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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).

Posted 10:38am
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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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