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December 29th, 2011

Sleepybots!

As a rule, I need impetus. I tend to have a few drinks and run my mouth, and then someone calls me on something that I said was a good idea. Months later I'm forced to half heartedly do something that I don't have the talent or perseverence for. This is well documented. The BDGF goes one better. She generally hears me say something inane, stupid, or at least grandiose and then scales it into something awesome. Witness our Xmas card:

One night I had an idea to draw the family in horrible Xmas sweaters and then scale it huge to place on our front lawn as part of our exterior holiday confections. Instead of calling me on this atrocity, she merely said "How about you turn that into our Xmas card?" She's good.

In a similar fashion, when I off the cuff suggested turning a t-shirt I drunkenly made two and half years ago into Xmas presents, she showed up the next morning hurling t-shirts at me with requests. These are the results:

My friend Lieberstein had a "come in your PJs brunch" back in the day, and I drew a crude sleep ridden robot on a t-shirt to wear to the shin dig. As crude as it was, it got admired and some how led to these, my new line of Sleepybots Jammys. The first few should be relatively self-explanatory, the last was for Damma: all of her grandkids as very tired robots. I'd tell you to look for these in my Etsy shop,where I will turn this drunk idea into a Martha Stewart-esque fortune, but you're probably better off telling me you admire them and then waiting for an occasion for me to make you one. In any event, remember that robots get tired too, and have a happy New Year.

Posted 12:32am
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December 22nd, 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Christmastime video on the internet

Editors note: My plan is to migrate the site to a new space between now and the end of Xmas vacation. So in addition to minimal posting over the next fortnight due to my drinking schedule, you may come here and find nothing but a vast sea of emptiness comparable to the Juttland Wastes. Don't panic. We'll be back in 2012. Stronger and drunker than ever. xoxo

- Starting off with a bang: Drunk History: Twas the Night Before Xmas is live on the internet. It's a Christmas miracle.

- My Drunk Kitchen also has a Christmas special that involves the futility that is a gingerbread house.

- Here's Newt and Calista Gingrich's video Xmas card, that makes me want to be violently drunk.

- Finally, for those of you who can't wait until January 3rd for Michigan's bowl game, here's 18 minutes of football porn. God bless us everyone.

Posted 10:32am
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December 21st , 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Favorite Holiday Tunes

I make no apologies for loving Christmas music. Of course I can't just turn on whatever local radio station is spewing out Mariah Carey or some flavor of the month saccharin crap - I have very specific needs. Heavy doses of the Rat Pack, Johnny Mathis, Rock and Roll and a dash of comedy. These are my absolute favorites.

10. Give Me Your Love for Christmas - Johnny Mathis
My mother loved Johnny Mathis. Loved. So I do too. And this is a song that didn't get covered to death like it deserved, so it's still fresh and beautiful as ever.

9. Father Christmas - The Kinks
A lot of 'new' rock Christmas songs can suck it (I'm looking at you, former Beatles). Ray Davies did it right.

8. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan
I don't have a problem with overly religious Xmas songs, but they're usually not my favorite. This is an exception, probably because I dig the arrangement so much.

7. Baby it's Cold Outside - Dean Martin
There's a lot of great versions of this great song, but give me Deano, probably because they keep the verse about cigarettes and "What will people say?!?" It's a scandal for Christmas!

6. Santa Claws - Vermont
The one song on the list nobody knows. You should listen - it's the grooviest.

5. Mr. Heatmiser/Mr. Coldmiser - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
I love this song because I got the BDGF to sing karaoke with me to it. That goes a long way.

4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen
Did Big Man ever get his new saxophone? I'm guessing yes.

3. The Grinch - Dr. Seuss
I sing this song all year long. If you've got a nice bassy voice, it's really fun to belt out. Cuddly as a cactus? Charming as an eel? What fun!

2. Christmas All Over - Tom Petty
This is the second newest song on the list. I like the idea that there are still great new Christmas songs to be written, and this is certainly already a classic.

1. Santa Claus - Cheech and Chong
My all-time favorite Christmas "song". And the one most requested by my children. Guaranteed to make you laugh and put you in the holiday spirit.

Posted 10:22am
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December 20th , 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Favorite Holiday Flicks

Baby, it's cold outside. What better reason to stay inside, curl up under the blankets and watch some movies to put you in the yuletide spirit? I love a good Christmas movie, especially the unconventional ones. Sure A Christmas Story, Elf, It's a Wonderful Life and Scrooged are great, but they're a tad obvious. Here's my top five Christmas movies that you may have forgotten are Christmas movies.

5. Gremlins
I haven't seen Gremlins in far too long, so I can't remember if the mogwai was initially a Christmas present or not, but I do remember Phoebe Cates' story about her dad getting cooked in the chimney trying to play Santa. Merry Christmas movie house!

4. Lethal Weapon
From "Jingle Bell Rock" being played during the opening credits, to our introduction to Martin Riggs in a Christmas tree lot, Lethal Weapon is practically an out and out Christmas film. OK, maybe not, but still a good alternative to Love, Actually.

3. Go
People too often forget Doug Liman's follow up to Swingers, and the holidays are just the time to remember. Enjoy a pre-spoiled-by-Tom-Cruise Katie Holmes and an Xmas themed rave. It's 90's Christmas nostalgia.

2. Trading Places
Taking place over the month between Thanksgiving and New Years, Trading Places encompasses the entire holiday season. Watch this after dinner, as seeing Dan Akroyd eat a piece of ham through his Santa beard is enough to spoil any appetite.

1. Die Hard
My all-time favorite Christmas movie. Least you forget, the entire movie is scored by a riff on Beethoven's 9th, and it also contains the line "Now I have a machine gun. Ho. Ho. Ho." Let's start a campaign to make "Yipee Kay Aye, Motherfucker" the new "Happy Holidays".

Posted 11:02am
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December 19th , 2011

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Kim Jong Il...

And the world is rid of another murderous, egomaniacal, lonely dictator. He was an undoubtedly detestable, deranged human being, but let's concentrate on all the joy he's brought us over the years.

- 30 Rock is likely reeling given their North Korean based story line, but man did they have a run late last year.

- The Daily Show has of course used the North Korean dictator for fodder over the years. None perhaps better than when talking about his now successor, Kim Jong Un.

- The Onion asks if Jong-Un is crazy enough to run North Korea. One wonders why Jong Il's robot powers couldn't save him.

- Hulu provides a comedy retrospective.

- South Park once weighed in.

Posted 11:11am
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December 16th , 2011

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

- Anyone looking to do some last minute, online holiday shopping that benefits children's writing programs, have I got a site for you. The Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair shop has a holiday catalog for all your robot needs.

- Anyone worried that known pedophile Jerry Sandusky would put together some OJ Simpson style legal dream team and get off without paying the maximum punishment allowed by law for his crimes can rest easy. Not only did he compare Sandusky's 'legal woes' with a football game while suggesting people call a gay sex line (seriously) THIS was his defense for showering with young boys. I couldn't make this shit up.

- Here's two holiday videos for you to enjoy - A Very Calvin and Hobbes Christmas and a trailer for the upcoming Drunk History: Christmas. It promises to be drunktastic.

- Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Hitchens... Today we say goodbye to one of the most erudite men to ever walk the face of the Earth. I vehemently disagreed with Christopher Hitchens. A lot. But I always respected him. I respected the way he lived his life, the way he argued and above all, the way he wrote. Anyone holding out hope that one of the world's most renowned atheists would have a death bed conversion to the side of the righteous forgot an important truth - Hitch was better than you. And far to stubborn a twat to give anyone that level of satisfaction.

- Finally, tomorrow I make my bi-annual pilgrimage back to where I was born. Outside of my family and a few high school friends that never left, I've got zero connection to the place outside of a penchant for using a colloquialism now and again where the subject and verb of a sentence don't agree. And I hate when I hear myself do that. But family and duty calls, so the whole fake family will bear down for 24 hours in Ohio. I look forward to seeing my dad and siblings and their offspring, to watching how quickly someone will change the subject if religion or politics get mentioned in my presence, and drinking enough alcohol to make so many children in such a small space bearable. Happy Holidays everyone.

Posted 10:56am
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December 15th , 2011

The world is full of assholes.

1. Our president. The U.S. Military now can indefinitely detain American citizens captured on U.S. soil. If this sounds crazy for the Bush Administration, or you know, woefully unconstitutional, well congratulations for having a sense of irony and a high school level understanding of our nations founding documents. My Senator, Carl Levin, was sponsor of the specific amendment that allowed this, and I've already sent him a letter noting that despite how much I've enjoyed being represented by him for over 15 years, he no longer has my vote. You're an asshole too, Carl.

2. The Salvation Army. And not just for being omnipresent and annoying for one twelfth of the year. You guys, they're super homophobic. Like Chick-fil-a bad. Please don't give your money to these assholes, no matter how judgmental of a look the jerk faces give you when you blow by them leaving the grocery store. (HT: Liberstein and @thegynomite)

3. William Shatner. Apparently in full-on panic for not having any attention for a period approaching months, Bill put out a video trashing Star Wars in comparison to Star Trek, which we all know is a fool's errand. That caused Carrie Fisher to respond in kind, all of which comes across as petty and frankly, quite far from erudite. Enter George Takei. The non-asshole. George brokers a peace between Wars and Trek to fight a common enemy - Twilight.

4. Finally, Louie CK is a self-admitted asshole. For money though, he's the good kind. Instead of partnering with HBO or Comedy Central for his latest one hour stand up special, he shot it and is releasing it himself, charging you a mere $5 to watch it. Its an awesome model and as it turns out, a successful one. If you a re a fan of comedy, this is something you should encourage. Support this asshole!

Posted 11:24am
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December 14th , 2011

Wednesdays are for politickin' - NEWT! edition.

Our position on Newt Gingrich here at tbaggervance.com is that he sounds what dumb people think smart sounds like. His ideas are shallow and wrongheaded, and only his vehement embrace of them and his adherence to dogma keep every single person within earshot of him from realizing that he's a complete charlatan. Let's go to the tape:

- How big is Newt's head? Both figuratively and literally, pretty fucking big.

- How dumb is Newt's tax plan? Pretty fucking dumb.

- How awesome is Newt's personal life? Sure he divorced his first wife while she had cancer, but did you know that he met that wife while he was in high school and she was a geometry teacher? Did you know he went into politics because he couldn't get tenure at West Georgia College? A man of History indeed!

- How much of a hypocrite is Newt? Do you want me to keep going after Fannie Mae? How about prosecuting President Clinton for having an affair while having one himself? You stay classy Newt.

- How much of a disaster would Newt be as the Republican nominee? The establishment is so panicked that they've offered him a million dollars to go away.

- Finally, Chris Farley as Newt Gingrich. You're welcome.

Posted 10:40am
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December 13th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? War on Xmas edition

Living in a household with five people having four last names has some tricky idiosyncrasies. Chief among them is the holidays. When you're sharing custody of children, xmas and thanksgiving have to be a time of give and take. When you're living with someone who shares custody while you're doing the same, it can be a logistical nightmare. Add in trips to see your family, and her family, and the kids having to visit the relatives on their other parent's side of the family - I can barely type that and have it make sense.

During Thanksgiving it helps to think long term and rotate on a yearly basis. During Xmas it helps to be an atheist. We have a house full of them. A house filled with xmas loving atheists. We do love our holiday traditions, but when trying to make everyone happy with a schedule, how important is the actual date of December 25th? Jesus wasn't even born on that date. The most devout Catholic knows that most, if not all, of your yuletide symbols and traditions are stolen from the pagans. Santa's suit exists largely thanks to Coca-Cola, and Rudolph was thought up in the 1930's by a Montgomery Ward copy writer. O come let us adore the sanctity of the holidays!

There's no war on Christmas. Christmas is already secular. It's as commercial a holiday as Valentines Day or Mothers Day. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's cold outside. We need parties and presents and food and family to gather close and forget for a while that it is cold as balls outside. I say Happy Holidays to people not because I hate Jesus, but there's at least two holidays this month - xmas and new years - that everyone celebrates. We have a tree and a porcelain xmas village and stockings and gingerbread houses and you name it. But no nativity. It's not any less special.

This year I won't have Siddhartha on Xmas morning. He'll be at his mothers while the rest of our household is in Indiana, getting ready to put the BDGF's girls on a plane to Oregon the next morning. This is life when five people living together have four last names and your not sharing a crappy college apartment. But we'll throw thousands of dollars worth of presents at them two days early and no one will be the wiser. Especially the children, who will get to do it again two days later. This setup does have its advantages.

- Getting in the holiday spirit, a Kentucky church banned interracial couples from its services. They overturned it a few days later, but does anyone really believe it was because they had an honest to goodness change of heart? Show of hands...

- Finally, I can't stand Tim Tebow. The guy is an undeniable winner and a seemingly really nice guy, but the religious stuff gives me the heebie geebies. There's the fact that he throws a football about as well as I do, but that should be endearing, and it just isn't when it comes to him. Probably because of stuff like this. Tebow can believe in Jesus all he wants, but when his pastor thinks that God is the 12th man, willing the Broncos to victory, well I just vomited on my keyboard, so thanks for that.

Posted 11:12am
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December 12th , 2011

Babies.

In the last week two of my best friends have had their first child*. Both are ostensibly my age. Both are happily married. Both are rightfully proud and excited and nervous and I have no doubt that they'll both make great fathers, if for no other reason than they are married to great women that will keep them in line. And I'm excited, knowing that there's two new people on the planet whose lives I get to be a part of for the next 20 years. That's a special thing. But I would feel remiss if I didn't note that I think both of these proud new papas are fucking nuts.

My perspective on this is admittedly skewed. Being a teenage parent does that to you. I've spent the last 16 years watching the clock, waiting for my sentence to be over. As rewarding as it's been, what kills me is the idea of starting over right now. Sixteen years in the idea of going back to diapers is unfathomable. At 36 there's not enough caffeine and Red Bull in the world to provide the fuel that'd be necessary for me to make another parenting run. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Of course I did knowingly extend my stay in parenting when I fell for the BDGF. I got extremely lucky in that her kids are quite lovely and have the ability to reason, which makes dealing with them much easier than wrangling a two year old. But I'm still now on the hook for 8 years of taxi service right after my kid got his drivers license. I still get another decade of teacher conferences and sitting in auditoriums watching other parent's precious commodities that I couldn't care less about while waiting for mine to go on. Despite all that, I feel extremely lucky to get to be a part of all of it.

In that sense, I get exactly why my friends are just now throwing themselves into the parenting abyss. The terribleness of parenting is dwarfed by the rewards. It doesn't always seem like it when you're running them from one activity to the next or staring at a field hockey schedule that conflicts with Michigan football games, but then they put their head on your should and it all melts away. I guess in that sense you'd be fucking nuts not to give that a go.

* One is actually in labor as we speak, but I'm assuming the baby will be here toot suite.

Posted 10:30am
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December 9th , 2011

tbaggervance's Top 10 Albums of 2011.

Here it is. The only year end round up you'll ever need.

10. Dangermouse and Danni Lupi - Rome
Jack White and Norah Jones? Yes please. As a huge fan of Ennio Morricone, I can't think of a more interesting, rag tag group to pay homage to his legacy, and to do so with such great aplomb.

9. Maritime - Human Hearts
When Davey Von Bohlen releases an album, it makes my top ten. There's something about not only having an affinity for someone's personal aesthetic, but to also be the same age as that person and watch it grow and change over the years and to view your relationship with said person as that aesthetic evolves. Just me?

8. Grouplove - Grouplove
More of an EP than an album, but we don't differentiate here at tbaggervance.com. Here's hoping that they can remain as high energy and interesting as they begin to stretch things out.

7. Army/Navy - The Last Place
Am I the only one that just figured out that Justin Kennedy of Army?Navy was in Pinwheel with Ben Gibbard back in the day?!? Oh thank god. Army/Navy sometimes pushes my limits of disaffected jangle pop, but at its best, it is pretty darn wonderful indeed.

6. We Were Promised Jetpacks - In the Pit of the Stomach
Sophomore albums are tough. You can come out with more of the same and be accused of turning out the same crap, or you can make a huge departure and get cries of contrarianism. Jetpacks took the third route of trying to take the accoutrements that made their first album so great and make them darker and harder. It's pretty successful, even if it lacks one great, memorable anthem that populated These Four Walls.

5. Sleeper Agent - Celebrasion
OK, so existing paradigms suggest that I dismiss these guys as foo foo pop punk for the kiddies out there. But it's just too damn fun and catchy. I don't have high hopes that what's on their debut is sustainable, but I've been wrong before, and would gladly be here again.

4. Original Cast Recording - The Book of Mormon
There's certainly a debate to be had about how listening to this album before seeing the show could spoil some of the hilarious surprises contained within. To that I say I've seen Guys and Dolls a hundred times and would go see a well staged production right now if I had the chance. Enjoy this until the hype dies down enough that you can actually get a ticket to this.

3. Wilco - The Whole Love
The first time I listen to Wilco's latest album my immediate reaction was "Shit. It's not much better thanWilco (The Album)" - which I hated. But cooler heads prevailed and I now love The Whole Love. While Wilco (The Album) felt detached, there's a great, big, beating heart here, which has always been the center of Wilco at its best.

2. Chris Bathgate - Salt Year
Chris Bathgate will forever suffer in brain from the fact that I can never detach my analysis of how good his stuff is from my personal connection to him. Chris Bathgate should be as big as Bon Iver in my mind - but better because it's not quite as depressing. At the end of the day all I have to do is enjoy it and be thankful that I have so many opportunities to see him, of course only until I remember that the BDGF wants nothing to do with him.

1. The Black Keys - El Camino
Five years ago I was in Columbus for a football game talking to a guy who was in town to see the Black Keys. I remember how impressed and excited he was that I even knew who they were. A lot has changed since then. It only came out Tuesday, but if this album doesn't burn up you iPod and stereo the next six months, I'll eat my hat.

Posted 11:02am
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December 8th , 2011

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

- Everyone in our house loves the Mythbusters. Which is nice, because even if you're showing up for the explosions, most of the show is science, and it's gonna seep in there like it or not. Of course in trying to please the explosion loving contingent, they may have gone too far yesterday, as they accidentally shot a cannonball through someone's house, over a highway, off a roof and into a SUV. Well there's your problem...

- It's kind of pointless to talk about Rick Perry and his blatant homophobia these days, but let's do it anyway. The Obama administration made an important announcement yesterday supporting worldwide gay rights (which no one covered) and then Perry came out decrying the "deeply objectionable" gay lifestyle. That's offensive to me, but this, well it's just bizarre. Gays can serve openly in our military but our children can't openly celebrate Christmas? What's going on in Texas that that's true?

- The Black Keys latest opus El Camino dropped Tuesday, and as previously stated here, it is fabulous. You can catch their media blitz to SNL, Colbert and Letterman. Dave is giddy as a schoolgirl.

-This Week in Booze: I unfortunately know a lot of Old Milwaukee drinkers who will use this as justification for their life choices, to which I say it's still pisswater. And on a happier note, the FDA has approved a hangover cure. Keep next to bedside at all times. Don't get it confused with your emergency Plan B pills.

- Finally, I put up outdoor Xmas lights this year to make my fake daughters happy, but next year I might do this just for me. Happy Holidays.

Posted 11:10am
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December 7th , 2011

Milestones.

Yesterday I had written my politickin' post and started to upload it when I noticed the calendar. The blog turned 7 yesterday! No shit. Of course this also coincided with a text that I received from Siddhartha's Babymama, telling me that he had passed his road test and was now a licensed driver. Yikes.

So I have these dynamic children: changing, swirling and evolving. One I have complete control over and the other, little to none. In the next year my 16 year old will visit colleges, apply to them, pick one, and then shortly leave me for greener pasteurs. Yikes.

The blog, well I've decided it's time for the blog to grow up a bit too. Not in content mind you, that will be as juvenile as ever. But I started this thing based on the free resources I had at my disposal via the University. After 7 years, it's time to go corporate.

What does this mean to you, dear readers? Probably not much. Since this thing will now cost me money, it will also have attempts at revenue. Nothing gauche or garish, just some Google ads to offset the cost of bringing you content. It will also mean that those of you behind jack-booted firewalls will be able to read me in public places again. Yikes.

So happy birthday tbaggervance.com and congratulations Siddhartha. There's been plenty of times I didn't think we'd get here, but now I can see that the best stuff is right in front of us. Let's not screw it up now.

Posted 11:10am
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December 6th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'.

- At the intersection of Tuesdays are for politickin' and What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? you'll find this video: Penn Jillette's Atheist's Guide to the 2012 election. In it he addresses the Kobayashi Maru of Obama: Religious or Liar?

- While I enjoy the cripple fight that the race to lose to Obama has been, I have always been and forever will be in favor of a strong opposition so that we can have the grand debate that this country deserves. Alas those days may be forever gone, but how much better would it be if John Huntsman could gain traction? Anybody who goes on Fox News and ostensibly says "I'm not blowing Trump for an endorsement - this is serious business," is my kind of guy.

- Troy, Michigan mayor Janice Daniels hates the queers. The weird thing is, she apologized for using the word queers, but not the sentiment, because that's where we are with this right now. Oy vey. Even if she never gets it, someday her grandkids will shudder at the thought that she didn't say "I regret that not only did I espouse a view that denies my fellow citizens their basic civil rights, but that I chastised an entire state for addressing the issue and righting a wrong. My religious convictions are my own, and should not influence my public stance on whether or not someone's orientation should deny them what is afforded to me as a citizen of this country." See? Easy.

- Finally, Newt Gingrich is the Republican frontrunner? The guy who dumb people think sounds smart? The guy with this record? With these unfavorable numbers BEFORE being vetted by the press? Divorced his wife while on her cancer deathbed Newt Gingrich? OK, but you asked for it.

Posted 11:13am
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December 5th , 2011

May the (holiday) Force be with you.

Let's face it, Star Wars is basically a Christmas movie. At least in my house. The reason for this is two fold: One, it's a movie that everyone can sit down and watch, yet no one has to pay 100% attention to follow or enjoy the thing. Get up and do your whatever while it's going on, and you can still jump back in later*. Perhaps more important though, is that nary a Christmas season goes by without a Star Wars related gift. I got them every year growing up. Sid got them when he was younger, and now I have the privilege of buying them for the BDGF's littlest. At some point I'll be buying actual working lightsabers for the grandkids, shortly after I purchase the original trilogy one more time in 4D (you can actually smell the inside of the tauntaun!)

Thus we brought the holiday season to true fruition last night with Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, for the first time on Blu-ray. It does look great. The "additions" are still annoying, and I will pray that some day we'll get the cleaned up original versions that everyone but Lucas wants. But I'm not holding my breath. This is what we have, and being able to sit down and enjoy it with two beautiful girls who love the movie as much as I do? Well it makes Greedo shooting first almost bearable.

- Someone needs to fully animate this Rankin-Bass style ASAP: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Tauntaun.

- I would gladly trade my current booze cabinet for this.

- Every year the girls build a gingerbread house for the holidays. Here is me lobbying to change that.

- We have plenty of expensive, Lucasfilm authorized ornaments on our tree, but these are just as cool.

- Finally, for anyone looking to buy me a completely ridiculously extravagant Star Wars related gift, I'm a size 10.

*For the record, I don't endorse this watching style, but it is possible.

Posted 11:02am
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December 2nd , 2011

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

- Urban Meyer is the new head coach at Ohio. I don't really feel one way or another about this. He's good, but he's a bit of an entitled schizo. My hatred of him is built in, so there's nothing new to learn, but most importantly, Michigan is undefeated against him. So meh. I do however find the fact that The Onion mentioned him twice this week hilarious.

- From the 'duh' department, abstinence only education doesn't work, and people who watch Fox News are uninformed. Someone owes Jon Stewart an apology.

- Pennies are the worst. Am I right? Nonbelievers, here's the science.

- My booze evolution has taken a fairly orthodox path. There was a time (high school) when I 'treated' myself to Budweiser. Regular, not unleaded. Then I went to college and exclusively drank mass produced domestic swill for four years, peppered here and there with shots with overly elaborate names and ingredient lists. Post-graduation I started to mix in cocktails and wine, upgrading the quality of each I would be willing to imbibe over time. My beer drinking is at its final iteration: microbrews that cost $10 a six pack. There's really no where to go from here with beer without being a pompous ass hat (assuming you don't think I'm already there for drinking beer you can taste). I've had expensive wine, and I find my palate is just fine with the $10 bottle stuff, although I'm sure I'll pay much more than that for a decent bottle several times a year for the rest of my life. I can still graduate to Goose or Kettle One in the spirits department, but I either need a raise or to curb my vodka intake, and you can guess which will happen first. Of course I'm told that eventually I will get to a point where I drink nothing but expensive scotch, and to that I say "I await the day." I say all of this to point out that the first beer in space was a Natty Light. This means that by 2050 you can look forward to Macallan on the moon.

- Finally, I am two(ish) presents short of being done with xmas shopping. This may be a personal best. The house is decorated, there's slush in the freezer and we even got a good bit of wrapping done last night. Bring on the holidays, god help us everyone.

Posted 3:02pm
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December 1st , 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

It seems like it's been a while since we've spent much time or energy on gay marriage or marijuana legalization here at tbaggervance.com. And while we're not potheads nor do we seek out sex with genitals we already have a set of, we do view these issues as somewhere between basic human rights and good public policy. So where are we these days? Let's take a look:

- Where's the public on pot? Only 40% of the public at large thinks pot should be straight up legal, but almost twice that supports medical marijuana. Of course we're at a majority of people under 30 and approaching that for independents, so the tipping point is merely a matter of time.

- Why legalize it? Well there's the rote arguments of the cost of prohibition vs the revenue of legalization, but pot is still scary, right? How about if it reduced traffic deaths? As any stoner will you, there's much more to fear from a drunk behind the wheel than someone who's baked.

- What about the gays? In the last 15 years, support has gone from 27% to 46%, while opposition has dropped from 65% to 44%. So we are finally sitting at more people favoring it than not.

- You'd think that given these overwhelming numbers, politicians would be the first to champion the cause and be on the right side of history. Let's survey your field of GOP presidential candidates:

Mitt Romney supports a federal amendment defining marriage as penis and vagina only - despite calling it a "State issue" and as late as last week saying he supports gay rights.

Newt Gingrich called gay marriage a "temporary aberration," just like his first two marriages that ended with his infidelities.

Michelle Bachmann says that gay people can marry - people of the opposite sex that is. Just ask her husband.

Rick Perry signed this Iowa hate group's pledge, stating he's appoint judges who would defend traditional marriage. You may remember that pledge as the one that stated black children born into slavery had it better off than black children born today.

Herman Cain can't make up his mind. "What do the people who can win me Iowa want? That's what I want. Hey sexy, how you doin'?"

Rick Santorum? Anyone want to stand with this cat?

Jon Huntsman doesn't support the redefining of marriage, but he does support civil unions. This is the only person listed who has never led the race.

So instead of courting the 47% of independents who support gay marriage, the entirety of the GOP field runs to the backwards base and plays on scare tactics. Meanwhile Wisconsin says it's street legal to harass gays in the workplace. You stay classy Republicans.

Posted 10:42am
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November 30th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Rolling Stone is out with another bullshit arbitrary list to fill column inches. This time it's their version of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. I won't bother parsing it except to note three things: Hendrix is a no-brainer number one, which will always make these lists boring. Clapton sucks and you can't convince me otherwise. And when the BDGF found out that Jack White was all the way down in the 70s, she nearly had an embolism. Natch.

- More best-ofs, this time it's Slate's best live albums. It fails to mention J. Geils Band's Blow Your Face Out (but does take time to talk about Guns and Roses?), so it is immediately dismissed.

- Lego Freddy Mercury does him absolute justice.

- I am contractually obligated to tell you Neko Case was on television the other night.

- Stanley from The Office has a rap video that's heavy on hand jobs. Huh.

- The Black Keys' El Camino isn't out until next week, but you can hear three more tracks from their album over at their website. Or if you are internet savvy, you can go grab it from the ether. If I were such a person, I would tell you that after one listen, it is probably my favorite Keys album yet. No foolin'.

- Finally, if you were in Ann Arbor last week and heard a faintly audible "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" it was probably when I read this. Of course their Chicago show coincides with my return from mid-winter vacation, so cross your fingers they book some more shows. I will go to several of them, I promise Davey.

Posted 10:54am
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November 29th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'.

- We often forget about our third branch of government, the lowly judiciary. But truth be told, they are making the decisions that affect our day to day lives, setting precedents and deciding who has the power in this country. That's why I always thought W's legacy was going to be the two pro-business assholes he put on the court. Of course it was the other two contemptuous dolts who were being wined and dined by those attempting to overturn healthcare legislation. Come on Justice Kennedy...

- Of course there is good in the judicial world, like this hero wielding the power of his gavel for the American good.

- Here's an infographic outlaying what you probably already expected about the Tea Party vs #occupy.

- If Ayn Rand were alive today, she'd be the Republican frontrunner. Thank christ for finite life spans.

- For those of you tired of our current political climate, have a sense of history and could use a good laugh, check these presidential messages. Notably absent - President Murray.

- Finally, I'm too lazy to look up who said it, but whomever did nailed it when they noted that Newt Gingrich is what a dumb person thinks a smart person sounds like. Your prototypical pseudo-intellectual. But what if I told you that Newt was a closet hipster? Minds, prepare to be blown:

With a name like Newt, this was inevitable.

Posted 1:38pm
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November 28th , 2011

Thanks given.

The Michigan/Ohio game should not be held over Thanksgiving weekend. My obsession and consternation over what a bunch of 18 year olds do on a football field during Saturday afternoons may be irrational, but that doesn't mean it's not a thing that doesn't exist. Therefore I should be allowed to sit in the dark, curled up in a fetal position for a minimum of 72 hours prior to kick off - not making dinner for family and friends, interacting with other people and being generally expected to be an affable member of the human race. It's not fair.

Nevertheless that is exactly what happens every few years. So while I am grateful to every member of Michigan's football program for purging sins and excising demons last Saturday, I am truly thankful to my family, especially the BDGF, for their patience and indulgence leading up that victory. I feel guilty for spending so much time staring off into the middle distance, only to snap out of it when I hear the BDGF say "You're so quiet I can't stand it." So thanks family. I shouldn't care the way I do, but there it sits. You should have seen me 15 years ago. Or rather, thank goodness none of you actually did.

- Here is your inevitable Star Wars/Grinch mashup.

Posted 11:33am
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November 23rd , 2011

Oh how I hate...

Imagine two scenarios. In the first you're walking down the street when out of nowhere a guy runs up and takes three curl hops before kicking you in the junk while wearing golf spikes. In the second an Ohio grad buys you a beer. Fuck that second guy, am I right?

My hatred of Ohio is irrational and special. It's not that most Michigan fans don't hate our functionally retarded neighbors to the South, but my seething anger runs deeper. I lived in Ohio. I made it out. I'm still suffering from PTSD.

This is something I don't dwell on. It rarely comes up. I'm quite adroit at avoiding things that I do not enjoy. It wasn't always that way - for a dozen years I was in Columbus every other year for The Game. After countless punches in the back, beers poured on my head and feckless insults, I remembered that I am not a masochist.

This week is always tough though. Every local news source runs stories about The Game. Radio stations talk about little else. I am bombarded with words and images related to what I hate most in the world. It's like if they held last night's Republican debate in San Francisco.

This year - well this year is a mixed bag. After seven years of playing the suffering underdog, the tide has finally turned. A win is expected, so a loss would be that much more devastating. Like a battered wife I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's not a comfortable mind set.

I've always joked that my toast to Siddhartha upon graduating high school would go something like "Congratulations. You've accomplished jack shit. Now get back to work." That's going to be my attitude Saturday. Unless in both cases I can't contain my unadulterated joy and I spontaneously combust into a cloud of glitter and kittens and rainbows. Either way, let's Go Blue.

Posted 10:17am
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November 22nd , 2011

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

- The kids over at The Onion's AV Club continue to crush it. First, the second entry in their On Track Mind series features Matthew Sweet performing and talking about his 1991 classic "I've Been Waiting." Then, to put you in the holiday spirit, Detroit's own The Electric Six do up "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."

- I was already very much looking to seeing The Muppets over Thanksgiving break. But then I found out that Bret Mckenzie from Flight of the Conchords did the music, so I had a spontaneous orgasm and passed out. Here he is dueting with legendary crooner Kermit the Frog.

- So the guy who recut the entire Star Wars Trilogy to include alternate takes, behind the scenes footage and general did-you-know? trivia has done it again with Indiana Jones. That's two spontaneous orgasms in a single day.

- The Dr. Who Christmas Special is coming! The Dr. Who Christmas Special is coming! For those of you not sufficiently nerded out about that, how about this math teacher's video chicanery?

- Finally, Michigan plays Ohio this Saturday, a fact that will slowly consume my existence over the next 72 hours. It's extra special this year since for the first time in five years we have a semblance of an actual team, and while jokes will always be made, this game puts a cap on the Tressel era. I will always hate Ohio, but I hated Tressel something special, mostly because I knew this from day one:

Since 2000, Ohio State has reported to the NCAA more than 375 violations -- the most of any of the 69 Football Bowl Subdivision schools that provided documents to The Dispatch through public-records requests. Most infractions were minor -- a coach called a recruit too many times, for example. Others, however, left athletes benched, fined or at least embarrassed.

The guy won, but he won dirty. Nothing irks me more than a total skeev who acts like a paragon of virtue. Fuck him. Hopefully Michigan can take care of business Saturday and we can put all this unpleasantness behind us.

Posted 10:39am
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November 21st , 2011

It was for sale and I wanted it.

I joke a lot about growing up poor. It's an obvious bit of hyperbole. We were 'patch the holes in your clothes' poor. We were 'not leave the state on vacation' poor. My mother went to a lot of garage sales, my dad had more than one job. We never did without, but knew better than to ask for too many extras. You certainly didn't get a gently used Honda on your 16th birthday and if you wanted to go to college, prepare thyself for a lifetime of student loans. I'm sure to many this is a trivial level of lower middle class wealth distinction, but it didn't feel that way growing up.

The glaring exception to this was during Christmas. Mom and Dad saved all year for it, and when the time came, they pulled out all the stops. I don't ever remember asking for something and not getting it. In fact, they generally went beyond my expectations and gave me things I never would have dreamt of even wanting, less I receive a lecture about austerity. Christmas morning was your reward for a year of not understanding why you couldn't get one measly Star Wars figure from the store when they only cost $3.

Of course it wasn't just the presents. My mother littered the house with red and green everything. And the Moeman, well legend has it that he was the inspiration for Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. He measured the number lights adorning our property in the tens of thousands. We had over a dozen life size plywood cutouts shaped like Santa, elves and reindeer, including an eight foot high, six foot wide santa's workshop - all lit by half a dozen well placed spotlights. It took him weeks to get it all set up. He certainly took a lot of pride in his yuletide endeavor, but at the end of the day it was about giving some Christmas magic to his family.

I've certainly continued my parent's penchant for holiday indulgence. I generally spend more than I can afford on gifts and try to not only give the kids everything they want, but a few things they wouldn't have dared to ask for (or at least not thought of). It's the only way I know how to do it. And now that I have a house and the BDGF's girls who are gaga for Christmas, well it really doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how this was going to play out. I'm no Moeman and have had to assure the BDGF that it won't ever get that way. But just a splash of the ol' holiday cheer can go a long way. Trust me when I tell you, if you would have seen the look on their faces when they saw it for the first time, you'd have done the same.

Posted 10:30am
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November 18th , 2011

The art of anticipation.

It's the journey, not the destination - or so the adage goes. To not so eloquently twist and shoehorn that saying, it's not the event, but the anticipation. Not too long ago there was a study that showed that the happiness people derive from taking a vacation is not from the actual travel but from the planning and looking forward to it. Especially if you have children and/or a partner that doesn't travel well, vacations can be stressful. And expensive. And if you head south in the winter and it rains for a week, disappointing. There's a million wrong things that can happen when you venture out into the big wide world, but the leading up to part is inevitably flawless.

The BDGF and I travel very well together. This is an important aspect of our relationship since she has a serious case of wanderlust. She generally starts to plan our next vacation on the way home from the one we are on. We are headed to Phoenix in February, and while we don't have plane tickets or hotel reservation yet, last night she was bandying about destinations for the following two winters. Now admittedly she was dreaming of warm places during the first serious cold snap of the year, and this likely wouldn't be conversation fodder in mid-July, but it doesn't change the fact that my baby loves to look ahead.

Of course I'm not in a position to fly her to exotic places week in and week out, so on a continuing basis, we look forward to concerts. Going to shows is pretty much our shared hobby. Nothing makes us happier than to have several tickets bundled on the magnetic clip stuck to the chalkboard in our kitchen. When it's empty, we are sad pandas. And it's not been a great fall for that clip. Which is why I gleefully emailed the BDGF this link yesterday, to which she replied "We can take the week off and go to all three shows right?" To which I replied "Of course." Because the rule of law in our house is "Whatever Baby wants, Baby gets." Thankfully most of the time it's what I want too.

Posted 11:05am
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November 17th , 2011

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

- I've never was a regular at The Bang! but I nevertheless wish them a happy 10th birthday and thank them for the good times I have had there.

- We here at tbaggervance.com never get tired of stories about Kurt Vonnegut, so we bring you this and this. So it goes.

- I'm not sure why, but I somehow have managed to associate Star Wars with Christmas. Perhaps it was all the Star Wars merch I got as a kid, or have subsequently purchased for mine over the years. Maybe it's because with all that time over holiday break, I will eventually watch at least one Star Wars movie. Whatever it is, we are a mere week from Thanksgiving people, and it is the holiday season. As such, I had a moment of weakness and purchased the original trilogy on Blu-ray last week (it was only $30! Come on!). You should placate yourself with fun Star Wars Travel Posters and Cheers parodies.

- Here's 10 things you didn't know about Sesame Street. You are now free to call my son Cookie Monster.

- Finally, my first reaction to this was that asking Ohio fans to be classy is a bit like telling me I don't need another drink - you've taken a pointless exercise and likely exacerbated the thing by merely mentioning it. But then I remembered that they were kind of subdued in 2006 after Bo Schembechler died. I also remember a drunk asshole punching a girl in the chest that year for merely wearing maize and blue, so maybe I'll stick to my first instinct.

Posted 10:47am
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November 16th , 2011

Tales of adequate customer service.

Comcast is the worst. I mean that literally. I can't think of a more inept company. This is especially unfortunate given that they have a virtual monopoly on something almost everyone wants. My run-ins with these bastards have been numerous, but let's concentrate on how they've tried to continually screw me since I stopped being a customer of theirs.

I called up this summer to inform Comcast that I would no longer be paying their exorbitant fees for cable and internet, largely because I thought they were collectively a piece of shit that needs to go directly to hell. I was going to a knowingly inferior product, just so I could have the piece of mind that they no longer received a stipend from me. So they sent me a box to put my tiny two cablecards* in to return to them, which I promptly did.

So imagine my bewilderment when a month later a guy showed up at my front door, unannounced, saying he was there to pick up my cable equipment. I told him I mailed it in months ago and that he could go fuck himself. He laughed. "Yeah, this kind of thing happens all the time." We know asshead. So I shouldn't have been surprised two weeks later when I got a bill for $770 for unreturned equipment.

Not surprised, just super hot fucking pissed. I called Comcast, explained the situation, noting that this kind of stupid bullshit was the exact reason I left them for dead, and I didn't appreciate that I was still having to do it. It was like having to watch the cat of an ex-girlfriend who fucked your best friend. They said they'd look into it and get back to me in 15 days.

A month later I get a bill from a collection agency saying that I owe Comcast $60, and if I didn't pay toot suite, they'd take me to court. So I called Comcast. Again. They say they don't know shit about any collection agency and that according to their records, I still owed them $770. They promised to expedite my case and get back to me ASAP. I told them that I hope everyone there gets genital warts. It's the last we've spoken. That was 3 weeks ago.

This is not a unique story unfortunately, I know that. But I'd like to contrast it with what happened to me last night. 6 months ago or so I purchased a pair of Tweaked Audio headphones. They were advertising on a podcast I enjoyed, and since I needed headphones, I figured I'd support said podcast by patronizing its advertisers. The headphones were awesome. If you don't know it, the headphones that came with your iPod/iPhone suck. These Tweaked headphones not only stayed in my ear canal, but sounded amazing. Unfortunately, after a few months of heavy use they sort of fell apart. I taped them together for a while, but eventually they just failed. So I threw them away.

Last night I came across the packaging of those headphones. I thought "Hey, I should tell them that I loved their headphones but they fell apart." So I did that. Within 15 minutes I had an email back. Yes, there was a manufacturing defect in a small number of their headphones, including the ones that I had purchased. They were sorry and would send me packaging to return the headphones, along with a brand new pair. I emailed back that I had stupidly thrown out the old headphones, and if that means no free ones, no hard feelings. To which they immediately replied "No worries, you should have your new headphones in 3-5 days." See Comcast? Incompetent, annoying and dickish is no way to go through life. Now please fuck off and die.

*Don't know what a cablecard is? Neither does Comcast, as each time I tried to get one installed, it took a minimum of three people coming to my house and me personally spending hours on the phone yelling at 'customer service.' Dicks.

Posted 11:33am
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November 15th , 2011

Stop helping.

- Herman Cain pulled a Palin yesterday when the liberal lamestream media asked him a GOTCHA! question on Libya. Shame on anyone who ever supported this guy, who was always an unserious candidate looking to boost book sales.

- Jerry Sandusky says he's innocent, while admitting to showering with young boys. A.) You might want to look up the definition of 'innocent' and B.) When someone asks you if you're sexually attracted to underage boys, you interrupt with a solid 'NO' before the person finishes the word underage. You do not repeat the question as if stalling for time.

- Senator Chuck Grassley made an impassioned case about the importance of the term 'marriage', it's traditional roots and how DOMA protects its sacred legacy. And then Sen. Al Franken politely swats that bullshit back in his face. Al Franken = awesome.

Posted 11:48am
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November 14th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- Radiohead are going on tour! And predictably, not coming anywhere near here.

- Craig Finn has yet to announce dates supporting his soon-to-be-released solo album, but there is this press release.

- I don't know how I feel about Jimmy Fallon on the whole, but he is doing his best to win me over with his rock icons singing weird songs meme. There's also the history of rap with Justin Timberlake, which if nothing else, the Roots crush.

- The Onion's AV Club has another great series called One Track Mind, which kicks off with Ben Folds talking about "The Luckiest". Also don't forget to regularly check out their Holiday Undercover series, because if your house is anything like mine, it's already time for christmas music.

- Rivers is still mining the era of his career where people loved his music but not enough for him to stop making it and instead become a parody of that which was real. But I'm not bitter about it.

- Finally, going viral this week is drinkify.org, which suggests which boozes you should be drinking while listening to various artists. I didn't agree with a lot of their choices (as they tended to be overly elaborate drinks which I abhor) but they did pair The Hold Steady with PBR, which I correctly guessed because of course it is.

Posted 10:44am
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November 11th , 2011

Happy Nigel Tufnel Day.

This one goes to 11.

 

Since today is the mother of all elevens, here are my favorite 11 songs to crank to 11.

11. Starla - Smashing Pumpkins
OK, this is admittedly due in large part to memories of being 20 and on illicit substances, but the guitars on this song just build and build. When cranked, it pulsates through your spine.

10. The Distance - Cake
A.) this song has a call and response, which is always better loud and B.) it's not so much sung as dictated, which means it's easy to get drunk and sing along.

9. Since I've Been Loving You - Led Zeppelin
Only Zeppelin can make a slow song with plenty of silence sound better loud. Them and maybe Sabbath, but Sabbath is sludgy - Zep is visceral.

8. It's a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock and Roll) - AC/DC
A classic sing-a-long with bagpipes! There's a lot of AC/DC you could throw in here, but this is my personal favorite.

7. Kiss Off - Violent Femmes
The ultimate is teen angst. Listen to this on 11 and you'll be retroactively angry at your parents.

6. Helter Skelter - The Beatles
The Beatles aren't a band that overly benefits from being played super loud, with the distinct exception of this song. Paul's bass sounds like pure evil.

5. Sabotage - The Beastie Boys
Talk about an underrated guitar riff. Add a phat beat, lots of yelling and a building, repeated chorus and you've got a song that needs to be turned up to 11. Listen all y'all it's a Sabotage!

4. Rosalita - Bruce Springsteen
Long loud songs can be a little brutal. They can wear you out. But the Boss weaves a narrative that makes seven minutes feel like four. Plus a call and response!

3. Blue Orchid - The White Stripes
Again, a lot of White Stripes song could go here, and this is far from my favorite Jack White Song. But it best illustrates what I love about loud Jack - fast, screechy, frantic, and a guitar sound from another world.

2. The Cattle and the Creeping Things - The Hold Steady
There is nothing better than Craig Finn spitting religious vitriol at you at maximum volume. Nothing I tell you.

1. Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who
The best revolution song ever. You shouldn't even bother listening to this unless you can crank it loud enough to make your ears bleed. End of story.

Posted 11:11am
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November 10th , 2011

So it goes.

The other day my beloved 826Michigan tweeted the following:

Why do YOU write? Tell us and we'll post throughout the day. Stay tuned for answers from our staff. #whyIwrite

To which I responded:

Writing gives me a sense of accomplishment. And when I do it well, I can always look back and say "I had a good idea once!"

Not the most erudite, granted. But it's a 140 characters, give me a break. The sentiment is there. Later I came across this, by the late great Kurt Vonnegut. As you can probably guess, he was a tad more erudite than I:

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Kurt didn't have Twitter space restrictions, so of course he said it better than I did. But disregarding the subjective parsing of who said it better, this is as close to a personal philosophy as I well ever come. It's impossible to impart without being trite (unless you are the author of Slaughterhouse Five) but it is nevertheless as near a universal truth as you are likely to find: creation is the be all end all. Building things up is immensely harder than tearing something down, but the there has never been a sweeter toil on this Earth.

It's why I'm angry right now. This may be shoehorning a bit but I can't see past the rage that exists within me right now like so much the white hot intensity of a thousand suns over what happened at Penn State. These are people that either deliberately or complicitly tore things down. From the middle aged man who took away a child's innocence with his 'rhythmic slapping', to the adult who witnessed it and failed to notify someone of authority rather than call his daddy, to that guy who thought a person of authority was a septuagenarian who thought of nothing but doing the bare minimum to protect his own ass and the naked one of his long time friend - all should untie their shoes, remove the laces and summarily hang themselves from the nearest rafter, because I cannot fathom how you live with yourself having any note of a hand in any of this.

There is no gray area here. No caveats, no 'yes buts', no empathy for anything but the underage victims. When I was about 12 I saw two large men in their twenties grab my mother's pocketbook out of her purse and turn on their heels to walk away. Instinctually I yelled out and them and luckily, they dropped said pocketbook and walked away. It's trivial compared to the subject at hand, but I think it speaks to the matter - how does a kid see mild injustice and reactionarily speak out, and yet an adult sees a rank crime against humanity and decide to call his daddy a day later?

I don't have an answer. I can guess about protecting a University that someone has allegiance to, or pontificate on how a mix of shock and fear causes someone to hesitate and be left found wanting, but it is all sheer conjecture and ultimately unimportant. These people are reprehensible. They chose to protect something other than the life of a fellow, innocent human being. It is otherworldly. They chose to protect their own asses and those of whom they had a passing acquaintance. They chose to stand by and watch something be torn down.

I was raised to speak out against injustice. The problem with that philosophy is, we have few opportunities to actually do that in any real way. It's a wonderful ideal, but on a day to day basis it's more something that you keep in your pocket rather than wield like a shiny scimitar. And while I encourage you to all carry that sheath, there's something much more readily available in your arsenal. Build something up. Create something. Make something for someone to enjoy - even if it's merely for yourself. Remind yourself that there is good in the world and toiling to create it is a worthwhile endeavor. Because the opposite is untenable.

Posted 12:41am
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November 9th , 2011

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

- Congratulations to Ohio and Mississippi! You are eminently more reasonable than I would have given you credit. Also: Yay Ann Arbor sidewalks! I mean I'm glad fertilized eggs don't have the same rights as I do down South, but the sidewalk thing would have really cramped my style.

- For those of you who didn't make it to any screenings during our Summer of Tarantinothon Festival (or for those of you who want to relive it), here's the Tarantino Supercut. Next summer at the Chandler Drive-In: The Works (BOO!) of Alfred Hitchcock.

- The internet is constantly under attack from both government and big business who want to nanny state or exploit you to death, killing the greatest information sharing invention since the written word. Protect IP is mindless, vague legislation that would the DOJ rampant powers to discern what you can and can't see on the internet. And as per usual, the GOP is again trying to thwart Net Neutrality, the only thing keeping the internet an even playing field and not letting Megacorp's crappy content getting to you any faster than that of tbaggervance.com. Reason alone, am I right?

- Here's some fun charts from lefty liberal rag Mother Jones. And by fun I mean absolutely maddening. My favorite points out the following: from 2007 to 2009, Wall Street profits were up 720%, while the unemployment rate rose 102%, and home equity fell 35%. Why did #occupy take so long to get started?

- Finally, I'd love to poke fun at the Penn State scandal but I just can't. It just makes me sad. How could that many people look the other way? How could any parent have knowledge of the situation and not demand justice? Joe Paterno may have done nothing wrong according to the letter of the law, but it's a complete moral failure. For that reason alone I hope nobody remembers anything about his legacy other than this. And know this Jerry Sandusky - child molesters are the bottom rung of the prison ladder. We all look forward to you having some things taken from you that you can never get back.

Posted 11:15am
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November 8th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin' - Vote Bitches! Edition

Election Day Hooray! Who doesn't get that tingly feeling at another opportunity to add to your used "I voted" sticker collection? Heck I know there's not a lot of sexy issues on the ballot, but Ann Arbor has sidewalks that need fixed and school boards that need members. You can't cast your ironic vote for Herman Cain yet, but you still have an obligation. Go out there and practice. You can pull the lever for what the handsome ladies and grumpy men yell about on the television soon enough.

- Speaking of, here are the power hungry weirdoes running for A2 School Board. Good luck.

- Ohio is going the way of Wisconsin, trying to save money by screwing over teachers, firefighters, police officers and other various people who do the thankless jobs like protecting and educating our children. I'm not a big union guy, but this is a willful bending over of public employees. I'll stand with you.

- In case you missed it, thoughtful, sane Republicans have had enough with the extreme right wing domination of the GOP. Wait, WTF Pat Robertson?!? The same guy that thinks earthquakes in Oklahoma are a sign of end times?

- You bet government officials are trying to get YouTube videos of police brutality against #occupy taken off the internet. And you bet Google told them to suck it. You can't stop the signal Mal.

- The Democrats are Godless! The Democrats are Godless!

- Want a reason to vote today? When you don't, you get a whole bunch of assholes running things like we have in Michigan. After last week's banner moment of allowing the bullying of children on religious grounds, we're now taking on the dire need for the pledge of allegiance to be recited every day by our school children. You pandering, wrong headed fucktards...

- Matt Taibbi's Rick Perry profile reads like a profile of an amoral Machiavelli. Yowza.

- Finally, drunk Rick Perry on SNL. That is all.

Posted 10:45am
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November 7th , 2011

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men

It's ultimately a mystery as to where we pick up all the tiny facets of our personality. Parents. Peers. Pop culture. We see things and people that resonate with us and we try to emulate them. From a certain haircut to an affectation, some of these things are trendy and fleeting, while others we sort of incorporate into our being and they become part of who we are. Hopefully you discover the best of whatever pop culture has to offer during your formative years. I'll give a hearty thanks to the universe and its sense of timing for giving me Sam Malone and David Addison over the Situation and the glut of talentless reality TV stars.

But it was pointed out to me yesterday (not for the first time) after a screening of his movie, that I make a pretty good Willy Wonka. This of course is no accident. I saw that movie a million times as a kid and he struck me as the perfect adult. Wicked smart, never serious, and a penchant for deliberately fucking with people and subverting their expectations. Oh! And hilarious with an appropriate quip always at the ready. Now I'm no Willy Wonka, and in that description of him was I in no way suggesting that I've achieved that sort of perfect zen silliness. But I do still aspire to it. And we all should.

- As it is every weekend in the fall, last weekend was spent raking leaves. And as it so happens every year, we almost accidentally throw out the children with the leaves.

Posted 11:02am
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November 4th , 2011

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

- Welcome to Friday! Here's two songs of Craig Finn's upcoming solo album. A 7" will be available on Black Friday at your local record store, which you really don't support like you should.

- You have got to love Detroit. As soon as it was announced that Nickelback was to be the halftime entertainment at the Thanksgiving Day Lion's game, this petition went up to say "over my dead fucking body." You bet your ass I signed it. I'm sure it's too late to do anything about, that contracts are signed, etc, but as a matter of principle, put your name on the line that is dotted. And if you go to the actual game, you boo the shit out that terrible fucking band.

- So it turns out that one of the reasons that income inequality has become so disparate is that the rich don't pay taxes. Go figure. This is what happens when the 1% own everything - they rig the system in their favor. Krugman puts it succinctly - the track we are on is a Democracy in name only. This is what #occupywallstreet is about. Get mad as hell and not take it anymore.

- Proving there is such a thing as "too adorable", Ben Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel have called it quits. The BDGF immediately asked if she should be concerned that I would rush to either of the couple's sides to comfort them. OK, she just said it about Ben. But I assured her that while I'll always cherish what we had and look back longingly at our time together, I'm over Ben Gibbard. That last album was terrible.

- Finally, I am ashamed to be a Michigander today. I'm not sure we need any legislation that says bullying is bad. It seems nanny-state-esque and superfluous. If kids are tormenting the shit out of some poor soul, I would hope that someone would see and care enough to do something. I know that it's not always the case, and as such people feel the need to do something. I'm certainly not going to decry that. What I will rage against is Michigan's version of an anti-bullying law, that creates exemptions for religious or moral bullying. That's right - anyone who torments another child can claim Jesus and that makes it OK. If anything, this law exacerbates the bullying problem. We all should be very, very ashamed.

Posted 10:42am
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November 3rd , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Obama is poking Congress for spending time to reaffirm that "In God We Trust" is our national motto. Congress shot back, something something blasphemy. Let's be clear, "In God We Trust" has been our national motto for all of 50 years, slightly longer than "under God" has been in the pledge of allegiance. Both are direct results of 1950s cold war hysteria, and someday in the future will be taught as such. Until then, I still choose "e pluribus unum".

- Speaking of "know your history," Kirk Cameron tries to trip people up on their Constitution vs. Declaration of Independence knowledge, and then biffs it by completely screwing up the origin of his trick quote. I note that here because Kirk previously tried to disprove evolution using a banana, completely ignoring the fact that bananas have been genetically modified by humans over the centuries to take their current form, thus making a point for evolution, not against it. Neither of these facts will stop him from further indoctrinating idiots.

- Here's an infographic about megachurches. Be very afraid.

- Joel Osteen is both a.) creepy in appearance and b.) dangerous to society. He spews the decades (if not centuries) old self-help philosophy about visualizing what you want, blah blah Jesus. Which is bad enough, but he's also super popular and a giant homophobe. Here he talks about how you can love someone out of their penis addiction. Methinks he doth protest too much.

- This guy finds the occult in Wal-Mart's children's book section. I tend to agree - Twilight is ruining our society. Of course our agreement ends there.

- Finally, today in photoshop fail, the National Organization for Marriage uses an Obama campaign crowd shot to make it seem like they have any numbers whatsoever. #FAIL. While we're at it, if you'd like to make an argument against gay marriage, Clint Eastwood is now taking your complaints. My question is do you feel lucky, punk? Well do ya?

Posted 10:49am
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November 2nd , 2011

No time for love, Dr. Jones

I am in no way an animal person. My parents bred golden retrievers growing up, so we'd occasionally have half a dozen of the cutest puppies imaginable around. I was completely immune to their charms. Maybe being an inherent city boy growing up in farm country had something to do with it. Perhaps since I've been taking care of a kid since I was 19, I didn't see the point in heaping on responsibility. Whether I'm dead inside or just had a number of contributing factors create a condition wherein I don't have the capacity to care for our four legged friends is debatable. What is not is that I don't want a pet. Of any kind. Ever.

Dogs are the worst. They chew on things, shed everywhere, and most importantly, make it either expensive or difficult to leave your house for more than 24 hours. Cats are easier, as you can give somebody the keys to your house and assuming they remember to come by once, be gone a week. Hamsters, gerbils, lizards and the like are OK for children, as long as my responsibility begins and ends in buying food that's not alive when I purchase it. I'm not cleaning cages. One to two fish are acceptable. This is the only pet I ever allowed Sid to have anywhere I lived. I know, I'm a monster.*

The only thing I remotely miss about pet ownership is the naming process. I refuse to take care of a living thing that I can't reason with, but man do I wish I could name a few more things. Plus nicknames! The possibilities are endless. I've always wanted to have a dog and name it Indiana. You could call him Dr. Henry Jones Jr. Or just Doctor Jones. Or you could call him from your back porch "Innnnnddddddyyyyyyyyy!" Imagine how fun it would be to quote Indiana Jones movies to your pet every day! I mean, not worth the sunk costs of actually owning a pet, but fun.

The problem in this scenario is that the BDGF's littlest loves animals. I mean, she's an 8 year old girl, so naturally. Luckily for me the BDGF isn't an animal person either, so we are currently only saddled with a hamster. But last Sunday this guy showed up at our house:

And he wouldn't leave. He looked like he belonged to someone, but he had no idea where he was. Before you know it the little one was screaming "We need cat food!" and the BDGF gave me the look that said "Go buy cat food." All I could think was "NOW WE HAVE A CAT!"

That first night, while the cat slept in our garage in a bed specially prepared by the littlest, I told the BDGF "If we have to look after that damn thing I get to call it Indy." She tried to argue that naming the cat exacerbated the situation, but I figured this might be my only shot, so I was going to take it. By the next morning the littlest was on board. "Indy is hungry!" she'd say. "No time for love, Dr. Jones." I replied.

After 24 hours of cat caretaker-ship, we decided to litter the neighborhood with "FOUND" signs for Indiana. And hooray for me, it took about 12 hours for the rightful owners to contact us and ask for their cat, Archimedes, back. But even my cold, black heart felt a little sad at the situation. If only because that cat has to go through life being called Archemides, and will now be denied all my pithy Indiana Jones quotes. Of course I'm in no way in a hurry for the next stray - Han Solo - to show up at our doorstep.

*his mother has a dog now, stop yelling at me.

Posted 10:49am
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October 31st , 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everybody! Above you'll find the BDGF's littlest in her R2-D2 costume designed by yours truly (along with her horse masquerading as Princess Leia). I'm pretty proud of it, and more importantly, she's happy with it. I have to say it rivals my favorite creation from Sid's youth:

R2 is certainly more practical, as I don't think Stan, Cartman and Kenny made it through very much of the evening. Anyway, here's to one last go round of costume making and trick or treating. I get all of the peanut butter cups.

- From Cracked, here's 7 Creepy Urban Legends that happen to be true.

- HuffPo has some Halloween candy statistics. Least surprising? "Oregon searched most for Gluten free candy."

Posted 11:43am
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October 28th , 2011

The Commitments

Last night I attended a "Yay! I'm finally divorced!" party. Divorce is surely a sad, painful slog, but the people whom I know that have it on their resume seem to view it as a positive thing. Or at least better than the alternative. People grow apart. Sometimes they get together under less than ideal circumstances and then slowly realize that it was a mistake. Whatever the reason, it's usually not taken lightly, and while it takes some longer to adjust than others, people generally come out for the better on the other end.

That's why this is utterly ridiculous. Divorce takes a bit of time as it is. And even though moving out and moving on are nice, there's a certain closure ascertained by being actually divorced. To mandatoraly move that date back by a year is cruel and unusual. I get its intent, but it's a wrong-headed one. Now I may be biased being the beneficiary of a divorce and never having to technically do it myself, but on nanny state grounds alone this is colossally dumb. This just in: staying together for the children is never a good idea.

Posted 11:43am
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October 27th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin' - Thursday redux

I'm drunk. Let's do this.

Parenting is a funny thing. Only from hindsight and/or outside forces does change actually appear to occur. After the first couple of years, day to day change, or more importantly the noticing of them, fades away. You see your kid every day. They grow and mature to be sure, but it takes a stroll through a photo album or your Aunt Edna who sees them once a year to go "Look how big you are!" to make it really hit home. Your kid is ostensibly the same person they were yesterday until you have distinct change thrown in your face and then you can say "Oh yeah, that is different!"

Politics is the same animal. Time is not measured in hours or minutes, but geologically. If I were to put you in a medically induced coma for ten years, you'd probably awake not recognizing the political landscape as it existed when I said "Look over there!" and shot you up with 50cc of morphine. As Americans, we expect quantifiable results toot suite, but things never happen that way.

Try as he might, Obama can't make marijuana legal and gay marriage de rigueur, and there are many who voted for him that are upset that these things haven't come to fruition. Even those of us who are aware of this paradigm can find themselves upset that we have seemingly gone backwards in several areas of these causes. But after several drinks and hours of rumination, I truly believe we are better off in pursuit of these ends (and many others) than we have ever been in my lifetime.

#occupywallstreet is perhaps the ultimate iteration of this. These folks have a seemingly unsustainable methodology and no purpose in sight outside of visibility of their (muddled) cause. Of course the rub of that is that it's the genesis of every great movement in history.

I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a list of demands for #occupy. Re-enacting Glass-Stegal, giving the Volcker act its teeth back, taking the Consumer Protection Agency seriously, enacting any sort of jobs bill - anything that's objective and real. But after hours of runaround with the BDGF, I've come around to the belief that maybe just giving a face and a name to the rank anger building in America is enough.

#occupy will likely fizzle as all progressive movements eventually do. As noted, its model is unsustainable and demands vague at best. Best case scenario is that it gets some charismatic supporters and swings an election or two next year. Or perhaps even that it becomes a groundswell and Obama rides it to re-election along with the Democratic retaking of congress and without another campaign in his purview, a compromising President becomes a leader and enacts real reform that re-establishes a middle class in this country. I'm not holding my breath, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

The reality is that the Republicans will run some clown against an unpopular sitting President, get beat, and fall in lock step with the same ineffectual, unpopular rhetoric they've been extolling and hope to get by on polarizing the populace based on fear. I guess you go with what got you there.

No matter what happens, my solace comes in the form of the child-rearing theory of politics. Most likely things will not get to where I analytically think they should be until my kids are my age. And that's OK because time and history are on my side. We get more free and empowered as time moves forward, not less. While the distinct possibility exists that our child of democracy becomes a drunk and knocks up his girlfriend freshman year, I'm pretty sure we can weather that too. Lord knows I did.

Posted 1:13am
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October 26th , 2011

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

- I've known Megan Jefferson since first grade, so I was delighted when her son's exploding popsicle stick video went viral, and then she ended up on Anderson Cooper. I know famous people!

- New music! Nada Surf announces a new album (with free download of the first single) and The Black Keys debut the first sounds of El Camino.

- The BDGF hates the cold like I hate Colplay, so the thermostat in our house is usually turned up to a temperature that would have given my old man a heart attack. I just try not to think about it. But maybe this little guy can make when I do think about a little less anxiety inducing.

- John Bacon's new book about the Rich Rodriguez era at Michigan is out. I love Bacon's writing and I love Michigan, but I think I will wait until December to pick it up. I need a solid finish to the season and a secure feeling that we are on the right track before I revisit the abortion that was the last three years here. Sort of like waiting to be friends with your ex until you've got a new, hotter girlfriend.

- Finally, the anger of the 99% distilled into a few charts. They've gamed the system at the expense of virtually everyone. If this doesn't make you angry, you're an idiot. If you think Rick Perry or Herman Cain's plans that put more money into the hands of the fat cats will help, you're delusional. I don't know if I'm more frustrated at Democrats for not seriously addressing this, or Republicans for blocking any attempt to give it even lip service.

Posted 11:06am
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October 25th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'

- You know how right wing ass hats always like to complain about the mainstream media and how it gives liberals and Obama a pass, and they're in cahoots with the left to help further their agenda? About that. The truth is what it's always been: news outlets are out to make money. Its always easier to do when you sensationalize and tear down. And its super easy if your name is Murdoch and you check morality at the door.

- Speaking of, here's a right wing news outlet bashing Obama's record on civil liberties. Fucking NPR.

- Remember how we've said over and over again that with gay marriage and the axis of evil off the table of "shit to scare you with", that Republicans were just going to make it harder for liberal demographics to vote? They're just openly taunting you with it now. Oh the temerity...

- Here's all you ever need to show those boot strappy fuckwads complaing about being the 53%. You can also tell them by complainging they are defeating their own narrative.

- All I can say about Rick Perry's tax plan is that I don't know if it's more gimmicky than it is stupid. Goodbye Rick.

- Finally, since we won't have Herman Cain to kick around for very long, let us enjoy him while we can. First, he tries so vehemently to prove he's pro-life that as President he wants to sign a constitutional ammendment ensuring it, even though that's not what Presidents do. But then, oh then, he did something so much better. Remember when Mike Gravel did this? Herm one ups him in the crazy campaign ad department with this. The smile at the end! The SMOKING! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your GOP frontrunner, Herman Cain.

Posted 11:06am
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October 24th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- I can't decide if this mashup of 22 Beatles songs that use the word Love is creepy or cool. I'm of course operating on the theory that you can't truly be both, which may be the better discussion.

- Here's a half dozen classic songs that started out as jokes. And not the "you really think its cool but when you show it your friends and they laugh you say ''I was just kidding, I think its dumb too.'" kind.

- Local favorite Chris Bathgate plays NPR's tiny desk.

- Rock legend Elvis Costello visits Sesame Street for 'The Monster Went and Ate My Red 2.'

- Black Friday is to be avoided like the plague. I say this having participated in it many times - the whole thing is medieval and uncivilized. However, I may just drag my ass out of bed for this. Long enough to spend five minutes at the store and then go back to bed mind you, but I go the extra mile for sweet, sweet vinyl.

Posted 10:50am
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October 21st , 2011

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

- I approve of the way that this kid is being raised.

- Halloween is a mere 10 days away. Have you carved your Star Wars Death Star pumpkin yet?

- This is them. This is us. I've never been more sure I'm on the right side of things. Not the side that scolds the unemployed. Not the side that works to deny people the right to vote when they can no longer scare them about the gays. I'm on the side that wants to give rather than take or deny. If we can be pragmatic about it, who doesn't want to be on that side outside of evil fuckholes? I guess what I'm trying to say is don't be an evil fuckhole. Thanks.

- Booze news: drunk driving is down, and it has nothing to do with the two years I lived downtown and could walk to the bars. And for some reason, Michigan is going to require that kegs be tagged with the name of the person who purchased them. I'm not sure why yet, but this can't be good news, right?

- Finally, no Michigan game tomorrow so I have my first open Saturday in a month and a half. Of course given the time of year and the fact that there's currently no rain on tap, I'll likely spend it doing whatever needs to happen on the exterior of the house before it gets so bitterly cold I decide it doesn't really need to be done. Whew! That was a tad convoluted. But nothing compared to whatever the fuck this is. Toodles.

Posted 10:48am
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October 20th , 2011

Hope I die before I get overweight

We went to see the Pixies last Spring, and I never once thought about Frank Black's largess. Frank's always been big. It's de riguer for him. It also fits I suppose, as you couldn't respect someone yelling "I am and andulsian dog" at you if they were a 140 lb waif. But last night we went and saw Matthew Sweet. You know, this guy:

He played his seminal album Girlfriend front to back, and it was every bit as wonderful as when I saw him in the mid 1990s. But now Matthew looks more like this:

And while I don't want to be mean or poke fun, it threw me a little. The man hasn't lost a step musically, but if we are being honest, let himself go a little bit. Those songs are meant to be sung by a young, heartbroken guy. And while we are all going to get older, we don't have to go the route of Orson Welles. I thought the same thing a few years back when Ben Folds Five got back together for a performance. I remember the Five like this:

And while he's by no means morbidly obese, the bass player now looks more like hipster dad than rock star.

Which I'm sure is probably what he is. I doesn't help that his bandmates still look like dorky rock stars, which was always part of Ben Folds Five's appeal for me.

I suppose this is ultimately about my fears of getting older and not looking like I once did. Let's face it, I don't look like this anymore.

And holy shit neither does Sid. But should I be reminded of that fact when I go to see a show that's supposed to make me feel like I'm in 1995 again? No sir, no I should not. Do your job, look like a rock star please. For the sake of my vanity if nothing else.

Posted 2:29pm
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October 19th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Herman Cain has some crazy "nevermind the math" plans and says even nuttier things, like let's build a Great Wall of China to keep out the Mexicans. So I can sorta understand him trying to make a back-asswards case that Jesus was a conservative, but come one buddy, Liberals killed Christ? We all know that was the Jews. You're really screwing with your party narrative there.

- According to this guy, a flood is coming. I'm not sure how you can be omniscent and angry, but I guess I don't know everything.

- Everyone picture Joss Ackland standing on a freightor and say it with me: "Diplomatic Immunity!" What's next, preists diddling boys and getting away with it?

- This may be kicking a guy when he's down, but this was Kirk Cameron's birthday party. Maybe all that empty space is filled with angels?

- Mormons are everywhere. Although conspicuously missing: Gordon Jump.

- Penn Jillette explains all this Christian bullshit. Now please go back to infighting.

- Exorcism! Now more than ever. P.S. Your mother sucks cocks in hell.

- Finally, you guys, the Rapture is here again. Probably this Friday. Although if you read the signs, it might really happen this time.

Posted 1:03pm
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October 18th , 2011

Mailtime! Mailtime! Maaaailtiiiime!

Sometimes people send me things that I deem appropriate for public response. These are those.

to: tbaggervance
from: MJ
subject: blog idea

Aaron was reading an article titled: Whom I've Voted For in Every Presidential Election and Why, in Exhaustive Detail' and I thought, 'That's a good blog post for Uncle T, minus the glaringly obvious grammatical error because, if I remember correctly, you've moved from right to left and thus, it might be interesting to learn why.'  Just an idea..

Hey MJ,
Yes, it is true that I voted for a Republican and an Independent before I ever voted for a Democrat for President. This is due to all the usual reasons: I grew up in a Republican household in a Republican town, and then got out, grew up, and had a shift in priorities. I'm still a fiscally conservative guy in some respects, but the GOP abandoned even that.

The more interesting question to me is whom would I have voted for in EVERY presidential election? Well let's find out

Prez

Click on the above for the full PDF. Hope that answers your question, and thanks for the idea!
xoxo

to: tbaggervance
from: ljv
subject: Have fun with this

This is really up your alley and I bet you disagree on some of these.

http://www.chieftain.com/life/local/one-man-s-view-the-most-overrated-bands-of-all/article_90a5a358-f609-11e0-8e1d-001cc4c03286.html#user-comment-area

hey ljv,
You bet your ass I do. The main problem seems to be that this isn't a list of things that are "overrated" but seemingly more a list of things this guy doesn't like as much as other people do. Nirvana is overrated to be sure, but who thinks that highly of KISS? KISS is 100% accurately rated. Everyone enjoys 2 or 3 of their songs, but everyone agrees they are a joke. And no one even likes Nickelback anymore. How can they be overrated when they are no longer rated?

But you clearly want me to get vitriolic, so here goes. Just because REM and U2 peaked somewhere in the late 1980s does not mean they are overrated. Their music is going to be around a lot longer than that picture of you in the article that screams "date rapist". And Dylan? Really? America's greatest songwriter? Now you're just being a contrarian asshole. Especially since you admit that he changed music forever and then say that's not what makes a legend. That's EXACTLY what makes a legend you obtuse fuckstick. Now go back to arguing about Bon Jovi and Rush, two bands that no one has though of in 20 years outside of the skanks you're trying to beg hand jobs out of at the local discotheque.

Hope that suffices,
T

Posted 11:11am
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October 17th , 2011

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah, cookin' up some crystal meth.

When we showed up at our hotel at are-you-kidding-me? 8:30am on Saturday morning, my first two thoughts were a.) I'm guessing they only charge by the hour and b.) I hope they don't put us in the room right next to the people making meth, or if they do, that tonight won't be the night the thing blows up.

The day didn't get a whole better from there. I'll be honest, State fans were super nice. Now that could be 90% attributable to the fact that we were tailgating in the high dollar donor lot right next to the stadium, but whatever the reason, I certainly didn't get punched or have beer spit on me, so no worries Ohio, you're still the class of the Big Ten. The actual football team from East Lansing is of course still a bunch of mindless thugs. No bitterness here, they were the better team, but they were also the ones throwing punches and trying to twist quarterback's heads off, so there's that.

Of course the day was capped with the Tigers deciding to pitch underhand in the final "win or go home" game of the season. Somewhere in between Detroit's 4th and 5th pitcher of the evening we decided to call it a night, and the highlight of the day occurred when we found a place to buy beer called "LIQUOR BEER KEGS", because we had a you-had-to-be-there moment of singing "...and wiiiiiiine" after mentioning the name of the place. We were a lot tired and a little punchy at that point.

After a bitter loss like that, I always think of Churchill, who once told a women after she noted that he was drunk, that "Yes, but tomorrow morning I'll be sober and you'll still be ugly." Sunday morning I walked out of our dodgy hotel room to see the dregs of humanity standing outside their rooms, smoking the first cigarette of the day with their black eyes and ripped clothing, or just plain shirtless or wrapped in the comforter from their bed. I thankfully got to go back to civilization a Michigan man, and State still had to live with themselves.

Posted 10:33am
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October 14th , 2011

If you can't get into college go to State.

While I shudder at the thought, the fact remains that I grew up in Ohio. As such, I didn't think about how much I hate Michigan State until this morning. My blinding, 24-7, 365 hatred is reserved for Ohio. Their barbs and torment was the cross I bore for the first half of my life, so you'll forgive me if that paradigm remains and while even after 18 years in Michigan, I forget about little brother.

That usually changes the Friday before the Michigan/Michigan State game every year while reading this. Every year I read the Michigan take on the rivalry and wince just a little bit, wishing it was better. But hey, it's just some kid with no sense of history. He's doing his best and will learn to be more erudite. Then I read the State take and as Nigel Tufnel once noted "too much fucking perspective." Poor Sparty. Sure, every year the writing is poor. We expect that (this year the columnist compared our insults to Rosie O'Donnell. Huh? Oh, and timely reference that.) But the State column is inevitably about Michigan being pompous and entitled and how MSU is second to no one. Nevermind that every year the tone of the piece is one of trying to prove it, and if you're no one's punching bag, you don't have to spend 500 words every year trying to convince people.

So despite the fact that this annual poorly written diatribe takes shots at our women and ability to drink copious amounts of alcohol for no reason, I usually come out just feeling sorry for an entire University that suffers from an inferiority complex. But then I remember Desmond Howard getting mugged during that two point conversion. I remember the phantom yard on fourth down in 1995. I remember Clockgate. I remember and I begin to seethe. RichRod's legacy here is one to be largely forgotten, but I choose to view his 0-3 record versus State as an opportunity. It's time to remind Little Brother what the pecking order is in this state. After three wins, someone is getting a little too big for their britches. They need a lesson in the natural order of things. You are the weak. And we are the tyranny of evil men. Time for everyone to get in line.

- My iPhone 4S is pre-ordered, but that didn't stop me from upgrading my current phone to iOS 5 yesterday. For those of you with iPhones - get on it post haste. Quick camera access, an overdue update on how incoming messages are handled, and wirelessly back up your data to the cloud. It's awesome. Now please provide turn by turn navigation and I'm all set. Oh, and here's a quick recap of how we got here.

Posted 10:42am
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October 13th , 2011

Drowned Rats.

When games start two and half hours late due to rain and then go into extra innings, it makes for a long day. Especially when you spend said rain delay drinking delicious IPAs.

So my first foray into playoff baseball didn't go ideally. It started great - Slows, Nemos and the Detroit Beer Company. But then the rain would quite and neither did the drinking. By the time we made it into the stadium and the tarp was still on, spirits were buzzed but not exactly sky high. Eventually things cleared and despite my entire section assuring each other that Brandon Inge was the scourge of the universe, there was a point for a couple innings last night, starting when he crushed an 0-2 pitch to tie the game, that things started to look like they might be miraculous.

Of course they didn't exactly end that way. We watched the tenth from outside the stadium and heard Nelson Cruz pee on an entire ciy of people (again) from the car. It was a great day, don't get me wrong. I don't take Tigers baseball the same way I do Michigan football, so I can still enjoy a day that ends in a loss. But man, if Young would have hit that fly ball to right just a little harder, what could have been...

- What do you get the nerd who has everything? A list of 25 Star Trek cameos, which they will throw in your face and say "I knew that" in Klingon.

- History's greatest retorts. Or: Do not try and match wits with Churchill.

- By now you've seen the NYTimes piece on 36 hours in Ann Arbor, in which they questionably include the Cavern Club and the Ark, while failing to mention the Blind Pig or that you can usually find the town's premier blogger belly up at Grizzly Peak.

Posted 3:59pm
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October 12th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Here's the BDGF's Jackie Boy covering U2's "Love is Blindness". It's pretty bad ass.

- The Black Keys return to your ears December 6th with their latest, El Camino. You can get pumped up by watching this Bob Odenkirk ad.

- Slate argues that The Strokes Is This It? is the greatest album of the last decade. They are correct except for the fact that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot exists. Go listen to both and tell me I'm wrong. I dare you.

- Here's some musical facts that are sure to depress the ever living shit out of you. What is wrong with people?

- Finally, this has nothing to do with indie rock and yes this post is short but I'm heading out to watch the Tigers tie up the ALCS so stop busting my balls. Jesus. Anyway, I present to you The Avengers trailer. I may pass out from lack of blood to the brain. If you know what I mean. Boner.

Posted 10:16am
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October 11th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin' - stop, hey, what's that sound? edition.

This morning on my way into work I heard the new Hank Williams Jr. song wherein he referred to the "United Socialist States of America", noting that he knew who to blame and that we could "Keep the change". That's a pretty distinct distillation of why I think the entirety of Tea Partiers are monosyllabic dolts - they have no sense of history.

Eldest fake daughter and I were talking recently about a paper she had to write for her history class, which boiled down to "How have we lived up to the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence?" She was unsure as to which side to argue, and I agreed that you could make a cogent argument for either side. But what I told her to think about was this: we are better off now than we have ever been in any point in history. More free, less poor, out and out better off. And taking history in say fifty year chunks, that's always been true. The other thing that always has and always will be true: people think the exact opposite.

We've been in part a socialist country for 70 years, and far longer than that depending on your definition. And outside of politicians scoring points by yelling "ponzi scheme!" at those who have no sense of history, it's been a rousing success. Again, more free, less poor, etc. Yet they view these advancements of society to strengthen a basic social contract to take care of each other as socialist evils, and more the root of our problems than say, constant war or a complete imbalance of wealth in this country.

That last bit is a poor turn of phrase and I apologize. I guess the somewhat vague rage and the inability to pinpoint articulate what's wrong is what the Occupy Wall Street protests are all about. The people who crashed the economy not only got bailed out by the government, but did so without consequence, and then went right back to making money hand over fist while the least of us suffer. They're like a spoiled rich kid who crashes his dad's Hummer and then says "So?" and asks for a Porsche to replace it. That's not even how the free market works.

This is not an argument that boils down to "Government Good, Business Bad." Far from it. Government is completely complicit in every inch of this. Both parties. Certainly every president since Reagan and the majority of every Congress since I've been old enough to vote. The powers that be have become completely entrenched because their sole ambition is to remain the powers that be. It's a snake eating its own tail at this point, and while I stand with the occupiers, I have no idea what they want or think they get outside of a good venting.

I can tell you where I'd start - publicly funded elections. We'll never get anywhere as long as we are represented by people who have to get avalanches of cash from the only people left who have it. Sure Congress will still be an insular institution run by Ivy league assholes, but maybe they'll be held a tad more accountable to their constituents than their donors. It's a start. SCOTUS is another matter. It used to be that money wasn't speech, and now the Supreme Court of this country is peopled with pro-business sycophants thanks to a retarded cowboy. I don't know how we put that genie back in the bottle, but I suppose that's a problem for another day. I'm finding it hard to be indefatigable these days, so if there's ever momentum to be found, we should all try and get behind it.

Posted 10:25am
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October 10th , 2011

You got to know when to hold 'em. Or when to lay the points as a double digit road favorite.

The look you get from most people when the topic of gambling comes up usually ranges from somewhere between concern and panic. Of course playing poker with your buddies or throwing a couple of bucks in a pool for something is trivial, but go to Vegas twice in 18 months, make regular trips to a poker room or god forbid - place a few wagers on a sporting event or three, and most folks will have a warning light go off somewhere that says 'degenerate'. Depending on the level of tee totaler you're talking to, they may immediately conjure up a picture of you six months from now, homeless and giving blow jobs for a forty of malt liquor.

Which is a shame, because sensible gambling is one of life's pure joys. Everything is a little better with some skin in the game. Gambling makes the unwatchable fascinating. It can pass time better than masturbating and a Doctor Who marathon combined. Of people's concerns stem from it being this quick avalanche towards addiction, which I suppose isn't without merit, but I've been a gambler for a long time. I've been betting on college football for 15 years now. I've never been threatened by a bookie, nor had to miss a meal much less a rent payment.

What I have had is 15 years of excitement and intrigue. You'd be surprised how quickly you can go from "Who give a shit?" when Middle Tennessee State is playing Western Kentucky to "Come on Hilltoppers!" when you've got as little as $20 riding on the outcome. Saturday night Michigan was playing Northwestern and somewhere in the fourth quarter the game felt safe and the possibility of Michigan losing moved quickly towards 0%. However, Michigan was favored by 7 and a half points. Which meant, in my particular case, that one more touchdown or one more defensive stop meant up to a $100 swing in my favor. Now I would have watched every snap of that game regardless, but man was that fun when the clock hit zero and we were up 18.

I suppose it isn't for everybody. If you don't care about a sport anyway, why would you gamble on it? This of course does not apply to horse racing, which no one cares about until they go to the track, at which time gambling is everything. It kind of proves my point. Anyway, I'll gladly take the raised eyebrows and looks of concern as I pull out my gambling ledger or check scores on my phone at family functions. Because behind the randomness of it all, when you gamble and win it proves you were right, and as we all know, that is my favorite thing in the world.

Posted 11:26am
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October 7th , 2011

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

- So I started to write this post Wednesday, as you'll see below by my mentioning the iPhone 4S without noting that Steve Jobs passed away. I knew I was going to be busy yesterday, tried to get ahead, failed anyway. BUt I digress, Jobs died and in his passing I've heard him compared to both Edison and Tony Stark. But he's so much better than that because Edison was a hack and Tony Stark isn't real. The Onion may have put it best: "Last American Who Knew What The Fuck He Was Doing Dies." Clearly the guy was a genius on many levels, but what I always loved about Jobs that nobody seems to notice is that he remembered a quintessentially American value and ideal: people love to buy shit that's made well. They'll pay extra for it. Say what you will about Apple, but their products are always simultaneously beautiful and sturdy. In an age of disposable technology, it's saying something that the most successful company is doing the opposite. You should watch his Stanford commencement speech, then pour one out at happy hour tonight.

- The iPhone 5 4S was announced yesterday in the middle of my ritualized oral torture. I've been eligible for an upgrade since early August, but I held my breath waiting for this specific moment. The internet seems to say mostly the same thing: meh. This reaction however, is super wrong. While I haven't gotten my hands on the latest model (obv.), it addresses the two biggest things I wanted out of my new phone: camera and speed. The new camera almost triples my current megapixels, plus has the flash and multi-element lens that my oldie but goodie lacks. Most importantly: a dual core A5 processor. That means fast. Faster loading, faster switching. Faster. It's the Denard Robinson of cell phones, and we can all get behind that.

- Madonna is playing the half time of the Super Bowl. Now that's meh, not that any of you should care. What you SHOULD care about is getting Kanye and Jay-Z to play the halftime show of the Michigan/Ohio State game. Everyone is on board for that, right?

- Who has a problem taxing millionaires? These people. Who didn't? This guy. I get that if you're living in NYC and making $250,000 a year, you aren't rich. OK, how about a 5% surtax on people making over $1,000,000? To create jobs? Cue the crickets on the right side of the aisle, but the band wagon for that proposal has to have people hanging off the bumper, no?

- America's favorite huckster is back, this time singing a Hank Williams song. Will the BDGF be down with her beloved Jackie Boy singing Country and Western? I'm guessing any Jack is good Jack.

Posted 10:54am
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October 5th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- The headline of this article: OC Couple Threatened With $500-Per-Meeting Fines For Home Bible Study, made me wince, thinking that I was going to have to both apologize for the godless and decry the nanny state. But reading to the end, I see that their "private Bible study" involves up to 50 people twice a week. Now if that's the case, and it was happening in my neighborhood, I'd want their ass fined - regardless of whether or not it had anything to do with Baby Jesus (HT: ljv)

- Again, this article appears to scream "APOLOGIZE ATHEISTS" all over it. But upon reading, it seems more like a.) this guy's a dick and b.) the kids were busting his balls. Again, religion doesn't really play a part. Although the BDGF and I are thinking about starting a crusade to say "Science!" instead of "Bless you" for violent, involuntary nose vomiting.

- Obama is the antichrist? I suppose that's the yin to the 'Black Jesus' yang.

- Here's a takedown of a purportedly "successful" pray-away-the-gay study.

- Speaking of the gays, I sometimes feel guilty folding all this anti-gay stuff into religion posts, but then I remember "That's where it all comes from!" and the guilt just melts away. Would we really societally hate people because of their orientation if a bunch of lowly educated people weren't indoctrinated to think so by those who misinterpreted a made up story from 2000 years ago? I think no. So it makes me angry. Nothing makes me more angry than stuff like this. If that was my kid I would avail myself of every form of recourse I could against that fucking grade A homophobic prick. Chief amongst them being photoshopping him into gay porn stills and flyering the shit out of the city with them. Come to think of it, I may just do that anyway. To the photocopier!

Posted 10:59am
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October 4th , 2011

You know the difference between a dentist and a sadist don't you?

This morning I got my flu shot. This afternoon instead of sitting at my desk with half a boner as I watch the Apple iPhone 5 release, I'll be paying exorbitant amounts of money (you know, in addition to all that cash I lay out every month in insurance premiums) for someone to torture me. Thanks to my five previously broken ribs, I'll be doing it high as a kite on several vicodin. Still, I get no pleasure out of taking care of myself so today, everyone can suck it.

- Arrested Development quizzes. That's all you get.

Posted 11:12am
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October 3rd , 2011

Get on your bad motor scooter and ride

My family was in town this weekend. Moeman came up for the game on Saturday to watch Michigan win in a walk. Sunday my sister and her family came up for lunch and to do a little Michigan related shopping. Over the course of those events I was reminded that I had yet to post this picture:

That's my dad getting ferried to the game by the BDGF on our scooter, John Lennon. Moe is 73 and we tailgate fairly far away from the stadium, so getting there and back to see everybody is a strain on his legs. We circumvented that issue in the early September sun by having him hop on and hold steady. The minute they took off, I noted that it was going to be really awkward to have to wake up every morning next to the girl who killed my dad, so luckily that didn't happen. Go Blue.

- Arrested Development is coming back. Come on!

Posted 10:03am
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September 30th , 2011

Comcast eats it

We got rid of cable two months ago. I don't say this in any snobby, we're better than you sort of way; we still watch TV. Without getting into it, we just found other ways to do it. In no small part, we cancelled cable because Comcast can suck it. Our bill for cable and internet was $150 a month. We now pay $25 for internet and that's it. It's a much more palatable situation and nobody in the house seems to have noticed (outside of me on Sundays when I'd like to lay around and watch football - but again, probably for the best).

We cancelled our service in the middle of a billing cycle, so at some point we expected a refund for unused service. So imagine my surprise when I got a bill the other day for $770 for unreturned equipment. This is odd because a.) the only equipment we had when service was cancelled was two cable cards b.) we returned them c.) they were worth about $10 total.

So I called Comcast. Spent half an hour on the phone telling them they were fucking idiots and this is why I left you. It felt like a weird post break-up power play and I was the asshole - but in a "You need to hear this" sort of way. After half an hour they said to check back in fifteen days. If they think they will ever see another dime from me in my lifetime they are sorely mistaken. I realize that this is an unentertaining story that everyone has, but let's just take a moment of commiseration to say Comcast eats it. Harrumph.

- This guy knows what I'm talking about.

- Brady Hoke has a strict dress code that is awesome. I would not want to be his Comcast installer.

- Here's Trey Parker and Matt Stone on 60 Minutes. See? Cable is superfluous.

Posted 10:33am
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September 29th , 2011

The snobby elite.

When we would have a party in college there would inevitably come a time when we would have to decide whether or not to get more beer. I say 'decide' but the answer was always a drunkenly slurred 'yes'. So the soberest person would collect some cash and run down to the corner for another keg. After returning to the house and tapping the fresh keg, the cops would show up and tell us that we were being too loud and everyone had to leave. Cut to 4pm Sunday - 5 guys trying to finish off half a keg. We weren't always the smartest.

Later in life, throwing a party can net you alcohol in a good way. Luckily, vodka doesn't go bad (not that it's ever had a chance in my house). So when someone comes with a fifth of Skyy or Jameson or even a six pack of Oberon, there's a chance that it may not get finished before the night's over and you now have extra booze in the house. Score. Of course it needs to be said here that the number of times I've not drank all of the booze I brought with me to a party much less left any net proceeds anywhere are minimal. I am a careful planner.

But not everyone has what they refer to as 'taste'. It was once posited that nearly half of Ann Arbor has a random Coors Light in the back of their fridge thanks to our friend Troy. Someone once brought Triple Sec into my house to make some god forsaken concoction and had the discourtesy to leave half the bottle. It will sit in perpetuity in my liquor cabinet. But random half bottles of liquor or one stray bad mass produced domestic isn't the end of the world. Troy will come back over someday and who knows, someday I just might need that Triple Sec.

What I can't abide is the person who at some point over the summer brought a six pack of some purple/grape abortion of a beer and only drank two (TWO!) and left the other four for dead in the door of my refrigerator. There they have sat, staring me in the face every time I go to the fridge as summer has become fall. Of course being what the BDGF refers to as "a child of the depression", I can't bring myself to throw them out. Someone (misguidedly) paid good money for that swill, and for whatever reason I can't just throw them away. And while I was happy to do some heavy lifting on those leftover kegs in college, I am not willing to take one for the team and down this vile concoction. So look out Ann Arbor, I've got four nasty, awful, undrinkable beers to give away. They won't come wrapped in a pretty package, you'll just one day open a cooler or look in the nether regions of your fridge and there'll it will be. It's my sadistic version of pay it forward. Enjoy.

Posted 11:37am
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September 28th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- Are you a fan of punk rock and Scottish accents? Who isn't? Thus I present to you, for a limited time only, the new We Were Promised Jetpacks album. It is good.

- Radiohead played Colbert. For an hour. They didn't play anything from The Bends, so I was less than super excited.

- Remember 1980-1982 when you heard TV theme songs on the radio? That was weird right? Just baby think of me once in a while...

- Finally, I think people generally have a distaste for movies about making movies. It gets too meta too quickly. But what about rock songs about being in a rock band? Here's as exhaustive of a list that the BDGF and I could come up with the other night over cocktails:

It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll) - AC/DC
Rock and Roll Band - Boston
Shooting Star - Bad Company
Juke Box Hero - Foreigner
Into the Great Wide Open - Tom Petty
Life's Been Good to Me So Far - Joe Walsh
Faithfully - Journey
Band on the Run - Wings
Piano Man - Billy Joel
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) - AC/DC
The Ballad of John and Yoko - The Beatles
Money for Nothing - Dire Straits
Tiny Dancer - Elton John

What did we miss? No Googling.

Posted 10:46am
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September 27th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'

- So the Republican debates have given us audiences that cheer executions (of innocent people) letting people without health insurance die, and now the booing of an American service member. The hypocrisy of these people who spend such an inordinate amount of time and energy telling people how much they love this country while simultaneously hating so many of the people in it is enough to incite me to violence. Even the President has had enough. I can't wait for them to go away.

- My favorite part of this depressing, Republican-centric list of how we've become so bent over? Percentage of corporate profits paid in taxes over the last 50 years has dropped 30%. That's why you can't tax the job creators you guys! Not now!

- Fox News watch: Last week Bill Clinton admonished American global warming deniers as "a joke" and embarrassing. Guess what headline Fox used to cover the story? Go on, guess.

- I hate to just beat dead horses today, but I'm in a hurry, and your party of small government is proving once again that the mantra doesn't apply to a.) "protecting your freedom..." b.) ...from brown people.

- Finally, everyone in government in the last 50+ years is responsible for the idiotic war on drugs, which is easily demonstrated by this handy chart. I am of the firm belief that legalizing marijuana would make it harder for kids to get. They're certainly not having a tough time right now.

Posted 11:01am
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September 26th , 2011

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

- Sports! Michigan is 4-0. Denard Robinson still effortlessly rambles for 200 yards and the defense looks improved. Of course Denard running for 200 yards has a historic air of unsustainability to it, and the improved D still isn't a good D. Plus remember that we started 4-0 the last two years before collapsing. But as always, I am indefatigable when it comes to the Maize and Blue. I believe we could go 4-4 in the Big Ten, and I believe that would make me happy. Also, the Tigers won the Central! The man with the golden arm missed victory 25 over the weekend, so here's a look at his strongside/weakside as we head into playoff baseball.

- Baldwin! Alec hosted SNL over the weekend for a record 16th time, and while I didn't watch it, let's assume he was good if the entire show was uneven. If you feel the need to go one better, here's some sketches from the show, including both Radiohead performances. Watching Thom Yorke dance is inarguably hilarious. Bonus: watch the latest Baldwin/Krasinski commercial.

- Nevermind! Depressingly coming on the heels of my entry into my 36th year, Nirvana's Nevermind turned 20 this weekend. Here's an article you can read about who's the better band, Nirvana or Pearl Jam, or you can take my word for it: it's Pearl Jam and it's not close. To put it succinctly, Nirvana is the Sex Pistols to Pearl Jam's The Clash. Don't get me wrong, you should go listen to Nevermind right now, it's a magical time and place album that speaks to my love of sloppy goodness. And I suppose you could argue that it's so good and was such a game changer that Nirvana's legacy sets them apart. You'd be wrong, but I wouldn't call you stupid for making the case.

- Science! I am apparently still a huge science nerd, because I loved this video.

- Finally, we don't talk a ton about movies here, but every once and a while I like to advocate for something I found worthwhile, and such is the case with Drive. Between my having a vicodin and sleeping in and hitting happy hour I went and saw this little spartan gem on Friday. If you like movies that breath.. If you like things that are stylized... If you like trompe l'oeil violence... If you like Albert Brooks... you'll love Drive. Yes it is formulaic, but you'll be wrapping your head around so many other things that you absolutely won't care that the plot is rote. Watch it. Then go watch Soderberg's The Limey. "Tell 'em I'm fucking comingggggggg." Be prepared to compare the themes of protection and revenge between Terrance Stamp and Ryan Gosling's characters. See you on Thursday, don't forget office hours this week will be on Wednesday, 10-12.

Posted 11:01am
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September 23rd , 2011

Lord to be 36 forever...

Today I am 36. That's twice the number of years I was when I was 18. It's 20 years more than Siddhartha's 16 years. To me that means I am getting old, but feel way too young for someone with a kid that's a junior in high school. This is pertinent because of the math that is beating me over the head at the moment. I was born in 1975. My father, the Moeman, was born in 1938. That means that he was only one year older than I am today when I was born. So in one year's time, I will be on the cusp of having a graduated, somewhat fully formed adult on my hands at the same time my father was beginning that journey. For the third time. This dichotomy is both perplexing, amazing and scaring the shit out of me at the same time.

The majority of my friends that are my age are just becoming parents. Whether for the first, second or third time, they have kids in diapers at home, are hurriedly painting nurseries and registering for strollers and bottles and whatever other technologies they have invented for child rearing since 1995. I imagine that in this day and age this is the norm rather than the exception. People have kids later in life now. As the teenage statistic of a father that I was, I think we can all agree that this paradigm is preferable to the way I did it. My friends are established. They have jobs and homes. They've been married a bit and have relationship dynamics largely worked out. Of course they're all in for a surprise and are about to have/have had their lives turned on their collective heads when they suddenly have to live with a third person that makes your messy, loud, promiscuous roommate from college look like a walk in the park, but still better off than a 19 year old without gainful employment who can barely take care of himself.

I don't remember much about the 1970s. To me it's all Star Wars and Sesame Street. Learning how to spell my name and running around the house singing "T-Y...L-E-R" was great, but a few years before that I was shoving massive amounts of my blankey in my mouth and referring to orange juice as "boo", so the bar was low. As such I don't know what it was like for my dad, having a 10 and 12 year old, deciding to take the parenting plunge once again. I'm going to say it was a bit of an anomaly. I know I was still in elementary school when I realized my parents were relatively old. Not in the "they aren't as active or do things other parents can" sense, because that was never the case. They had immeasurable amounts of energy, especially through my prism of being a 36 year old parent. But I was in fourth grade when one of my little brother's friends (yes, they did it AGAIN two years later) asked if our mother was his grandmother. Let's say I knew the gap existed but never dwelled on it. Certainly not like I am doing right now.

Right now Neko Case couldn't get sperm out of me for procreation if she was wearing nothing but thigh highs while telling me how manly I was with a Dyson vac-u-suck in her hand. I imagine the majority of this feeling stems from being a parent at such a young age and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I know what (almost) every stage of this process entails and I have no desire to do it again. To be the parent of someone who can't be responsible for themselves when I am neigh on 60? Thank you no. If I was barren maybe. OK even probably. But at the moment I am too busy taking my presumptuous victory lap for having done it at all. The rest of you have your fun. I'll sit around and impart wisdom and babysit for periods running into hours of time, but I just ran the marathon, on the (6570) seventh day I rest.

Of course that would be the end of the story if this were my 34th birthday. But now we are 36 and a hell of a lot can change in two years. Now I have become embroiled in a situation that, for all intents and purposes, has added ten years to my sentence. While you can no doubt guess from reading the previous 500+ words, this is not a box I would have checked were I filling out a "prefect situation" card in 2009. That being said, I couldn't be happier. I now, in some sort of post-modern, pseudo way, get to know what it is like to have daughters. No offense to babymama, but I also I get to be a parent in a real, collaborative, day to day, sort of way. Most importantly, I get to look head long into the future and get super excited about everything that is to come. In that sense, I can see exactly what appealed so much to the Moeman. And most importantly, and I can't stress this enough, I get to do it all without having to change any diapers. What a lucky, lucky man am I.

Posted 10:46am
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September 22nd , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- Rock bands are trying to brainwash you with their hidden messages! And by brainwash we mean hide obscure, sorta kinda neat stuff for stoners to find.

- As you can guess, much of the above link has to do with Radiohead. If that makes you more inclined to click on it, you'll be glad to know they are touring next year.

- Speaking of hiding, Jeff Mangum has come out of it! Sensitive indie rock's JD Salinger is playing shows and releasing massive vinyl box sets. All hail the king of carrot flowers...

- Round 2 of the AV Club's Undercover project is done, but be sure to check out Peter, Bjorn and John rocking the shit out of "Try a Little Tenderness".

- Rolling Stone, against the advice of any one with any sense in their head whatsoever, has gone and ranked the 100 best Beatle songs. They should have just said "all of them where Ringo doesn't sing, minus "With a Little Help From My Friends" and sometimes "Yellow Submarine"." They all are the best. Fin.

- Also don't click on this, which names the best singing performances in non-musicals. Why? because it includes Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. I knew that wasn't him actually singing when I was 10. Duh.

- Army Navy is a great band. They made a great video. Watch it and get some 1980s MTV nostalgia.

- For those of you worried about losing your youth or ability to make conversation with college age hipsters*, here's Sterogum's 40 best new bands of 2011. Don't get caught not knowing the difference between The Weeknd and Weekend. For reals.

- Finally, REM broke up yesterday, the same day Michael Stipe revealed his penis to the internet. No word on how the two are related. I'll always remember REM as the only band I ever slept out over night to get tickets for. It was of course girl related. I wasn't that big a fan of their music, but I was of this girl. Of course even though we were fourth in line, we didn't even manage to get floor seats. And I never so much as saw that girl's boobs. I guess what I'm trying to say is fuck you REM. Don't let the door hit you on the ass.

*so you can trick them into sleeping with you, natch.

Posted 10:03am
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September 21st , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- DADT is finally history! I'll admit both that I found this video moving and then kinda blech a bit when I found out that it was an Obama campaign video. I mean not that he shouldn't campaign on it - he should take a measure of credit for the accomplishment - but it just seemed a little icky.

- So the next step is gay marriage eh? But allowing the gays to get married puts a stain on the sanctity of an institution! It's a covenant with God! And He's Jesus' dad! Of course if you're straight and your wife has alzheimer's you can kick her to the curb. It's probably in the Bible?

- Thanks to his friends in high places, Jesus gets tax exempt status from the government. In exchange, the government asks them not to campaign for specific candidates. Well surprise! Some fucksticks want that rule repealed. And be sure you are sitting down when you read that it is estimated that religious institutions' tax exempt status costs the average family $1000 a year. Fuckin' christ on a really nice bike...

- It's a good thing nuns hitting kids with rulers is a thing of the past, or this kid would be in trouble.

- Fighting fire with fire, the Foo Fighters bitchslap the Westboro Baptist Church. Taking on Dave Grohl is worse than starting a land war in Asia.

- Finally, taken with a Fox News grain of salt, 77% of voters believe in the healing power of prayer and 45% believe the Biblical account of creation. The BIBLICAL account. Not that God created the universe thing, but the obvious fairy tale designed to teach you plebeians some 2000 year old morality. If that number is true - and it can't possibly be, I'm going to go get drunk in my basement forevermore because I goddamn give up.

Posted 11:03am
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September 20th , 2011

Unconscionable dereliction of duty

I don't suffer fools well. Especially when they have a direct impact on whatever I am doing. I've been going to Monday night trivia at the same bar for a decade now. There's always been issues with the questions. From being subjective to poorly worded to the host just having dead wrong answers, issues come up far too often. But when the latter is the case, I start to get angry. Hulk smash.

A few weeks ago he asked how many playing cards in a deck have a value more than ten. Simple enough, except when he read the answer he clearly forgot that Aces are also worth more than ten in myriad games. We pointed this out. He (begrudgingly) agreed we were right. But did we get our score corrected to show that we were right? Much LESS take away all the points that people were incorrectly given? Hulk smash!

I'd had enough. I vowed to just sit there and take it. I figure in the great cosmic scheme of things that his ineptitude equally fucks everybody, and over a period of weeks turning into months, it all comes out in the wash (as Moeman used to say). But after a particularly shitty round of questions last night, he asked what show Haley Joel Osment was on before appearing in The Sixth Sense. I immediately said "The Jeff Foxworthy Show." Now I don't know how I knew that, having never seen the show and it being off television for over a decade, but I knew it in my bones to be the right answer. So that's what we answered.

But as you can guess that wasn't the answer he read aloud. Turns out Haley Joel was also on Murphy Brown. Which is all well and good, but I was just as right. So after much stewing and consternation, I finally walked up to him, showed him my iPhone and said "Haley Joel Osment was also the kid on The Jeff Foxworthy Show." He looked at me like I was the idiot. He just sat there and looked at me like I was speaking in tongues and went "Oh." No apology. No correction. Just "eh" and a blank stare. It took every ounce of restraint available in my body not to open hand slap him across the face and yell "Do your fucking job you fucking ass hat piece of shit lazy moron." HULK SMASH! That is all.

Posted 10:46am
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September 19th , 2011

Poetry that is seen rather than felt

First it was the 40 days and 40 nights of rain that was the spring. Then it was the five broken ribs that laid me up for the month of July. Then in the home stretch it was the problem of the damn dormers: How to get up there and get them painted while minimizing the chance that I slip, fall and end up not being able to feed myself for the rest of my life. Well all of that is moot because house, you're painted.

In the end it required a pair of rock climbing harnesses and 100' of rope. I carefully climbed out the second story window and threw a softball back to the BDGF that had a rope attached to it, the other end of which was figure eighted securely into my harness. What followed was several hours of my flesh scraping against asphalt roof tiles while the BDGF belayed me from the back yard.

You'd think that painting a house wouldn't be that big of a deal. It's not that big of a house. I boastfully claimed back in April that it would be done by the time the school was out. I later made a similarly stupid statement that I could do the whole thing over the course of a weekend. Then rain. Then ribs. Plus hyperbolic rhetoric that I have no means whatsoever to back up is my stock in trade. I now have a healthy respect for the pain in the ass that is house painting.

The important thing is that it is done. Outside of the littlest finding a color for the door that we can all tolerate that is. Of course there's still the front porch concrete that needs immediate attention. The garage needs a new roof of course. And we never did get around to doing the finish carpentry in Sid's bedroom. As long as it isn't painting, because I can absolutely tell you this: if we stay there long enough for it to be necessary to paint again, I'll gladly write the check. If you know me at all, when it comes to something I can do myself, that's not something I say easily.

Posted 10:07am
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September 16th , 2011

It's Star Wars on Blu-ray Day!

Great shot kid, that was one in a million! Star Wars is finally out on Blu-ray. No, it's not the original version you remember from your childhood where Han murdered Greedo in cold blood and Mos Eisley wasn't bustling with superfluous Jawas hilariously falling around the place. I can't think of another pop culture instance where a fan base was so cohesive in what they wanted - a proposition that is sure to make money - and the free market (read: George Lucas) is indignantly refusing to give it to them. It makes me angry.

It made George Lucas angry once upon a time. Here he is testifying to Congress (CONGRESS!) seemingly decrying his future self. His best buddy Steven Spielberg has seen the error of his ways and vowed to repent, but not George. That fucker is going to tinker with our collective childhood until movie become a chip that gets implanted in our brain and we forget entirely that Boba Fett was ever a bad ass and not some whiney little kid who just misses his daddy.

I thought I was over this. Apparently not. I think I may be in the middle of this:

I mean, I know Shatner is trying to drum up the old Star Wars vs Star Trek debate that no one has cared about for years. I can't get excited about that. And this guy basically goes 0 for 5 in ways Star Wars ruined science fiction. Truth be told, I'm not into science fiction. I kinda like Doctor Who. And Blade Runner. But I don't read Frank Herbert or Orson Scott Card. I don't want to spend energy on this because I don't want to care. But for some reason this really sticks in my craw. I just want my memories preserved.

OK, I'm being a tad disingenuous. As I feel it was my right - having paid to own these movies several times - I managed to get digital copies of the original movies as I saw them as a kid. These copies aren't great mind you. When jackass George went through and added all the bells and whistles he decided by fiat were necessary, he also cleaned up the picture and upgraded the sound. And it would be nice to have a cleaned up, pristine edition without all the stupid trumped up bullshit Lucas has added as he lies around on Skywalker ranch getting fat and failing to generate new ideas that don't ruin Star Wars. Ah well, it's not like I'm not going to go home today and play with my lightsaber. Unfortunately, that's not a euphemism.

- Here's an interview with dreamgirl and only chick who can make the Kessel run in only 12 par secs, Carrie Fisher. She's also hilarious and a legendary drunk. My kind of girl.

Posted 10:36am
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September 15th , 2011

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

- Last week was Freddie Mercury's birthday, so I spent Sunday brunch listening to Queen's greatest hits (which is a great way to spend a Sunday morning, birthday nod or no). Google has the resources for a little bit better nod than I, so they made this super awesome video that you should watch twice right now. Ohhhh, you're making me live...

- Internet for the win:

via buzzfeed

- George Clooney expresses his love for Ann Arbor, as well do teenagers with fake IDs. 23 of 25? Way to go Scorekeepers.

- You're not going to believe this: Fox News went ape shit over Obama using a paper clip. So either all of these different aspects of the Murdoch empire simultaneously noticed that the President used a paper clip and decided to be indignant about it, or there's marching orders and an agenda driven, cohesive party line to tow. You be the judge.

- Finally, Episode 3 of the We Are So Good at Football Podcast is up. It is also up on iTunes finally. While we know that this little trifle isn't for everybody, if you listen, leave a review in iTunes. It'll really help us out. And let us never mention it here again.

Posted 11:48am
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September 14th , 2011

The Five Ugliest Bands in Rock and Roll

It's easy to forget that your favorite rock stars were once pubescent young boys who started playing instruments merely because they were ugly little twits with no athletic ability and had no other recourse if they ever wanted to get laid. Rock musicians are not generally good looking. They fool you by oozing sexuality and dressing like they are cool and/or handsome, but look closer - it's all a mirage.

Now many bands learned a trick: find one charismatic, actually good looking guy to (usually) be the lead singer, and by proxy the rest of us will also appear to be good looking (or get groupie castoffs that the one good looking guy doesn't want). Good trick. Those bands are eliminated from this list, the Five Ugliest Bands in Rock and Roll:

5. The Rolling Stones

Chances are if you are reading this blog, the Rolling Stones have been old for the entirety of your lifetime. This may lead you to believe that they were once young and good looking. You'd be wrong. The Rolling Stones were never good looking. They did pioneer the time honored tradition of wearing long hair to disguise one's hideousness, and so every rock musician since owes them a debt of gratitude.
This pick could have been: The Who. You think Roger Daltry is good looking? Think again.

4. Guns and Roses

Guns and Roses tried to scare you into thinking they were better looking than they were. It surprisingly worked for a short period of time, but time wounds all heels. Axl went bald and everyone else got drug addled. Somehow, Slash went from the worst looking guy in the band to the best. Huh.
This pick could have been: Megadeth? Slayer? Every metal band of the late 80's, early 90's.

3. Black Sabbath

When Ozzy is the best looking guy in the band, you're in trouble. These guys tried to convince you they were into black magic and the occult, because even though they rocked as hard as anyone has, they were pretty close to being unfuckable.
This pick could have been: Led Zeppelin, if Robert Plant wasn't the sexiest thing that ever existed.

2. The Ramones

The Ramones were so ugly that I honestly believe it seriously hindered their popularity. It's sad that so much ugly existed in one shallow, shallow gene pool. If I looked like a Ramone, I'd want to be sedated too.
This pick could have been: Motorhead, but I'm too scared of Lemmy to say anything bad about him.

1. Rush

I once saw Rush in concert in the mid 1990s. They had a giant video screen behind them that would occasionally display giant pictures of their faces, at which time you could hear women shrieking in horror and babies crying for their mothers. If Rush weren't such technically virtuosic musicians, they'd be run out of town via torches and pitchforks where ever they would go.
This pick could have been: No one else. Rush is the ugliest band of all time. Long may you reign.

Posted 10:58am
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September 13th , 2011

Sometimes I get a little drunk and sappy

Editor's note: So I apparently was in a really good mood last night, as I wrote this on my iPhone on the back porch long after everyone in the house was asleep. It is sappy and braggy and presented to you here only edited for clarity.

I'm sitting outside under seasonably ok temperatures (which for Michigan is saying something). Tonight I had to meet all of Sid's teachers for the year and blew a four point lead going into the final round of trivia. These are things that exist on a scale that goes from "Does not enjoy" to "Please jam a railroad tie into my eye socket"; and yet I couldn't be happier.

Maybe it's that Denard Robinson is a golden god put on this earth to make the impossible rote. Or maybe it's that Tom Brady can shoot lightening from his fingertips and it is almost expected. Those things are contributors for sure, but as maniacal as I can be about football, those things have never determine my happiness for very long. Right now I walk on water. I am Superfly TNT and The Guns of the Navarone, in a strictly awesome, non-violent sort of way.

I know this will come off as boisterous and (more regrettably) uninteresting but I literally couldn't care less. At this moment I feel like I've won. Sid has an amazing path set out before him and it simultaneously makes me proud and jealous. The BDGF's girls have things wired and are prepped for glory that I can only undeservedly revel in. As for the two of us, well all I can say is that for maybe the first time in my life I am staring down the barrel of a future that no one deserves, much less little old me.

Stephen King called it 'My Pretty Pony' time. Nick Cage via the Cohen Brothers referred to them as the 'Salad Day's.' Whatever your preferred nomenclature, this is a moment to take stock and notice how great everything around you is. To look at what time has wrought and say 'maybe I'm not an idiot.'

I know that every self-help book ever written says to enjoy the moment. That the impermanence of things means you should enjoy what you have, because you don't have to study Eastern philosophy or spend time in prison to know what Red said was right - "get busy livin', or get busy dyin'.

So Michigan will probably stumble to be bowl eligible. And Tom Brady won't throw for 500 yards every week. The girls will struggle and Sid may decide that Burning Man is his calling in life. And it is completely plausible that the BDGF will wake up and find my drunken antics boorish as so many others have. But that's not tonight.

Tonight I am young and thin. Tonight I have the wind at my back and the world off my shoulders. I am Superfly TNT and The Guns of the Navarone (without the violence). I am Dr. Pangloss and this is the best of all possible worlds. And that, dear readers, is worth a moment of pause.

Posted 10:13am
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September 12th , 2011

The Redeemer

I will freely admit that I was nervous Saturday night. Perhaps as nervous as I've ever been prior to a Michigan football. It was worse than in 2006 against Ohio when we were both undefeated and ranked 1 and 2 and I thought we were going to lose. It was worse than the Rose Bowl in 1998 when we were playing for a national championship and I thought we were going to win. Compared to those games there was nothing on the line Saturday night. Just a rivalry game under the lights. Of course I wanted to win, but my nervousness and overall sense of dread had nothing to do with what was going to happen on the field for three hours. It was due solely to the fact that I had the BDGF in tow.

My college football Saturdays are not without responsibility. Our tailgate has become quite a production and even on top of remembering to bring everything and keep the electronics up and running, I do want everyone to have a good time. Not at the expense of my good time mind you, but I do keep an eye and ear out to do my best to ensure everyone has everything they need. Those of us that are there every week all have this certain sense of responsibility I imagine. By the time I actually get to the stadium, it's time for a singularity of focus. To abandon worrying about everything being packed away or if everyone has what they need, and concentrate on football.

So much for that last Saturday. Or so I thought. The BDGF was apprehensive about going to the game for myriad reasons. She doesn't like crowds. Being packed in like sardines with 114,000 people is not her idea of a good time, but she had prescription drugs to help with that. She also feared the possibility of forever being blamed should Michigan lose. Knowing my friends as well as she does, she knew that should she attend her first game only to see Michigan lose, she'd be stigmatized at every tailgate forever more. There's no pill for that.

So she had her concerns, and I had mine. Mainly that she'd have to bail or be super uncomfortable and I'd have to concern myself with her well being rather than the welfare of the team, the team, the team. I won't go as far to call these fears unfounded, but they were so mitigated that they weren't an issue at all. I think she had a good time and if she was crawling up the wall inside her own head, she hid it remarkably well. Until the end anyway. As Michigan drove down the field with 30 seconds left down three points and then sat in the red zone with 8 seconds left, I calmly stated that should the next play not go well, we still had the possibility of a field goal and overtime. To which the BDGF noted that no, she was out of Xanex and they will win the game right now thank you very much.

Now the BDGF has the reverse stigma. She was christened by Denard Robinson and his irrepressible smile and redeemed in the eyes of 100,000 fans - most importantly the fellow nine that sat right next to her under the lights of Michigan Stadium. When we returned to the tailgate the popular consensus was that the BDGF was so good and so lucky to have that as her first experience that it would be pointless to ever go to a Michigan game again. I really hope that she had fun that night, but I know I didn't hear her argue with that sentiment.

Posted 10:56am
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September 9th , 2011

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

- We are a mere 34 hours from what's being hyped as the biggest game in Michigan Stadium ever. I know from hyperbole and boy howdy is that it. I don't care how much tickets are going for, this doesn't make the top 10 games I've personally been to, much less of all time. Of course that doesn't mean I just didn't pee right down my leg with excitement.

- Five years ago we made a half hearted, juvenile attempt to take our tailgating to the next level. We bought crappy vans for $100. We tried to have a satellite dish by screwing a tripod into a board. It was super fun, but eventually it all fell apart. Now that we are older and (arguably) wiser, we are giving this super tailgate thing a shot. We've got a super nice generator. And yesterday, this showed up on my doorstep:

The latest in tailgating satellite technology, the tailgater. A no fuss, no muss solution to watching the early games in the parking lot before we go give Brian Kelly a stroke inside Michigan Stadium. Hail.

- Denard Robinson is fast. And I love him. But you already knew both those things.

- In non-football related news: we have what I assume is closure in the douche bag Dillon Pearce saga: more jail and community service for parole violation. During sentencing he said "I want to give back to the community and show the community that I can be a good person." Speaking on behalf of the community: it's gonna take some time for us to think of you as anything but a first class douche. But good luck and all that.

- Finally, you've been waiting for it: Episode 2 of the We Are So Good at Football Podcast. More swearing. More drinking. More sage advice. Plus, you can now go to wearesogoodatfootball.com to get all the episodes. One of these days it'll show up in iTunes. Damn you Steve Jobs!

Posted 10:43am
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September 8th , 2011

Thursdays are for politickin' - Battle of the Ken dolls edition

I've heard social security referred to as a 'ponzi scheme' by many a faction for as long as I can remember. I can never tell if the people who say that are actually serious are being hyperbolic. I suppose in some twisted, shoehorned way it fits the definition. And these people are sure (and probably right) that they personally would be better off investing that money themselves. I get that it's something you don't want to pay into, but ponzi scheme implies it's designed to bilk somebody out of something, and only by ending it would that come to fruition. That's the definition of irony.

It's also incredibly popular. It's often called the "third rail of American politics", meaning to mess with it is to die. Everybody on social security votes, because what else do they have to do at 10am on a Tuesday? As such most politicians spend a lot of time defending it, and things like raising the retirement age, or proposing cuts in benefits are done in the dark, in quiet and secret. I don't ever want to get old. My body will go long before my mind, and when that happens, I will ask to be put on an ice flow. But I still support social security. Getting old sucks in this country, but it really sucked before SS.

Which is why it was interesting to watch someone with such unearned good will in this country go on national television and commit political suicide (while lying about SS's insolvency). Someone who has 'never struggled' with executing an innocent man, even though it happened. I don't know what's more shocking, the fact that he said that (and clearly believes it) or that the mention of executing 234 people gets rampant applause from an audience. Are we seriously still talking about this guy? I for one, am not.

- Speaking of social security and you know, taking care of each other like Jesus talked about ad nauseam for every goddamn page of the new testament, here's an update on health care reform. Or how about adding some science as to what expanding health care coverage to the uninsured does? I fucking hate the idea that the government shouldn't do anything so much more that the idea that the government is the answer to everything. Goddamn sycophantic bootstrappy bullshit fuck balls cock ass. The other Ken doll on stage last night enacted some health care reform in his state that people seem to love and has resulted in the lowest number of uninsured people in any state. And he's running away from it. Christ on a bike.

- I saw a friend post a status on facebook a while back that said something to the effect of "If I have to get drug tested for work, then people on welfare should have to get tested too." To which I responded "Ugh. How about you shouldn't have to get tested either?" I should have linked to this, because it's more thoughtful than 'duh.'

Posted 11:07am
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September 7th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Diplomatic immunity! Demonstrating that the U.S. judicial system still has a shred of sanity, a judge rules that a teacher cannot be sued for calling creationism "superstitious nonsense". This is a good thing and we here at tbaggervance.com applaud it, but given that this was an AP class, we look forward to the day when a judge actually rules that creationism is superstitious nonsense.

- Speaking of evolution, here's a handy guide to where the GOP presidential candidates stand on it. Prepare thyself to be discouraged.

- Here's a list of five religious movies even an atheist could love. While I don't know how Oh God! holds up, I have no problem with the list, other than its glaring omissions. How about any Indiana Jones movie? Or The Exorcist?

- It's been 15 years since I've been in a Catholic church for anything other than a wedding. But as any lapsed Catholic, even the nonbelievers, you never forget when to sit, when to stand, when to kneel and what follows We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth... I mostly find it creepy that this information was so thoroughly drilled into my head that it is still taking up space there, rather than my eighth grade locker combination. Yet somehow I'm still disappointed that the Vatican is making changes to Catholic mass. Not that I was ever planning to, but it just proves you can't go home again.

- Here's a pastor in (surprise) Florida, that wants a national registry of atheists. If he's going to bring out this old chestnut, how about we all just wear - wait, I guess wearing nothing on our sleeves doesn't work for him, eh?

- For all of you in the anti-gay marriage horde, here is your leader. Enjoy.

- One more for the courts: even Tennessee rules that you have to treat "Protestant Christians, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists and others" all the same. You know, like it says in the Constitution.

- Finally, here's universally respected Bill Nye calmly and rationally explaining climate change and what extreme weather has to do with it. Unfortunately it happened on Fox News, so he gets pushed back and accused of "confusing the viewers." That's the trouble with science, it's confusing.

Posted 10:16am
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September 6th , 2011

Staving off the Winter of Our Discontent

The autumnal equinox tends to fall right smack dab on my birthday, so I know as well as anybody that fall is still technically 17 days away. But Labor Day is passed. The kids are in school. Football has begun and there are only 22 games until the fall classic. I realize that according to hoyle we are still in the midst of summer 2011, but in case we needed reminding that to every season turn, turn, turn - Saturday's high was in the 90's; yesterday it failed to hit 70.

Now of course this massive temperature drop will correct itself and I will sweat my ass off in Michigan Stadium more than once more this season before all is said and done. But Summer 2011 is in the books. For me it was the summer of broken ribs and curb appeal. It started with running into Jason Segal and Doug Benson. We had our requisite trips to Beerfest and Put-in-Bay. We spent the Fourth and myriad other weekends at the Beach House. We got to see Craig Finn and a real Knight of the Realm. It was the Summer of Tarantinothon Fest and saying goodbye to a Downtowner and the downtown apartment. But through all of that, I was healing and painting.

There were a lot of reasons to fix the driveway and paint the house. The former was a death trap to automobiles both big and small and the latter was a necessity to keep things from literally falling off the place. But perhaps more importantly, they were eyesores. And whatever combination of work ethic and catholic guilt my parents instilled in me make it difficult for me to walk around those things day after day and not do something. Thankfully, the driveway was a professional matter. I talked big talk about sledge hammers and pry bars and digging the thing up myself, but thankfully the BDGF knows when to not call my bluff and just pay a guy in a Bobcat. But the ribs cramped my style on the painting.

The painting was supposed to be done by Memorial Day (that's the one that starts summer). But as you may remember, it rained every day in May. And then we were gone every weekend in June. And then I broke my ribs and the BDGF threatened to break the other half of my ribcage if she saw me on a ladder. So a project that was supposed to be done before summer commenced is now just wrapping up as summer wanes. But when I pull up to the house and see those crisp paint lines and smooth driveway, it feels really good. It's almost like I need one more project to do, because when you run out summer, there's no more working outside. And I suppose I'm not ready for either of those things.

Posted 10:45am
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September 2nd , 2011

We are So Good at Football

I remember the first time I walked into Michigan Stadium. I was less than a dozen years old and probably had watched about 45 minutes of football in my entire life. I walked up to the then unassuming stadium ready to enjoy the spectacle, but had no idea that when I walked through the entry way into that giant bowl of scooped out earth, how life changing it would be.

I fell hard for Michigan. Like an awkward boy at a junior high dance whose crush put her head on his shoulder hard. It has shaped my life in immeasurable ways and outside of my family, I am loyal to Michigan above all else. It's been a wonderful, unwavering love affair for the last 25 years of my life.

And while I am a proud alumnus and 15 year employee of this great institution, this affair starts and ends with football. That's why I can't concentrate right now. It's why these paragraphs are so short. Tomorrow is the first game of season. New coach. Clean slate. A million possibilities.

Given my supreme love of Michigan and college football, I figured it was time to give podcasting another go - this time in a more structured, agenda driven way. My best friend for the last 27 years and I have started what we hope will be a weekly foray into the world of college football and gambling. Join Stov and I for the We are So Good at Football Podcast. It should be up in iTunes soon, so be sure to subscribe, rate it, and leave a comment. And tell your friends. We promise with a little practice, we'll eventually get good at it.

Posted 10:47am
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September 1st , 2011

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

- First, an apology. Late last week I had a snafu when I finally started to pay attention to what my domain registrar was charging me per year for you to type in tbaggervance.com and end up here. As you can hopefully see by now, that has been fixed. Also, I missed yesterday. And last Friday. And there's been an abundance of posts that struggle to reach 200 words. You should expect more from me and I intend to give it to you. Like this video of John Krasinski and Alec Baldwin taunting each other. See? That was awesome.

- Football is coming! Football is coming! But more on that tomorrow. Before we get into the meat of the season, let us close the door on tOSU's offseason woes with this Terrelle Pryor inforgraphic. Well hell, long as we're here, let's raise a finger to point at the hypocrisy of simultaneously blaming your coach for all of your ills and lionizing him as the be all end all. And for the record, when I say close the door I mean leave it open enough that we can easily see through the crack as to giggle at all of this, which we will do from time to time.

- Here's an interesting chart that looks at alcohol expenditures based on education level. My question is why does it top out at just over $50 a month? Shudder to think what swill I'd have to imbibe to get down to such a measly budget.

- Missed in yesterday's TWIR notes: Jack White is producing the Insane Clown Posse (and one ups them by looking white as a sheet sans clown makeup) and as noted earlier, Tokyo Police Club's covers project is in full swing. Can I recommend the Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone"?

- Finally, the saga of über-douche Dillon Pearce may have a sweet, sweet coda in store for those who stayed to watch the credits. After 'humbly' admitting guilt and being slapped on the wrist with a 10 day jail sentence and a year's worth of probation, guess what our little entitled asshat went and did? I can't believe we didn't see this coming, but someone failed to show up for a mandatory drug screening and a couple of classes. He now faces the maximum penalty for running over a small defenseless animal with your daddy's Hummer - four years in prison. Please please please let me get what I want...

Posted 10:44am
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August 30th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Ben Folds is apparently feeling reflective*. He's set to release a three disc, career retrospective called "Best Imitation of Myself". Along with a look back over his oeuvre, there are no less than three brand new songs, recorded with his former bandmates of Ben Folds Five fame. You listen to "House" and "Tell me What I Did" before deciding whether or not to drop a bunch of cash on tunes you already have on October 11.

- Beatles documentaries are generally ho-hum, because they at some point devolve into four guys telling four versions of the same story that seem to be deliberately at odds with each other. But I have high hopes for Living in the Material World, because of its focus on George and it being directed my Martin Scorcese.

- Finally, I realize that this constitutes two short posts in a row, but I really wanted to make sure I got this out there as soon as possible. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Hold Steady covering Huey Lewis and the News. As a bonus (and spoiler alert): Huey Lewis played harmonica on the first Elvis Costello record! That is fucking awesome.

*and/or needs an influx of cash

Posted 10:18am
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August 29th , 2011

Two years. Don't they go by in a blink.

I don't want to get too sappy about any of it, but I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. When I met the BDGF I was six weeks out of a three year relationship and she was still technically married. We both had kids and a ton of other baggage. My point is that it shouldn't have worked. Except that it did. The last two years have been the best I can remember and there will always be a small part of me that's deathly frightened that she's not even half as happy as I am, because it seems implausible at best that two people can fit together this well. OK, maybe it's just that I can be a handful and honestly I'm amazed she puts up with me. Whatever it is she sees in me, all I can do is hope she keeps seeing it. xoxo my love.

- For those of you who yawn at the above and complain about how happy I am these days - Look! It's Innnnnnnnnnndyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Posted 11:19am
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August 25th , 2011

You cannot be serious

A month ago I wrote something for Sid on his birthday about transitioning to the role of cheerleader in his life. That the onus was one him, that he was capable, and that in my vernacular, I was there to tell him "Get up and run you sonofabitch." When I wrote it, I never had it in my brain that such a concrete example would happen so soon.

I've spent my entire life around high school athletics. The Moeman has been covering them for over 50 years, so since I could crawl I've been going to games. Coaches would visit our house growing up. I've heard my dad rant about what it takes to be successful in different sports and I've had the proper sports ettiquette drilled into my head. Chief amongst that is you never hang your head. The minute you feel defeated or mistreated and you show it you are finished. You get up and run. And to shoe horn in a turn of phrase, the best revenge is living well.

I've always had problems with Sid's tennis team. As a freshman, I saw him interact with a coach exactly once. The guy was never around. I went to every one of his matches and I never saw any coach give what he was doing as much as a cursory glance. Over the course of two years, there has been somewhere near zero information dissemination. And this from a team who is constantly changing when practice is and where games are. Oh, and it is incumbant upon parents to get the athletes to the games. Did I mention that we have to pay for this privilege? Because we do. I have issues with his team that have nothing to do with his playing time or their evaluation of his talent. I find them in dereliction of duty, but I'd never say a word to anyone, because that's how you act as a parent.

So when he came home the other day pissed off because he felt the door to him making the Varsity team had been shut, I wanted to throw an arm around him and say "those fucking idiots don't have any idea what they're doing." I wanted to get mad and rant about spoiled rich kids who've had private lessons since they were two, and how that guy doesn't coach, he stands around and watches what kids learned in their indoor lessons with professionals over the winter. They don't even have a website, much less email the parents to tell them what's going on! I wanted to be on his side - which is why I didn't do any of that.

Instead I told him that those are the breaks. I reminded him of all the things he didn't do over the summer to get better. I told him that instead of qiutting, that he needs to redouble his efforts and make them sorry they didn't put him on the team he wanted to be on. I told him to get up and run. He had his first match yesterday. He won 8-2, 8-2. I don't have any idea what the level of competition was and I'm not saying he's vindicated in his indignation over not being on Varsity. I'm saying he got up and ran, and that makes everything OK.

Posted 10:35am
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August 24th, 2011

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

- I work on the second floor of my building yet have to spend fair amount of time in the basement (that's where they stick the servers and the nerds who serve them). In an attempt to be healthsum, I try to take the two flights of stairs between my two 'offices' whenever I can. Yesterday, for the first time in five years, I noticed how utterly filthy the hand rails are on that set of stairs. We're talking nasty, never ever been cleaned dirty. Now since I normally would eat a slice of pizza that fell on the floor of the Blind Pig if I was hungry enough, my first thought was "I've caught the BDGF's germ OCD!" and then panic set in that this could permeate through my life. I immediately went and listened to a bunch of Radiohead, and good news, I still love them despite the BDGF dying a fake death every time they come on the radio. We are not yet the same person.

- I hate Bill O'Reilly. Despite my pseudo-father-in-law referring to him as "not that conservative", he is solely interested in fanning the flames of issues that are going to incense the elderly. I thought I hated Ben Stein. He made a movie called Expelled! which advocated for creationism/intelligent design in the only way one can - completely muddled and wrong-headedly - and I've dismissed him ever since. But I am no willing to overlook that because he beat down Bill O'Reilly's latest scare tactic - that taxing millionaires leads to unemployment. You don't mess with a man with that level of knowledge of the Laffer curve.

- So Politifact checked Rick Perry's recent statement that more and more scientists are coming out against climate change. As with everything I've ever personally heard come out of his mouth, he's wrong:

A 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- the official publication of the United States National Academy of Sciences -- found that out of 1,372 climate researchers under review, approximately 97 to 98 percent of those actively publishing in the field said they believe human beings are causing climate change, which they term anthropogenic (i.e., man-made) climate change. It also concluded that "the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence" of the researchers unconvinced of man-made climate change are "substantially below that of the convinced researchers."

So yeah, is climate change a trumped up bunch of hogwash used by science-y types to get grant money, like Perry says? Or is something similar true of those who deny it?

- We rarely talk about movies around here, which is weird because I love movies. I mean LOVE them. They've been a huge part of my life for its entirety. My dad loved westerns and Spielberg; my mom musicals and Hitchcock. I love all those things, and spent this summer making Siddhartha watching every one of Quentin Tarantino's films in order. Anyway, there's a movie out on DVD this week you might enjoy. It's called Win Win. It stars Paul Giamatti and centers around high school wrestling. Stay with me. Or rather stay with it, it's funny and adorable and heartwarming.

- There are 10 days until Michigan football returns. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Posted 11:50am
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August 23rd , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- Last week I watched The Muppets Take Manhatten for the first time in at least 25 years. Now you can watch OK Go cover the Muppets' them song. It's time to light the lights...

- I've never heard of this chick before, but she's got a great voice and does a kick as job of covering Ted Leo's "Where have all the rude boys gone?"

- Giddy school girl Josh Ritter was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week, and did a bang up job of belting out both old and new material.

- There's a new law in effect that will allow artists to take back copyright on their songs after 35 years. I'll never understand the music industry under the archaic system that it operated under for almost the entirity of its existence, but I can easily say that I am always on the side of Tom Petty.

- Normally I eschew cell phone concert footage. 1.) the quality is teh-he-herrible 2.) You're at a concert. Enjoy it in the moment. Don't stand there like an ass hat holding up your phone right in front of me obscurring my view of the stage. Put one hand in your pocket, the other around a beer and ignore any and all text messages. With that being said, here's Neko and MMJ covering "Stop Dragging My Heart Around." Again, always side with Petty.

- Here's professional video of Jeff Tweedy performing a new Wilco song. Know hope for the new album...

- AC/DC (yes, that AC/DC) has its own line of fine wines. Conspicuously missing from the list of wine names: "The Jack", "Big Balls", "She's Got Balls", "Let Me Put My Love into You" and "If You Want Blood (You Got It)". I do think they missed an opportunity by not having a "Whole Lotta Rosé".

- Finally, on the heels of my seeing Sir Paul McCartney at Wrigley field, here's a chart for dat ass:

Posted 10:36am
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August 22nd , 2011

Mondays are for politickin'.

I've always described the key to my particular parenting style as "never talking down to." Since Sid was mature enough to actually understand reason, I've done my best to explain and treat him like I would anyone else I respect. Now that's not to say he always had equal say or it wasn't clear as to who was in charge when it came time for things like bedtimes and dinner. But if Sid as a four year old asked me why the sky was blue, I'd start with an explanation about the diffusion of light and how the color blue has the shortest wavelength. From there I'd get simpler and simpler until he had an explanation that satisfied him. Ultimately my goal was to never answer any question with "because I said so" or "go ask your mother."

I've loved science my entire life. Science is actually too broad, because what I really love is the scientific method. I have an analytical mind and I need to see how a=b=c. How one thing begets another. I have an innate drive and need to understand. I don't have faith in anything, other than if you've got 90% of something explained, that you'll probably eventually get that other 10% through further application of the scientific method, and a gap or two shouldn't get filled with Baby Jesus. It's why I took things apart as a kid. It's why I have job in information technology without ever taking a computer class. I just like problem solving.

In that sense (and many others) I am the polar opposite of Rick Perry. Here's Rick Perry on climate change: "Scientists are 'coming forward daily' to disavow a 'theory that remains unproven.'" He calls evolution "a theory that's out there." Texas has the third highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, but guess who somehow still manages to justify abstinence only education? And when I say justify I mean fumble through and not answer a direct question by saying "I can tell you it worked for me." That and Jesus are the only justification Rick Perry needs for anything.

John Huntsman, wearer of the magic underwear, believes in evolution and climate change. His statement of belief in these principles is being referred to as political suicide. I know a lot of reasonable Republicans. I know people that are conservative and religious. I can understand that people have points of view different than mine. What I don't understand is how all of those people aren't apoplectic over what's happened to the Republican party. They've turned me from someone who considered himself an independent into a hardcore Democrat. There are those who cheer this as an eventual demise of their opposition. But we need credible opposition. We need someone on the other side saying something other than "because I said so." Because we are not a nation of children. Or at least I hope not completely yet.

Posted 10:32am
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August 19th , 2011

Urban Camping.

When Sid's mother and I split up I had to find an apartment with a long list of prerequisites while I was short on resources. Luckily I fell upon a quaint two bedroom that was three blocks from his elementary school that I could afford. It was also across the street from his middle school, so we stayed there for seven years. It was the longest I'd lived anywhere outside of the house I grew up in. In the end the management had changed and tried to fuck me over (twice) the last year I lived there, so it wasn't hard to leave. That and the fact I was moving downtown.

People worried about my liver when I announced that I was about to live within four blocks of over a dozen bars. Those fears weren't unfounded, because living downtown is the cat's pajamas. When you can walk to just about everything a city has to offer, you can't help but partake in it. I saw more movies at the Michigan. I ate great food. Yes, I spent more time at the bar. I loved it all so much that when they asked me to re-up my lease in November - even though it didn't end until the following August - I signed it without hesitation. I never wanted to leave. Until I did.

By now you know that shortly after I moved downtown the BDGF came into my life, and a whirlwind of a year later, I was leaving downtown to impose Sid and myself on her and her girls. I was trading in a carefree, bachelor's existence for all the upkeep that a house entails. Less walking to the bar, more mowing the lawn. And of course my lack of foresight meant that I still had an apartment in my name for an entire year.

A few sublettors later, my lease downtown is finally at an end. Last night the BDGF, the girls and I did a little urban camping in my empty apartment. I didn't pub crawl through Ann Arbor's nightlife and stumble home as a last hurrah, I pitched a tent in my living room and watched The Muppets Take Manhattan. I'm going to miss the privileges of living amongst the hustle and bustle, but again, it wasn't hard to leave.

Posted 11:00am
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August 18th , 2011

There are a scant 18 days until Michigan football returns.

I've had season tickets to Michigan football for 17 years now. For 13 of those years, I've had a pair of them. And for each of those 13 years, there's been no one to take my extra ticket. OK that's far from true. The ticket rarely goes unused. Sid attends one game a year, friends from out of town need an extra, and when Stov has failed to outright buy someone else's season ticket, mine has always been available to him. It's a nice luxury, outside of the Eastern game in late September that no one wants to go to.

But part of me always wanted that ticket to be spoken for. There was a time when I had dreams that Siddhartha would start begging me to go to games before he was even ready. That never happened. He's usually good for one game a year, and at that he has to bring one of his friends to make it tolerable. There's been girlfriends come and gone who have sporadically made use of my plus one, but I somehow had a penchant for dating Spartans and Buckeyes for a while, and letting them use a coveted ticket to a Michigan game always made me feel dirty.

The BDGF has never attended a game with me, due solely to her disinclination to spend time around and within large seas of humanity. This year though, she's posturing as if she'd like to give it the old college try, as it were. In the two years we've been together, I've been suggesting she pick a minor game in September, perhaps against one of the directional schools (Eastern, Western or Central Michigan). That way when she gets bored or decides she just can't deal with that many people sweating together, we can bolt and no one (me) is upset that we're missing the rest of the game. So now that she's getting ready to dip a toe, what game does she pick? The first ever night game at Michigan Stadium, against our second biggest rival, Notre Dame. Oh, and the seventh most expensive in all of college football this year, fetching over $450 a ticket on the internet. Please god that doesn't exist, make it all be OK. And Go Blue.

Posted 11:11am
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August 17th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- What happens when an atheist goes on Fox News? If you guessed C.) receives 8,000 death threats from Christians on Facebook, claim your prize.

- Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) has a new book out about atheism called "God No". I'm patiently awaiting my copy from the library, but until then, here's a preview of his interview with Piers Morgan, in which Piers fails to wrap his head around anything not already in his paradigm.

- Who does Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann hate more, a Muslim or me? Yesterday's post notwithstanding, still me.

- Bad news for Adam and Eve (and bigots who like to follow that phrase with 'not Adam and Steve') - turns out all genomic evidence flies in the face of the earth being populated by the genitals of just two people. Go figure. This is why people who believe in an inerrant Bible (Michelle Bachmann) are so scary - I get that you want something out there to explain the unexplainable, but why hang on to that when we have an explanation, or even controvertible evidence? I bet the answer has something to do with intelligence.

- Everybody's favorite hate filled bigot and pseudo-Presidential candidate Rick Santorum makes an argument(?) for marriage. And by marriage he means one man, one women marriage. You know, like it has existed forever? And by forever he means less than 200 years. But only in this part of the world. And only less than half the time, if you count the fact that over 50% of 'marriages' end in divorce. So you know, like we all tacitly agreed in a blood oath that can never be broken.

- Here's a reasoned, civil dialogue between a bishop and a governor. Or, evidence as to why I will never be governor. Of anything.

- Finally, iteration 3,272 of "Methinks he doth protest too much", or, tbaggervance piles on hypocritical Republicans, here's another anti-gay State Representative who likes to troll craigslist for dudes. So he can have sex with them. You didn't think he was looking for a husband, did you? Ewww, that's gross.

Posted 11:11am
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August 16th , 2011

Tedium.

I'm a terrible guitar player. I've been playing for 25 years or so, but I apexed about 5 to 7 years in and have baselined at 'hack' ever since. It stems from my lack of desire to practice. And when I say practice, I specifically mean refined practice. I have no problem sitting down and learning a song, but perfecting it - making sure I hit the exact right notes in the exact right order - that holds no joy for me. I'd rather move on to the next thing. Yup, I got the chord progression, let's move on.

This wide brush painting style permeates my life. When I was in high school I was a straight A student. Well, almost. Seemed like every semester a B+ and an A- or two would creep in there. This made my mom apoplectic. Not because she was a perfectionist mind you, but I was achieving based on zero effort. Or as close you can get to zero and still be an A student. She'd argue that with a modicum of effort I could get a 4.0. I told her that I had a 3.8 without ever studying, and to get over the hump would take a ton of effort, not a little. The cost benefit analysis didn't add up in the end.

This summer we've decided to paint the house. This is a fairly large job that most people would pay someone else to do, but as I'm fond of saying, I'm still at the point in my life that I have more time than money, so if I'm capable of doing it, I'll give it the old college try. Painting the house is testing the tensile strength of that ideal. Scraping paint is the most tedious of work imaginable. Plus, you can never be sure you're done. We started this process last year with the garage, and if I would have let my OCD take over, I'd still be scraping and sanding and power washing that thing. I don't know that I'd ever be done.

But as much as I hate the tedious nature of any job and have to reconcile that with baseline of anal retentive perfection, I also thrive on setting goals and meeting them. The blog has taught me how to find a balance with that and live with it. The BDGF has an editor's mind. She can and often does point out myriad flaws in my writing. She does this and notes that if I just took the time to edit, I'd make vast improvements. I argue that to do that would limit posts to once a week, as I pour over and obsess over things. I write these things in about the same amount of time it takes to type them. And then I move on. I guess I'd rather have huge chunks of mediocre writing than a small sample of really good stuff.

So the house is scraped. And washed. And the trim has started to get painted. Now we just have to tape the trim, paint the house, figure out how to hoist me up to get the peaks and the bump outs, paint the storm windows and replace the rotten wood that was holding them up. All this with only 18 days until football season and two trips to the beach house planned. I swear to you when all is said and done it is going to look 100x better. Just promise me not to look too close.

Posted 10:53am
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August 15th , 2011

Mondays are for politickin'

Last Saturday Iowans paid for the privilege of participating in a 'straw poll' that's so good at prognosticating that it has successfully predicted the future president exactly once since 1980*. Saturday's poll was dominated by America's favorite political beard, Michelle Bachmann. Your crazy uncle who makes all kinds of pragmatic, common sense until he goes off the rails and starts talking like a schizophrenic homeless person, Ron Paul, finished second. And the Alec Baldwin memorial "Third prize is your fired" award went to Tim Pawlenty. Anyone want to see fourth place?

Of course in a cutesy game of political one-upmanship, current Texas governor and erstwhile village idiot Rick Perry announced his candidacy Saturday as well. His entry in the race has been described (by me) as an attempt by the GOP to determine once and for all, if the masses like their empty headed, pseudo-good looking, religious fanatics of the male or female variety. Let's look at the tale of the tape:

Rep. Michelle Bachmann
"Prepare thyself, the rapture is neigh!"

- Anti-government while being a part of it ever since she worked for the IRS, Rep. Bachmann has lobbied for stimulus money and personally benefits from many of the public programs she rallies against.

- Crazy religious beliefs? Too many to count, but Rep. Bachmann seems to have formed her worldview based largely on some propaganda films of the late 1970s, that push an inerrant view of the Bible and decries the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and of course, Darwinism.

- Rep. Bachmann's certainty comes from her degree from Winona State, divine right, mothering children with an obvious closet case, and lack of alternative choices.

 

Gov. Rick Perry
"The South shall rise again!"

- Succeeded W as governor of Texas, where he insulated the state from recession and produced more jobs than the rest of the country combined. Sort of.

- Crazy religious beliefs? You betcha. Gov. Perry recently held an event called "The Response", where they prayed to God to fix the economy. He stood alongside several religious leaders who had blamed the gays for the holocaust and have referred to Oprah as a precursor to the anti-christ. No shit.

- Gov. Perry calls global warming "all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight." This while Texas is suffering from an intense drought. His solution to that is to sue the EPA and call on Texans to "pray for rain."


Enjoy Republicans! It's these two or a Mormon.

*Since that was W in 1999, you could argue that it still has a 0% success rate.

Posted 3:22pm
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August 12th , 2011

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

- There are a scant 22 days until football season. I'm trying to put off watching last years games, because I'm honestly worried about the downward spiral of decreasing productivity it would (will) put me on. I don't have anything informative to say about the subject, I'm just really, really excited. Oh, the athletic department is having a garage sale on Sunday. I've gone before and it's pretty cool, but you have to get there early and it starts at 8am. Pass.

- I've seen my fair share of pornography over the years, but I can't say that I've ever seen an entire porno. I don't think even the people making these things have any illusions that at best, people are fast forwarding through 90% of the film. But this? I have to say, pretty intriguing.

- The Michelle Bachmanns of the world like to yell about the nanny state that dictates what kind of light bulbs you can buy. Oh the temerity! Here's a lame stream media (the NYTimes) article that kind of explains that, including this awesome chart that shows you just exactly how the bloated Fed is screwing the American people buy mandating via fiat for efficiency standards. Fucking fascists. Also, I'm sure strictly through social marxist forces, solar energy is quickly approaching grid parity, which of course is a plot by Obama against the oil, gas and coal industries.

- Siddhartha went to Lollapalooza last weekend and came home with some shiny new vinyl albums. Then last night he posted this on facebook:

That poor kid. I swear I never meant to turn him into me. I hope it's not to late. There's still good in him, I can feel it.

- Finally, as most of you know and could otherwise well imagine, a massive elitist snob such as myself has myriad ways to judge and/or summarily dismiss individuals for not being properly informed, cultured, or otherwise intellectually inclined. If you don't pay attention to the news in some form or other I consider your opinion on anything moot. I'm not saying you have to consume and enjoy the exact same things that I do, but you should pursue and have an opinion on certain things if we are going to have a conversation much less a relationship of any kind. Then there are the dealbreakers. For example, I'm thinking about sending this out to all of my employees. Although I generally tend to hire a different kind of nerd.

Posted 11:08am
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August 11th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- I was pretty impressed with the Rolling Stone reader's poll about the 10 best punk bands of all time. I kept waiting to see the MC5 and when The Clash was number 2 I thought 'Could it be?' Then this happened and I remembered that the internet is stupid. All the time and always.

- For lovers of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, here's 10 Things You Didn't Know About Neutral Milk Hotel.

- Outside of hypocritical Republicans and people who question how much I drink, there aren't two things I hate more than Wal-Mart and Ticketmaster. So hearing that they are getting in bed together makes me want to stock up on canned food and water and lock myself in the basement. It's like Rosemary's Baby starring Sarah Palin with Newt Gingrich as Satan's penis.

- New dispatches from Craig Finn's solo project. I'd say I hope he tours on it, but I have a feeling that would be a small venue and put the BDGF too close to him...

- This is two weeks away, but Tokyo Police Club is doing an awesome covers project where they will cover a song a day fro 10 days, one from each year of the previous decade. I wait with bated breath.

- Finally, Sunday the BDGF dragged me to see Foster the People. They looked like this:

only somehow douchier. They danced like drunken frat boys. They hopped around the stage like jackasses. One guy had a guitar, but I only actually heard it in the mix once during their set. The rest of the time it was a bunch keyboards they stole from Howard Jones and Flock of Seagulls and for some reason, a bunch of superfluous floor toms (I think they were just trying to come up with something for the extra idiots to do. Hey! Let them play floor toms!) The crowd was a mix of 15 year old girls and their 40 something mothers, plus a smattering of bitchy girls in their early 20s who came with their Abercrombie boy friends in tow. All in all, not my scene. And all for the sole purpose of seeing one song. I would have much preferred we knocked out that to-do list this way. The upside is now when anyone asks me what the worst concert I've ever scene was, I have a definitive answer.

Posted 10:49am
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August 10th , 2011

Exodus.

During the first decade of our new century I dated a series of women who, upon deciding that they liked me, promptly left the state. It was a disturbing trend and cause for much consternation. It led to one two year attempt at a long distance relationship and several attempts to get me to leave Michigan - at least for vacation if not for good. Some suggest that I sought out these relationships specifically for their impermanence, I say that this is the price of wanting to be around people who are interested in new things.

When the most serious of these transient girlfriends made her exit I had a little bit of a freak out. It happened to coincide with several of my friends popping out kids and others coupling up, and I felt like a man without a country. The one person in my life who would still go to a bar on Tuesday or a concert on a Thursday was gone. I was left awash in people who only went out on weekends, and that's if they didn't already have dinner plans and/or could find a sitter. I was barely 30 but washed up, because who makes new friends at 30? Besides, everyone remotely my age was suffering the same fate as all my other friends - babies and weddings, which wasn't what I was looking for.

As we all know by now I didn't shrivel up and die, nor overcorrect and start hanging out at clubs with people half my age, trying to be cool but only tolerated for my ability to pay the tab at the end of the night. Largely through volunteering at 826, I met a bunch of fabulous new people who had great taste in music and liked to go out drinking and enjoyed the same kind of movies I did - and life has been very, very good.

But there is a price of being attracted to the cool, hip people of this world who are interested in new things - they have a penchant for up and leaving. I'm losing two of my absolute favorite people in the world in the next month (on the heels of having just lost one in July). Now I'm 'losing' them in the sense that they are leaving Ann Arbor for job opportunities and greener pastures and what not, and to that end I am happy for them. But I am sad for me, because as a general rule I don't like anybody, so when those I adore up and leave, well I find it extra sad.

When I was in third grade I lost my best friend when his parents moved to Columbus. He was the only person at my school who liked to read comic books rather than play sports, so when he left I was again, for the first time, a man without a country. Within a year I was playing little league and obsessed with girls.* Over the following few years our parents made efforts to get us together and we spent a lot of summers hanging out for a week or so at a time and it was good, until we eventually grew apart and stopped seeing each other altogether. But that was 25 years ago. I'm arguably a much stabler person at 35, and I don't think any of my current friends are going to take up skateboarding, making me feel uncoordinated and uncool. Now I have a BDGF with massive wanderlust** who wants to constantly hop on planes and visit people. I have facebook to see what's happening in people's lives, almost effortlessly! Most importantly, I'm not seeking impermanence. People that are cool enough to make their way into my life and become a part of it are going to stay that way, distance be damned.

*Maybe it was a good thing he left, as otherwise I may have turned out nerdier than that which you see before you, but I digress...
**yet not leaving Ann Arbor for another place of residence anytime soon. Whew!

Posted 10:43am
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August 9th , 2011

That was fast...

The girls are back! After a month in Oregon spending time with their father, the BDGF's girls returned home yesterday. It took all of an hour for our quiet, peaceful, adult home to be filled with the mess, volume and stickiness that children bring. It was fun for July to be completely carefree, and soothing to come home at the end of every day and not have a new mess to clean that tends to mysteriously and miraculously appear while I'm at work and the children are lurking about. But despite being able to go to the bar on any random Wednesday and not finding crumbs in the strangest of places, we couldn't be happier to have them back. Absence does makes the heart grow fonder, even if familiarity is covered in sticky.

- I don't know what this says about my childish sense of humor, but I was literally in tears reading this site yesterday.

- APA = totally gay. Yay!

- Finally, I'm a meat eater who has no love for PETA (outside of their penchant for nudity) but I've always thought zoos were kind of awful. Yes, it is cool to see giant species who could kill you in combat up close, but also pathetic and sad. This made me sad. I'm going to go eat panda meat.

Posted 10:43am
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August 8th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- This, well, this is just about the silliest thing you'll read this week. A "Christian Rocker" is suing Rachel Maddow for... well, quoting him. Why is it always the Conservatives who don't seem to understand libel, slander, and how the first amendment works?

- Advice from Baby J on how to keep your man happy ladies.

- Mormon Mitt Romney has signed on to a pledge (with fellow bigots Bachmann and Santorum) to 'defend' marriage form the gays. A mormon. Telling the rest of the country that he knows best about the definition of marriage. That's rich.

- Rick Perry makes a completely reasonable statement that New York gays don't affect him all the way out in Texas, and the 10th Amendment means that these are State's rights issues. Of course the minute the super Christians reminded him of the word 'abomination', he came back to the fold, calling for a constitutional amendment banning marriage of the same genitalia. Which, like, of course.

- Ass hat xenophobe Mark Steyn (I assume) accidentally admits what he thinks of serious Christians - that you can't be smart and be one. So we're clear - people who read can't be serious Christians. This is something that I intimate all the time, so I'm glad to have the backing of someone on the other side of the fence. Although now Mark Steyn and I agree on something, which is going to leave a bad taste for a while.

- Jesus is back! And he's Australian! That seems unlikely.

- The Onion asks "Why are we skipping church?"

- Finally, here's a little reminder of what being Christian is supposed to be about, which happens to be an ideal that is actually laudable.

Posted 3:19pm
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August 5th , 2011

Staring evil in the face

It's time we collectively stand up and say "They're not the same." Sure government is broken and all politicians are inherently evil, but to paint the Dems and the GOP with the same brush is a huge disservice as of late. I say this not to point out how fabulous the Democrats have behaved, but to delineate between their brand of milquetoast ineffectiveness and the petulant, tantrum throwing idiots that caucus with the Republicans. Yes, none of them are worth a shit for the most part, but to turn a phrase, ain't no motherfuckin' ball park neither.

You see this brand of cynicism all the time, in every area of life. Everything at the box office sucks. All the music on the radio sucks. Everyone who reads comic books are pasty virgins who live with their parents. It's not just stereotypes, but an assumption that all of these things have the same agenda and the same evil, black hearts. Well it's not true, and nowhere more so than in cable news.

You hear people all the time (usually the ones that watch Fox News) say that Fox is no different than MSNBC, it's just that one leans conservative and the other liberal. It is to that I would like to say fuck off. The op-ed bent of most journalistic endeavors tends to be liberal to be sure, but I can think of no other major entity as brazenly partisan and agenda driven as Fox News. And op-ed tends to be labeled as such amongst respected journalists. On Fox, the line is intentionally blurred to obfuscate what are the facts from what is an interpretation of. Let's go to the proof:

1. In an amazing bit of candor, here's actual Fox employees admitting on camera that they take it easy on Sarah Palin. Your respite from the lame stream media!

2. Here's some Fox headlines that are so distorted you'd swear that this belongs in the Onion.

3. THEY DO IT ALL THE TIME.

4. I kid you not, they accused Sponge Bob Square Pants of having a "Global Warming Agenda." During the proceedings you'll hear uber-douche Gretchen Carlson* repeat the meme "The government agency showed kids this cartoon and handed out books that blame man for global warming, but they did not tell kids that that is actually a disputed fact. Oops." What she doesn't mention is that her definition of 'dispute' means that a full 3% of scientists don't believe in anthropogenic global warming. Oops.

While like all news organizations they are in the business of making money, Fox is also in the business of furthering an extreme right, conservative, Republican agenda. And not individually either - but as a collective.

I've always believed that the best way to be informed is to get your news from several sources and try to amalgamate the information and come to your own conclusions. That means you get myriad perspectives. You want fresh eyes on things? Listen to the BBC or read the Economist. The British take erudite analysis as serious as a heart attack. But you know what you can skip? Fox News. Even as point and laugh entertainment it should make you mad as hell, and you should not take it anymore.

*A former Miss America and Stanford graduate, Fox has cast Ms. Carlson as a dumb blonde, a part she either plays convincingly well, or actually is.

Posted 3:19pm
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August 4th , 2011

Government done right

- Somehow, unbelievably in hindsight, it took the world until 1998 to get a nuclear test ban treaty approved. Between 1945 and then, 2053 nuclear devices were detonated on the planet. This 7:13 video shows everyone of them. It is eerily hypnotic, and equally scary. And thanks, leaders of the world in 1998, for finally getting that checked off the to do list.

- Say what you want about the differences between Republicans and Democrats, Red and Blue, Liberal and Conservative - one thing is undeniably science fact - Red State, Conservative Republican lawmakers are scared to death of vaginas. They don't understand them, don't want them addressed in any fashion, and should they come up, voted down in the appropriate manner. I secretly suspect the women of the GOP walk around in fear of their own crotch. Thank goodness for good ol' pinko liberalism. From the people who brought you things like clean air water, comes free birth control! This only took until 2011!

- In a bit of Republican awesomeness, here's big fat Chris Christie defending a Muslim judge. It shouldn't be anything but commonplace, but I still have no problem giving out a 'big up yourself.' Oh, and this.

- Finally, what can only be described as a miscarriage of justice and an affront to our legal system, douche bag duck killer extraordinaire Dillon Pearce was sentenced to 10 days in jail and one year probation for being the biggest Ed Hardy wearing ass hat in Washtenaw County. That's out of a maximum fine of 4 years. IN PRISON. To paraphrase an old axiom, you might get fucked in jail, but you will get raped in prison. Our fingers here at tbaggervance.com are collectively crossed that justice still has a chance to be served.

Posted 11:07am
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August 3rd , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- If you've been wondering what happened to We Were Promised Jetpacks, rest assured they have not been resting on their laurels. There's a new album and tour due in October (although no dates in Michigan as of yet)

- Ted Leo also has new tour dates. Also not in Michigan.

- More new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

- Another festival in Austin that looks awesome. I don't know how many of these we can miss before I come home one day to find that the BDGF has up and left for Texas. Fingers crossed she takes me with her.

- Finally, there was a time in my life that Pearl Jam meant about as much to me as anything. While that's obviously not the case for some time now, I still hotly anticipate this documentary, if for nothing else, the nostalgia.

Posted 10:59am
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August 2nd , 2011

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

- I took a fair amount of hipster heat last night for claiming that Sunday's Paul McCartney show (along with 2007's Police concert I attended) were two of my favorites of the last 5 years. And while his point of aging, bloated rock stars pricing fans out of being able to go see them is noted and lamentable, I won't apologize for how much I loved being awash in the nostalgia of those experiences. They weren't the best shows I've seen in that time frame mind you, but look at this set list. We saw the world's greatest living pop songwriter play 35 songs (and that doesn't include him riffing a guitar solo while his backup band played Hendrix's "Foxy Lady") at almost 70 years old. I'm never going to get that opportunity again, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I owe the experience to my BDGF, who treats me better than I'll ever deserve. Although if you look at the picture, I'd argue we both look pretty happy.

- Duck killing douche bag Dillon Pearce has finally pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals, marijuana possession, and being possibly the biggest ass hat in all of Michigan. Here's hoping that before he begins his career as international hockey player and bon vivant, the judge throws the fucking book at him. On a positive local news front - Ann Arbor is getting The Onion.

- I've always argued that one of the best things about getting a little older and becoming just a tad affluent is that you no longer have to drink cheap booze. But for those of you who aren't there quite yet, here's a chart explaining which boozes give you the best bang for your buck. See if you can guess who the champ is before clicking the link. I think you'll be surprised and mortified and then a calming "that makes sense" will fall over you.

- Just in case you were worried that political theater and juvenile posturing were becoming resigned solely to the federal government, a Missouri school board has banned Slaughterhouse-Five from its high school libraries and curriculum.The impossibly named Wesley Scroggins notes that Vonnegut's tome has enough profanity :To make a sailor blush" and the similarly banned Twenty Boy Summer has drunken teens "using their condoms to have sex". The profound ignorance of both maritime proceedings and sexual congress ALONE should completely invalidate this persons opinions on the matter and reinstate the books post haste. And if you need reminded of Kurt's genius (and we all do from time to time) here's the 15 things he said better than anyone ever will.

- Finally, we have a raised debt ceiling. It isn't a grand compromise and it'll raise much consternation going forward as the Dems (hopefully) basically had to trick the GOP into raising revenues, but at least we ruined our international reputation in the process. Of course if you were looking for the "What? Me racist?" quote in all this mess, Colorado gots your back. But seriously, this was about getting spending under control...

Posted 11:20am
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July 29th, 2011

No more worlds to conquer

"When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer."

I love that quote so much it's the origin of my kid's middle name. I thought "that's what I want for him - to accomplish so much that he runs out of things to be good at." It's setting the bar pretty high, but after 16 years I still think that's a better failure than setting the bar too low.

Anyway, I happen to love going to concerts in the same way Alexander loved to sweep into town, kill half the people and subjugate the rest. Over the years, I've seen just about everyone I truly love as an artist. From my high school days of seeing AC/DC, Van Halen, Rush and Metallica; to my college days of Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, Beck and Ben Folds Five; to today, where I've managed to see everyone from The White Stripes to Wilco. It's getting to the point where there's very few 'new' bands to see.

Come Sunday night, I'll have knocked off three of my top five remaining 'bands to see before I die' in 2011 alone. In January I got to see Weezer in the only way I really wanted to see Weezer - performing Pinkerton - but man did I really want to see that. Months later it was the Pixies, and Sunday is the Granddaddy of them all - Sir Paul McCartney.

I suppose my to-do list will always be long - growing and ever changing. But the label "before I die" becomes less and less prescient as I knock shit out. Anyway, here's my current top ten "wish list". Obviously no bands where someone integral to the lineup is dead (otherwise Queen would be number one). If you think I'm missing something on this list, chances are I've seen them.*

10. They Might Be Giants
Chance that I'll actually do this: 100%
Doesn't this sound like a super fun good time? I'd actually be knocking this off in September, but it's the same night as The Raconteurs (see * below). Anyway, it'll happen, as unlike some bands on this list, it won't cost me a $75 ticket

9. The Get Up Kids
Chance that I'll actually do this: 85%
OK, this seems like a huge outlier on this list, but they meant a lot to me at one time in my life, and it was during a time I wasn't going to shows for reasons of child rearing. So yeah, another cheapy on the list that would be a nostalgic blast.

8. Parliament Funkadelic
Chance that I'll actually do this: 100%!
Here's something interesting, I just googled George Clinton to figure out what he's calling his band these days, and it turns out he's going to be at the Arts, Beats and Eats festival in Royal Oak on Sept. 5th. That means I get to knock this one out for FREE. Happy Labor Day!

7. The Beastie Boys
Chance that I'll actually do this: 60%
OK, I'm not a HUGE fan. And the tickets are probably in the $50 range. And it'd be at some huge, awful stadium. This is sounding less likely as I type it, but it would be a great show

6. Bruce Springsteen
Chance that I'll actually do this: 40%
Again, I'm not the world's biggest fan of the Boss, but it seems like something I should see. Now if I could pick the set list, and not have to listen to him tell a ten minute story about his daddy telling him to cut his hair in 1967, AND not pay $100 for the privilege, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

5. Prince
Chance that I'll actually do this: 70%
Now this seems like it'd be worth the expensive ticket. And come on, it's Prince. I don't want to be on my death bed thinking about how I never saw Prince live.

4. The Strokes
Chance that I'll actually do this: 83%
This one sticks in my craw because Sid has seen them and I haven't. That just increases the likelihood I'll make it happen, because I don't want him lauding that over me when I'm about to kick the bucket.

3. Led Zeppelin
Chance that I'll actually do this: 8%
OK, I know I said something at the top about people being dead, and I mean no disrespect to John Bonham, but it's Zeppelin. If Plant and Page ever toured with John Paul Jones, I'd be there at any price, even if they would be a fraction of their former glory. I ran into this when I saw the Who, and it was still worth it.

2. Elvis Costello
Chance that I'll actually do this: 92%
I'd have already done this except for a.) Elvis charges too much and b.) again, I don't get to pick the set list. Elvis seems like one of those assholes who'd play his entire new shitty album and oops! forget to play Allison at the end. At which point, I'd hunt him down and punch him in his stupid bespectacled face.

1. Radiohead
Chance that I'll actually do this: 33.3%
a.) they never play Michigan
b.) the BDGF hates Radiohead
c.) stadium and price concerns
d.) I still want to make this happen, because it's Radiohead, but I could see them deciding to never come to America again, and that, as they say, would be that.

*The Raconteurs would be on here, but we have tickets to see them in September, so I consider that a done deal.

Posted 11:35am
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July 28th, 2011

You may be wrong but you may be right

The first time the BDGF and I laid eyes on each other was at trivia. Her brother had invited her to come out and she showed up in the middle of a round, where I was likely standing up for no apparent reason, arguing with someone or deep in thought, not paying attention to anyone. Or I was crouched over the table arguing the nuances of Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night" versus the Eurhythmics "Sweet Dreams." Seriously, go listen to five seconds of the intros to both those songs. It's tough to differentiate. Anyway, in hindsight, it's a miracle I didn't scare her off immediately. Now she'll likely say something polite about that encounter, like that I was cute but a little intense. But we all know that in those moments I come off as an insane nerd, indignant without cause and treating something whose very definition is 'inconsequential' with the intensity normally reserved for beating your children after they spill something.

I have an inherent need to be right. I think I once told someone that on my tombstone* I'd want it to say "I was right." I grew up as the "smart kid" and I wrapped a lot of my identity up in that. As noted above, this can make me come off as anywhere from "weirdly intense" to "arrogant prick." As I've gotten older, I've tried really hard to mitigate that so that my social skills don't whither to the point that I become unbearable. I try not to argue with complete strangers. I do my best to not have my tone drip with sarcasm when they talk about how much the love Michael Bay movies. I'm not always successful, but I think I do better than anyone who knew me at 18 would have guessed.

I think this personality trait/character flaw contributed a lot to where I currently find myself career-wise. I have a job where I am counted on to be right. And guess what, I always am. Whether I am technically correct or not, these people can't argue with me. I am the arbiter of how things work, and my word is fiat. It's a lot like going to the mechanic, you nod your head like you understand anything they are saying, secretly hoping that they're not fucking you.People I work with would say a lot of different things about me, but they'd all agree I know my shit. They probably wouldn't be able to tell if I didn't, but for sake of argument, trust me that it is actually true. I've also had this job for 15 years, which doesn't hurt in the "I know what I'm talking about" department.

I never planned on doing this job for this long. They just kept paying me enough money to pay my bills, and giving me the flexibility to be there for my kid and do whatever else I was interested in at the moment. But as you can imagine, being around that long begets a sense of entitlement - especially in someone with my proclivities. And while I've always been happy here, I've gotten a little jerked around as of late by the higher ups. It's forcing me to ponder my career path. Whether I should be making more money and do I want to try and find a job that's going to ask more of a commitment than I want to give. It's daunting and frustrating and I don't relish it. But I know whatever decision I make or path I chose to go down, it'll be the right one. Just as long as everyone around me knows that, we'll all get along just fine.

*There will be no tombstone, for the record.

Posted 2:30pm
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July 27th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are sitting at a dismal 33% approval rating. That seems high to me. But that's Prom Queen popular compared to Rupert Murdoch, whose favorables sit at 12%. But you know who people really like? God. He's sitting on a 52% approval rating, a full 6.5% better than Obama. He's at 71% for creating the Universe, 56% for the Animal Kingdom and a whole 50% for handling natural disasters. That's right. Half of the people polled said "OK" to God's handling of something that kills thousands of people, that he arguable creates, or at least could stop with the blink of an eye. That guy makes Clinton look like Nixon.

- Out of the closet, into the streets! I always forget that most people aren't atheists, a side effect of living in a liberal hamlet bubble. But clearly we are minority, and this guy argues that the more we get out there, the less negative stereotypes there'll be about the faithless. I think that's true of the gays and even Muslims, but people will always hate the Atheists. Our Godlessness is a choice and not to be understood nor condoned. Which, if it makes those people leave me alone, I say harrumph.

- Awww, intolerant Christians are being bullied on the internet! By the way, they want you to know that they 'used' to be orphans, alcoholics, and gays. I don't know if I have a bigger problem with the fact that one of those things is not like the others, or that you can't 'used' to be any of those things. Silly, gay hating, Christians...

- The BDGF keeps telling me that Rick Perry is way too crazy Christian to get the Republican nomination, much less become president. I, however, remain scared shitless, because I remember W and Nate Silver speaks the truth. What I am really hoping for is divine intervention. My favorite part of that:

When reached for comment, God said He would not be present at Perry’s much-talked-about Christian day of prayer on Aug. 6, calling the governor’s use of his public office to endorse a religion both “irresponsible” and a violation of the Constitution.

- Finally, I don't know if there are pictures of my baptism around somewhere, but in my head they belong in this slideshow.

Posted 11:07am
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July 26th, 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'...

- Other than becoming increasingly frustrated with the Democratic leadership for their willingness to give up their sacred cows for nothing in return, we are no further along on the debt ceiling negotiations than we were last we spoke of it. Of course that doesn't mean we aren't going to mention it. Let us look at this chart from the NYTimes, as it illustrates my frustration to a tee:

I don't publish this chart in a finger wagging, umpteenth re-iteration of how we got where we are, that's a truth I hold to be self-evident. HOWEVER, how does one, with anything resembling a straight face, posture to not raise revenues one iota when the largest expenditure up there is a tax cut? I'm willing to put everything on the table. Hell even I think Krugman is overboard on pitting the affluent against the super-rich on Medicare. Means test the shit out of it for all I care. But you can't raise taxes? At all? Not even on rich people? You'll take that stand while cutting assistance programs for the least of us? Shove your job creators rhetoric up your stupid ass. Why anyone is a Republican at this point is beyond me.

- There was a tragedy in Norway over the weekend. By now you know a deranged man killed several dozen people, at least in part to get his 1,500 page manifesto some attention. Glenn Beck made sure to point out that this guy is exactly the same as bin Laden, after he compared his victims to the Hitler Youth. Naturally. But you want a real head scratchier reaction, how about xenophobe number one Mark Steyn going apoplectic over the fact that a few people noticed this mass murdering psycho is a big fan of The National Review and The Washington Times. Yes, Mark, the guy's a psychopath. But there's a reason he loves you and your scare tactic, muslim hating buddies. To be succinct, it's because you sir, are a huge piece of shit.

- Finally, Fox News is fair and balanced. Srsly.

Posted 11:01am
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July 25th, 2011

After the boys of summer have gone...

As you certainly know if you've written a check this morning or have a pending birthday approaching, today is July 25th. It's a completely innocuous day. A random Monday. The only thing on my calendar is our weekly foray to Conor's for trivia. But whether it mathematically pans out or not, after last weekend it officially seems like we are now in the back half of summer.

Back half may sound harsher than I intend. We are just clearly past the half way point. Summer starts before you as an endless sea, full of surprises and possibilities. By the end of July, summer has a way of looming - taunting you with barbeques un-had, friends not seen and projects left undone. Suddenly the lazy, carefree promise of summer can begin to seem like a race against time - hurry up and do before you have to do it while wearing a light jacket.

Today is July 25th. That means for me personally, there are 40 days left in the summer of 2011. While the weather may still allow me to suit up in shorts on my birthday, summer becomes fall once Michigan kicks off. So like a Noah waiting out a rain or a Jesus wandering in the desert, we've got a mere 960(ish) hours left before the kids will be in school, and the ability to plan ahead for being outside not a fait accompli.

This weekend we'll be in Chicago to see the cute Beatle belt out some tunes. The following is Put-in-Bay. Then the girls are back. And the Wondertwins will have high school sports practices every day. And the house has to be painted. And a million other piddly things that I swear just yesterday there was all the time in the world for. Not anymore. I hate to break this to you, your schedule, and the fact that it's still going to be 90 degrees every day this week, but summer is almost over. Let's all agree to find a minute or two to enjoy it before it's gone.

Posted 10:59am
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July 22nd, 2011

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

- This is maybe my favorite thing in the last 5 years. For myriad reasons. Let's break it down:

1. It's a takedown of the Christian Fucktard group Focus on the Family, who focuses only on families where there's a husband and a wife and 2.2 kids and nobody takes the lord's name in vain and mom and dad only have sex in the missionary position with the lights off.
2. It's a scientific takedown. People who hate the gays and think the Earth is 6,000 years old always have some 'science' to back them up. Except the never do, and Sen. Al Franken calls them on that shit
3. That's right, Sen. Al Franken bitches.

- Similarly awesome: Sarah Palin is going to be a grandma again! Why is this awesome? Because she's two for two on her children conceiving children out of wedlock! I think that we, collectively as a nation, should agree to never let her use the word abstinence again without interrupting her with "Fuck off!" before the second syllable of the word parses her lips. Can I get a harrumph?

- Technology is changing! All around us and all the time! Google+ is so much better than Facebook it makes it look like MySpace. I will quickly be transitioning from one to the other, sporadically checking the latter only to see pictures of my nieces and to check in with other old people not hip enough to make the transition with me. Also, I just got in to spotify, and it seems like the cat's pajamas. That's right, not his meow, his pajamas. Take that BDGF.

- Damn you George Lucas. All I or anybody wants is a proper DVD version of your original Star Wars trilogy without all the computer cartoon bullshit you added in the late 1990s. Yet you refuse, even though it would be an extremely easy, money making venture for you and your company. That's what's so vexing - that you'd posture on the pretense of artistic vision about a movie with a bunch of British guys in rubber masks and a giant walking carpet. I want to walk away, but I can't quit you. Because this trailer for the new Blu Ray editions looks frankly bad ass. And let's be honest, if you took out the bullshit where Han shoots second, all would be forgiven.

- Finally, tomorrow is BeerFest. It will hotter than the 7th concentric circle of hell, but at least there will be beer. Over 50 breweries and 300 varieties of the stuff. I can't wait.

Posted 10:55am
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July 21st, 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- Those of you who were around A2 in the middle '90's may remember saxophone prodigy Colin Stetson, late of the bands Transmission and The Bucket. He's gone on to play with the likes of The Arcade Fire, Bon Iver and LCD Soundsystem. He also has a new EP out there, which is out there for sure.

- Weezer has their own cruise. Yeah, you read that right. I'm not sure who it is in that band that has the drug/gambling/hooker problem that necessitates them trying to suck every last dime from their fans, but it's clearly out of control. Enjoy this list of their 30 Best Cover Songs and remember simpler times.

- I know I've touched on this many times over the years here on the blog, and chances are even more so sitting around drinking and talking to you, but the Onion manages to distill the idea perfectly: Lifelong love affair with music ends at 35.

- The BDGF and I often sit around and wonder what ever happened to rock and roll. Not that it doesn't exist anymore of course, but why isn't it popular anymore. We of course run around arguments about the upswing of hip-hop, the plethora of diversity now available, niche markets and the general aging decline of the genre. No matter what the cause (or combination thereof) there's certainly no arguing that it's true.

- Finally, as long as we're bandying about the state of the music industry, here's two interesting charts that start to explain what has happened. Some observations:

- Despite them still existing near the register of wayward truck stops around the country, no one has bought a cassette tape since 2004.

- These are clearly 'sales' figures, as I was downloading enough full albums myself around the turn of the century to make an impression on that first chart. And I was sometimes doing it over dial-up. Dial-up people. I am old.

- Cassingles, hell even CD singles, are such terrible fucking formats and anti-cost effective, it's no wonder no one ever bought them.

- Were there ever 8-track singles? I'm old, but my 8-track knowledge is limited. Which is to say, I'm not that old.

- I still can't believe people still buy CDs. At all. Maybe old, out of print stuff at a used record store, but new CDs? CDs are the new VHS. Book it.

Posted 10:43am
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July 20th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I have no problem being a fairly public atheist. Except when it comes to things like this. Knock it off, assholes.

- Of course for every fuckhead there's still a Ricky Gervais.

- In case seven years of reading tbaggervance.com hasn't given you an exhaustive working knowledge of the Cult of Scientology yet, here's some more supposed secrets. Not included: the homosexuality of Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

- The only problem with this statement: Herman Cain just knocked himself out of the GOP Presidential nomination running by claiming that American communities can ban mosques. Is that it assumes he was ever in the fight. And maybe that it knocks him out of nomination. I forget how easy it is to scare midwestern white folks. Especially the Republican ones.

- If you haven't see the new Harry Potter yet, remember that Jesus might not approve. That or it's rife with religious allegory, one or the other.

- Finally, do I really have to defend against this? Really? People are still buying her books? Is anyone listening? I get that she's managed for some time now to pick up where the Cryptkeeper left off when his popularity began to wane at the turn of the century, but certainly there's another skeletal idiot who says ridiculous things for us to laugh at out there, because I've had it with this one.

Posted 9:56am
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July 19th, 2011

The customer is king.

The BDGF and I have been to Grizzly Peak at least once a week for the entirety of our almost two years together. We like their beer. We like their music. We like the people who work there. Well, we do now anyway.

Even before the BDGF, I was a semi-regular at the Peak. I knew everyone who worked there at least to the point of eye contact acknowledgement, and we all seemed to be operating under the same 'regular customer paradigm'. That is, as someone who comes in a lot and tips fairly well, I get a little bit better service couched in a sense of familiarity. I'm not asking for much mind you, maybe an extra check-in when it's busy. Don't ask me for a credit card to open a tab. Make sure my mug is never empty. You know, the little things. And we have always gotten that and even more out of everyone there, save one.

Now this said waitress was never awful mind you. She was just a tad surly. Always frazzled, curt and all business. She was the only person there whose attention I couldn't get when I wanted it, and the only one that didn't seem to acknowledge the fact that the BDGF and I were there constantly. And I was starting to hate her for it.

When I would get irate about having her as a waitress, the BDGF would remind me how difficult her job is, and that I'd never gone out of my way to be nice to her. I'd stipulate those points, but I shouldn't have to make nice with the wait staff. I was nice with my tips. And it wasn't like I was being mean, just not going out of my way to be friendly, because in my mind, that's her job.

The BDGF was determined to show me how easy this was and how little effort it took. The next few times we stopped in, she started to ask her polite questions. She forced - no, I'll admit not even forced - but nudged her way into familiarity. A week later, and every time we've gone in since, we are served drinks immediately when we sit down - before we even order. She calls me by my first name and always shows concern when I show up without the BDGF. She is, without caveat, my favorite waitress in Ann Arbor. And it either only took a modicum of kindness, or I had finally broke her through years of resistance and that was just coincidence. Luckily, together the BDGF and I have both approaches to fall back on.

- Speaking of, I've fucking had it up to here with Conor O'Neills. I've never loved that place, but Monday Night Trivia being the staple that it is, it's the bar in Ann Arbor I spend the second most time at. As such, I expect decent service there as well. And should I be fortunate enough to get a server that's been there more than a month, I'm usually treated fairly well. However, there's not a lot of those around. Last night we had the all too familiar pleasure of looking around for her half the night so someone could order another drink, and then standing around for 20 minutes at the end of the night dealing with the checks. Did I mention that they've run out of Oberon TWICE this summer? Conors, I have no desire to ever step foot in you outside of Monday nights, and that is tenuous at best.

Posted 9:56am
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July 18th, 2011

Announcing the Musée d'tbaggervance

I don't remember when I started doing it, but at some point I tried to score adorable points with some girl by making her a homemade card. It must of worked, because I've been doing it off and on ever since. Under the watchful eye of the BDGF, this has not only become an expected part of any gift giving occassionfor her, but expanded to include all gifts to anyone all the time.

Last week it was Sid's birthday. And my niece's birthday. And my nephew's wedding. And care packages were being prepped for the girls in Oregon. And I had to make cards for all of them. That's when it occurred to me that most of the time, there's at least something I like about the cards I make. I mean, I'm an "artist" so I always ultimately hate my work, but that doesn't proclude me from finding small victories amongst the mess. But when you give a card away to someone, it's generally gone forever.

Conclusion? Solution? Presenting the Musée d'tbaggervance. Now I have a repository where my successes and failures can live forever. I realize this is largely for my own edification only, but I got news for your suckers, that's really what the entire blog is. So the link will live forever directly to your right, updated from time to time like the rest of that stuff over there, and probably done without comment here in the meat of the blog. So enjoy today! The only time anyone will probably ever bother to look. For those of you already too bored to do that, here is Sid's birthday card. Happy 16th one last time Junior.

Posted 10:35am
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July 15th, 2011

The path to enlightenment

Tomorrow Siddhartha turns 16. I've always had an overarching goal as a parent to do whatever I can to make sure that someday I could throw him out into the world and have him be ready to face the things that life tends to throw at us. It's somewhat of an untenable premiss, as we can't possibly be ready for everything and no matter how well I succeed, I'm still going to worry long after his 18th birthday. I still view it as a laudable goal mind you, and have tried my best to make him a functional, independent human being.

All evidence points to having succeeded two years ahead of my societally arbitrary goal. And by saying "I succeeded" I mean that he's more than I could have ever imagined, whether it's because of or in spite of me. By every account he's an analytical, empathetic, engaged human being that is true to himself to a fault. He's a leader and willing to speak truth to power, and at times even humble in the face of authority. Now he's my kid and still only 16, so that can come across as arrogant and stubborn and off putting at times, but I'll suffer these characters flaws, crossing my fingers that as he gets older he'll learn how to mitigate the defects and become a charming asshole like his old man.

Unfortunately t he question that success begs is always "now what?" Of course there's things like paying for college and steering him through the milestones that are yet to come, but what happens when someone whom you once held in the crook of one arm no longer needs you to survive on a daily basis? My brother is fond of telling a story about when he was in high school running cross country. He was on some golf course somewhere running distances deemed psychotic by normal people, when he tripped over something and fell down. He was hurt and tired and wanted nothing more than to stay where he fell. Fortnately/unfortunately for him, he fell down almost right in front of our father. He lay there feeling sorry for himself when he heard the Moeman cry out "Get up and run you son of a bitch!"

In my mind that's the role I'm transitioning towards: cheerleader. I'm still on the hook to pay for stuff, for sure. And I will from time to time provide counsel, as well as dole out punishment when necessary. But what I will forever be is his biggest fan. I want to celebrate his every accomplishment, console him during disappointments, and when he's laying in the dirt feeling sorry for himself, I want to tell that son of a bitch to get up and keep running.

Posted 10:21am
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July 14th, 2011

Harry Potter and the Seventeen Captain and Cokes

Sometime around the turn of the century I was given the first 3 or 4 Harry Potter books as a Christmas present. At the time I immediately thought "This is a crap gift from someone who clearly doesn't like me." I knew of Harry Potter at the time, but my kid was still a little too young to be into it, and I felt I was a little too on the other end of the spectrum. Ever the trooper, I decided to give it a try. Now I won't go as far as to say I fell down the rabbit hole, but I fell pretty hard nonetheless. Those books are good. They're both fun, engrossing and well written. They get better, darker and more complex as they go. While the success of Dan Brown makes me want to jump off a cliff fearing for the intellectual future of our society, J.K. Rowling calms me back into a mild fugue state.

The BDGF is an even bigger fan. So much so that tonight we'll be going to midnight premier of the final film in the franchise. As someone who dragged his son to the midnight premier of the last Star Wars movie and even called him in sick the next day so he could get a decent night's sleep after going to bed at 3am, I am not one to throw stones. But in the heart of summer for what is ostensibly a kid's movie, I am a little concerned about being surrounded by snot nosed punks. Don't get me wrong, I look forward to seeing nerds in their cosplay outfits, I just don't relish getting to the theater two hours early to sit in line next to some 13 year old telling me how Harry Potter is better than Star Wars and Lord of the Rings combined. That's why I will be carrying Dumbledore's Magic Bottomless Flask of Captain Morgan®. And I will punch anyone who tries to take it from me with "Expelliarmus!"

- Here's a list of the 20 Best Minor Potter Characters. Personally, I hate Lee Jordan.

- Harry Potter is awesome because it frequently shows up on banned books list AND it has lead to actual science! None more amazing than a study that shows ER visits go down upon the release of a new HP book, presumably because kids are inside reading instead of daring each other to jump off of things. Reading, people. It's going to be a thing.

- Finally, we tried to get Sid to come see the final movie with us, but at some point during his turn to teenagerdom, he lost his belief in Harry Potter. To the BDGF this is heartbreaking, to me it's his loss. For all of us, let us remember a simpler time and enjoy this pic of tiny Sid as Harry Potter:

Posted 11:02am
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July 13th, 2011

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

- Green! a.) Those assholes in the House tried to repeal lightbulb efficiency standards that would save every American money, because of some stupid argument about government intrusion. They lost. b.) Fracking is awful and more people need to know that. c.) Power assisted bicycles broke five of my ribs. I still want this.

- Gay! a.) This proves that when you don't indoctrinate someone to hate, gay marriage is weird for like two seconds and then you play ping pong. With the gays if they want (it's also ADORABLE) b.) Michael Irvin (MICHAEL IRVIN) makes all the sense in the world about coming around to the right side of things c.) The Pawlentys and Bachmanns of the world sound so ignorant and intolerant when it comes to the gays that it amazes me that they can be part of a mainstream anything. I am buoyed by the fact that they will find themselves on the wrong side of history. Quickly.

- Sports! But not really Sports! Bill Simmons has spearheaded a new sports journalism site called Grantland.com. But anyone familiar with Simmons knows that 'sports' is often just a precursor to talk about anything and everything. Thus it makes sense the Chuck Klosterman is the other heavy hitter at the site. You can hear him write about everything from why Led Zeppelin at its worst is still better than anything to why Breaking Bad is better than Mad Men. You know, sports.

- BDGF! I want her to be happy, which is why I never fail to make sure she's up to date on her other boyfriend's projects: Craig Finn of The Hold Steady is now on Twitter and Tumblr and recording a solo album. Jack White teams up with Black Milk and starts the inevitable Tupac style roll out of old White Stripes music. Enjoy sweetheart.

- Sid! My baby Buddha turns 16 this Saturday. Probably more about that later. But for now, enjoy this picture from last century of him swashbuckling:

Posted 1:15pm
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July 12th, 2011

The surest way in the world to piss me off

My ribs are healing themselves. At least I assume so. For the first two weeks post-accident, once I got a medication rotation in place, I generally felt a little better every day. A little less swollen, a little more limber, a better overall state of being. To the point where on Saturday I spent several hours outside working on projects that desperately needed to get done*. Sunday I didn't feel quite as good, but not devastated due to overdoing it the previous day. I did a few more things to feel productive, but took it easy. Then Monday hit.

Monday was a setback. For the first time I think I can tell you exactly where all five ribs are broken. I went from easily finding a way to get comfortable to that taken for granted task being impossible. I started to count the vicodin I have left should I need to start rationing. I've slept horribly the last two nights so I am tired, irritable and in pain.

So I didn't start this morning James Brown style**. Exacerbating the situation was the fact that I had an 8 a.m. meeting. I unwittingly agreed to meet a small office manager about some outside consulting opportunities, and when I undertake these endeavors, I have to squeeze them in around my actual job. This means skipping lunch, sneaking out of the office an hour early, and sometimes - losing an hour of sleep to get all the way across time when I'm normally hitting snooze for the second time.

Imagine my reaction then, when I show up at the designated meeting point to find a deserted office - locked without any visible sign of life. Guess my level of frustration when I call the phone number provided only to hear it go directly to voicemail. I am more shocked than you are that the message I left when I heard the beep at the end of said voicemail did not go "Listen fuckstick, if this is indicative of the way you do business, you can shove it up your ass. I recommend you immediately find someone to fix your shit that's a lot smarter than I am, because I am about to get on a laptop and an hour from now, you'll be lucky if your office can even send out an email for the rest of 2011."

About an hour after I got to my office, I got an email from the person I was supposed to meet with. At 9:21, one hour and 21 minutes after our scheduled appointment, I get a message saying, that she is going to have to cancel our appointment because she is feeling unwell. Oh really? Your going to have to cancel our appointment that started almost an hour and a half ago? Thanks for the heads up. I'm not feeling well either but I was still in your parking lot - alone - at 8 o'clock this morning. I missed almost a week of work with five broken ribs and not one day was I so incapacitated or drug addled that I couldn't pick up my phone and send an email to everyone who was counting on me for anything that day and make sure that they were informed or covered in some way. BEFORE the fact, mind you. But hey, that's just me. We can't all extend common courtesy to our fellow human beings.

* By desperately I mean that if I sat around one more day only able to think about accomplishing these tasks as opposed to doing them, I was going to go crazy.

** On the good foot.

Posted 9:56am
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July 11th, 2011

Enter the Michelle Bachmann death spiral

- There's a lot of hullabaloo about Michelle Bachmann signing a pledge created by some assholes in Iowa that says homosexuality is a choice and basically the root of all evil, in addition to some things about sharia law and how black people were better off under slavery just for good measure. But that's burying the lead because it also calls for BANNING PORN. How dare you?

- Surfacing this week was a 2004 memo written by Michelle wherein she compares gay marriage to Pearl Harbor. If she would have meant the 2001 Michael Bay movie, she'd have a point, as that thing was totally gay.

- By now we all know that Michelle Bachmann didn't want to become a lawyer or marry her gay husband, but only did so because God actually spoke to her and told her to do it. The fact that people who hold public office in this country are acting because of the voices in their head is scary, but you should fret not. Here she is praying to God to end health care reform. I guess maybe his answering machine ate the tape with the message on it? I bet God has some outmoded technology.

- It's no shocker that the great Tom Petty would have a problem with Michelle using his classic "American Girl" as an anthem at her fundraisers. What is shocking is that she'd pick that song, with it's themes of getting out into the great big world where there was more to life, much less the idea of making it last all night. May I humbly suggest, on behalf of thinking peoples everywhere, "Don't Come Around Here No More."

- Finally, I am barely even an amateur economist. I've a cursory understanding of competing economic theories, but certainly the world is filled with people much more knowledgeable than I. However, Michelle Bachmann is not one of those people. In fact, she's definitely below both of the 15 year olds in my house, and may or may not be given a run for her money by the little one. Want proof? She wants to eliminate the minimum wage. The ills facing our country will not be fixed religious demagogues whose policy positions are based solely on pandering to an even more ill-informed electorate looking to blame minority groups for their station in life. But they will be given undo credence by a media looking to put a hot mess on television. Luckily she can't keep her mouth shut, which will ultimately remove all doubt with enough of the American people to neutralize the threat. Amen.

Posted 10:14am
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July 8th, 2011

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

- I love a good summer blockbuster. Growing up I'd spend every weekend at the movies, gladly waiting in line to see whatever formulaic 'splosion movie Hollywood had churned out for my viewing pleasure. Every once in a while we'd get a Spielberg or John Carpenter movie that would transcend the normal schlock to make all the hours of pointless car chases seem worthwhile. I haven't seen any thing truly great yet this summer. I look forward to the next Harry Potter film and Super 8 looks like it will make me wistfully nostalgic if I ever get around to seeing it. But this, oh this. If this trailer is real and any indication, this may be the transcendence I have been waiting for. It will either make me absolutely giddy, or so furious that my head explodes. I look for ward to finding out.

- Speaking of growing up, I was a huge space nerd in my youth. Until I reached double digits, my only career choice was astronaut (at some point I was told astronauts were largely Air Force and Naval pilots, and the dream died a quick death). For virtually my entire lifetime, NASA has meant the shuttle program. That era begins its death throes today with the final shuttle launch. I look forward to the day that my grandchildren view the shuttle program as antiquated as I've always seen the Apollo missions. That will be some great old timey nostalgia someday.

- Beerfest is a scant two weeks away. I may have finally shed the last vestiges of my former mass produced, mass consuming self, as I think I actually turn up my nose at a Bud or Miller Lite at this point in my life. This was probably inevitable, as it can be argued that my taste in beer has finally become analogous to my film and music tastes. While those that produce domestic swill are constantly trying to convince the public at large that they are in a constant state of innovation when it comes to beer technology, here are two such developments that I can get behind.

- As we discussed the other day, I am of the opinion that the GOP are the petulant children on the debt ceiling debate. This stems solely from the fact that they refuse to even acknowledge the need to raise revenues and are obstinate in even discussing the very idea. Nate Silver attempts to get to the bottom of the issue politically. We here at tbaggervance, as always, endorse the kitchen sink approach to addressing the issue. Cut defense and entitlements, raise taxes, preferably on the super-rich. To both sides - get serious and hammer out a deal. The best compromises are usually those where everyone loses.

- Finally, yesterday we put the girls on an aeroplane to Oregon so they could spend a month with their father. While they will surely be missed in myriad ways, the house will remain clean and largely uncluttered for the next thirty days, and if nothing else, I will take solace in that.

Posted 1:37pm
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July 7th, 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- One of the great things about twitter is that you can get instant reactions to news of the day from famous people. I suppose this can have plenty of negative connotations as well, but it warmed the cockles of my heart to see all the indie rockers tweet "Yay Gays!" in response to NY's marriage bill last week.

- The Beatles actually shitty? Heather Mills gets writing credit on Eleanor Rigby? Relax - it's just the Onion. I am thankful that when I clicked on this, the guy didn't look any more like me than he did.

- Wanna see They Might be Giants cover Cumbawumba? I know, stupid fucking question. Of course you do.

- In a similar vein, Weird Al sings Conan's theme song?. Yes Please.

- More details begin to leak about the new Wilco album, all of which point to a return to form from 2009's turrible Wilco: The Album.

- Folk troubadour and tbaggervance.com favorite Josh Ritter has just released his first novel, Bright's Passage. I'm halfway through and loving it. As this unknown NYT reviewer notes, if his literary development at all mirrors his musical arc, I can't wait to see what's next.

- The Doors suck. But I still love 'Touch Me'.

- Finally, yesterday it was announced that the inaugural MIFest will be headlined by the Raconteurs. As you can imagine, once I heard the news and notified the BDGF, we had tickets within 20 minutes. While I've seen both Jack White and Brendan Benson in concert, the Raconteurs would still be in my top 10 list of bands I've never seen but need to. Now that I'm knocking Paul McCartney off that list too, I think it's time to reevaluate what that list would look like. Outside of Radiohead and a mythological, never going to happen, full Led Zeppelin reunion with John Paul Jones, I don't know what would be on it.

Posted 10:48am
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July 6th, 2011

Methinks thou doth protest too much

I spent the holiday weekend with the in-laws at their place on Lake Michigan. Sun, sand, booze - you know, all the shitty things you have to put up with when it comes to your significant other's family. Anyway, during the fireworks viewing Monday night, some random guy got upset with the BDGF's dad for reasons passing understanding and pseudo-threatened him by saying "I'm an FBI agent and I'm armed." Now I'm no legal expert nor do I have extensive dealings with federal agents, but I'm pretty sure that the last thing an FBI agent tells anyone is "I am an FBI agent*" without producing a badge and ID, usually followed by a line of questioning in regards to your whereabouts during a certain day and date. The guy was posturing, which is even more abundantly clear if you would have saw him in all his 4'11" glory. The family treated it with the appropriate hyperbole, but it was really no big deal. Which is why I was so out of sorts to hear the BDGF's aunt's fiance (got that?) note afterwards that if he would have heard the pipsqueak say "I'm armed" that he would have "kicked his teeth in". Now this guy is 6'4" and an ex-Marine and yadda yadda yadda, AND I get that he too was blustering (ironically not unlike the supposed FBI agent) but he kept on it with the "I'da kicked his teeth in" rhetoric to the point of 'really?'. Listen, I'm sure he could kick my ass too, but I'm not sure what he thought he was proving by throwing his shoulders back and chest out and lamenting missing an opportunity to pound some lonely 4'11" loser because he technically threatened his soon to be brother in law. Perhaps it was to provide a jumping off point for his rant of Illinois' lack of a conceal/carry law, but I think that was merely tangential. Maybe I'd feel differently if I was a 6'4" ex-Marine, but I hope not.

- As always, the most outwardly threatened by the gays are the most likely to actually secretly be gay, as witnessed here by Mr. Michelle Bachmann.

- Finally, Conservative NYTimes columnist David Brooks hit the nail squarely on the head this fourth of July - the Republicans are intent to run this country to the ground to prove a point. I don't know when we hit rock bottom on our level of discourse in this country, but we've been down there with a pick axe for a while now. Up to a trillion in cuts and you can't raise rates or close loopholes to raise revenue? Go fuck yourself, GOP. Our only hope** is that voters remember this stupid, unjustifiable line in the sand come election day. I won't hold my breath

*with exceptions for Keanu
**plus Obi-wan Kenobi, natch.

Posted 2:04pm
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July 1st, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week - I ♥ NY edition

This happened over the weekend, and then I had an accident so in a sense we dropped the ball here at tbaggervance.com, but by now you know - you guys, New York is so gay! The Empire State makes half a dozen* states now where anybody who loves someone else can get it recognized by the government. We of course say huzzah and kudos to you New Yorkers, getting us one step closer to the day when future generations can ask of us "I mean, was everybody just a huge bigot back then or what?"

- Here's some typical righteous indignation from the religious and conservative, including some sort of paradigm where this leads to "... public sex, the porn explosion and public nudity?" I agree that a porn explosion would be really ugly.

- Of course, your winner and still champion of the batshit crazy religious response is Pat Robertson, who predictably says that this will lead to the destruction of America, and somehow manages to throw in a reference to raping angels. Go figure.

- You guys, the Pope is on Twitter! It begs the question, how does one fit the ten commandments into 144 characters? The easy answer is you cut out the half that deal with how to worship God, and just say "Don't lie, cheat, steal or kill" Oh, and love your mom. Wasn't that easy? Seems like we would have figured that out on our own.

- Just to prove that we've been trying to tangle and untangle church and state for quite some time around here, check out this list of previously proposed constitutional amendments, including:

1876: Bar religious leaders from holding political office

1894: Recognize God & Jesus Christ as the “supreme authority” in human affairs

And just for some historical context on the gay marriage thing:

1912: Forbid interracial marriage

Yup, we're gonna look really stupid in a hundred years.

- Finally, which of these is more plausible: Should gravity be taught in schools? OR Georgia school board bans "Theory of Math". Ack.

* Plus DC, minus Maine and California where you could for a time, until God smote down their laws.

Posted 9:57am
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June 30th, 2011

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

- Well all know that the official beer of summer for tbaggervance.com is Bell's Oberon. Rightfully so. Nothing tastes quite so good on a hot summer day. But in the last few years we've come to not cry over it's hibernation every fall. That's because while every year we will always welcome it breaking the winter of our discontent, making glorious summer from hops and oranges, we also know that its passing means a return to Two-hearted. With all due respect to Oberon and its power to bring forth summer, Two-hearted may be the better beer, as witnessed by this list from the Homebrewers Association that lists it as the #2 beer in the country. I'll hold off my animosity as I've never had a Russian River Pilny the Elder, but let's just say Homebrewers Association, you are wrong.

- I fell in love with The Onion in college and immediately knew that it would be a part of my life as long as it existed. Today, these two contrasting headlines came up in my RSS feed:

University Of Michigan Expands Michigan Stadium To Seat Everyone In Michigan

Ohio State Uses T-Shirt Blaster To Pass Out Diplomas

I had a real asshole of a computer science teacher in junior high who used to say that U of M and tOSU were the same caliber university. I could talk all day how he's super wrong and how it galls me that he spread such a lie, but those two headlines pretty much prove my point.

- Tonight! Ann Arbor Top of the Park! Chris Bathgate at 8pm, followed by Ferris Bueller's Day Off at 10! Come on down and show your sympathy for my condition by buying me a beer.

- Today is Glen Beck's last day at Fox News. I personally never watched the show, but through The Daily Show and other media outlets that linked to clips of his special brand of crazy, I was acutely aware of his demagoguery. How do you take consciously advantage of foolish old people (the only people who are home watching the news at 5pm) that way? He's a unique noxious, poisonous concoction and I hope one day he gets what's coming to him. Anyway, here's a fitting clip parade to celebrate his demise from the mainstream.

- Finally, I was going to write something mushy about how I was super grumpy yesterday (obviously) and the BDGF, as she is wont to do, cheered me up by reminding me that as long as I can sit outside and talk to her while having a couple of cocktails, how bad can life be? But we don't need that, so here's 13 things you didn't know about Saved by the Bell.

Posted 2:49am
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June 29th, 2011

The ins and outs of five broken ribs

I think* that it was the band Cinderella that sang "Don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." and while they weren't right about much, it's the most apropos cliche of any '80's hair metal band that I can think of at the moment. Turns out almost every movement the body goes through on a daily basis is tied at least a little bit to one's ribcage. I'm a little over 72 hours into the process that I'm told will take 4 to 6 weeks, and I'm already nostalgic for my former life. It's like the PTSDs based solely on physical symptoms. OK not solely. OK not like PTSD at all. Regardless, here's what I've learned and/or realized during my time of immobility:

IN: Getting in and out chairs like an octogenarian
OUT: Bending over

IN: Pain while breathing
OUT: The ability to get into a car in under five minutes

IN: One drink and a vicodin
OUT: Four drinks and contentment

IN: Lying in bed watching Dr. Who
OUT: Doing it for the fuck of it

IN: Being yelled at for trying to put the hose away myself after watering the yard
OUT: Appreciation for being able to help around the house

Don't get me wrong, that's no swipe at the BDGF, she's really good at watching after me and not nagging when she knows I need to do some stuff anyway to feel whole. That's the real rub of being laid up - I feel completely ineffectual. I can handle the pain and learn to do everything at one quarter speed, but I'll never be able to shut off my brain and its need to 'do stuff'.

I was on what I considered to be a path for a very productive summer. I've already started to transform the backyard, and there's a to-do list as long as my invalid arm of things yet to come. Now the painting and landscaping are all on hold. As is my workout regimen. It's like moving forward six weeks by getting into a time machine so that everything reverts to two months ago.

Yes I will read more. Sure there's a backlog of films to catch up on. But what about all the things that take being able bodied to accomplish? There's a certain value to my self-worth that I place on being able to fix whatever needs fixing. What replaces that? I can't write the check to make these things happen, and even if I could that doesn't replace the sense of accomplishment that usually accompanies these activities for me. I'm left as milquetoast as Tim Pawlenty. That's the real tragedy in my mind. Know this, I've just dedicated every waking hour of August to making up for lost time. I'll be doing nothing but things that require braun and brute strength and force of will, because all of those things are on hold at the moment.

*know

Posted 8:29pm
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June 28th, 2011

The reports of my death are slightly exaggerated

I'm not sure what's the most amount of pain I've ever been in. Playing middle school football I broke my tailbone, that sucked. I broke my ankle hopping a fence once, trying to take a shortcut that saved me all of thirty seconds. That wasn't pleasant but the experience introduced me to vicodin, so a net positive. Most recently I tried to slice my finger off making dinner. The actual slice hurt quite a bit, but when I went to the doctor's office the next day and she had to get twelve hours of dried blood and bandage separated from my digit and its open wound, well I was pretty sure I was going to pass out during that. Let's call that the leader in the clubhouse.

Last Sunday we were in Indiana on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan at the BDGF's parents' beach house. A more serene and pastoral setting you'd be hard pressed to find. Weekends there are generally filled with good food, good booze, and copious amounts of relaxing on the beach. But of course when there's eight year olds about, sometimes relaxing takes a back seat.

The BDGF's mom and dad are the owners of something they call a surrey. It's basically a three wheeled, two person recumbent bicycle, replete with a candy striped roof with the fringe on top. Kinda like this:

Well Sunday morning shortly after breakfast I was approached by the BDGF's littlest, sporting the biggest set of puppy dog eyes you ever did see, asking "Tyler, can we go for a ride on the surrey?" Me being not made of stone, I immediately found myself getting dressed and heading outside.

In a bid to both seem cool and foster independence and trust, I agreed to let the little one steer while I peddled. It was a perfect partnership. Until we hit the hills. Now the surrey has a 'power assist', so while the thing weighs quite a bit, you can turn on its little motor and get up hills without too much trouble. Downhill presented a different set of issues.

We crested a short but significantly inclined hill and I started to literally "Wheeeee!" in the enjoyment of bonding with my fake daughter. That's when all hell broke loose. The surrey started to veer slightly to the right, and the littlest, in all of her eight years of existence and the inherent driving experience therein, performed a classic overcorrect. The surrey immediately started to tip. I grabbed the wheel and lunged for the brake, but by then it was too late.

I can't speak to next set of events with any veracity, as they are blurred by happening in a split second and compounded with equal amounts of shock and adrenaline. I do know that I found myself lying on the ground, struggling to breathe, with the surrey no where in sight. I desperately tried to get upright and catch my breath, when I started to hear "Tyler!?!" behind me. There was the littlest, a good five feet behind me, still belted into the surrey, tipped on its side.

I ran to her and summoned strength from whatever reserve humans apparently have for times of crisis to lift the surrey upright. We got her belt off and onto the pavement. Thankfully, other than a couple of severely skinned knees she appeared to be physically OK. Of course she was also crying and reminding me that we needed help. Thank Christ the iPhone made it through unscathed. One quick call and mom and Damma were on their way.

They arrived a few minutes later, everyone glad to see that we were more or less OK. I told them to take her back home and get her settled. Thankfully Damma said she'd be back in a minute to get the surrey so she could peddle it back, and I could drive in something less precarious. By this point, I knew I had a sprained wrist and road rash up and down the right side of my body. I was also pretty sure I had cracked a rib.

We got back to the beach house and cleaned everyone up, I assured Damma and the BDGF that an immediate trip to the ER wasn't necessary. The rib was cracked or it wasn't, all they could do was give me some good narcotics, and I was willing to get by on booze and ibuprofen for a night until I could get to see my doctor as opposed to waiting for a few hours in some hospital.

Quick jump cut to next afternoon in Ann Arbor. My doc checks me out and says while I'm describing the symptoms of a broken rib, you can usually poke around and find the tender point where the actual broken rib is. Since I have diffuse pain over a large area, I probably just pulled/bruised the shit out of my back. Cheers to that! They took x-rays to be sure, but it sounded like I'd be better in a less than a week.

He promised to call me once he took a look at the films, which he did later that night. He opened the conversation with "Unfortunately I got your x-rays back." which I took as a bad sign. Turns out that I broke not one rib but five. The reason he couldn't poke around and find the spot where the rib was broken was because there were so many spots.

Ultimately, I suppose it doesn't change much other than sounding more impressive. The healing time is the same, the treatment is the same. The pain may be a little more severe, but that just means more meds. I'll still contend that the finger incident contained the most intense pain, but the next few weeks appears to hold the most overall amount I've ever had to contend with. Ultimately I plan to get through it with a careful concoction of pills, booze, and the knowledge that at least its me and not the little one having to endure it.

Posted 11:20am
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June 24th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- The Bible gets used to justify a lot of things. Some of those things are good, some not so much. I'll leave it you to decide which side throwing two handicapped gentlemen out of a public pool for being gay falls. I would love to buy both those guys a Schmidt's Gay.

- Q: How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
   A: It's a really obscure number, you've probably never heard of it. Lutherans are hilarious.

- Hooray! The new Miss USA 'believes' in evolution. And it was close too, as it turns out only two of the fifty contestants (TWO!) 'believe'. I'm obviously quoting 'believe' because much like gravity or Lady Gaga, it exists whether we want it to or not.

- I saw the headline "Pawlenty may have a pastor problem" the other day and tried really hard not to click on it, because who gives a shit? But curiosity got the better of me, and boy am I glad I did. Turns out his "problem" is that he's apolitical and doesn't use his bully pulpit to tell people how to vote. Jesus tapdancing Christ on a bike, what is the world coming to?

- I like Jon Huntsman in a lot of ways that we've pointed out on the blog as of late. But in a recent interview he said it would be "impossible" to redefine marriage. "Impossible" to imagine something that exists in five states? "Impossible" to imagine something your church has done more times than Newt has remarried? Get a dictionary buddy. Me fail English? That's unpossible.

Posted 11:11am
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June 23rd, 2011

News and notes from our liberal bubble.

- Ann Arbor's library is awesome. Which clearly is no secret, because it has the highest per capita circulation in the country. Now did the library become awesome because it got used, or is it highly used because of its inherent awesomeness? The answer is that all libraries are awesome, and people who don't use them are chumps. The AADL is awesome because the people of A2 are sweet.

- Everybody who is anybody knows that longtime friend of the blog Markie C hosts the best karaoke party in Ann Arbor. Now every rube on the planet is in on the secret, as famous people went there to sing, which means it got posted on the internet, and linked to every gossip sight imaginable. I'm just glad that at the end of the video you can hear Markie C's trademark "Put your hands together..." line.

- I'm glad to report that the University of Michigan is still the most expensive public school in the country. I'd feel cheated if they stopped soaking out-of-staters after I left.

- Finally, Ann Arbor has famously always had very liberal pot laws. One of the first things they tell you when you get inside the gates is that possession of marijuana is a $20 fine. If you're lucky, you're also reminded that University property is owned by the state, thus subject to its laws, so don't light up on campus, stupid. ANYWAY, there's a new bill in congress (cosponsored by John Conyers, D - Michigan) to end federal marijuana prohibition. It makes every bit of sense to any person in the world capable of analytical thought. I give it a 1% chance of passing.

Posted 10:34am
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June 22nd, 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- You may know the band Army Navy from the fact that their lead singer/songwriter used to be in a band with DCFC frontman Ben Gibbard. You may know them from their inclusion in the Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist soundtrack. Or maybe you're just a fan of catchy power pop. Either way, their new album is streaming here and I am enjoying the shit out of it.

- Vinyl albums are intrinsically cool, as these pictures of famous people hanging out with their record collections can attest.

- Solo Ted Leo performances are everywhere these days, which is a good thing, and will always be posted here when they pop up. He's also playing in Chicago July 25th with the Pharmacistsfor free, so you should totally go.

- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's debut album was one of my favorite of the last decade. They followed it up with a giant turd of an album and then went away for four years. Now they're back trying to get into our collective good graces with a preview track from their forthcoming album Hysterical. Luckily, I am a believer in second chances.

- Surfer Blood cover The Pixies. That is all.

- Finally, last week I came home and told the BDGF that Jack White was getting divorced, and let's just say I was nonplussed at how quickly she snapped around and asked "Really?" with the biggest smile I've seen on her face in what I thought were our two wonderful years together. Then last night I came to bed to hear "Jack White was on Colbert tonight! And the next two nights!" I get that the guy is a guitar god. I'm on board with that. But for the record, he's skinnier and pastier than me, and that's saying something. My point is, I bet I could take him.

Posted 10:49am
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June 21st, 2011

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

- The internet is never want for cool Star Wars links, so let's take a look at my new coffee table, the most ridiculous Lego set of all time, and the cutest trick I can't believe I didn't teach my kid to do.

- Just in case you weren't keeping track of Michelle Bachmann's crazy this week: first she claimed that Obama is trying to bankrupt Medicare so that he can replace it with Obamacare. Then she claimed Canada is doing better than the US because they didn't have a stimulus. (They did.) But the BEST didn't happen this week NOR did it come from her. But since it was said by her closest political advisor (her husband) and I just found it, I offer you this quote:

Barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined, and just because someone feels this or thinks this, doesn't mean that we're supposed to go down that road.

Yes, he's talking about gay teenagers, whom he 'cures' of homosexuality.

- I had no idea of the stopping power of semen.

- We haven't talked about Jim Tressel, Pryor or tOSU in a while, so let's laugh at all those kids who got named 'Tressel' over the last 10 years. My favorite is 'Tressel Huffines'. Would you buy furniture at ''Unpainted Huffines''? See, there's always time for a name change.

- Finally, if you are a lover of the trivia like I am, I highly recommend the game Qrank. It's a daily 15 question quiz that you can play against your friends. It's quick, fun and competitive - a lot like having sex in college. This week they had a special edition dedicated to the podcast Doug Loves Movies. Since I've listened to every episode, I baited @dougbenson on the twitter with:

@DougBenson 9328 on the DLM #qrank. That good enough for a woot monkey when you come to Ann Arbor on Thursday?

And he responded!:

The BDGF gets hit on by Jason Segal, I get polite rejections from Doug Benson. That sounds about right.

Posted 10:53am
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June 20th, 2011

Anti-Dentite

I try to be a grown up about things. Don't get me wrong, I deliberately avoid a lot of the trappings of adulthood and at times I can express a maturity level that belies my years. But I'm not averse to sucking it up. If nothing else, being a parent forces a lot of that mentality onto you.

But there are two things I've always refused to stop being a baby about - haircuts and the dentist. I've had some traumatic experiences with both (my 90's mullet notwithstanding) and I hate visiting professionals in those areas with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. Those of you who have been to my house know the infamous picture of me screaming like a baby getting my haircut that hangs in my bathroom. It ran in newspapers across the country. Fortunately I was an actual baby at the time, so its more adorable than pathetic.

Since then I've mitigated my barber aversion by cutting my own hair. A girlfriend once bought me an expensive haircut for a christmas present. That was about 5 years ago. It went so swimmingly that I haven't set foot in a salon since. Luckily no one makes fun of my hair to my face, so it seems to not be an issue.

The dentist is another matter. I know I need to go to the dentist, as I can't perform the tasks that they do myself. But my hatred is so deep, I've avoided the problem by merely not going for 12 years. As you may imagine, once the BDGF found this out my days of dental avoidance were numbered. A few weeks back she took me to the bar to break the news to me that she had made me an appointment. I told her that I was going to be a baby about it, and I wanted drugs before anyone stuck anything in my mouth. If I was going to be tortured for an hour, I should at least be high on something first.

Of course despite assurances to the contrary, nothing went to plan, so there I was at 10am this morning, being poked and prodded and scrapped - sober as the day I was born and paying $250 for the privilege. Now here I sit, head throbbing, teeth aching, and future appointments for repeated drubbings at the hands of some sadist. I know it's the right thing to do and all that, but I would have been completely fine going along my merry way until my teeth just fell out of my head. You'd think I'd know by now to keep my mouth shut about these juvenile things around girlfriends, as in this case it led to an inability to keep my mouth shut for another 12 years.

Posted 4:33pm
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June 17th, 2011

Fake Dad

Elementary kids accidentally call their teachers mom all the time. Particularly attached to whatever they're doing at any one moment, they'll slip and cry "Mom?" looking for help. This is not an indictment of said kid's parents, or to even suggest that a first grade teacher has a closer bond with their students than the person who birthed them. It's merely that "Mom" temporarily becomes a moniker for closest female authority figure. Recently in New York the BDGF's girls were both begging for something or other and were crying "Mom!" and for a second Sid joined in. I know he wasn't being intentionally comedic because a second later I saw him catch himself and go back to her name. I've also seen her tell him in his whinier moments "I'm not your mother!" which is intentionally comedic and always gets a laugh.

Before I started dating the BDGF I never much pondered what it would be like to date someone with children. I won't go as far as to say it was a non starter, but having a kid of my own I suppose I always imagined it to at the least be a scheduling nightmare and more trouble than it was probably worth. I know I'm fairly adroit with kids and I can handle their ins and outs, what with having done it for fifteen years now, but signing up for more seemed like a lot of 'been there, done that' at best. Of course I quickly learned that with the BDGF there is the plus side of if we've both done it already then I don't likely have to face the prospect of doing it again. The fact remains that I (was) almost done with cleaning up after the sticky messes and carting around shorties, and to enter into any agreement that would ostensibly add years to my sentence as a parent, well before twenty two months ago I would have said that it was more trouble than it was worth.

Those points are now moot because between that hindsight retrospection and the hypothetical, Cupid shot an arrow through my heart. Three times. The BDGF and I's courtship was accelerated because I was a friend of her brother and could come hang about on that pretense. That is the courtship of when it came to arrows two and three. The BDGF and I fell hard for each other and despite the better judgment of keeping your offspring away from new significant others, I could be around because I was friends with Uncle Jason. It was a game of convenience that we played and it just happened to have a happy ending.

Because while children are not necessarily wise in the ways of the world, you can't fool them forever. Soon I was around sans Uncle Jason and the code was cracked. Lucky for me that I fell for the BDGF's girls almost as quickly as I fell for her. Before anyone knew it we were moving in lock, stock and barrel and I think for the most part, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. OK maybe that's wishful thinking, but it was at least not a tumultuous shit storm of awkward and awful. In these situations, you set the bar low.

So here I sit with three children whereas a minute ago I had one. The one that shares DNA with me is forced to abide my whims, and the BDGF's oldest is a hop, skip and a jump from being off to greener pastures, so she can endure a little upheaval in the interim if it increases the likelihood that there's more money to buy her a car at 16. That still leaves the little one with a decade on her punch card with fake dad in tow.

Now the littlest already has a dad and we're all very clear that I am in no way trying to replace him. However, real dad is a few thousand miles away and I am very local. This means that I am going to get called Mr. Durkee a lot. And go to recitals and ice cream socials. And get called dad when her hand is in mine and people make assumptions that decorum dictates we don't take the time to explain "Actually I'm her mother's live-in boyfriend and we don't share a chromosome between us." And it is still all kinds of awesome.

I love the little one. And not just because I got to skip the awful diaper/baby stage and go the interesting part where they are like little people with thoughts and insights and tiny personalities. The little one is a hurricane of demonstrativeness and (outside of Sid) I've never met an 8 year old more fun to be around. Maybe that's bias and proximity and putting a face on what I've signed up for, but in any case I've certainly gone from dreading the prospect of not being done with this job in two years to relishing it.

What that defined role will be is anyone's guess. Like I said, I'm not looking to replace anyone, or even be some sort of surrogate. I'm just Tylah, here when the BDGF isn't, able to fix things and explain pop culture references that no one else gets. When the BDGF and I talk about it, I always tell her that "all I want is for them to be able to trust me, and in lieu of you, I can be the next best thing that's immediate in a pinch." That doesn't mean that my most dreaded day isn't when the littlest turns 15 and inevitably tells me 'You're not my dad!' because that would break my heart." I suppose it's good she got it over with at 8.

The other night at dinner the littlest was taking too long to finish, as 8 year olds are wont to do, and the BDGF was telling her to move along. After some consternation I reiterated the point and she told me "You're not my mom! I mean dad!" As far as that moment goes, it was good to get it out of the way early and to be able to laugh at it in the moment. I'm not her dad. But I plan on being around a while and if she ever wants me to build that stable in the back yard, she'll learn to make with the sweet talk. Because everyone knows that at this point, I'm the world's biggest pushover when it comes to that.

Posted 10:31am
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June 15th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Monday's Republican debate had its share of religious references, because you can't be a Republican less you's right with Jesus. It also apparently helps if you remind everyone you hate Muslims and are for McCarthy era loyalty oaths.

- Of course they were all told by Jesus's daddy that they should run for president. It's going to be awkward if only one of them wins...

- With an outstretched hand and the teachings of Baby J in their heart, a Boston church announced an "All are welcome" mass during gay pride month. What a nice, caring, empathetic and Jesus-y thing to do. But notice I used the word mass, which means the church was Catholic, which means that the diocese shut down the mass with the fury of God's own thunder before it ever happened. You stay classy, Catholicism.

- I saw this headline the other day "Gwyneth Paltrow talks homosexuality and the Bible" and thought, like you just did, "this is going to be awesome." Then I read it. I still don't have any idea what just happened.

- I've come across David Barton before, and to say that I hate him with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns is putting it mildly. This fuck face goes around cherry picking historical data to give the impression that Jesus signed the Declaration of Independence. This guy is loved by Michelle Bachmanns and Newt Gingriches of the world, so what comes next shouldn't surprise you. In this interview, he not only asserts that the founding fathers debated evolution and found it wanting (the US was founded in 1776, On the Origin of the Species came out in 1859) but that we wanted to break ties with England so we could abolish slavery. I would love to punch this guy in the junk.

- For the record, I will not be attending Rick Perry's "Let's convert people to Christianity and admonish the gays for being evil" party.

- Finally, according to Gallup, 92% of Americans still believe in God. So kudos to G to the O to the D, words still out there, people are still buying it. Of course your numbers aren't quite as hot with the liberal, educated young people, but that's to be expected. You approach totality amongst Conservatives, Republicans and the South - and the latter will always outbreed the former. Ack. Fuck it, I'm moving to Europe.

Posted 10:56am
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June 14th, 2011

Holy shit you guys, it's happening!

Last night's debate was mostly a snoozefest. And I feel within my rights to say that even though I didn't watch it. But when the biggest event of the evening seems to be that TPaw refused to call it "Obamneycare" to Mitt Romney's giant Morman face, we're talking little substance and fewer gaffes. Yawnsville. Why not check him into the boards, eh? It seriously looked like TPaw was afraid Mitt was going to beat him up backstage afterwards if he said it.

HOWEVER - we here at tbaggervance would be remiss if we didn't take to time to point out that Michelle Bachmann has thrown her crazy ass hat into the ring. (Can you believe to soft focus on that video? We're talking Cybil Sheppard in season four of Moonlighting.) Michelle who believes that judges are mandating homosexual behavior. That gay marriage is the most important issue in America of the last thirty years. That you can't scientifically prove that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas. That hundreds of Nobel Laureates believe in intelligent design. And the best part is that she won't be marginalized like a Paul or Santorum who are clearly in it just to make a point and raise their speaking fees. Bachmann thinks she can win - she's that level crazy. AND she'll probably do well in Iowa where the only thing more plentiful than corn is crazy evangelicals. AND the media will cover the shit out of her because she's good television.

So while we hope you understand that we say this with the full knowledge that she'd be worse for this country than Sarah Palin, but has even less of a chance at becoming its President, we here at tbaggervance endorse Michelle Bachmann as the next GOP candidate for President of these United States. Now pass the popcorn and wait for somebody to ask her about Planned Parenthood.

- I'm on record of being scared of Rick Perry. The BDGF says I shouldn't be. I say all he has to do is shut his mouth for a year and he could win. She says what are the chances of that happening. OK so she may have a point, as here's Rick Perry saying the economic crisis is here to bring us back to Biblical principles. I guess maybe I'm giving too much credence to a violently anti-gay secessionist.

- Enough politickin' - the greatest movie of all time just turned 30 last week. In honor of its enduring awesomeness, here's Thirty Things You Didn't Know About Raiders of the Lost Ark.

- Adult Swim took on the Ohio State fiasco. I looked upon it and it was good.

Posted 11:10am
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June 13th, 2011

For your viewing pleasure...

- Amongst a plethora of great, poignant and funny commencement speeches, we here at tbaggervance.com nominate Conan O'Brien for top of the list, or as it's known around here, King Shit of Fuck Mountain©.

- Dallas won the NBA Championship last night, but more importantly, Lebron James lost it. I think we're all thinking the same thing - Cleveland has suffered enough indignities over the years, and God finally said enough is enough.

- Also, NPH hosted the Tonys last night, and while none of could give two shits about Theatre awards, we all can revel in his bitchin' opening number. He may have just knocked Conan off his throne.

- Awesome people being brutally honest (and funny) over at sadsadconversation. Adam Savage, Michael Ian Black, Samm Levine... need I go on?

- Dan Savage reminds you christians out there to be more vocal than the crazy fundamentalists amongst you. Because aren't we all tired of their bullshit?

- Finally, don't forget to watch the Republican debate tonight. Two words: Michelle Bachmann. Field day doesn't begin to describe what tomorrow's gonna be like.

Posted 2:25pm
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June 10th, 2011

Opinions are like assholes - they are everywhere.

- Most of the assholes we talk about around here are of the conservative Republican variety, probably because most assholes are conservative Republicans. But ljv sent me this link, to which I say ASSHOLE. Talk about mean, misguided and solipsistic. We're talking Dillon Pearce territory.

- I've always thought Jim Tressel was an asshole. OK if we're being honest, I pretty much think anyone associated with Ohio State is an asshole. Like Terrelle Pryor. There was a time he was choosing between Michigan and tOSU and people wanted him to come here. I was off that bandwagon from the time I first saw this photo:

And the asshole red flag went up. Earlier this week he announced he wasn't coming back to tOSU through his lawyer, to which I say ASSHOLE. In the good news department, it sounds like his post-(not)graduation prospects aren't quite what he might have expected. Turns out when you're a marginally talented asshole, people might not want to be in business with you.

- So you're a politically involved college kid facing massive state budget cuts to your university. Why not go in front of your representatives and plead your case? That's how government is supposed to work, right? Not according to Iowa state Senator Shawn Hammerlinck, who dismisses and condescends to his constituents like they were slow third graders - to which I say ASSHOLE. If I were that kid I'd wait in the parking lot for that asshole and beat the shit out of him, because I think that's a legal way to redress grievances in Iowa.

- I've stopped thinking of George W. Bush as an asshole. I think he was a well intentioned dolt who got pushed into running for something he didn't want and then surrounded himself with the most corrupt individuals ever to be in government. I don't know which one of his cronies was responsible for devising the Bush Tax Cuts, but these charts explain what they've cost the country, to which I say ASSHOLE. As I said when Obama made the pretty sour deal last December - let 'em all expire. And shove the Laffer curve up your ass.

- Finally, as you go out this weekend, remember that not everyone is an asshole. On Monday we ran into Jason Segal and he couldn't have been a nicer gentleman. Readers of tbaggervance.com, be a Jason Segal, not a Terrelle Pryor.

Posted 10:45am
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June 9th, 2011

Thursdays are for politickin' - Tea Leaves Edition.

The race for the GOP nomination is beginning to take shape. So far it seems to revolve around who can give the best blow job to the most conservative of the conservatives. Saying anything remotely sane gets you demerits and demands an apology, coupled with a denouncement of either the gays or Planned Parenthood. We here at tbaggervance.com have decided to take a look at some recent statements by some of the kids that have thrown their hats into the ring and prognosticate as to what it means for their chances to lose to Obama in 2012.

TPaw
Tim Pawlenty (henceforth known here as TPaw, until he drops out of the race sometime next March) is about as exciting going to church. He milquetoasty. He's from Minnesota, which means that he from time to time sports a hockey mullet. This week he announced that his economic plan involves 5% growth in GDP for a decade. Nevermind that this has never been done before. But he does plan to achieve it solely through tax cuts, so that'll play to the base like the new Brad Paisley album.
Chance he'll get the nod: 25%

Herman Cain
Playing the "black guy short on experience" role that's all the rage in politics these days is Herman Cain. His twist is that he's from the business world. Nevermind that no GOP nom since the forties has come from the business world and that running a business has little to do with running the government. Cain is all about the pander. He'll promote the constitution and view it as sacrosanct, and then get the facts wrong. Twice. He knows to couch his gay compliments in anti-Muslim fear mongering. Best of all, as president he'll only allow legislation that's less than three pages long. Small town values for a simpler America! Too bad he's still a black guy.
Chance he'll get the nod: 2%

Jon Huntsman
Huntsman worked for Obama. He believes in global warming. This week he refused to back down from his support of civil unions (for gay people!) Did I mention he's mormon?
Chance he'll get the nod: -5000%

Sarah Palin
This week a poll came out that said almost two thirds of voters "definitely would not" vote for the former half term governor. That said, she still screws up basic history, has a house on wheels and is both folksy and outdoorsy - you know, a real 'merican.
Chance she'll get the nod: 10%

Michelle Bachmann
Ms. Bachmann appears to be running as a Palin alternative. I shit you not, Michelle's top advisor had this to say about her campaign: “People are going to say, ‘I gotta make a choice and go with the intelligent woman who’s every bit as attractive.’” She may have a point, as her main concerns are gay marriage, defunding Planned Parenthood, and repealing Obamacare. Oh that's base-y. Her only problem is that she's not as attractive as Sarah Palin, albeit every bit as smart.
Chance she'll get the nod: 11%

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney is a presidential Ken doll. He's straight out of central casting. He's got both business and government experience. He got that old fashioned success story (born rich). He's willing to say ANYTHING to get elected. Unfortunately he's got some skeletons in his closet - mainly that he passed universal health care as governor of the most liberal state in the union, and still believes the planet is getting warmer. Still, in the world of the blind the one eyed man is king.
Chance he'll get the nod: 40%

We're not going to bother vetting Santorum and Gingrinch, who odds we would place at 0%. Rest assured we'll still let you know when they say something colossally stupid, racist or homophobic. Stay tuned...

Posted 11:13am
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June 8th, 2011

Tales of douche baggery
or the continuing saga of entitled ass clown Dillon Pearce

My favorite news story since the 2008 election cycle just got injected with an extra shot of awesome. Just released is the video leading up to the arrest of the Hummer driving, baby duck killing, dick bag, spoiled brat Dillon Pearce. As you hopefully remember, Dillon and his buddies were screwing around with a family of ducks in McDonalds parking lot and the staff inside went vigilante and told them to bugger off. So Dillon and his douchetourage left, only to return and deliberately run over the ducks. All the while driving in the ultimate "Global warming is a scam and no I don't have a small penis" machine. The happy ending is that the cops picked him up immediately, and now we can watch the event in all its glory.

Here are the three best things about the video, which you shouldn't take my word for and totally watch your self...

3. (Tie) Things that this fuckhead thinks are cool that so are not: the Monster energy drink decal on the back of the Hummer (I'll take douche bag cliches for $200 Alex) AND the story about playing hockey in Boston and Fresno, when he's really a burnout at Community College. The hockey bit really works with the ladies though...

2. They say that the pitch of your voice goes up when you're lying right? Watch Dillon hit a pitch only dogs can hear when he says "I didn't drive over them!" Bonus point for invoking the Holy Bible, as if this douche wouldn't sell Jesus down the river for a new Ed Hardy shirt.

1. The officer at the scene, FTW: "Is this your car or is it mommy's car?"

All that's left for this story to come to its inevitable, satisfying conclusion, is for the judge to absolutely throw the book and this dickbag. If there is any justice in the world, those ducks will be redeemed.

- I once played a board game sometime in 2006 where you asked the group a question, they each wrote down an answer, and then you had to determine who said what. During the game, the question came up "If you had to kill one person on the planet, who would it be?" The answers came in 1.) W 2.) President Bush 3.) George W. Bush. Clearly this was in Ann Arbor, and in hindsight, not very well thought through, as it would have netted you President Cheney. It's nice to see that the high schoolers in Arkansas haven't forgotten, as ig and ook round out the top five worst people ever, behind bin Laden, Hitler and Chuck Manson. For the record, I'll swap out W, as being an unambitious rube isn't the worse thing ever, even given what it wrought in this case. Maybe I suggest privileged fuck stick Dillon Pearce as his replacement?

Posted 10:25am
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June 7th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Hipster church? Hipster church? a.) I'm not sure what it says about where hipsterism has gone when going to church somehow becomes ironically cool and perhaps more importantly b.) are we sure Jesus wants these guys in his house?

- We here at tbaggervance.com fancy ourselves trend setters, which is why we weren't surprised to hear that married couples are no longer the majority of households in America. We've been at the forefront of that movement for almost 16 years now. What I will never get in the whole marriage debate is the sanctimonious bullshit of "one man, one woman". Go read your Bible and get back to me on that little nugget of history.

- Here's an interesting exchange about scientists and their agnosticism. It's especially prescient to me, as somewhere in the last 20 years I went from the former to the latter. Not having to explain it to my mother may have helped that transition happen, but it was there germinating in my head for a long time.

- I'd love to say I love the balls on this kid, but once you think about it, it's not his balls that need your admiration, after all he's got all the facts on his side. It's his organization and dedication that is above and beyond. I mean, let's be honest, anyone can eviscerate Michelle Bachmann for repeating the uber lie of "there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact ..." but not everyone can do it by holding up the signatures of 43 Nobel Laureates that he personally collected.

- For ball admiration, how about his kid?

- Most of you cosmopolitan bon vivants in our readership know that Ayn Rand wrote some mildly entertaining, but poorly argued books many years ago that college kids tend to read early on in their academic careers and get overly excited about. That's normal, we all go through those periods in our life that seem silly once we broaden our horizons. Remember how I really like Blues Traveler for ten minutes in 1995? That was weird. Anyway, the problem arises when people stop there and take Rand's philosophies as, well, viable. And then they run with it. Usually for congress in a district where people haven't read Rand, and the distillation of her ideas sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Anyway, that's presenting a problem at the moment as some people are saying you can follow Rand or you can follow Jesus, but you can't do both. What's a fear monger to do? We here at tbaggervance.com whole heartedly endorse the philosophies of Jesus over Ayn's. He said blessed are the cheesemakers, right?

Posted 11:07am
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June 6th , 2011

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

- It's graduation season! Along with my foray into speech writing, there's also pretty good inspiration from the likes of Amy Pohler and Tom Hanks out there. Also, let's not forget my favorite graduation speech of all time (Eugene also took out a pretty hilarious ad in the paper recently. You will relate to it).

- Here's a video of the supposed 100 Greatest Movie Threats of All-Time. It's missing a lot of stuff, and overly relies on people offering to shove various things up someone else's ass. It does open with the superb and underappreciated Terrence Stamp's line from The Limey "Tell them I'm fucking coming!" You should go watch that movie. It's like kneeling before Zod.

- My personal birth control concerns aren't what they used to be, and my focus has turned to that of the next generation, mostly to assure that the generation after that doesn't come anytime soon. Anyway, the problem from the external genitalia's POV is that there are a dearth of options. You have condoms and... condoms. Well population explosion hotbed India may be adding a 1A to that list with birth control injection for men. It pry won't make it to the States in time for me to drag Sid to a clinic and fix him up good, but there's hope for future generations. Although speaking on behalf of men everywhere, we're going to need to know a little bit more about the needle near the penis bit.

- The internet being what it is, it is rife with Star Wars references. Anything that has ever been capable of being themed is instantly done with Star Wars. Anything that can parodied has been done with Star Wars. Multiple times. Fan art. Fan Fiction. You name it. I spare you most of these as we have a tacit agreement that I am much nerdier than you and your tolerance for certain of my proclivities has its limits. That being said, here's a 10,000 piece Lego Sandcrawler and a trailer for the fictional movie George Lucas Strikes Back.

- Finally, by now you know about Sarah Palin's historical revisions when it comes to the story of Paul Revere. Well rather than go into a hole (there's no cameras there!) and slink away from the press for fear she might repeat the gaffe, she doubled down on it. To everyone who voted for John McCain - you tried to put someone with less knowledge of American History than a second grader in the White House. AND YOU KNEW IT. Who's the bigger fool, the fool or the fool who follows him?

Posted 10:43am
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June 3rd , 2011

I'm a vigilante. Like Spider-Man.

When I was 12 we went on a family vacation. This may seem innocuous to many of you, but this was one of two vacations we took in my adolescence that a.) didn't involve visiting whatever podunk hamlet my older brother lived in or b.) didn't involve jettisoning off to the myriad mysteries of Ohio. Anyway, as per usual, my mother offered us a choice - we could go to Saturday night mass, or wake up to go to church on Sunday. ON VACATION. My position on the subject as a pre-teen was much the same as you could imagine it would be now. But having zero leverage and less persuasion in these situations, we all chose sleeping in on Sunday.

Again, anyway, we were in downtown Chicago, on vacation, trying to motor from a boat tour of Lake Michigan to get to 5:30 mass at the local church* somewhat adjacent to the boat stop. In our rush, we bustled through the rush hour crowds. Walking five feet behind my mother I saw a team of two guys reach into her purse and start to pull her wallet out. Instinctively I yelled out "Hey!" at the guy, and he and his partner dropped the wallet and turned on their heels to walk away. I picked up the wallet, returned it to my mother, and privately wondered how this didn't absolve me from going to mass.

For the past couple months a raccoon has been using our garbage for sustenance. We've avoided tipped over cans and sprawling messes, but there's been enough circumstantial evidence for me to know it's happening. This of course makes me angry, as I moved to the city for a reason, and that reason is that I don't care for nature. A few years back when a chipmunk kept digging under my porch and wouldn't take the hint, we put out some poison and that was that. So far putting weights on top of the garbage can seemed to mostly mitigate things. But sometimes I forget to do that, and last night I met my enemy face to face.

It was late. I had imbibed a couple of cocktails and was finishing off one more, enjoying the night air before heading off to slumber. I heard a rustle and turned my head to see the ugly little rodent staring right at me, not five feet away. And just like I did 25 years ago, I instinctively yelled "Hey!" at it. Now in my slightly inebriated state I felt like I stared into the soul of that monster, and he into mine. We locked in an intrinsic battle of wills, and he blinked first. Much like my mother's would be pickpocket, he turned on his heels and scampered off. I doubt for good this time, because while my "Hey!" is clearly powerful, it's effects are also likely short term. Hopefully I'll get lucky though, as there's no way the BDGF will let me hurt the thing.

*I have no idea how my mother found out what time mass was much less where the local Catholic church was in 1987 without the internet. I'm guessing divine intervention.

- As an aside, the Promise Ring may do the reunion thing. Should this happen, I pledge to be at every show within a four hour driving radius. Maybe more.

Posted 11:06am
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June 2nd , 2011

News and notes from our liberal bubble.

- When I was an undergraduate Psych major I had to travel to downtown Detroit to do follow up interviews in neighborhoods that I would never go to a.) after dark nor b.) alone. There's some shady parts of Detroit to be sure, and every once in a while (usually trying to get home from the Joe) I'll find myself having taken a wrong turn and wanting very badly to find a highway - any highway - ASAP. But Detroit has also come a long way since I moved to SE Michigan 17 years ago. The theater district, Greektown and around Wayne State seem almost cosmopolitan. And if I don't make a wrong turn, I don't feel unsafe there. Here's a great video feature about the continuing effort to revitalize the D.

- As Detroit continues to heal itself, here's an interesting perspective on how the fates of Detroit and Ann Arbor are intertwined. It doesn't mention how much more likely I'd be to go spend evenings in the D if there was a high speed train to take me there.

- Speaking of our utopian hamlet, Amazon says we're the fourth most well read city in America.

- Of course if we want to keep our bubble intact, we have to be vigilant about keeping out the undesirables. The BDGF and I keep wondering how this place is allowed to exist. I've never been, but I assure you it's the only place in downtown A2 that requires a 'pat down' upon entry. I was always told that this type of entity is exactly why we have Ypsilanti.

- Finally, 826 Michigan just celebrated birthday number 6. I'm proud to have been there for three of those years, and look forward to many more. Most of all, thanks again to our illustrious readers, who have embraced and supported 826 at tbaggervance.com's behest. It's humbling for us and important to the continuing vitality of this venerable institution. Congrats 826, thanks readers.

Posted 10:48am
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June 1st , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- I used to love to stay up late enough to watch David Letterman when I was a kid. Not only did making it to 1am feel like something of an accomplishment, but I felt a subversive kinship with Dave. It seemed like he was getting away with the ridiculous, and only existed because the people who ran TV couldn't stay up late enough to police him. Anyway, those days are certainly gone, and I don't know if anyone anywhere feels similarly about Jimmy Fallon, but this is pretty great (as are the previous iterations here and here.)

- Speaking of Neil Young, who knew Radiohead was such a fan? (I'm guessing the BDGF knew, as she equally hates both artists. Like, a lot.)

- Speaking of Radiohead, here's Weezer covering Paranoid Android.

- Speaking of formerly beloved bands who now disappoint you, watch Death Cab play VH1's Storytellers - because they play old songs that you will enjoy.

- For the millionth time, here's a story about how people are still listening to vinyl! Actually, these numbers are impressive and good news for those of us who love hot wax and desperately await The Hold Steady to reissue Separation Sunday.

- Finally, the BDGF and I have been working on a couple of lists while we sit around in the evening and enjoy a cocktail or three, and here's our list of bands that have songs named after the band:

Bad Company - Bad Company
Wang Chung - Everybody Wang Chung Tonight
Wilco - Wilco (The Song)
Queen - Killer Queen

Also of note, Tokyo Police Club sings about a Tokyo Police Club in "Cheer It On" and Boston mentions being from Boston in "Rock and Roll Band". And there's lots of bands like The Rolling Stones that were named for other people's songs. As always, we welcome contributions that aren't hip-hop based, because they just love referring to themselves too much. Or if you're not in a thinking mood, enjoy this list of 40 songs about masturbation.

Posted 11:06am
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May 31st , 2011

It's a travesty. A sham. A mockery. It's a traveshamockery.

Somewhere sometime on some documentary or such I once saw Hunter S. Thompson talking about Nixon, and the quote (I think verbatim) was "We got that crooked son of a bitch." I say (I think verbatim) because while I can't remember where I specifically saw this to go back and check, the quote, and more viscerally the context, is seared into my brain. What struck me was the anger his whole body still exuded about the thing. Hunter hated Nixon with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, and even the vindication of seeing him figuratively strung up couldn't quell that hatred 20 or 30 years later. Instead of what you would expect would be some sort of smug satisfaction or content celebration of victory, he still seethed.

I've seen a lot of celebratory/congratulations txts/tweets/status updates over the last 24 hours over the resignation of Jim Tressel. And rightfully so. We got that crooked son of a bitch. The hotly anticipated SI article that appears to have forced the issue features the following paragraph, which succinctly distills my opinion of what's been going on for years:

For more than a decade, Ohioans have viewed Tressel as a pillar of rectitude, and have disregarded or made excuses for the allegations and scandal that have quietly followed him throughout his career. His integrity was one of the great myths of college football. Like a disgraced politician who preaches probity but is caught in lies, the Senator was not the person he purported to be.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a happy man. Along with taking away some scholarships and a bowl ban, it's as much justice as there is in these situations. But it still happened. Thousands in the "Buckeye Nation" will never apologize nor abdicate for anything that happened under the watch of that son a bitch. And I don't know how free tattoos translate into victories over Michigan, but part of my brain knows they did, and I can't get those back. Turns out I was right all along, but I still suffered for a decade because of that assholes treachery, and for that I will continue to seethe for eternity.

- As long as we're on the subject of me being right about things that I will continue to be indignant about, this Rolling Stone article on the propaganda machine that is Fox News is worth your time.

Posted 11:07am
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May 27th , 2011

Oh we're going to a Hookie Lau

I'm not quite sure what it is about music teachers that makes them the oddest lot of any school. I think it's got something to do with the chip that they must carry on their shoulder. They live under the threat of being placed on the chopping block and that coupled with a large percentage of parents marginalizing their importance makes them constantly want to reassure everyone how important they are. Sid had a choir teacher that made me want to vomit every time I ever had to hear her speak. Music is like every school subject rolled into one! We sing in foreign languages! We need to understand history! We are participating in physical activity! ALL MUSIC IS MATH! These things may be marginally true, but man to listen to her drone on you'd think she'd cured cancer.

I loved my elementary school music teacher. She was weird and eclectic like most music teachers - super into The Sound of Music, Hawaiian songs and the harpsichord. She always would conduct herself singing "Goooooood Byyyyye" every time we left her room - followed by her prompting us with "Wait, sing..." and we'd have to respond in kind. But she was nice and excited about music and I still remember a lot of what she taught me and the way she imparted it.

Last night we had to go the BDGF's littlest's music program, which was basically us watching them have a music class at 6 o'clock at night. Well almost basically. First you have to listen to 20 minutes of "Dan the music man" give his resume about where he's been and what he's done. How his students succeed at rates far beyond national averages due to his groovy techniques. The grossest piece of self justification and adulation you've ever witnessed. Then you get what, for all intents and purposes, is the exact same class I had in 1983.

I suppose that's what really gets me. Here's a guy who suffers from typical music teacher love me/praise me/validate me syndrome, but conflagrates himself to the point of orgasm all the while doing the exact same things they were doing when I was in 2nd grade. And he insists on this military precision. That place is like a boot camp. I suppose it's a little impressive but I can't imagine any of it much fun.

Because I love music and it should be fun. Music education is important and fundamental. And I understand why music teachers are the way they are. But the douche baggery of walking around spouting the name of every marginally well known person you've ever shaken hands with and telling the kids "Your focus should be on Dan" to get their attention is astounding. I get why that guy chose to work with kids, because even a sixth grade tbaggervance would have called him a d-bag to his face.

Posted 4:05am
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May 26th , 2011

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

- For my BDGF - it is official, we are now in the midst of the wettest spring ever (cue vagina jokes). What's making me happy is that I *think* we have solved the water getting in the basement problem - cheaply and ourselves no less. I mean, if there's not water down there right this second, I am inclined to believe there never will be again.

- The Michigan Theater announced their Summer Classics lineup, and I am pleased to announce that they've finally gotten around to a Sound of Music sing-a-long, August 14th. If you can't wait that long for the hills to be alive, please to enjoy this letter from Baroness Elsa Schraeder. (ht: Dr. Walker)

- Streaming now: a new song from Army Navy, a new band from Thunderbirds Are Now! and Friendly Foes frontman Ryan Allen and a new disappointment from Death Cab for Cutie.

- Hey! Did you know it was Asian Pacific Heritage Month? Me neither. But in honor of my half Pacific Islander offspring, here's 20 people you didn't know were Asian. Spoiler alert - you'll never see Zack Morris the same again.

- Finally, I've spent the last year or so resigning myself to the fact that Sarah Palin wasn't going to run for president in 2012. She quit halfway through her first term as governor. Instead of trying to shore up her foreign policy bona fides (or lack thereof) she starred in a reality show. She's being written off as a non-serious non-starter - by REPUBLICANS. Her unfavorables are over 50%, she has no resume and no platform outside of "America: Fuck Yeah." But she does have her own documentary! It's premiering in IOWA next month. I'm so excited I'm contemplating driving there for the premier. Not only does this portend to be the greatest movie I've ever seen, add up the factors and tell me she's not prepping a run. Next fall just took a turn for the awesome.

Posted 10:27am
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May 25th , 2011

Wednesdays are for Politickin' - Yay Conservatives! Edition

- Jon Huntsman seems mostly like an alright guy. Sure he's a mormon, but he's also for civil unions, and we here at tbaggervance.com love us some pragmatism. That's why when someone says something like this: "I'm not a meteorologist. All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we'd listen to them." we take them seriously.

- Here's a straight, Republican, conservative war veteran (and Minnesota State Senator) standing up for the gays. Sir, I salute you. And besides, even the super evil, villainous "Focus on the Family" admits that they've 'lost' to gay marriage, to which I say 'suck it'.

- Forbes is a pretty conservative, business oriented publication. I mean, their motto is "The Capitalist Tool" to which I say "You're a Capitalist Tool!" But I digress. Here they are pointing out how Health Care Reform is working in real, tangible ways. Who knew that adding a bunch of young, healthy people to insurance rolls would be good for everybody? I said good day sir.

- Finally, since my congeniality only goes so far, let's look at the following list:

New Mexico
New Jersey
Mississippi
Nevada
Alaska
Connecticut
Louisiana
New Hampshire
West Virginia
Minnesota
North Dakota
Illinois
Alabama
Delaware
South Dakota
California
Kentucky
New York
Virginia
Colorado

I think we can all agree that the states on the left are your boot strappy, real America, old fashioned, conservative red states and those on the right are your socialist, elitist, progressive, liberal blue states. And now that we can agree on that, we can prove that the left side are the 10 biggest net recipients of federal spending and the 10 on the right are the states that give the most and receive the least. Turns out that it's Tea Party states that are suckling the government teet and the Pinko Commie ones that are footing the bill. I don't know how you people sleep at night.

Posted 10:51am
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May 24th , 2011

Double Down

Gamblers refer to it as going on 'tilt'. It's a combination of disgust, disappointment, panic and in some sense, giving up. You usually start to tilt after a bad beat - when you're already counting the money in your head only to have it snatched out from underneath you. So you decide to make a bigger bet to cover that previous loss. You do this several times in increasingly poor situations until you're doubling down on an 8 against a face or re-raising against an obvious pair with your non-suited 2-7. Before you know it you're running to an ATM to cover your losses (hopefully not to try and make more stupid bets to win a little back.)

I've been there several times. It's like getting smacked with a hangover. All of a sudden you "wake up" and realize what just transpired. Your friends are there going "We tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen." as you try to make sense of why you - a sensible person - would fall so far, so fast down a path of increasingly poor decisions. Every so often you can feel it happen to you. This doesn't mean you can stop it, it still washes over you, but you experience it in a "this is happening' sort of way. An experienced gambler can always see it happening to someone else. I actually watched a friend of mine during his first trip to Vegas go from betting $10 a hand at blackjack to losing $1000 in his first HOUR on the Strip. That was a serious tilt.

Of course we can all see it happen with booze. We've watched our friends order that drink that we know is going to push them over the edge. If we're nice, we warn them or ask them if they're OK with not remembering the rest of the night, but once you go over, there's no going back. All you can do in either situation is hope you make it through the experience without losing your shirt - literally or figuratively.

As much as I made fun of everyone who thought the world was going to end on Saturday, I did feel a little bad for some of them. I felt bad because they all have jackasses in their lives not unlike myself who are going to hold it over their heads for eternity. And surely they are all sitting around asking "Why did I go all in?" or "I don't remember anything after that third shot of tequila." The parent in me wants to pat them on the back and say "Well, we learned an important lesson, didn't we?"

Except for Harold Camping. His tilt is still TOTALLY on. His bender is infinite. He's doubling down with a double vodka soda in his hand. Turns out that Saturday was a "silent rapture" or "Invisible Judgment Day." The world is totally still going to end on October 21st. Ack. Harold, you've officially gone from the guy who's charming and entertaining with his antics to someone who needs help. And not of the getting saved by Jesus variety.

- Texas FTW. I always kinda love, kinda hate these hidden camera moral dilemmas. I love them because I smugly sit back in my certitude, knowing that I'd say something were I in that situation. But I also think they tend to escalate them beyond what is necessary. In any case, Texas proves to be OK with the gays. Cheers y'all.

Posted 11:05am
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May 23rd , 2011

Moving on.

Surprise! Still here! Well we here at tbaggervance.com were going to be here no matter what, it was just a question of whether or not the seas turned to blood and if we needed to put up our industrial strength mosquito net to keep the locusts at bay. As it stands the weather outside is perfect and since about 1500A.D., it's science 1,425,302 religion 12. Moving on...

- It turns out that even his fans at his own website realize that Bill O'Reilly got bitch slapped by Jon Stewart over the Common appearance. Knives to gun fights and all that.

- It appears that there's still a chance that Goldman Sachs et al won't get away with deliberately losing your money to make more for themselves. Of course much like the followers of Harold Camping, I'm prepared to be disappointed.

- Summer generally means watching even less TV, but we make exceptions for Larry David. My favorite part was the top comment at the bottom of the page (when I read it anyway): ANOTHER Jewish TV Show for Jews by Jews ~ b o r i n g I imagine that comment making Larry very happy.

- Trump's not running. Neither is Huckabee. Daniels opted out and Newt sank faster than the Indianapolis. LJV favorite and Pizza King Herman Cain has less knowledge of the West Bank than the anti-semite who hates Larry David in the above thread. I'm still hoping that Palin or Bachmann catches fire and shit gets wacky, but let's be honest - TPaw is gonna take this bullet Bob Dole style.

Posted 10:52am
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May 20th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine edition)

- As you all assuredly know already, tomorrow is the rapture. It's scheduled for 6pm, and if the mighty bearded one is one thing it's prompt. Luckily, according to his messenger here on Earth, Harold Camping, it takes place at 6pm local time around the world. This means that if he is right, we'll know for sure when Australia ceases to exist, and we can finally party like there's no tomorrow, because there won't be.

- Camping has his followers, like this guy who's obviously sitting at home crossing all of his fingers and toes that he didn't spend his entire life savings for nuthin'.

- Camping can be said to be a lot of things, but original isn't one of them, as his boogeyman for all of this: the gays.

- Of course Camping and the believers will be saved and brought up to heaven while we suffer some cruel fate for our lack of faith. At least we'll be in good company, as the National Academy of Sciences will be full, and the jails empty.

- Apparently Sarah Palin's hometown of Wasilla, AK will be saved too, as they've kept "Bohemian Rhapsody" out of graduation ceremonies - because it was written by a gay.

- Not saved - the good people of Delaware, as they recently legalized same sex civil unions. From the sounds of it, that place is going to P-A-R-T-Y tomorrow.

- Good ol' Texas is up in arms over a man who has a 'replica' of Michaelangelo's David in his front yard. Now I'm no prude and displaying some classical sculpture is your own gosh darn bidness. The fact that they're acting like it's a three foot double ended dildo holding up his mailbox is laughable. What ISN'T funny at all is calling that thing a 'replica' much less refering to it in the same breath as Michaelangelo's masterpiece. It's like calling a Thomas Kinkade a Monet. Painter of light my ass.

- Finally, bad news for the armageddonists - Stephen Hawking says heaven is a fairy tale for people who are scared of the dark. Now I don't know what Mr. Camping's credentials are, but Dr. Hawking was on The Simpsons. The Simpsons people. In Camping's corner - former child star and current religious loon Kirk Cameron, who in the space of two paragraphs calls Stephen fucking Hawking 'unscientific' TWICE and THEN has the audacity to try and defend his position by invoking John Lennon. At least I think that's what he was doing, God didn't bestow a lot of logical elloquence on the guy. In any case, I say to him "How dare you?" and "Good day sir." I said good day.

Posted 9:46am
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May 19th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- Our hatred of the world's most milquetoast musical wonder Coldplay is well documented 'round these parts. We also recently showed (scientifically!) how their fans are frigid and asexual. I suppose it can be spun that on a positive note, they are definitely excellent drivers. Although if I hear Chris Martin's voice I'm likely to steer the car into a goddamn bridge embunkment.

- Here's a little Maritime performance video for that ass.

- In our list of oft repeated rock lyrics last week, we inadvertently missed Ted Leo's brilliant "Bottled in Cork," in which he closes the song by repeating "Tell the bartender, I think I'm falling in love" 21 times. As an apology, here he is performing it solo acoustically.

- I'm compiling another list, this one of the greatest vibraslap players of all time. Here it is:

1. John McCrea

If you know of any others, drop them in the comments section.

- I've been told countless times that I'm missing out by not watching Parks and Recreation. I tried, like twice. But I honestly don't really care for anyone on that show. Not Amy Pohler. Not Aziz Ansari. Not Rashida Jones. I do like Adam Scott and Aubrey Plaza though. And I love that in this clip they name check Jeff Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel. Those things, plus the cool people who tell me it's good, make me want to watch it, but somehow I still feel meh.

- Hey! It turns out Clap Your Hands Say Yeah didn't disolve into the ether! I really hope I like the new album, because their debut was my jam and I think I decided to punch myself in the junk rather than listen to their second album twice.

- Finally, the lineup for the Austin City Limits Festival was just announced and man, does it suck. I'll give 'em Stevie Wonder, but the next two acts I ACTIVELY HATE (Coldplay call back!) The BDGF and I discussed going to this and almost pulled the trigger because we really want to go back to Austin and this festival is historically so good, but there is a collective sigh of relief around our house because man, we did we dodge a bullet on this.

Posted 11:00am
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May 18th , 2011

You're doing it wrong...

- Last week downtown A2 was shut down for several hours - because of a press kit for the movie Thor. OK it got exacerbated by someone calling in an actual bomb threat, but really? The road flare and wristwatch bomb from Tommy Boy was more believable.

- Rick Santorum is an ass hat. A rank ideologue of both the conservative and religious ilk, he is famous for the following:

- Trying to add an amendment into No Child Left Behind that would call for the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools.
- Hating gay people, specifically equating homosexual acts to pedophilia, incest and bestiality. He noted sodomy laws exist to prevent acts that "undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family."
- This led to columnist (and a personal hero of mine) Dan Savage to perform one of the greatest and most successful Google bomb campaigns of all time. Go ahead and Google Santorum. I dare you.
- Stating over and over again that there's no right to privacy in the constitution.

Now Mr. Santorum has another gem to add to his list of greatest hits. Santorum - who has never served in the military and hasn't even held public office for four years, simultaneously claimed that not only did he know more about the lead up to the bin Laden capture than John McCain, but that John McCain doesn't understand torture. Yeah, you read that right. Go fuck yourself Rick Santorum.

- The BDGF is a Mac person, and I am not. This is mostly due to the fact that her work provides her with Apple products and mine does not. I still have an iPhone and iPod, but I work in IT and service PCs all day long, thus I have grown accustomed to their ways. And while I don't want to badmouth Apple too much - like I said I use their products and if I had unlimited funds and/or worked in video or photo editing, I'd go with Macs too - let's talk about the tyranny of Steve Jobs. It comes down to this - Steve Jobs wants you to use his products the way he wants you to use them. He's thought of everything, OK? So please don't upgrade or add on or tweak in anyway. I can't even change the ringtone on my iPhone without Jobs approval (or jailbreaking it and voiding the warranty). Now you can't even swap out a failed hard drive without an Apple authorized service center. I guess this is all OK if you want the simplest solution to your computing needs possible and never bother to learn anything or customize an experience to your own proclivities, but it's a slap in the face to those of us who know what we're doing. I suppose it all puts coin in his coffers though, so I guess I'm the idiot.

- Finally, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is doing his best to claim the throne atop mount douche bag. His latest salvo is to take away gay couples hospital visitation rights. I hope all of his children grow up to become gay heads of unions.

Posted 10:09am
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May 17th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'

- The race to be the GOP nominee has more people running away from it than towards it as of late. Barbour? Dead. Huckabee? Dead. Trump? Well Trump was a zombie candidate from the flop but for lack of a better turn of phrase let's call him dead. If you're a Republican, you're either going to end up with crazy (Bachmann, Palin, Santorum) or milquetoast (Pawlenty, Daniels) as your savior from Obama's socialist tyranny (we won't waste our breath of Newt here, as he's part crazy, part milquetoast - which might make him a super candidate if it weren't for all the wife cheatin'.) Anyway here's your GOP candidate bracket for 2012. I've been arguing for a while now that if you are a Republican, vote for crazy this time around. Not just because it'll be entertaining, but I think Obama is going to be neigh on impossible to beat in 18 months. If you go milquetoast now, you're going to see a classic overcorrect towards crazy in 2016 when you could win. My point is that since you appear to be sans viable candidate, so get Bachmann out of the way so that you can get serious when the field is wide open. But also because it would be super fun and the blog would write itself for a year.

- Speaking of crazy, a teenager has challenged Michelle Bachmann to Constitutional Debate. Insert your knife to a gunfight joke here, noting that Michelle's drawer is full of knives that are duller than a Tim Pawlenty dinner party.

- Would be savior of the GOP Chris Christie has been out working on his bona fides by displaying his lack of knowledge of he Constitution, legal precedent and case law by saying that the teaching of Creationism should be decided at "the local level". No word on if he feels the same way about the teaching of the Pythagorean theorem, Newtonian physics, or if his head will ever be fat enough to have its own specific gravity.

- I know we weren't going to mention Newt, but he out-Christied the NJ this week by calling for a "Poll Test" on American History in order to be able to vote. Is this most ironic because a.) legal immigrants who get to vote have already passed a test that requires a vast knowledge of American history or b.) Newt is showing a huge lapse in his knowledge of the subject, seeing how this has been illegal for over 50 years. Or is it merely racist?

- If there's one thing that's for sure, Fox News is more afraid of black people than I am of simultaneously going bald and becoming allergic to alcohol. Jon Stewart pointed out their hypocrisy over the Common nontroversy and then went on Bill O'Reilly and tore him a new asshole - figuratively and debate style. Hey, as long as they can point to Michael Steele and the Godfather's Pizza guy, I suppose I'm the asshole.

- Unrelated to the GOP and their official news network, here's a great piece by Matt Taibbi about how everyone in government (save maybe Michigan Senator Carl Levin) is an ineffectual asshole when it comes to Wall Street, and the entirety of Goldmann Sachs should have their dicks ripped off and placed on pikes in financial districts throughout the land. I really hope we prosecute these fuckers.

- Finally, years ago my brother and I tried to see who could name all fifty states using nothing but a pen and a piece of paper in under 10 minutes. Here's a much easier version, what with the map in front of you and all. You should be able to beat my time of 6:06 left on the clock, since I spent a good 30-45 seconds convinced that Massachusetts had another e in it. Finish in under 3:00 and Newt might let you vote for a rich white guy this fall.

Posted 11:20am
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May 16th , 2011

Sam Seaborn, Toby Ziegler, tbaggervance.

I am perplexed, like I imagine most writers, at the prospect of writing in someone else's voice. Over half a dozen years of spewing this bullshit, I like to think I've found my own, but every now and again I even feel like that's just a trick of fifty cent words and vitriol that I stir in a pot and serve to a soup kitchen of customers that's going to read whatever I post out of a sense of obligation and voyeurism, coupled with a hope that I mention their name or have recently gotten drunk and done something inappropriate that they can make fun of me about. Don't get me wrong, I'll take it, but to call that writing is generous.

So when Amy started to plan Uncle Jason's graduation party* and tapped the BDGF's youngest as a keynote speaker, I knew I was going to be tasked with something I hadn't pondered in decades - writing for someone else.

I wrote a couple plays and scenes in junior high and high school - but those were mostly exercises in in-jokes and a way to make something rote vaguely interesting. Shortly after college I tried my hand at screenplay writing, but again, that was in-jokes and time killing. Putting your words in someone else's mouth is a tricky business. My mother used to edit my papers in high school and she would turn to me and say "this doesn't make sense". At which point I would yell "You don't make sense!" and rip the paper** from her hands, even if she was right.

So I assume all of you know me, and are familiar enough with my cadence to read every word I type in the same style and vernacular as I intended - the same as if I was reading it to you. Please, allow me my delusions. But now I was mired in speech writing. And the worst kind of speech writing at that - writing for someone with a limited vocabulary and has at times trouble tackling multi-syllabic words. It was like being asked to write W's 'Mission Accomplished' speech.

But I had a few variables on my side. The speech was to be titled "On the Jedi way.." meaning I got to crib liberally from Lucas and Kasdan. And the speaker was someone who was as much in love with Star wars as I am, meaning that once you gave her the appropriate reference, everything fell into place.

Given said variables, I decided to write something as nearly as I would were I the one delivering the text. I figured we'd set the bar impossibly high and go from there. So I banged out a few paragraphs and set them in front of the BDGF to tell me I was crazy. She analytically read the words, said something akin to "Oh boy..", offered a few of her always on the spot edits and said "it's good." In my typical self-deprecating manner I took this as 'abject failure' but made her suggested edits, saved and closed the file, forgetting that this was approximately four days before the event the speech was meant to be delivered at.

Enter Thursday - t-minus 48 hours until the event. The BDGF asked if I have printed out the text yet. Thinking she's merely stroking my ego, I ran upstairs to make a copy. What followed, in my estimation, is nothing short of Annie Sullivan territory. The youngest started to practice the text, tripping over words and asking questions about where each individual line actually came from. She created a podium and stage on top of our coffee table. She read those words more than I've read anything in my life. The results of which are this.

We worry about the littlest from time to time - about her penchant for dyslexia and delayed development in certain areas. But I know for certain that I couldn't have done that at 8 years old. And NO ONE loved Star Wars more than I did. In so many ways the littlest is a force to be reckoned with, and after Saturday, those who doubt it do so at their own peril.

Here's the test of the actual speech. She delivered it flawlessly but I give it to you only in deference to the iPhones inability to record things as well as the littlest speaks publicly. I am in awe of her. I couldn't have done it better myself. The force is strong with this one...

Hmm. Woodruff's. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. So what, you may ask, is a Jedi such as myself doing here? I'm here to teach these graduates the lessons of the Force - that which surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. As these padawan take their first step into a larger world, I'm here to remind them what it takes to be a Jedi.

1. First off, do or do not. There is no try. A Jedi has the most serious commitment to finish what he starts, even if it takes 17 years.

2. You're eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them. For example, size matters not. Judge me by my size, do you? The force is my ally. Powerful am I and capable of anything. So can you if you take the time to see things as they are.

3. Remember that fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering. In times of trouble, sometimes only what you take with you can lead to failure. Be not afraid and believe in yourself - otherwise that is why you fail.

4. These aren't the droids you're looking for. OK, that's not a lesson, I just always wanted to say that.

5. Finally, adventure? Excitement? A Jedi craves not these things. The Force can guide you and steer you clear from the path to the dark side, but only if you stay focused and away from bars in Ypsilanti.

So mind what you have learned. Save you it can. The next time you feel a disturbance in the force it may be me checking in on you. Don't let your abilities make you arrogant, for that leads to the dark side. Always in motion is the future, but with a serious mind and fierce commitment, a Jedi you will become. May the force be with you.

*Where's Chuckie's HuffPo article?
** Before the age of the internet and everyone having a computer, we'd exchange sheets of paper with words written on them so that people could see what we had to say and comment on them. Weird, right?

Posted 10:22am
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May 13th , 2011

tbaggervance.com's 2011 Guide to Summer

Years ago this feature started as a repository for all the myriad things to due in and around SE Michigan FOR FREE during the summer months. Lots of communities had festivals and cook offs and concerts to celebrate being out of doors with a beer in your hand. But alas, the economy being what it is, most of them are now defunct. Taste of Detroit (where I saw Spoon and The New Pornographers) - dead. It used to take me forever to scour all of the neighborhood festivals in Chicago where you might get a Matthew Sweet or minor indie rock sensation to randomly show, but now they have gone the way of the dodo. As such, we're now including a lot of events that are going to cost you some coin. May I suggest going the flask route to subsidize these ticket prices by avoiding $8 Bud Lights. You're welcome.

Edward Money
May 27
Pine Knob
If spring starts when Oberon is released, summer starts when Eddie starts prowl the former snow covered slopes of Pine Knob. You can get the full Pine Knob schedule here, as well as Meadowbrook's here.

Electronic Music Festival
May 28-30
Detroit
I don't know what happens here, I'm assuming it's a lot like when they went to that rave on Dawson's Creek. Anyway, it's supposedly a big deal.

New Music Mondays
May 23 - July 25
Chicago
Chi-town still has some money, as witnessed by this super cool summer long festival. I highly recommend Ted Leo and the Pharmacists on July 25th.

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week
June 12 - 17
Ann Arbor
Not free, but greatly reduced prices on the finest eateries in the Deuce.

Top of the Park
June 17 - July 10
Ann Arbor
This A2 staple will never die. This year I am most looking forward to Chris Bathgate opening for Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If you had access to a car like this, would you take it back right away? Neither would I.

Sonic Lunch
June 2 - Aug 25
Ann Arbor
OK so when I said communities ran out of money, I mostly meant Detroit. Get downtown on Thursdays and spend your lunch break with local goodness.

Detroit River Days
June 23 - 26
Detroit
No word on a lineup yet, but count on a bunch of Motown people coupled with rides worthy of a country fair.

Fourth of July
Duh
Everywhere
Here's a listing of all the fireworks displays in Michigan on and around our nation's birthday.

MI Elvis Fest
July 8 - 9
Ypsilanti
I've never been, mostly because I find fat Elvis's sexuality oddly disturbing.

Common Ground Festival
July 10 - 17
East Lansing
A2 gives you local bands for free, ELansing gives you washed up rockers for exorbitant prices. Schedule is still in flux, but previous years have featured the likes of Huey Lewis and Stone Temple Pilots. This year they've already nabbed the Charlie Daniels Band, so cross your fingers.

Pitchfork Music Festival
July 15 -17
Put on your finest hipster duds for the snobbiest music festival of them all! Cheaper than Lolla, and anymore, more bands that I want to see.

Ann Arbor Art Fair
July 20 - 23
Ann Arbor
Run away! Run away!

Beerfest
July 22 - 23
Ypsilanti
My favorite day of every summer. Hundreds of craft beers from the Great Beer State. Here's hoping Sid passes his driver's test the first time so he can be my DD.

Lollapalooza
August 5 - 7
Chicago
Lolla seems to have lost some of its luster as of late. This year's lineup is a snoozer.

Woodward Dream Cruise
August 20
Detroit
Also known as "Stay out of Detroit" weekend.

Arts, Beats & Eats
Labor Day Weekend
Royal Oak
AB&E had to move out of Plymouth and into Royal Oak to survive. They don't announce their lineup until mid-summer, but I once saw Sloan here for free, so know hope.

Posted 10:22am
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May 12th , 2011

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I've been ruminating on this for a while, and I'm finally ready to put it out there for you all so you can fill in the gaps of that which are obvious yet I neglected to think of. I think this started while listening to Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone", in which Mr. Whithers repeats the phrase "I know" 26 times during the bridge. My cataloging brain decided to find other songs where a word or phrase is repeated over and over again that's a.) Not a chorus b.) Not the name of the song c.) Not part of some sing a long background vocals (no "Hey Jude" "na na na"s or "Sympathy for the Devil" "Hoo hoo"s) Here's my puny list. Make me feel dumb, or more likely, submit something in the comments that I will dismiss on a technicality.

Wilco - Misunderstood
Jeff Tweady would like to thank you for "Nothin' at all" - so much so that he repeats the word "nothin'" 12 times.

Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name
Rage loves to repeat lyrics, but never more so than in this song, where Zack yells "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" 16 times, and "And now you do what they told ya" 25 times.

Bill Whithers - Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone
Bill reminds us that "(he) knows" the song title is a double negative 26 times.

The Beatles - Blue Jay Way
John Lennon begs us to "Don't be long" 29 times at the end of the song.

Radiohead - Sit Down, Stand Up
Thom Yorke reverberates like a mental patient "The rain drops" a whopping 47 times - all in a row.

So what did I miss?

Posted 1:40pm
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May 11th , 2011

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

- I am easily sucked in when the internet provides me opportunities to test my trivia knowledge or look at some weird Star Wars parody/mash up. When these two things collide, watch out! I feel pretty good about getting 86/111 on Leia's Hologram Test, but then again going in I was confident I could get them all. Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

- Florida's dipshit Governor's inane principled loss is our gain! Michigan gets a big sweaty wad of money to upgrade its rail lines between Detroit and Chicago. I've taken the train to Chi-town before and it is awesome. Now that the ride will supposedly be 30 minutes shorter, it may be time to revisit the rails.

- Hey! Guess what? Here's more evidence that torture is both morally reprehensible AND ineffective. And I say more in the sense that it adds to the only actual evidence on either side of the debate, other than John Yoo talking out his ass and Dick Cheney being so scared of terrorism that he doesn't know what to do other than slap at it. Methinks thou doth protest too much.

- I love this sentiment: "How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around?"  I love this kid even more, and England even MORE for ignoring him. Here at home, Fox News has people on the air saying that "women are asking for sex by dressing immodestly." No word on whether that British kid was horny and just trolling for ass.

- Finally, we kicked off the 2011 softball campaign last night with a 20-0 3 inning blow out. OK so the team we were playing shouldn't exactly be playing in our league, but having to only play 3 innings when coming off 10 months of not swinging a bat or sitting in a crouch - well let's just say my body is grateful. Of course I'm still a little sore, which somehow makes me more depressed over the aging process.

Posted 11:38am
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May 10th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- This post is necessitated by the fact that NPR is currently streaming the soundtrack to The Book of Mormon. Who knows how long it will be up, so check it out ASAP. It is incredible.

- They're also streaming the Jack White/Norah Jones/Dangermouse Ennio Morricone inspired western song cycle Rome. And people want to defund NPR. Fuckwads.

- In honor of Ennio: The Good - The Black Keys cover Buddy Holly. The Bad - Miley Cyrus covers Nirvana. The Ugly - MTV has decided to bring back 120 Minutes. You are officially old when something that was influential to you in your formative years has been gone long enough to be brought back nostalgically by the public at large. I figured Matt Pinfield would be 80 by now.

- Hey no promises or anything, but The Pixies may or may not make new music at some point in the future.

- For a super nerd crossover event of Infinite Crisis proportions, here's Craig Finn talking fantasy baseball. Sweeeeeeeeeeet...

- Someday I'm sure the BDGF's love for Jack White will drag us to Nashville so that we can visit Third Man Records. I just hope something like this is going down when it does.

- Best. RickRoll. Ever. (HT - Stov)

- I'm fairly intrigued by the idea of cloud based music services, and I'm anxious for Google and Apple to get rolling on it so I don't have Greetings from Asbury Park on my phone if I decide I really need to hear "Blinded by the Light". Well Google is suppose launch their version today, although 20,000 songs doesn't sound like a lot, and I won't hold my breath waiting for an iPhone app.

- Finally, not a week goes by where one of the Wondertwins expresses their ignorance about something that I feel should be part of their education already and I start a "What exactly are they teaching you in school?" rant. Well they may not be able to identify themes of Americanism in The Great Gatsby, they certainly aren't these dunderheads. If only more parents beat their children with rulers when they don't know all of the words to "Hey Jude" we wouldn't have this problem.

Posted 10:03am
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May 9th , 2011

Weekend Roundup

- Tina Fey hosted SNL this weekend, which means this old chestnut got trotted out. I'm personally moving on to Michelle Bachmann and hoping God is listening.

- For those of you counting on tbaggervance.com to keep you abreast of the douche bag who ran over a bunch of ducks with his Hummer, I gots your back.

- If you happen to watch commercials, you may have seen this new ad for It Gets Better, that's actually an ad for Google Chrome. If you're like me and DVR everything but sports (and if you're watching sports commercial breaks are for the restroom and getting another beer) thus haven't seen a commercial in years, you should check it out, as both things it promotes are awesome. Plus, crybabies like me will tear up over it.

- Finally, for Mother's Day I had Aunt Amy take some pics of the kids, to remind their mother of how angelic they can be when they're not being needy, sticky monsters. Happy Mother's Day sweetheart.

Posted 11:18am
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May 6th , 2011

Happy Mothers Day

I know it's not until Sunday, but I don't post on Sundays, so Happy Mothers Day to all the Moms out there and all the Moms to be. You are the one irreplaceable thing on this earth.

It feels inappropriate to talk about my mother in anything but reverent terms. She loved me. She raised me. She sacrificed in ways that I as a parent have never had to contemplate. We rarely saw eye to eye yet she let me be whatever it was I thought I needed to be at the time. This despite, in many instances, her better judgment. For those things and so many more I owe her in ways that I will never be able to repay.

But hap and circumstance being what they were, I went through some ugly shit with my mother. Of course there were shouting matches and vile hatred on my part for what I saw at the time as her stifling my social agenda, but those were (mostly) the product of the time - i.e. me being an adolescent asshole and not seeing the protection and keeping a son from ending up dead in a ditch as love.

The actual ugly stuff was watching someone you care about waste away for a period of months. Performing tasks of hygiene and care that a son shouldn't have to endure for his mother, and certainly not before one is thirty. Sitting with someone you knew for your entire life as vibrant and alive be barely coherent for only a few hours a day, and never lucid for any or them is seventh circle level torture. I've wished a lot of people ill in my life for myriad reasons, but never - even if I ever imagined it before experiencing it - would I curse anyone with such a fate.

The upshot of it all - if one exists - is that after a dark period where we thought all was lost, there was a respite of glorious summer by this new concoction of medications. What was once a few brief moments of muddled clarity became the former shining beacon of wisdom and caring that I once knew. She joked. She laughed. Most importantly, she provided a last few pearls of wisdom that I so desperately needed.

This is selfish to be sure. We all want our parents approval on some level and having my mother's was something that I had grown to lack. I was an atheist liberal who had fathered a child out of wedlock, and my staunchly Catholic mother was only OK with one of those things. The teenage drinking and smoking were one thing, but the former were brass tacks, and I was beginning to believe that I was going to spend the rest and majority of my life thinking that my mother disapproved of everything I had become by the end of her time on Earth.

My dad always says that the older you get, the smarter your parents are, and I suppose it's a tad ironic that his wife proved him right. One of last times I saw my mother alive she pulled everyone aside individually, because somehow when you're at that stage of demise and you have the luxury of not being hit by a bus you can do that. I sat at her side and we talked. She said a lot of knowing and reassuring things to me, and while she begged me not to cry, through my tears she told me that despite everything - our differences, our misunderstandings, the choices that I made that she didn't agree with - that she knew that it was going to be OK. She said that she knew that I was a good father, that I loved my son and that no matter what happened, I'd take care of him. And that was all she needed.

In the intervening years I've come to believe that while my mother wasn't exactly lying, it also wasn't all she needed. In her infinite wisdom about both myself and life as a whole, she was giving me what I needed most. No matter what she would have said in that moment I would have had a treasure trove of insight and wisdom to guide my parenting experience based solely on the fact that I was lucky enough to have Judy as my mother. But in the end she gave me what I've come to believe matters most - her approval.

Posted 10:23am
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May 5th , 2011

Moral Superiority

Sometime early last decade I was having a discussion with an Ohio State fan prior to the annual game against Michigan and I was drunkenly railing against tosu's penchant for using players of a questionable moral code. This probably stemmed from tosu great Maurice Clarett and his involvement in their mythical national championship. Clarett was a real piece of work. On the field he was constantly arguing with the coaches. He publicly lambasted his university for not flying him across the country to attend a friend's funeral, took thousands of dollars in improper benefits, mislead NCAA investigators and filed false claims to an insurance company. He eventually ended up in jail for armed robbery. And those are just the highlights that gloss over quite a bit of stellar behavior. My friend's point was that I would gladly take Maurice Clarett in exchange for a national championship.

His initial trump card was the fab five. Not being a huge basketball fan, especially in the early 1990s, I didn't have much reaction. Hindsight being what it is, I now can point to how little Ed Martin had to do with the University of Michigan period, how we fired Steve Fischer once things came to light, and ultimately (like I probably did at the time) noted that if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't take those guys for whatever modicum of success we attained because of them. OK, maybe I'd just forgo the unapologetic Webber, as the rest are pretty good guys who did little to nothing wrong outside of being kids and products of an era. Either way, not nearly applicable, especially given the events of the last few months.

As we all know by now, tosu football coach Jim Tressel knowingly covered up his players illegal, deceitful ways. Whether or not this stems back to the problems he had at Youngstown State or with Maurice Clarett or with Troy Smith we'll never know. I've screamed for years (usually as we're getting beat by tosu) that there's a lack of institutional control there. And the reason it always made me so upset (outside of them beating us) was that Tressel was always revered as some saintly figure - above the fray and a model of how a virtuous program operates (all evidence to the contrary). Nothing makes me more apoplectic than hypocrisy, and this was it of the highest order. Even being vindicated doesn't take away my anger of all that time spent shouting at the wind.

I've found myself feeling the same way the past couple of days. President Obama made a campaign promise to redouble the efforts to get Osama bin Laden. This after the former commander in chief admitted to not thinking that much about him, and Obama's presidential rival saying it wasn't that important. Now that everyone universally agrees that this was a significant, important accomplishment, former Bush officials are using it to justify their illegal and immoral policies. It's the most egregious case of post hoc ergo proctor hoc I've ever seen and it makes my head want to explode.

The op-ed page of the NYTimes says it better than I possibly could.
Torture is unconscionable. There's a reason the term Machiavellian is a pejorative. To take the success of your successor - accomplishing something you failed to do - and using it not only as a point of pride but to justify your failed policies that are not only morally abhorrent, but both put American lives at risk and served as recruiting tools for our enemies, should land you in the ninth concentric circle of hell with Count Ugolino.

The ultimate point is any college freshman can tell you that The Prince is a cautionary tale. I wouldn't suffer Maurice Clarett for four straight National Championships, and I won't ever trade torture to see the world's most wanted man with a bullet in his brain pan. You can call me soft. You can say I'm righteously indignant. But Michigan won their last National Championship because of Charles Woodson. And Osama sleeps with the fishes because of the giant hanging brain of professorial President Obama and not the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. There's a right way to do things, and to do them otherwise belies the reason we do them at all. That or I love a good high horse.

Posted 9:58am
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May 4th , 2011

Happy Star Wars Day

Today we stop to appreciate all things Ann Arbor. Those not local, feel free to read on in jealousy.

- Today is Star Wars day, so May the Fourth be with you. Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, so if you have young ones that are one with the force, stop by Vault of Midnight, as they usually have Darth Vader and some Storm Troopers hanging out front.

- As an aside, my subtenants at the old downtown apartment are gone, so it's time for some fresh meat. They are coming from California in a little over a week and as a condition of their staying in my swanky downtown pad, I need to provide them with beds. SO - if you have a twin mattress or box spring lying around that I could borrow for a couple months, I would be eternally* grateful.

- While one can debate the relative merits of mocking your enemies during a losing streak as opposed to maintaining your position above the fray**, I love this.

- Here's a nice feature from Hour Detroit about our beloved Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair.

- This summer's Top of the Park schedule has been announced. Bathgate, NOMO, Back to the Future and Footloose. Hooray!

- Most importantly Ann Arborites - Saturday is the annual e-waste recycling day at the Pioneer parking lot. If you have old TVs, VCRs, computers, phones, bundles of useless cords - 1.) gather them up and throw them in the trunk of your vehicle. 2.) Drive to the Pioneer lot on Saturday. 3.) Pop your trunk and some nice gentlemen will remove said items 4.) Drive away smiling. It's an awesome service that happens ONCE A YEAR. I can't stress this enough because last year I asked the BDGF "Is there anything in the house that could go to e-cycling this weekend?" She replied with an "I don't think so" and now I've had a printer, 5-disc CD changer, half a dozen old phones and a Nintendo 64 piled in my garage for 11 months. It's cold and rainy out - do a sweep through your storage areas for crap and get rid of it Saturday as opposed to throwing it in a dumpster next time you move because you were lazy on a Wednesday night in May.

* eternally = until such a time that I can repay you by buying you a beer.

** And by 'one' I mean 'one whose allegiances are to Michigan', as tOSU and State fans were never above anything.

Posted 10:43am
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May 3rd , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- This is low hanging fruit, I know, but please, witness first hand the harassment and intimidation endured by those who who try to circumvent the eye of Xenu.

- This, well this is kind of unbelievable in the fact that a.) it's 2011b.) said by a Congressman c.) Couched in both religious ideology bullshit AND a call for austerity. Maybe it's just me, but when I hear men decry becoming subservient to women I think one thing and one thing only - homo.

- It's getting harder and harder to find a quality lawyer to defend your denial of a citizen's rights. If this isn't stopped, all women will become lesbians. Which, if you're going to witness the end of the human race, I think this is the sexiest of all outcomes.

- The God particle remains elusive, and may only be revealed to us by Jesus during the rapture, which is coming May 21, 2011. I predict when he returns on his flaming chariot, he will tell us that science is 100% right about the origins of life on Earth, and that everyone spreading hate and fear in his name should fuck themselves.

- I don't know why anyone would need an instruction manual for masturbation, but apparently after 10 years on the shelf, someone got upset that it was in an elementary school. This is apparently the polar opposite of Tennessee, who is trying to go the Don't Ask, Don't Tell route on the mere existence of homosexuality. Let's see how that works, shall we? I promise to completely reevaluate my thoughts on the matter if everyone in the state is straight in 10 years.

- Finally kudos to Toledo, Ohio - home of the Mud Hens, Tony Packos, Loma Lindas and the "Being Gay is a gift from God" Central United Methodist Church. Next time you feel a little xenophobic, homophobic or jingoistic - remember that God don't make no junk.

Posted 2:11pm
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May 2nd , 2011

What happened to all the Royal Wedding coverage?

On May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy stood before Congress and challenged America to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. 2,979 days later, Neil Armstrong complied, shouting "I'm on the motherfucking moon!" or something to that effect. On September 18, 2001, in the wake of the worst terrorist attack our country has ever known, George W. Bush promised we would bring Osama Bin Laden to justice, dead or alive. 3,593 days later that son of a bitch ate a bullet thanks to the CIA and years of thankless dedication of thousands of servicemen and women. My only point is that next time you want to show your frustration over the lack of progress we've made as a society, throw out your man on the moon analogy. Por ejemplo: Replace "They can put a man on the moon but they can't make a Hot Pocket that's not lava hot on the outside yet frozen in the middle?" with "They can hunt down Osama Bin Laden but they can't make a Hot Pocket that's not lava hot on the outside yet frozen in the middle?" Because hey, it took longer.

It was kind of weird in the moment. The BDGF and I were hanging out when her oldest came out to inform us, almost quizzically "Osama Bin Laden is dead?" When I went to tell Sid, he said "Yeah, somebody typed that on the message board of the game I'm playing." Then turning on the news and watching people celebrate - it felt odd. I've obviously got zero sympathy for the man or anyone whom he ever so much as shook hands with, it just felt sort of hallow. And again, don't get me wrong, I'm also mostly wondering if Obama is going to hold up Bin Laden's severed head in front of Trump to see if it will turn him to stone. In any event he's dead, and if anyone ever deserved it, it was that fuck face.

- My literal first thought when I heard the news was "Hello second term, President Obama." Imminently smarter than me Nate Silver says not so fast.

- Still a good week for the Prez though. First he long forms his opponents, then he kills at the Correspondents dinner, now this:

- College students celebrated the only way they know how - by being drunken idiots. Somewhere in East Lansing, a couch is still smoldering in celebration.

- GOP presidential candidates react, from respectful Romney and Pawlenty to "Sharia" Michelle Bachmann.

- For the complete story - and I mean seven entire pages complete - of why that fucker got what was coming to him, read the NYTimes obit.

Posted 10:03am
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April 29th , 2011

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

- I wouldn't normally take time about of my busy day to deliberately intake advertising, but there's so many good names involved in this, that I made an exception. Which I will always do for Paul F. Tompkins, and have yet to be disappointed. I highly recommend a visit to their youtube channel, as there's a ton of good stuff. Let this be the last assuaging of the guilt over not buying a Ford.

- This sounds like the kind of lefty crap that usually spills out of my mouth:

The United States has embraced an entirely wrong set of priorities, particularly with regard to its federal budget. We have overreacted to Islamic extremism. We have pursued military solutions instead of political ones. We are underinvesting in the real sources of national power - our youth, our infrastructure and our economy. The United States sees the world through the lens of threats, while failing to understand that influence, competitiveness and innovation are the key to advancing American interests in the modern world.

What's the source? The DOD. Specifically, two top ranking members of the Joint Chiefs. Know hope.

- This is perhaps my favorite story of all time. Privileged asshole teenager (Dillon Robert Pearce, with a a face to match) goes to McDonalds in daddy's Hummer for some fries. Him and his douche bag friends see some ducks in the parking lot and start to fuck with them. Diligent McD's employees scare them off initially, only to see them return minutes later to RUN OVER THE DUCKS IN THEIR HUMMER. Comeuppance came quickly as he was immediately arrested and now faces up to four years in prison. If there is any justice in the world, he'll serve every day of that sentence, and members of the Sierra Club will deliberately get arrested so they can infiltrate his prison to sodomize him with various forms of taxidermy.

- I swoon! Chuck Klosterman and Craig Finn on the same stage! And the first question in the Klosterquiz involves Tom Brady!

When people tell me to go to my happy place, I'm in a bar with those three guys, talking about relational Star Wars theories and debating what was a more satisfying experience - hearing the White Album for the first time or Michigan's 1997 National Championship season. Again, swoon.

- Last night the BDGF's first and second graders performed a musical version of the Three Little Pigs and I was lucky enough to score a ticket. It was super cute and I didn't get physically mobbed or interrogated by schoolkids as the evening was a whirlwind and it was the first time I saw them as a collective and they had any idea who I was. I do not expect the same experience next time. And as a bonus, after trading seats with me back and forth countless times leading up to the show, the BDGF's littlest decided to just sit on my lap and do running commentary during the actual performance. We were in the last row, but I had the best seat in the house.

Posted 11:04am
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April 27th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- Here's some more new Death Cab for you to lament. There's also a plethora of tour dates that I thankfully don't have to buy a pair of tickets to and beg someone to go with me.

- There's new music on the horizon from Wilco and The Shins, which will hopefully be better news than new DCFC ditties.

- As noted above, it's sad that even your favorite bands can be a roll of the dice these days. I hated the last Wilco album so much that I barely look forward to the next entry, should it be at all similar to their last shit sandwich. Now that Death Cab sounds like Air Supply, I'm apprehensive to even dip a toe in new albums from bands that once meant the world to me. Thank Christ for the Beastie Boys. Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 is streaming on their website and it is fanfunkytastic. It's reassuring that some things never change.

- Here's a review from the AV Club of Chris Bathgate's new album. I haven't purchased it yet (that's right - I said purchase) but I intend to and so should you.

- Lollapalooza announced its lineup the other day. I'm not a festival guy, but that looks pretty anemic to me and I'm not even a little tempted. Plus two words: Coldplay headlining. We all know Chris Martin and I should never be in the same place at the same time, cause shit would get ugly.

- With all do apologies, I failed to inform you that yesterday was They Might Be Giants Appreciation Day. However I have no doubt that an audience as hip and informed as mine already appreciates TMBG in the proper manner, which is alot. You should go listen to your copy of Flood anyway, just to show your respect.

- Finally, here's an indie rock cred test that I will admit reads like someone spitballing jokes for a roast of yours truly. I mean, you only have to get to number two: Do you get irrationally pissy when you hear that a release you want is MP3 only? Yes, yes I do.

Posted 11:02am
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April 26th , 2011

Oh the places you'll go!

Editors note: I edited! For realsies! This was written in a sloppy fit late last night and I just rewrote a lot of it. I tell you this because as you read on you'll a.) see that I just patted myself on the back for exploring new areas and b.) notice that I am a terrible editor. Toodles!

In the past few years I've been called complacent, an optimist and not a red head. It can be argued that at least two of these things aren't remotely derogatory, and the first only through a certain lens that wasn't necessarily meant when it was proffered. The problem is that I've never seen myself as any of those things, so I always vehemently deny them. The latter two would seem patently ridiculous to anyone who has known me since I was a teenager (or younger), and the first goes against at the very least what I have strived to be in my adult life. Of course what bothers me is that they all have the air of truth to them.

The least of these is obviously my hair color. I take it as point of fact that my current coiffe barely hints at my former strawberry blonde best. The only qualm I have with the assertion that I'm not a redhead is
that I still suffer the consequences of that fate. Put me in the sun and I combust like a drummer from Spinal Tap. My skin will always be pale, freckles are part of my makeup the same as stardust. OK, those things and the fact that I grew up in a town small enough that being a redhead must mean that you're one of Moe and Judy's kids. I hated growing up in that town but there's something oddly comforting about that fact. And if you ever parrot that statement back to me I will disavow it completely.

The there's the optimism. In the past I've been publicly called a curmudgeon, crabby, surly and angry at the world. I've owned those monikers, and have come to feel that if you don't share my world view, then leave me alone - after I rant about how you're an idiot and summarily dismiss you. But at the same time my world view has changed. Perhaps it's having a kid, maybe it's seeing the awfulness of everything and realizing that you can either see the best of things (hopefully in a non-Panglossian way) and find hope, or be miserable all the time. Whatever the impetus, I suppose I've realized you can both want to be left alone and decide to surround yourself with the people who agree with you while challenging you. The BDGF says she loves that I'm an optimist, so I'm not going to assert the other way too hard.

And that speaks to complacency. I've taken that the hardest because I feel it means that I'm not railing against the status quo. That I'm not actively trying to change things and right the wrongs I see in the world. More than anything I take it internally as I'm not challenging myself and trying become a better person. Complacency is satisfied to a fault. And that's not content, which is only slightly better.

But I suppose I'd take content, pragmatic, former ginger. I'd probably not take issue with any of those assertions. Without getting into it, it speaks to my love of hyperbole and the parsing of semantics as much as anything. But to get into it, it all comes down to object permanence. I love who I was as much as who I am (mullet and all.) I want to be and own who I was as much as I want to continue to evolve. A lot of my friends are graduating for the first time, or considering new jobs or even starting new careers in lieu of staying on the path of least resistance. I am in awe of these people. Whether they do it out of necessity or choice, I not-so-secretly wish I was them.

Being a father at 19 offers a lot of hindsight what-ifs. Time and time again I've chosen the path of security and stability because I saw that as my job as dad. I don't regret any of it mind you - it was the right decision at the time and it's provided me a life where people can call me complacent and even mean it as a compliment. But I look around and wonder whether there are dwindling opportunities to take such a leap. If I am what they say I am, complacency means new ventures aren't in the cards, although optimism could hurl me forward. Under my alternate definitions I'm not much better off. Can you be content and still want new avenues to pursue? Ultimately I suppose I am sometimes complacent, often content, but still desire to throw myself off the cliff now and again. And I think I'm ultimately pragmatic with an optimist's bent - due to the fact that I've been so lucky over the years, history tells me that things have a way of working themselves out. As for being a ginger, well I can always carry a picture of my six year old self in my wallet or spend an afternoon poolside should anyone need convincing.

Posted 11:13am
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April 25th , 2011

What price happiness?

I spent most of the weekend on my death bed. Saturday morning's painful sore throat morphed into Sunday's massive chest cold. I'd still be in bed right now were it not for a huge shitstorm of good times here at work. Normally when I fall ill I usually just point to the BDGF and announce "J'accuse!" because of all of the tiny kid germs she carries home with her everyday turning our house into a CDC incubation unit. But this time it was my fault. Nothing was going to stop me from making this happen:

Due to joint parenting considerations, we had to do our "annual"* Easter egg hunt on Friday. We decided that since the weather had to break any day now, we would incorporate the giving of the scooter into the festivities. A brilliant idea except for the fact that we unwittingly agreed last minute to meet my sister and her family in Frankenmuth on Thursday night, giving us a thin sliver of a time frame to make all of this happen.

So we managed to ditch the girls in Frankenmuth with my sister Friday afternoon so that we could go prep the house and bring the scooter from it's storage place in Stov's garage. Again, brilliant plan except for one thing: the weather. It hadn't broken yet. Turns out upon our return to Ann Arbor it was a balmy 42 degrees and raining, leaving me to ride the 5.4 miles back to our house in anything but amenable conditions.

But ride I did. It took me a good 90 minutes for my core body temperature to return once the scooter was safely home. Couple that with the Pixies show that night and my body said "Enough son." The show was worth the price twice over, and even more so, we had one helluva Easter egg hunt. The kids are excited and thus begins the summer of the great scooter wars, where all four people in the house legally allowed to ride the thing vie to use it on a daily basis. Totally worth putting, as the BDGF puts it, my immune system of a 14 year old girl through its paces.

*technically our first altogether.

Posted 11:10am
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April 21st , 2011

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

- Stov and I like to refer to every Will Ferrel movie that basically isn't Anchorman or Old School as "minor Ferrel". Sure there's other worthwhile stuff in his oeuvre, but there's a huge malaise of meh out there hovering at the ankles of those two giants. I have hope that both of these movies find transcendence. The former seems risky, giving it a chance. The latter could be another Stranger than Fiction, which is easily next in line in his canon as far as I am concerned.

- I hate chain restaurants. This is not a new sentiment around here to be sure, but I saw this list of chain restaurants worth visiting and said "None. The answer is none." Of course I do love Chipotle, so I am a hypocrite.

- As previously noted, I've just started to delve into the British TV show Dr. Who. I wouldn't say I am in love with it, but I am sticking with it because a.) It's intriguing, and b.) if no one sublets my apartment this summer, I'll need to kill a lot of time as I won't be able to afford to leave the house. So please, sublet my place, or start making your case if I should start watching Breaking Bad or The Wire first.

- Tonight is the record release party for Chris Bathgate's latest opus at the Blind Pig. Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance as I'm off to frolic in Frankenmuth with the family for the evening. I know, leave it alone. You don't have to feel sorry for me because in lieu of Bathgate I get Black Francis. Tomorrow we are off to downtown Detroit to watch The Pixies perform Doolittle in its entirety. I am un chein andulsia. Slicing up eyeballs, ha ha ha ho...

- Finally, Happy Easter from Ricky and me.

Posted 10:48am
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April 20th , 2011

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend*.

I buy books for three reasons:

1.) They make me look/feel smarter. It's largely the latter, as I spend more time staring at and perusing my bookshelves than the entirety of humanity combined. I'm usually the only one assessing the relative merit of that which I have decided to intellectually imbibe, but on the off chance I should ever be judged on my tomes, I want to at least seem impressive.

2.) They're cheap. I'll gladly spend an hour or two at a liquidation sale/second hand/discount book store. This is because of subheadings:
     a.) Going back to reason one, to have a lot of book is to appear smart
     b.) I do honestly love books. The smell, the feel - and to piggy back on a.), I just like looking at them.
So I'll gladly pay $2 for something I intend to read someday, and not lose sleep over never getting around to it.

3.) As to support something I feel deserves/needs my money. This is the only point that doesn't make me seem at least a little douche-y, so I saved it for last. I would never pay for Tina Fey's new book. I hear it's great and I love Tina Fey, but that's what libraries are for. But I will always buy the next Chuck Klosterman book, because he's an author and that's it. It's important to me to incentivize him producing more books. This also has to do with subheading:
     a.) These are the books I will read multiple times and lend out over and over again to spread the good word. I think of all the people that have read Scott Pilgrim because of me and it makes me deliriously happy.

I grew up in a town that didn't even have a book store outside of the paperback section of whatever proto-WalMart we had at the time. It says a lot (I hope) that I then decided to live in a town said to have more bookstores per capita than any other city in the US. But they are slowly dwindling. I, for one, don't want them to go. I don't miss CDs. Digital music is inherently 1,000 better. And storing movies on a server and streaming them to my TV is awesome technology. I bet someday I'll go to a Kindle or whatever for ease of use for a lot of my reading. But as a guy with a few hundred vinyl record albums that I listen to on a daily basis, I'll always have books. How else are people who come over suppose to judge me?

*Inside of a dog it's too dark to read

Posted 10:39am
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April 19th , 2011

Inside Baseball

First off, I swear this is not a sports post. Look up the term. But it may be worse, so caveats aside, this may be uninteresting. For years I've almost exclusively wrote the blog at work. If any of my higher ups are reading this, I'm kidding. But even if I weren't, I'm fond of saying that it takes me as long to write the blog as it does to type it. Even for a typist as terrible as I am, that's not long. I've always fancied myself as someone who thinks about things a lot, so the blog has been my outlet for emptying my head of whatever is rattling around inside it. Over the years I like to think I've become more adroit at making that a readable, well thought out exercise, but I leave that to you, dear reader.

Several years ago my good friend Heather read a post I wrote about her exploits (in a thinly veiled manner) and spent the rest of the following year screaming "It's going to end up on his blog!" anytime anything interesting happened. I can say now that she's right, if a little solipsistic. Everything that happens to me is potential fodder, and Heather could have asked whomever I was dating at the time to get confirmation on that truth. The upside of all of that is if I write about you or something that happened to us or that we talked about, I probably find you/it interesting. That is if I'm not blatantly mocking you, in which case - don't read the blog. I say that realizing it may inherently eliminate most of you at some point. My advertisers will be furious.

A week or so ago I started writing (more) after everyone was nestled away in their beds for the night. Partly because I have been natured and nurtured to be a night owl. Staying up late has always been my default, and it was reinforced ad nauseam by my sister as an adolescent when we used to go rent movies and stay up until 2am watching them during the summer. As an adult I have the addict's gene of never wanting anything to end, so if I can prolong the night by staying up overly late and typing away, so much the better.

Perhaps most importantly in all of this, I lose a lot when my head hits the pillow. As a night owl, my prime thinking hours are after I've had two drinks. I am razor sharp. My mind is operating on all cylinders. The pump has been primed by talking with the BDGF about the news of the day or larger truths and I feel like I'm ready to explode onto the page, whether I actually have anything to say or not. That's a super long way of saying that I'm writing what you are reading now at night.

It started because a week or so ago I had something I needed to get down. After writing it I wasn't sure that I was comfortable posting it randomly so I sent it to the BDGF. What I wrote felt important but I knew that I was incapable of judging its merits so in attempt to make it seem real and more than exercise I sent it to her so that it would exist outside my brain. I loved the idea of that. Turns out, so did she and it in turn begat more of the same. Now as much as anything, the idea that I can type something for her to read in the early morning hours before all y'all makes me smile. No offense, but I care about what she thinks more than anyone, and now when this ideal comes to fruition it's like a secret we have in the morning while the rest of you lay in slumber.

Tonight we talked about human existence's education levels relative to history, predestination and myriad other topics I don't even have time to get into at this point. You really should have been here, as it was far more interesting than the stupid process story I'm typing about now. Unfortunately for you, that may be the crux of it. When I typed that first story she came back upstairs before leaving the house in the morning to kiss me and tell me she loves me. Those aren't anomalies outside of the place and time they occurred, but I've decided that there's no other way I'd rather start the day, so you may be the victims of that paradigm, assuming they produce more posts like this. Of course I firmly believe that it's the best thing the blog had ever produced.

Posted 11:18am
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April 18th , 2011

Partisan Buckeye TARDISes

Editors note: I wrote this late last night when I couldn't sleep so a.) it sounds a little like I wrote it while I was high and b.) I didn't take into account that the intersection of everything contained here is so specific to my weird peccadilloes that less than 1% of the public at large probably has all the necessary reference points to follow along. Plus even I think I'm full of shit about all this, but hey, they can't all be winners.

My weekend was convoluted. Coming off of vacation and going into an easter weekend filled with a flurry of plans, I was looking for something rote. I love my life so rote is nice. Rote is comforting. Rote means booze, and music and the BDGF and all the things I love in the world and make me happy. Excitement? Adventure? A Jedi craves not these things. I wanted to relax and enjoy the things I love most sandwiched between obligation and duty and the times when booze is a necessity and not a luxury. It's not exactly what I got and I am currently trying to make sense of it all.

I'll spare you a recap, mostly because that is rote and rote writing is boring to all but the few of you who see this is a purely voyeuristic endeavor to see what's happening in my life. Maybe that's more of you than I would like to admit, but I aspire to a higher level of discourse. So let us throw the weekend in a blender and see how we can encompass as much of it as possible in a single post where there's an attempt to find a related throughline, shall we? Since I'm running the show we shall.

Saturday I went to Michigan's spring game. Those of you who know anything about college football are aware that there is little to no knowledge to be gleaned from these exercises and those that don't care about 20 year olds hurling their bodies around on a hundred yard field are already skipping this paragraph, so let's agree to let that part go. Except for the fact that football games mean tailgates and my friends don't necessarily discuss the adjustments of Denard Robinson under center during pregame, we talk religion and politics and anything else under the sun that our brain's fancy. It was during this time where I realized that Jim Tressel is the Republican party. More on that in a second.

Sunday in a fit of relaxation I continued my recent obsession with the British TV show Dr. Who. Now even if you've never seen Dr. Who you probably know that, for lack of a better turn of phrase, it's England's version of Star Trek. The specifics of the show are neither here nor there, other than it has a typical lefty sci-fi bent, marginally low production values and will exist in perpetuity because a lot people like those things, and enjoy the familiar even more. Dr. Who is the Democratic party. But we'll get back to that in a second.

The obvious elephant in the room is politics, and with the looming debate of the budget 'crisis' it's been on my mind as well. Try as I might, I can't stop thinking about these things. OK, in part I surround myself with them. I watch The Daily Show. I watch Real Time with Bill Maher. If the either the BDGF or I is on an electronic device, we're asking each other 'Did you read Maureen Dowd's op-ed yet?" The answer is always yes and we're off to the races on the relative merits of the thing. Don't get me wrong, this is one of my favorite things in the world and outside of the fact that she's super foxy the main reason that I hope I never give the woman a reason to leave me. But given my big, fat, stupid Irish head, all this discussion is the cause of much consternation.

And that's because the Democrats are Dr. Who. We're far more in love with the idea of ourselves than what we actually are. Idyllically, we are awesome. We stand up for the right things, we look out for the least among us, and we have nothing but the most high-minded ideals at heart. But let's call a spade a spade for a minute. Our production levels are crappy. Our solutions to the problems we face don't hold muster under the light of the scientific method and perhaps most prophetically, we change our skin whenever the need suits us - political chameleons who sway with the wind because cohesion is impossible.

Republicans? They're the stalwart Senator himself, Jim Tressel. Ruthlessly effective. Lock step with the party line to a tee. Transgressions are a minor trifle because results are what matter. Who gives a flying fuck if how you got where you are flies in the face of everything you espouse? You're still where you aspired to be, right? We are who we say we are and if that's not what our actions would dictate, go fuck yourself. It's the bottom line that carries the day, and if you don't see that, then you are not a Buckeye Republican.

I hate the fact that going to a Michigan football game makes me think about how much I hate Jim Tressel. I hate that I find five year old British TV shows compelling. Mostly I hate that I spend 500 words every month or so talking about the ineffectual nature of the Democratic party. But in a non-Obama way I know hope. I believe in my heart of hearts that Tressel will get what he deserves and balance will return to the force*. I believe that with every new Dr. Who that there will be something more than a morality play disguised with poor CGI. Mostly I believe, because I can't otherwise exist without it, that we as Americans will get our priorities straight and not correct previous mistakes on the backs of the poor and indigent. Because if we're can't get there, we're nowhere. Jesus and Yoda would agree.

*Check the records - combine Cooper and Tressel and OSU is 11-11-1 against Michigan the last 23 years. Just sayin', Moeman knows what goes around, comes around.

Posted 10:12am
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April 15th , 2011

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

- There's plenty of budget reax going on these days, and my two favorite NYT columnists, Paul Krugman and David Brooks, both tackle the issue today. As per usual, I tend to agree with most of what they both have to say. I'm hoping now that he's back in campaign mode, this is where Obama starts to get out front and actually wins this battle. Or I'll take a stalemate where all the Bust Tax cuts expire, because that plus the status quo isn't that bad.

- Tomorrow is both Record Store Day and Michigan football's spring football game. To be honest, while music and Michigan football are two of my favorite things in the world, it's hard to get up (literally and figuratively) for either. I'm not going to go get up and wait outside of the store at 10am to get the most limited 7"s that will be released tomorrow, and if it's raining (and it will be) I'm not going to sit in the cold and wet to watch guys scrimmage. So this means I will get up and swing by Underground Sounds to pick over the detritus before heading to a tailgate to drink a few beers before deciding that it's too nasty out to go inside the stadium, at which point I will go home and take a nap. Actually, come to think of it, that's a pretty good day after all.

- It's now been 50 years since mankind successfully flung our bodies into the outer atmosphere for the first time. To celebrate, the cerebral space enthusiasts amongst you should watch First Orbit, a sort of documentary about Yuri Gagarin's inaugural space flight. Of course in this political climate, that might make you a communist, so should any Bachmanns or Palins come to your door asking questions, you didn't hear about this from me.

- Today is April 15th, which means it's Tax Day, but I do my taxes in January so whoopty shit. It also means that it's two of my favorite people's in the world birthdays. One is my oldest and best friend and I can't believe the luck that after 27+ years we still get see each other on a weekly basis. The other is my ex-girlfriend and I can't believe the luck that after a three year tumultuous relationship we can still be friends two years after the fact, albeit a few thousand miles apart. Happy birthday kiddos. I love ya both and hate you for being younger and better looking than me (y'all can sort out which is which).

- Finally, this feels a little like John Belushi's 1975 commercial for Little Chocolate Donuts, but what makes me the witty, erudite bon vivant and trivia master that I've become? Why it's alcohol sillies! Mmmmmm science! (ht: ljv)

Posted 12:44pm
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April 14th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I sometimes think of the good ol' days, you know, when legislators and school boards in Kansas and Pennsylvania were passing laws to include 'Intelligent Design' in science classrooms because you know, ID is 'science', right? 'Design' is right in there, that's science-y. Besides, evolution is a theory so we should include other theories. Apparently the good ol' days are still here.

- Here's the most batshit non-conservative conservative thing you may ever read: an Alaskan judge thinks premarital sex should be illegal. ILLEGAL! Now I live with two fifteen year olds so I get the argument, but how does this fit into a conservative's views on the rights of individuals? As always, those views don't apply to wieners and va-jay-jays. Just ask Planned Parenthood.

- As a rebuttal, here is something super-awesome from former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, a champion of common sense. See? They're not all idiots. At least when they're out of office and not running for anything.

- The recent (or rather looming) budget debate is a very interesting thing from the perspective of Baby J. Here's a comparison of the two plans. Now I'm no Biblical scholar and hell, I don't even believe in the little one's divinity, but I do think he was a helluva smart guy. And given what I know about the meek inheriting the earth and that whatsoever you do to the least of his people, you do unto Baby Jesus, what do you think that he would do here? (WWBJD?)

- Finally, this got the full treatment on TDS last night, but if you haven't seen it, get ready to roll your eyes at the faux outrage over a boy wearing pink toenail polish. For the record, Sid used to come home from preschool with painted fingernails and toenails all the time. As of this writing, he's still straight. Go figure.

Posted 10:49am
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April 13th , 2011

Finally, justice...

I was asked just the other day in the course of normal conversation "So what other bands do you irrationally hate?" This was in the context of one of my usual rants about either Pavement or Arcade Fire, which one is not important, as I hate them pretty equally and for (mostly) the same reasons. Anyone who regularly reads the blog knows why. For the uninitiated, quickly it's that these bands suck. But somewhere someone decided to like them anyway, probably ironically or in some Pygmalion style gambit where one hipster says to another "I bet I can make everyone like Win Butler" and the other retorts "I bet you can't make ANYONE like Win Butler." And then the first hipster wins because the only thing a hipster fears more than being left out in the cold on a trend is accidentally going from irony to sincerity.

But in that conversation I forgot the third axis of evil in my bucket of irrational hatred: Coldplay. Fucking A do I loathe Coldplay. There's nothing I would enjoy more than punching Chris Martin in his stupid fucking face. I probably forgot to mention them the other day because my hatred for this limp dick of a band is not like my implausible hipster conspiracy plot. I'll freely admit that I've found myself humming along to Arcade Fire songs, and that if they didn't have 47 people on stage at a time I'd probably have forgiven them by now and have gone to just not liking them as opposed to hating them. Same thing goes for Pavement, except it would be contingent on Stephen Malkmus stopping being such a smug douche, which is never going to happen.

I hate fucking Coldplay because people think of them and refer to them with the likes of Spoon and Wilco and other pseudo mainstream indie rock and nothing could be further from the truth. Everything Coldplay has ever done, and I mean everything, is the most middling, uninspired, milquetoasty claptrap to have ever been put on wax. There songs are designed specifically to have the largest audience possible and that's the antithesis of rock and roll. Chris Martin isn't Ben Folds, he's Russel Hitchcock. Coldplay belongs on Lite FM, not between Vampire Weekend and Tokyo Police Club on alternative radio. Their songs are for moms, teenage girls and and guys who throw a ball like a teenage girl. They make me angry HULK S M A S H...

But I digress. You can choose to believe my argument or not, it really doesn't matter anymore because I have been proven right by SCIENCE. An online dating website has correlated what music people like with those who are least likely to "go all the way." Guess who came in at number one with a bullet? Fucking Coldplay. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as listening to Chris Martin noodle and drone on is the surest way to kill an erection this side of looking at naked pictures of your grandmother while sitting on a block of ice and listening to your mom read from the kama sutra. Oh, be careful clicking on the link. It contains a picture of Chris and should you gaze upon it, you will surely want to punch him in his stupid face.

- I hate to brag* but it hasn't happened in a while - I got review of the day on Yelp! And yes, that's me holding a 40 getting a breathalyzer from the BDGF's brother. I reek of class.

*not really

Posted 11:52am
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April 12th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- The Onion's AV Club is back with their Undercover feature, pitting indie rock mainstays against unconventional cover song choices. I was particularly fond of this TMBG cover performed by Titus Andronicus. Also note the feature's theme music is from the new Maritime album, which I am currently enjoying the shit out of.

- I'm anxiously awaiting a new Wilco, albeit mostly to get the taste of the last one out of my mouth. Our neighbors to the north in Cananada bring you said new Wilco in the vessel of a solo Jeff Tweedy acoustic performance. Although in those glasses, I'm now hoping to doesn't go all Randy Newman-y.

- For those of us trying to square with Death Cab becoming a crappy synth pop band, here's an exhaustive list of their cover songs. May I suggest the Matthew Sweet?

- The Foo Fighters were on The Daily Show last night, and fuck it if they aren't some of the last of the true rock stars still roaming the earth. Here's a great story about Dave Grohl's unlikely ascent to the top of Fuck Mountain®.

- When the Beatles finally grew up they morphed from a really good pop band into the greatest thing mankind has ever had the privilege to experience. A large reason that statement is gospel truth is that during that transition, they never ceased to be fun as hell. Now the Arctic Monkeys were never the Beatles. That being said, they've grown and matured, become darker and more nuanced, but in my mind, have completely ceased to be any fun whatsoever. Witness the new single off their forthcoming album. It's not that it's bad, it just lacks any of the joy I used to love in their music. Boo for growing up. When it leads to seriousness and boredom anyway.

- Finally, we come to what seems these days to be our obligatory White Stripes news. First they continue their Tupac-ian ways by releasing more new (OK live) music, and second, they turn out to be powerful enough to stop a government shutdown. Way to go kids. Your government and the American people owe you a debt of service.

Posted 10:43am
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April 11th , 2011

Working vacation.

We didn't take a lot of vacations growing up. Once to stay with friends in South Carolina, once to Chicago. Everything else was either in Ohio or centered around where ever my brother was living at the time. Imagine driving 12+ hours to Minnesota. Or Arkansas. I guess the upside is that when there's only one highway in the whole goddamn state, it's hard to get lost. The one time we were in Chicago my most distinct memory is my Dad getting stuck in a loop on lower Wacker drive for the better part of an hour - just driving around the same 3-4 blocks unable to find his way back to the surface streets.

Looking back, I'm not sure how he did it. I mean I get how he got off of lower Wacker Drive, but otherwise the mere suggestion of traveling with your family in the 80's is frightening to me. My dad did what he could to mitigate things. He'd wake everyone up and throw them in the car at 4am so everyone would sleep the first few hours. He'd be sure to split the siblings up between him and mom whenever they could so we wouldn't kill each other. Still, after 3 or 4 days we were always at each other's throats. It usually happened at dinner on Saturday night when my mother tried to tell us that we still had to go to church in the morning and my head would begin to explode. I mean church on vacation? That woman drove me to atheism.

So why on Earth would I decide to pack up my little pseudo family and schlep them across this great nation of ours? The short answer is I didn't decide, I was drafted. Around our house it's "Whatever baby wants..." and baby wanted the children to bond before the WonderTwins fled the nest for University and all points beyond. Once she saw that the Hold Steady were playing in Cleveland the first Saturday of Spring Break, and that we wouldn't be able to go to her sister's for Easter, the trip was ostensibly planned. Cleveland - New York (via Connecticut) - Washington D.C. - Virginia (for the weather) and back again. Yikes.

I was placated by the following: 1.) We have GPS. I would never have agreed to any of this without that miracle device. As long as you're paying attention, it's impossible to get lost. At least not for very long. 2.) We were going to spend as much of the trip as possible in museums and doing at least quasi-cultural things. Again, were this an excursion to Disneyland the car wouldn't have left the driveway. 3.) The first two are hyperbole. I was on the hook for this because I'm dad, and ridiculously driving your brood across country despite the innate illogical preposterousness of it all is what dads do.

And that - I imagine - is how my dad did it. With a wink and a smile and a realization that it's not your vacation, it's theirs. So you don't complain when everyone decides to skip the Guggenheim for Harry Potter. And you try not to lose your shit when they say that after being to the top of two of the world's tallest buildings and visiting the MET and the Natural History Museum, that the Toys R Us in Times Square is the best thing that ever happened to them. And you try to remember how excited they were to see the actual C-3PO costume when they tell you that they all left their coats in the previous hotel room two and a half hours away.

Despite the fact that he didn't have satellite navigation, a DVD player in the car or kids who all had cellphones and iPods, I can't ever remember my dad losing his cool with us, and I guess somewhere in my brain that got imprinted as the definition of what it means to be dad. Stay calm, keep everyone safe, make sure mom is happy when the kids ask too much of her. I may only be fake dad to the girls, and yes I have 25 years of technology in my favor, and maybe most importantly, there's not 15 years of familiarity to breed contempt between our non-traditional lot, but there was far less yelling on this trip than any Brubaker vacation that I can remember. We must be doing something right, although I think we are all in agreement that we don't have to prove it by ever going on a week long road trip again. Ever.

Posted 11:12am
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April 1st , 2011

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

- Is it just me or have I wrote about Jack White 1000% more since the White Stripes broke up? That's what I thought. Here's the 7" rerelease planned for the impending annual Record Store Day, and here's a peek at the hotly anticipated collaboration with Danger Mouse.

- Bell's in cans? Apparently so. I'm not sure how this affects me yet, as I would never purchase can over bottle, but at some point this has to lead to me being able to drink an Oberon in a place heretofore I was unable, so I say hooray.

- So Republicans have decided to use their new "mandate" not to reign in spending and slim the federal government, but to attack the things that they fear most: unions, NPR, and vaginas. All things that no one was talking about last November mind you, but in the GOP mindset, that's neither here nor there. It's easy to understand their fear of these boogeymen - all three are huge Dem voting blocks. The working class, the educated and women. Someone who's all three will send their testicles right back into their body. But my favorite scare tactic, perhaps of all time: lightbulbs. Gail Collins has already done my work for me on this, because seriously, it's one of the more un-serious talking points ever. I guess when you don't have gay marriage as your ace in the hole anymore, you've got to look elsewhere.

- Here's Pitchfork's guide to upcoming albums. You can peruse it while you stream Maritime's new opus Human Hearts, out next Tuesday.

- Finally, tomorrow the BDGF and I will herd the childrens into the family truckster and point our wagon East for Cleveland, New York City, Washington DC, Virginia Beach and all points in between. It's an overly ambitious schedule of Griswoldian proportions to be sure. We'll be in more museums in the next week than most Southern Evangelicals enter in a lifetime. As for putting five human beings in an automobile for 40+ hours over the course of a week? When I was little the Moe Man would drive us through America for 12+ hours at a stretch with nothing to do but a.) sleep b.) read a book c.)listen to one of my five cassette tapes that I copied from my brother's vinyl albums. Our collective brood has laptops, DVD players, iPods, GameBoys and a cell phone in their pocket that's more powerful than the computer I used in college. Most importantly, two of them are of driving age. One peep out of either of them and they get behind the wheel and I go to the back seat and sip on my flask. I suppose I should bring my passport, because in that scenario we're likely to end up in Cananada.

Posted 10:28am
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March 31st , 2011

Veni Vidi Alica

I don't know what my expectations were for last night's Spelling Bee. Normally I would have said that I expected to win, but honestly I can't spell for shit. You'd think for someone with a fairly extensive vocabulary I'd be able to write them down, but it's a skill that for whatever reason doesn't translate. The program I use to write the blog has a terrible spell check, so I often google big words to make sure I'm spelling them correctly. I usually peek at the definition so that I'm sure I'm using them correctly as well. I'm almost always right about the definition, and I'm never right about the spelling (did you mean tezcatlipoca?)

So I showed up last night just looking to have fun and celebrate 826. I am proud to report that the BDGF and I both spelled our first words correctly without any help, and then took a nose dive after that. Turns out that even people as competitive as us can relax and have a good time when words are flying around that we've never even heard of. Most importantly, thanks to all y'all we raised over $1500 to support 826. We are humbled by your generosity and at the end of the day, we are victorious for knowing such awesome people. Thank you thank you THANK YOU again. Maybe next year it'll be Star Wars Trivia and the BDGF and I can finally bring home the gold.

- Now that the spelling bee hath passed, here's 10 movies that are better than the book, because reading is for suckers.

Posted 11:18am
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March 30th , 2011

HULK  S M A S H !

- I'm not sure what makes me want to go into a Hulk type rampage more - bad writing or writing that I vehemently disagree with. To wit: here's an interesting premise that pits the White Stripes catalog against that of The Strokes - but it ranks Icky Thump as the worst Jack and Meg effort, to which I say fuck you, I no longer care about your opinion because you obviously are obtuse. Then there's this completely boneheaded farcical conceit of "10 Bands Shaping the Post-Nirvana Era" First of all, the last two decades aren't post-Nirvana. Lumping Arcade Fire in with Pearl Jam automatically means your thesis statement is too broad not to mention inane. Plus, your list contains Coldplay. COLDPLAY. HULK  S M A S H !

- I know Rich Retyi. I am friends with Rich Retyi. Rich Retyi sends me interesting things on twitter. So when he writes something about one of my oldest friends in the world, it should be cause for celebration. However, "A Behind the Scenes Look at the Life of a KJ" made me want to smash. I don't want to impugn Rich, because it was a good premise and there are funny lines in it, and I am certainly not throwing stones at Markie C, whom I agree with almost 100% when it comes to matters of karaoke. I hear the piece was edited to less than half of its original length to which I say "Why worry about column inches when you're an ONLINE NEWSPAPER!?!" HULK  S M A S H !

- I am worried that I may be done with Death Cab. I don't listen to them much anymore because the BDGF hates them and I have little to no need to sit around and listen to sad music these days. Don't get me wrong, I still love the middle three albums, but more like a piece of nostalgia from high school. They remind me more of a specific time in my life than they sonically tell me why they are good. So perhaps as a personal fuck you from Ben Gibbard to yours truly, their new album is dedicated to 80's synthpop. All I can say is hulk s m a s h.

- Finally, tonight is the BDGF and I's big spelling debut. I had a nanosecond of panic on my drive to work this morning when I realized that I don't know how to spell anything, which quickly abated when I remembered that getting in front of people and looking the fool is my stock in trade. If there is any panic it will quickly turn to rage if tonight's venue doesn't have Oberon. I've been in two bars since the midnight release party and neither (NEITHER!) had Oberon on tap yet. If I end up three for three then it will be time for HULK  S M A S H !

Posted 11:07am
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March 28th , 2011

Happy  O B E R O N  day!

Around the turn of the century I spent a lot of midnights in movie theaters. And not in the cool/hip/ironic cult screenings of things like Donnie Darko and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was there at openings for things like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Spider-Man. I had some innate need to be first. To be there opening night with the other nerds who "get it" on the same level of I do. In my defense, there is a difference. I saw Episode I at midnight and people were in costume and giving standing ovations when characters like R2-D2 came on screen. I went again the following afternoon, and while it may have been a theater full of people like myself suffering from second time malaise and disappointment, there was merely a smattering of applause when the Star Wars logo came on screen - not complete fucking bedlam.

Now I can't imagine having any desire to see an opening night showing of any movie. Part of it is that everything I loved as a kid has already been made into a film. Like Alexander I weep for there are no more worlds to conquer*. Another factor is that I can't abide the teenagers that populate those things. Ultimately, I suppose I can no longer figure what the difference is if I see it before anyone else? I'll catch a matinee some Sunday when it's raining and I don't have anything else to do. I'll get to it. Eventually. Or perhaps it's just that my interests have shifted. I'll always love movies and I've loved beer, well as long as I can remember anyway, but while being first to see the next Spider-Man is no longer in my purview, being there for the opening of Oberon is.

Because while Oberon is one of the most delicious liquids ever to grace the face of the Earth, it's more than that. Despite the fact that I had to wear my winter coat and suffer sub-freezing temperatures to get to the gala, Oberon means summer is here. Of course it's also the same experience as the midnight movie opening - hanging out with people who "get it" and having a shared experience of something that makes you really, really happy. But as I look at the mercury outside my window failing to hit 40 again, I really need to be the harbinger of summer too.

* My thoughts on this change slightly if they reboot Daredevil and do it right.

Posted 10:34am
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March 25th , 2011

This End Up

Attention parents of the world: kids toys are about creativity and possibilities. It's the reason I loved Legos so much as a kid. No other toy offered as many different combinations and ruminations in so limited a field. But Legos are expensive. Let's face it, the Danes are pricks and overprice that shit so that only my well to do aunts and uncles could even buy me them when I was a kid. And once you've tasted Legos, the knock offs won't do. Who can stomach Mega Blocks once you taste the sweet synergy that Legos have to offer? Everyone in Denmark may be an ass, but their engineering, precision and attention to detail is something to be admired.

However, Legos have their limitations. Their combinations are not in fact infinite. What happens when you buy some space Legos and all of a sudden want to build a house? Those wings and that canopy aren't going to be doing you any favors. Sure you can take the helmet off of the astronaut, but now you're left with a bald guy with a giant circle on his head. That's why Legos aren't the ultimate toy. Their finite iterations and high price keep them far behind what - in my mind - is the best toy you can ever provide a child - the box.

I know, I know - it feels cheap. It seems like an afterthought that you give to your kids when you buy a new TV* or refrigerator. But I tell you, the joy and wonderment (not to mention cognitive development) you provide your child by giving them a box is unparalleled. Take my own progeny Sid. We bought a TV in 1999 and he proceeded to sleep in the box it came in for two years. Want proof?

We tried to get him to snuggle away in his bed that we paid hundreds of dollars for, but he would have nothing of it. He painted the outside of it and if home is where you lay your hat, ostensibly lived in that box until it was a beat up, sorry version of its former self. I've spent thousands of dollars over the years on video games, Star Wars toys, Pokemon - you name it - but I'll be damned if he never got more use out of any of it than he did that box.

More proof? For Christmas I got the BDGF a patio heater to keep her warm in the winter spring. It came in a giant box. Guess what her littlest thought was the best gift Xmas morning:

Not the Barbies. Not the Littlest Pet Shop. It was the box that the heater came in that we turned into a stable for her horse. She spent all day painting the thing and it spent the next month and a half in our living room.

But tbaggervance you say, boxes aren't interactive. How are you suppose to engage your child with six sides of cardboard? To that I say, why on Earth did you bother to have children? Clearly it is time for you to roll up the sleeves and get your hands dirty. For her birthday, I got the BDGF a present that came in another very large box. The minute we removed its contents, I found myself ensconced in pillows, blankets, and cardboard:

A one time furlough you suppose? A month later, here's the BDGF and the youngest watching Star Wars last night:

That's two girls in a box that for all intents and purposes cost nothing. Now while I haven't been around for everything and while I'm not arguing that it's going to be the most salient memory either of them has in ten years, I will guarantee that at that time I can say "Remember the glider box?" and show both of them this picture and get a smile.

While it's fruitless to tell you to stop buying $60 video games and $25 DVDs and countless sums on plastic crap that lasts mere minutes in a child's imagination before finding its way to the bottom of whatever toy box, I will say remember the box. Before you know it they'll be cynical teenagers with all but a brief memory of what cardboard even is, but play your cards right, and you'll have a treasure trove of photos to remind them what it was to truly have everything in the world laid before your feet.

* It's a terrible tragedy that TVs are now flat and children cannot play in the boxes that they come in. Terrible.

Posted 10:42am
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March 24th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- This is kind of old news now, but if anything ever embodied why I've made this a recurring feature here on the blog it's an anti-masturbation preacher getting caught masturbating. Oh, did I mention it was at a children's playground? Dear christians/conservatives/hypocrites: please take your crusade to stop me from doing whatever it is that your demons tell you to do but is against what mommy and daddy raised you to believe and stick it up your fat ass. Methinks they doth protest too much.

- Another great example of what makes Baby J weep every other week or so around these parts: Evangelicals hate him.

- Here's a petition that means very little but you want to sign anyway. I stand with Anne Hathaway on all issues, not just gay marriage. Speaking of, did you no God was married? No, not to himself like he's a nun. Sometimes I find it amazing that they let women exist in written history at all, and then I remember they needed someone to blame for all the bad shit.

- Here's an interesting quiz to test your religious acumen. Don't bother, my BDGF.

- I'm not a big fan of strip clubs per se, but I do know many a gentleman who claims to have found God while feeding a $1 into a dancer's boobs with his teeth. I suppose that may explain this, I'm personally trying to wrap my head around it.

- Newt Gingrich is a skeevy fuck. Never mind that he completely switched positions over the course of a fortnight just to be on the other side of Obama on Libya. Never mind that he twice cheated on his wife(s) - once while one was in the hospital with cancer and another while trying to impeach Clinton for getting a Lewinski. What makes him a skeevy fuck is that he justifies it all with "I believe in a forgiving God" like he's Arjen Rudd in Lethal Weapon 2 shouting "Diplomatic immunity!" I suppose God can be whatever you want it to be, but can't we all agree that that stance in the face of repeated transgressions is bullshit and collectively be Murtagh and revoke it? We are not too old for this shit.

Posted 11:06am
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March 23rd , 2011

Your mandatory/obligatory/anticipatory O B E R O N update.

Awwww shit y'all - it may be hovering around freezing outside, but that doesn't change the fact that the 2011 release of the defining beer of summer - OBERON - is less than a week away. That's right - next Monday, March 28th. I've just received word from my contacts inside Bell's Brewery that once again Ashley's will be tapping the nectar of the gods come Midnight Sunday. I know the weather has got you down. I know the brief respite of warm temps last week felt like a cruel joke of just the tip only to leave you wanting. But I promise you - Oberon will soon be here to make it all better. Before you know it, you'll even be able to drink one outside! I hope...

- He's a hilarious Star Wars remake courtesy of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.

- There is only one week left (ONE!) to donate to our Spelling Bee team. We've recently fallen out of second place, which I don't need to tell you is more than a little embarrassing. Please take two minutes to donate a tuppence or two.

Posted 10:48am
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March 22nd , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- SXSW just wrapped up another week of craziness. I love Austin and can't wait to go back, but to me trying to visit Austin during SXSW would a 100x more chaotic than visiting A2 during Art Fair. There's plenty to do there without complicating the situation with an extra couple hundred thousand hipsters and hollywood types complicating things. That being said, I know the BDGF is dying to go, probably mostly because of things like this. And for that I can't blame her.

- You can also read an interview with Jack, where he spouts a little more crazy and gives you nothing new on the White Stripes break up or when he will play guitar on new songs that he wrote.

- Several new albums await your ear holes on the horizon: The Beastie Boys, Death Cab and Maritime are releasing album art and track lists. And of course the new Strokes album is out, but as of right now you can still stream it on their website.

- Ted Leo writes some of my favorite protest songs - because they never feel like protest songs. Their not old timey folk sing alongs like Country Joe and the Fish, nor are they in your face jack booted noise the Rage Against the Machine. Don't get me wrong, I think there's a time and place for both those things, but give me a well crafted pop song that afterwards makes you go "Oh, I think he was trying to make a point." Anyway, here's my new best friend Ted performing a Guthrie classic in support of the Wisconsin Unions. Fight the power.

- Here's a list of the hardest working bands in America, 2010*. I'll admit there's plenty of names here that I don't even recognize, and one (Megadeath) that I assumed had gone the way of disco. I'm also going to assume that 11 through 19 are a bunch of sweaty teenagers in the back of a white delivery van who could give a shit if they play in front of three paying customers at a honky tonk outside of Topeka. (HT: @richretyi)

- Jimmy Fallon continues his series of legendary artists performing 80's TV themes.

- Finally, here's the NYTimes take on the recent barrage of pop music that uses the F** word. I like the Cee Lo songs because, well, it's a good song. I also thought "Killing in the Name"s repeated use was warranted. But the rest of it I find gimmicky and crass. OK maybe it's just that the music sucks, but how am I supposed to separate the two? Fuck if I know...

* Now that James Brown is dead anyway.
** Fuck. The F-word is Fuck.

Posted 10:32am
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March 21st , 2011

Tape Delay.

I spent yesterday avoiding Michigan basketball. In a cruel twist of fate Blue's second round NCAA game came smack dab in the middle of the BDGF's youngest's birthday. So instead of hosting a party featuring the Fab Five documentary, a minikeg of Hopslam and Michigan trying to take down the Death Star like a small group of rebel X-Wings, I got to spend the day at the Imagination Station and watching an 8 year old open up 12" Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia dolls. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a difficult decision - but the execution wasn't easy.

Thanks to the advent of modern technology, I decided to TiVo the game and watch it after the birthday festivities had abated. Unfortunately, thanks to the advent of modern technology trying to avoid seeing something as innocuous as a basketball score is a task neigh on impossible. Not only did I had to avoid my phone buzzing every 15 minutes for 5 hours AND not look at a television monitor for that period as well, but I had to deal with everyone in my immediate vicinity knowing the information I was trying to avoid.

The first three hours were fairly easy. After we got past my brother in law asking "You know Michigan plays at 2:30, right?", all I had to deal with early on was Sid and the BDGF going out of earshot to check the score. As the day wore on however, my patience started to wear thin. The horrible poker players in my entourage started to allude to the game and while all were careful not to mention the outcome, I started to infer that things hadn't gone Michigan's way.

So when going out to dinner was suggested, ostensibly extending my purgatory by an hour while simultaneously putting me in a precarious position of being in a place with TVs showing nothing but basketball games/scores, I of course said "why not." When waiting for the table and getting teased by everyone, I finally had to tell them "Family that I love, you are about to make me lose my shit and I don't want to end the day hating you." I had been a long day.

Despite the fact that I had been infused with doubt, I still turned the game on immediately when I got home. And thanks to my blind homerism and optimism, I found myself second guessing my intuition late in the second half. Michigan pulled close and I found myself wondering "What if..." as though the outcome hadn't been determined hours earlier. At the end of the day, that's the only reason to watch a sporting event in the first place. I guess other than the outcome, that made everything perfect, and I got to have the best of both worlds. Although thank you Jesus none of the kids have birthdays during football season.

- Today also happens to be the BDGF's b-day. I think I speak for everyone when I say that anyone who looks like you do at your age doesn't get to complain about the number. Happy birthday to my best friend in the world.

Posted 10:07am
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March 17th , 2011

Erin Go Bragh

- So I was off yesterday because I had to make an emergency appointment at the beauty parlor in anticipation of my meeting with the Cloonster. I spent all day getting dolled up, shopping for just the right outfit, and convincing myself that I was worthy of meeting such a revered celebrity and star. And then the fucker never showed. He didn't call to apologize. He didn't text or send an underling in his stead. Fucking celebrities and their entitlement. Here's a montage of his early work - the bad acting, the worse hair - in all of it's glory. You'll rue the day George. Rue.

- On to more pleasant things - It's St. Patrick's Day! I don't know when they decided to make it coincide with the NCAA tournament, but whomever made that call, kudos sir. Next round is on me. Since I was off yesterday Clooney prepping and have to take tomorrow off for the Michigan game, I'm unfortunately at work right now and not typing this from the bar. Rest assured my giant Irish head will get there with all expediency once my chores are done, and we'll celebrate this thing properly.

- In honor of a day imbued with booze, here's a list of 20+ functional (and fictional) alcoholics. The last one(s) is my favorite.

- The Onion also asks "Is Your Weight Keeping You From Getting Drunk?"

- Finally, in honor of St. Pats, my favorite news report of all time - "Where da gold at?"

Posted 11:10am
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March 15th , 2011

Paparazzi! Paparazzi!

We saw an avalanche of celebrities on our recent trip to Los Angeles. Sarah Silverman! NPH! Dave Foley! We were arms length from Zach Galifianakis! But that was arguably the biggest name and closest we got and I was still pretty ho hum about it. I mean don't get me wrong - it was super exciting. I've loved his comedy for a long time and am a fan, so it was a neat surprise. But I wasn't about to hound him for a picture or an autograph. First of all, I think it's sort of gauche. After the first few hundred times I can't imagine anyone enjoys doing that. I'm merely a minor internet celebrity and don't generally get hounded in public, but I'm sick of getting my picture taken at family functions and generally loathe signing credit card receipts, so I don't like asking others to do that for me because I paid $10 to see them in a movie. Even if I hated the film, we're already square.

Perhaps part of that is that I've never met someone that universally famous. As hilarious as Zach is, how many people will give two shits in 20 years? The BDGF and I tried to figure out who would make us lose our shit if we randomly ran into them and came up with two names: Harrison Ford and Paul McCartney. Thinking about the prospect of that makes me swoon just a tad. Well apparently I've brought a little celebrity magnetism back from Hollywood, as tomorrow there's a strong chance I'm going to bump into George Clooney. He's in town filming a movie with Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman* and I'm told we will probably be in the same place at the same time tomorrow. Maybe it's just my love for Out of Sight, but this is a pretty big deal to me. Like, I'll be telling the story for years and people will be impressed. The guy's a serious movie star, right? Plus we'll probably become best friends and end up drinking at some bar, him picking my brain for movie ideas. Or it could not happen at all, in which case I can find out where he's shooting tomorrow and stand behind the barrier yelling "You were a worse Batman than Adam West!"

*Giamatti and PSH in the same movie?!? #headexplodes

- A lot of people HATE when I talk about sports, and I want to thank all of you for the criticism. It's duly noted. So here's some Michigan football talk for just that demographic: ticket prices are going up again. At least we get OSU and Notre Dame at home this year. Oh, and least we forget: the ND game is at night. Start prepping your livers now tailgaters.

Posted 11:10am
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March 14th , 2011

Come Dancing...

I'll freely admit that by my own definition of fandom I only truly root for two things: Michigan football and ex-Michigan players in the NFL (or specifically, Tom Brady*). Everything else I range from fair-weather to the equivalent of Christians who go to church on Christmas and Easter.

Red Wings playoff game? I'll go to the bar with you to watch that. Pistons? Only in the finals. If it's summer I'll go as far to seek out a Tigers game if I am out and about and of course Michigan basketball and hockey are appointment television (and I am a former season ticket holder for both).

But I only have so much love to give. In my mind to be a fan takes dedication. Not only does it take time but a massive amount of energy. True fans take losses hard, and to really care about every outcome over an 82 or 162 game season requires both more time and energy that I have to give.

Especially given my dedication to Michigan football. I'm so invested in those 13 Saturdays every fall that I kind of need the intervening nine months to recover. Besides, as any true fan will tell you, there's plenty to do in the off season. It's not hyperbole to say that I think about Michigan football every day of the year. Outside of my family I can't think of anything else that's true about. Maybe Star Wars. Maybe.

If there is a time that any of my other proclivities bleed into true fandom territory it's every year in March. That's when both Michigan basketball and hockey start their runs towards post-season glory, when fair-weatherness , Christmas and Easter all coalesce to produce an emotional fanaticism that at least approaches an early season Michigan/MAC team football matchup.

Over the next few weeks I'll get to feign righteous indignation over questionable refereeing, celebrate blind luck as skill, and ultimately pace back and forth enough to justify a new pair of Chucks. It's sort of my default state and I couldn't be happier. At least until September, when things start to really matter again.

*The problem with rooting for M players in the NFL is that you inevitably find yourself rooting against your own interests, like this years Super Bowl featuring Charles Woodson and Lamar Woodley - two beasts on the opposite sides of the ball. To that end there is a hierarchy of rooting, and while Woodson is above Woodley, Captain Dreamboat sits upon the top of the mountain.

Posted 10:17am
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March 11th , 2011

Your Indie Rock Weekend

- The Arctic Monkeys are the definition of 'peaked too early'. Their debut album Whatever People Say I am, That's what I am Not, is a raw, visceral, danceable gem that delights me to this day. Everything since has been meh to ack. Such is their latest single. I'd still consider going to see them on the cheap based on my love of their first record, but of course their playing in Plymouth, to which I say good day sir.

- On the other hand, Death Cab for Cutie has a nice bell shaped career arc that you expect out of most bands. It's unfortunate that their on the back side of it, but my evaluation could be off as I am getting older and less susceptible to teenage girl music. Here's some new tunes so that you can judge for yourself.

- Art Brut also has new music on the horizon. Here's hoping they play the Stick and not some bum fuck place an hour north of Detroit, because I imagine their shows are more fun than a a barrel of Arctic Monkeys.

- Watch! New Thermals video. The Strokes play SNL. Indie rock Storm Troopers. And perhaps the coolest thing to ever come out of Jack White's hucksterism. Pimpest. Ride. Ever.

- Finally, I don't think I discovered the Replacements until Paul Westerberg penned two perfect pop concoctions for the Singles soundtrack in the early 90's. So I was late to the party, but give me a break - it's not like their was a record store within 50 miles of my home town. Anywho, what's important is that we all know now that they were perhaps the greatest bar band in the history of anything. Which is why I am looking forward to this documentary (and not just because Craig Finn is in the trailer and I could probably watch him alone talk about the Replacements for 90 minutes).

Posted 10:15am
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March 10th , 2011

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

- One of the myriad reasons I hate the GOP is that they hate both science and the Earth. They spit and spew at every turn and never acquiesce when they are proven wrong. They champion styrofoam over biodegradable products and wear the decision like a badge of honor. Their last president chose to side with Dick Cheney and Exxon Mobile over his own EPA. Jesus fucking tap dancing Christ. If they want to go back to the 1960's, maybe this will persuade them, because it is awesome.

- I love the Beatles and flow charts, so it's two overlapping circles in my venn diagram of love for this:

- I check facebook a few times a day, but it's not a huge occupier of my time. Most of the people I am "friends" with are blocked from showing up in my news feed with their inanity, and it's really just a dozen or so people that actually make me laugh that make it worthwhile. But I imagine had this technology existed in high school I would have been obsessed with it. I always hated talking to girls on the phone (a phobia that exists to this day) but man I would have written up a storm on someone's facebook page. It's not surprising then that adults are reliving their youth and using it like they are high schoolers; then maybe taking it a little too far, as fb is cited in 20% of divorce cases these days. (For which I am indirectly thankful).

- We've had a tremendous outpouring of donations as of late to our Spelling Bee team, vaulting us into second place in the fundraising race and rapidly approaching our $1000 goal, to which I say thank you thank you THANK YOU. You guys are the best and the BDGF and I will do our best to make you all proud. If you haven't donated yet, brother could you spare a dime? Every bit helps and we're not stopping once we hit that arbitrary goal. Plus, a promised personal thank you from me! What more in life is there?

- Finally, for those looking for hints that Spring will someday show up here in A2: Dominicks is open for business. Before you know it, Oberon will be here and I'll be in short pants.

Posted 11:00am
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March 9th , 2011

Mr. Mom.

I've been a parent my entire adult life. That was a weird sentence to type and it's even stranger to let it soak in. I joke all the time about being a statistic for having a kid when I was still technically a teenager, but to put two and two together and realize that means that my memories of not being a parent ostensibly are relegated to high school and when I was a kid myself, well it has taken me aback.

Yes, I have been at this a while. This in no way means that I am not prone to mistakes, but the day to day business of it all is kind of old hat by now. It seems like forever ago that I was scared shitless and had no idea how I was ever going to navigate keeping this living, breathing thing safe and warm. Now I'm the grizzled, unfazed veteran who sees the pitfalls before they hit and knows not to panic when they do.

Which is why I am completely blasé about playing Mr. Mom for the BDGF's girls while she is away on business the next couple of days. OK, not exactly completely. They are girls after all. And they don't belong to me. It's like driving someone else's car - even though you have the utmost confidence in your ability to steer, brake and follow the rules of the road, you're going to be a little bit more cautious when borrowing your buddy's ride, because you want to make sure they get it back without a scratch.

So instead of my daily routine around Sid which involves an occasional and cursory "You need anything?", I'll be making sure that lunches are packed, teeth are brushed, bedtimes are observed and that hair is up in a ponytail before dropping them off at school. Only one of those is a new experience for me, so I'm sure that I will manage. As I keep reminding the BDGF, I've been doing this longer than she has. And I promise that when she returns, they'll be a nary a scratch between the two of them.

Posted 10:29am
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March 8th , 2011

Institutional control (or lack thereof)

I freely admit that I have an irrational hatred of Ohio State. And Michigan State. And Notre Dame. When I see them in a context completely unrelated to Michigan I want them to experience excruciating pain. Death by a thousand paper cuts - to the balls. With breaks taken to dip them in lemon juice. Nothing compares to seeing Michigan succeed, but right behind that is watching their rivals fail. Especially Ohio State.

The other day Michigan beat Michigan State for the second time in basketball this season, a cause for much rejoicing as it combines Michigan succeeding and MSU failing. After the game MSU's highly successful coach was a little whiny about the outcome and how things went down and my friend Lynn posted on Facebook "I've always respected the man, hard not to, but you've got to be kidding me with that sore loser attitude." Being a brat notwithstanding, Lynn's right that Izzo is objectively a great coach. Someday when he is long gone from MSU I'll be able to say I respect him, but even though it's only basketball, I'd have a hard time letting that sentiment parse my lips while he's still actively involved in the program. I am however unwavering in the following belief, and I've said it from the flop and will continue to say it at every opportunity: Jim Tressel is a fucking douche bag.

Sure he's won some games. Yes, objectively he knows how to recruit and develop players. But what gets me is that he has a squeaky clean image when he's a lying cheating son of a bitch. Maybe it's because he says the right things. Maybe it's the sweater vest that people associate with wholesome and nerdy (but I think makes him look like a child molester). Whatever it is, it's a sham. Clarett. Troy Smith. The list of questionable fucks this guy will use and then spend four years coddling is as long as my arm.

What gets me is that nobody cares. Their administration turns a blind eye as long as he wins games. Their fans sit their and tell me that I'd trade places with them in a heartbeat. Now the chickens have come home to roost, and it still won't matter. OSU fans will call it a witch hunt. Their administration will find a scape goat so they can reduce the allegations to a wrist slap and go about their business as usual. I'll sit here in my righteous indignation fuming that even Michigan fans will continue to call him a good coach. Well you know what? He's not. He's a piece of shit fuck hole who flaunts the rules and gets away with it because he dresses like he's mentally handicapped and at the end of the day, the people he's accountable to don't give a flying fuck. It may be irrational to have such vitriol about it, but it doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Posted 11:40am
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March 7th , 2011

Thank heaven for little girls (and some of the other sizes too)

I never really contemplated what it would be like to date someone who had kids. That is, outside of imagining that it would be incredibly difficult from an availability stand point. If I have a kid and my girlfriend has a kid, finding a time when we could be together without a shorty would make things untenable. And that's just logistics. It doesn't take into account trying to win over somebody else's kid and be a presence in their life.

Luckily when the BDGF and I started to see each other we had the charade of me being around on the pretense of being her brother's friend. We also are old and so are our children. At least the now Wonder Twins are. Sid is self-sufficient and the BDGF's big one could watch over the little, so back before we had the convenience of living in the same house, getting together was never too much of an issue. And it turned out that it didn't take long before I kind of became a fixture over there.

Logistics solved, there's still winning over to be done. But after this last weekend, I think I'm finally over the proverbial hump. As previously mentioned, we've been showing Star Wars to the littlest for the first time, and she's taken to it like a Bantha to sand. She can't wait to see the next installment and all of Sid's and my old toys are getting one last go 'round, Toy Story style. Saturday morning she asked me a question* that started with one of my favorite things anyone's ever said to me "Hey Tyler, you're an expert on Star Wars..." I would have bought her a pony had she asked.

But since she didn't intuit that I was putty in her hands after the ultimate ego stroking and ask me for the world, I decided to take her and her mother out for dinner, it being just the three of us at home that night. After a pleasant meal I went outside to get the car and pull up to the door as the weather outside was frightful. That's when the littlest told her mother "I see why you like going on dates with Tyler. He's fun to talk to AND he gets the car for you like a chauffeur!" Take note boys - girls of all ages just want pleasant conversation and for you to be a gentleman. Master those skills and the world is your oyster.

*The question, astutely, was "Why is Princess Leia a princess and Luke not a prince?"

Posted 10:53am
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March 4th , 2011

What we are looking forward to...

- Lost in all the vacation hub-bub was the fact that we are now in March and thus a mere 13 days away from St. Patrick's Day. I will spend them preparing my liver and sorting through my green tinged attire. As per usual, I'll also be taking the day off to honor my ancestors if you find yourself in Ann Arbor with nothing to do.

- The BDGF's littlest go so amped up about seeing Star Wars for the first time, that last night we started watching The Empire Strikes Back (as an aside, she mentioned she wanted a Princess Leia doll halfway through so I immediately got on my phone and bought her one, because I haven't got to buy Star Wars toys in like six years. Awesome). Anyway, Lucas' coke habit must have flared up, because here comes all the Star Wars movies in 3D starting next February. Unfortunately, they're starting with The Phantom Menace, so four years until you actually care. Although don't tell anyone, but I might go just for the podrace and the final lightsaber battle.

- In more 826 news, the national chapter is auctioning off the car from this:

You can get your raffle tickets here, although let's be honest, it's a fait accompli that I win this, if for nothing else than to stick it to the BDGF for making fun of my having Tom Brady on my sexception list*.

- Not so much looking forward to but perhaps a watch out for, but Bohener is vowing to kill net neutrality, calling it a 'government takeover of the internet.' Listen fuckwad, we can have differences of opinion and honest discussions about whether or not the free market can keep the internet the equitable place it's always been, but don't fucking lie to the proletariat and try to scare the shit out of them with your bullshit rhetoric. "... protecting our most basic freedoms"? F U C K YOU. Of course not enough people pay attention and it's not fear inducing to hear Al Franken correctly note that "So this is about keeping the Internet the way it is" so we're probably all fucked.

- Finally, sorry to bury the lead but we are a mere 26 days from the 2011 release of OBERON. (Here's the new minikeg design!) I'm literally counting down the hours until the sweet, sweet nectar hits my lips.

* She has Jack White and Craig Finn, I get Neko and Captain Dreamboat. Neko, let's rig this thing.

Posted 10:15am
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March 3rd , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- The Strokes new album rapidly approacheth, thus more and more details and tidbits are being released. You watch a the video for the first single here (awesome) and here another track here (questionable to bad).

- Less hyped but still highly anticipated by me is the new Sloan album. First track listen available here.

- The Black Keys are touring this summer. Nothing in Michigan yet, but it's early.

- Here's the top 50 music scenes in movies (non-musicals). The first thing that popped into my head was 'Twist and Shout' from Ferris Bueller, which checks in at number nine.

- Finally, tonight begins the Metro Times Hamtramck Blowout. That's 200 bands over the next three nights. This is my kind of festival. You're not trying to see someone from 200 yards away while being annoyed by some txting tween like you would be Bumbershoot or Coachella. You don't have to line up four hours early outside some hidden hipster mecca on the off chance that Spoon will show up like SXSW. It's just an egalitarian chat roulette style good time for people who love rock. Weird, eclectic, home grown rock and roll. Of course now I am 35. Every year Hamtramck seems farther and farther away. And every year they raise ticket prices. And of course there's children to watch over at home. I still ache to go, but I really need a chauffeur and tomorrow off of work.

Posted 11:06am
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March 2nd , 2011

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

- Last night 826 got it's own segment on the NBC Nightly News! Including a mention of 826 Michigan complete with photo of our store front! Watch it for a good idea of the important work being done, and then out of a sense of guilt and friendship, donate to the BDGF and I's spelling team.

- LA redux: for more thoughts on the places we visited in LA and what I thought of them (in convenient 5 star format), I've Yelped most of them.

- LA redux redux: To see tbaggervance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, go here and check 29:45 in. Blink and you miss me, but I'm in the back when they show the Australian lesbians. You can also tune in tomorrow night, since through the magic of television there's a chance I'll show up again in the Neil Patrick Harris segment (albeit in the same tiny format).

- I've become a complete homer for Michigan. The entire state mind you, not just the University. Sure we've got our problems and I live in a little isolated bubble of liberalism in Ann Arbor, but I'm still in the tank for the entire state, stem to stern. So you can imagine my dismay when village idiot Glenn Beck compared Detroit to Hiroshima the other night (video here). Not only is the comparison offensive, not only does it belie history but try this on for size: He interviews an 'expert', his buddy in 'Detroit' who's selling his house. Nevermind that the guy is in Waterford, not even underwater on his house, and selling it because he has too much upkeep on multiple properties. Fucking disgusting. Please come to Detroit and hang out in the theater district or Greektown and tell me how terrible Detroit is. With any luck someone will throw a bag over your head and drop you off somewhere on Gratiot to prove you right.

- Last night we watched Star Wars and it was the first time for the BDGF's youngest. I had no idea I'd ever get to watch that film again next to someone with fresh eyes, but if you've ever doubted that it holds up, well then I find your lack of faith disturbing. In related not-so-happy news, Sze Chuan West has closed in Ann Arbor. If you ever visited the place, you know it was as close to being on Tattooine as you could get in Michigan. May the force be with you Sze Chuan. Always.

Posted 10:46am
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March 1st , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus Cry this week?

- Listen, I try to be tolerant and understanding. I really do. My mother raised me to be that way and I do my best to make her proud. But I am less the shepard and more the tyranny of evil men when I hear someone say "It's only a theory!" It is tied with "9/11 was an inside job" and "The holocaust never happened" for the dumbest thing you can say to me. Nothing will make me dismiss you more quickly.

- Speaking of, Bill O'Reilly's lack of understanding on how the tides work has of course become a 'thing' on the internet. Again, trying to be the sheppard, but still taking time to point and laugh.

- It's one thing to not accept physics or other scientific explanations of observable phenomenon, but it's a whole other level of crazy to claim Jesus is going to provide in the face of evidence that makes your batshit demonstrably false. Like we're never going to run out of fossil fuels. I mean, sure we'll be fine if someone invents a genetically modified organism that shits diesel fuel. Yeah right...

- Today's "Gay marriage will lead to ______________" conspiracy theory: Robot marriage.

- It took the BDGF a mere 12 hours upon returning from vacation to start planning our next one in earnest. So in 5 weeks we'll be heading to New York and the Eastern seaboard with the childrens in tow. I'm wondering if this will be out of previews by then and is appropriate for an eight year old?

- Hannah Montana's line dancing daddy, who pimped out his daughter in a last ditch effort to have five more minutes of notoriety, is blaming Satan for... well I guess him getting exactly what he wanted? I mean, it's not like any of this isn't exactly what we all would have expected to happen, right?

- It seems like I should comment on South Dakota kinda for a second pretending to make it OK to kill abortion doctors, but honestly, all the grandstanding makes me want a nap.

- Finally, someone apparently didn't learn the first rule of running a cult: never get specific with dates. I don't know what compels one to invite the entire world to laugh in your face on May 22nd, but these folks have it coming while they sit around waiting for Godot. But the actual scary part of the article is this little statistic: 20% of Americans think Baby Jesus is going to return (wait for it) in their lifetime. We barely survived 8 years of a President that was actively rooting for the rapture to happen, now one fifth of Americans are in lock step? I suppose it's always been this way and the fact that these people fucking vote is why we have to suffer people like W and Palin and Bachmann. What I really want to know is that if these assholes are always claiming that there are no Atheists in foxholes, then will they have a deathbed conversion to Darwinism when Jesus doesn't show?

Posted 11:29am
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February 28th, 2011

tbaggervance and the BDGF in:
Hooray for Hollywood!

It's been 13 years since I made my way to the West coast. Last time I was concentrated on a football game and little else mattered in determining whether or not I enjoyed my trip. A lot has changed in the intervening baker's dozen years. I don't know what it was like to try and find a decent beer in LA in 1998, but while my beer snobbery has escalated exponentially since then, Hollywood has yet to get on any sort of craft beer train. Outside of the two times we specifically said "We need a decent beer" and sought it out, LA's is apparently bereft of IPAs, Pale Ales and even Stouts or Porters. Sorry guys, Stella isn't top shelf. Ask anybody.

One thing hasn't changed: getting around is an unbelievable clusterfuck. Clearly there is some inverse correlation between decent weather the ability to drive a car effectively. I realize that this isn't revelatory, but it's no exaggeration to say that you have to drive 20 minutes to get anywhere in LA. And that anytime you get in your car, the driver both in front of you and behind you has no idea how to operate a vehicle with any level of competence. Plus nothing is marked. Streets. Exits. And especially when they decide to suddenly call one street by another name for reasons passing understanding (which happens a minimum of three times on any 20 minute drive).

But I digress. Outside of travel stereotypes and a complete lack of understanding of what makes a palatable brew, LA exceeds expectations. The people are nicer than you imagine and not nearly as uniformly intimidatingly good looking and thin. There's an avalanche of interesting things happening and let's be honest - the weather is pretty sweet. We were there during a 'cold snap' and still managed to put the top down on the convertible during the day (OK, the heater had to be on, but only sometimes).

So I have no idea how interesting any of this is to anyone, but here's a quick day by day breakdown of how things went down, for posterity if nothing else...

Saturday
Places visited: LAX, Silver Lake
Celebrities encountered: None.

So we landed at LAX around midnight, so there's little to tell about day one in SoCal. EXCEPT our horrible/wonderful rental car experience. We showed up at Enterprise about an hour after they had been hit by an EMP. Their crack staff was having to do everything by hand which meant things were moving along about as quickly to my satisfaction as they were when I wasn't getting laid in high school. After 45 minutes of standing in line (after 5 hours on a plane and it being the equivalent of 3am) we finally got settled and walked out to get our car. The attendant was super apologetic and asked "Can we give you a free upgrade or 10% off your bill for having to wait?" and before I could shout out "10%!" the BDGF blurted out "We'll take a convertible!" I immediately rolled my eyes and said "They're not giving us a convertible for $140 a week" right before he walked us out and showed us how to put the top down on our new ride. I guess it never hurts to ask. Bonus post script: when we dropped it off on Friday, they charged us $70. For the week. For a convertible. Thanks Enterprise.

Sunday
Places visited: Venice, Downtown, Los Feliz, Glendale (restaurants) Noto Luna, Home
Celebrities encountered: Ted Leo, Paul F. Tompkins, Jen Kirkman, Sklar Brothers, Kumail Nanjiani, Jonah Ray

I groggily awoke Sunday to be told "Find us somewhere to eat brunch." Luckily 5 blocks north of our hotel was an adorable outdoor patio restaurant called Home. The BDGF loved the bloody maries, I loved the mimosas and we both loved the food. So much so that we ate here two more times during the week. Following nourishment and upon the suggestion of the NYTimes, we then headed downtown to what they described as an "open air market". I call it urban blight. To wash the taste out we headed out to Venice to take in the beach and the freaks. Neither disappointed.

The first tickets we bought after our plane tickets were to see Ted Leo perform solo, along with some comedians TBD. Well talk about jackpot, they turned out to be Paul F. Tompkins, Jen Kirkman, Sklar Brothers, Kumail Nanjiani, and Jonah Ray. I think the BDGF and I both agree that Paul F was both the funniest and first comedian we saw all week. We talked to Kumail based on our Lieberstein connection and one of the Sklar brothers struck up a conversation with me on the way to the bathroom. Ted was amazing and all of the hipsters in the tiny converted church we were in made it feel just like home.

Monday
Places visited: Echo Park (restaurants) Good Brewery, Red Lion
Celebrities encountered: Tim Heidecker

Monday was our 'free day'. We didn't have tickets to do anything, and all of the museums were closed. We made it out to Echo Park and 826LA right before I got crippled with a massive headache. After tittering around a bit, the BDGF finally made me go back to the room to lay down so I wouldn't ruin the entire day. Upon waking we went to a German bar that promised Pub Trivia (because when on vacation, we like to keep the same schedule we'd be on at home). After hooking up with another pair of nerds that decided strength in numbers was better than a duo, one of them asked me "Would you know if that's Tim or Eric over there?" I barely got out "Try yelling 'Where's my chippy?'" before I heard his voice and confirmed "Yeah, that's Tim." So in a day we needed our celebrity encounter to happen at random, we kicked Tim Heidecker's ass in trivia (we got 2nd, he got 4th.) OK, so that's pretty weak considering most of you are probably googling his name right now, but he's on TV, it counts.

Tuesday
Places visited: Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Glendale (restaurants) The Getty, Birds
Celebrities encountered: Doug Benson, Dave Foley, Jeff Garlin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Zack Galafinakis

Top of the museum want list was the Getty. We started driving that way hoping to find someplace to eat along the route. We should have known. LA has apparently taken the motto of 'nothing in life worth having is easy', and applied to every single restaurant in the entire county. I'm sure there's plenty of amazing food in SoCal - I even had some. But none of it is easy to find. It's both far off the beaten path and beaten down on Yelp by thousands of reviews of middling places that happen to be near hot spots. So we ended up eating at the Getty. Which was good, but probably marked the first time I spent $100 on lunch (especially without spending $60 on booze).

Tuesday night was the closest thing we had to an impedance for the trip. I mean, the reason was that the BDGF was on Spring Break and all of our children were off with their other biologicals, but we chose LA because I thought "Doug Loves Movies tapes on Tuesdays - I bet there's a ton of shit going on during the week that is cheap and fun." The only question was would his guests and our seats for the show be any good. We nailed both. We got in line outside of the UCB early (no worries, the BDGF found a boutique next door and bought two dresses and had a glass of wine while I kept our place in line) and got to sit on stage to see Dave Foley, Jeff Garlin and Christopher Minze-Plasse. Afterwards, we stayed for Comedy Death Ray and were treated to an impromptu set by Zack Galafinakis. The two things I remember were that he was stoned out of his mind and made a joke about the husky kid he brought on stage ("We both shop at the industrial strength toilet store").

Wednesday
Places visited: Studio City, Hollywood, Graummans Chinese Theater
Celebrities encountered: Craig Ferguson, Joel McHale, Neil Patrick Harris

Wednesday was our TV show taping day. We had some time to kill before we needed to be at CBS, so after a brunch at Home, we headed to the walk of fame where they were already setting up the red carpet for the Oscars. The BDGF walked up and down seeing how many stars she could recognize, and I got to put my feet in the footprints of Bruce Willis (his feet are tiny!) Then we headed down to our taping of The Late Late Show, where we got to see Joel McHale and Neil Patrick Harris. The whole thing went down about as expected, except for the massive waiting in line several times. Not that it wasn't worth it, but I'll not be in hurry to do it again. More than anything it confirmed our suspicions that waiting in line for TPiR is totally not worth it.

Wednesday night we hung out with my two high school friends who had made their way out to sunny Los Angeles. The BDGF noted "Are you sure you haven't seen them in 8 years? You acted like you talked yesterday." The three of us were in a band in high school, so it was a literal getting the band back together (we even ended the night playing and singing old Pearl Jam songs like it was 1993). I have great friends, and I can't thank you enough Rohrs, Pants and your lovely significant others.

Thursday
Places visited: West Hollywood, North Hollywood
Celebrities encountered: Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll, David Spade, Kevin Nealon

Thursday we decided to get our science fix and head out (after another brunch at Home) to Griffith Observatory. The view is super sweet and the planetarium show had me tearing up at the end (that's how much I love science!) That's one great thing about being in a big city: I always feel like I'm surrounded by smart science-y people. Small towns make me nervous for several reasons, but near the top is that I'm constantly worried someone will start to talk to me about Jesus and I'll end up running down the road being chased by torches and pitchforks.

Again with some time to kill, we decided to take a final stab at souvenirs for the kiddos. We found ourselves in some mall and the BDGF sees some cute top for the eldest, so she runs in and takes a look while I'm standing right outside the threshold of the store with my lemonade. We're talking 20 feet apart and I'm giving the thumbs up for purchase when she moves on and holds up the tiniest pair of shorts I've ever seen. I start yelling "No. No. No." as she's laughing when some random dude comes up behind and says "You should let her buy those, she'd look good in them." At that point I turn to him and yell "Yes but my 15 year old daughter wouldn't." He says "Oh. Yeah. Sorry."

After souvenir shopping for the childrens, we headed out to see "Sarah Silverman and Friends" at Largo. Our good luck continued as her friends happened to be Nick Kroll, David Spade and Kevin Nealon. Maybe I'm still giving good will from the stand up special of his I loved in college, but Spade killed it. And kudos to Sarah for hanging out after the show to talk to fans. That's just classy.

Friday
Places visited: LAX, Silver Lake
Celebrities encountered: None

Friday checkout was at 11 and our flight was at 3, so we had little time to do anything of significance. We filled our mini bottles back up*, along with gathering the rest of our belongings, and prepared ourselves to say goodbye to LA. Again, we had no great revelations - the weather is great and the traffic sucks. There's a dearth of things to do and we're not even including driving around with the top down in February. Although the BDGF has decided that after visiting Austin last year and being snowed on, and hitting LA when the temperature never broke 65, that next year we are going far enough south that 80+ degrees will all but be assured. Don't hold your breath for that blog post, I don't expect there are many celebs on the beach in Puerto Rico.

*You can T O T A L L Y bring mini liquor bottles through TSA security. I highly recommend four bottles of Captain Morgan to go with the Diet Coke you'll buy at Hudson News. You'll be at your destination in no time.

Posted 10:00am
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February 18th, 2011

Took my chances on a big jet-plane
Never let 'em tell ya that they're aw-ooh-all the same...

It's time again for the BDGF and I's annual pilgrimage to a place that have sun and 50 degree plus temperatures in February. This year we're off to Los Angeles - a move inspired by all of the cheap comedy available during the week in the area. As such, we'll be seeing Paul F. Tompkins, Craig Ferguson, Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman, The Sklar Brothers, Doug Benson, Jen Kirkman, Kumail Nanjani and non-comedy person Ted Leo, as well as a host of others. The most likely scenario is that we'll become super best friends with all these semi-famous people and end up staying in Cali and living a life of luxury amongst the beautiful and stylish, because it's such a natural fit how could it not?

So the blog will be dark next week, except for our special Oscar Podcast! because I've decided that an every week podcast is untenable, so we're going biweekly. Otherwise enjoy the melting snow suckers, I'm going to California, sans aching in my heart.

- The BDGF and I often wonder how we would have survived 1950's style society when watching Mad Men. If you feel similarly, try the 1930s. I think I fare a tad better than the BDGF would on these checklists, but that really only speaks to how unfair things were to women back then (and how cold her feet are).

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February 17th, 2011

On Parenting.

Editors note - not for nothing, this little screed has nothing to do specifically with anything my children, real or fake, are going through (for those of you who may or may not like to read into things...)

It occurred to me tonight that 90%, if not something that approaches totality, of the decisions we make as parents come down to a choice between two disparate ideals: either we decide, usually against our better judgment, to let our kids participate in an undertaking that we know is doomed to failure (and let them proceed anyway only to await failure and be there to help pick up the pieces) or we shelter them from said experience, noting that we are the adult and know better, and whatever life lessons may be learned aren't worth the immediate price paid.

Now it goes without saying that whatever side of the coin we choose in any particular example that we are bound to occasionally be wrong. We are human - frail, fragile and prone to make mistakes. If we get lucky and put our own prejudices and proclivities aside, we can hope to be more right than wrong and shelter in instances where we're saving our progeny from long lasting harm and pushing them into the void when there's something to be gained despite physical and emotional scrapes and bruises. It's a fine line and one to be fretted over for sure. While I'm prone to note that parenting isn't that hard, I would never say that it doesn't come without a certain amount of consternation and fretting the outcomes of what tend to be in hindsight, pretty much no-brainers.

That being said, most of these decisions are fairly black and white in the sober light of day, and when we err it's usually because of abject solipsism and not because we thought we had the children's best interests at heart and just happened to be out and out wrong. It's a trite and tired observation that we too often try and correct our failures and misgivings through our kids (not mention the reliving of past glories). Further more, the biggest fuck ups usually occur when we try and straddle this line and have our cake and eat it to.

It's the "I told you so" moment that gets us. These uber-satisfying moments that give us so much pleasure when they happen to your friend that you've known since high school that have no business in a parent/child relationship. Too often we argue. We want our countenance to be heard and then we acquiesce. We shelter only to turn our heads at the last second to tacitly agree to something because we know we have the "I was right all along" in our back pocket. Or failing that admission to ourselves we bask in being the one that can make it all better once everything goes to shit. It's a nice feeling to be sure, but at the end of the day, it's not serving anyone.

I'm no saint nor anyone's father of the year. I'm prone to this and myriad other foibles as a dad of almost 16 years. But part of my self-perceived success to this point is that I'm willing to admit when I am wrong and make attempts at evaluation following decisions of import. When I shelter I try to be staunch. I try and wear my authority hat with humility and admit while I don't know everything, I surely know more about the ins and outs of navigating existence than almost any high schooler. And while I freely admit that I've pulled an "I told you so" or two in raising Sid, I try to do it with an ounce of humor, and note that when this inevitably happens again, I won't bust your balls too hard, because as Vonnegut said, "Life is no way to treat an animal."

So when your kid decides to undertake something colossally stupid, pick a side. Use your experience to keep your precious impressionables away from things that will haunt them for years. Be benevolent and understanding when you send them into the abyss and they come back wounded. It's not always easy or an in character thing to do. At the end of the day though, they will respect you for it. OK, if they're teenagers they probably won't, but you'll be safe in the knowledge that in a difficult situation, you made the best decision you could based on your experience and with the facts at hand. I can unequivocally say that if the government operated that way, we wouldn't be so fucked right now.

Posted 10:38am
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February 16th, 2011

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

- When I was 15 I knew everything. Outside of talking to girls, nothing made me nervous. When you're outrageously confident, there's no reason to doubt that things are going to go exactly as you have them drawn up in your head. It never occurred to me that everyone wasn't that way at 15 until last night. Siddhartha and I played the Love Hangover for the second time and I decided to let him take the reigns this time. Amongst the myriad compliments I got about my progeny post performance, the overriding reaction was "Holy shit, I can't believe he wasn't nervous." This was inevitably followed by "Well I guess he is your kid." So apparently not all 15 year olds consider it no big deal to get on stage at a bar and play for a bunch of people twice your age. But mine does, and that is super cool. My guitar playing was awful so I can't watch the videos, but you can: Brand New Colony, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

- I had a junior high teacher who told me that he'd never let his daughter go to the University of Michigan because you could get the same education at Ohio State and not pay out of state tuition. I did call him on it then because I was 12 and didn't know better. I wonder what he'd say now that their honors (HONORS!) English class has Twilight as required reading. Hail to the Leaders and Best. Oh, and Hahahahahhahahahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahahaha. (and thanks Ayesha for the link).

- Speaking of Sid and education, here's a study that says video games are positive for human development. Of course that's assuming he's not playing more than 28 hours a week. I'm going to go ahead and not start to count.

- I know the BDGF and her pseudo sister Christa are still in mourning over the White Stripes break up, and I'm more than a little sad as well. Mostly because I agree with every single word in this article: Why Meg White Matters. It's much better writing than I am capable of, so you should be reading that instead of this.

- Finally, last Saturday the BDGF and I got our long awaited weekend in Kzoo as special guests of Bell's Brewery. It was every bit my Charlie Bucket moment that I wanted it to be. We got a personal tour of the brewery and an open tab at the Eccentric cafe, then wrapped up the day by seeing Maritime at the Strutt. As far as days go, that one was pretty awesome. You can see pics here, or just enjoy this delightful one of my beautiful BDGF in her dorky safety glasses:

Posted 11:03am
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February 15th, 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- T O N I G H T ! Siddhartha and T perform at the Love Hangover. We go on first at 7:15, so get there early. Then stay for some sublime music featuring other notables like Chris Bathgate, Annie Palmer and members of local luminaries like The Secret Twins and Black Jake and the Carnies. I guarantee you a good time.

- There's nothing more depressing in the world than buying two tickets for a $10 show and actually paying $30 because of the mountain of fees that Ticketbastard piles on top. This isn't by any means a revelation, but it never fails to feel, as Sting said, like a humiliating kick in the crotch. Anyway I doubt this will do anything to help, but I'll do anything to avoid giving those assholes one thin dime.

- LCD Soundsystem has gone the way of the White Stripes. If I can pull a James Murphy and retire at 41, I will consider myself a success. Here's their last ever TV appearance, last night on The Colbert Report.

- Hear! New singles from The Strokes and Thermals frontman Hutch Harris.

- Watch! The Black Keys celebrate grind house cinema, The New Pornographers celebrate famous comedians, and Prince puts a Kardashian in her place. Which for the record, is not only nowhere near Prince, but nowhere near the public consciousness. Get off the stage indeed.

- Anticipate! The Flaming Lips release some tasty vinyl and go on tour, Radiohead drops a new album (This Saturday!) and Jack White and Dangermouse? Yes, Yes and holy fucking shit are you serious?

Posted 10:17am
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February 14th, 2011

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.

Needless to say, I'm in love and that makes Valentine's Day OK. I'll save the massive declarations of affection for not the internet, other than to say the BDGF is my best friend, I love her dearly and consider myself the luckiest guy in the world. Here's hoping you are similarly lucky. If love hasn't found you yet, fret not! You are a reader of tbaggervance.com and love finds those who can find merit in my prose. Until then, open a bottle of wine, relax, and know that you have my permission to give an open handed slap to anyone shoving love down your throat today.

- When I was a kid we had to doctor candy hearts by hand, and now you get them with "Nice Tits" already on them? You're stiffling the creativity of junior high kids across this great nation!

- For my single Ann Arborite friends out there, take solace in the fact that Ann Arbor is the fifth most romantic city in America. Although that may be partially attributable to all those Barry White albums I keep ordering. I can't get enough of your love baby.

- And while Barry White and/or Johnny Mathis always work, here's some guaranteed mood killers. Although if you didn't already know that "Tonight I'm fucking you" isn't the right sentiment, you're probably solo anyway.

- Don't forget that if you haven't got me a valentines day present yet, you can always donate to the Spelling Bee. xoxo -tbaggervace

Posted 10:09am
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February 11th, 2011

i before e, liquor before beer...

I know many of you dear readers wanted badly to make your annual donation to 826 Michigan in 2010 through Sid and I's annual effort to win some sort of gaming tournament. But alas, said opportunity never came. Well we aren't going to get too far into 2011 before rectifying that.

This year it'll be the BDGF and I in a spelling bee. From our donation page:

It's that time again! Our favorite non-profit is hosting a fundraiser to help teach kids to become better writers. We need your help.

We'll be competing in a Spelling Bee for Honest Cheaters, and the more you donate, the better chance we have at winning.

OK, let's be honest, in years past I promised you victories in Scrabble and Euchre and failed to deliver. But this year will be different! Because I promise we have little to no chance to take home spelling glory. That is unless you decide that your generosity knows no bounds and make a small donation to our rag tag duo.

But that's not the point. It really never was. This organization is near and dear to our hearts. Heck, Natalie and I may have never met without it. So we owe them big time. How do we repay our gratitude? By asking our friends to pony up the dough.

So dig deep, and make a small contribution so that we can at least keep in the game long enough to not be an embarassment. Or at least do it for the children...

xoxo
T & his BDGF

So no grandious boasting, just a humble plea to help out 826, because it is awesome and deserves your support. And then you can come to the event, hang out with Dave Eggers, and watch us fail spectacularly! Thanks in advance team.

- Episode 2 of Uncle t-bags Old Fashioned Good Timey Podcast is up. But you knew that already, because you are a subscriber. You are a subscriber, right? IT'S FREE! Also, leave a review! It would mean a lot to me, especially if you lie and say you liked it.

Posted 9:27am
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February 10th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- There's a lot of angles I could take on the fact that Bill O'Rly? went deeper down the rabbit hole on the whole God made the tides meme. But I think I'll just offer you this brief repose from Eugene Mirman and ask "If the moon were made of cheese, would you eat it?" I would.

- Oh Iowa. You went and legalized gay marriage a few years back and there was much rejoicing. And then you went and passed a law in your House of Representatives despite this super awesome kid's speech that somehow failed to pierce your cold, dead hearts. Then like some homophobic Bill O'Reilly you double down and with the "Gays basically aren't real people" law. Ugh. And on top of EVERYTHING, Iowa Republicans think Obama is a secret Muslim! I love my Iowan friends, but let me say on behalf of compassion, analytical thought, and civility, Iowa can suck it.

- Here's some scary religious quotes from Presidents that make me so very very sad that I just want to have a good cry and hot bubble bath to try and forget that in most of the country being an atheist is worse than being gay. Except at the end, we get this from conservative Barry Goldwater:

I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across the country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in the 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral belief to me? And I'm even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. And the religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected with them recognize that religion has no place in public policy.

I'm still having my bubble bath.

- In honor of last week's podcast, here's 10 Biblical facts everyone gets wrong. Damn, I should have put facts in quotes.

- While there was a host of things to pick from, my least favorite part of Catholicism was confession. If I'm going to say the word masturbate out loud, it should be to elicit laughter, not admonishment. Well for those of you who feel similarly and yet still feel the need to actually follow the tenets of Catholicism, now there's an iPhone app to walk you through the arduous process. I'd be weary though, as Jesus has a history of screwing up technology.

- This is old but I just came across it, and it is super awesome. Here's Mythbusters Adam Savage on why Humanism is where it's at.

- Finally, as proof that there is good in the world, here's a pic of Christians protecting praying Muslims during the Egyptian protests. Way to get one right Baby J.

Posted 10:59am
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February 9th, 2011

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

- Watching Dr. Phil yesterday was even more uncomfortable than normally being in a room with my friend's ex-wife. Being so close to the situation, it was hard to make an analytical assessment of how things came off. Sure I saw through her thinly veiled attempts at gaining sympathy and the obvious lies that were refuted by every piece of evidence presented, but I have years of knowledge of her behavior to inform my opinion. What about your average Joe? Well Joe has spoken and the verdict is crazy. This was a huge relief if not vindication for my friend. Best of all, I know that somewhere she's reading every comment on that board and is absolutely apoplectic about how she has been received. Well, at least she'd be apoplectic if she knew what the word meant.

- The Onion hops in their DeLorean and discovers what we here at tbaggervance.com have been saying for years: Future U.S. History Students: 'It's Pretty Embarrassing How Long You Guys Took To Legalize Gay Marriage'

- One of the general public's main criticisms of science is that it spends a lot of time confirming what we already know. I personally took a lot of heat for my study in the late 90s to confirm that getting women intoxicated increases the likelihood that they will sleep with me. (It was for science!) Anyway, this may sound obvious, but science has confirmed that helping around the house can get you laid. Of course as with all things that men can potentially do to get in good with the fairer sex, it's not enough to do it - you have to want to do it. Unsolicited. Without expectations of reward. I really should thank mom and dad for making me an anal retentive neat freak.

- One of the biggest justifiable criticisms of Obama's first two years in office is his fairly appalling record on civil liberties. It's hard to defend him against those that argue he's kept far too many Bush-era policies that were inserted into the rectum of America in a post-9/11 malaise where we laid down like sheep hoping daddy would protect us. Blerg. Anyway, props to the Tea Party and conservative Republicans who put their vote where their mouth is and blocked the extension of the Patriot act yesterday. I mean, these things will eventually get extended anyway, as people forget that from health care reform to DADT, once these things are in place, they're a bitch to get rid of, but kudos for the moment.

- Finally, this is presented without comment: Bea Arthur Mountains Pizza.

Posted 10:41am
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February 8th, 2011

You've got to hide your love away.

It's that time of year again:

Sid and I will be playing The Love Hangover next Tuesday at Woodruff's in Ypsilanti. After showing me up last year, I'm handing over control of the performance to Junior, so it's his show. I'll be there to strum the guitar and drink his share of the beer. Keep in mind that this is a benefit for 826, so not only will you be entertained by Siddhartha's dulcet tones, but benefiting the children. Consider showing up your Valentines Day present to me.

- I've been going back and forth about whether or not to mention this, because it seems voyeuristic and exploitative somehow, but then I keep coming back to the fact they put it all on national tv anyway. So... one of my best friends from high school is on Dr. Phil today. He's got one hell of an ex-wife and someone from the show called one of their lawyers looking for "Couples going through difficult divorces" and the lawyer said "Jackpot." At first my friend declined, but then they called back and told him that his ex was going on regardless, so wanting to be there to refute her lies (and after getting them to agree to pay for some post-show counseling) he found himself on the show. I haven't seen it yet, and I'm worried that they're going to try and be too even handed or paint my friend in some negative light. But then I keep coming back to the fact that no amount of editing in the world can make his ex-wife look like anything but a crazy bitch, so I think he'll be OK. I know just watching the clips online make me so grateful my babymama don't be trippin'.

Posted 10:22am
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February 7th, 2011

Get on your bad motor scooter and ride.

Parents always point to their children turning 18 and leaving the nest to go start their lives (hopefully in college) as the watershed moment of adulthood. Having not gone through it yet from the parent side, I'm not going to argue that it's not a big deal. Surely it is. It was as the 18 year old, finally getting total freedom and subsequently abusing it like Rome was burning around you first semester freshman year. But if 18 is losing your childhood virginity, 16 is at least a hand job.

It is in the Midwest anyway, where public transportation exists in a limited fashion if at all. Here, the car is king. And once you and your friends have drivers licenses, it suddenly occurs to you that you don't have to stay at home anymore. While you're still limited by curfews and seemingly arbitrary rules about where you can go and with whom, the world exponentially opens up to you. As a parent, you're nest may not be officially empty, but I imagine it seems lonelier.

Which is why I'm not sure why we did what we did last Saturday. With the Wonder Twins (Sid and the BDGF's oldest) both 15 and having the audacity to have lives of their own, we spend a lot of time carting them around the city. In that sense, 16 can't come soon enough. It just so happens that there is an alternative for those who aren't street legal for vehicles of the four wheeled variety. So the BDGF and I drove through a snowstorm on Saturday to take a look at this:


It was a 45 minute drive that took 90. And when we got there, the hillbilly who owned it was wholly ignorant of any licensing, title or legal obligations that came with scooter ownership. Luckily the BDGF whipped out her phone and after a google search, we discovered that a lack of paperwork wasn't any real impediment. (As an aside, this rube acted like she was from the future. He furrowed his brow every time she said 'Google' and noted "You must work in an office or something.") After draining Temperance Michigan's loan ATM machine, we went ahead and bought it.

So have we hastened the Wonder Twins entrance into adulthood? Perhaps a tad. Such is the price of wanting to spoil your children and have them think you're cool. As long as they don't go and hurt themselves on the thing, we're happy with our decision. Just don't tell the kids yet - we're keeping it a surprise until the weather breaks. Or maybe until we're sick of them hanging around the house.

Posted 11:06am
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February 4th, 2011

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

- Things to watch!

-Glenn Beck goes off the deep end on Egypt. It's like he heard the word caliphate and then built an incomprehensible conspiracy theory around it.
- A new wrestling (?) movie staring Paul Giamati - Win Win. We saw a special screening of this last week and the BDGF calls it the best sports movie she's ever seen. I agree that it's the best sports movie she's ever seen if you don't count Caddyshack.
- This new VW commercial is fucking adorable (and a pretty good insight into my childhood)

- The best/worst thing about the internet is that mistakes live forever. Like when you leave your dildo on the back of your toilet.

- Every woman I've ever dated seems to constantly be freezing, and it turns out it wasn't just a ploy they used to be close to me. But as long as the outcome is the same, I could care less why the BDGF constantly uses me as a portable heater.

- I loved Kevin Smith films in my 20s. Clerks felt like a found treasure that belonged only to me, and I pulled strings and begged favors to get into pre-release screeners of Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I even loved Clerks 2. But I can't say that I feel any real sense of loss to hear he plans to retire from directing. I've been waiting for years to show Sid the films of Quentin Tarantino, and I've decided this is the year. Then I had the epiphany to do Kevin Smith/Tarantino double features, watching the two auteurs films in order from the beginning. Wouldn't it be fun to juxtapose Clerks and Reservoir Dogs? Then I thought about a Inglorious Basterds/Cop Out double feature and I just got sad. I guess we'll always have the Quick Stop...

- Finally, if Tom Petty was right when he said the waiting is the hardest part, then all y'alls lives just got a shit ton easier. It's here: Uncle t-bags Old Fashioned Good Timey Podcast is go! Episode one stars the BDGF talking about the Bible and her lack of knowledge thereof. Please subscribe, please leave a review on iTunes. Please get in touch with me so you too can be on the show! You want in on the ground floor, because someday I'll actually be good at this and then I may not even remember your name.

Posted 10:06am
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February 3rd, 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. The White Stripes... Well dead may be a tad dramatic, but according to their website, Jack and Meg are officially hanging up their red and white duds for good. Tis a sad, sad day to be sure - especially for the BDGF, who never got a chance to see them live. But as I told her when she heard the news yesterday, someday the paycheck will be too much to ignore and she'll get her chance. I can't wait to see what those tickets are going to cost me...

- To satiate your Jack White needs, here he is looking pimp as hell, playing with Wanda Jackson.

- And see? Van Halen is recording with David Lee Roth. Those guys can't possibly even need the money and they hate each other! Fame is a powerful drug.

- More details are starting to leak on the new Strokes album, which is out March 22nd. The Strokes are one of the few bands I haven't seen live, so I look forward to rectifying that - especially since Sid has and I refuse to be one upped by my 15 year old.

- Rivers Cuomo continues to need to renovate his house. At least I assume so, because he's again trading on his once loathed Pinkerton with a new book and outtake album. While my love of that album will never fade, now that I've seen them perform it live, I completely wash my hands of all Pinkerton related hucksterism. I said good day...

- Here's some sweet Spoon video - a france. Very oui.

- Cake had Soundscan's number one album a couple weeks ago - albeit at the lowest total to ever do so. Hooray?

- And finally, the BDGF may have disappointment on her mind with boyfriend #2 retiring from her favorite band, but there's always boyfriend #3*, who I might add is way less famous and more approachable (not to mention we have tickets in hand to go see him in a few weeks...)

* This is my own ordering system, the BDGF may and probably has a different hierarchy.

Posted 10:26am
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February 1st, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Regular watchers of Real Time with Bill Maher (as you all should be) know that he doesn't shy away from bringing on conservatives. Admittedly, this is largely in hopes that he can put them in a situation where they will say something colossally stupid and they will oblige. He hit at least a stand up triple last Friday when Jack Kingston fired off one of my favorite chestnuts: "I came from God not from a Monkey." I try to have an open mind and I know that there are many intelligent people out there who believe in a higher power. But if you don't believe in evolution you are an unserious dolt and I have no time for you. I said good day.

- Let's go around the league and look at what people are saying about the sinful gays this week! Uganda still wants to put homosexuals to death, in history's largest case of methinks he doth protest too much. I know the Bible is a violent, unforgiving place for the first half, but I thought Baby J cured us of that? Clearly even main stream Christians are scared shitless of the gays, as Joel Osteen admitted to Piers Morgan (who may be gay, or may be just British - it's sometimes hard to tell) that dudes loving dudes is a sin. Since he can't pick and choose scripture, I'm waiting on his thoughts as to stoning an unruly child or slavery. But there is hope, hot Bush twin Barbara recently came out for gay marriage. Unfortunately, she doesn't go as far to say "I now can admit to myself and all of you that my daddy was reelected in 2004 by praying on the fears of uneducated 'mericans who think that a wedding with two tuxedos is a sign of the apocalypse. We all know what a mistake those four years were, and I want to do whatever I can to make it right."

- For all of you righteous motherfuckers who like to point fingers at other religions, let me remind you about being without sin and casting stones. Muslims treat their women horribly in many parts of the world and we all should find it appalling. But I'm no Solomon so I can't say where that falls relative to systematically covering up child abuse for decades.

- Finally, it turns out Jesus isn't invited to the Super Bowl this year. The people at lookup316.com want you to take the time to finally find out what John 3:16 actually means. Let me save you the trouble:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

I get that this may be important and comforting if you are a believer, but let's be honest, it's not really a persuasive argument. I mean, the theme song to Fame promised to let you live forever if you attended a performing arts high school, and that's at least slightly less annoying than church. In their defense, the commercial is less preachy (although also less sexy) than the Peta ads that get banned every year. As a meat loving atheist, I whole heartedly approve both of them getting nixed. Now let's talk about the talking babies...

Posted 10:50am
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January 31st, 2011

Our long national nightmare is finally abated.

The trigger has been pulled and I am now the proud lessee on a 2010 Honda Fit. There was a fair bit of agonizing that in the end, was made simple by inaction (and not mine, mind you).

I walked into both the local Honda and Ford dealerships and told them that I was interested in their entry level subcompact car. I also told them the following: 1.) My current vehicle was in a state of disrepair and I will be purchasing a new vehicle by Saturday afternoon. 2.) I have two fifteen year olds at home, and I will be purchasing another vehicle in the next six to eight months. This was designed to let them know I was serious and to say "treat me right, and I'll be back shortly."

The Honda guy responded to this exactly the way I had hoped. The Ford guy, not so much. He barely spent any time explaining the cars features, provided me with no brochures or documentation to take home to the family, and walked me out the door only with a price written on the back of a business card. It was the kind of experience that makes me shudder at shopping for a new car, but in no small part out of my loyalty to my Ford buddies, I told him I'd be in touch.

So when I decided to get the BDGF and children's opinions to help break what was a statistical tie on the cars themselves, I contacted both dealers to schedule another test drive. Guess who never even bothered to get back to me? While the Honda guy contacted me twice (once to tell me that he had figured a way to drop the price of the car $10 a month) the Ford guy couldn't bother to return an email. While driving to the Honda dealership the BDGF asked me "So are we just going to show up at Ford after this and see if someone will let us take a look?" I told her that if the whole family likes the Honda, I'll buy it out of spite.

By now you know what happened. It's not the color I would have chosen, but I reminded myself that I'm buying an entry level subcompact purchased largely because of its utilitarianism, not a status symbol. 48 hours in I'm completely happy with my decision. Sorry Ford people, I tried. Others looking to do the same should steer clear of Varsity Ford.

- I'm finally making headway on seeing 2011's Oscar contenders. After weeks of trying, we finally knocked out True Grit over the weekend (brilliant, btw.) nailed The Town a couple weeks back (perfectly directed) and The Social Network is on the docket for Wednesday's guaranteed snow day. I'm now looking at you, King's Speech. For you Ann Arborites, here's your chance to use your Oscar knowledge to win a year's worth of movie passes at Quality 16. Good luck finishing second bitches.

Posted 10:22am
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January 28th, 2011

Esta indecision me molesta...

All apologies for another day of car talk, but I am in a pickle. I have to decide between the top two ranked subcompact cars on the market. In this corner there's the Ford Fiesta. Better gas mileage, sleeker, more gadgets and most importantly, American made. I'm a buy local kind of guy, and I will feel guilty if I don't pick the Ford. My best friend works there and I love the idea of supporting that fact. In the other corner there's the Honda Fit. It's tons roomier, has a larger field of vision from the driver's seat and I like the Honda dealer a lot more than the Ford. Plus the 15 year olds in my house will be driving this car. A lot. I think the simpler Honda with its giant front windshield is the better choice for them. So I'm stuck. I realize what a first world problem this is and I'm being a little whiney and there isn't a wrong choice here. Ack. I'm going to bring the BDGF around tonight and see what she thinks. Maybe she'll see something I didn't and can break the deadlock.

Posted 10:22am
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January 27th, 2011

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. My Taxi...

I apparently drive cars into the ground. Outside of the 1979 Toyota Celica I purchased for $500 in high school (which my little brother subsequently totaled while I was away at college) both cars I have purchased as an adult were basically worth nothing after five years under my care.

I've taken this knowledge and decided I am a good candidate to lease, as after five years of commendable service, it's time to put My Taxi down. She has endured three address changes, thousands of hours of chauffeuring around children, and countless barbs aimed at her bright yellow exterior. But its lack of air conditioning, its crappy handling in the snow and, most importantly, its $2000 worth of needed repairs to bring it out of 'death trap' status means that it's time to wave goodbye.

So, what now? I spent the morning driving Ford's new Fiesta and the Honda Fit. I liked driving both cars and each has its advantages. But the thing is I hate the car buying process. I hate the enormity of the decision. I hate feeling like I'm getting fleeced at every turn. I hate spending money on a car when I should be able to walk down the block and ride a light rail train to my office. That means I am subject to the wiles of a salesman who can calm me and make it feel less like I'm trying to do them a favor by buying a car from them. Cliff at Howard Cooper was much better at achieving that goal than Varsity Ford, who did almost no selling other than to write down a price on the back of a business card and hand it to me.

In any case it'll be a brand new world in the next day or so. For those of you who used to stop by the bar when you saw my distinct vehicle sitting outside of it, it's the end of an era. But when you get behind the wheel of your car and worry everytime you apply the brakes whether or not it's going to stop, one whose time has come.

Posted 1:28pm
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January 26th, 2011

From SOTU to STFU

I realize that the SOTU is largely pomp and circumstance. You're never going to have a sitting president walk in there and describe it as anything other than "strong". Even watching W fumble his way through his SOTUs I'd find something to like over the course of an hour. They're thematic. Short on numbers, long on vague ideas.

So last night Obama was fine. I loved things like a million electric cars on the road in five years and 85% clean energy in 25. I hated the pandering and lip service that goes part and parcel with these things. But at least I'm not a Republican.

Last night Paul Ryan said this in the Republican response:

So I'd like to share with you the principles that guide us. They are anchored in the wisdom of the founders; in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence; and in the words of the American Constitution.

They have to do with the importance of limited government; and with the blessing of self-government.

We believe government's role is both vital and limited — to defend the nation from attack and provide for the common defense ... to secure our borders ... to protect innocent life ... to uphold our laws and Constitutional rights ... to ensure domestic tranquility and equal opportunity ... and to help provide a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves.

Notice how those first and third paragraphs don't match? That's some swinging, pendulous balls to talk about safety nets and equal opportunity - two things that Republicans and the founding fathers rarely seem to concern themselves with.

Bill Maher said it as succinctly as possible the other week: Tea Partiers have nothing in common with the founding fathers. Republicans claim to want less intrusive government will drafting laws to have your ISP spy on you. They score political points with scary language like "death tax" and "death panel", when one doesn't affect 90% of Americans and they other would help a large number of people. This stupid, obfuscating rhetoric drives me crazy. It's all designed to get a harrumph and not deal with anything substantive. And at the end of the day, if you try and tell them pot kettle black, then they lie to your face about ever doing any of it in the first place. I'm frustrated, and I can feel it leading to bad writing. I'm going to go sulk.

Posted 11:25am
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January 25th, 2011

One of us! One of us!

I've always been a little - unconformist - in the way I dress. In junior high I was the only kid wearing Chuck Taylors. In high school I sported a black wool trench coat for four years. I had long hair so the locals from the neighboring farm towns called me fag and threatened to beat me up. In college I started shopping in thrift stores and wore plaid and velvet sport coats to parties. I don't know that I was actively trying to be different as much as I was trying to sort out what I thought was cool. Sure there were many a bad choice along the way, but I've honed my look over the years and I'm still not afraid to take a chance or two. I suppose I just want to dress like me, and not anyone else.

A few years back I was looking to spend a birthday Sunday at a sports bar getting drunk in celebration of the further demise of my youth. A few of my friends were huge Steelers fans and had heard that there was a "Steelers bar" in Ypsi, where fans of the Black and Gold convened to watch the game amongst like minded company. Despite my distaste for driving to the next town over to do some drinking, I said why not.

When I showed up, I got about what I expected. Most of the bar was clad in Steelers jerseys of their favorite players past and present. There were "Steeler Nation" signs on the walls and banners proclaiming "Be a part of the band, not the wagon" hung proudly from the ceiling. I didn't think too much about it; these guys just take their Steeler football as seriously as I take my Michigan football. Certainly there's common ground in that. Besides, it was week three of the NFL season, I can root for the Steelers for an afternoon.

Then we proceeded to get violently drunk. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but there were shots involved, so maybe violently tipsy. The game wore on, the Steelers were up. Troy and I began to jabber back and forth about something (probably related to fantasy football) and as the Steelers lined up for a field goal, I told him "I hope he fucking misses this kick."

That's when the record skipped. In my mind everyone in the bar immediately stopped talking and stared directly at me. I felt like Otter in Animal House - "We are gonna die." I managed to mumble out something about fantasy football before the leader of Steeler Nation - a hulking 6'4", 275lb mound of seriousness - told me "This ain't fantasy football up here, this is real football. Take your fantasy somewhere else." The king had spoken. People reluctantly went back to watching the game and I stared directly into my beer until it was time to go.

I hadn't thought about the incident much in the intervening years. That is until Sunday. An email chain started circulating discussing plans to watch the Sunday NFL championship games, and guess where the Steelers fans insisted we go?

The Steelers were playing late so I showed up half way through the early game. I walked into the downstairs bar and there were signs everywhere "Upstairs closed for private party." While I know analytically that they couldn't much less remember me wishing their field goal kicker ill three years ago, much less have known that I was going to show up and thus take steps to ensure I couldn't get in, but part of me felt like that was the exact scenario playing out. And part of me felt relief over not having to worry about committing any faux pas during the game.

I found my friends downstairs and my heart sank. "Where's Stov and Troy?" Turns out the boys were already upstairs sweet talking their way into the private party. I immediately knew that they'd succeed and 20 minutes later I was surrounded my Black and Gold. Sure enough the minute my butt finds purchase on a stool, the same 6'4", 275lb mound of seriousness is at our table. He shakes Troy and Stov's hands - but not mine. You see Troy and Stov are wearing Steelers jerseys and I, well I am not.

Keep in mind that I actually thought about this conundrum when I got dressed that morning. Not having any Steelers gear in my wardrobe, I put on a plain yellow "Michigan" t-shirt, thinking it was at least the right color. Turns out not close enough. The hulking mass welcomes us to the bar, says he doesn't mind some new people enjoying the game with them. Except for "...this guy wearing maize and blue. That's all right, but it's not black and gold. You wanna watch the game with us you need to look like us."

Not wanting for one second to try and gauge his seriousness, and knowing that Lynn was still downstairs clad head to toe in Bears gear, Stov grabbed his keys and ran home so he could suit us in more proper attire. I made chit chat with Troy while anxiously awaiting Stov's return so that I wouldn't stick out so much in my maize (not gold).

He finally returned and I slipped on my throwback Franco Harris sweater. The game kicked off and it was bedlam. Every positive Steelers play was celebrated like New Years Eve. When touchdowns were scored people ran around the bar hive fiving everyone in sight. Including me.

Late in the afternoon I made my way back from the restroom and Mr. Hulking mass himself stops me. He puts a meaty paw on my shoulder and brings me in close so that I can hear him over the noise of the crowd. "Don't you feel better now that you look like everyone else?" For the first time in my life I honestly answered with a "Yes, yes I do."

Posted 11:19am
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January 24th, 2011

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

I remember the first time I took a shower at the BDGF's house. I remember because she had to tell me that "The middle handle doesn't really do anything. Just turn the water on and it'll come straight out of the shower head." She said a plumber had taken a look but didn't do anything, and I added it to my then short list of "things I could fix to be nice."

Many months later, after a prompting from the youngest ("I want the water to come out of the bottom again. Tyler can fix it.") I decided to finally get around to it. I won't bore you with the intricacies of replacing a 50 year old diverter valve that has become mysteriously stuck, but needless to say we now have the ability to take both baths and proper showers. The water pressure even increased a little bit, so everyone is happy.

Four years ago I started writing posts under the "5 innocuous" headline. Since then I've found 605 things that I deemed worthy of the moniker. As anniversary ritual dictates, I have to go back through the previous 365 and count up the posts for posterity. This provides a quick sketch of my life between the Januarys and what has transpired in the interim. And while I'm sure you can imagine all the times I gushed over the BDGF and everyone else in my house, the celebration of (minor) political victories and the huzzahs over some douche bags comeuppance, the one thing I wasn't expecting was all the home improvement.

I suppose I should have known. I started fixing things here and there about a year ago to a.) ingratiate myself b.) just be nice and c.) have fun. There's something oddly satisfying to my brain in fixing things. Doubly so when I dive into a project not knowing what I'm doing. It's on the fly problem solving! I realize the notion of seat-of-your-pants DIY is eye rolling to many if not most of you, but I don't care how nerdy it sounds. I relish the idea that the BDGF's youngest sees something that needs fixing and assumes I can take care of it. Here's hoping I never let her down.

And here's the top five innocuous things that were making me happy over the past year - home improvement spectacular:

- March 10, 2010 - What was probably my first call to action, the leaky faucet. It was either that or when the garage door wouldn't open and I had to break into the ramshackle hut through the painted shut window.

- April 21, 2010 - Yup, I reference the garage thing here, but it's actually about the goddamn exhaust fan in the bathroom. That thing took me months to fix, mostly because it involved ordering a lot of parts from the internet.

- April 30, 2010 - See? I'm still talking about it a little over a week later. Probably because I thought I had it fixed on the 21st and then had to take another stab when it broke again. This is a recurring theme in my handy man tenure - it usually takes at least two tries.

- September 2, 2010 - Here we celebrate the end of major combat operations over our constructive summer. A few days later I would compare the newly minted garage to Michigan and Denard Robinson. In hindsight, let's hope that analogy doesn't hold.

- October 14th, 2010 - Most of home improvement is boring maintenance, like mowing the lawn or raking leaves, which the youngest is always eager to help with. Just yesterday I was cleaning the oven, which prompted her to wash the windows on the back door. Who knows, in a few years I could have the ultimate apprentice/assistant...

Posted 10:39am
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January 20th, 2011

Lord to be seventeen forever...

Age is just a number. Or a state of mind. Or you're just as old as you feel. Pick your trite cliche, but most people over thirty that I know will tell you that things get better as you get older, not worse. Of course people over fifty may tell you differently, but so far outside of a slightly higher propensity to injure myself during sporting events, 35 is better than 25 is better than 15. Responsibilities may increase, but I can still enjoy all the trappings of youth. Plus I now have the means to do them with a little more style and I'm smart enough to know that going to bars that you have to wait in line to get into aren't ever fun. Ever.

But don't try and tell that to rock and roll. Ever since Roger Daltry sang "Hope I die before I get old.." rock has been obsessed with youth. Alice Cooper sang about being "Eighteen" and not knowing what he wanted. Kiss sang about the forbidden fruit of "Christine Sixteen". But far and away rock and roll agrees that the best of all possible ages is seventeen. Want proof?

The Beatles - I Saw Her Standing There
"Well she was just seventeen, and you know what I mean..."

Winger - Seventeen
"Daddy says she's too young, but she's old enough for me..." OK, I'll admit I liked this song when it came out, and now it I find it angrily creepy. So there's that.

The Hold Steady - Stevie Nicks
"Lord to be seventeen forever..."

Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen
"Just like the white wing dove..."

Stray Cats - Sexy and Seventeen
"My little rock and roll queen..."

Meatloaf - Paradise by the Dashboard Lights
"We were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed..."

Joan Jett - I love Rock and Roll
"I knew he musta been about seventeen..."

ABBA - Dancing Queen
"Dancing Queen, Young and Sweet, Only Seventeen..."

That's just off the top of my head and doesn't include Sinatra or Sound of Music songs. I suppose the idea of the last throws of youth before you get spoiled by adulthood is a powerful one, especially when you're pandering to a certain demographic that still buys music. But let's be honest, seventeen? Outside of young people looking their age, the young can keep their youth. As glamorous as cheap beer, no money and not knowing how to talk to girls was, I don't have much desire to go back - especially since seventeen year olds would just ask who the old guy was.

Posted 1:56pm
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January 19th, 2011

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

- I had a real nerd moment the other day when I heard about the turmoil in Tunisia and my first instinct was to text C. Jason and ask "What do you suppose George Lucas thinks about all of this?" Then I read this and was reminded that Lucas has lost his mind and he probably thinks he shot Star Wars on the actual Tatooine back in '76. Although I guess I'll be the one with egg on my face if the world ends in 2012.

- ljv is always asking me for 'reliable' climate science research, so I present to him these findings from the University of Michigan. Hail to the Victors. And suck it.

- I know I said I wasn't going to talk about football anymore until August, but Michigan hired Greg Mattison to be their defensive coordinator. Greg MATTISON. How am I supposed to see that and NOT get excited? I am really going to be hurt when we end up sucking next year, so apologies to the BDGF in advance for my attitude and demeanor come September.

- Our long national nightmare is finally over: you won't have Droopy to kick around anymore in the U.S. senate. Lieberman's hostage taking, back stabbing, grandstanding ways will soon be a thing of the past. Don't let the door hit ya Joe.

- Finally, there's a buzz in the air around our house these days. The people I live with are doing exciting, amazing things and have some truly intriguing opportunities in front of them. I don't want to speak on their behalf or spoil anything, so let me tell that I have big plans to fix the diverter valve in our shower this weekend. Despite what you may think, I have no problem being the least interesting person in the house. When you live with amazing people like I do, it's bound to happen. Even to me.

Posted 11:47am
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January 18th, 2011

I want to thank God for making me an Atheist.

I don't have a thought in my head at the moment. I had to meet with the big muckity mucks of the department first thing this morning and I emptied my brain pan to get through it. Here's some shit from around the internet:

- If you didn't see the Golden Globes Sunday night, Ricky Gervais took no prisoners. As the article notes, the man has 'unfathomably huge balls.' We were at trivia last night and the BDGF said "Do you remember who won last night, because all I remember is Ricky Gervais is an Atheist." Yes, closing the show with the quote from the headline was ballsy too.

- We also asked the question last night "When is Curb coming back?" And while I still don't know the answer, this makes me think 'soon'.

- This is so nerdy that I can't make out all of it. But I am nerdy enough to get a lot of it and it makes me giggly school girly.

- I'm not sure why The Oscars are still generally revered and The Grammys are completely irrelevant, but this list of the least deserving best new artist winners is a start.

Posted 11:41am
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January 17th, 2011

Podcast Salvo.

I've always thought this, although I don't know that I've ever verbalized it or even wrote it down - this blog is far more about my friends and the people around me that it is about my stupid antics. I realize that I trade in abject solipsism, but I'd be nothing and have precious little content without you guys. Not a week goes by in my existence where someone doesn't refer to my girlfriend as the BDGF, or tells me how they just figured out that Sid and Cameron are the same person. There are people who have known me for years who have better insight into my life via the blog than actual conversations with me. This is a both a frightening concept and constant reminder that what I talk about most, and certainly what resonates with people, are my brilliant partners in all of this ridiculousness.

About a year ago I discovered podcasts. My line of work requires that I sit at a desk most of the day with a lot of down time (I watch a lot of progress bars as software loads). It's not usually enough time to accomplish something meaningful, but significant enough that twiddling one's thumbs isn't enough to pass the time. While I love music, it's hard to get appropriately lost in something the way my brain requires in these instances. So 30-60 minutes of information or hilarity to distract my gray matter is manna from heaven. The lo-fi, low-budget aspect of it all quickly made it apparent to me that this is something that I could do. I never got very far as to what it would be or how it would manifest itself, but the possibility of the possible haunted me.

Enter the impetus. A lot of ideas flow through my head on any given day much less week. I should paint that. I should write about this. What if I wrote a song about it? 99% of these never come to fruition; in large part because the majority of the ideas are terrible. Part of it is laziness, another is a lack of idea of how to end it or seeing the overall structure. In any case, there's a certain missing impetus that keeps these things from coming to fruition. So sometimes, you have to force these things. Chris Rock said that he knew he had to get better when he bought a house and hence forth had to pay the mortgage. Wesley Snipes (yes, Wesley Snipes) said you can't make luck, but you can be ready when opportunity arises. OK I'm shoehorning at this point, but at some point last November I put a mixing board on my xmas list thinking "Well if someone buys this for me, I'll have to start a podcast."

Of course that came to a head this December when I opened a gift from Damma* and I knew, for lack of a better turn of phrase, I was fucked. My mixer arrived and I was resigned to turn the ethereal idea into reality. My thoughts went immediately to you guys. Now you finally have an opportunity to contribute to the blog in a way that doesn't get filtered through my drunk, hyperbolized prose! It's like I'm giving back to all of you while still taking. But before we get Uncle t-bags Old Fashioned Good Timey Podcast, I owe Damma one. So for those of you who want your movie reviews from a seven year old or need Polly Pocket explained to you, I present Chloecast:

Chloecast - Episode One

Chloecast RSS

Of course she couldn't remember to stay on mic despite fiddling with it the entire time, so apologies for the sometimes poor quality of everything. We promise to get better at this. It's going to be fun. Oh! and it should be up in iTunes soon, so check for that and leave a comment. We plan on being famous very, very soon.

*My Mother-in-Common Law

Posted 10:46am
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January 14th, 2011

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

- I have come to terms with Brady Hoke. While he's kind of a roll of the dice when it comes to the kind of important on the field stuff, he's clearly mending fences and bringing some of the crabby pants back into the fold. Word is that Mike Martin and Denard are staying. If he can scrape together a recruiting class and we can at least go back to the Lloyd years of 9-10 wins, occasionally beating OSU and falling backwards into a National Championship, all will be right with the world again.

- Here's some headlines you probably won't see on Fox News: Those fiscally responsible, deficit hawk Republicans got some bad news from the CBO. Repealing health care reform will cost $230 billion. No worries though, they say foo to that. Oh! And small businesses are offering employees health care! Yay! (Just don't mention that it's due to Obamacare.)

- I don't deny that I am Brubaker through and through, but to say that my tastes diverge from that of the rest of my family is, well, an understatement. Yesterday I was watching Exit Through the Gift Shop while my sister was telling Facebook that Grown Ups was a must see. My favorite artists of 2010? Vampire Weekend, Tokyo Police Club, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. My brother got my sister a copy of Wingers Greatest Hits for christmas (and believe me when I tell you that I'm biting my tongue to not diatribe that it was on CD (how quaint!) or that they're only hit song is about statutory rape). Anyway, that really hit me over the head looking at this list, because my brother's favorite movie is Armageddon, and I own Gattaca on DVD. I mean, I have an unnatural love of Bruce Willis, but that movie is terrible without the scientific inaccuracies.

- The BDGF and I just started watching Mad Men from the beginning and holy fuck is it good. I don't have a lot to say on the subject, other than when everyone one you know tells you something is awesome and you should watch it, instead of hemming and hawing and saying "I know, I'll ge to it eventually," you should probably just go watch it. As my beloved grandmother used to say, "Shit or get off the pot."

- Speaking of, I am going to a movie this weekend. True Grit, I Love You Phillip Morris, The King's Speech - I'm seeing something. And I'm going to watch a ton of football. And probably have a beer or two. And just relax. Hoo-fucking-ray.

Posted 11:33am
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January 13th, 2011

This Week in Indie rock.

- Are there no limits to Jack White's hucksterism? I'm beginning to think no.

- New Strokes LP will be out soon. Will they be welcomed back as saviors or is it time for the inevitable backlash?

- So there was a report that Beastie Boy MCA had beaten cancer that turned out to be premature. We here at tbaggervance.com have no doubt that he eventually will, because Beasties can't, won't and don't stop.

- The Black Keys are doing some big time profile raising as of late. They were recently on SNL and also mocked their commercial ubiquity with co-sell outs Vampire Weekend on Colbert the other night. Sell out or no, I'm for more Black Keys.

- Once you hear this you'll probably have the same reaction as I did "They haven't done that already?" Favorite indie tearjerker Once is becoming a broadway musical. I'm guessing more people get injured making this than that Spider-man musical. I don't know how yet, but the bar has been raised people.

- New Hold Steady! The BDGF and I are busy planning our family vacation around a Hold Steady show, because if you could, why wouldn't you?

- Local fav Chris Bathgate has a new single and forthcoming LP. I look forward to a plethora of Bathgate live shows this spring.

- Finally, I first heard about The Fab Faux years and years ago on Howard Stern. Their stated goal was that the Beatles canon should be treated like classical music - it's so good that it's worthy of interpretation over and over again. Seems obvious, but if you're like me you're probably imagining lame cover band versions of early Beatles tunes. That's where you'd be wrong. They are coming to the Michigan Theater in March, and you bet your sweet ass we'll be there.

Posted 10:10am
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January 11th, 2011

Imagined Antipathy.

I don't get angry. At least not outwardly and not often. If you do see me lose my shit it's either a.) related to Michigan football and probably directed at some poor soul sitting in my area at the stadium who decided to boo a 19 year old or b.) my son did something foolhardy and stupid and I am unbelievably frustrated at the fact that I thought he was better than that.

Those are the times I deem it appropriate to dress someone down and have a expletive laden diatribe parse my lips. Yes, I do that daily in the blog to keep my head from exploding and true, I manage them from time to time verbally when thinking about the government or why they still let Michael Bay make movies. But when talking about my real life and things that affect me directly I mostly just sit and stew.

Part of me clings to the belief that he who yells loudest has already lost. And another knows that losing one's shit is a sure fire way to put your foot in your mouth and say something you'll regret. That's why in normal everyday situations I remain externally calm and have worst case scenario tirades in my head.

My mind is always going 110 mph. It is seriously hard to quiet sometimes. Which is why most of the time I just let it go. I may look like I'm paying attention to you, but chances are I'm trying to remember the track order for the Pulp Fiction soundtrack because I heard someone say the word 'answer' and that always makes me think of John Travolta driving Uma Thurman across town in the convertable yelling "Fuck you Lance, answer!" at Eric Stoltz. My body is a strange place to live.

So when I feel disdain I keep it closed off and let it run its course in my head. Chances are I've been mad at you and played out countless scenarios in which we never speak to each other again. Until many years later we run into each other and I finally tell you what I was so mad about and you shake your head and say "I had no idea" which only infuriates me more and then I walk away vowing to REALLY never talk to you again. This time.

I have no idea if this is healthy or not. In my solipsistic view of the universe, it has become a necessity to maintain relationships. I was always an angry guy growing up and I got tired of playing that stereotype, so I stopped making so much of my vitriol public. Now my inner Hulk is relegated to myself alone - until it actually spills out my ears and people get to see what amounts to the tip of the iceberg. But trust me when I tell you, the stuff that's doing real damage goes for miles and miles beneath the surface.

Posted 4:52pm
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January 10th, 2011

Assassination vs. Nerdy Rock Stars with an Asian Fetish.

Yesterday my pseudo father-in-law asked me if I write everyday, or if I take a break when I'm off on a furlough. The BDGF immediately responded "He never writes on vacation, but when he gets back he writes a book." I silently agreed, because a.) I love the BDGF's dad, but I get nervous that him asking me about my writing will lead to him reading it, and no one needs that and b.) it was close enough to true.

Of course today is no exception. Saturday I saw Weezer perform Pinkerton in its entirety, fulfilling a decade long dream. Of course before any of that went down, there was a tragedy in Arizona. I went back and forth trying to decide which to comment on, and then tried to find a way to dovetail the two (to no avail). Sometimes there's too much to say and no way to eloquently find cohesion between your thoughts.

I'm not schooled enough in psychology to say what breaks in your brain to make you think that taking someone's life in a largely symbolic gesture is going to fix anything. I do know that the rhetoric that fuels the hatred of these people is overwhelmingly couched in ignorance, fear and blame. This goes for groups like American Renaissance, who we can all agree are batshit, to individuals like Sarah Palin, who offer watered down versions of the same xenophobic hand gun soup. I'm not saying the latter should lay claim to any of the blame, but if I would have posted that target laden map, in the wake of Saturday I'd go away for a while and come back contrite as hell. Of course that's not how these people work. They'll go back to scaring the hell out of old people and the uneducated because it serves the black hole that is their vanity to rile the proletariat into a lather. All I can do is sit here and try to parse out if it's always been this way or if it's truly getting worse.

I have no segue into my evening with Weezer. Long time readers will know my obsession with their 1996 opus Pinkerton. It's in my top five favorite albums of all time. Jason and I played it at last year's Love Hangover. I truly love it. Since recording Rivers' insecurities into wax 14 years ago, the band went into a slow decline, eschewing personal songwriting for rock star bombast. Some of it works, some of it doesn't, but for me it's lamentable in that Rivers clearly cut himself off from the world, because wearing his heart on his sleeve proved to be too painful. While this may be my own self-fulfilling prophecy, that dichotomy was clearly on display Saturday night. Rivers came out in his trademark nerd specs and roamed the stage like David Lee Roth in 1983. They started with their latest album and went backwards through their catalog. Rivers didn't play much guitar. He wore a cowboy hat for awhile. He spent an inordinate amount of time out in the audience high fiving his fans. I'm sure the high school kids in the audience thought nothing of it, but those of us who were in high school when Weezer made their debut had to at least give it a "huh. that's different." After an intermission, he came back out with the glasses off and the guitar on and blazed through Pinkerton like a technician serving a refrigerator. It wasn't until late in the performance when he took the guitar off again and was free to play to the crowd that he seemed to enjoy himself. Which isn't to say I didn't. I loved ever second of it. They played a bunch of B-sides during the first part of the set I never would have dreamed I'd get to hear, and I convinced myself in the moment that Rivers' disdain for us still wanting to hear his material from the mid-1990's was in my head. I sang along to every word and pretended I was 21 again, which alone was worth the price of admission.

So there you go. I pride myself on literary construction so I apologize for the schizophrenic nature of the post, but sometimes you've just got to get this stuff out.

Posted 10:43am
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January 7th, 2011

The Week That Was.

I generally find wrap up posts banal and sort of a cheat. But fuck it, I'm doing it anyway.

- Monday we welcomed everyone back from their hopefully splendid vacation, and introduced Uncle t-bags Old Fashioned Good Timey Podcast. Since then I've spent the week acquiring the rest of the gear, and now it's just a matter of Mr. Postman showing up at my door with his bag of goodies. I am painfully aware that I keep talking about this and building it up so that it can fail spectacularly. Good times.

- Tuesday we had a requiem for Rich Rodriguez, if not for the entire program (or at least the program as we knew it). Since then it's been a roller coaster of leaks and speculation that's resigned us to not Jim Harbaugh but Brady Hoke as the last best hope to turn our pile of ash back into a phoenix. Blerg. Perhaps making me almost as downtrodden is A.) Michigan fans taking glee in RichRod being gone. You are classless as both Michigan fans and human beings. I never cared much for him personally either, but he was your coach and he gave it what he had. I still wish him luck. B.) OSU fans. No one expects you to be anything but the ignorant hillbillies you prove yourselves to be over and over again, but it makes me burn with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns to watch you gloat when you win games with ineligible players. Tressel is a fuckstick. This isn't the first time this has happened on his watch, and anyone who says he's a "class act" is fucking dumber and more obtuse than a bag full of toddlers.

- Wednesday we had a chew and chat with Baby J. Then Bill O'Reilly went on TV and said that if there's no God, how do you explain the tides?!? Fucking come ON. He is a bag a full of toddlers, who clearly thinks the moon is made of cheese.

- Thursday we talked about both the 112th congress and an editedHuck Finn. THEN John Boehner went and combined the two, by having congress read an ABRIDGED version of the constitution. Way to take a meaningless, symbolic gesture and make it even more worthless. It's this kind of unserious, "let's not talk about daddy's drinking, everything's fine" attitude that makes me want to move to Canada. One time on the good foot gentlemen.

Whew! I may be a little angry. Thankfully tomorrow I'm off to Chicago to see Weezer perform Pinkerton in its entirety. All will be right with the world...

Posted 11:40am
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January 6th, 2011

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

- There's a new edition of Huck Finn out soon that replaces the n-word with 'slave'. Now you, enlightened reader of tbaggervance.com, sees this for what it is - patently ridiculous. Even our precious and precocious little ones can understand that things happen in context. And what teacher worth their salt wouldn't relish an opportunity to have a discussion about how and why that's such a damaging word, and what Twain was trying to accomplish by using it? Exactly. I'm trying not to get worked up about it, but Jesus tap dancing Christ, shall we gut the Bible too? This naturally comes on the heels of Snooki (SNOOKI!) publishing a book. Now I only know who that is because how could you not, but if someone known for being spoiled and stupid gets to be published doesn't beat fuck all, I don't know what does. You may be saying "Uncle t-bags, none of that sounds like it's making you innocuously happy," you are observant and correct. It was this passage by Fitzgerald, contained in the above link:

Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.

Thanks Francis. There is good in the world, even if it's only fleeting.

- I'm currently trying to work my way through "The Girl with Dragon Tattoo", because I feel like I should. I'm not sure about those crazy swedes, other than they have the right idea about incandescent light bulbs.

- The 112th Congress convened yesterday, and let the Republican trail of tears of broken promises begin. Who, you ask, is the most underrepresented group of Americans according to Pew (PEW!) amongst our new representatives? You guessed it, us unreligious. While it's true that in the last five years we've gone from thinking it neigh on impossible to elect a black president to having one, if we get one that's a self-identified Atheist in my lifetime, I'll eat my hat. Happily.

- Speaking of politics, Jon Stewart was brilliant last night, and made us feel like we we've been doing God's work here at tbaggervance.com the last few months.

- Finally, I've spent the last couple of days rounding out the necessary hardware to make my podcast dreams become a reality. The closer I get to this becoming true, the more sure I am that it will be an unlistenable train wreck. Then I remind myself that so was the blog for a long time, and now it's something approaching OK. So there you go. In any case, no matter the quality, this shit is happening people. Gird your loins and get ready...

Posted 10:56am
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January 5th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- The war on xmas didn't seem to have too many hard fought battles this year, so let's start of 2011 by pitting the Christians vs the Atheists in ... BILLBOARD FIGHT!

- I won't beat around the bush and say up front that is mostly for frequent blog commenter and all around xenophobe ljv - 5 ridiculous things you probably believe about Islam. Yes, Cracked.com is teaching you religious tolerance.

- Of course my new goal in life is to be added to this video montage of noted Atheists and Agnostics. Step one - do something of note. Damn, this will be harder than I thought.

- Today in "Methinks he doth protest too much": A California pastor who led the charge against prop 8 in order to protect the children from the lascivious gays (wait for it...) is in jail. For fondling children. I know, it's barely news at this point. We need to start a societal trend where everyone points and laughs at the homophobes and society says homophobia=gay. Although I doubt that will work for Islamophobic=Muslim.

- I hate to get too meta here, but at tbaggervance.com, if Kirk Cameron goes on TV and doesn't come off as a crack pot loon, that's news. Anderson Cooper laid the bait for Mike Seaver to go all Jesus Apocalypto-y about birds falling from the sky, and unlike me looking at the last beer in the six pack, said eh, I'm good. Bravo sir.

- In other probably not news, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the constitution doesn't protect the gays or the women. It's a logic circle so warped that M.C. Escher couldn't draw it. How does "persons" not mean women and gays? Oh yeah, gotta be the Bible. Moving on...

- Of course you spent the holidays avoiding Salvation Army buckets for their anti-gay stance, and now a renewed reason to boycott Chick-fil-A, as they double down on gay=evil rhetoric. Luckily I don't even know where the closest one is, so I can remain far from temptation. Which of course is why I imagine Chick-fil-A wants to stay away from gays.

- Finally, guess who's in Iowa scouting out a potential Presidential run for 2012? God, I can't remember ever asking you for anything, but she says she'll do it if you call on her to do so. Please, pick up the phone. I don't watch reality TV, but I love a good train wreck, so this would be awesome.

Posted 10:54am
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January 4th, 2011

Dead Man Walking.

On January 2nd someone I know just happened to be at Detroit Metro airport returning from Jacksonville. He picked up his bag from the carousel as it just happened to be making the rounds right next to Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez's bag. He picked up his bag and went out to his car - which was parked right next to Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez's car. As RichRod loaded up his personal affects after a brutal business trip to the state of Florida, someone I know's girlfriend noted that she could take a picture of the proceedings, upload it to facebook and get a million likes for what people hope will soon be a literal metaphor.

Last night former favorite son Jim Harbaugh led a private academic school to a trouncing of a good football team in a major bowl game. The fact that Stanford and the University of Michigan have been on opposite trajectories the last four years makes even women, children and everyone else who could give two shits about college football go "Well why don't you go get that guy?"

Six months ago I would have told those people "Because Jim Harbaugh is an asshole." Not that assholes don't make good football coaches mind you, if anything the opposite is true. But without reliving the past, Harbaugh threw his alma matter under the bus more than once. I've got nothing but love for drunks who run their mouths, but if there are any sacred cows in my book Michigan is near the top of the list. So fuck that guy.

Plus, our current head coach finally has HIS guys! These things take time, and history means a lot in college football. You are who you are, and Rich Rodriguez is a football coach. He's done it well over and over again, and given enough time and resources, he'll do it well here too. Plus why are you in such a hurry to go through another transition? Remember the pain? The players leaving en masse? The growing pains of a (another) new system? That alone is worth playing the waiting game. Besides, what's one more year?

What a difference six months makes. A confluence of events that anyone who's probably still reading this is painfully aware of has led to even this guy (who supported Tommy Amacker and Brian Fucking Ellerbe long after it made any reasonable sense) to throw his hands up and say "Why don't you go get that guy?" At this point I can't even wait until a decision is announced to comment on it. Jim Harbaugh can say what he wants about Michigan, Tom Brady and the size of my penis if he just wins us football games. Every other option is like choosing between herpes and genital warts.

- For those of you who throw a fit every time I write about sports, here's some vitriol of a different color: I'm not a fan of annarbor.com. I think that the writing is unsurprisingly amateurish (which is what you get when you don't pay your writers) and its coverage of local events woefully meek. But wait! Yesterday it published 11 Steps for getting the most out of your blog in 2011! Finally something I can use! Never mind that the opening paragraph concedes that you know what a blog is and then defines it anyway. Who cares that that same paragraph contains a grammatical error in its second sentence. She's been doing this a year and a half! A more venerable sage and mahatma you are not likely to find. Unfortunately, outside of posting regularly, I'm apparently doing this all wrong. Apparently drinking a lot and using colorful combinations of curse words does not a good blog make. Ah well, luckily I'm not gunning to not get paid to write for annarbor.com!

As an aside, I think my favorite part of the article came at the end when she notes "I blog with Wordpress.com (not .org — know the difference)" Oh the indignity of not knowing the difference between dots com and org! If you haven't managed to decipher this tricky internet paradigm yet, you better! Maybe annarbor.com can write an article about it to help you untangle this sordid web...

Posted 10:54am
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January 3rd, 2011

Dear old acquaintance, I promise not to forget you.

Two weeks is too long to be away. Don't get me wrong, blended family Christmas was awesome, New Years and Mittenfest are my favorites and generally not having to get up in the morning is pretty much living the dream. But towards the end of a fortnight without an agenda, I start to feel a little disconnected. I read the news, but quickly and without purpose. I say I'm going to blog, but then get caught up in mundane housework. I don't relish going back to work - perish the thought - however I'm glad to return to routine, because I like my life. If I'm going to have a vacation from it, it should definitely at least be somewhere warm.

- There's lots of stuff that happened in late December that merit comment, and we'll do our best to get to most of it in the next few days. But in breaking news - Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Kobayashi.. Rest in peace Pete Postlethwaite. You were brilliant.

- Also, I got pinched by this this morning. Of course I read about it yesterday and still managed to be affected, so shame on me I guess.

- There's lots of looking back going on, and plenty of looking forward. (Including this one that encompasses the decade and I frankly find scary.) We here at tbaggervance like things that easily fill column inches (in newspaper parlance), so we'll probably do some of that if we find the time to get to it before it's too late to feel awkward. We don't however generally participate in New Years resolutions. We find them rote and generally generic ideals that fall into the "Stop doing that dumb thing," variety. Of course you should stop that. Or you should start doing that other smart thing that you've been putting off forever. But since this is tbaggervance.com, we are going to take the paradigm we hate, subvert it, and start doing something dumb. And you can be a part of it! We're not ready to launch yet, but 2011 is poised to be the year of Uncle t-bags Old Fashioned Good Timey Podcast. We're super excited and hope you are too. Watch your email account and of course tbaggervance.com for more information. This is going to be big...

Posted 10:43am
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