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September 30th , 2011

Comcast eats it

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

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

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

- This guy knows what I'm talking about.

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

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

Posted 10:33am
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September 29th , 2011

The snobby elite.

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:37am
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September 28th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

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

What did we miss? No Googling.

Posted 10:46am
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September 27th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:01am
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September 26th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:01am
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September 23rd , 2011

Lord to be 36 forever...

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:46am
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September 22nd , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:03am
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September 21st , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:03am
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September 20th , 2011

Unconscionable dereliction of duty

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:46am
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September 19th , 2011

Poetry that is seen rather than felt

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:07am
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September 16th , 2011

It's Star Wars on Blu-ray Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:36am
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September 15th , 2011

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

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

- Internet for the win:

via buzzfeed

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

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

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

Posted 11:48am
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September 14th , 2011

The Five Ugliest Bands in Rock and Roll

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

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

5. The Rolling Stones

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

4. Guns and Roses

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

3. Black Sabbath

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

2. The Ramones

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

1. Rush

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

Posted 10:58am
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September 13th , 2011

Sometimes I get a little drunk and sappy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:13am
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September 12th , 2011

The Redeemer

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:56am
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September 9th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:43am
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September 8th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:07am
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September 7th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:16am
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September 6th , 2011

Staving off the Winter of Our Discontent

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:45am
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September 2nd , 2011

We are So Good at Football

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:47am
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September 1st , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:44am
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August 30th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

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

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

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

*and/or needs an influx of cash

Posted 10:18am
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August 29th , 2011

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

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

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

Posted 11:19am
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August 25th , 2011

You cannot be serious

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:35am
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August 24th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:50am
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August 23rd , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:36am
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August 22nd , 2011

Mondays are for politickin'.

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:32am
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August 19th , 2011

Urban Camping.

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:00am
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August 18th , 2011

There are a scant 18 days until Michigan football returns.

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

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

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

Posted 11:11am
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August 17th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:11am
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August 16th , 2011


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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:53am
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August 15th , 2011

Mondays are for politickin'

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 3:22pm
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August 12th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:08am
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August 11th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:49am
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August 10th , 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:43am
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August 9th , 2011

That was fast...

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

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

- APA = totally gay. Yay!

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

Posted 10:43am
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August 8th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 3:19pm
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August 5th , 2011

Staring evil in the face

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Posted 3:19pm
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August 4th , 2011

Government done right

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:07am
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August 3rd , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

- More new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

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

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

Posted 10:59am
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August 2nd , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:20am
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July 29th, 2011

No more worlds to conquer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:35am
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July 28th, 2011

You may be wrong but you may be right

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

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

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

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

*There will be no tombstone, for the record.

Posted 2:30pm
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July 27th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:07am
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July 26th, 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'...

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:01am
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July 25th, 2011

After the boys of summer have gone...

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:59am
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July 22nd, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:55am
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July 21st, 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:43am
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July 20th, 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 9:56am
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July 19th, 2011

The customer is king.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 9:56am
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July 18th, 2011

Announcing the Musée d'tbaggervance

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

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

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

Posted 10:35am
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July 15th, 2011

The path to enlightenment

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:21am
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July 14th, 2011

Harry Potter and the Seventeen Captain and Cokes

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:02am
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July 13th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:15pm
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July 12th, 2011

The surest way in the world to piss me off

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

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

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

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

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

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

** On the good foot.

Posted 9:56am
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July 11th, 2011

Enter the Michelle Bachmann death spiral

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:14am
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July 8th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:37pm
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July 7th, 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:48am
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July 6th, 2011

Methinks thou doth protest too much

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

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

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

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

Posted 2:04pm
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July 1st, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

1876: Bar religious leaders from holding political office

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

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

1912: Forbid interracial marriage

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

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

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

Posted 9:57am
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