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December 29th, 2011

Sleepybots!

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:32am
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December 22nd, 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Christmastime video on the internet

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:32am
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December 21st , 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Favorite Holiday Tunes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:22am
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December 20th , 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Favorite Holiday Flicks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:02am
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December 19th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

- Hulu provides a comedy retrospective.

- South Park once weighed in.

Posted 11:11am
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December 16th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:56am
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December 15th , 2011

The world is full of assholes.

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:24am
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December 14th , 2011

Wednesdays are for politickin' - NEWT! edition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:40am
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December 13th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:12am
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December 12th , 2011

Babies.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:30am
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December 9th , 2011

tbaggervance's Top 10 Albums of 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:02am
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December 8th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:10am
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December 7th , 2011

Milestones.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:10am
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December 6th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'.

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:13am
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December 5th , 2011

May the (holiday) Force be with you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:02am
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December 2nd , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 3:02pm
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December 1st , 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rick Santorum? Anyone want to stand with this cat?

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

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

Posted 10:42am
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November 30th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

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

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

- Lego Freddy Mercury does him absolute justice.

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:54am
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November 29th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

With a name like Newt, this was inevitable.

Posted 1:38pm
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November 28th , 2011

Thanks given.

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

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

- Here is your inevitable Star Wars/Grinch mashup.

Posted 11:33am
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November 23rd , 2011

Oh how I hate...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:17am
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November 22nd , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:39am
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November 21st , 2011

It was for sale and I wanted it.

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:30am
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November 18th , 2011

The art of anticipation.

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

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

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

Posted 11:05am
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November 17th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:47am
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November 16th , 2011

Tales of adequate customer service.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:33am
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November 15th , 2011

Stop helping.

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

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

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

Posted 11:48am
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November 14th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:44am
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November 11th , 2011

Happy Nigel Tufnel Day.

This one goes to 11.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:11am
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November 10th , 2011

So it goes.

The other day my beloved 826Michigan tweeted the following:

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

To which I responded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 12:41am
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November 9th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:15am
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November 8th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin' - Vote Bitches! Edition

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

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

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

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

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

- The Democrats are Godless! The Democrats are Godless!

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

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

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

Posted 10:45am
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November 7th , 2011

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:02am
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November 4th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:42am
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November 3rd , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:49am
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November 2nd , 2011

No time for love, Dr. Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:49am
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October 31st , 2011

Happy Halloween

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:43am
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October 28th , 2011

The Commitments

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

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

Posted 11:43am
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October 27th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin' - Thursday redux

I'm drunk. Let's do this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:13am
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October 26th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:06am
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October 25th , 2011

Tuesdays are for politickin'

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:06am
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October 24th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:50am
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October 21st , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:48am
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October 20th , 2011

Hope I die before I get overweight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 2:29pm
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October 19th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:03pm
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October 18th , 2011

Mailtime! Mailtime! Maaaailtiiiime!

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

to: tbaggervance
from: MJ
subject: blog idea

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

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

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

Prez

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope that suffices,
T

Posted 11:11am
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October 17th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:33am
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October 14th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:42am
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October 13th , 2011

Drowned Rats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 3:59pm
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October 12th , 2011

This Week in Indie Rock.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:16am
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October 11th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:25am
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October 10th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:26am
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October 7th , 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:54am
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October 5th , 2011

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:59am
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October 4th , 2011

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

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

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

Posted 11:12am
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October 3rd , 2011

Get on your bad motor scooter and ride

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

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

- Arrested Development is coming back. Come on!

Posted 10:03am
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