I refuse to live in a country where "Professor-in-chief" is a put-down.

Posted 12:22am
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February 5th , 2010

Vox Populi

The irony is, this blog is basically an opinion column where I rant about lots of things of which I have a cursory knowledge. I try not to throw anyone under the bus that doesn't have it coming and when I make mistakes I try to apologize for them. But it goes without saying that I espouse a lot of opinions on this site and no one is going to agree with all of them. Still, I'm not the ass hat that Drew Sharp is.

Let's back up, I pulled a little bit of a Tarantino there and started in the middle. I care about newspapers. As I'm fond of saying, it's kind of the family business. Moeman has been doing it for over 50 years, I did it in college and I read several papers every day. So when I see newspapers, or more specifically 'journalists' being stupid or irresponsible, I call them on it. Once Angelique Chengalis of the Detroit News sent me a message through Doug Karsh to call her because I said she was an idiot on the internet (I did, it didn't go well for her). Another time I sent David Hackenberg of the Toledo Blade an angry email calling him a lazy hack. He emailed me back noting that he's known my dad for 50 years. Whoops.

In any case it never ceases to amaze me that these people actually read my incredulous rants much less take the time to respond. I must have forgotten that people pay attention when I sent an angry letter to the Detroit Free Press yesterday. I stopped reading the Freep a while ago. I think Mitch Albom is an dolt (largely due to something stupid he said about Star Wars 12 years ago, but that's neither here nor there) but he doesn't make me want to not read his newspaper. Drew Sharp is another story. Drew hates Michigan and does it in stupid, uninteresting ways. A ways back I decided that I'd had enough and decided to never read his newspaper again as long as he ways employed there. Life's too short to get enraged by the galactically stupid.

Life went on unabated. Then yesterday I saw this post on mgoblog and it came to me "Hey! I never told the Freep that I stopped reading their paper because of that fucktard Sharp. I should do that!" So I did:

From: tbaggervance
To: The Detroit Free Press
Subject: Drew Sharp

It's been so long now that I can't remember what pushed me over the edge, but after hearing about Drew Sharp's latest moronic piece of pseudo-journalism, I decided this only works if I tell you about it: I do not and will not read your paper as long as it employs Drew Sharp.

I'm 34, educated and read several newspapers and news sources daily. In fact, my father has been a sports writer for over 50 years, so I'm far from ignorant on the subject. The fact is that Drew Sharp is the worst kind of writer. Not that he's a bad writer - he is but that's forgivable. It's that he'll drag anyone through the mud for attention. It demeans the term journalism and it demeans your newspaper. I realize columnists who get attention are important - especially in this climate. But at what expense? Certainly by any measure Drew Sharp is far too high a price to suffer. And in at least one case, he's costing you a reader.

Appropriately indignant for taking 45 seconds to write something on the internet. Fifteen minutes later I got this back:

From: Gene Myers
To: tbaggervance
Subject: Re: Drew Sharp

TYLER: I hope we have not lost a reader. With a father as a sports writer, you know we need all the readers we can get in these difficult times.

You certainly do not need to like or agree or read what Drew has written.

My only points: His job is to offer his opinions, and I think in today's column he certainly did. He said with all the issues facings U-M right now, why would Coach Rodriguez take a chance on a player with this background? Yes, the player does not have convictions in the adult court system, and but why should Michigan - a school that has long prided itself on NOT taking problem recruits - take should a risk? The kid should be allowed to play college, but that doesn't mean Michigan has to accept him (and whatever baggage) to its team.

Thanks for listening. Hope you keep reading.
Gene Myers
Sports Editor
Detroit Free Press

I thought that was well thought out and nice. Very un-Drew Sharp like. So I wrote back:

From: tbaggervance
To: The Detroit Free Press
Subject: RE: Re: Drew Sharp

When you proffer it that way, it's a somewhat reasonable question to ask. However, I'll point you to a write up on mgoblog:
and ask is this the kind of journalist you want working for you?

It's one thing to analytically question a decision, but this was just another excuse for Mr. Sharp to Michigan bash (and also an innocent kid). Listen, I don't expect anything to come of this, but I did want you to know that I refuse to read your paper in any format solely because I can't stand the idea of contributing in any way to giving a journalistic cretin like Drew Sharp a forum to spray his ignorant ramblings.
Thanks for your time.

I don't know if any of that was remotely interesting, but I guess the point of the story is that if you speak up, people listen. Well newspaper people do anyway. At least if you call them idiot, hack or stupid. I guess when your industry is in the middle of its death knell, you've got time to respond.

Posted 11:28am
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February 4th , 2010

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

- To me there's no bigger no brainer way to stimulate our ailing economy than to tax and regulate marijuana. The evangelicals and beer companies will likely prevent this from happening nationally, but California may just be able to pull it off.

- My super hippy, super green friends the Jesuses had a post on their private blog the other day about the waste of junk mail. Since I can't just send you there, I'll point you to the following three sites that can help you to reduce the amount of useless shit in your snail mail:,, and

- John McCain is so afraid of gay people that I'm starting to think he doth protest too much. Colbert explains it better than I could. I mean seriously, that guy was almost our President. What a dottering idiot. I mean not Saxby Chambliss dumb, but close. "Alcohol use, adultery, fraternization, and body art."? How can the gays commit adultery if they can't get married?

- If you find yourself with 6 hours to kill, I highly recommend the documentary "The Staircase". I powered through it the other day when I was home sick, and I was completely engrossed in it. Watch it and then let's talk about whether or not he actually killed his wife.

- Perhaps not so innocuously making me happy: finally purchased plane tickets to head to Austin at the end of the month, Feb. 21-26. I'm looking forward to the weather and avoiding my BDGF getting a picture of me in a cowboy hat. I don't know how I'll fare in Texas. I'm told that Austin is a lot like Ann Arbor - a liberal enclave in a state that's not so much. That's a good thing, as the idea of Texas as a whole scares the shit out of me. I once visited my brother in Arkansas and he reminded me, a Neil Young fan, that "Southern man don't need him around anyhow." I'm not exactly sure what he was trying to tell me, but it served as warning. The BDGF hates Neil Young, so I'm sure she can use that to remind me to shut my mouth when I'm down there - because I'm not wearing boots and a giant belt buckle to blend in.

Posted 12:22am
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February 3rd , 2010

Tyler Brubaker and The Too Big to Fails

Perhaps you were reading the Ann Arbor Observer recently and saw this:

You probably thought "tbaggervance has opened his mouth again and is going to embarrass himself in public." You'd be right.

Yes, it's another 826 benefit! The Love Hangover is an annual concert featuring local musicians singing both pro and con love songs. About a month ago I was walking through a room somewhere and Downtowner Amy (826's Program Director) said "Are you going to play the Love Hangover this year?" I said "Sure" and here we are.

I originally thought I'd just pick an easy song or two and get up with my acoustic guitar and be done with it. But that would be too easy. A couple weeks ago the BDGF and I were hanging out with Sid and somehow we ended up with the guitar out and playing some songs for her. That's when I got the idea "Wouldn't it be fun if I could get Siddhartha to sing a song with me?" After getting permission from the Elbow Room and clearing it with Sid, we were now a duo.

Then I started to think about the songs I wanted to do and said to myself "Those would be a lot cooler with some funky base lines behind them." So I asked friend and former bandmate Dr. Steve to accompany me and he graciously and immediately said yes. Well now we had ourselves a sort-of band. If that was going to be the case, why not get another guitar player and drummer? I'm still working on that, but I'm all about turning this "Get up with your acoustic guitar and play a couple songs" gambit on its head and making it as unwieldy as possible, so wish me luck.

Oh, and I'd be remiss without noting our name is courtesy of long time friend and band name connoisseur Markie C. Tyler Brubaker and The Too Big to Fails. With a name like that, how could we possibly?

- Speaking of, last night 826 Michigan released it's 2nd annual Ominbus. has video. I'm working at the Robot Store tonight, you should come buy a copy.

Posted 11:02am
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February 2nd , 2010

Hey! It's him! That's the guy I voted for!

Sometime around the turn of the decade I was going back and forth with frequent blog commentator ljv about the Obama presidency and where we were at a year into the experiment. I'm not naive enough to have expected the rainbows and unicorns that conservative talking heads like to bandy about. However I'm also not made of stone. I wouldn't call myself a battered wife yet, but it did start to feel a little like I was having an affair with someone who kept promising to leave her husband, and I was falling for it despite all my friends screaming at me for letting me get walked all over.

Of course we're still in a better spot than we were for 8 years of W. I sleep better at night having someone smarter than me steering the ship, not someone who hands the wheel to his retarded friends who've never sailed before so he can go into his quarters and await the rapture. And I also realize the enormity of the situation he's in. Everything's broken including the government, which is supposed to be the mechanism to pull us out of the muck and the mire. So I can forgive missteps and I can be patient on things that aren't quite fixed yet. As I told ljv, I'm a tad despondent, but we could be sitting here a year from now with unemployment on the decline, the economy on the rise, some sort of health care reform and DADT repealed. I imagine I'd be pretty happy with that.

Of course I counter-argued myself by noting that none of that could happen, and I'd be forced to contemplate the fact that maybe a smart, rational, nuanced person can't lead in this day and age. Sobering. But I saw the SOTU and I was a little buoyed. Then I saw this and a flash came over me. It was campaign Obama! The guy I voted for! Most importantly, he sounded like a guy who might actually lead. That's been the stunning failure so far in mind. Time to grab the reigns and tell those fuckers to get behind you. I know the discretionary spending freeze is mostly show, but DADT is on the way out and I think he's resolute enough on health care to get something done. I'll hold on the hope that he can create change, because for the time being, he's all we've got. Besides, as I'm sure ljv would readily remind me, it's on me too, because that's the guy I voted for.

Posted 3:20pm
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January 29th , 2010

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Salinger...

When Kurt Vonnegut died I was appropriately sad. He still had a voice and things to say and he exercised it with a rare eloquence. To see something like that extinguished is cause for sorrow. I have a tough time being similarly morose over the death of J.D. Salinger. Don't get me wrong, I have copies of The Catcher in the Rye and Nine Stories and Franny and Zooey that are sufficiently tattered from me reading them year after year - sometimes doing so out of habit rather than need. Salinger had a voice that resonated but he stopped exercising his right to use it almost 50 years ago. That is to say he stopped doing so publicly. Rumors abound that there are piles of manuscripts at his place in New Hampshire going unread. There is something admirable about eschewing the limelight in our celebrity schlock culture, but right now my overwhelming thought is "Maybe we'll finally get to see some of what's been running through the man's head for half a century." I'm not holding my breath mind you, but at least there's hope. In a world full of phonies, that's rare.

- Read takes from the man himself, The NYT, The Onion, McSweeney's and a piece from 1999 in Salon that I somehow remember reading all those years ago and loving.

- In the wake of a do-nothing Senate, this map has taken the internet by storm. I like to say I'm from Detroit for sake of argument from time to time when traveling the country, so this would help that.

- For Dr. Walker: A to Z Bowie in photos.

- Coming as no surprise to yours truly, Michigan beer rules!

- Statshot: What are we sending to Haiti?

- Finally, start your weekend off with a bang: more Slave Leia bikini shots. May the force be with you.

Posted 10:31am
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January 28th , 2010

Presenting the former Reverend Dimmsdale

About a year ago I was out on the town with fellow former Naptowners the Baughmans and the StovRiggs and we were in the middle of a lengthy pub crawl that featured the usual blather of drunk talk. At some point we were talking about my love life and being the only non-married person around the question came up: Could you ever date someone that was married? As always, I tried to be as sincere and honest as possible.

While I won't purport to remember exactly what I said, it was something along the lines of the following: While I would never knowingly or soberly sleep with someone who is married, under the right circumstances, I'm not saying it couldn't happen (I would feel appropriately guilty.) However, I would never have a relationship with someone unless they are legally separated or in the process of getting a divorce. In short, I wouldn't want to be a homewrecker, but if the home is already sufficiently wrecked, I'm not going to sweat putting asunder God's covenant nor feel it necessary to wait for the ink to be dry on a divorce decree. That's between two other people and as long as I'm not a contributing factor, I'm not going to split hairs on the timing of things.

Little did I know that half a year later I'd find myself in such a scenario. When I met the BDGF she was still technically/legally married. But her 'husband' had moved to Oregon and divorce papers were filed. My moral compass says that's married in name only. So when the BDGF led me into that photobooth late last August, kissed me and told me "I think I'll keep you Tylah", my concerns were more of what her brother was going to say, not vengeful husbands.

Since then outside of some good Scarlet Letter jokes it hasn't been an issue. For me anyway. The BDGF has had to deal with the fact that she wasn't technically divorced and <GASP!> was happy. This leads to a lot of bitter emails and txt messages from your ex wherein you get called myriad names and wild accusations are bandied about like Jesse Ventura conspiracy theories. Maybe if I was forced to read about all the good times my ex was having while I was sitting on my hump being a miserable human being I'd call him a conceited narcissist and wife stealing drunk and wonder just how long all of this had been going on. Then again no one's forcing anyone to read anything. And I'm not delusional, so that was kind of a pointless exercise. Let's move on.

Anyway all these good times are coming to an end. The BDGF and her ex now have a signed, legally binding agreement and it's finally a done deal. I've joked for months now that once the divorce is final and the scandal is gone, the relationship would be over. The thrill would be lost, what's the point? But then I fell madly in love with my BDGF and now I don't think I can let her go. I guess we'll just have to find new ways to spice up the relationship. Ex-husbands and the rest of the world can read all about it right here at

Posted 12:13pm
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January 27th , 2010

What's making Baby Jesus Cry this week?

- Remember the super creepy Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin 'interview' where he all but masturbated right in front of her? <<shudder>> Well he opened with a quote from Thomas Jefferson and then went on to talk about how Jesus founded America. Guess what that full

quote was about? Shock, the emperor has no clothes.

- Wonder why Martha Coakley got her ass handed to her in Massachusetts? How about offering up gems like "Devout Catholics 'Probably shouldn't work in the emergency room" Even Baby J face palms at a quote like that. At least there's not a lot of Catholics in Boston...

- More evidence of liberal stupidity: Danny Glover blames the earthquake in Haiti on global warming. Baby J deems this only slightly less offensive than Pat Robertson opining on the subject.

- I want to sympathize with this guy because who gives a shit if you have a Bible on your desk, but he clearly shouldn't have been teaching science, much less at a public school. If my science teacher got up in class and told me "science is wrong" I'd slap him in the mouth.

- Texas is throwing its ten gallon hat back in the ring in the race for craziest school board in America. This time it's banning a children's author because he has the same name as a guy who wrote a book on Marxism. Oh! They also did this. You stay classy, Texas. To paraphrase Dr. Henry Jones, maybe you should try reading books instead of banning them.

- Baby Jesus loves his baby back baby back baby back.

- DANGER! Christwire wants you to know that 'Muslim entertainer' and 'Islamic advocate' Aziz Ansari is a danger to America. Baby J says he doesn't see what all the fuss is about over Parks and Recreation. (and that maybe thinly veiled racial slurs in his name aren't the best idea.)

Posted 10:22am
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January 26th , 2010

You're so vain, you probably think this blog is about you

conceited - con.ceit.ed [kuhn-see-tid]
adjective 1. having an excessively favorable opinion of one's abilities, appearance, etc.

narcissism - nar.cis.sism [nahr-suh-siz-em]
noun 1. inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.

Last night I got a call from a friend who had just broken up with the guy she was dating. She was distraught because the guy worked in web development and threatened to continue to read her very private blog and there was nothing she could do about it. She wanted to know if this was in fact true and what could she do about it. I gave her the requisite spiel about privacy on the internet (there is none) but that if someone wants to be a huge douche and 'spy' on something not meant for public consumption, my advice would be to turn a blind eye to it. Because A.) Fuck that person and B.) They can't stay interested for too long.

Of course that's easier said than done. Most people don't have the open door, warts and all policy we do here at This of course means it's super easy for my exes or, say, exes of current girlfriends to catch up on what's going on in my little corner of the world. Now I've said it a 1,000 times if I've said it once - I'm amazed anyone reads this stuff, much less the almost 40,000 (40,000!*) page requests we had in December. (Thanks team!)

Maybe all that traffic has gone to my head, because recently** I was referred to (through an intermediary) as a conceited narcissist. Now this person, whom I've never met, is shall we say automatically inclined to dislike me due to extenuating circumstances. But if I didn't know me, was predisposed to not like me, and went by the dictionary definition of the terms, I'd suppose I was a conceited narcissist.

I mean, it's all a question of degree. What's 'excessively favorable'? I think we should all have favorable opinions of ourselves, otherwise we're depressed in a manner that's worse than seasonal affective disorder. So what if we get over the top with it once in a while? And what's 'inordinate'? It was Socrates that said 'An unexamined life is not worth living.' So what if we do it in a way that's a tad 'look at me' and a lot hyperbolic? We just do it like that because it's more interesting that way.

So I can handle the barbs. It would be folly to think there's not negativity on the internet and that some of it wouldn't be directed at me. Frankly in this case, I think he could have done better. I mean, everyone leaves a trail on the internet you know, and this person had 284 page requests in December alone. You'd think such a humble voyeur would have more of a scathing criticism. Then again, maybe that's just me looking for attention again. Awe shucks, will I ever learn?

* this does not mean 40,000 people visited the blog nor even that it was visited 40,000 times (it's complicated), but it's a big impressive number and probably a personal best, so thanks guys.

** yesterday.

Posted 10:22am
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January 25th , 2010

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

Three years ago we here at had a few things that we were excited about. Not big things, but stuff that made us smile enough that we deemed them share-worthy. Not sure how to group them all together, our loquacious editor in chief came up with the wordiest, most awkward title that he could think of that was still grammatically correct, and 5 innocuous things... was born. We've now posted 435 things over the last 3 years that made us smile, giggle or just generally happy. That's a lot of innocuity. We hope you've enjoyed a few of them yourself. In celebration of making it through our terrible twos, we present to you five innocuous pictures from the weekend:

I finally granted the BDGF's wish and got her a scarlet letter.

Sid and I did a little impromptu performing Friday night.

This is my greatest discovery of the last year: drunk brunch.

Sid feigns embarrassment, but we know he loves the Downtowners.

Dr. Walker is an object lesson for how bad the Julie parts are of the movie Julie and Julia.

It was a weekend of awesome. And now for posterity (and tradition), here's our five favorite innocuous things from the last year:

July 23rd:
We list movies numerically

August 11th:
Unicorn Lovers Club

October 14th:
The slow, inevitable decline (that has yet to come, fwiw)

November 12th:
A kid stands up for the gays

December 11th: Thank you for being a friend

That's it. Surely there's more to come though, so we'll keep being happy and keep telling you about it, because we were taught to share.

Posted 11:28am
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January 22nd , 2010

Your Indie Rock Weekend (and I'm back to being indefatigable)

First things first: I took a shot at Olbermann yesterday and so did Jon Stewart last night. That puts me in good company I suppose, but I feel guilty because this is dead on unless something is done. People love to tell liberals to shut up about W because he's no longer the President, but I said it when he was appointed and will continue to say it everytime he bends America over: John Roberts is going to continue to fuck this country for a long, long time. Congrats, all you fuck holes who voted a retarded cowboy who thinks you're going to hell into office.

- Ted Leo is publishing all kinds of cool stuff via Twitter (including covers of Sade and Concrete Blonde!) in advance of his forthcoming opus The Brutalist Bricks.

- Death Cab ramp up their whiny teenager cred by covering "Don't You Forget About Me."

- Just when 2010's album release slate couldn't get any better, New New Pornographers. Hooray!

- In sad news, The Hold Steady are now down one super sweet ass mustache.

- I don't know about the voracity of this chart, but it's fun nevertheless for huge Beatles nerds such as myself.

- Finally, regular readers of the blogy blog know the constant vigilance I employed in order to get my son appropriately indoctrinated in the ways of indie rock. I did such a good job that he's been to more Lollapaloozas than I have. The BDGF's girls, however, were not barraged with the Spoons, Radioheads and Vampire Weekends of the world. I'm not judging or placing blame mind you; maybe I got lucky. Maybe it's easier with boys. I'm just saying that now I know all the words and dance moves to something called "Hoedown Throwdown." (Yes, there's video, no you won't ever see it). I worked so hard to avoid this nightmare scenario, and here I am embroiled in it. My powers are strong, but I don't think my immersion therapy techniques are going to turn around a 14 year old girl. I might have a shot at the younger one though. Does anyone want to help me choreograph some dance moves to "Written in Reverse"?

Posted 10:48am
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January 21st , 2010

He'll kill ya ta death, Rock

It's been a disheartening couple of days politically and I find all of it exhausting. Brown wins Massachusetts, SCOTUS rolls back corporate campaign spending limits, health care seems dead, and Olbermann went full Glenn Beck, and Krugman is giving up. Add all of that to the fact that I've had a shite morning and I don't feel like writing. At some point you get beat up enough you finally listen to your coach in the corner telling you to stay down.

Before I go, two reminders that not everything is bleak and not all republicans are all bad all of the time. One: Scott Brown seems douche-y yes, but he's more liberal than you might think. Two:

That's Cindy McCain posing for gay marriage. I sometimes spend too much time decrying the differences. Today I feel the need to celebrate our commonalities. That or give up.

Posted 12:50pm
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January 20th , 2010

How dare you?

I once dated a girl in an off again/on again sort of way that, as you would imagine, was completely self-destructive, counterproductive and an awful way to have a relationship. Especially when that person tries to send you messages by making out with bartenders and sleeping in the same bed with other guys (even though they just talked all night - like that was the dude's motivation.) Sure she says she was doing it to make you jealous so you would realize what you were missing, but it really just ends in you going out and doing the same thing. By the time the break up takes for good, you're just that much more bitter for all the transgressions.

I know it's a specious analogy, but that's how I felt watching Conan last night. Liberstein sent me a txt that said something like "Quentin and Spoon on Coco! Yay!" All I could think was "How dare you?!?" Yes, that is my favorite band and favorite director on the same episode, but do you really think that's going to make all of this easier? Because it's not. I guess the more apt analogy would be when someone breaks up with you and then tries to have sex with you one more time. Come to think of it, that same girl did that to me too. More than once actually. I guess I won't be shocked if tonight's guests are Tom Brady and Death Cab.

- Speaking of how dare you?, I don't know who I am more pissed at this morning, the DNC or the voters of Massachusetts. The best and worst thing about allying oneself with the Democratic party is the nuance. Yes, you get to hold two conflicting thoughts in your head at the same time, but that means that getting all these idiosyncratic personalities on the same page at the same time is neigh on impossible. So how dare you Massachusetts? I know you HAVE health care reform, but you really put us in a bind. But I think more importantly, how dare you Democrats? Where is your leadership? Where is your cohesion? Someone step up and everyone else get behind that person and let's do some stuff that has teeth. If you're paying attention, you know that time is probably running out to make that happen.

Posted 10:22am
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January 19th , 2010

Enter the boozehound

We here at love ourselves some booze. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "Booze, the cause of and solution to all of life's problems." It makes food taste better, the air smell sweeter and music more danceable. We not so secretly hold to the theory that we do everything better after a couple of pints. Whether it's tossing darts or expounding on our geopolitical theories, everything's better with booze.

Our public relations staff is hard at work at raising our Q rating and generally getting the word out about That means new efficient ways of accessing content here on the site (like our RSS feed!) and steering the citizens of the internet to our front door.

That's why we were all tickled pink when we heard about an exciting development recently via Downtowner Amy. Ann Arbor's favorite new fiancé emailed to inform us that if you google "Ann Arbor Happy Hour," the second (SECOND!)suggestion just happens to be our proprietor and publisher's Yelp list of A2's Best Happy Hours.

As you can imagine our headquarters are a-buzz with the news. Our interns are hard at work attempting to turn this coup into something big, even if their motivation likely lies in the hopes that they'll someday get paid (hey - they're interns, they should be happy with the warm case of Natty Light we toss into their shared cubicle at the first of every month.)

Anyway, we're off to find G. Gordon Liddy's phone number so we can Watergate those bastards over at It's either that or a drinking contest, and the latter honestly seems less fair.

- The staff had their annual Golden Globes party Sunday (featuring leg wrasslin'!) so it was a slow start to the week yesterday. Thankfully we got to sleep in a bit as we had scheduled a field trip to see Gwen Ifill speak in honor of MLK Day. Mmmmm, PBS political correspondents...

- I've always claimed more Irish heritage than I probably have a right to, but this makes me wonder if I am actually Scottish.

- Here's an interesting article about being green with your drinking. Although the crux of it you already know - drink Bells. Only 70 days until the return of Oberon!

Posted 10:41am
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January 18th , 2010

Lies, deceit, engagement.

It was only a month ago that the Downtowners duped me for weeks by changing the license plate holder on my car. I was talking to Downtowner Amy about it and she was telling me how hard it was not to tell me, and how much she couldn't wait for me to discover the rouse so that we could all be in on the joke. "Just wait," I told her. "Someday soon we'll all conspire to keep you in the dark for weeks and the shoe will be on the other foot." "I can't wait!" she said. Downtowner Amy, welcome to your turn.

Downtowner Amy and Downtowner Jason (finally) got engaged on Saturday. I was proud to be part of a large team who worked tirelessly, lied through their teeth, and generally schemed and scammed to make this happen in an awesome, surprising, generally just "Awwwwwwwww" way.

The planning started months ago, but the weekend went something like this: It started with a very gay shopping trip on Friday. Jason and I had to purchase fabric, frames and other girlie stuff that few heterosexual males know anything about. It was a struggle. At one point, after wandering Joann Fabric looking for some "sparkly bullshit", Jason finally stopped to ask a clerk. She asked him "Do you know where are feather boas are? I was walking up and from five feet behind him I raised my hand and said "Oh yeah, I do." And even though I only knew that information because I had just seen said boas (I SWEAR) I realized just how gay that must have sounded. Good times.

But we eventually had everything we (thought we) needed. We went back to work and then to happy hour and then it was time to descend on the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair to execute phase one. We began to tear down our award winning holiday window and started to create this:

Robot proposal! Jason photoshoped pictures of Amybot and JJ Gearbot into scenes from their life. Then we added fabric and flowers and the actual bots, JJ down on his knee asking for Amybot's robot hand in marriage. It only took the two of us, the BDGF and Liberstein until 3:30am to finish. We were a tad exhausted, but proud of what we had accomplished.

We grabbed a quick 4 hours sleep and then it was time for phase two. Jason got Dr. Walker to invite them to brunch, giving them an impetus to head downtown. While all that was going down, we were quickly preparing the BDGF's house for a post-proposal surprise party. My big contribution to that (other than $50 worth of champagne) was these:

The BDGF wanted Jason and Amy as robots, so I drew half a dozen of these to hang around the house. You can see the rest (along with a few other pics) on Facebook. Anyway, Amy said yes, and then they came over to celebrate with 30 or 40 of their closest friends. We drank, we laughed, we relayed all of the stories of all the lies we've all had to tell leading up to that morning. And then we crashed in utter exhaustion.

So congrats Amy and Jason; two of my favorite people in the entire world who are as perfect a fit for each other as you're ever likely to come across. It was an incredible thing of which to be a small part. The bar of duping has now been set impossibly high.

- Read all about these lovely people and their lovely ways on

Posted 2:11pm
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January 15th , 2010

Sometimes I park in handicap spaces, while handicap people make handicap faces

Someone recently described me as "sure he can be a huge asshole, but he's also a super nice guy." I like to think that's stunningly accurate since that's how I see myself - the asshole with a heart of gold. But you know, don't take my word for it; form your own opinion. I only note it because I spent some time this morning reading about what a huge asshole I am.

A few weeks ago I got a call from Ayesha. I don't want to disclose the specifics of what was a very personal conversation, but for lack of a better term, let's say we buried the hatchet. After we broke up this summer, we pretty much pulled a cease and desist on each other's lives. Facebook defriending, twitter blocking, website denial. Well, on her end anyway - we all know is and always will be an open society.

So that was it. Minus one awkward phone call early in September, it was a solid four months or so of least favored nation status. Which, let's be honest, was appropriate and necessary. Ayesha and I's relationship was as intense as it was roller coastery, so letting all of that pent up whatever drain away was likely the right thing to do.

But Ayesha will always be one of my favorite people, so I was thrilled when she called (even more so that it wasn't to yell at me.) Since then, we've slowly began to reconnect as friends. Facebook refriending, twitter unblocking, emailing - you know, all the ways you're friends with someone from 2,000 miles away.

Speaking of, Ayesha recently had to recuperate from some minor surgery, so she txted me to ask where her 'Get Well Media' was. Since I'm a super nice guy, I quickly shipped her out some new tunes and season four of Dexter. It finally made it to the desert yesterday, so last night she sent me a txt thanking me. We txted back and forth a little bit and at one point she mentioned her blog, so I noted that she should unlock that last door and let me read it again. Boy was she reticent. I got a message asking "You won't hold anything against me?" I told her I was a big boy and that I could handle it. It's a good thing I was being honest.

Turns out Ayesha was pretty upset with me. Can't say I blame her, but some of it - some of it was hard to read. She was sad and pissed and I was the cause of it - you can imagine what it said. But that was then. She's happy now and has a new lefty Atheist BF, and we all know how I feel about the BDGF. We'll just keep her away from Ayesha's blog - don't want any spoilers about what an asshole I'm really capable of being.

Posted 12:02pm
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January 14th , 2010

It's douche bag week!

Ted Olson, Jay Leno - apparently it's douche bag week here at Let's wrap this up and put a big bow on the week in douche:

- Pat Robertson is a racist, homophobic douche bag, well known for doing and saying douche-y things. This week he claimed Haiti was cursed because of a pact they made with the devil. I shit you not.

- Limbaugh may have completely lost it. Obama is using Haiti to get in good with the dark skinned people? He shouldn't have responded so quickly? Question: How big of a douche bag does one have to be to use tens of thousands of people dying as an opportunity to take political potshots at one's enemy? Answer: See Rush Limbaugh.

- O'Reilly is a douche bag on a bully pulpit. He shouts down anyone who disagrees with him and his arguments are... specious to say the least. Like this week when he declared that American's weren't thrilled with Obama's response to terrorism. He then cited a poll showing people... approved? 57% of them anyway. To 29% disapproved? Douche. THEN someone mentions the poll later, and he says "I don't believe that for a second." Look at the balls on this douche bag!

- This really belongs in a "What's making Baby Jesus Cry this Week?" post, but let's just point at the entire state of Alabama and cry "Douche!" I fear for us as a nation, I really do.

- Surprise! Lieberman is a douche. Of the highest order.

- The brain power in this room could power a lightbulb for 10 seconds. Listen to Beck read his diary entry about his crush on Palin RIGHT TO HER FACE. It's more awkward than walking in on your parents having sex. What a couple of douche bags.

- Finally, just to show you that all in the world is not douche-y, cellphone donations raise over $2 million for Haiti (txt "Haiti" to the number 90999) and Google stands up to censorship in China. Take hope where you can get it folks.

Posted 10:43am
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January 13th , 2010

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

I was a huge Letterman fan growing up. My favorite thing about Friday nights was trying to stave off sleep and stay up long enough to see the top ten list. The lateness of the show was appealing in itself. Who stays up to watch TV at 12:30? College students and drunks. I desperately wanted to be both. Dave was allowed to take chances, be edgy. He could fill 20 minutes of show time by throwing things off of the roof of a building. That's good times.

Then when I was in high school Carson left The Tonight Show and the champions of bland in charge of NBC gave their flagship late night program to Johnny Milquetoast, aka Jay Leno. His bits were hackneyed. His interviewing style was to get out of the way so the actor sitting next to him could succinctly tell you exactly what he was plugging. While every TV critic would agree with the above at the time, middling is safe and that's where they went.

By the time I was a drunk and a college student, Conan held the esoteric 12:30 slot at NBC. But it turns out that 12 year old me was wrong, and I was generally actually doing things at 12:30 during that time and I didn't spend a lot of time watching Late Night. Of course over time I got to see bits like the Masturbating Bear and Pimp Bot, staring contests and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and discerned that Conan was a worth successor to Dave.

As you've probably heard, NBC is at it again. After their colossal fuck up of putting Leno on at 10pm, their solution is to (again) piss on everyone who has any taste whatsoever, and stick their collective johnson right up Conan's poop shoot. Thankfully, Conan is 100% class and cares about things bigger than bottom lines. One can only hope that even those millions of folks who like middling, bland late night entertainment will have had enough this time and watch Letterman at 11:30. In the meantime, watching Conan has never been more fun.

- Jimmy Kimmel joins Team Conan. Them's brass balls people.

Posted 10:57am
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January 12th , 2010

It is unconstitutional.

I've always considered Ted Olson to be a first class douche. If for no other reason than he was the lead attorney in Bush v. Gore, and thus stole an election for a retarded cowboy and - albeit unknowingly - fucked over the entire country for eight goddamn years. I mean, sure he worked for the American Spectator and was involved in the Paula Jones case because he had a huge hard on for Bill Clinton - of course those are valid reasons to hate the guy with a white hot intensity of a thousand suns as well. But that first thing is enough for me to not want to even cross the street to pee in his mouth. Just sayin'.

But a few months back he and his opponent in Bush v. Gore together brought a suit in California challenging the validity of Proposition 8. Now I will admit that my first thought was 'too soon,' as this case, with these two heavyweights behind it, is clearly designed to end up in front of SCOTUS, and a defeat there would just set the whole movement back, and this whole process is disheartening enough already. AND it could easily be argued that a douche like Olson is doing this for no other reason than the publicity of the thing, knowing that the case is just another feather in his douchey ass-cap.

Then again, what if it's not a stunt? What if we win? So what if we lose? The ultimate establishment of gay marriage rests on all of the old indoctrinated fuck holes laying down and dying. The hearts and minds of people under 30 are made up, so it's all a matter of time. But this could be a slingshot that speeds things up and more importantly, gives a huge chunk of American citizens their constitutionally mandated civil rights. Regardless of motivation, it'd go a long way to redeeming Ted Olson. If we win, I dare say I'd even cross the street to shake his hand. After peeing in his mouth.

- You can read Mr. Olson's opening statement here. I recommend it. It's impassioned but legally so, which is probably the right tact.

- Wrapping up the week in Spoon and VW: Spoon's Transference is streaming at NPR, Vampire Weekend play MTV's Unplugged. Yeah, I didn't know they still had that either.

Posted 10:41am
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January 11th , 2010

Happy Binary Palindrome Day!

- Today is 011110. Find comfort in that.

- As you may have noticed or guessed, instead of using blogger or some other easy cookie cutter site that manages your blog for you, we here at do everything the old fashioned way - by hand. It started out as a way to be quirky and maintain control of what we do around here. As we've grown, it's turned into a giant pain in the ass.

But as we fear change, we're probably not going to move anything anytime soon. The biggest disadvantage for our dear readers is the firewall issue. Back in 1995 when I first published anything at this address, I called it something like "T's XXX Sex Farm." Despite having no XXX sexual content on my site, my address ended up on some banned site lists, and if you try and get to from a library or from work where they frown upon you surfing porn, you probably can't. Sorry. Someday we'll fix that. But what do we offer you instead? RSS support! It's right over there under my blurry mug. Now your RSS reader will tell you when I have a new post, so you can stop checking the site 500 times a day. I'll keep the email list going too, but fair warning, it may get phased out, because RSS is really where it's at.

- What else happened this weekend? Half-engagements, door repair, mimosas and bacon, and perhaps most importantly*, the internet heard my cry and the new Spoon album hit the ether. Between it and the new Vampire Weekend, it's like xmas came late.

* not really, all of the aforementioned are way more important.

Posted 10:43am
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January 8th , 2010

Your Indie Rock Weekend

- Vampire Weekend's sophomore effort hits record shelves next Tuesday, but if you know what you're doing it's out there in the ether already, as well as streaming on Myspace. Contra obviously isn't the blissful gem that their eponymous debut was, but it's still a welcome addition to the VW canon. Peep them playing the album's brightest standout, "Cousins" on Letterman the other night.

- Spoon's next album Transference isn't quite floating around the internet yet (despite it's Jan. 19th release date. COME ON!) But you can read all about how super terrific awesome they are in the New York fuckin' Times.

- As if 2010 weren't rad enough, Radiohead is in the studio!

- Hey! Did you hear? Sound (YAAAAWWWWWWWN). Excuse me. Soundgard (YAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWNNNNNNN). Pardon. Soundgarden is reuniting. Zzzzzzzzz.

- Speaking of no longer relevant 90's rockers who desperately still wish they were, Billy Corgan calls his egomaniacal reign over his once popular band that drove everyone of them away screaming a mistake. No Shit. Talking about it will get you in the news Billy, but it doesn't mean that if James, Jimmy and Darcy were still around, you'd be King Shit. Oh, and speaking of crazy mistakes that won't make you relevant or popular, stop sticking your penis in Jessica Simpson. Yup, you read that correctly.

- Tours! Lot's of cool bands are going on tour over the next few months, including Nada Surf, Vampire Weekend, Wilco and Ted Leo. I thought I hit the jackpot when I noticed that Nada Surf and Vampire Weekend were playing on back to back nights in Toronto. Road trip! Unfortunately its on a Monday and Tuesday. Lame. Ah well, VW at the Riviera in Chicago it is then. And I really hope the BDGF is up for Maritime at the Beat Kitchen the day before Valentines. She's been dating me for a while, she at least won't be surprised.

Posted 10:49am
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January 7th , 2010

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Hey! My ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend is a gigantic atheist and even has a blog about it. Check out the The New Atheist to see what's making the Baby J cry every day. Ironically, me linking to the ex's new beau shows a maturity that the Christ Child would really admire.

- If you think this is bad, imagine what the actual Jesus had to go through. I got pretty good growing up and masturbating without noise, mess and with as little movement as possible, but I didn't have the pressure of my Sainted Virgin Mother in the next room, or my dad being able to see everything I do where ever I am at all times. Then again, Teen Jesus was probably just coming into his superpowers, so I imagine he'd try some of them out on his penis. I know I would.

- This is an actual headline on MTV: Billy Corgan Wonders Why Rock Music Doesn't Talk About God. Asks the man who once compared the world to a vampire. He must not remember the AC/DC classic "Let There Be Rock". Maybe now that Billy has alienated all of his former Pumpkins he can grab the lads from Stryper and fill the God-Rock hole that the breakup of Creed left in the universe.

- I think I actually heard an audible "FUCK!" come out of heaven as this was published. I know it's hard for you kids who've been marinating in dogma your whole life to wrap your heads around it, but evolution by natural selection is science fact. If you threw away your indoctrination and thought/studied it at all, we could end the debate and move on to something that's actually not settled, like which Spoon album is the best (I say Kill the Moonlight).

Posted 2:06pm
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January 6th , 2010

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

- For the last 9 years I've run a little pool where my friends and I pick the outcome of all of the college bowl games. Just a little trifle to make all that football watching a tad more interesting. This year, not only did I get super out prognosticated by my BDGF, but this is an exchange between the winner of the pool and his GF:

So yeah - I got beat by my GF by her picking teams based on people she knew from the state the college was in, and we all got beat by a guy who didn't know what sport he was betting on. Congrats Samf.

- Due to a dearth of choices, the family business(es) for the Brubakers are education and the Newspaper biz. Out of respect for my parents I've tried to dabble in both over the years. They kind of intersect when I volunteer for 826, so here's our founder Dave Eggers talking about newspapers. The circle is now complete.

- About two and a half years ago, I drove Ayesha across the country to her new home in the desert. As keeping a laptop charged and running on the road is cumbersome, I needed a low tech solution to take notes as we flew down the highway, so I could report all of our adventures back to you, dear readers. Anyway, enter the Moleskine. It's been a part of my life ever since. The BDGF just bought me my fourth one to start filling, so exciting times. Here's a whole new line of content specific Moleskines for you (meaning me) to nerd out on.

- Want some stuff to get excited about on the television? NPH sings on HIMYM and here's an 8 minute recap of what's happened so far on Lost. They kissed. Sad.

- So over the break was the fourth annual Mittenfest, where a bunch of musicians and other smart creative people put on a four day concert to benefit 826 Michigan. I still managed to get Mittenfisted, even though I only got to go to 2 of the 4 nights. But I digress, the thing to take away from all of this is that we raised $12,000! Boike recently said to me "So, it sounds a lot like 826 is an excuse for you and your friends to get drunk at fundraisers and if it benefits kids, well then that's cool too." You say that like it's a bad thing...

Posted 11:41am
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January 5th , 2010

Chuck's Dinner Party or The Perils of Injun Incest

Most people are far more embarrassed and have far less tolerance for their family's eccentricities and peccadilloes than the outside world deem appropriate. The truth is that we've seen the act and been barraged with their foibles so many countless times that we assume that others are just as tired of the antics as we are.

Of course more often than not the exact opposite is true. What we find hackneyed and annoying can be entertaining to fresh ears. It's easy to forget that everyone hasn't heard your dad's story about the tollbooth 1,000 times and maybe - just maybe - if you don't know it word for word, it's more entertaining than you give it credit for.

I got to spend a little time with the BDGF's parents over the holiday. I've spent maybe 20 hours now in the same room as her dad Chuck, and it's an educated guess and not hyperbole to say he's spent about 16 of those hours directly engaged in conversation with me.

Chuck is a profoundly curious guy. I've been inundated with questions about technology. From the history of machine language to relational databases to how to fix his laptop - you name it, we've covered it. He also loves music. We gotten in depth on how the personalities of the Beatles are reflected in their songwriting, and how the physical structure of individual instruments define the players understanding of music as a whole. Good times.

But the real twinkle in Chuck's eye comes when these two loves intersect. I first endeared myself by showing him how to record all the songs he loves on youtube and convert them into mp3s. You'd think I'd invented the internet.

And then there's Chuck's existing mp3 collection. Several years back he paid a DJ $20 to copy the 20,000 mp3s he had on his hard drive. Chuck is very proud of his collection. He beams about it. He exports his song lists into databases so he can sort them and print them out. He was ecstatic that I loved mp3s too, and even more so that I only had about 18,000 in my collection.

He wanted to know what I had and how many of each. Do I have Loren Green's "Ringo"? What do you mean I've never heard "Son Don't Go Near the Indians"? How is it even possible that I don't have the original cast recording of Oklahoma!? In his great benevolence Chuck insisted that I copy all of his mp3s to round out my collection. I was honored.

I like Chuck. He's curious and inquisitive and seems generally interested in what I have to say. Yes, things can go a little long. Yes, they get tangential. Of course it can be difficult to get a word in from time to time and no, I'm not overly interested in the accordion or how politics is like a screw factory. But hey, it's still all fresh and new and I haven't heard all the theories and stories even once yet, much less ad naseum for my entire life. Besides, I'm wicked smitten with his daughter. That's worth smiling through some old youtube clips of Lawrence Welk, right?

Posted 11:41am
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January 4th , 2010

Pure class

There's an old adage about how you spend New Years Eve is going to be how you spend the rest of the year. It's pretty much bullshit, as it would mean 90% of us would spend our year in a drunken stupor (yes, I'm calling bullshit knowing full well that in my specific case, it is gospel truth). However, if we generalize our NYE's outings to be predictors of where we're headed or even some sort of evaluation of where we're at, then clearly I am rolling.

These two things happened at the Elbow Room on New Years Eve. They both illustrate the class of the evening:

- During a rolling blackout, SOMEONE walked into the tiny, crowded bathroom and noticing it was full said "Hey, you guys aren't going to make me pee my pants, are ya?" and proceeded to pee in the sink.

- During the champagne toast at midnight, SOMEONE downed their glass like a shot, and then flippantly tossed the glass across the room, nailing someone in the head with it.

Despite what you are probably thinking, only one of the above incidents was perpetrated by yours truly.

So yeah, good times. The whole break was fairly amazing. It's been argued that the BDGF and I are on an extended honeymoon due to the fact that we both have kids, hence we aren't spending every night together (absence and fondness and whatnot). Through hap and circumstance and a little careful planning, we've had the opposite of that over the break, in that we spent most of the last fortnight together. I'm happy to report that after the immersion it still feels pretty much like a honeymoon. Welcome 2010. I can't wait to see what's next.

Posted 11:55am
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