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June 30th, 2011

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

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

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

University Of Michigan Expands Michigan Stadium To Seat Everyone In Michigan

Ohio State Uses T-Shirt Blaster To Pass Out Diplomas

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

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

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

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

Posted 2:49am
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June 29th, 2011

The ins and outs of five broken ribs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*know

Posted 8:29pm
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June 28th, 2011

The reports of my death are slightly exaggerated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:20am
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June 24th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:11am
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June 23rd, 2011

News and notes from our liberal bubble.

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:34am
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June 22nd, 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

- Surfer Blood cover The Pixies. That is all.

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

Posted 10:49am
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June 21st, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he responded!:

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

Posted 10:53am
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June 20th, 2011

Anti-Dentite

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 4:33pm
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June 17th, 2011

Fake Dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:31am
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June 15th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:56am
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June 14th, 2011

Holy shit you guys, it's happening!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:10am
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June 13th, 2011

For your viewing pleasure...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 2:25pm
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June 10th, 2011

Opinions are like assholes - they are everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:45am
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June 9th, 2011

Thursdays are for politickin' - Tea Leaves Edition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:13am
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June 8th, 2011

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

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

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

3. (Tie) Things that this fuckhead thinks are cool that so are not: the Monster energy drink decal on the back of the Hummer (I'll take douche bag cliches for $200 Alex) AND the story about playing hockey in Boston and Fresno, when he's really a burnout at Community College. The hockey bit really works with the ladies though...

2. They say that the pitch of your voice goes up when you're lying right? Watch Dillon hit a pitch only dogs can hear when he says "I didn't drive over them!" Bonus point for invoking the Holy Bible, as if this douche wouldn't sell Jesus down the river for a new Ed Hardy shirt.

1. The officer at the scene, FTW: "Is this your car or is it mommy's car?"

All that's left for this story to come to its inevitable, satisfying conclusion, is for the judge to absolutely throw the book and this dickbag. If there is any justice in the world, those ducks will be redeemed.

- I once played a board game sometime in 2006 where you asked the group a question, they each wrote down an answer, and then you had to determine who said what. During the game, the question came up "If you had to kill one person on the planet, who would it be?" The answers came in 1.) W 2.) President Bush 3.) George W. Bush. Clearly this was in Ann Arbor, and in hindsight, not very well thought through, as it would have netted you President Cheney. It's nice to see that the high schoolers in Arkansas haven't forgotten, as ig and ook round out the top five worst people ever, behind bin Laden, Hitler and Chuck Manson. For the record, I'll swap out W, as being an unambitious rube isn't the worse thing ever, even given what it wrought in this case. Maybe I suggest privileged fuck stick Dillon Pearce as his replacement?

Posted 10:25am
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June 7th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Hipster church? Hipster church? a.) I'm not sure what it says about where hipsterism has gone when going to church somehow becomes ironically cool and perhaps more importantly b.) are we sure Jesus wants these guys in his house?

- We here at tbaggervance.com fancy ourselves trend setters, which is why we weren't surprised to hear that married couples are no longer the majority of households in America. We've been at the forefront of that movement for almost 16 years now. What I will never get in the whole marriage debate is the sanctimonious bullshit of "one man, one woman". Go read your Bible and get back to me on that little nugget of history.

- Here's an interesting exchange about scientists and their agnosticism. It's especially prescient to me, as somewhere in the last 20 years I went from the former to the latter. Not having to explain it to my mother may have helped that transition happen, but it was there germinating in my head for a long time.

- I'd love to say I love the balls on this kid, but once you think about it, it's not his balls that need your admiration, after all he's got all the facts on his side. It's his organization and dedication that is above and beyond. I mean, let's be honest, anyone can eviscerate Michelle Bachmann for repeating the uber lie of "there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact ..." but not everyone can do it by holding up the signatures of 43 Nobel Laureates that he personally collected.

- For ball admiration, how about his kid?

- Most of you cosmopolitan bon vivants in our readership know that Ayn Rand wrote some mildly entertaining, but poorly argued books many years ago that college kids tend to read early on in their academic careers and get overly excited about. That's normal, we all go through those periods in our life that seem silly once we broaden our horizons. Remember how I really like Blues Traveler for ten minutes in 1995? That was weird. Anyway, the problem arises when people stop there and take Rand's philosophies as, well, viable. And then they run with it. Usually for congress in a district where people haven't read Rand, and the distillation of her ideas sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Anyway, that's presenting a problem at the moment as some people are saying you can follow Rand or you can follow Jesus, but you can't do both. What's a fear monger to do? We here at tbaggervance.com whole heartedly endorse the philosophies of Jesus over Ayn's. He said blessed are the cheesemakers, right?

Posted 11:07am
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June 6th , 2011

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

- It's graduation season! Along with my foray into speech writing, there's also pretty good inspiration from the likes of Amy Pohler and Tom Hanks out there. Also, let's not forget my favorite graduation speech of all time (Eugene also took out a pretty hilarious ad in the paper recently. You will relate to it).

- Here's a video of the supposed 100 Greatest Movie Threats of All-Time. It's missing a lot of stuff, and overly relies on people offering to shove various things up someone else's ass. It does open with the superb and underappreciated Terrence Stamp's line from The Limey "Tell them I'm fucking coming!" You should go watch that movie. It's like kneeling before Zod.

- My personal birth control concerns aren't what they used to be, and my focus has turned to that of the next generation, mostly to assure that the generation after that doesn't come anytime soon. Anyway, the problem from the external genitalia's POV is that there are a dearth of options. You have condoms and... condoms. Well population explosion hotbed India may be adding a 1A to that list with birth control injection for men. It pry won't make it to the States in time for me to drag Sid to a clinic and fix him up good, but there's hope for future generations. Although speaking on behalf of men everywhere, we're going to need to know a little bit more about the needle near the penis bit.

- The internet being what it is, it is rife with Star Wars references. Anything that has ever been capable of being themed is instantly done with Star Wars. Anything that can parodied has been done with Star Wars. Multiple times. Fan art. Fan Fiction. You name it. I spare you most of these as we have a tacit agreement that I am much nerdier than you and your tolerance for certain of my proclivities has its limits. That being said, here's a 10,000 piece Lego Sandcrawler and a trailer for the fictional movie George Lucas Strikes Back.

- Finally, by now you know about Sarah Palin's historical revisions when it comes to the story of Paul Revere. Well rather than go into a hole (there's no cameras there!) and slink away from the press for fear she might repeat the gaffe, she doubled down on it. To everyone who voted for John McCain - you tried to put someone with less knowledge of American History than a second grader in the White House. AND YOU KNEW IT. Who's the bigger fool, the fool or the fool who follows him?

Posted 10:43am
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June 3rd , 2011

I'm a vigilante. Like Spider-Man.

When I was 12 we went on a family vacation. This may seem innocuous to many of you, but this was one of two vacations we took in my adolescence that a.) didn't involve visiting whatever podunk hamlet my older brother lived in or b.) didn't involve jettisoning off to the myriad mysteries of Ohio. Anyway, as per usual, my mother offered us a choice - we could go to Saturday night mass, or wake up to go to church on Sunday. ON VACATION. My position on the subject as a pre-teen was much the same as you could imagine it would be now. But having zero leverage and less persuasion in these situations, we all chose sleeping in on Sunday.

Again, anyway, we were in downtown Chicago, on vacation, trying to motor from a boat tour of Lake Michigan to get to 5:30 mass at the local church* somewhat adjacent to the boat stop. In our rush, we bustled through the rush hour crowds. Walking five feet behind my mother I saw a team of two guys reach into her purse and start to pull her wallet out. Instinctively I yelled out "Hey!" at the guy, and he and his partner dropped the wallet and turned on their heels to walk away. I picked up the wallet, returned it to my mother, and privately wondered how this didn't absolve me from going to mass.

For the past couple months a raccoon has been using our garbage for sustenance. We've avoided tipped over cans and sprawling messes, but there's been enough circumstantial evidence for me to know it's happening. This of course makes me angry, as I moved to the city for a reason, and that reason is that I don't care for nature. A few years back when a chipmunk kept digging under my porch and wouldn't take the hint, we put out some poison and that was that. So far putting weights on top of the garbage can seemed to mostly mitigate things. But sometimes I forget to do that, and last night I met my enemy face to face.

It was late. I had imbibed a couple of cocktails and was finishing off one more, enjoying the night air before heading off to slumber. I heard a rustle and turned my head to see the ugly little rodent staring right at me, not five feet away. And just like I did 25 years ago, I instinctively yelled "Hey!" at it. Now in my slightly inebriated state I felt like I stared into the soul of that monster, and he into mine. We locked in an intrinsic battle of wills, and he blinked first. Much like my mother's would be pickpocket, he turned on his heels and scampered off. I doubt for good this time, because while my "Hey!" is clearly powerful, it's effects are also likely short term. Hopefully I'll get lucky though, as there's no way the BDGF will let me hurt the thing.

*I have no idea how my mother found out what time mass was much less where the local Catholic church was in 1987 without the internet. I'm guessing divine intervention.

- As an aside, the Promise Ring may do the reunion thing. Should this happen, I pledge to be at every show within a four hour driving radius. Maybe more.

Posted 11:06am
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June 2nd , 2011

News and notes from our liberal bubble.

- When I was an undergraduate Psych major I had to travel to downtown Detroit to do follow up interviews in neighborhoods that I would never go to a.) after dark nor b.) alone. There's some shady parts of Detroit to be sure, and every once in a while (usually trying to get home from the Joe) I'll find myself having taken a wrong turn and wanting very badly to find a highway - any highway - ASAP. But Detroit has also come a long way since I moved to SE Michigan 17 years ago. The theater district, Greektown and around Wayne State seem almost cosmopolitan. And if I don't make a wrong turn, I don't feel unsafe there. Here's a great video feature about the continuing effort to revitalize the D.

- As Detroit continues to heal itself, here's an interesting perspective on how the fates of Detroit and Ann Arbor are intertwined. It doesn't mention how much more likely I'd be to go spend evenings in the D if there was a high speed train to take me there.

- Speaking of our utopian hamlet, Amazon says we're the fourth most well read city in America.

- Of course if we want to keep our bubble intact, we have to be vigilant about keeping out the undesirables. The BDGF and I keep wondering how this place is allowed to exist. I've never been, but I assure you it's the only place in downtown A2 that requires a 'pat down' upon entry. I was always told that this type of entity is exactly why we have Ypsilanti.

- Finally, 826 Michigan just celebrated birthday number 6. I'm proud to have been there for three of those years, and look forward to many more. Most of all, thanks again to our illustrious readers, who have embraced and supported 826 at tbaggervance.com's behest. It's humbling for us and important to the continuing vitality of this venerable institution. Congrats 826, thanks readers.

Posted 10:48am
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June 1st , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- I used to love to stay up late enough to watch David Letterman when I was a kid. Not only did making it to 1am feel like something of an accomplishment, but I felt a subversive kinship with Dave. It seemed like he was getting away with the ridiculous, and only existed because the people who ran TV couldn't stay up late enough to police him. Anyway, those days are certainly gone, and I don't know if anyone anywhere feels similarly about Jimmy Fallon, but this is pretty great (as are the previous iterations here and here.)

- Speaking of Neil Young, who knew Radiohead was such a fan? (I'm guessing the BDGF knew, as she equally hates both artists. Like, a lot.)

- Speaking of Radiohead, here's Weezer covering Paranoid Android.

- Speaking of formerly beloved bands who now disappoint you, watch Death Cab play VH1's Storytellers - because they play old songs that you will enjoy.

- For the millionth time, here's a story about how people are still listening to vinyl! Actually, these numbers are impressive and good news for those of us who love hot wax and desperately await The Hold Steady to reissue Separation Sunday.

- Finally, the BDGF and I have been working on a couple of lists while we sit around in the evening and enjoy a cocktail or three, and here's our list of bands that have songs named after the band:

Bad Company - Bad Company
Wang Chung - Everybody Wang Chung Tonight
Wilco - Wilco (The Song)
Queen - Killer Queen

Also of note, Tokyo Police Club sings about a Tokyo Police Club in "Cheer It On" and Boston mentions being from Boston in "Rock and Roll Band". And there's lots of bands like The Rolling Stones that were named for other people's songs. As always, we welcome contributions that aren't hip-hop based, because they just love referring to themselves too much. Or if you're not in a thinking mood, enjoy this list of 40 songs about masturbation.

Posted 11:06am
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May 31st , 2011

It's a travesty. A sham. A mockery. It's a traveshamockery.

Somewhere sometime on some documentary or such I once saw Hunter S. Thompson talking about Nixon, and the quote (I think verbatim) was "We got that crooked son of a bitch." I say (I think verbatim) because while I can't remember where I specifically saw this to go back and check, the quote, and more viscerally the context, is seared into my brain. What struck me was the anger his whole body still exuded about the thing. Hunter hated Nixon with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, and even the vindication of seeing him figuratively strung up couldn't quell that hatred 20 or 30 years later. Instead of what you would expect would be some sort of smug satisfaction or content celebration of victory, he still seethed.

I've seen a lot of celebratory/congratulations txts/tweets/status updates over the last 24 hours over the resignation of Jim Tressel. And rightfully so. We got that crooked son of a bitch. The hotly anticipated SI article that appears to have forced the issue features the following paragraph, which succinctly distills my opinion of what's been going on for years:

For more than a decade, Ohioans have viewed Tressel as a pillar of rectitude, and have disregarded or made excuses for the allegations and scandal that have quietly followed him throughout his career. His integrity was one of the great myths of college football. Like a disgraced politician who preaches probity but is caught in lies, the Senator was not the person he purported to be.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a happy man. Along with taking away some scholarships and a bowl ban, it's as much justice as there is in these situations. But it still happened. Thousands in the "Buckeye Nation" will never apologize nor abdicate for anything that happened under the watch of that son a bitch. And I don't know how free tattoos translate into victories over Michigan, but part of my brain knows they did, and I can't get those back. Turns out I was right all along, but I still suffered for a decade because of that assholes treachery, and for that I will continue to seethe for eternity.

- As long as we're on the subject of me being right about things that I will continue to be indignant about, this Rolling Stone article on the propaganda machine that is Fox News is worth your time.

Posted 11:07am
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May 27th , 2011

Oh we're going to a Hookie Lau

I'm not quite sure what it is about music teachers that makes them the oddest lot of any school. I think it's got something to do with the chip that they must carry on their shoulder. They live under the threat of being placed on the chopping block and that coupled with a large percentage of parents marginalizing their importance makes them constantly want to reassure everyone how important they are. Sid had a choir teacher that made me want to vomit every time I ever had to hear her speak. Music is like every school subject rolled into one! We sing in foreign languages! We need to understand history! We are participating in physical activity! ALL MUSIC IS MATH! These things may be marginally true, but man to listen to her drone on you'd think she'd cured cancer.

I loved my elementary school music teacher. She was weird and eclectic like most music teachers - super into The Sound of Music, Hawaiian songs and the harpsichord. She always would conduct herself singing "Goooooood Byyyyye" every time we left her room - followed by her prompting us with "Wait, sing..." and we'd have to respond in kind. But she was nice and excited about music and I still remember a lot of what she taught me and the way she imparted it.

Last night we had to go the BDGF's littlest's music program, which was basically us watching them have a music class at 6 o'clock at night. Well almost basically. First you have to listen to 20 minutes of "Dan the music man" give his resume about where he's been and what he's done. How his students succeed at rates far beyond national averages due to his groovy techniques. The grossest piece of self justification and adulation you've ever witnessed. Then you get what, for all intents and purposes, is the exact same class I had in 1983.

I suppose that's what really gets me. Here's a guy who suffers from typical music teacher love me/praise me/validate me syndrome, but conflagrates himself to the point of orgasm all the while doing the exact same things they were doing when I was in 2nd grade. And he insists on this military precision. That place is like a boot camp. I suppose it's a little impressive but I can't imagine any of it much fun.

Because I love music and it should be fun. Music education is important and fundamental. And I understand why music teachers are the way they are. But the douche baggery of walking around spouting the name of every marginally well known person you've ever shaken hands with and telling the kids "Your focus should be on Dan" to get their attention is astounding. I get why that guy chose to work with kids, because even a sixth grade tbaggervance would have called him a d-bag to his face.

Posted 4:05am
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May 26th , 2011

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

- For my BDGF - it is official, we are now in the midst of the wettest spring ever (cue vagina jokes). What's making me happy is that I *think* we have solved the water getting in the basement problem - cheaply and ourselves no less. I mean, if there's not water down there right this second, I am inclined to believe there never will be again.

- The Michigan Theater announced their Summer Classics lineup, and I am pleased to announce that they've finally gotten around to a Sound of Music sing-a-long, August 14th. If you can't wait that long for the hills to be alive, please to enjoy this letter from Baroness Elsa Schraeder. (ht: Dr. Walker)

- Streaming now: a new song from Army Navy, a new band from Thunderbirds Are Now! and Friendly Foes frontman Ryan Allen and a new disappointment from Death Cab for Cutie.

- Hey! Did you know it was Asian Pacific Heritage Month? Me neither. But in honor of my half Pacific Islander offspring, here's 20 people you didn't know were Asian. Spoiler alert - you'll never see Zack Morris the same again.

- Finally, I've spent the last year or so resigning myself to the fact that Sarah Palin wasn't going to run for president in 2012. She quit halfway through her first term as governor. Instead of trying to shore up her foreign policy bona fides (or lack thereof) she starred in a reality show. She's being written off as a non-serious non-starter - by REPUBLICANS. Her unfavorables are over 50%, she has no resume and no platform outside of "America: Fuck Yeah." But she does have her own documentary! It's premiering in IOWA next month. I'm so excited I'm contemplating driving there for the premier. Not only does this portend to be the greatest movie I've ever seen, add up the factors and tell me she's not prepping a run. Next fall just took a turn for the awesome.

Posted 10:27am
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May 25th , 2011

Wednesdays are for Politickin' - Yay Conservatives! Edition

- Jon Huntsman seems mostly like an alright guy. Sure he's a mormon, but he's also for civil unions, and we here at tbaggervance.com love us some pragmatism. That's why when someone says something like this: "I'm not a meteorologist. All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we'd listen to them." we take them seriously.

- Here's a straight, Republican, conservative war veteran (and Minnesota State Senator) standing up for the gays. Sir, I salute you. And besides, even the super evil, villainous "Focus on the Family" admits that they've 'lost' to gay marriage, to which I say 'suck it'.

- Forbes is a pretty conservative, business oriented publication. I mean, their motto is "The Capitalist Tool" to which I say "You're a Capitalist Tool!" But I digress. Here they are pointing out how Health Care Reform is working in real, tangible ways. Who knew that adding a bunch of young, healthy people to insurance rolls would be good for everybody? I said good day sir.

- Finally, since my congeniality only goes so far, let's look at the following list:

New Mexico
New Jersey
Mississippi
Nevada
Alaska
Connecticut
Louisiana
New Hampshire
West Virginia
Minnesota
North Dakota
Illinois
Alabama
Delaware
South Dakota
California
Kentucky
New York
Virginia
Colorado

I think we can all agree that the states on the left are your boot strappy, real America, old fashioned, conservative red states and those on the right are your socialist, elitist, progressive, liberal blue states. And now that we can agree on that, we can prove that the left side are the 10 biggest net recipients of federal spending and the 10 on the right are the states that give the most and receive the least. Turns out that it's Tea Party states that are suckling the government teet and the Pinko Commie ones that are footing the bill. I don't know how you people sleep at night.

Posted 10:51am
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May 24th , 2011

Double Down

Gamblers refer to it as going on 'tilt'. It's a combination of disgust, disappointment, panic and in some sense, giving up. You usually start to tilt after a bad beat - when you're already counting the money in your head only to have it snatched out from underneath you. So you decide to make a bigger bet to cover that previous loss. You do this several times in increasingly poor situations until you're doubling down on an 8 against a face or re-raising against an obvious pair with your non-suited 2-7. Before you know it you're running to an ATM to cover your losses (hopefully not to try and make more stupid bets to win a little back.)

I've been there several times. It's like getting smacked with a hangover. All of a sudden you "wake up" and realize what just transpired. Your friends are there going "We tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen." as you try to make sense of why you - a sensible person - would fall so far, so fast down a path of increasingly poor decisions. Every so often you can feel it happen to you. This doesn't mean you can stop it, it still washes over you, but you experience it in a "this is happening' sort of way. An experienced gambler can always see it happening to someone else. I actually watched a friend of mine during his first trip to Vegas go from betting $10 a hand at blackjack to losing $1000 in his first HOUR on the Strip. That was a serious tilt.

Of course we can all see it happen with booze. We've watched our friends order that drink that we know is going to push them over the edge. If we're nice, we warn them or ask them if they're OK with not remembering the rest of the night, but once you go over, there's no going back. All you can do in either situation is hope you make it through the experience without losing your shirt - literally or figuratively.

As much as I made fun of everyone who thought the world was going to end on Saturday, I did feel a little bad for some of them. I felt bad because they all have jackasses in their lives not unlike myself who are going to hold it over their heads for eternity. And surely they are all sitting around asking "Why did I go all in?" or "I don't remember anything after that third shot of tequila." The parent in me wants to pat them on the back and say "Well, we learned an important lesson, didn't we?"

Except for Harold Camping. His tilt is still TOTALLY on. His bender is infinite. He's doubling down with a double vodka soda in his hand. Turns out that Saturday was a "silent rapture" or "Invisible Judgment Day." The world is totally still going to end on October 21st. Ack. Harold, you've officially gone from the guy who's charming and entertaining with his antics to someone who needs help. And not of the getting saved by Jesus variety.

- Texas FTW. I always kinda love, kinda hate these hidden camera moral dilemmas. I love them because I smugly sit back in my certitude, knowing that I'd say something were I in that situation. But I also think they tend to escalate them beyond what is necessary. In any case, Texas proves to be OK with the gays. Cheers y'all.

Posted 11:05am
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May 23rd , 2011

Moving on.

Surprise! Still here! Well we here at tbaggervance.com were going to be here no matter what, it was just a question of whether or not the seas turned to blood and if we needed to put up our industrial strength mosquito net to keep the locusts at bay. As it stands the weather outside is perfect and since about 1500A.D., it's science 1,425,302 religion 12. Moving on...

- It turns out that even his fans at his own website realize that Bill O'Reilly got bitch slapped by Jon Stewart over the Common appearance. Knives to gun fights and all that.

- It appears that there's still a chance that Goldman Sachs et al won't get away with deliberately losing your money to make more for themselves. Of course much like the followers of Harold Camping, I'm prepared to be disappointed.

- Summer generally means watching even less TV, but we make exceptions for Larry David. My favorite part was the top comment at the bottom of the page (when I read it anyway): ANOTHER Jewish TV Show for Jews by Jews ~ b o r i n g I imagine that comment making Larry very happy.

- Trump's not running. Neither is Huckabee. Daniels opted out and Newt sank faster than the Indianapolis. LJV favorite and Pizza King Herman Cain has less knowledge of the West Bank than the anti-semite who hates Larry David in the above thread. I'm still hoping that Palin or Bachmann catches fire and shit gets wacky, but let's be honest - TPaw is gonna take this bullet Bob Dole style.

Posted 10:52am
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May 20th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine edition)

- As you all assuredly know already, tomorrow is the rapture. It's scheduled for 6pm, and if the mighty bearded one is one thing it's prompt. Luckily, according to his messenger here on Earth, Harold Camping, it takes place at 6pm local time around the world. This means that if he is right, we'll know for sure when Australia ceases to exist, and we can finally party like there's no tomorrow, because there won't be.

- Camping has his followers, like this guy who's obviously sitting at home crossing all of his fingers and toes that he didn't spend his entire life savings for nuthin'.

- Camping can be said to be a lot of things, but original isn't one of them, as his boogeyman for all of this: the gays.

- Of course Camping and the believers will be saved and brought up to heaven while we suffer some cruel fate for our lack of faith. At least we'll be in good company, as the National Academy of Sciences will be full, and the jails empty.

- Apparently Sarah Palin's hometown of Wasilla, AK will be saved too, as they've kept "Bohemian Rhapsody" out of graduation ceremonies - because it was written by a gay.

- Not saved - the good people of Delaware, as they recently legalized same sex civil unions. From the sounds of it, that place is going to P-A-R-T-Y tomorrow.

- Good ol' Texas is up in arms over a man who has a 'replica' of Michaelangelo's David in his front yard. Now I'm no prude and displaying some classical sculpture is your own gosh darn bidness. The fact that they're acting like it's a three foot double ended dildo holding up his mailbox is laughable. What ISN'T funny at all is calling that thing a 'replica' much less refering to it in the same breath as Michaelangelo's masterpiece. It's like calling a Thomas Kinkade a Monet. Painter of light my ass.

- Finally, bad news for the armageddonists - Stephen Hawking says heaven is a fairy tale for people who are scared of the dark. Now I don't know what Mr. Camping's credentials are, but Dr. Hawking was on The Simpsons. The Simpsons people. In Camping's corner - former child star and current religious loon Kirk Cameron, who in the space of two paragraphs calls Stephen fucking Hawking 'unscientific' TWICE and THEN has the audacity to try and defend his position by invoking John Lennon. At least I think that's what he was doing, God didn't bestow a lot of logical elloquence on the guy. In any case, I say to him "How dare you?" and "Good day sir." I said good day.

Posted 9:46am
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May 19th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- Our hatred of the world's most milquetoast musical wonder Coldplay is well documented 'round these parts. We also recently showed (scientifically!) how their fans are frigid and asexual. I suppose it can be spun that on a positive note, they are definitely excellent drivers. Although if I hear Chris Martin's voice I'm likely to steer the car into a goddamn bridge embunkment.

- Here's a little Maritime performance video for that ass.

- In our list of oft repeated rock lyrics last week, we inadvertently missed Ted Leo's brilliant "Bottled in Cork," in which he closes the song by repeating "Tell the bartender, I think I'm falling in love" 21 times. As an apology, here he is performing it solo acoustically.

- I'm compiling another list, this one of the greatest vibraslap players of all time. Here it is:

1. John McCrea

If you know of any others, drop them in the comments section.

- I've been told countless times that I'm missing out by not watching Parks and Recreation. I tried, like twice. But I honestly don't really care for anyone on that show. Not Amy Pohler. Not Aziz Ansari. Not Rashida Jones. I do like Adam Scott and Aubrey Plaza though. And I love that in this clip they name check Jeff Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel. Those things, plus the cool people who tell me it's good, make me want to watch it, but somehow I still feel meh.

- Hey! It turns out Clap Your Hands Say Yeah didn't disolve into the ether! I really hope I like the new album, because their debut was my jam and I think I decided to punch myself in the junk rather than listen to their second album twice.

- Finally, the lineup for the Austin City Limits Festival was just announced and man, does it suck. I'll give 'em Stevie Wonder, but the next two acts I ACTIVELY HATE (Coldplay call back!) The BDGF and I discussed going to this and almost pulled the trigger because we really want to go back to Austin and this festival is historically so good, but there is a collective sigh of relief around our house because man, we did we dodge a bullet on this.

Posted 11:00am
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May 18th , 2011

You're doing it wrong...

- Last week downtown A2 was shut down for several hours - because of a press kit for the movie Thor. OK it got exacerbated by someone calling in an actual bomb threat, but really? The road flare and wristwatch bomb from Tommy Boy was more believable.

- Rick Santorum is an ass hat. A rank ideologue of both the conservative and religious ilk, he is famous for the following:

- Trying to add an amendment into No Child Left Behind that would call for the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools.
- Hating gay people, specifically equating homosexual acts to pedophilia, incest and bestiality. He noted sodomy laws exist to prevent acts that "undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family."
- This led to columnist (and a personal hero of mine) Dan Savage to perform one of the greatest and most successful Google bomb campaigns of all time. Go ahead and Google Santorum. I dare you.
- Stating over and over again that there's no right to privacy in the constitution.

Now Mr. Santorum has another gem to add to his list of greatest hits. Santorum - who has never served in the military and hasn't even held public office for four years, simultaneously claimed that not only did he know more about the lead up to the bin Laden capture than John McCain, but that John McCain doesn't understand torture. Yeah, you read that right. Go fuck yourself Rick Santorum.

- The BDGF is a Mac person, and I am not. This is mostly due to the fact that her work provides her with Apple products and mine does not. I still have an iPhone and iPod, but I work in IT and service PCs all day long, thus I have grown accustomed to their ways. And while I don't want to badmouth Apple too much - like I said I use their products and if I had unlimited funds and/or worked in video or photo editing, I'd go with Macs too - let's talk about the tyranny of Steve Jobs. It comes down to this - Steve Jobs wants you to use his products the way he wants you to use them. He's thought of everything, OK? So please don't upgrade or add on or tweak in anyway. I can't even change the ringtone on my iPhone without Jobs approval (or jailbreaking it and voiding the warranty). Now you can't even swap out a failed hard drive without an Apple authorized service center. I guess this is all OK if you want the simplest solution to your computing needs possible and never bother to learn anything or customize an experience to your own proclivities, but it's a slap in the face to those of us who know what we're doing. I suppose it all puts coin in his coffers though, so I guess I'm the idiot.

- Finally, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is doing his best to claim the throne atop mount douche bag. His latest salvo is to take away gay couples hospital visitation rights. I hope all of his children grow up to become gay heads of unions.

Posted 10:09am
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May 17th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'

- The race to be the GOP nominee has more people running away from it than towards it as of late. Barbour? Dead. Huckabee? Dead. Trump? Well Trump was a zombie candidate from the flop but for lack of a better turn of phrase let's call him dead. If you're a Republican, you're either going to end up with crazy (Bachmann, Palin, Santorum) or milquetoast (Pawlenty, Daniels) as your savior from Obama's socialist tyranny (we won't waste our breath of Newt here, as he's part crazy, part milquetoast - which might make him a super candidate if it weren't for all the wife cheatin'.) Anyway here's your GOP candidate bracket for 2012. I've been arguing for a while now that if you are a Republican, vote for crazy this time around. Not just because it'll be entertaining, but I think Obama is going to be neigh on impossible to beat in 18 months. If you go milquetoast now, you're going to see a classic overcorrect towards crazy in 2016 when you could win. My point is that since you appear to be sans viable candidate, so get Bachmann out of the way so that you can get serious when the field is wide open. But also because it would be super fun and the blog would write itself for a year.

- Speaking of crazy, a teenager has challenged Michelle Bachmann to Constitutional Debate. Insert your knife to a gunfight joke here, noting that Michelle's drawer is full of knives that are duller than a Tim Pawlenty dinner party.

- Would be savior of the GOP Chris Christie has been out working on his bona fides by displaying his lack of knowledge of he Constitution, legal precedent and case law by saying that the teaching of Creationism should be decided at "the local level". No word on if he feels the same way about the teaching of the Pythagorean theorem, Newtonian physics, or if his head will ever be fat enough to have its own specific gravity.

- I know we weren't going to mention Newt, but he out-Christied the NJ this week by calling for a "Poll Test" on American History in order to be able to vote. Is this most ironic because a.) legal immigrants who get to vote have already passed a test that requires a vast knowledge of American history or b.) Newt is showing a huge lapse in his knowledge of the subject, seeing how this has been illegal for over 50 years. Or is it merely racist?

- If there's one thing that's for sure, Fox News is more afraid of black people than I am of simultaneously going bald and becoming allergic to alcohol. Jon Stewart pointed out their hypocrisy over the Common nontroversy and then went on Bill O'Reilly and tore him a new asshole - figuratively and debate style. Hey, as long as they can point to Michael Steele and the Godfather's Pizza guy, I suppose I'm the asshole.

- Unrelated to the GOP and their official news network, here's a great piece by Matt Taibbi about how everyone in government (save maybe Michigan Senator Carl Levin) is an ineffectual asshole when it comes to Wall Street, and the entirety of Goldmann Sachs should have their dicks ripped off and placed on pikes in financial districts throughout the land. I really hope we prosecute these fuckers.

- Finally, years ago my brother and I tried to see who could name all fifty states using nothing but a pen and a piece of paper in under 10 minutes. Here's a much easier version, what with the map in front of you and all. You should be able to beat my time of 6:06 left on the clock, since I spent a good 30-45 seconds convinced that Massachusetts had another e in it. Finish in under 3:00 and Newt might let you vote for a rich white guy this fall.

Posted 11:20am
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May 16th , 2011

Sam Seaborn, Toby Ziegler, tbaggervance.

I am perplexed, like I imagine most writers, at the prospect of writing in someone else's voice. Over half a dozen years of spewing this bullshit, I like to think I've found my own, but every now and again I even feel like that's just a trick of fifty cent words and vitriol that I stir in a pot and serve to a soup kitchen of customers that's going to read whatever I post out of a sense of obligation and voyeurism, coupled with a hope that I mention their name or have recently gotten drunk and done something inappropriate that they can make fun of me about. Don't get me wrong, I'll take it, but to call that writing is generous.

So when Amy started to plan Uncle Jason's graduation party* and tapped the BDGF's youngest as a keynote speaker, I knew I was going to be tasked with something I hadn't pondered in decades - writing for someone else.

I wrote a couple plays and scenes in junior high and high school - but those were mostly exercises in in-jokes and a way to make something rote vaguely interesting. Shortly after college I tried my hand at screenplay writing, but again, that was in-jokes and time killing. Putting your words in someone else's mouth is a tricky business. My mother used to edit my papers in high school and she would turn to me and say "this doesn't make sense". At which point I would yell "You don't make sense!" and rip the paper** from her hands, even if she was right.

So I assume all of you know me, and are familiar enough with my cadence to read every word I type in the same style and vernacular as I intended - the same as if I was reading it to you. Please, allow me my delusions. But now I was mired in speech writing. And the worst kind of speech writing at that - writing for someone with a limited vocabulary and has at times trouble tackling multi-syllabic words. It was like being asked to write W's 'Mission Accomplished' speech.

But I had a few variables on my side. The speech was to be titled "On the Jedi way.." meaning I got to crib liberally from Lucas and Kasdan. And the speaker was someone who was as much in love with Star wars as I am, meaning that once you gave her the appropriate reference, everything fell into place.

Given said variables, I decided to write something as nearly as I would were I the one delivering the text. I figured we'd set the bar impossibly high and go from there. So I banged out a few paragraphs and set them in front of the BDGF to tell me I was crazy. She analytically read the words, said something akin to "Oh boy..", offered a few of her always on the spot edits and said "it's good." In my typical self-deprecating manner I took this as 'abject failure' but made her suggested edits, saved and closed the file, forgetting that this was approximately four days before the event the speech was meant to be delivered at.

Enter Thursday - t-minus 48 hours until the event. The BDGF asked if I have printed out the text yet. Thinking she's merely stroking my ego, I ran upstairs to make a copy. What followed, in my estimation, is nothing short of Annie Sullivan territory. The youngest started to practice the text, tripping over words and asking questions about where each individual line actually came from. She created a podium and stage on top of our coffee table. She read those words more than I've read anything in my life. The results of which are this.

We worry about the littlest from time to time - about her penchant for dyslexia and delayed development in certain areas. But I know for certain that I couldn't have done that at 8 years old. And NO ONE loved Star Wars more than I did. In so many ways the littlest is a force to be reckoned with, and after Saturday, those who doubt it do so at their own peril.

Here's the test of the actual speech. She delivered it flawlessly but I give it to you only in deference to the iPhones inability to record things as well as the littlest speaks publicly. I am in awe of her. I couldn't have done it better myself. The force is strong with this one...

Hmm. Woodruff's. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. So what, you may ask, is a Jedi such as myself doing here? I'm here to teach these graduates the lessons of the Force - that which surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. As these padawan take their first step into a larger world, I'm here to remind them what it takes to be a Jedi.

1. First off, do or do not. There is no try. A Jedi has the most serious commitment to finish what he starts, even if it takes 17 years.

2. You're eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them. For example, size matters not. Judge me by my size, do you? The force is my ally. Powerful am I and capable of anything. So can you if you take the time to see things as they are.

3. Remember that fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering. In times of trouble, sometimes only what you take with you can lead to failure. Be not afraid and believe in yourself - otherwise that is why you fail.

4. These aren't the droids you're looking for. OK, that's not a lesson, I just always wanted to say that.

5. Finally, adventure? Excitement? A Jedi craves not these things. The Force can guide you and steer you clear from the path to the dark side, but only if you stay focused and away from bars in Ypsilanti.

So mind what you have learned. Save you it can. The next time you feel a disturbance in the force it may be me checking in on you. Don't let your abilities make you arrogant, for that leads to the dark side. Always in motion is the future, but with a serious mind and fierce commitment, a Jedi you will become. May the force be with you.

*Where's Chuckie's HuffPo article?
** Before the age of the internet and everyone having a computer, we'd exchange sheets of paper with words written on them so that people could see what we had to say and comment on them. Weird, right?

Posted 10:22am
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May 13th , 2011

tbaggervance.com's 2011 Guide to Summer

Years ago this feature started as a repository for all the myriad things to due in and around SE Michigan FOR FREE during the summer months. Lots of communities had festivals and cook offs and concerts to celebrate being out of doors with a beer in your hand. But alas, the economy being what it is, most of them are now defunct. Taste of Detroit (where I saw Spoon and The New Pornographers) - dead. It used to take me forever to scour all of the neighborhood festivals in Chicago where you might get a Matthew Sweet or minor indie rock sensation to randomly show, but now they have gone the way of the dodo. As such, we're now including a lot of events that are going to cost you some coin. May I suggest going the flask route to subsidize these ticket prices by avoiding $8 Bud Lights. You're welcome.

Edward Money
May 27
Pine Knob
If spring starts when Oberon is released, summer starts when Eddie starts prowl the former snow covered slopes of Pine Knob. You can get the full Pine Knob schedule here, as well as Meadowbrook's here.

Electronic Music Festival
May 28-30
Detroit
I don't know what happens here, I'm assuming it's a lot like when they went to that rave on Dawson's Creek. Anyway, it's supposedly a big deal.

New Music Mondays
May 23 - July 25
Chicago
Chi-town still has some money, as witnessed by this super cool summer long festival. I highly recommend Ted Leo and the Pharmacists on July 25th.

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week
June 12 - 17
Ann Arbor
Not free, but greatly reduced prices on the finest eateries in the Deuce.

Top of the Park
June 17 - July 10
Ann Arbor
This A2 staple will never die. This year I am most looking forward to Chris Bathgate opening for Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If you had access to a car like this, would you take it back right away? Neither would I.

Sonic Lunch
June 2 - Aug 25
Ann Arbor
OK so when I said communities ran out of money, I mostly meant Detroit. Get downtown on Thursdays and spend your lunch break with local goodness.

Detroit River Days
June 23 - 26
Detroit
No word on a lineup yet, but count on a bunch of Motown people coupled with rides worthy of a country fair.

Fourth of July
Duh
Everywhere
Here's a listing of all the fireworks displays in Michigan on and around our nation's birthday.

MI Elvis Fest
July 8 - 9
Ypsilanti
I've never been, mostly because I find fat Elvis's sexuality oddly disturbing.

Common Ground Festival
July 10 - 17
East Lansing
A2 gives you local bands for free, ELansing gives you washed up rockers for exorbitant prices. Schedule is still in flux, but previous years have featured the likes of Huey Lewis and Stone Temple Pilots. This year they've already nabbed the Charlie Daniels Band, so cross your fingers.

Pitchfork Music Festival
July 15 -17
Put on your finest hipster duds for the snobbiest music festival of them all! Cheaper than Lolla, and anymore, more bands that I want to see.

Ann Arbor Art Fair
July 20 - 23
Ann Arbor
Run away! Run away!

Beerfest
July 22 - 23
Ypsilanti
My favorite day of every summer. Hundreds of craft beers from the Great Beer State. Here's hoping Sid passes his driver's test the first time so he can be my DD.

Lollapalooza
August 5 - 7
Chicago
Lolla seems to have lost some of its luster as of late. This year's lineup is a snoozer.

Woodward Dream Cruise
August 20
Detroit
Also known as "Stay out of Detroit" weekend.

Arts, Beats & Eats
Labor Day Weekend
Royal Oak
AB&E had to move out of Plymouth and into Royal Oak to survive. They don't announce their lineup until mid-summer, but I once saw Sloan here for free, so know hope.

Posted 10:22am
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May 12th , 2011

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I've been ruminating on this for a while, and I'm finally ready to put it out there for you all so you can fill in the gaps of that which are obvious yet I neglected to think of. I think this started while listening to Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone", in which Mr. Whithers repeats the phrase "I know" 26 times during the bridge. My cataloging brain decided to find other songs where a word or phrase is repeated over and over again that's a.) Not a chorus b.) Not the name of the song c.) Not part of some sing a long background vocals (no "Hey Jude" "na na na"s or "Sympathy for the Devil" "Hoo hoo"s) Here's my puny list. Make me feel dumb, or more likely, submit something in the comments that I will dismiss on a technicality.

Wilco - Misunderstood
Jeff Tweady would like to thank you for "Nothin' at all" - so much so that he repeats the word "nothin'" 12 times.

Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name
Rage loves to repeat lyrics, but never more so than in this song, where Zack yells "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" 16 times, and "And now you do what they told ya" 25 times.

Bill Whithers - Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone
Bill reminds us that "(he) knows" the song title is a double negative 26 times.

The Beatles - Blue Jay Way
John Lennon begs us to "Don't be long" 29 times at the end of the song.

Radiohead - Sit Down, Stand Up
Thom Yorke reverberates like a mental patient "The rain drops" a whopping 47 times - all in a row.

So what did I miss?

Posted 1:40pm
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May 11th , 2011

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

- I am easily sucked in when the internet provides me opportunities to test my trivia knowledge or look at some weird Star Wars parody/mash up. When these two things collide, watch out! I feel pretty good about getting 86/111 on Leia's Hologram Test, but then again going in I was confident I could get them all. Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

- Florida's dipshit Governor's inane principled loss is our gain! Michigan gets a big sweaty wad of money to upgrade its rail lines between Detroit and Chicago. I've taken the train to Chi-town before and it is awesome. Now that the ride will supposedly be 30 minutes shorter, it may be time to revisit the rails.

- Hey! Guess what? Here's more evidence that torture is both morally reprehensible AND ineffective. And I say more in the sense that it adds to the only actual evidence on either side of the debate, other than John Yoo talking out his ass and Dick Cheney being so scared of terrorism that he doesn't know what to do other than slap at it. Methinks thou doth protest too much.

- I love this sentiment: "How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around?"  I love this kid even more, and England even MORE for ignoring him. Here at home, Fox News has people on the air saying that "women are asking for sex by dressing immodestly." No word on whether that British kid was horny and just trolling for ass.

- Finally, we kicked off the 2011 softball campaign last night with a 20-0 3 inning blow out. OK so the team we were playing shouldn't exactly be playing in our league, but having to only play 3 innings when coming off 10 months of not swinging a bat or sitting in a crouch - well let's just say my body is grateful. Of course I'm still a little sore, which somehow makes me more depressed over the aging process.

Posted 11:38am
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May 10th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- This post is necessitated by the fact that NPR is currently streaming the soundtrack to The Book of Mormon. Who knows how long it will be up, so check it out ASAP. It is incredible.

- They're also streaming the Jack White/Norah Jones/Dangermouse Ennio Morricone inspired western song cycle Rome. And people want to defund NPR. Fuckwads.

- In honor of Ennio: The Good - The Black Keys cover Buddy Holly. The Bad - Miley Cyrus covers Nirvana. The Ugly - MTV has decided to bring back 120 Minutes. You are officially old when something that was influential to you in your formative years has been gone long enough to be brought back nostalgically by the public at large. I figured Matt Pinfield would be 80 by now.

- Hey no promises or anything, but The Pixies may or may not make new music at some point in the future.

- For a super nerd crossover event of Infinite Crisis proportions, here's Craig Finn talking fantasy baseball. Sweeeeeeeeeeet...

- Someday I'm sure the BDGF's love for Jack White will drag us to Nashville so that we can visit Third Man Records. I just hope something like this is going down when it does.

- Best. RickRoll. Ever. (HT - Stov)

- I'm fairly intrigued by the idea of cloud based music services, and I'm anxious for Google and Apple to get rolling on it so I don't have Greetings from Asbury Park on my phone if I decide I really need to hear "Blinded by the Light". Well Google is suppose launch their version today, although 20,000 songs doesn't sound like a lot, and I won't hold my breath waiting for an iPhone app.

- Finally, not a week goes by where one of the Wondertwins expresses their ignorance about something that I feel should be part of their education already and I start a "What exactly are they teaching you in school?" rant. Well they may not be able to identify themes of Americanism in The Great Gatsby, they certainly aren't these dunderheads. If only more parents beat their children with rulers when they don't know all of the words to "Hey Jude" we wouldn't have this problem.

Posted 10:03am
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May 9th , 2011

Weekend Roundup

- Tina Fey hosted SNL this weekend, which means this old chestnut got trotted out. I'm personally moving on to Michelle Bachmann and hoping God is listening.

- For those of you counting on tbaggervance.com to keep you abreast of the douche bag who ran over a bunch of ducks with his Hummer, I gots your back.

- If you happen to watch commercials, you may have seen this new ad for It Gets Better, that's actually an ad for Google Chrome. If you're like me and DVR everything but sports (and if you're watching sports commercial breaks are for the restroom and getting another beer) thus haven't seen a commercial in years, you should check it out, as both things it promotes are awesome. Plus, crybabies like me will tear up over it.

- Finally, for Mother's Day I had Aunt Amy take some pics of the kids, to remind their mother of how angelic they can be when they're not being needy, sticky monsters. Happy Mother's Day sweetheart.

Posted 11:18am
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May 6th , 2011

Happy Mothers Day

I know it's not until Sunday, but I don't post on Sundays, so Happy Mothers Day to all the Moms out there and all the Moms to be. You are the one irreplaceable thing on this earth.

It feels inappropriate to talk about my mother in anything but reverent terms. She loved me. She raised me. She sacrificed in ways that I as a parent have never had to contemplate. We rarely saw eye to eye yet she let me be whatever it was I thought I needed to be at the time. This despite, in many instances, her better judgment. For those things and so many more I owe her in ways that I will never be able to repay.

But hap and circumstance being what they were, I went through some ugly shit with my mother. Of course there were shouting matches and vile hatred on my part for what I saw at the time as her stifling my social agenda, but those were (mostly) the product of the time - i.e. me being an adolescent asshole and not seeing the protection and keeping a son from ending up dead in a ditch as love.

The actual ugly stuff was watching someone you care about waste away for a period of months. Performing tasks of hygiene and care that a son shouldn't have to endure for his mother, and certainly not before one is thirty. Sitting with someone you knew for your entire life as vibrant and alive be barely coherent for only a few hours a day, and never lucid for any or them is seventh circle level torture. I've wished a lot of people ill in my life for myriad reasons, but never - even if I ever imagined it before experiencing it - would I curse anyone with such a fate.

The upshot of it all - if one exists - is that after a dark period where we thought all was lost, there was a respite of glorious summer by this new concoction of medications. What was once a few brief moments of muddled clarity became the former shining beacon of wisdom and caring that I once knew. She joked. She laughed. Most importantly, she provided a last few pearls of wisdom that I so desperately needed.

This is selfish to be sure. We all want our parents approval on some level and having my mother's was something that I had grown to lack. I was an atheist liberal who had fathered a child out of wedlock, and my staunchly Catholic mother was only OK with one of those things. The teenage drinking and smoking were one thing, but the former were brass tacks, and I was beginning to believe that I was going to spend the rest and majority of my life thinking that my mother disapproved of everything I had become by the end of her time on Earth.

My dad always says that the older you get, the smarter your parents are, and I suppose it's a tad ironic that his wife proved him right. One of last times I saw my mother alive she pulled everyone aside individually, because somehow when you're at that stage of demise and you have the luxury of not being hit by a bus you can do that. I sat at her side and we talked. She said a lot of knowing and reassuring things to me, and while she begged me not to cry, through my tears she told me that despite everything - our differences, our misunderstandings, the choices that I made that she didn't agree with - that she knew that it was going to be OK. She said that she knew that I was a good father, that I loved my son and that no matter what happened, I'd take care of him. And that was all she needed.

In the intervening years I've come to believe that while my mother wasn't exactly lying, it also wasn't all she needed. In her infinite wisdom about both myself and life as a whole, she was giving me what I needed most. No matter what she would have said in that moment I would have had a treasure trove of insight and wisdom to guide my parenting experience based solely on the fact that I was lucky enough to have Judy as my mother. But in the end she gave me what I've come to believe matters most - her approval.

Posted 10:23am
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May 5th , 2011

Moral Superiority

Sometime early last decade I was having a discussion with an Ohio State fan prior to the annual game against Michigan and I was drunkenly railing against tosu's penchant for using players of a questionable moral code. This probably stemmed from tosu great Maurice Clarett and his involvement in their mythical national championship. Clarett was a real piece of work. On the field he was constantly arguing with the coaches. He publicly lambasted his university for not flying him across the country to attend a friend's funeral, took thousands of dollars in improper benefits, mislead NCAA investigators and filed false claims to an insurance company. He eventually ended up in jail for armed robbery. And those are just the highlights that gloss over quite a bit of stellar behavior. My friend's point was that I would gladly take Maurice Clarett in exchange for a national championship.

His initial trump card was the fab five. Not being a huge basketball fan, especially in the early 1990s, I didn't have much reaction. Hindsight being what it is, I now can point to how little Ed Martin had to do with the University of Michigan period, how we fired Steve Fischer once things came to light, and ultimately (like I probably did at the time) noted that if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't take those guys for whatever modicum of success we attained because of them. OK, maybe I'd just forgo the unapologetic Webber, as the rest are pretty good guys who did little to nothing wrong outside of being kids and products of an era. Either way, not nearly applicable, especially given the events of the last few months.

As we all know by now, tosu football coach Jim Tressel knowingly covered up his players illegal, deceitful ways. Whether or not this stems back to the problems he had at Youngstown State or with Maurice Clarett or with Troy Smith we'll never know. I've screamed for years (usually as we're getting beat by tosu) that there's a lack of institutional control there. And the reason it always made me so upset (outside of them beating us) was that Tressel was always revered as some saintly figure - above the fray and a model of how a virtuous program operates (all evidence to the contrary). Nothing makes me more apoplectic than hypocrisy, and this was it of the highest order. Even being vindicated doesn't take away my anger of all that time spent shouting at the wind.

I've found myself feeling the same way the past couple of days. President Obama made a campaign promise to redouble the efforts to get Osama bin Laden. This after the former commander in chief admitted to not thinking that much about him, and Obama's presidential rival saying it wasn't that important. Now that everyone universally agrees that this was a significant, important accomplishment, former Bush officials are using it to justify their illegal and immoral policies. It's the most egregious case of post hoc ergo proctor hoc I've ever seen and it makes my head want to explode.

The op-ed page of the NYTimes says it better than I possibly could.
Torture is unconscionable. There's a reason the term Machiavellian is a pejorative. To take the success of your successor - accomplishing something you failed to do - and using it not only as a point of pride but to justify your failed policies that are not only morally abhorrent, but both put American lives at risk and served as recruiting tools for our enemies, should land you in the ninth concentric circle of hell with Count Ugolino.

The ultimate point is any college freshman can tell you that The Prince is a cautionary tale. I wouldn't suffer Maurice Clarett for four straight National Championships, and I won't ever trade torture to see the world's most wanted man with a bullet in his brain pan. You can call me soft. You can say I'm righteously indignant. But Michigan won their last National Championship because of Charles Woodson. And Osama sleeps with the fishes because of the giant hanging brain of professorial President Obama and not the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. There's a right way to do things, and to do them otherwise belies the reason we do them at all. That or I love a good high horse.

Posted 9:58am
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May 4th , 2011

Happy Star Wars Day

Today we stop to appreciate all things Ann Arbor. Those not local, feel free to read on in jealousy.

- Today is Star Wars day, so May the Fourth be with you. Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, so if you have young ones that are one with the force, stop by Vault of Midnight, as they usually have Darth Vader and some Storm Troopers hanging out front.

- As an aside, my subtenants at the old downtown apartment are gone, so it's time for some fresh meat. They are coming from California in a little over a week and as a condition of their staying in my swanky downtown pad, I need to provide them with beds. SO - if you have a twin mattress or box spring lying around that I could borrow for a couple months, I would be eternally* grateful.

- While one can debate the relative merits of mocking your enemies during a losing streak as opposed to maintaining your position above the fray**, I love this.

- Here's a nice feature from Hour Detroit about our beloved Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair.

- This summer's Top of the Park schedule has been announced. Bathgate, NOMO, Back to the Future and Footloose. Hooray!

- Most importantly Ann Arborites - Saturday is the annual e-waste recycling day at the Pioneer parking lot. If you have old TVs, VCRs, computers, phones, bundles of useless cords - 1.) gather them up and throw them in the trunk of your vehicle. 2.) Drive to the Pioneer lot on Saturday. 3.) Pop your trunk and some nice gentlemen will remove said items 4.) Drive away smiling. It's an awesome service that happens ONCE A YEAR. I can't stress this enough because last year I asked the BDGF "Is there anything in the house that could go to e-cycling this weekend?" She replied with an "I don't think so" and now I've had a printer, 5-disc CD changer, half a dozen old phones and a Nintendo 64 piled in my garage for 11 months. It's cold and rainy out - do a sweep through your storage areas for crap and get rid of it Saturday as opposed to throwing it in a dumpster next time you move because you were lazy on a Wednesday night in May.

* eternally = until such a time that I can repay you by buying you a beer.

** And by 'one' I mean 'one whose allegiances are to Michigan', as tOSU and State fans were never above anything.

Posted 10:43am
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May 3rd , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- This is low hanging fruit, I know, but please, witness first hand the harassment and intimidation endured by those who who try to circumvent the eye of Xenu.

- This, well this is kind of unbelievable in the fact that a.) it's 2011b.) said by a Congressman c.) Couched in both religious ideology bullshit AND a call for austerity. Maybe it's just me, but when I hear men decry becoming subservient to women I think one thing and one thing only - homo.

- It's getting harder and harder to find a quality lawyer to defend your denial of a citizen's rights. If this isn't stopped, all women will become lesbians. Which, if you're going to witness the end of the human race, I think this is the sexiest of all outcomes.

- The God particle remains elusive, and may only be revealed to us by Jesus during the rapture, which is coming May 21, 2011. I predict when he returns on his flaming chariot, he will tell us that science is 100% right about the origins of life on Earth, and that everyone spreading hate and fear in his name should fuck themselves.

- I don't know why anyone would need an instruction manual for masturbation, but apparently after 10 years on the shelf, someone got upset that it was in an elementary school. This is apparently the polar opposite of Tennessee, who is trying to go the Don't Ask, Don't Tell route on the mere existence of homosexuality. Let's see how that works, shall we? I promise to completely reevaluate my thoughts on the matter if everyone in the state is straight in 10 years.

- Finally kudos to Toledo, Ohio - home of the Mud Hens, Tony Packos, Loma Lindas and the "Being Gay is a gift from God" Central United Methodist Church. Next time you feel a little xenophobic, homophobic or jingoistic - remember that God don't make no junk.

Posted 2:11pm
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May 2nd , 2011

What happened to all the Royal Wedding coverage?

On May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy stood before Congress and challenged America to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. 2,979 days later, Neil Armstrong complied, shouting "I'm on the motherfucking moon!" or something to that effect. On September 18, 2001, in the wake of the worst terrorist attack our country has ever known, George W. Bush promised we would bring Osama Bin Laden to justice, dead or alive. 3,593 days later that son of a bitch ate a bullet thanks to the CIA and years of thankless dedication of thousands of servicemen and women. My only point is that next time you want to show your frustration over the lack of progress we've made as a society, throw out your man on the moon analogy. Por ejemplo: Replace "They can put a man on the moon but they can't make a Hot Pocket that's not lava hot on the outside yet frozen in the middle?" with "They can hunt down Osama Bin Laden but they can't make a Hot Pocket that's not lava hot on the outside yet frozen in the middle?" Because hey, it took longer.

It was kind of weird in the moment. The BDGF and I were hanging out when her oldest came out to inform us, almost quizzically "Osama Bin Laden is dead?" When I went to tell Sid, he said "Yeah, somebody typed that on the message board of the game I'm playing." Then turning on the news and watching people celebrate - it felt odd. I've obviously got zero sympathy for the man or anyone whom he ever so much as shook hands with, it just felt sort of hallow. And again, don't get me wrong, I'm also mostly wondering if Obama is going to hold up Bin Laden's severed head in front of Trump to see if it will turn him to stone. In any event he's dead, and if anyone ever deserved it, it was that fuck face.

- My literal first thought when I heard the news was "Hello second term, President Obama." Imminently smarter than me Nate Silver says not so fast.

- Still a good week for the Prez though. First he long forms his opponents, then he kills at the Correspondents dinner, now this:

- College students celebrated the only way they know how - by being drunken idiots. Somewhere in East Lansing, a couch is still smoldering in celebration.

- GOP presidential candidates react, from respectful Romney and Pawlenty to "Sharia" Michelle Bachmann.

- For the complete story - and I mean seven entire pages complete - of why that fucker got what was coming to him, read the NYTimes obit.

Posted 10:03am
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April 29th , 2011

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

- I wouldn't normally take time about of my busy day to deliberately intake advertising, but there's so many good names involved in this, that I made an exception. Which I will always do for Paul F. Tompkins, and have yet to be disappointed. I highly recommend a visit to their youtube channel, as there's a ton of good stuff. Let this be the last assuaging of the guilt over not buying a Ford.

- This sounds like the kind of lefty crap that usually spills out of my mouth:

The United States has embraced an entirely wrong set of priorities, particularly with regard to its federal budget. We have overreacted to Islamic extremism. We have pursued military solutions instead of political ones. We are underinvesting in the real sources of national power - our youth, our infrastructure and our economy. The United States sees the world through the lens of threats, while failing to understand that influence, competitiveness and innovation are the key to advancing American interests in the modern world.

What's the source? The DOD. Specifically, two top ranking members of the Joint Chiefs. Know hope.

- This is perhaps my favorite story of all time. Privileged asshole teenager (Dillon Robert Pearce, with a a face to match) goes to McDonalds in daddy's Hummer for some fries. Him and his douche bag friends see some ducks in the parking lot and start to fuck with them. Diligent McD's employees scare them off initially, only to see them return minutes later to RUN OVER THE DUCKS IN THEIR HUMMER. Comeuppance came quickly as he was immediately arrested and now faces up to four years in prison. If there is any justice in the world, he'll serve every day of that sentence, and members of the Sierra Club will deliberately get arrested so they can infiltrate his prison to sodomize him with various forms of taxidermy.

- I swoon! Chuck Klosterman and Craig Finn on the same stage! And the first question in the Klosterquiz involves Tom Brady!

When people tell me to go to my happy place, I'm in a bar with those three guys, talking about relational Star Wars theories and debating what was a more satisfying experience - hearing the White Album for the first time or Michigan's 1997 National Championship season. Again, swoon.

- Last night the BDGF's first and second graders performed a musical version of the Three Little Pigs and I was lucky enough to score a ticket. It was super cute and I didn't get physically mobbed or interrogated by schoolkids as the evening was a whirlwind and it was the first time I saw them as a collective and they had any idea who I was. I do not expect the same experience next time. And as a bonus, after trading seats with me back and forth countless times leading up to the show, the BDGF's littlest decided to just sit on my lap and do running commentary during the actual performance. We were in the last row, but I had the best seat in the house.

Posted 11:04am
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April 27th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

- Here's some more new Death Cab for you to lament. There's also a plethora of tour dates that I thankfully don't have to buy a pair of tickets to and beg someone to go with me.

- There's new music on the horizon from Wilco and The Shins, which will hopefully be better news than new DCFC ditties.

- As noted above, it's sad that even your favorite bands can be a roll of the dice these days. I hated the last Wilco album so much that I barely look forward to the next entry, should it be at all similar to their last shit sandwich. Now that Death Cab sounds like Air Supply, I'm apprehensive to even dip a toe in new albums from bands that once meant the world to me. Thank Christ for the Beastie Boys. Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 is streaming on their website and it is fanfunkytastic. It's reassuring that some things never change.

- Here's a review from the AV Club of Chris Bathgate's new album. I haven't purchased it yet (that's right - I said purchase) but I intend to and so should you.

- Lollapalooza announced its lineup the other day. I'm not a festival guy, but that looks pretty anemic to me and I'm not even a little tempted. Plus two words: Coldplay headlining. We all know Chris Martin and I should never be in the same place at the same time, cause shit would get ugly.

- With all do apologies, I failed to inform you that yesterday was They Might Be Giants Appreciation Day. However I have no doubt that an audience as hip and informed as mine already appreciates TMBG in the proper manner, which is alot. You should go listen to your copy of Flood anyway, just to show your respect.

- Finally, here's an indie rock cred test that I will admit reads like someone spitballing jokes for a roast of yours truly. I mean, you only have to get to number two: Do you get irrationally pissy when you hear that a release you want is MP3 only? Yes, yes I do.

Posted 11:02am
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April 26th , 2011

Oh the places you'll go!

Editors note: I edited! For realsies! This was written in a sloppy fit late last night and I just rewrote a lot of it. I tell you this because as you read on you'll a.) see that I just patted myself on the back for exploring new areas and b.) notice that I am a terrible editor. Toodles!

In the past few years I've been called complacent, an optimist and not a red head. It can be argued that at least two of these things aren't remotely derogatory, and the first only through a certain lens that wasn't necessarily meant when it was proffered. The problem is that I've never seen myself as any of those things, so I always vehemently deny them. The latter two would seem patently ridiculous to anyone who has known me since I was a teenager (or younger), and the first goes against at the very least what I have strived to be in my adult life. Of course what bothers me is that they all have the air of truth to them.

The least of these is obviously my hair color. I take it as point of fact that my current coiffe barely hints at my former strawberry blonde best. The only qualm I have with the assertion that I'm not a redhead is
that I still suffer the consequences of that fate. Put me in the sun and I combust like a drummer from Spinal Tap. My skin will always be pale, freckles are part of my makeup the same as stardust. OK, those things and the fact that I grew up in a town small enough that being a redhead must mean that you're one of Moe and Judy's kids. I hated growing up in that town but there's something oddly comforting about that fact. And if you ever parrot that statement back to me I will disavow it completely.

The there's the optimism. In the past I've been publicly called a curmudgeon, crabby, surly and angry at the world. I've owned those monikers, and have come to feel that if you don't share my world view, then leave me alone - after I rant about how you're an idiot and summarily dismiss you. But at the same time my world view has changed. Perhaps it's having a kid, maybe it's seeing the awfulness of everything and realizing that you can either see the best of things (hopefully in a non-Panglossian way) and find hope, or be miserable all the time. Whatever the impetus, I suppose I've realized you can both want to be left alone and decide to surround yourself with the people who agree with you while challenging you. The BDGF says she loves that I'm an optimist, so I'm not going to assert the other way too hard.

And that speaks to complacency. I've taken that the hardest because I feel it means that I'm not railing against the status quo. That I'm not actively trying to change things and right the wrongs I see in the world. More than anything I take it internally as I'm not challenging myself and trying become a better person. Complacency is satisfied to a fault. And that's not content, which is only slightly better.

But I suppose I'd take content, pragmatic, former ginger. I'd probably not take issue with any of those assertions. Without getting into it, it speaks to my love of hyperbole and the parsing of semantics as much as anything. But to get into it, it all comes down to object permanence. I love who I was as much as who I am (mullet and all.) I want to be and own who I was as much as I want to continue to evolve. A lot of my friends are graduating for the first time, or considering new jobs or even starting new careers in lieu of staying on the path of least resistance. I am in awe of these people. Whether they do it out of necessity or choice, I not-so-secretly wish I was them.

Being a father at 19 offers a lot of hindsight what-ifs. Time and time again I've chosen the path of security and stability because I saw that as my job as dad. I don't regret any of it mind you - it was the right decision at the time and it's provided me a life where people can call me complacent and even mean it as a compliment. But I look around and wonder whether there are dwindling opportunities to take such a leap. If I am what they say I am, complacency means new ventures aren't in the cards, although optimism could hurl me forward. Under my alternate definitions I'm not much better off. Can you be content and still want new avenues to pursue? Ultimately I suppose I am sometimes complacent, often content, but still desire to throw myself off the cliff now and again. And I think I'm ultimately pragmatic with an optimist's bent - due to the fact that I've been so lucky over the years, history tells me that things have a way of working themselves out. As for being a ginger, well I can always carry a picture of my six year old self in my wallet or spend an afternoon poolside should anyone need convincing.

Posted 11:13am
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April 25th , 2011

What price happiness?

I spent most of the weekend on my death bed. Saturday morning's painful sore throat morphed into Sunday's massive chest cold. I'd still be in bed right now were it not for a huge shitstorm of good times here at work. Normally when I fall ill I usually just point to the BDGF and announce "J'accuse!" because of all of the tiny kid germs she carries home with her everyday turning our house into a CDC incubation unit. But this time it was my fault. Nothing was going to stop me from making this happen:

Due to joint parenting considerations, we had to do our "annual"* Easter egg hunt on Friday. We decided that since the weather had to break any day now, we would incorporate the giving of the scooter into the festivities. A brilliant idea except for the fact that we unwittingly agreed last minute to meet my sister and her family in Frankenmuth on Thursday night, giving us a thin sliver of a time frame to make all of this happen.

So we managed to ditch the girls in Frankenmuth with my sister Friday afternoon so that we could go prep the house and bring the scooter from it's storage place in Stov's garage. Again, brilliant plan except for one thing: the weather. It hadn't broken yet. Turns out upon our return to Ann Arbor it was a balmy 42 degrees and raining, leaving me to ride the 5.4 miles back to our house in anything but amenable conditions.

But ride I did. It took me a good 90 minutes for my core body temperature to return once the scooter was safely home. Couple that with the Pixies show that night and my body said "Enough son." The show was worth the price twice over, and even more so, we had one helluva Easter egg hunt. The kids are excited and thus begins the summer of the great scooter wars, where all four people in the house legally allowed to ride the thing vie to use it on a daily basis. Totally worth putting, as the BDGF puts it, my immune system of a 14 year old girl through its paces.

*technically our first altogether.

Posted 11:10am
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April 21st , 2011

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

- Stov and I like to refer to every Will Ferrel movie that basically isn't Anchorman or Old School as "minor Ferrel". Sure there's other worthwhile stuff in his oeuvre, but there's a huge malaise of meh out there hovering at the ankles of those two giants. I have hope that both of these movies find transcendence. The former seems risky, giving it a chance. The latter could be another Stranger than Fiction, which is easily next in line in his canon as far as I am concerned.

- I hate chain restaurants. This is not a new sentiment around here to be sure, but I saw this list of chain restaurants worth visiting and said "None. The answer is none." Of course I do love Chipotle, so I am a hypocrite.

- As previously noted, I've just started to delve into the British TV show Dr. Who. I wouldn't say I am in love with it, but I am sticking with it because a.) It's intriguing, and b.) if no one sublets my apartment this summer, I'll need to kill a lot of time as I won't be able to afford to leave the house. So please, sublet my place, or start making your case if I should start watching Breaking Bad or The Wire first.

- Tonight is the record release party for Chris Bathgate's latest opus at the Blind Pig. Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance as I'm off to frolic in Frankenmuth with the family for the evening. I know, leave it alone. You don't have to feel sorry for me because in lieu of Bathgate I get Black Francis. Tomorrow we are off to downtown Detroit to watch The Pixies perform Doolittle in its entirety. I am un chein andulsia. Slicing up eyeballs, ha ha ha ho...

- Finally, Happy Easter from Ricky and me.

Posted 10:48am
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April 20th , 2011

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend*.

I buy books for three reasons:

1.) They make me look/feel smarter. It's largely the latter, as I spend more time staring at and perusing my bookshelves than the entirety of humanity combined. I'm usually the only one assessing the relative merit of that which I have decided to intellectually imbibe, but on the off chance I should ever be judged on my tomes, I want to at least seem impressive.

2.) They're cheap. I'll gladly spend an hour or two at a liquidation sale/second hand/discount book store. This is because of subheadings:
     a.) Going back to reason one, to have a lot of book is to appear smart
     b.) I do honestly love books. The smell, the feel - and to piggy back on a.), I just like looking at them.
So I'll gladly pay $2 for something I intend to read someday, and not lose sleep over never getting around to it.

3.) As to support something I feel deserves/needs my money. This is the only point that doesn't make me seem at least a little douche-y, so I saved it for last. I would never pay for Tina Fey's new book. I hear it's great and I love Tina Fey, but that's what libraries are for. But I will always buy the next Chuck Klosterman book, because he's an author and that's it. It's important to me to incentivize him producing more books. This also has to do with subheading:
     a.) These are the books I will read multiple times and lend out over and over again to spread the good word. I think of all the people that have read Scott Pilgrim because of me and it makes me deliriously happy.

I grew up in a town that didn't even have a book store outside of the paperback section of whatever proto-WalMart we had at the time. It says a lot (I hope) that I then decided to live in a town said to have more bookstores per capita than any other city in the US. But they are slowly dwindling. I, for one, don't want them to go. I don't miss CDs. Digital music is inherently 1,000 better. And storing movies on a server and streaming them to my TV is awesome technology. I bet someday I'll go to a Kindle or whatever for ease of use for a lot of my reading. But as a guy with a few hundred vinyl record albums that I listen to on a daily basis, I'll always have books. How else are people who come over suppose to judge me?

*Inside of a dog it's too dark to read

Posted 10:39am
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April 19th , 2011

Inside Baseball

First off, I swear this is not a sports post. Look up the term. But it may be worse, so caveats aside, this may be uninteresting. For years I've almost exclusively wrote the blog at work. If any of my higher ups are reading this, I'm kidding. But even if I weren't, I'm fond of saying that it takes me as long to write the blog as it does to type it. Even for a typist as terrible as I am, that's not long. I've always fancied myself as someone who thinks about things a lot, so the blog has been my outlet for emptying my head of whatever is rattling around inside it. Over the years I like to think I've become more adroit at making that a readable, well thought out exercise, but I leave that to you, dear reader.

Several years ago my good friend Heather read a post I wrote about her exploits (in a thinly veiled manner) and spent the rest of the following year screaming "It's going to end up on his blog!" anytime anything interesting happened. I can say now that she's right, if a little solipsistic. Everything that happens to me is potential fodder, and Heather could have asked whomever I was dating at the time to get confirmation on that truth. The upside of all of that is if I write about you or something that happened to us or that we talked about, I probably find you/it interesting. That is if I'm not blatantly mocking you, in which case - don't read the blog. I say that realizing it may inherently eliminate most of you at some point. My advertisers will be furious.

A week or so ago I started writing (more) after everyone was nestled away in their beds for the night. Partly because I have been natured and nurtured to be a night owl. Staying up late has always been my default, and it was reinforced ad nauseam by my sister as an adolescent when we used to go rent movies and stay up until 2am watching them during the summer. As an adult I have the addict's gene of never wanting anything to end, so if I can prolong the night by staying up overly late and typing away, so much the better.

Perhaps most importantly in all of this, I lose a lot when my head hits the pillow. As a night owl, my prime thinking hours are after I've had two drinks. I am razor sharp. My mind is operating on all cylinders. The pump has been primed by talking with the BDGF about the news of the day or larger truths and I feel like I'm ready to explode onto the page, whether I actually have anything to say or not. That's a super long way of saying that I'm writing what you are reading now at night.

It started because a week or so ago I had something I needed to get down. After writing it I wasn't sure that I was comfortable posting it randomly so I sent it to the BDGF. What I wrote felt important but I knew that I was incapable of judging its merits so in attempt to make it seem real and more than exercise I sent it to her so that it would exist outside my brain. I loved the idea of that. Turns out, so did she and it in turn begat more of the same. Now as much as anything, the idea that I can type something for her to read in the early morning hours before all y'all makes me smile. No offense, but I care about what she thinks more than anyone, and now when this ideal comes to fruition it's like a secret we have in the morning while the rest of you lay in slumber.

Tonight we talked about human existence's education levels relative to history, predestination and myriad other topics I don't even have time to get into at this point. You really should have been here, as it was far more interesting than the stupid process story I'm typing about now. Unfortunately for you, that may be the crux of it. When I typed that first story she came back upstairs before leaving the house in the morning to kiss me and tell me she loves me. Those aren't anomalies outside of the place and time they occurred, but I've decided that there's no other way I'd rather start the day, so you may be the victims of that paradigm, assuming they produce more posts like this. Of course I firmly believe that it's the best thing the blog had ever produced.

Posted 11:18am
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April 18th , 2011

Partisan Buckeye TARDISes

Editors note: I wrote this late last night when I couldn't sleep so a.) it sounds a little like I wrote it while I was high and b.) I didn't take into account that the intersection of everything contained here is so specific to my weird peccadilloes that less than 1% of the public at large probably has all the necessary reference points to follow along. Plus even I think I'm full of shit about all this, but hey, they can't all be winners.

My weekend was convoluted. Coming off of vacation and going into an easter weekend filled with a flurry of plans, I was looking for something rote. I love my life so rote is nice. Rote is comforting. Rote means booze, and music and the BDGF and all the things I love in the world and make me happy. Excitement? Adventure? A Jedi craves not these things. I wanted to relax and enjoy the things I love most sandwiched between obligation and duty and the times when booze is a necessity and not a luxury. It's not exactly what I got and I am currently trying to make sense of it all.

I'll spare you a recap, mostly because that is rote and rote writing is boring to all but the few of you who see this is a purely voyeuristic endeavor to see what's happening in my life. Maybe that's more of you than I would like to admit, but I aspire to a higher level of discourse. So let us throw the weekend in a blender and see how we can encompass as much of it as possible in a single post where there's an attempt to find a related throughline, shall we? Since I'm running the show we shall.

Saturday I went to Michigan's spring game. Those of you who know anything about college football are aware that there is little to no knowledge to be gleaned from these exercises and those that don't care about 20 year olds hurling their bodies around on a hundred yard field are already skipping this paragraph, so let's agree to let that part go. Except for the fact that football games mean tailgates and my friends don't necessarily discuss the adjustments of Denard Robinson under center during pregame, we talk religion and politics and anything else under the sun that our brain's fancy. It was during this time where I realized that Jim Tressel is the Republican party. More on that in a second.

Sunday in a fit of relaxation I continued my recent obsession with the British TV show Dr. Who. Now even if you've never seen Dr. Who you probably know that, for lack of a better turn of phrase, it's England's version of Star Trek. The specifics of the show are neither here nor there, other than it has a typical lefty sci-fi bent, marginally low production values and will exist in perpetuity because a lot people like those things, and enjoy the familiar even more. Dr. Who is the Democratic party. But we'll get back to that in a second.

The obvious elephant in the room is politics, and with the looming debate of the budget 'crisis' it's been on my mind as well. Try as I might, I can't stop thinking about these things. OK, in part I surround myself with them. I watch The Daily Show. I watch Real Time with Bill Maher. If the either the BDGF or I is on an electronic device, we're asking each other 'Did you read Maureen Dowd's op-ed yet?" The answer is always yes and we're off to the races on the relative merits of the thing. Don't get me wrong, this is one of my favorite things in the world and outside of the fact that she's super foxy the main reason that I hope I never give the woman a reason to leave me. But given my big, fat, stupid Irish head, all this discussion is the cause of much consternation.

And that's because the Democrats are Dr. Who. We're far more in love with the idea of ourselves than what we actually are. Idyllically, we are awesome. We stand up for the right things, we look out for the least among us, and we have nothing but the most high-minded ideals at heart. But let's call a spade a spade for a minute. Our production levels are crappy. Our solutions to the problems we face don't hold muster under the light of the scientific method and perhaps most prophetically, we change our skin whenever the need suits us - political chameleons who sway with the wind because cohesion is impossible.

Republicans? They're the stalwart Senator himself, Jim Tressel. Ruthlessly effective. Lock step with the party line to a tee. Transgressions are a minor trifle because results are what matter. Who gives a flying fuck if how you got where you are flies in the face of everything you espouse? You're still where you aspired to be, right? We are who we say we are and if that's not what our actions would dictate, go fuck yourself. It's the bottom line that carries the day, and if you don't see that, then you are not a Buckeye Republican.

I hate the fact that going to a Michigan football game makes me think about how much I hate Jim Tressel. I hate that I find five year old British TV shows compelling. Mostly I hate that I spend 500 words every month or so talking about the ineffectual nature of the Democratic party. But in a non-Obama way I know hope. I believe in my heart of hearts that Tressel will get what he deserves and balance will return to the force*. I believe that with every new Dr. Who that there will be something more than a morality play disguised with poor CGI. Mostly I believe, because I can't otherwise exist without it, that we as Americans will get our priorities straight and not correct previous mistakes on the backs of the poor and indigent. Because if we're can't get there, we're nowhere. Jesus and Yoda would agree.

*Check the records - combine Cooper and Tressel and OSU is 11-11-1 against Michigan the last 23 years. Just sayin', Moeman knows what goes around, comes around.

Posted 10:12am
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April 15th , 2011

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

- There's plenty of budget reax going on these days, and my two favorite NYT columnists, Paul Krugman and David Brooks, both tackle the issue today. As per usual, I tend to agree with most of what they both have to say. I'm hoping now that he's back in campaign mode, this is where Obama starts to get out front and actually wins this battle. Or I'll take a stalemate where all the Bust Tax cuts expire, because that plus the status quo isn't that bad.

- Tomorrow is both Record Store Day and Michigan football's spring football game. To be honest, while music and Michigan football are two of my favorite things in the world, it's hard to get up (literally and figuratively) for either. I'm not going to go get up and wait outside of the store at 10am to get the most limited 7"s that will be released tomorrow, and if it's raining (and it will be) I'm not going to sit in the cold and wet to watch guys scrimmage. So this means I will get up and swing by Underground Sounds to pick over the detritus before heading to a tailgate to drink a few beers before deciding that it's too nasty out to go inside the stadium, at which point I will go home and take a nap. Actually, come to think of it, that's a pretty good day after all.

- It's now been 50 years since mankind successfully flung our bodies into the outer atmosphere for the first time. To celebrate, the cerebral space enthusiasts amongst you should watch First Orbit, a sort of documentary about Yuri Gagarin's inaugural space flight. Of course in this political climate, that might make you a communist, so should any Bachmanns or Palins come to your door asking questions, you didn't hear about this from me.

- Today is April 15th, which means it's Tax Day, but I do my taxes in January so whoopty shit. It also means that it's two of my favorite people's in the world birthdays. One is my oldest and best friend and I can't believe the luck that after 27+ years we still get see each other on a weekly basis. The other is my ex-girlfriend and I can't believe the luck that after a three year tumultuous relationship we can still be friends two years after the fact, albeit a few thousand miles apart. Happy birthday kiddos. I love ya both and hate you for being younger and better looking than me (y'all can sort out which is which).

- Finally, this feels a little like John Belushi's 1975 commercial for Little Chocolate Donuts, but what makes me the witty, erudite bon vivant and trivia master that I've become? Why it's alcohol sillies! Mmmmmm science! (ht: ljv)

Posted 12:44pm
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April 14th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I sometimes think of the good ol' days, you know, when legislators and school boards in Kansas and Pennsylvania were passing laws to include 'Intelligent Design' in science classrooms because you know, ID is 'science', right? 'Design' is right in there, that's science-y. Besides, evolution is a theory so we should include other theories. Apparently the good ol' days are still here.

- Here's the most batshit non-conservative conservative thing you may ever read: an Alaskan judge thinks premarital sex should be illegal. ILLEGAL! Now I live with two fifteen year olds so I get the argument, but how does this fit into a conservative's views on the rights of individuals? As always, those views don't apply to wieners and va-jay-jays. Just ask Planned Parenthood.

- As a rebuttal, here is something super-awesome from former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, a champion of common sense. See? They're not all idiots. At least when they're out of office and not running for anything.

- The recent (or rather looming) budget debate is a very interesting thing from the perspective of Baby J. Here's a comparison of the two plans. Now I'm no Biblical scholar and hell, I don't even believe in the little one's divinity, but I do think he was a helluva smart guy. And given what I know about the meek inheriting the earth and that whatsoever you do to the least of his people, you do unto Baby Jesus, what do you think that he would do here? (WWBJD?)

- Finally, this got the full treatment on TDS last night, but if you haven't seen it, get ready to roll your eyes at the faux outrage over a boy wearing pink toenail polish. For the record, Sid used to come home from preschool with painted fingernails and toenails all the time. As of this writing, he's still straight. Go figure.

Posted 10:49am
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April 13th , 2011

Finally, justice...

I was asked just the other day in the course of normal conversation "So what other bands do you irrationally hate?" This was in the context of one of my usual rants about either Pavement or Arcade Fire, which one is not important, as I hate them pretty equally and for (mostly) the same reasons. Anyone who regularly reads the blog knows why. For the uninitiated, quickly it's that these bands suck. But somewhere someone decided to like them anyway, probably ironically or in some Pygmalion style gambit where one hipster says to another "I bet I can make everyone like Win Butler" and the other retorts "I bet you can't make ANYONE like Win Butler." And then the first hipster wins because the only thing a hipster fears more than being left out in the cold on a trend is accidentally going from irony to sincerity.

But in that conversation I forgot the third axis of evil in my bucket of irrational hatred: Coldplay. Fucking A do I loathe Coldplay. There's nothing I would enjoy more than punching Chris Martin in his stupid fucking face. I probably forgot to mention them the other day because my hatred for this limp dick of a band is not like my implausible hipster conspiracy plot. I'll freely admit that I've found myself humming along to Arcade Fire songs, and that if they didn't have 47 people on stage at a time I'd probably have forgiven them by now and have gone to just not liking them as opposed to hating them. Same thing goes for Pavement, except it would be contingent on Stephen Malkmus stopping being such a smug douche, which is never going to happen.

I hate fucking Coldplay because people think of them and refer to them with the likes of Spoon and Wilco and other pseudo mainstream indie rock and nothing could be further from the truth. Everything Coldplay has ever done, and I mean everything, is the most middling, uninspired, milquetoasty claptrap to have ever been put on wax. There songs are designed specifically to have the largest audience possible and that's the antithesis of rock and roll. Chris Martin isn't Ben Folds, he's Russel Hitchcock. Coldplay belongs on Lite FM, not between Vampire Weekend and Tokyo Police Club on alternative radio. Their songs are for moms, teenage girls and and guys who throw a ball like a teenage girl. They make me angry HULK S M A S H...

But I digress. You can choose to believe my argument or not, it really doesn't matter anymore because I have been proven right by SCIENCE. An online dating website has correlated what music people like with those who are least likely to "go all the way." Guess who came in at number one with a bullet? Fucking Coldplay. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as listening to Chris Martin noodle and drone on is the surest way to kill an erection this side of looking at naked pictures of your grandmother while sitting on a block of ice and listening to your mom read from the kama sutra. Oh, be careful clicking on the link. It contains a picture of Chris and should you gaze upon it, you will surely want to punch him in his stupid face.

- I hate to brag* but it hasn't happened in a while - I got review of the day on Yelp! And yes, that's me holding a 40 getting a breathalyzer from the BDGF's brother. I reek of class.

*not really

Posted 11:52am
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April 12th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

- The Onion's AV Club is back with their Undercover feature, pitting indie rock mainstays against unconventional cover song choices. I was particularly fond of this TMBG cover performed by Titus Andronicus. Also note the feature's theme music is from the new Maritime album, which I am currently enjoying the shit out of.

- I'm anxiously awaiting a new Wilco, albeit mostly to get the taste of the last one out of my mouth. Our neighbors to the north in Cananada bring you said new Wilco in the vessel of a solo Jeff Tweedy acoustic performance. Although in those glasses, I'm now hoping to doesn't go all Randy Newman-y.

- For those of us trying to square with Death Cab becoming a crappy synth pop band, here's an exhaustive list of their cover songs. May I suggest the Matthew Sweet?

- The Foo Fighters were on The Daily Show last night, and fuck it if they aren't some of the last of the true rock stars still roaming the earth. Here's a great story about Dave Grohl's unlikely ascent to the top of Fuck Mountain®.

- When the Beatles finally grew up they morphed from a really good pop band into the greatest thing mankind has ever had the privilege to experience. A large reason that statement is gospel truth is that during that transition, they never ceased to be fun as hell. Now the Arctic Monkeys were never the Beatles. That being said, they've grown and matured, become darker and more nuanced, but in my mind, have completely ceased to be any fun whatsoever. Witness the new single off their forthcoming album. It's not that it's bad, it just lacks any of the joy I used to love in their music. Boo for growing up. When it leads to seriousness and boredom anyway.

- Finally, we come to what seems these days to be our obligatory White Stripes news. First they continue their Tupac-ian ways by releasing more new (OK live) music, and second, they turn out to be powerful enough to stop a government shutdown. Way to go kids. Your government and the American people owe you a debt of service.

Posted 10:43am
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April 11th , 2011

Working vacation.

We didn't take a lot of vacations growing up. Once to stay with friends in South Carolina, once to Chicago. Everything else was either in Ohio or centered around where ever my brother was living at the time. Imagine driving 12+ hours to Minnesota. Or Arkansas. I guess the upside is that when there's only one highway in the whole goddamn state, it's hard to get lost. The one time we were in Chicago my most distinct memory is my Dad getting stuck in a loop on lower Wacker drive for the better part of an hour - just driving around the same 3-4 blocks unable to find his way back to the surface streets.

Looking back, I'm not sure how he did it. I mean I get how he got off of lower Wacker Drive, but otherwise the mere suggestion of traveling with your family in the 80's is frightening to me. My dad did what he could to mitigate things. He'd wake everyone up and throw them in the car at 4am so everyone would sleep the first few hours. He'd be sure to split the siblings up between him and mom whenever they could so we wouldn't kill each other. Still, after 3 or 4 days we were always at each other's throats. It usually happened at dinner on Saturday night when my mother tried to tell us that we still had to go to church in the morning and my head would begin to explode. I mean church on vacation? That woman drove me to atheism.

So why on Earth would I decide to pack up my little pseudo family and schlep them across this great nation of ours? The short answer is I didn't decide, I was drafted. Around our house it's "Whatever baby wants..." and baby wanted the children to bond before the WonderTwins fled the nest for University and all points beyond. Once she saw that the Hold Steady were playing in Cleveland the first Saturday of Spring Break, and that we wouldn't be able to go to her sister's for Easter, the trip was ostensibly planned. Cleveland - New York (via Connecticut) - Washington D.C. - Virginia (for the weather) and back again. Yikes.

I was placated by the following: 1.) We have GPS. I would never have agreed to any of this without that miracle device. As long as you're paying attention, it's impossible to get lost. At least not for very long. 2.) We were going to spend as much of the trip as possible in museums and doing at least quasi-cultural things. Again, were this an excursion to Disneyland the car wouldn't have left the driveway. 3.) The first two are hyperbole. I was on the hook for this because I'm dad, and ridiculously driving your brood across country despite the innate illogical preposterousness of it all is what dads do.

And that - I imagine - is how my dad did it. With a wink and a smile and a realization that it's not your vacation, it's theirs. So you don't complain when everyone decides to skip the Guggenheim for Harry Potter. And you try not to lose your shit when they say that after being to the top of two of the world's tallest buildings and visiting the MET and the Natural History Museum, that the Toys R Us in Times Square is the best thing that ever happened to them. And you try to remember how excited they were to see the actual C-3PO costume when they tell you that they all left their coats in the previous hotel room two and a half hours away.

Despite the fact that he didn't have satellite navigation, a DVD player in the car or kids who all had cellphones and iPods, I can't ever remember my dad losing his cool with us, and I guess somewhere in my brain that got imprinted as the definition of what it means to be dad. Stay calm, keep everyone safe, make sure mom is happy when the kids ask too much of her. I may only be fake dad to the girls, and yes I have 25 years of technology in my favor, and maybe most importantly, there's not 15 years of familiarity to breed contempt between our non-traditional lot, but there was far less yelling on this trip than any Brubaker vacation that I can remember. We must be doing something right, although I think we are all in agreement that we don't have to prove it by ever going on a week long road trip again. Ever.

Posted 11:12am
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April 1st , 2011

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

- Is it just me or have I wrote about Jack White 1000% more since the White Stripes broke up? That's what I thought. Here's the 7" rerelease planned for the impending annual Record Store Day, and here's a peek at the hotly anticipated collaboration with Danger Mouse.

- Bell's in cans? Apparently so. I'm not sure how this affects me yet, as I would never purchase can over bottle, but at some point this has to lead to me being able to drink an Oberon in a place heretofore I was unable, so I say hooray.

- So Republicans have decided to use their new "mandate" not to reign in spending and slim the federal government, but to attack the things that they fear most: unions, NPR, and vaginas. All things that no one was talking about last November mind you, but in the GOP mindset, that's neither here nor there. It's easy to understand their fear of these boogeymen - all three are huge Dem voting blocks. The working class, the educated and women. Someone who's all three will send their testicles right back into their body. But my favorite scare tactic, perhaps of all time: lightbulbs. Gail Collins has already done my work for me on this, because seriously, it's one of the more un-serious talking points ever. I guess when you don't have gay marriage as your ace in the hole anymore, you've got to look elsewhere.

- Here's Pitchfork's guide to upcoming albums. You can peruse it while you stream Maritime's new opus Human Hearts, out next Tuesday.

- Finally, tomorrow the BDGF and I will herd the childrens into the family truckster and point our wagon East for Cleveland, New York City, Washington DC, Virginia Beach and all points in between. It's an overly ambitious schedule of Griswoldian proportions to be sure. We'll be in more museums in the next week than most Southern Evangelicals enter in a lifetime. As for putting five human beings in an automobile for 40+ hours over the course of a week? When I was little the Moe Man would drive us through America for 12+ hours at a stretch with nothing to do but a.) sleep b.) read a book c.)listen to one of my five cassette tapes that I copied from my brother's vinyl albums. Our collective brood has laptops, DVD players, iPods, GameBoys and a cell phone in their pocket that's more powerful than the computer I used in college. Most importantly, two of them are of driving age. One peep out of either of them and they get behind the wheel and I go to the back seat and sip on my flask. I suppose I should bring my passport, because in that scenario we're likely to end up in Cananada.

Posted 10:28am
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