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September 30th , 2010

We are so good at roadtrips

It all started with a desperate, naive fan. In 2006, a friend of a friend was looking to trade her 2 tickets to Michigan AT Notre Dame for any two tickets for Iowa AT Michigan. Before you could say Lou Holtz what? Boike and I had two seats for what turned out to be a 47-21 beat down in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. You add that kind of karma to our penchant for heading out of town to visit microbreweries, and a tradition was born.

After Notre Dame we hit Illinois and Iowa*. Tomorrow we head to Bloomington, IN and Indiana University. For perhaps the first time since 2006 the team has a real aura of hope; and for the first time since that wondrous year we've rented a house on campus as our lodgings for the weekend. While the bar for these trips is set impossibly high, 6 thirty somethings rolling into a tiny hamlet loaded with growlers full of Darkhorse beer and staying in an apartment in the student ghetto has - well let's call it potential. Pray for our souls, livers and Denard Robinson's knee.

- Speaking of college girls, turns out frosh gain less if their roommate is Weis-ian. It also make you look hotter when the two of you go to the bar together.

* Purdue was sandwiched in there, but I couldn't make that one so it is thusly omitted.

Posted 11:15am
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September 29th , 2010

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- With all apologies to the devout among you (and to Baby J) this should surprise no one. Us heathens are generally the fallen - those who've questioned and searched and walked away of our own volition. And that - as opposed to blind faith and being taught that "that's the way it is" - is generally going to lead in greater understanding, if not believing. Indoctrination works, but should be left for ensuring your children cheer for your alma matter.

- While we all expect an uptick now that I am available for weddings, bar mitzvahs and brises, weddings are at a 100 year low. Ironically I feel like the BDGF and I are at the forefront of this movement. Still, you want to save the marriage industry, I know some people who would love to throw some FABULOUS betrothals.

- Baby J had a sister?

- It's banned books week, so to quote Henry Jones Sr., let's try reading books instead of burning them. Even though the Bible - what with its sodomy, stonings and slavery, really isn't for children.

- I've never understood a lot of conservative positions when they come under the scrutiny of turning the other cheek and whatever you do to the least of my people, but can anyone untangle the logic of Latino = Gay = Un-American = Obama? That's what I thought.

- Unfortunately, the devil now has representation in the highest levels of the Michigan Student Assembly. Somehow, one of Michigan's Assistant Attorneys General is going after a gay student body president for being "Satan's representative on the student assembly." But it isn't because he's gay, it's because he is a "proponent of the radical homosexual agenda." As always, the only people worried about radical homo agendas are those that are worried that they could easily be 'turned'. Or as my buddy Bill used to say, methinks he doth protest too much.

- Finally, everyone during their teenage years has needed someone at some point to sit down and put their arm around them and tell them "it gets better." No one more so than Billy Lucas, a 15 year old Indiana boy who recently hanged himself because of the constant bullying he received over being gay. So when advice columnist Dan Savage heard about Billy, he started the "It gets better project" on youtube. And while Assistant Attorneys General may always be homophobic, it really does get better. Hopefully the next small town kid getting pushed around for being different hears that.

Posted 11:09am
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September 28th , 2010

This week in indie rock

- Number one with a bullet on your what to listen to this week list: Sufjan Stevens latest (and first since 2005's Illinoise) opus The Age of Adz. It's streaming in its entirety over at NPR and on first listen, it's as dreamy and quirky as I want it to be.

- Besting Sufjan in the where have you been category - Cake, releasing this week their first new single in 6 years. It's as Cake-y as Sufjan's album is Sufjan-y.

- Better still, Superchunk just dropped Majesty Shredding, their first full length since 2001. It rocks in a wildly appropriate and enjoyable late 90's kind of way. Here they are live on Fallon.

- For those who like Bill Simmons, Chuck Klosterman, the Sklar Brothers, John Fogarty and the general intersection of music and sports, here's a new Minnesota Twins anthem with lyrics and vocals by favorite son Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.

- As long as we're on TV appearances - yup, Vampire Weekend are officially courting stay at home moms by playing Ellen. This does not mean you can't like them anymore, but you get absolutely no credit for doing so.

- The best most exciting casting in rock/movie crossover since The Beatles in Walk Hard: Sascha Baron Cohen as Freddie Mercury. Can anybody find me...

- For Christa: here's some photos of Dan and Pat of The Black Keys.

- Finally - I'm not generally big on reissues (outside of those Beatle ones last year) but this super-deluxe Pinkerton looks awesome. Sure I kind of hate having to pay for an album a third time, but as long as the Blinkerton tour comes within driving distance, I promise to do so willingly.

Posted 3:34pm
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September 27th , 2010

Picture pages

I decided that this year I would get my picture taken with everyone who came out to celebrate my birthday. So with apologies for both dark lighting and those who came to the tailgate only, these are my friends:

-Also, I was serenaded by many spectacular people this weekend (and the annoying cowbell guy at the game) but thanks to Baughman, the topper was a happy birthday from the men's glee club at the tailgate:

Until next year...

Posted 1:59pm
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September 23rd , 2010

This shit would be really interesting if we weren't in the middle of it

Last night I finished the book Game Change, which is about the 2008 presidential campaign. It deals with the ins and outs of what went down 2+ years ago, and how every candidate's spouse is generally a pain in the ass. It's a captivating account of the process, and an interesting measuring stick of where we've come in retrospect of where we thought we were headed at the time. Bottom line - Obama is what we always knew him to be (despite rose-colored glasses) and Sarah Palin can never, under any circumstances, be the leader of the free world.*

Looking back on recent history is an interesting exercise, which of course is doubly pertinent for me as I turn 35 today. Last night the BDGF asked me if I was who I thought I'd be at 35. It's one of those rote questions we asked on birthdays, as societal norms tell us we are supposed to take stock during these arbitrary yardsticks in the passage of time.

My immediate response was to ask her "Well, who are you asking?" The 15 year old me would find it completely normal to have 3(ish) kids and live in a house, whereas the 30 year old version of myself would have laughed at the prospect. Of course given the details of the situation, 30 year old tbaggervance would have said "That makes sense," and the one without a drivers license would have said "No fucking way." (He grew up in Napoleon, give him a break on the cursing and close mindedness.) Of course all permutations of me would be impressed with how many albums I own and how smokin' hot my girlfriend is, so there's that.

The only issue I had with Game Change was its schmaltzy ending. Hillary goes to work for Barack after all the strife and turmoil of the campaign, putting a convenient bow on the narrative. Of course, I do see its necessity. Conventions of storytelling have there place, and if you're not going to continue on with White House transition teams and the rise of Glenn Beck, it was as good a place as any to cut it off. So I suppose if the structures of having a birthday insist that I take stock of things and assess the overall situation, I can unequivocally say this: I'm 35 and I've never been happier. I have a loving family, amazing friends and I'm proud of what I accomplish on a daily basis. I honestly can't imagine a more fulfilling life. Now if the President can get the economy on track, end DADT and keep another half dozen campaign promises, we'll all have that neat little bow on things.

* I can't stress this enough

- tbaggervance.com would also like to wish a happy birthday to John Coltrane, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Ani DiFranco, Karl Pilkington, Jason Alexander, Mike Germann and Augustus Caesar. You are all in good company - mine.

Posted 10:08am
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September 22nd , 2010

Exiting the target demographic

Stadium
courtesy the lovely and talented L. Zwica

There's something in me that wants to spend the day filling out forms. Tomorrow advertisers, retailers and the people who decide to keep making Michael Bay movies will no longer care what I think. It's my last day in the coveted 18-34 demographic, thus the end of my youth as I know it.

I could easily lament the power that the powers that be bestow upon a group of people who spend their time participating in group think and generally trying to blend in, but I get it. It's about brand loyalty. It's the knowledge that by the time you're in your mid to late 30's, you've settled down. You spend your days in routines - buying and watching the same things over and over again. Your lifestyle doesn't allow for newness and change - certainly not in the way that people in their 20's change loyalties faster than a 2am drunk chick looking for the guy with the nicest car to take her drunk butt home.

Last night the BDGF and I went to Detroit to see Tokyo Police Club. On a Tuesday. Was there drinking? Yes. Did we get home on Wednesday morning. Technically. Were we the oldest people there? Well if it's close enough for you to wonder... but probably not. My point is that while most people our age were home watching Glee we were getting our faces melted by a bunch of kids in their twenties, letting the sweet cacophony of rock and roll wash over us. So while I've seemingly started to conform to whatever I'm supposed to be at 35 with the wife, house, kids etc., I am not a number. Cram that form up your poop shoot.

- Of course Mssr. Glenn Beck sees the Rally to Restore Sanity as a progressive plot to get the young people to vote with the "labor unions". Thankfully I booked my tickets before I exited that target demo so that I can go have my frontal lobe wiped by ACORN and the AFL-CIO. And even more thankfully, I'm not yet in Fox News' target demo of septuagenarian and white as typing paper.

- Today is Bill Murray's birthday! I can only hope to be half as cool when I'm 60. Here's a little known story about a young, pre-fame Carl Spackler.

Posted 10:48am
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September 21st , 2010

Tales from the nanny state.

- Late last week Michigan's premier sports blog (mgoblog) posted that they had received a letter asking them to stop selling any player related merchandise - most specifically Denard Robinson t-shirts. This is one of those moral gray areas that you'll be hard pressed to find anyone taking a hard line stance on. Yes, people are making money off of someone else's exploits. But the U is also doing that by selling jerseys with their number on it. And at the end of the day, if these kids aren't allowed by the NCAA to profit off themselves, what does it hurt if some entrepreneurs do it? It all is basically showing support for the program, no? Anyway, the issue I had with mgoblog post is that he basically called for jihad against all other entities doing the same thing. Not only is that a whiny jackass move, it's antithetical of what I consider to be a certain internet/blogging aesthetic. If you get busted for downloading mp3s, are you going to turn in everyone else you know who's doing it? Well, as I am wont to do, I wrote a letter:

to: mgoblog@gmail.com
from: tbaggervance
subject: The t-shirt thing

Hey Brian, I don't get into the comments thing, but I'm a daily reader of the blog, more than once have purchased an mgoshirt, and my friends and I sold you tickets to the @ Ill game a couple years ago and I sat next to you. Which is neither here nor there, other than to say I'm a fan and wanted to say something, this being my forum to do so.

So... srsly? "take pictures of those stupid t-shirt stands... They deserve pain, too." What a shite attitude. I understand frustration that they're making cash off some of your ideas and you don't think they're as clever as you are, but if you think that you should be able to sell these shirts, then why demonize those guys? I'm just saying, what a petty crying game to ostensibly say "If I can't do this, then no one can, and I'm going to see to it. I mean, they're stupid and derivative and the U comes after ME?!?" Ugh. It reeks of corporate bullshit rather than happy blogger community.

I do love the site and your writing, but man did that strike me as pissy and leave a bad taste in my mouth. Just my two cents, as someone who thinks you are generally erudite and above the fray.
Go Blue,
-T

He wrote back "Because they stole a bunch of shirt designs? You don't think that's worthy of scorn?" Scorn, yes. But A. nobody likes a tattle tale and B. You're pissed because they stole the shirts where you quoted Simpson's catch phrases? It's a little pot/kettle/black don't you think?

- The Ann Arbor City council finally passed a ban on putting couches on your front porch. Hooray! Now no drunk college kid will ever die from... having... a couch... on their porch. I'm sorry that kid died in a fire where "there's a good trail of evidence to suggest an upholstered porch couch accelerated the fire." but come ON. Putting those couches inside is gonna fix this problem that doesn't exist? This is more about the fact that Burns Park people don't like to look at nasty couches on porches as they walk their dogs at night. That and punishing off campus houses because some kid died tragically. I used to go to parties in college where we used charcoal grills INDOORS and I'm not even in favor of banning that stupidity. Can they say anything about couches on your front lawn? Because that's where I suggest everyone puts their porch couches this weekend.

- The A2 powers that be are also undertaking "aggressive panhandling" downtown. Listen, I don't like being asked for cash every night by the same four people, but it's not exactly "aggressive" when someone says "Excuse me sir.." I say "sorry" and then they go away, that's not exactly b-e-a-g-g, r-e-s-s-s-i-v-e.

Posted 11:05am
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September 17th , 2010

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

Ed. note: Hey everybody! I apparently wrote this on friday and forgot to post it. Your loss is my gain is your gain, as you get to read it now without me having to write it again. Spoiler alert for the final paragraph - you bet your ass we booked this trip yesterday:

TDS

- Ah football season! The games! The beer! The gambling! All three are going swimmingly so far, and with a little luck we should get through the month fat, drunk and wealthy. Of course more football means more Tom Brady, in all his dreamy goodness. Here's mgoblue.com's definitive guide to Tom Brady's hair. Srsly.

- The other night we went to capsule night at the oldest fake daughter's hippy school. She attends one of those granola high schools where attendance is more of a suggestion than requirement and instead of grades you get "Rainbow Unicorn!"s or "Sad Panda :( "s. So guess which on of these was an actual quote from her "math" teacher:

1. Every day we get up and stand in a circle to play a game.
2. Yeah, you'll notice some of our books lying around. I suppose it's OK for a math book. I don't believe in math books.
3. What we do here is talk about thinking. Geometry is just a game we play along the way.

If you said "All three?" you'd be correct. It was all I could do not to slap that guy in the face. And just to confirm that he wasn't joking, when the eldest pseudo came home yesterday and I asked her what they did in maths, she said "We walked around like cats." I hope she can still add fractions by the end of the year. On the plus side, I totally want to audit her lit class. That guy was so awesome I almost answered one of his questions during our little session. Then I remembered I'm supposed to be a curmudgeon sitting there with my arms crossed waiting to get out of there. That was close.

- It's official people: Blinkerton is happening. I will move heaven and earth to see the Pinkerton night. Who's with me?

- Rolling Stone recently released its list of the Top 25 Record Stores in the country. Of course Encore is on it.

- Finally, last night this got announced. If you think the BDGF and I are going to miss it, you've got another thing coming. I've always wanted to rally on the Washington Mall for something I believed in passionately, and what better cause than this? We may fly, we may drive, but no matter how we get there, you should join us to help return the sanity that once made this country great.

Posted 10:44am
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September 16th , 2010

What's making Baby Jesus cry this weeK? Christine O'Donnell edition.

If you haven't had the pleasure yet, let me introduce you to Christine O'Donnell. She makes Palin look liberal and Angle look sane. And to hear her tell it, she's got the power of Jesus on her side.

- Let's start with the most prominent silliness, and perhaps the one that's the largest affront to my personal way of life: she's anti-masturbation. And vocal about it! Now you and I know that those are clearly the words of:

a.) a religious kook
b.) someone who has never masturbated or
c.) a liar.

The jury is out.

- I'm not enough of a biblical scholar to say what Jesus felt about the separation of church and state, but one thing is clear to O'Donnell: you can legislate morality. I'm assuming she wants to get to decide whose morality we legislate towards. I vote for mine.

- Perhaps the most delicious part of this whack job is that she's dividing the right. Rove knows she's an idiot and has no chance of winning (thus hurting the Republicans, as a sane person would have won in Delaware in a walk). That has the super crazies (Limbaugh, Palin, Hannity) apoplectic. This of course has me giggling uncontrollably. Listen, I'd much rather have a competent GOP checking the Dems and their inability to do most anything, but I'll take this for now.

- Certainly O'Donnell is using the Tea Party as her flaming chariot that she plans to ride in on and bring her brand of good ol' fashioned Jesus back to the masses, just as God intended. Sure she parrots the pseudo-populist anti-government rants that are so popular with the Fox News set, but make no mistake that she's just a 2000-era Rovian evangelical. Oh the irony...

- Finally, since blessed are the poor, we offer you a simple explanation of the Bush-era tax cuts debate. If anyone reading this falls into those top two brackets, I'm sorry, but suck it up. Blessed are the meek too you know.

Posted 12:22pm
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September 15th , 2010

This week in indie rock.

- Well hipsters, the new Weezer album dropped yesterday, which makes them omnipresent in the indie rock landscape. After their last three albums, it's easy to dismiss a new Weezer album out of hand because who needs the heartache of another unfulfilled promise? It's obvious that Rivers went into a shell after he wore his heart on his sleeve for 1996's Pinkerton and never quite came out again. Now he seems content to churn out middling post-punk power pop and fuck with his fans by naming his albums things like Ratitude and putting Jorge Garcia on their covers. Well, after hearing over and over again that their latest opus is somewhere between "Their best album since Pinkerton!" to "Not embarrassing." I decided to check it out. It's certainly their best album since Maladroit, but it's hard to accurately judge any effort when the bar has been lowered to below ground. Listen for yourself at their myspace page. I might go as far as to say I like most of it, but lets face it, I'm only buying a ticket to a Weezer concert if they do that thing where they play Pinkerton in its entirety.

- Speaking of Weezer, here's an AV Club interview with Rivers, and quite appropriately, the Thermals covering "My Name is Jonas."

- Remember the mini-mormon feud from last week? Well in my research I found out that the Osmonds were once out of their mind on god knows what. This is my happening and it freaks me out!

- Here's the Flaming Lips doing the Black Cab Sessions. Am I the only one that desperately wants Wayne Coyne to host a children's program?

- Jack White: Inventor.

- Finally, thanks Michigan, for being the state that books a New Pornographers show and then cancels it because, well, people might think you're promoting pornography. It's not like their called the Baby Rapers (dibs, btw.)

Posted 11:00am
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September 14th , 2010

Def Leppard's drummer only had one arm.

Last night for about 10 minutes, this man was the bane of my existence:

one armed man

Knowing the answer to a trivia question is satisfying. To be able to knowingly lean over to your team scribe and whisper a factoid that you unequivocally know to be true is a tiny accomplishment that you can pat yourself on the back over. That's of course assuming you don't blurt it out ASAP to one up someone else on the team whom you know also has the answer at their disposal. Even better is when you have the answer and sit back a second and watch everyone else reach into the annals of their brains to try and pluck the info from under some rock behind their high school locker combination, and then right before they come up with it, confidently say it in a calm, soothing voice. Damn I am a smug son of a bitch.

But the best is when you know the answer but you can't make your mouth say it. Last night the question was "Who is the drummer for Def Leppard?" Shit. Of course I know that. I wore out more than one copy of Hysteria back in the day. I purposefully styled my hair in junior high like Joe Elliot for Christ's sake.

hairJoe

It's not my proudest moment, but for my suffering I should at least be able to recall the goddamn name of the drummer. Guitar player Phil Collen? Sure I could remember his name, but not the fucking drummer. I toiled, rattling off other answers to other questions as they came but still occupying the majority of my processing power trying to come up with that one armed bastard's name.

Luckily, I was not alone. I sat there and mumbled names under my breath like a mental patient trying to trigger some sense memory when I looked at Stov and he said "Wasn't there a Rick?" Immediately my hair began to stand on end and I could feel the air tingle with electricity like just before a storm comes crashing in around you. My mouth started to form sounds without my brain's consent. My eyes widened and I started to say "Aaaaaaaaaaa..." when dawn broke in Stov's gray matter and he screamed "Allen!"

We high fived and I collapsed into my seat having achieved victory. It wasn't an arrogant "I knew it before you!" moment, nor a condescending "I can't believe you didn't know that." one. Truth be told, that exact moment was the only time in the rest of whatever days I have on this planet that I'll ever need that bit of trivia ever again. And of course it wasn't really my brain that coughed it up. But those moments of collective reasoning that bear fruit are the reason I love going to trivia. That and acting like a smug, self-important jackass.

Posted 2:32pm
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September 13th , 2010

The story of the Son-in-live, P O G O, and on the 64th day, they rested.

- Friday night was Jason and Amy's Ann Arbor reception to celebrate their recent wedded bliss, thus ending a near nine month odyssey of windows, parties and ceremonies. The event obviously fell to form of great people eating delicious food, consuming better booze and celebrating two spectacular people. The new part: I got to meet several of the BDGF's parents' friends, and each time was introduced as the son-in-live. Let's be honest, we can all think of worse things she could have said.

- Saturday we debuted this:

clubhouse

We had planned on doing this out of doors to allow for maximum viewing area and angles, but the weather didn't cooperate, so this was plan B. Luckily the garage was relatively clean and organized, and most of the women were happy to watch the game inside on a much smaller TV. We were also fortunate to have almost an entire leftover keg (of Oberon!) from J + A's reception the night before. Combine that with John's hubris of staying "If we win today, I'm going to ride that pogo stick," and then add Denard Robinson's 502 yard performance, and you get this. Here's to never growing up all the way.

- The BDGF made me promise (after much negotiation) to sleep until at LEAST 10:45 on Sunday. Given the state the house was in and how she knows that looms over my head, I managed to sneak out around 10:30. But after some quick clean up, we managed a day of doing next to nothing. We laid on the couch. We watched football. We drank more Oberon (that damn keg refuses to die.) After several months of largely busting our butts in home improvement, we felt that we had earned it. And Christ on a bike did it feel good.

Posted 10:55am
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September 10th , 2010

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

-Last night was Mysterious Al's birthday. We had a little surprise party.

Al

I'm not sure why Jen brought silly string, but luckily the people working there on Monday nights are different than were there last night, because we made a mess and they were not happy with us. I'd hate to have to show up to trivia Monday apologizing.

- There's pandering political ads and then there's this. I don't know one of this guy's positions but I'd vote for him. If he doesn't win in a walk then Wisconsinites are dead inside (something we've all suspected).

- As with every pro-gay ruling that comes down the pike, I desperately want someone to explain what this means exactly, but it's hooray in any case I suppose.

- It is really beginning to appear that rain is unavoidable tomorrow, thus putting a huge damper on the unveiling of the Chandler Backyard Jumbotron. Rest assured that the festivities will go on rain or shine and we'll figure something out should the wet come, but man if the weatherman could be really wrong this time, I'd appreciate it, because tomorrow is going to be awesome. Go Blue.

- Finally, tonight we celebrate (again) the nuptials of Jason and Amy Sumersquale. I think a couple of kegs of Oberon and a few cases of wine at Cobblestone are fitting capper to the months of festivities that this union has produced. And I'm sure we'll continue to celebrate these two down the road, because they are awesome and celebrating rules, but tomorrow morning the focus goes with laser guided accuracy to Kat and Mysterious Al. That ought to take the heat off who's going to get engaged next for at least six months or so (from everyone but the BDGF's mother anyway.)

Posted 10:25am
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September 9th , 2010

You'll get nothing and like it.

Sorry folks, but I'm at a loss for words today. Not for any specific reason mind you, things are great - I just don't have my pontification skills ready at the moment. Yesterday was uneventful and the next few days are going to be jam packed, so I'm going to take this moment to breathe. It's funny, because I was just talking to the BDGF the other night about how I've dabbled in every creative endeavor short of mime in my life, but blogging has easily been the most sustained and consistent. That's of course still true and will remain so for the foreseeable future, but I don't have it today. So move along, nothing to see here. Come back tomorrow and regale you with some stupid story or an angry screed about how Glenn Beck is a shithead.

Toodles,
-tbaggervance

Posted 11:02am
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September 8th , 2010

Irony is hard to convey in 144 characters.

One of twitter's greatest super powers is its ability to elicit response from your followers when you pose them a direct question. Take for example when Ann Arbor's favorite newlywife, Mrs. Amy Sumersquale, posed this query:

twitter

Since I have implicitly signed the social contract of the internet, I replied:

twitter

OK, it's not great comedy, but it made me giggle. Now not surprisingly, Tweeters like @BellsBrewery, @SlowsBBQ and @vodkatwits have started following my tweets over the past couple years, because I talk about their products. A lot. So it makes sense that we have tweet reciprocity with each other. But guess what I got in my inbox after my last tweet?

Mormons

I'm being followed by mormons! As to not waste this golden opportunity, I'll be sending out one (maybe more) tweet a day about the mormons until they stop tailing me. Here's today's:

underpants

So if you want to get in on this hot mormon action, leave tweet suggestions in the comments. Or just write your suggestions in an unknown language on some gold plates, and I'll place them in the bottom of a hat and translate them with my seer stones. Either way...

- I also got a follow request the other day from a Denver Brubaker. I immediately ignored it since I figured it was another bot or some lonely sad sack in Pennsylvania Dutch country looking for his family tree. But low and behold he's a cartoonist from Ann Arbor! And he's doing a workshop at the AADL. I should probably meet this guy, since we're the same age, huge nerds, and could be kin.

Posted 10:30am
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September 7th , 2010

The best of all possible worlds.

I'm not sure who's credited with first saying that it's the journey, not the destination, but I've always thought whomever that person is, they could suck it. I know it was Tom Petty who said the waiting is the hardest part, and he wrote "American Girl", so who am I to argue?

This weekend was the culmination of a lot of waiting, and I say this without a sense of irony nor any sort of wink to Dr. Pangloss, but it was the best of all possible worlds.

Pangloss

The photo on the right* should be self-explanatory. The promise of Rich Rodriguez came to fruition Saturday in the form of Denard Robinson. It was everything that we we had hoped for and more, and it was glorious.

On the left, well it might not mean much to most of you but that's the BDGF's garage. This is the only before picture I can readily find:

Old Garage

And that doesn't do justice to the trash heap that it was. The project was 95% the BDGF's hard work. She scraped and sanded and powerwashed that bitch all summer, and even though this was her baby, to sit and stare at it now feels like a great yoke has been lifted. And damn is it sharp to boot.

I realize that Michigan was 4-0 last year before utterly collapsing; that the garage still has gaps in the siding and rotting wood in places. Basically that sitting here and feeling satiated could be ultimately as hollow as Glen Beck's head. But this feels different. Next weekend we're going to put a movie screen on the side of that garage and watch Michigan take on Notre Dame. If the garage doesn't fall down and Michigan manages to look as good as they did this past Saturday well... the waiting is the hardest part.

*stolen from Michigan Exposures.

Posted 12:54pm
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September 3rd , 2010

Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. As I sit on the precipice of another Michigan football season, it's time for a mental health check.

The last two years have been brutal. Flashes of brilliance can buoy you enough to bring hope for next season when you're 8-4, but even beating Notre Dame seems like a distant memory when you end the season 5-7 and have exactly 3 Big Ten wins over the last two years.

Since the term "must-win" and sink or swim, do or die analogies are both overwrought and over used in sports, let's say that the program is at a crossroads. The Rich Rodriguez experiment has up to now been a failure. Everything that could have gone wrong has, and the results have been below what anyone assumed would be worst care scenario. Yet here we are yet again, to get it the ol' college try. Literally.

Call me mentally ill but I'm optimistic. I have to be. I love college football with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, and that means I want to enjoy it. I'm tired of losing and doing so in such a mind numbingly frustrating way that the games aren't even fun to watch. I'm tired of speculating what the possibilities are for next season - in late September. I don't want to speculate about the job security of Rich Rod anymore.

The bottom line is that I want Michigan to win. It's just more fun. Moreover, I don't want to walk into the stadium ever again thinking that we don't even have a puncher's chance to win. I want to drink post tailgate in celebration and not misery. Repeating yourself and expecting different results may be insanity in problem solving, but in sports that's called practice. And it makes perfect. I'll settle for something far short of that.

- Here's destroyer of worlds Lamar Woodley pumping up some kids for the BTN.

- Tomorrow Michigan Stadium opens with all of its fancy new renovations and us in our new seats. I'm a little too busy worrying about our secondary to think about such things, but maybe you can enjoy it.

- Michigan and Ohio State aren't in the same division in the new Big Ten realignment. With the game guaranteed to be at the end of the season, I'll take it.

- Speaking of tOSU, yes, they've had more grid iron success than Michigan in the last few years, but take heed Michiganders, they're still Ohio. Jesus Christ on a cracker how I ever survived 18 years there is a mystery.

- Finally, if you don't know about the man leading the team out on the field tomorrow, I defy you to read this and not tear up. Impossible is nothing people. Go Blue.

Posted 10:13am
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September 2nd , 2010

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

- Sometimes the song of the summer comes in late August, as Cee Lo's "Fuck You" has. You can also listen to the new Thermals album in its entirety over at NPR.

- Speaking of the Thermals, somebody over at the Majestic Theater complex in Detroit sure woke the fuck up. Upcoming shows at one of Metro Detroit's finest concert venues include said Thermals, Tokyo Police Club, Brendan Benson, Josh Ritter and Greg Dulli. This amount of concert goodness requires a trip to their box office for surcharge free tickets, so if you want to partake, be sure to let me know.

- Siddhartha's undefeated HS tennis streak is over as he lost a doubles match 2-8 the other day. What makes me happy was the way he handled it. He was playing against another school's #3 varsity doubles team, with a partner he'd never played with before (and who frankly, sucked at the game of tennis). He didn't make excuses, found positives in his performance, and neither said negative things about his teammate nor the opposition. The week before he missed a shot and dropped his racquet on the ground and stared at it quizzically. He was trying to be cute and all, but I told him after the game that if he ever pulled that shit again, I'd shove his racquet up his ass and break it off. So we're learning sportsmanship.

- I think it was the Jesuses who turned me onto the iPhone game Angry Birds, and I couldn't be more grateful. If I play a game on my iPhone, it's generally solitaire, scrabble, or trivial pursuit - but Angry Birds is a-fucking-ddicting. Why they're making a movie about it though, is beyond me.

- Finally, things are finally starting to take shape over at the house on Chandler. After months of scraping, painting, window installation, room finishing and massive amounts of dirt hauling, we are in final stages of it at least not looking like the place is a giant construction project. Of course there are miles to go before we sleep and plenty of new projects screaming to be attended to, but the progress we've made is both noticeable and satisfying. Now that football season is here, I think we've earned a bit of a break.

Posted 10:33am
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September 1st , 2010

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? Totally gay edition

- We all know that Jesus brought a message of peace and love, unless that love exists between people who have identical genitalia. As such, his - what I'm assuming is official - website christwire.org gives you 9 signs that your husband might be gay. Warning to the BDGF - I'm ironic around my friends and prone to "sudden, heavy drinking." Keep an eye on my behavior...

- Is it just me or does the Pope look fabulous these days?

- I can only assume that the ludicrous misconception that gay=pedophile gets repeated so often is that it somehow excuses all that child rape that the Catholic church silently condones? I guess playing fast and loose with the facts becomes second nature when you've got God on your side, but come on, let's not obfuscate what we mean when we say Jesus loves the little children.

- I'm pretty sure Baby J was no economist, but outlawing gay marriage will improve the economy? Have you been to a gay wedding? Making gay marriage legal would explode the cake, floral, tuxedo and general accoutrement industries.

- Finally, with my new role as Reverend, I've come to realize that with great power comes great responsibility. This minister faces (church) trial for having the audacity to marry gay people. I'd like to say, for the record, that if you are homosexual and wish to spend the rest of your life with your partner, that I would gay marry the shit out of you. By the power vested in me by the internet, I now pronounce you husband and husband. Or wife and wife.

Posted 11:04am
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August 31st , 2010

I'm gonna live forever.

Ever since I was a child, I've suspected that I might be immortal. This idea hit its peak with the release of Unbreakable, when I doubled down on the theory noting the kinship I'd always felt with Bruce Willis. Certainly my actions over the years verify if nothing else my belief in this postulate, as I routinely participate in the stupid and risky behavior of a teenager.

Well hello sweet, sweet verification and redemption. This study shows that those teetotalers who don't drink at all have a higher mortality rate than those of us who drink a lot. Now hold on to your butts because here comes the science: if we extrapolate that out to the nth degree, someone who consumes the amount of booze that I do could conceivably live forever. It's science. So cheers everybody. Rest assured that tbaggervance.com will be around a millennia from now, keeping the people of the future entertained with our (drunken) antics and opinions.

- Speaking of booze, here's a smart article about arcane alcohol laws and why I have to cab it home from the bar. Although someday soon I hope the BDGF and I are back downtown, living the dream. Heck if we're both going to live forever, I bet we can get a sweet rate on a 1,000 year mortgage.

- Summer is seriously waning, what with school starting next week and college football kicking off this Saturday (OK Thursday). More on all that later, but here's a list of the best songs of summer 2010. Since this isn't Stereogum or Pitchfork, I've literally only heard 5 of their top 25 songs. However, I agree whole heartedly with this, this and this. Especially since I happen to know a Hurricane Chloe that swept into the harbor (the end of) this summer...

Posted 10:52am
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August 30th , 2010

Come Together.

In one of life's great ironic twists, I got to do this last week:

MC Reverend

Of course I hope it's only ironic in a religious sense, because nothing gave me more of a thrill to help bring together (or at least help make it official) two of my favorite people. Everything went beautifully. It was cute and off the cuff and idiosyncratic in a way that was perfectly Jason and Amy. I am of the opinion that more weddings should be like this.

Then there was this:

Sumersquale

While Jason and Amy were officially becoming part of each other's families, I was getting thrown in the deep end of the DePasquale pool. The BDGF's family couldn't have been more welcoming and gracious (as they always are) and I can't thank them enough for letting Sid and I be a small, fake part of their family. So thanks, mazel tov, congratulations, cheers and here's to happily ever after...

Posted 11:08am
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August 24th , 2010

I now pronounce you husband and wife.

After the last two weeks or so, I need a vacation. Luckily, C Jason and Amy Sumersquale have perfectly timed their wedding to give me a break. We're headed to the beach tomorrow for some nuptials and hard earned relaxation, and my fingers are crossed that everyone will be drunk at the wedding and only remember my performance as officiant as appropriate. Failing mass intoxication, at least I'll be drunk and can fall back on that.*

- Music videos are back like it's 1982! Here's Ted Leo's new Broadway Musical. Watch The Thermals new single. And to shoehorn in one more thing, here's Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation.

- More music? More music. Weezer plans a tour where they play the Weezer songs you want to hear (hint: not the new stuff) and Conan O'Brien releases a new single (which I bought on vinyl to support both Coco and Detroit's favorite son Jack White.)

- The Elbow Room was trashed? How dare you...

- Yesterday, Sid won his tennis match, the BDGF's eldest won her field hockey game, and the BDGF and I's team won trivia. Not for nothing, our house is full of win.

- Finally, before I check my brain at the door and stop thinking about home improvement for the the first time in months*, here's Michael Ian Black laying the wood to some ignorance, and just for ljv, no, the tea party's not racist.

*j/k BDGF et al.

Posted 10:43am
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August 23rd , 2010

Dorm room preparation.

So this is what I've been up to the last two weeks:

And while I can't readily find a picture of in its barren state, believe me when I tell you that it took a significant amount of work to get it to this stage:

But now it's done! Sort of. The light switch is on the outside of the room. And the lights are fluorescent shop lights. The ceiling isn't painted and there are no baseboards or moldings. Other than that and trimming out the window and door though, hooray! We're finished! The goal was to get it to a livable state before the BDGF's youngest returned from Oregon. I'd like to take a moment to tell our architect who laughed in my face 3 weeks ago when I gave him our time line to suck it.

The question I've gotten over and over again during all this home improvement is: how do you know how to do all that? The short answer: I don't. The fact is that it had to get done. We have three kids and two bedrooms, and forcing any combination of two of them to live together was a non-starter, so there was no other choice. We had an unfinished space and over the years I've done my share of helping friends do carpentry and electrical work and dry walling, so why not just jump in the deep end of the pool and take it on myself? With no other option, how could it not get done?

Of course the most dangerous aspect of the whole process (outside of sore and strained muscles, a few nicks on the arm and hammering my thumb purple) was the potential strain on the BDGF and I's relationship. The prospect of a fortnight of fourteen hour days completing a project that was sure to go awry here and there comes with a high potentiality for couples to lose their shit and take it out on each other. Thankfully, not us. I couldn't imagine a better partner, in the truest sense of the world. I owe her and C Jason, Stov, Al, Markie C, John, Pete, Troy and Thomas (and everyone else who came by and worked around the house - even to have a beer and keep us sane) a huge debt of gratitude. Thanks guys - Sid should be well prepared to move into the dorms in 3 years - when he shares the same amount of space with another drunk, smelly dude.

Posted 10:43am
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August 20th , 2010

Alas, poor Yorick...

- This is likely the dozenth obituary that I've given for John McCain, as he's fallen through the looking glass into ultimate self parody - but if Sarah Palin was the last nail in the coffin, this might be the last shovel full of dirt on his grave. A lot of people fall victim to Machiavellian power grabs where they don't even see the fact that they're selling their soul and whoring themselves out until it's far too late, but I can't think of a sadder one than Sen. McCain. Perhaps he's always been a say what they want to hear charlatan, and there just happened to be a time where what he was shilling what I was buying, and perhaps you can justify his position switches because the cognitive dissonance in your brain tells you that, well, the way he thinks now that I agree with is always what he really thought. But I can't think of a bigger example of someone once so respected being more of a shell of his former self. Totally chic to totally geek...

- Take in contrast Roger Ebert. The man has gone through some incredibly debilitating health issues and by any measure should have quietly drifted away into obscurity after a fairly well respected career in the public eye. Instead, he turned back to his stock in trade - the pen - and has resurrected himself as some sort of internet bon vivant. His take on the "Ground Zero Mosque" is probably as comprehensively dead on as I could imagine. Totally geek to totally geek...

Posted 10:31am
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August 19th , 2010

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment - not really edition

- Doing the right thing usually sucks and has unintended consequences. I don't want to harp on the "My body is failing me" meme, but it is now clear to me that giving blood last Friday and THEN getting two painful shots on Tuesday that make my arms feel like someone tried to break them with a baseball bat may not have been a great idea from a timing perspective.

- We won our softball league! This is a good and awesome thing, minus the fact that my kids came to watch the big important game and I easily played my worst game of the year. You can see how my average dropped to .559 here (this is mainly a link for the BDGF, who keeps our book and was shocked to find out that we had a web page for our softball stats that we 'failed' to tell her about. There you go sweet.)

- Yesterday I was driving Sid around when suddenly my car started making horrible noises upon acceleration. I understand that my car is now 8 years old and has been relatively trouble free, so when you have a little exhaust problem that costs you $300 you should both expect it and be happy it wasn't worse. However, no one likes spending money on their car only to get it back with no noticeable improvement. Plus, I'm trying to finish a bedroom, I could have used that cash elsewhere.

- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World made no money last weekend. This is a blow to those of us who like our films creative and esoteric, much less to those of us who love Scott Pilgrim and Edgar Wright. Take solace in the film's sure to be cult classic status, and that the talented people involved will work again - albeit likely with smaller budgeted films in the short term.

- Michigan's chances for an even moderately successful football season are evaporating more quickly than my sobriety at a tailgate. We lost another corner the other day, meaning that anyone with a modicum of passing proficiency will score on us like a drunken prom date, leaving out seemingly anemic offense the task of scoring 35 a game to carry the burden of success. I will spend the season pretending not to care and avoiding all contact with Barlow.

Posted 10:50am
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August 17th , 2010

Setting up the dominos

Yesterday I woke up and my left hand was asleep. When I was driving home for lunch and the tingling and numbness hadn't abated, I had a mild freak out that I might be having a heart attack. Luckily (correlationaly, as a consequence of) after I calmed down and realized that the most likely reason for the feeling was what I've done to my body over the last week, it went away.

Not in 20 years since the days of two a day football practices and doing back breaking landscaping for a summer job has my body ached like this. My hands feel like they're broken. My shoulders commiserate with Atlas himself after the first millennia or so. My forearms feel like I arm wrestled Popeye.

You'd think I have something to show for it. The BDGF looked at her mother's 27 point plan for home improvement and gasped "We've been busting our asses for a fortnight and we still can't check one thing off this list." I, upon perusing the list, noted that everything on the list is in process and shortly, we'll be able to cross everything off in the span of a 48 hour period.

So while the garage is half painted and Sid's room is half finished, we're on the cusp of greatness. This weekend at some point that first domino will fall and then it will be an avalanche of completeness. Then we can sit back, relax, and enjoy football season. Until the next thing breaks...

Posted 11:44am
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August 16th , 2010

Age is just a number

Much is made about the difference in ages between the BDGF and I. And when I say much I mostly mean jokes. Her being born in the decade before me and having aged into the decade after mine makes this low hanging fruit. Add in my previous penchant for dating girls much my junior and there are ample opportunities for barbs that cut both ways.

Jokes aside, I love that the BDGF is the age she is. There are myriad reasons why, but superficially I've always argued that dating someone older than you is a much safer bet than dating someone younger. Dating someone in their 20's is a crap shoot. Statistically, most people don't age well. They get fat. They go bald. Their skin does things that people spend billions of dollars every year to counteract. Things sag. So while you can grab someone young and beautiful and roll the dice - hoping that they maintain that gym membership and their DNA isn't a ticking timebomb, you'll never know for sure until time takes its toll - which it usually does.

However, when you date someone older than you, the writing is one the wall. The only surprise is when they will trade you in for a younger model. Find someone who looks ten years younger than they are and the world is your oyster. That's what I've got in the BDGF. We were entering the State Theater Saturday night to go see The Black Keys and passing through the requisite ID check to get in the building. The BDGF was in line in front of me when I heard "No. No. Really? Woooooooooo..." That's when I looked up to find the bouncer holding her ID in my face, asking me "Do you see this?" pointing to her birthdate. "Of course I do, that's my wife." I told him. That's when he high fived me and let me in to the venue, noting "I don't need to see your ID. Anyone who can pull that is good."

- The Sarah Palins and Newt Gingrinches of the world are using the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" to score political points based on people's xenophobia. Our president weighed in on the issue, saying only that they have every right to be there. And while Palin used this as an opportunity to further pander and fear monger, I'd like to a second to note that Fox & Friends (weekend edition, Doocy would have gone to the base) defended the President defending the constitution. Kudos kids. So shines a good dead in a weary world.

Posted 10:52am
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August 13th , 2010

Your Indie Rock Weekend

Mine will be spent seeing the Black Keys in downtown Detroit. Here's some things for you to peruse in lieu of being as cool as me...

- The AV Club Undercover project is still going on, and is still producing things that are awesome. Here's Mates of State covering The Replacements, and this may be the crowning jewel of the series: The Swell Season doing 'Two Headed Boy'.

- For reasons I am unsure of, Spoon was on Fallon the other night.

- Apparently Jack White lost his shit up on stage the other night. All I know is that picture included with the article makes me question my BDGF's taste in men, no matter how well they can play the guitar. Yes, that and the fact that she dates me.

- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World premiers today, and it is steeped in indie rock goodness. Hear a portion of Nigel Godrich's score here, and stream the entire soundtrack here.

- The Arts, Beats and Eats festival has just announced their music line up, and boy is it a yawner. I once saw Sloan here, so I'm always hopeful that they'll surprise me, and every year I end up disappointed.

- Weezer has fallen down the rabbit hole of ridiculousness, and not in the good way.

- Finally, my favorite band from 1983-1987 is putting out a new album. I will neither buy, download or listen to any part of it, not even out of morbid curiosity. I feel like this will be the best thing to come out of the endeavor. That and I may listen to Fair Warning right now, because that album still kicks ass.

Posted 11:10am
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August 11th , 2010

Walk this, bitches.

I've basically got one move in softball - and that's to weakly bloop the ball over the shortstop's head so that it lands between him and the left center fielder. It's neither flashy nor exciting, but it is effective and luckily, I can do it fairly consistently. The problem is that when opposing teams watch me do this to them once or twice, they bring the left center fielder waaaaaay in, thus nullifying my ability put the ball in the one spot I'm capable of putting it. This usually frustrates and angers me to the point that I try to kill the ball and launch it over their heads, leading to me popping out to someone in the infield.

That's exactly what happened last night. I started off 2 for 2 with my bloop shots. Then they brought left center in and effectively neutered me. My next two at bats - pop ups. What happened next was as big of a call out to one's manhood that you'll likely see on a softball diamond. With runners on second and third and me on deck, the opposing team chose to walk the guy in front of me to load the bases and put me at the plate. This is the equivalent of saying "Fuck that guy, he can't hurt us. We'll put an extra guy on base because what does it matter."

So I walk up to the plate, 0 for my last 2 and I've been scouted perfectly so the defensive shift is on to take away my bread and butter. After my failure to crush the ball on the previous two attempts, my only choice is to try and put the ball on the ground and hope it finds a hole (or someone makes an error). So with my sports dignity hanging in the balance, I pick an outside pitch and burn it to the gap between short and third, getting a single and an RBI. I resisted the urge to flip them the bird and tell them to suck it when I reached first, because that's not sportsmanlike. Besides, the next guy at bat hit a grand slam and we won the game 18-5. That's as suck it as it gets.

- Here's a great interview with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World director Edgar Wright.

- Levi Johnston reality show? I'm listening...

Posted 11:05am
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August 9th , 2010

DePasquale, Durkee, Brubaker & Flora

We're officially a law firm. OK, we just sound like one. But you have to admit, it's very post-modern, high concept sitcom of us to have five people with four surnames under one roof. Over the past week (and especially the past two days) I've vacillated wildly between "Hey! We're almost done! That was easy!" and "Holy shit we can never do anything fun again because there's so much work to do." The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between - but thankfully is closer to the former. We busted our collective asses this weekend and things are mostly in place. I have to say that with my possessions in drawers and my pictures on the walls - it feels like home. Of course that's mostly because the people I love are there, and that's the real genesis of ease and comfort. Now all we have to do is finish off Sid's room and complete the pseudo-mother-in-law's 27 point plan for home improvement, and we can finally sit down and relax.

- Here's a conservative on Fox News talking about gay marriage - and he's 100% right!

- Of course that's Ted Olsen - one of the main men in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which came down on the side of right late last week. The BDGF and I have said we won't marry until it's legal for same sex couples to do so too in all 50 states. I can honestly say, please take that excuse away from us.

- And finally, speaking of justice and getting things right in the face of idiotic blather and fear mongering, the "ground zero mosque" is moving forward. Here's Mayor Michael Bloomberg giving a reasoned, impassioned and eloquent statement as to why it's important. Again, you are not smart enough to circumvent this logic, so those of you vigilantly working to thwart our collective progress - please quietly lay down and die.

Posted 10:25am
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August 4th , 2010

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

- Yesterday I saw this story in the NYTimes about iDosing - which is this internet phenomenon where kids supposedly listen to sounds and music that make you feel like you're on drugs. As you suspected, it's complete bullshit. What I found interesting though, is that the expert they talked to for the article, Dr. Brian Fligor, is a guy I went to high school with and we used to be in a garage band together. Now he's been mentioned in the NYTimes and tbaggervance.com. Banner week for that guy.

- People spend a lot of time and energy thinking about their dream job. I love to write, but would deadlines and not getting to pick my subject matter ruin it for me? I love movies, but would reviewing them for a living take the magic out of it? I love music, but how tedious would it be to own a record store? This guy probably thought he was living a dream when he got a job at a music shop. Yeah, not so much.

- Tomorrow the BDGF and I join the Stovriggs and Barlow in Cedar Point for a day of chili cheese fries and roller coasters. Growing up, Cedar Point was the yearly family vacation destination, so I always feel like I'm the mayor of the place when I'm there - or at least a local surrounded by tourists. I realize that it's this line of thinking that contributed to me getting thumped last weekend, but I think we'll be safe at the Point.

- Following CP, we're headed to Put-in-Bay. This would usually be cause for an entire pre-trip build up and post-trip dissection, but alas the BDGF and I will only be there Thursday night/Friday afternoon because...

- Friday night the BDGF's eldest returns from Oregon. Even though she's only my fake daughter, I've missed her terribly and can't wait to get her back. But more importantly, the BDGF gets her back, and nothing will remove the smile on my face seeing those two back together. I don't care how much shit I get for saying it - way better than a weekend in PIB.

Posted 10:22am
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August 3rd , 2010

Basil Marceaux for governor

It's primary day in Michigan, so all you Michiganders get out there and V O T E. If you haven't been following things, check out Michigan Radio before you head to the polls. But whom I really would like to address is those out there in the tbaggervance.com readership who are residents of the great state of Tennessee. I encourage you Tennesseeans - with ultimate voracity - to get out there and vote for Basil Marceaux. I could extol his virtues and point to the many great facts available on his website (VOTE FOR ME AND IF I WIN I WILL IMMUNE YOU FROM ALL STATE CRIMES FOR THE REST OF YOU LIFE!) but I'd rather let the man speak for himself. Vote Basil Marceaux. Everyone carry guns, if you kill someone though, you get murdered.

- Here's 50 great facts from Mental Floss. God bless Alan Thicke.

- Life imitates art imitating life. Here's Tina Fey in a commercial that's more dated than when I had a mullet. Apparently 30 Rock writes itself.

Posted 10:59am
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August 2nd , 2010

Vegas hates me

"Have a good time, but not too good of a time." I heard this a lot before leaving for Vegas on Friday. From the BDGF. From her mother. From anyone who knows me and knows Vegas and could imagine what kind of trouble could ensue. It always seemed like a weird sentiment to me, because presumably they mean "Don't do something that gets you arrested." but getting arrested isn't fun, so of course I'm going to stop short of that.

Apparently I had too good of time. Or something like that. Let this be the first, last and only word on what happened to me this time in Vegas. Without getting into it and reliving the ordeal again, early Saturday morning I got mugged. Details are sketchy at best, but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, turned a corner, got cold cocked and had my ATM card, phone and some cash stolen. Vegas robs me again, literally this time.

I'm fine, thanks for asking. Luckily they didn't get my ID or credit cards, minimizing the damage. My head is luckily as hard as a rock, and my pride, while bruised, will recover. I can earn more money and buy a new phone. The BDGF has made sure that from this point forward I A.) Use the buddy system. B.) Don't take shortcuts. I will be on a very short leash going forward. This is for the best.

So again, I'm fine, no worries. After my last two visits to Sin City, I'm not going to be in a hurry to go back. We had a lot of good times together, but our relationship is now strained beyond its breaking point. More than anything, I want to put it all behind me and move on to the exciting prospects of he next few weeks. Vegas, it was fun while it lasted, but I need to go be a grown up for awhile.

Posted 10:40am
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July 29th , 2010

The tbaggervance.com movie review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

To call the adaptation of genre fiction a tight rope walk is a vast understatement. To bottom line it: one must please existing fans of the work, while making it as palatable as possible to the masses (that and fitting a large, expansive universe into a two hour time frame). Trying to be as faithful as possible to the source work and keeping things, well, literal - nets you something like the first few Harry Potter movies - boring schlock where fans can go "Hey, I remember reading that!" but ultimately netting you an unwatchable movie. Ignore the fans and go bland so that it plays in Peoria, well the internet has made the nerd armies too powerful for that scenario (see Fantastic Four).

The real route to success lies in getting the overall tone right. If a genre movie feels like the source material, the nerds will give you a pass when you move around a timeline or two or amalgamate some minor characters for the sake of storytelling. This allows you to make things palatable, as well as shoe horn in as many references as possible to make the geeks salivate. Talented directors and screenwriters make this possible and turn properties like Spider-man and the X-Men into huge commercial and critical successes.

Scott Pilgrim is playing on another level. Even in 2010 when summers are chock full of superhero movies, Scott Pilgrim asks for a little bit more. It's soaked in video game culture. It's got superhero level feats of strength, without anyone actually being a superhero. Characters travel through 'subspace', a concept that's never really explained to those uninitiated with the source material. I have no idea how this will play with the unwashed masses looking to see a Michael Cera movie, but here's hoping they take that leap of faith and buy into it, because it is amazing.

For the nerds, it's a faithful adaptation. The filmmakers (Edgar Wright - Shaun of the Dead) get the tone right while playing a bit with structure, mostly in the interest of time. Casting is neigh on perfect and there's so many subtle nods packed in each frame, I can't wait to watch it again to see what I missed. For everyone else - it's a kinetic thrill ride that's at points touching, hilarious, and action packed. Make no mistake, this is a love story - one that just happens to occasionally be a musical, occasionally is a video game, is often an out and out surreal comedy and throughout a kick ass action movie. Makes sense, right?

I'm torn as to what to think of the movie's ultimate chance at success. Sure, it doesn't matter because this is the movie I wanted to see, so I shouldn't care what anyone else thinks or how much money it makes. But deep down it would make me really happy for this little graphic novel that I've loved for all these years to resonate with audiences at large. For people to embrace its scattershot references and genres and see the throughline. At the end of the day, I really want the proletariat to find joy in something that wasn't watered down and spoon fed to them, because that's the only way were going to keep getting movies like this one made, and with a little luck, kill the career of Michael Bay.

Posted 11:13am
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July 28th , 2010

(anything) + tbaggervance = awesome

It's been my running hypothesis for these last 20 years or so that everything goes better with booze. While things like running and jumping and driving a car have attempted to derail this theory, I still hold that it remains overwhelmingly true (and especially and coincidentally, when watching people run and jump or drive cars.) Well we're working on a new theory around here, and it's that everything goes better with tbaggervance. Since we are admittedly biased and have a love of science (science!), we offer you the following empirical evidence:

- Even longer than I have loved booze, I have loved comic books. I continue to read them to this day. New issues come out on Wednesday, and before my store shift at 826 I always stop in Vault of Midnight to pick up the latest books to hit the shelves. Well guess who just got named comic book shop of the year? Need I say more?

- About 15 years ago I came to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan and fell hard and fast for both places, passively and immediately deciding to never leave. As such, I started working for the U before I even had my diploma and have never had another job since. So would it surprise you that Michigan was recently named one of the best colleges to work for in the United States? Of course it doesn't.

- As noted late last week, I attended Beerfest last Friday. This was a concession to the more popular Saturday version of the fest, but upon attending, a decidedly soothing and easy one to make. Which is probably why I am quoted in the annarbor.com write up on event.

Posted 2:30pm
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July 27th , 2010

My fair, thick skin

It's the end of July, which means my skin is its usual summer shade of bright pink. It's the price of being a ginger. Growing up was a constant merry go round of burn/peel, burn/peel throughout the summer. These days I'm generally more careful about putting on the sunblock and staying in the shade - mostly because I know that no matter how much constant exposure to the sun's rays I receive, I am never going to be tan (not even an Oompa Loompa/John Boehner shade of deep orange). Still, as ardent as I try to be, put me outside for a weekend and all the vigilance in the world won't keep me from getting pink in a spot or two. Until they make sunscreen a bright blue color that makes us look like smurfs, I'll inevitably miss a spot here and there.

But as fair and susceptible to solar energy as my skin is, it's equally as thick. I can take just about any comment and let it roll off my back. OK, well usually I try and have a witty retort at the ready, but the point is that I'm generally fine with whatever barbs or criticisms people want to hurl at me. I think it's one of the main reasons I managed to have a kid at 19 and never got married. As you can imagine, if you find yourself in that situation you get asked that question a lot. And at 19 when you're still a deer in the headlights of parenthood, you can't tell people to mind their own business and fuck off (although instinctually, that's completely where I was at.) Truth be told I'm not sure how I got through it, but I persevered. When Kara and I finally called it quits for good, I had an 8 year run of almost never having to field that particular query. People figured I was resigned to bachelorhood, and we were all finally on the same page.

Until now. The first words out of my grandfather's mouth at my brother's reception was "So when are you getting married?" The first question I got from the BDGF's mom when we saw her over the weekend was "So is that it for weddings in your family?" When I told her that, well, my nephew was getting married next summer, she quickly came back with "Wrong answer." Clearly I am back on the clock when it comes to having to dodge the question of whether or not I'm going to ever make an honest woman out of the BDGF. The pressure comes not from her, mind you. We're pretty much on the same page that the government or church has got no business peering into our commitment to each other. I won't sit and here and promise that it will never happen, because the heat will start to accumulate as the years begin to mount and chances are we'll get broken down and for no other reason just be tired of answering the question and explaining ourselves. But it ultimately matters not to me, because I'll still occasionally refer to her as my wife regardless, and more importantly, I'm already as committed as I can possibly be. Hopefully the BDGF can see that a lot more in my actions and the way I look at her than she could in a signed piece of paper.

Posted 1:40pm
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July 23rd , 2010

Sophie's Choice

Many years ago two of my very best friends decided to get married, and decided to do it quickly. No one was pregnant nor about to be deported, so I'm not sure what the rush was. Perhaps they had been together so long they just had a "let's do it and get it over with" mentality. It's pretty much neither here nor there, other than the fact that in their rush they had to get married when the church and reception hall were available, and that only option just happened to be the same day of the Michigan vs. Notre Dame football game.

I'd understand if these people were tOSU fans (sort of anyway - you don't get married during football season period in my mind), but these were Michigan people - one even an alumnus. So while I in no way wanted to miss their blessed union, I also in no way wanted to miss a home Michigan/Notre Dame game. So I did my best to have it both ways. Moeman drove me up to the game, and then whisked me back to Ohio afterwards, so I could at least make most of the reception. The bride didn't exactly agree with my decision, the husbands and boyfriends whose wives and girlfriends didn't give them the option that I had envied me. I'd say if I had to do it again, I'd do it exactly the same.

Tomorrow is my little brother's wedding reception. It's also Beerfest. Now I've already traveled once to watch my brother get actually married (at some expense mind you) and Beerfest is only once a year. Maybe I could go to Beerfest for a couple hours and then hit the tail end of the littlest Brubaker's reception? Unfortunately that scenario would likely lead to my mother rising from the grave and beating me senselessly with my own beer stein. So while it's not the same, there is a Friday night Beerfest too. It's shorter and the whole crew won't be there, but at least I get a taste before heading back to Napoleon to glad hand relatives and friends of the family. Hopefully I'll still be drunk from the night before when I get there.

Posted 10:54am
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July 22nd , 2010

This week in indie rock

- My friend Pants tried to get me into Frightened Rabbit a few years back, but whatever album they had out at the time didn't resonate with me and I kinda sorta dismissed them. Well couple my recent love of Scottish bands along with the mere title of their latest (Winter of Mixed Drinks) and I'm ready to give them another go. Here's FR covering the Lemonheads classic "Confetti".

- Stuff continues to leak from the star-studded White House gala a few weeks back honoring Paul McCartney. Here's Detroit's favorite son Jack White doing Sir Paul's "Mother Nature's Son". There's something cool yet unnerving watching Jack play guitar five feet from POTUS.

- If you haven't caught on as to just how fucking cool Scott Pilgrim is, when it came time to write Scott's band songs for the movie, they got fucking Beck. That's right, I said it. Here's a Sex Bob-omb bonus track from the deluxe edition of the soundtrack.

- Finally, I half expected to see my picture when I clicked on this link. Of course the two guys depicted do have eerily similar glasses to mine. Shit, I'm a stereotype.

Posted 10:57am
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July 21st , 2010

Happy endings

I once read about a study that determined in certain circumstances, more pain is preferable to less pain (and not in a masochistic or 17 year old girl cutting on herself kind of way). What they did was take patients who were having a certain, fairly painful surgery and have them rate their overall experience with the procedure after it was finished. In one set of patients, they immediately took the catheter out as soon as they could in post-op. In the second, they left the catheter in for an extra hour or so. Now having a catheter in is painful, but the second group - the one that had it in longer - rated their experience as better overall. Why? Well despite the extra pain of the catheter, that discomfort is nothing compared to the overall pain of the surgery they had undergone. When they pulled the catheter out of the first group, they were still reeling from the procedure. The second group had more time to come down post-op before the experience ended. You see, we rate our experiences by both the most intense portion of it and how it ultimately ends. In this case, that meant that the group that was in pain longer (due to increased catheter time) rated their experience as better overall because at the end of it, they were more removed from the lingering pain of the most intense portion of the ordeal.

Over the weekend the BDGF and I had a couple of hours to kill so I suggested we put in a movie. I decided to show her Once. For those of you who have never seen it (shame on you), Once is a little Irish indie movie from a few years back about a guy and a girl who meet and make music together. I don't want to spoil anything for those of you who haven't seen it (shame on you), but let's just say that I've seen the thing over a dozen times, and I still generally cry for about 30 of it's 90 minutes. It's a beautiful, touching film. For those of you that don't know the BDGF, she doesn't like sad anything. She has no time for sad music, can't abide sad movies and hates sad endings. Anyone who's looked through my iTunes library or DVD collection knows that I'm a horse of a different color. I quite like sad. I'm fond of bittersweet and adore tragic. I mean hey, I like happy too. I like all emotions. Sometimes I want to watch something that's going to make me angry. I want to experience things that elicit a response, and it doesn't always have to be one that reassures me or makes me smile.

When we finished Once the BDGF immediately turned to me and asked "Why do you keep showing me movies like that?" I wiped the tears from my eyes and said "Because it's beautiful." We rate our experiences by their most intense moment and how they end. I love the ending of Once. In my head it's real and hopeful and perfect. The BDGF felt differently. But maybe intensity trumps the ending of an experience, because in the intervening four days since she saw the movie, she's mentioned it to about a dozen people. Either that or the BDGF doesn't mind a little emotional variance. Either way I hope she makes peace with it, because there's a lot of sad but beautiful out there that I don't want to miss.

Posted 1:02pm
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July 20th , 2010

What's gone down in the last 24 hours

- Scott Pilgrim 6 drops today. It's wildly unfair in my brain that Sid and the BDGF get to read it before I do, when they'd be completely in the dark if I hadn't introduced them to it. Ah well, such is the curse of being on the ground floor of the super cool and then being willing to share the wonder.

- It appears that I have found someone to sublet my apartment for the majority of the upcoming year. This shit is happening people. I've got a little over three weeks to move my shit across town. Save your offer of helping to move - we will instead be using your talents of manual labor to help quickly build Sid a bedroom and apply paint to our garage. This all has to be done by football season guys, so let's get a move on.

- Last night we won Monday night trivia for the third straight week. When I was say 9 or 10 and the 'adults' were playing trivia, I'd huddle close and offer answers when I thought I had a decent guess. Inevitably they'd ignore me two or three straight times and offer some idiotic bullshit answer instead of my wise, sage one, thus getting questions wrong. When this didn't lead to them taking me seriously, I'd go hide by myself and cry. So I'd like to say a big fuck you and suck it to all my aunts and uncles and family friends who ignored and scoffed at my wisdom. I understand you were probably intimidated by my intellect back then, but still, it wasn't very nice. Also, I could've beat you back then and I'd literally* crush you now.

*not literally.

Posted 11:02am
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July 19th , 2010

My favorite thing that I wrote this week

Sometimes I type words that don't appear here, and while I swear I do my best to save the best of my brain for you, dear readers, sometimes I come up with something that I like that is sourced elsewhere. So as to not to cheat you of my favorite line of the week, I bring it to you now (with apologies for the meta and self aggrandizing nature of this experiment).

For basic context, I was having an email discussion with someone this week about this horseshit. And without recreating the entire discussion, it pretty much ended with me saying this about Mr. Rove and the person I was talking to:

Well you two have fun mutually masturbating each other while you read aloud from The Prince and spitball ideas about the next idiot you can find to run this country into the ground.

Normally I would have just posted that to facebook and be done with it, but my pseudo in-laws are on there, and that's made me gun shy. I mean, I'll still send drunk tweets that are inappropriate, but let's try to show a little tact, eh?

- Here is my favorite thing that Sarah Palin wrote this week.
     1. That's a lot of heart stabbin'.
     2. @TwinTowers has its own twitter account? Too soon.
     3. If two blocks is too raw and real, how large of a non-Muslin zone
         should we place around ground zero?
For those not willing to read that whole linked page, she goes on to compare herself to Shakespeare. No, not some other Shakespeare, the famous one. Governor, You cram these words into mine ears against the stomach of my sense.

- And here's my favorite Krugman column of the week. Ah, the sweet refreshing calm of logic.

Posted 11:15am
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July 16th , 2010

Ways in which I am old, vol. 417

Today is Siddhartha's 15th birthday. A few years back I decided to give a nickname every year based on the age he was turning. It's usually something stupid that sticks around for all of about 48 hours, but it has become tradition nonethless. Last year I called him BG (for former Michigan quarterback (and wearer of #14) Brian Griese.) The year before that it was Tiger Beat (in honor of his entry to teenagerdom). Before that it was domino (obviously). Now that he's 15 and coming into his own, I thought about giving him the moniker of "Sid Vicious". But then I looked at him and came up with the more appropriate "Sid Jonas".

As always, Sid getting older makes me stop for 30 seconds and steady myself, then I completely forget about it and move on. It is sort of amazing that I've been doing this parenting thing for 15 years now, but more so, that I've been doing it right. Sid, you're an amazing individual and I couldn't be prouder. As always, thankfully you look like your mother and act like me. I'd apologize for that, but let's face it - it could be worse. I've always wanted nothing more for you than to have the confidence to be yourself, and all I can say is so far, so good. Happy Birthday Siddhartha.

- Sid and I are waiting with bated breath for both the literary conclusion to the Scott Pilgrim series, as well as its filmic adaptation. Here's trailer remix #2 to get the hair on your arm to stand on end.

- I think Vampire Weekend was the first band that Sid really made his own, and continues to be his favorite to this day. So sorry kid, they're getting sued.

- Finally, through little to no out and out indoctrination, Sid has become quite a little lefty progressive. So I am sure my little environmentalist will be happy to hear they've plugged the leak in the gulf. Hooray!

Posted 10:15am
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July 15th , 2010

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

- It is only 5 days until we get the conclusion to Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series. I toyed with the idea of rounding up the other two giant Scott Pilgrim nerds I know (Sid and the BDGF) and heading to Cananada for this, but that's a lot of business - especially 8 hours in the car after the summer we've had so far. Either way, we're all super excited. Here's the first of several new trailer mashups for the movie to placate you/stoke your embers (depending on how you see these things).

- During the BDGF and I's 5,000 mile road odyssey earlier this summer, we listened to almost every known comedy album in the universe. One of my favorites was and is Paul F. Tompkins. Mr. Tompkins has an agreement with the online community, that if you can get 300 people to sign on, he'll come to your city for a show. So if you haven't already, join the Bring Paul F. Tompkins to Detroit Facebook page.

- Oh Louisiana and Iowa. You're so lovely with the New Orleans and the allowing gay marriage (respectively, those are mutually exclusive amenities at the moment), yet such idiocy and vitriol on the other hand. Here's a delightful billboard you can see when traveling through the corn state. And here's the Senator David Vitter from Louisiana who publicly backs birther lawsuits. Thank you both for allowing me to crudely apply stereotypes to a large swath of people and thus dismiss them.

- We don't talk too much about local politics here, because the readers of this here blog extend far beyond the borders of our sleepy hamlet, and truth be told, I don't pay too much attention. Well, that and when I do I am always disappointed. I read everything I could about Argo dam over the past year, hoping and praying that they would demolish the fucker. It's still there. And if I have to live through one more disappointment when it comes to light/commuter rail in SE Michigan, I may finally break down into tears over it. Anyway, it's time to choose a mayor in A2, and let's cross our fingers that incumbent John Hieftje wins in a walk, because his opponent is a scary bitch. Patricia Lesko is one of those conspiracy theorists who comes in from the fringe screaming about backroom deal this and corrupt that, even though everyone is relatively happy and healthy and there's no real evidence of anything. Oh, and she also ran an anonymous website for years throwing every city official under the bus. That's fucking gutless. Which is why I'm glad Hieftje finally called her on her shit the other night. Get out and vote in the primaries next month everyone.

- Tonight: The Hold Fucking Steady at the State Theater in downtown Detroit. It's a wonderful life...

Posted 10:36am
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July 14th , 2010

Qualitative analysis

For no real rhyme or reason, it has come time once again to reiterate some truths that should be self evident to you, our dear readers, about how and why we do that voodoo that we do here at tbaggervance.com. This endeavor started largely as a way for to share the things I found on the internet and to opine about stuff that I felt something for one way or the other. As things evolved, I injected more and more of my personal life into things, because I like to pretend my life is interesting to peoples other than myself. You can call me delusional, but here you are reading this, so there.

As things progressed and I approached Malcolm Gladwell's mythical 10,000 hours, posts got generally longer, I started to spell check, and hopefully, the writing got better. But as you've undoubtedly noticed, we have yet to hire an editor. I'm fond of saying that it doesn't take any longer to write this blog than it does to type it. And that's as true as I can make it, and it will always be that way.

I fancy myself a decent writer, but more importantly, I enjoy it. You know what I don't enjoy? Editing. It's boring and I'm not great at it. The minute this blog becomes an obligation or feels like work, I'll stop doing it. Eventually we all imagine me devolving into a dottering old drunk who sits alone at the bar muttering to himself about politics and how shitty the new Arcade Fire album is anyway, right?

So this may seem like an overly defensive post just to say "Look, my grammar ain't perfect, see? Stick it up your poop shoot." But hey, I'm an artist man, and I'm not going to apologize for the way I do things. Or alternately, I write my posts the way I write my posts. Either way, I don't give a DAMN what you think you're entitled to. But seriously, thanks for reading everybody. Every once in a while one of you says the nicest thing about this little patch of real estate and it warms the cockles of my heart. I'll try to remember that rather than the times you point out that I missed a comma or dangled a participle, because that just makes me want to beat you about the head with my copy of Strunk & White.

Posted 10:58am
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July 13th , 2010

SWM looking for a 26" HDTV

The BDGF likes to make fun of the fact that I previously got dates by posting ads on Craigslist. Come to think of it, previous relationships refused to admit that we met on CL or that it had anything to do with our getting together. Personally, I'm not big on stigmas, so the BDGF can throw it in my face all she likes and Ayesha can tell herself we met at Honeycreek if it helps her sleep at night. Truth be told, it gets rough out there from time to time, so anyway you can meet someone, throw it at the wall and see if it sticks (although I personally would advocate for checking out your friend's siblings at the moment).

But as wondrous and bountiful as the personals section of CL is with people willing to let you buy them drinks and then clumsily make out with them, it turns out it's not just for hook ups. As previously and ongoingly mentioned, we're rapidly prepping a house so that we can add myself and a half time half Asian into the mix. This involves not only elaborate fun like adding egress and bathrooms, but simple good times like cleaning out 8 years of detritus from storage rooms and garages. But fortunately, one man's detritus can be another man's treasure. And when it's too big to ship (and thus list on ebay) there's only one place to go - Craigslist.

We managed to sell everything we listed on CL in less than 24 hours. And as I type, I'm trying to swap the cash we made for a used flat screen TV for the bedroom. The CL giveth and taketh, and they are both good things. But the true test of its powers are on the line as I just finally listed the sublet for my apartment. As great as CL has been to me, it's kind of all for naught if it fails me in this instance. Stay on target CL. Stay on target...

Posted 10:55am
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July 12th , 2010

Development arrested

Friday night the BDGF and I, along with our entourage, went and saw the band We Were Promised Jetpacks at the Magic Stick in Detroit. I don't know if we were the oldest people in the room that night, but let's just say we brought the average age of the room up (which you tend to do when you're over 30 and you go to see a bunch of 22 year old Scottish kids play punk tunes.) Anyway, before we departed for the motor city that evening, we were teaching at 826 with the BDGF's little brother (who happens to be my age). He asked what we were doing that evening and the BDGF told him about the show - to which he responded "When did we trade places?"

There's a lot of theories out there about people reaching a certain age and then staying there, never to mature further nor increase their load of responsibility. At the same time, it's argued that some people are as staid and measured as a 40 something insurance salesman by the time they hit puberty. Forced to live a life of austerity, they're grown-ups at birth.

Certainly I know many of the former - people who never quite seemed to advance past high school or college despite owning a home and raising children. And there's people like my little brother who have always seemed to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and had concerns beyond their years. But I refuse to believe that anything is so black and white.

Yes, I have a juvenile sense of humor. Yes, I too often treat my body like a carefree teenager who just discovered that alcohol and sex feel good. And it would be argued by those pop psychologists out there that I will forever be around 22 years old, trying to recapture whatever piece of youth I feel that I lost by becoming a father before I hit 20. But I was also always the kid you could give a task to and he'd sit there and quietly do it until it was finished. And I've been reading about politics since I was in junior high. Despite my proclivity for certain things associated with youth, I've always maintined a sense of patience and intellectual pragmatism that sits at odds with that.

My point is that while being with the BDGF makes me feel like a giddy 17 year old who gets excited when his girlfriend merely walks into a room, we also spent half of our weekend scraping paint and doing yardwork and trying pump up the aesthetics and thus overall value of our house. We taught a workshop at 826 before going to drink PBRs in a dirty club in downtown Detroit. I won't speak for the BDGF, but I often feel simultaneously like the world's oldest and youngest 34 year old - and I like that dichotomy. As for the BDGF and her response to her little brother's query of when did she usurp his place of being the young, fun concert goer? She quickly retorted "I don't know, but we're not trading back." Good answer.

Posted 11:39am
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July 9th , 2010

When life gives you lemons, just say 'Fuck the lemons,' and bail.

This quote is almost so unbelievable that I could show it to you and let you ponder on it, scratching your head incredulously, and leave it at that:

I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade.

That's Sharon Angle, the GOPs choice in Nevada to replace Harry Reid, on advising a girl that was raped by her father against having an abortion. I don't want to debate the merits of Senator Reid, as he's not someone I want to go to bat for. However, SERIOUSLY? One of things I constantly fear as a non-believer is that doctrine and dogma can replace analytical thought or even common sense. But when it replaces empathy? This line of thinking is almost as callous as the people who perpetrate these crimes. I'm going to go vomit now.

- As long as we're on the subject, here's another dandy from the Republican governor of Indiana:

And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

So let's ignore the fact that I just got called Stalin and Hitler, and that this little screed ignores the fact that every other atrocity not mentioned here and took place before the 20th century was done in the direct name of someone's god. I happen to know a few people raised without a stitch of religion, and they haven't committed even a little genocide. The idea that one needs a higher power to come to the realization that murder and theft go against the grain of an affable society is so ludicrous and has been so debunked that I kind of can't believe I'm typing this right now.

Posted 11:13am
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July 8th , 2010

Why Me? The Bob Lamonta Story

While the BDGF's brother may be my cultural touchstone soulmate*, there exists a large traverse of pop cultural references between the two of us. To be fair, that's true of most people, especially girls who don't have entire episodes of Firefly committed to memory nor make obscure references to 1980's submarine movies starring Sean Connery. Besides, the BDGF has never missed a Star Wars reference and beat me to the punch once or twice herself in quoting Han Solo, so point of fact, she's fairly well versed. For a girl.

But again, I don't expect anyone to parse the nuance of comedy bits from the 1990s just so they vaguely smirk at my inane references. Of course that doesn't mean I can't from time to time expose the BDGF to some of my favorites so that she can go "Oh, that's where that's from." when I repeat something ad nauseam for seemingly no one's amusement but my own. Case in point, I'm fond of flexing my muscles and saying "I'm strong - like the Hulk!" so when the two of us were discussing things to watch last night, I thought "Hey! Want to see where that reference comes from?" Once I assured her that she wouldn't have to watch anything involving the actual Incredible Hulk, she said sure.

While the specific Mr. Show sketch I got that line from is hilarious, I, thinking like a dude, didn't contemplate the showing of it to my BDGF. It's not that she didn't get it or think it wasn't funny, but she used to think it was cute when I said the line, and now she'll have an image of retarded Bob Odenkirk in her head when I do it. Man, my shoes hurt.

*we're both a pretty specific type of nerd

Posted 10:34am
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July 7th , 2010

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

- New laptop! Work generously provides me with a new laptop every 3 years, and Christmas hath come early this year, as my shiny new machine shows up tomorrow, a good 6 months ahead of schedule. This is momentarily assuaging my fury that construction throughout Ann Arbor has currently doubled my 12 minute commute to and from said work every damn day. Fucking American Investment and Recovery Act fixing our shitty roads...

- Softball! After a miserable 2009, our softball team is humming along like a well oiled machine this season, and as anyone who has ever played any competitive anything ever will tell you, it feels so much better to win. And while I'm sure that mentioning it will cause me to go one for my next 36 at bats, I'm hitting a cool .636 so far this year.

- Egress! I already know more about this shit than I ever wanted to, but it is necessary so we muddle through the best we can. Again, I may be jinxing myself as we have yet to talk to one actual builder in person, but our first over-the-phone estimate was as much as a third less than we thought we were going to have to fork over. If this holds out, next round is on me.

- You may look at this graph and laugh at the naivite of most college students, and you wouldn't be wrong to do so. However, look closer, because you missed the take home point - it takes less drinks to induce unwanted sex than it does a hangover. Also, estimated number of drinks show that most people associate hangovers with unwanted sex. High Five?

- Hopefully for the last time, climate science is vindicated. Have you been outside lately? It's fuckin' A hot. Global warming deniers are mostly conspiracy theory crackpots like this guy. That and religious zealots and those whose bottom lines might be negatively affected by dialing back the poison they put into the environment. You'd have thunk that after we learned not to listen to the tobacco companies about the safety of cigarettes, we wouldn't make such a similar mistake about something so much more important.

Posted 11:45am
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July 6th , 2010

Innnnnnnnnndyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Here's a recap of the weekend that was, as I'm still a little slow on the uptake this morning, and it's about all I'm capable of. Apologies to those of you who were there, making this redundant.

- Friday we went and saw a performance of Cinematic Titanic, which if you don't want to click on the hyperlink, is basically live MST3K. All I can say is man I miss that show.

- Saturday was a four trip to Lowes day (something there will likely be a lot of in the future). We accomplished some good stuff, but it's ultimately boring to you, dear readers, unless you find putting up gutters and other water runoff solutions interesting. We rewarded ourselves with a trip to the drive in to see Toy Story 3, which caused tears to openly stream down my face (in a good way).

- Sunday we celebrated 234 years of rich white men's reticence to pay taxes in the only way we know how - with beer, meat and fireworks. And if that wasn't enough, we capped 'Merica's b-day with a screening of the greatest movie of all time - Raiders of the Lost Ark. That's the second time I've watched that movie al fresco this summer, which I'm pretty sure means I've already won summer 2010.

- Monday it was too hot to do anything, so we had drunk brunch at home in the AC. After a quick nap, we closed the weekend by winning trivia at Connors. I love knowing people that are wicked smart.

- Today starts Ann Arbor's new recycling rules, which means you can finally start putting #5 plastics in your bin. Since almost everything is made of #5, this is a good thing. Of course this dredged up the disagreement between the BDGF and I, as she throws her deposits into her recycling bin, rather than taking them back to the store for 10 cents a pop. I keep telling her that Judy B (my sainted mother) would spin in her grave knowing that we were throwing away money like that. With all the beer we drink, it adds up...

Posted 10:34am
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July 2nd , 2010

2 bedroom, 1 bath - available August

Outside of my 7 years in Arbor Village Apartments, I've spent my 16 years in Ann Arbor moving every summer. I've found a way to view this in a positive light, as it discourages the accumulation of needless crap, forces you to be organized and provides you with an opportunity to take stock of where you're at in life by putting all of it into boxes. Plus, since in all likelihood all spend the rest of my days here in our little utopian hamlet, moving around to the different neighborhoods in town is as close as I'll get to pulling up stakes for a new city.

That being said, I really thought that I had found a somewhat permanent residence in my current digs. Living downtown has been everything I ever imagined and more. I'm sure the bartenders at the Peak always thought it was odd when a week went by without my showing up, but now they call to see if I'm OK when I don't show up every couple of days. I had found home and assumed I'd be staying put for years to come. As such, I signed a lease extension last November tying me to the place through Aug. 2011. Can't see why not, right?

Of course fast forward to now and I am in need of subtleties. We'll get into the whole ins and outs of why and what's actually happening a lot in the coming months* (to the point of you'll likely be massively bored by it) but for now, I need someone to live in my beloved downtown abode. Rent is reasonable and I'm flexible and most importantly, I promise that living there will be a transformative experience in your existence. Plus, if you get a mug club card at the Peak, it's like you're being paid to drink there.

- Tokyo Police Club and The New Pornographers both played Letterman last week and they were both awesome.

- Here's a good excuse for some of you (Barlow) next time your wife wakes up and asks "What are you DOING?"

- The Lord giveth and he taketh away. And sometimes, he giveth by takething. We lost Briarwood Dollar Movies this week, but we also had the blight of the Full Moon/Monkey Bar excised from Main Street. Please replace it with a proper drinking establishment.

* I'm moving in with the BDGF, for those with can'treadbetweenthelinesosis.

Posted 10:55am
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July 1st , 2010

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? Sharon Angle edition

There's a new player on the TEA party/GOP scene and she's zooming past the Palins and Bachmans of the world to vie for biggest batshit crazy loon in politics. Her name is Sharon Angle and now that she's opened her mouth, the treats are falling out like a busted pinata.

- Let's start off by letting Sharon tell us about God's plan, which may or may not include you being raped by a family member, getting impregnated and then carrying that baby to term.

- Now Ms. Angle's bio lists her as a teacher and politician, with a degree in Fine Arts, but did you also know she's a constitutional scholar? So when she tells you that separation of church and state is unconstitutional, it must be true.

- I don't know how she feels about this then. One can only assume that it's the liberal activist judges that currently rule the court. I'm no scholar, just a mere enthusiast, but it's nice to see that the court can get something right. I guess as long as it doesn't have big business on one side of the argument, we still have a chance.

- It's been a while since I read my bible or heard any sort of sermon, but I remember one on a mount somewhere and someone saying something about the poor and meek and merciful being blessed. Clearly not blessed are the spoiled and lazy, who don't want all of the jobs that are out there unfulfilled.

- And finally, just so she doesn't feel left out, let's throw in Sarah Palin. She must be feeling a little lonely, as I'm pretty sure she's still waiting on that divine intervention to smite that oil right out of the ocean. It's nice to see she still holds out some hope for man, because otherwise mentioning solution/miracle would be redundant.

Posted 10:53am
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June 30th , 2010

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment - post Kadota edition

- Mount Rushmore is super awesome and I can't recommend it enough should you find yourself within a couple hours of it. Classy, understated, regal, and awe-inspiring. You know what isn't? Crazy Horse. When we saw that the Crazy Horse memorial was a mere 10 minutes away from Rushmore, we figured "We're not ever coming back, so this is our one chance. We might as well..." Our problem was, we didn't exactly do our homework before making the trek. Here is what we knew/assumed before visiting Crazy Horse:

1. It is crazy big. Crazy Horse (when completed) will be the world's largest monument/sculpture/something or other.
2. It isn't done. We knew that they weren't finished. We both had a rough assumption however, that they'd been working on this for 20 years or so and were mostly finished.

We had the big part right. When completed, it will be the world's largest sculpture. By our rough estimates after visiting the place, this will be around the 12th of never. The project started in 1948 and after 62 years of "work", they have half a face carved out. THAT'S IT. And here's the bitch of it - Rushmore charged us $10 for the entire car to get in, and that pass is good for an entire year. Crazy Bitch charged us $10 a piece for the day. And when we walked into the visitor's center and asked how do we see the monument, the guy laughed and said "Walk out side and look up, or you can pay (PAY!) to take the bus to the bottom of the mountain for a better view." In short, the Crazy Horse monument is a fucking tourist trap run by white people that I'm sure has the actual Crazy Horse spinning in his grave (as well as all of the members of Neil Young's former backing band).

- The Jesuses were kind enough to let us stay with them (twice) and let us play with their adorable daughter Ophelia. Thanks for the hospitality kiddos, even if I didn't get to visit any of Sioux Falls 3,735 "casinos" and there exists a Sean Connery/Robert DeNiro deficiency.

Steve- The BDGF got to meet the Jesuses, I got to meet her ex-husband. It went innocuously enough, he shook my hand but wouldn't look me in the eye. I will say this, he does fancy himself quite the 2001 era Johnny Damon.

- Thank Christ for smartphones, the Yelp app, and microbreweries. I can see how chain restaurants survive by sitting close to the highway and being just bland a familiar enough to lure you in, but man what an archaic way to go about your business. The BDGF and I pick a town a few hours in advance of where we expect to be when we are hungry. Then (if it's the two of us) search "brewery" on Yelp and go the one that sounds the best. It's a flawless, beautiful system that keeps us away from the Chilis and Olive Gardens of the world. Of course there is some mild panic when we can't get decent cell phone service. Seriously SKadota - put up some 3G towers. Hell, I'd be happy with a little EDGE network service. It's as primitive as can be out there.

- In the last month, the BDGF and I have driven over 5,000 miles and visited 12 states (including both of the ones that begin with "South"), and the closest we came to an argument was when I got upset with the Arby's drive thru lady somewhere north of Cincinnati for not having what I wanted to eat. Thank you gorgeous for being the world's best travel companion. I look forward to the many adventures yet to come (just not in a car anytime soon).

Posted 11:29am
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