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December 21st, 2012

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

Holy shit we're still here!* Time to dump out all the links I've been saving up and haven't found a use for. Merry Christmas to YOU...

- While they are two of my favorite shows, the idea of a Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey mashup sounds hackneyed. Unless it's done by Stephen Colbert featuring actual Downton Abbey actors. I give you Breaking Abbey.

- Not as fun, but only because the links don't go to actual episodes, all of the fake shows from Arrested Development are now on Netflix. The catch is trying to watch them sends you to actual Arrested Development episodes, which you could do worse.

- Outside of getting mountains of presents and hoping that people like what I purchased for them, what I'm most excited about over the holidays is the latest Quentin Tarantino movie Django Unchained. Here's a great Times piece with the auteur.

- A2 news: we're bad ass at the Peace Corps and our football team brings in some serious bank. Serious bank? Do people still say that?

- Finally, a mysterious package showed up at the University of Chicago addressed to Henry Wilson Jones, Jr. Turns out it wasn't related to Mayan apocalypses or time travel, just nerds in Guam and Italy trading in replica props. There are truly more things in heaven and and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy. I'm off to the mall to ask Santa for a Lego Millennium Falcon. Merry Ho Ho.

* Yes, obligatory nod to the Mayan Apocalypse. I'm a hack.

Posted 10:40am
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December 19th , 2012

Merry Christmas to me.

Like very father since the beginning of time, since cells began dividing and producing something resembling offspring that would later grow up to resent their lineage for not being born in a better primordial sludge, I wanted my son to be a left handed pitcher. Or a long snapper. Really any position in the four major sports that teams always need but allows for minimal skill that specialists can have a long career in. Hockey enforcer. Three point bomber. Something that someone with limited athletic prowess can realistically hope for from his progeny. I got a tennis player.

When Siddhartha was growing up I subjected him to weekly music lessons. I'd give him classic albums to listen to and then work up little quizzes to answer after listening to them several times. Which songs on Houses of the Holy featured a mellotron? How many times did The Police use 3/4 time of Outlandos D' amour? What is your favorite use of alliteration on Revolver? I hoped he would hear things others wouldn't and that would lead him to form a garage band and be a musician. He ended up playing a lot of video games.

Of course I'm acutely aware the genesis of these wishes. Living vicariously through your children is a time honored tradition, but while I did try and create the conditions in a benevolent Boys from Brazil sort of way, I also wanted to pay back the greatest gift my parents gave me, which was to let me be myself. My parents wanted me to study hard and become a successful scientist. When I grew my hair out and spent an inordinate amount of time playing guitar and drawing, they bought me instruments and paint brushes and let me find my way. I did my best to pay that forward.

Contrary to popular belief, my parents (specifically my father) never pushed the University of Michigan on me. When I was too young to know better, I was an Ohio fan because my older brother was and I desperately wanted to be whatever he was, like whatever he liked. Moe eventually just put Michigan in front of me (after he had taken me to visit OSU) and I got sucked in of my own volition. I can't say quite the same thing as to how I reared Sid. I never pushed Michigan on him, but heart on my sleeve guy that I am, my love wasn't lost on him. He could very well tell you he never had a choice and I couldn't argue the point, but I swear I never so much as told him "You should consider going to my alma matter," much less insist.

I've often said there has been three times in my life when I knew my dad was proud of me. The first was when I got elected senior class president in high school. He had done it too, and it was a carrying of the torch to him. The last time was when he came to my house in college before a football game and the Northwestern girls' volleyball team came downstairs and left to go to the game just as he had stopped in to say hi. In between those two landmark events he beamed when I got my acceptance letter to Michigan. Even as it was happening I felt like I was giving him something that he wanted but never had. For a moment he got to live vicariously through me.

Last Friday I finally knew how he felt. I'm almost always proud of Sid and I try to tell him as such at every opportunity, but Friday evening I got a call from Siddhartha who was on his way to Chicago. He received an email. It said this:

Needless to say it's five days later and I'm still speechless. I take almost no credit for this coming to fruition. Credit his mother. Credit his teachers. Credit my BDGF and every other person who encouraged and believed in him for seventeen years. More than anything credit Sid for doing the work and getting into the College of Engineering (something I probably couldn't have done twenty years ago.) But while I don't need a "heckuva job" or "well done" from anyone, feel free to offer me a hearty congratulations, because in my career as a father of hoping for a lot of things, this is all I truly ever wanted. Thanks Sid. Clearly the best son a father ever had.

Posted 9:48am
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December 17th , 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? Happy Birthday Edition

We're rapidly descending down the rabbit hole of the holidays, which means the blog goes on sporadic hiatus as we make merry with friends and family. We'll be here most of this make, perhaps here and there between xmas and New Years until we get back to the daily grind in 2013. But before we partially hibernate with copious amounts of family, presents and our good friend booze, one last shot at the Christ child before we bid adieu...

- I know I preach to choir here, but Mike Huckabe and the American Family Association can burn in hell. I can't tell you anything that you probably didn't read or hear over the weekend - all sensible people know that assault weapons should be illegal and more importantly, we need better/easier access to mental health care in America. They also know that God or Jesus or Moses or Mohammed had nothing to do with this. THose who say otherwise are insensitive, opportunistic fucktards.

- Speaking of asshats, Justice Scalia is still comparing homosexuality to murder. Stay classy.

- Those who make dire budgetary cuts to women's health programs reap what they sow. Jesus apparently sucks at math.

- Speaking of, warnings abound that if we continue to teach kids science, we will become England and Europe. At least then we'd have access to health care.

- Sophie's choice.

- Despite the War on Christmas here in the states, atheists suffer persecution around the world.

- Speaking of, Penn Gillette defends the term "Happy Holidays". I've said it many times, I started using the term before we went to war because it encompasses New Years, but hey, it includes Jews and atheists and anyone else. I bet Jesus would want everyone to be happy this time of year.

- Finally, there's a gay bible. I'm guessing just like gay marriage, it contains just as much bullshit as the original.

Posted 1:38pm
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December 14th , 2012

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

- It's beginning to look a lot like... aww fuck it. I'm ready for it to be here already too. Christmas related things that are actually cool? Here's some impressive gingerbread creations (including a GB Millennium Falcon (HT: Wex)) Speaking of the Falcon, see how frugal it would be to buy the Lego version compared to this custom Lego Serenity? And it's not the holidays without an O'Henry joke.

- Advertising can be fun! Guess the characters in these Lego ads! Enjoy these movie tag lines already ranked for your pleasure! Metadata on every Mad Men character's drinking prowess in handy chart form. During the holidays, we are all Betty Draper Francis.

- This was nearly the greatest Christmas ever, as the BDGF would have exploded had I gotten her tickets to see Archer Live. Alas there are no dates in flyover country. I did get an early present though, as the Jesuses are coming back to the Mitten for Josh Ritter in Royal Oak. That's some consolation prize.

- The NYTimes is all up in the God/Christmas connection today. Here's a room for debate regarding celebrating the holidays sans Jesus and here's an op-ed regarding what's actually in the Bible and what pop culture put there for 'fun.' Because you think the Bible is boring as you know it, try actually reading it.

- Finally, it was never my goal to have followers or people partake in whatever I put on the internet, much less be internet famous, but I suppose it was inevitable. Creative outlets are important, which is why I expanded my internet empire to including podcasting a while back. Little did I know that it would take off and a short time later, the We Are So Good at Football podcast would be prominently featured on I'm working on reviving the Uncle t-bags' old fashioned good timey podcast, because people clearly can't get enough of my bullshit.
Ed. note: the artile has yet to be posted. Come back later and we will link to it once it is up. It's here! It's here! We're famous!

Posted 10:17am
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December 13th , 2012

The Best High School Shows. Ever.

I don't often do requests, but when I do, they are often from Mrs. Jesus. This one is from so long ago she may not remember asking for it, but here is the definitive list of the best shows about high school to ever be on TV ever:

10. Friday Night Lights
I'm not sure this space wouldn't be better occupied by Square Pegs or Fifteen or Head of the Class (shows about nerds!), but I'm putting it on here to placate the rabid followers of the show. It's not that I don't like it, I just think that it's more about high school in West Texas rather than a universal show. That said, I'm sure people will still chastise me for placing it below...

9. Happy Days
Whether or not it's true, I feel like this was one of the first shows to focus almost exclusively on the teenagers. And shark jumping and Morks aside, it still dealt with teenage issues, albeit in a wholesome, 1950s way. At some point this was eminently watchable. I'm assuming it still is.

8. Dawson's Creek
Few shows are more late 90's dated, but I stick by the writing and quality of the show. OK, so every time someone drank it had dire consequences (a major pet peeve of mine) but it still had things like gay make out sessions, so a late 90's version of progressive.

7. The O.C.
Superficially it may seem like a show about spoiled rich kids, but this was no 90210 ripoff. Good writing, good music and OK, Marissa had a drinking problem, but this show had a "make your own family" m.o. that is an important meme for teenagers.

6. Veronica Mars
As much a teenager empowerment show as a female one. Yes, it fell prey to the spoiled rich kid motif, but it was actually suspenseful, which is rare in the teen show format.

5. Degrassi
In all iterations, this show was visionary for it's dealings with real world problems in real world ways. Sure, the kids were from Canada thus not nearly as good looking as even a Nickelodeon cast, but it only added to the realism!

4. The Gilmore Girls
OK, not a high school show. It's as much about family and adult relationships, but I related to it and the writing was superb. Plus it dealt with high school dramatics consistently well and had better looking people than anything on the CBC.

3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
One of the best shows to ever tackle high school issues just happened to be wrapped in a supernatural wrapper. Just typing this makes me want to go back and watch the whole thing, Angel subplots aside.

2. My So-Called Life
The penultimate example of how great shows that tell truths can prove too tough to watch for the proletariat. If completely and utterly identifying with Angela Chase makes me gay, then hellllllllloooooo sailor.

1. Freaks and Geeks
Do I need to justify this? I shouldn't. The anti-90210. Because even the real world, so-called, popular crowd could identify with someone on this show. It also happens to be a great show about parenting teenagers. Trust me, they nail it.

Posted 10:21am
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December 12th , 2012 This Week in Indie Rock

- Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Shankar... I am clearly too white and not cosmopolitan enough to appreciate Ravi Shankar's music, but I respect the influence he's had on many a musician, specifically George Harrison and the Beatles. I also thank him for Norah Jones, whose sultry voice trips my trigger. - For you to watch: Jack White on Conan and Cloud Nothings on a bus. Fitting.- Donna Summer, Randy Newman, Public Enemy and Rush are being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I can be a Rush apologist, but you don't know the definition of rock and roll if you're letting Rush in with Randy Newman.- End of the year "Best of" lists: Spin, Stereogum, NPR and Rolling Stone. Plus for historical perspective (I guess?) here's Kurt Cobain's 50 favorite albums. - Comedy is the new indie rock? Here's a list of the best comedy albums of the year, which I all heartily endorse. - I have copy of Yellow Submarine (which I've never seen!) at home that's due back at the library by 8 o'clock. I also want to go see this John Lennon doc downtown at 7. I also have to work at 826 and go to the gym. Something's getting left out. - Finally, Mrs. Jesus and I were having a discussion via email yesterday about the new Josh Ritter album, and I wanted to include this snippet I wrote regarding change:

 I think you're wrong about the very idea of change. Not wanting an artist to change assumes you'll always be the same and want the same thing slightly tilted one way or another over and over. Josh is brilliant because he evolves. First album to last shows tremendous growth and ambition. When an artist changes with you, it's the best of all possible worlds.  Sure sometimes they zig when you zag and you no longer love them in their current state, but while I don't actively listen to Death Cab anymore, I love what they were and remembering where I was at a time when they were sacrosanct to me.

I find people who go see Jimmy Buffet every year hoping to hear the same songs kind of sad. There's nothing wrong with nostalgia and loving that stuff, but don't you want something new and hopefully different that speaks to you now as opposed to who you were 10 years ago? Maybe it's just me, but that's what I want for everything all the time and always.

I had misread her sentiment but either way, don't be stagnant and don't expect it out of your artists. That is all.

Posted 10:43am
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December 10th , 2012 World's Biggest Asshole

This is Mitch McConnell:

And this is his coffee mug:

Last week, Mr. McConnell filibustered his own bill. I never wanted to call myself a Democrat for many, many years because they pulled general ass hattery that doesn't come within 10,000 leagues of today's GOP. If you still proudly call yourself a Republican, I'd probably gladly call you an asshole.

- Speaking of, if you are unaware, a lame duck Michigan legislature is forcing through right to work legislation with no debate, attaching it to a spending bill so that the electorate can't repeal it with a referendum, and our Governor, despite pledging a month ago that right to work wasn't part of his agenda, is poised to sign it. Yay democracy? With all this talk about trying to keep young, college educated, tech savvy people in the state, they are really trying to get me to leave at the moment. And shut up, I'm relatively young.

Posted 10:57am
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December 7th , 2012 5 innocuous things that will live in infamy in and around the present moment (maybe infamy is the wrong word)

- A while back someone asked me to rank the best high school TV shows of all time. I'm somewhat of a connoisseur, so I made a list and began to formulate my thoughts, and then I think I went on hiatus and forgot about it. I may still do it, but spoiler alert, number one and it isn't close is Freaks & Geeks. It singularly talked about the high school experience in a way that even Square Pegs couldn't touch. For fans, here's some adorable photos of the entire cast reunited. It somehow manages to make me feel young instead of old. - Need something to warm the cockles of your heart this holiday season? Here's Fallon and Morgan reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and here's a video showing why Lego is awesome and deserves your gift giving dollars. - I love Downton Abbey. It combines my love of well written soap operas with my anglophile penchant. But having just finished season 3 and reading this, I'm starting to wonder if life is imitating art or vice versa. I assume it will all be sorted out during the Christmas special. - In honor of today, here's a review of Bill Murray as FDR in Hyde Park on the Hudson. The only thing we have to fear is the handy scene.

- Finally, we here at talk every year about Summer Beer Fest and how great it is to celebrate the Great Beer State. Well did you know that there is also a Winter Beer Fest? Did you know that tickets to the Winter Beer Fest sold out in mere hours, mostly because the dolts who run the thing let people snag up 50 tickets at a time. Well beer lovers went apeshit, including friend of the blog Mysterious Al. Well their cries were heard and the Brewers Guild is working on making things right. You can also still get tickets plus transportation here. Kudos to everyone who bitched and got things turned around.

Posted 11:00am
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December 6th , 2012 Happy Birthday!

I used to love my birthday. It was an excuse to get people to come out and have a drink with me, which they never did enough of in my opinion when it wasn't arbitrarily close to the day I was born. But then I hit 35 and I was over it. You're only as old as you feel and all that bullshit, but once I was out of the 18-34 demographic and realized that I had a kid in high school and no one was ever going to assume I was in my twenties again, celebrating being older felt like something not worth celebrating. Great, so now I'll never be in shape, my face is cracking like the Sahara and every hair that comes out of head will give me a panic attack. Hooray! Let's put away the cake and balloons until I hit 60, because if I make it that long, we can all at least get together and go "Huh. Who would have guessed?"I'm starting to feel that way about the blog a little bit. I've been doing this eight years. Eight. Chances are I started blogging before you knew what the word meant. Shouldn't I have gotten whatever out of my system by now? I started this as an exercise to become a better writer by forcing me to do it every day. It kind of worked. I'm better than when I started; I still think most of it is crap. But shouldn't I move on to something of actual substance? Shouldn't this be beneath me? I'm eight fergodsakes.

Of course I still love it. I still love that the last eight years of my life are largely documented. I'm not as good as I was a few years ago. I've got a lot of crutch posts that help me get through the week, and a lot of time I'm phoning it in rather than examining my life and trying to extrapolate some sort of universal truth from it. Maybe the latter is a little high minded and aspirational for someone who uses the phrase d-bag twice a week, but nevertheless. In about 18 days we find out if Sid is going to Michigan, and then in nine months he'll actually be off. Maybe that'll bookend things somehow for me and I'll go write a book that no one will ever publish nor read. In that respect, it will be very similar to the blog. Except for you of course. You get me and I will forever be humbled that you ever come here much less regularly to read what I spew. Thanks for that. Best birthday present ever.

Posted 10:59am
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December 5th , 2012 Wednesdays are for politickin'

- I generally have little to no faith in the proletariat as a whole. I came of age during the "new country" boom of the 1990s, can you blame me? However, every once in a while we find a good deed in a weary world. Remember all those dipshit CEOs and franchise owners who came out and said "If I have to give people health care, then your pizza is gonna be 50 cents more!"? Turns out public opinion of places like Pap Johns, Applebees and Dennys plummeted in the wake of such assholery. I know much of America doesn't have a plethora of local restaurants within a five minute drive from their house, but take this opportunity people to never eat a terrible pizza, breakfast, or bloomin' onion again. Go local, it's worth the effort. - I love the puss on the face of the GOP right now because Obama is finally refusing to negotiate with himself before presenting an idea designed to placate the other side. Now it's my rights versus yours, and you can go explain your side it to the public when it doesn't get done. How you think they're gonna take it? I do actually hope it does get done, both for personal reasons and economic sanity and stability. That said, not the end of the world guys. - I know everyone reading this understands the folly of abstinence only sex education, so you're going to be delighted/horrified at this bit of schaudenfreude in Mississippi. He wants to have an "open, frank discussion" about his state's nation leading teen pregnancy rate that doesn't include talk about birth control, because kids already know about it, they just don't care enough to use it. So you can't get it through their thick skull to wrap it up, so let's scare them into not having sex at all? Good plan.

- Finally, this exists. I'm dying to see pictures of the people planning to move there.

Posted 10:52am
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December 4th , 2012 Trivia time!

When the BDGF and I started living together she warned me that my attendance at the bar might not be as frequent as it was in my bachelor days. I told her that as long as I could go to happy hour on Fridays and Trivia on Mondays that I'd be fine. I've been going to the same Monday Night Pub Trivia for about a decade now. It combines two of my favorite things - bars and trivia, plus the Monday night distraction/routine makes the beginning of the week bearable. The BDGF loves it too. Going to the same the trivia night forever makes you notice some tendencies. Our particular host likes to repeat questions or sometimes whole categories mere months apart. This is helpful to regulars, and frustrating for those of us with imperfect memories. Our team likes to have the same debate over the same question over and over again, usually coming up with the same incorrect answer. Thankfully the BDGF came up with a solution: every week she writes down anything she thinks may come up again and keeps a running list of questions that she'll randomly drill me on. This is her list:

1. What was the first of Heinz's 57 varieties?
2. What is the world's most eaten fish
3. How many flowers are on one side of an Oreo?
4. What is the purpose of the string on a box of Animal Crackers?
5. How many states does the Appalachian trail go through?
6. What was the name of the dead kid in the movie Stand By Me?
7. After the Bible, what's the best selling book of all time?
8. What's the best selling hardcover book ever?

9. How small is a Nano?
10. What's the defining characteristic of a Pinniped?
11. How many stories are necessary for a building to be classified as a Skyscraper?
12. What's the name of the cat in the movie Meet the Parents?
13. What country has the lowest divorce rate in Europe?
14. What European city was formerly called Lutetia?
15. What was Gilligan's first name on Gilligan's Island?
16. What does a game Table tennis go to?
17. Who was the host of SNL when Sinead O'Conner tore up a picture of the pope?
18 How many Wilson brothers were in the Beach Boys?
19. What is the world's 4th most populous country?
20. Baku is capitol of what country?
21. Twinkies were originally what flavor?
22. How many schools were original members of the Ivy League?
23. What martial art means "gentle way"?
24. What country other than the Netherlands speaks Dutch?

25. US23 starts in Mackinac City and ends where?
26. The Sapian in Homo Sapian means what?
27. What year was Ronald Reagan shot?
28. What years did the Berlin wall exist?
29. What state seceded second during the Civil War?
30. What term means measuring from a distance?
31. The Skin is the heaviest organ. What's second?
32. At what temperature Kelvin does water boil?
33. What word has been on every U.S. coin since 1792?
34. What do 20 people do every year while staring at the Goodyear blimp?
35. What state was the last to re-enter the Union after the Civil War?

Pretty tough eh? Want the answers? They're posted in the comments section. Trade papers with a neighbor and grade on the honor system. Oh! And I should also note that if you find any of the above answers incorrect, we don't verify any of them, so not my fault. Unless you count being lazy. In which case sorry.

Posted 11:38am
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December 3rd , 2012 How was your weekend?

I braved Midnight Madness, sat outside next to a fire (in December!) and nearly had an aneurysm trying to navigate online photo printing websites (I'm apparently too intelligent to use Snapfish or Shutterfly.) But here's the things you might find interesting:- As I do most Fridays, I started the weekend by listening The Bugle Podcast, the self described "Audio Newspaper for a Visual World" hosted by John Oliver. I highly recommend it if you're a comedy/news junkie and have a proclivity for listening to podcasts. ANYWAY, they informed me that in the 1950's, the U.S. government had plans to nuke the moon. Not a joke, actually a plan. Of course being a news and comedy junkie, my mind immediately went to art unknowingly imitating life and this Mr. Show sketch from 1996. We're Earthlings, let's blow up Earth things. - Saturday was good day for the pet causes of OK, pet causes is a terrible moniker. Things we choose to care and talk about because we believe in analytical thought and helping people. There. That's nice and wordy like things around here should be. ANYWAY, marijuana legalization - that's legalization, not special dispensation for medical use - has reached statistically tied support. So yay. And then I saw this and thought "What if Hurricane Sandy ended up getting Obama re-elected and finally turned the tide of public opinion on climate change?" That's a better upside than Mussolini getting the trains to run on time.

- Finally, Sunday the BDGF and I went and saw Dan Savage speak, which was obviously funny and poignant and interesting. We then fiddled with the aforementioned online photo printing clusterfuck which got me so worked up that I couldn't sleep and stayed up until almost 3am watching The Wire (Dear everyone: you're right. It's awesome.) While doing so I took these two quizzes: The U.S. Global Image and Headlines: Real or The Onion. I got 6 of 10 on the former and 16 of 20 on the latter. Good luck everybody.

Posted 11:04am
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November 30th, 2012 5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- A reminder not to give money to the annoying bell ringers standing outside of virtually everywhere this holiday season, because they're anti-gay. Instead give to a local shelter or food bank or whatever you promise yourself you're going to donate to throughout the year but never get around to doing. You'll feel seriously superior. - I'm a big buy local guy. I don't like chain restaurants and I can't imagine stepping foot into a Wal-Mart. I will reluctantly admit however, that I have fallen prey to Amazon Prime. You guys, it's free two day shipping on everything plus video streaming just like Netflix! It's $79 a year! The future is now people. I will try and offset this by buying the rest of Xmas wares locally to the best of my ability. You can start tonight A2 with midnight madness. If we all do it, we'll create jobs more efficiently than Congress can. - Giving and local merge in this year's Mittenfest! - Neil Patrick Harris in Puppet Dreams. 'nuff said.

- Finally, there's a recurring precedent on the Judge John Hodgman Podcast that you can't force someone to like something. He's obviously talking about adults in this case, because with a few time honored psychological principles, you can make a kid like anything. But I digress. The other night I heard one gentleman tell another, both dressed like the year was 1988 and standing outside the Ann Arbor "Rock School", the following: Ronnie James Dio was a fuckin' pro man. He saw his limitations and got passed them and broke through them man.Ozzy was sex, drugs and rock and roll, but Dio was a pro." I certainly wouldn't argue with any of that statement, even if I want to, because that guy clearly has spent much more time listening to and thinking about Ronnie James Dio than I have. The corollary to "you can't make someone like something" is probably "There's no accounting for taste." I doubt that guy in all his dogmaticism could make me like Dio, but in that moment I kind of wanted to let him try.

Posted 1:16pm
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November 29th, 2012 Thursdays are for politickin'

- I'm not big on some of Barack Obama's friends. I had to bite down hard when he had Rick Warren at his inauguration. You know, Rick Warren, who says homosexuality is like punching someone in the face, or arsenic. Hopefully O loses his number.- Let's also hope he doesn't name Jamie Dimon as the next treasury secretary, because that would be some W level bullshit. - Remember how liberals, progressives, and people capable of analytical thought screamed and yelled "voter suppression!" at all the attempts to "reduce voter fraud" in places like Florida? Well they finally owned up to it. Who wants to be a part of this GOP? Honestly?- In case you were unaware, Bill Murray is playing FDR in a new movie. This is important somehow politically, I just know it.- The Senate may actually force the filibuster to return to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington era rules and force these asshats to do the work if they're going to be obstructionist. I say kudos.

- Finally, yesterday was Jon Stewart's 50th birthday. Thanks for everything Jon.

Posted 10:46am
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November 28th, 2012 What's Making Baby Jesus Cry This Week?

- If you're trying to make an argument against gay marriage, this person isn't helping you. You'll especially want to read about how gay marriage threatens free speech. It's like a snake eating its own tail. - Speaking of the gays, here's a letter from Sigmund Freud regarding homosexuality. He was one smart coke fiend. - On a slightly less scientific note, this Christian group says sex with demons turns you gay. Still, it's hard to argue with the anecdotal evidence of a woman who considered lesbianism after being raped by a succubus. - Michigan I love you, but you're bringing me down. Let's cut child tax credits so we can offer fetal tax credits? /aneurysm- The former fat kid from Two and a Half Men says he found Jesus and now realizes that the show he's on is kind of trashy and awful. Then his publicist has him walk it back, which sadly makes this one God 1, Hollywood 0. Huh.

- Finally, there's Pat Robertson. First, he doesn't understand why women would like porn. Then he doesn't understand why people are upset at the General Patreus affair because she is "an extremely good looking woman" and "he's a man." Couple that with his explanation of missing "God's" prediction on the presidential election as "I misheard him" and you can almost imagine a young co-ed Robertson apologizing to women for his inability to pleasure them, because Jesus told him that the clitoris was a myth propagated by a left wing media and homosexuality. Go ahead, imagine it.

Posted 10:17am
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November 27th, 2012 Nice Try, College

I'm a fairly nostalgic person and I had a stereotypically awesome college experience, but being a part of you kid's search for a University forces you to contemplate things in ways you maybe shouldn't. I'm very happy to have my hyper-stylized, tromp loi, rose colored memories about being at Michigan rather than actually going down memory lane and looking at the grainy snuff film footage of what actually happened. But as you have to prepare your children for actuality and warn them of the pros and cons of different paradigms, you're going to come across some of the not-so-pleasant aspects of college life.Truthfully, I'm sort of well-versed in college pitfalls due to our yearly trips to other Big Ten universities to sample their wares. We've stayed in college kid's apartments where you have to shovel the walk in the morning to get passed all of the red solo cups. As little as two years ago I watched a 19 year old look for an ashtray, fail to find one, and put out a cigarette on the carpet. IN HIS OWN HOUSE. I know all too well that a "campus apartment" can mean a 20 minute walk before you sniff a University owned building. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son.I have no desire to ever live like that again as it is disgusting and you get taken advantage of at every turn. Thankfully kids are resilient. They don't mind a bit of squalor. They can sleep in awful beds that would give me month's worth of back pain. They can walk blocks and blocks in the freezing cold only to listen to a graduate assistant recite from a textbook verbatim. It's character building, right? And I don't actually have to live it, I can just point and laugh and say "I remember that," even if mostly what I choose to remember involves keg parties with beautiful girls that lasted all night that no one had to clean up after. I swear that's the way it happened.

- I've had the misfortune of being at a few of the colleges on this list. All I can say is that people I know associated with Albion, you've always had my deepest sympathies.

Posted 11:00am
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November 26th, 2012 The Facebook Firewall

Several years ago a longtime friend of mine was meeting my then girlfriend at the time and he said to her something akin to "Tyler is a nice guy but he looks down on everyone who believes in God." Now I don't know his purpose in saying this, whether it was some sort of qualified quasi-endorsement or tacit warning is neither here nor there, because the real issue is that it isn't true. Faith is something I don't understand, so I try to approach it cautiously. I get the cultural piece of religion and while I find the idea of an omnipotent creator silly, I don't generally 'look down' on people who go to church or believe in any god. My suspicion is that this particular person was still upset that I do look down on him and sit in judgment of his beliefs because he chooses to eschew evolution by natural selection and (probably as well) that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.I don't like religion but I get why it exists and don't actively pursue its extinction. Whatever gets you through the night is fine by me as long as you keep it to yourself. As the old adage goes, you're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts, and I abhor those that choose to look at reason and analytical thought 'opinion.' And I hate the persecution complex that religious zealots seem to have. You've seen the social media posts that say something like "This person DIED for your sins" over a picture of Jesus, followed by "Most people won't have the courage to repost this, WILL YOU?!?" I almost quit the facebook over it. Then the glorious changes that everyone seems to maliciously opine on the facebook came to fruition and saved me. That time I looked back and only saw one set of footprints in the sand? That was facebook's "Remove this person from timeline" feature carrying me. I'm down to about a dozen people that show up when I login to facebook, that's out of a couple hundred friends. I've blocked almost everyone I met before I turned 18 and left Ohio, and everyone else who is a Republican, religious zealot, supremely boring or an Ohio State fan. I realize that might be a Venn diagram that's just a single circle, but the importance of this feature has saved my sanity, especially last weekend.

Michigan lost to Ohio in football Saturday. It's OK, I'm over it. But what kept me from flying into fits of rage and saying supremely nasty things to people I supposedly once liked is that I didn't see one mention of it on any social media site at all. Not one "O-H!" Not one snide comment about Brady Hoke. It was simultaneously calming and exhilarating. I similarly haven't seen one of the aforementioned "JESUS!" post in months and since I blocked my sister, not one stupidly negative thing about Obama. I don't need these people out of my life, I just don't need their negativity or righteous indignation up in my shit. People who want that can come to At least we never said we were anything but...

Posted 10:56am
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November 21st, 2012 Bonus post!

I wasn't going to post today - it practically being a holiday and all - but then I saw this:

It's the cover of the new John Travolta/Olivia Newton John Xmas album. Now I have many, many questions about this, starting with its mere existence. But the more pertinent, glaringly obvious query is this: if John Travolta is undoubtedly a multi-millionaire and almost undoubtedly at least bi-sexual if not a big o' queen, then why does his hair look it came out of a can Ron Popeil style? I can't believe he was Vincent Vega right now.

Posted 10:48am
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November 20th, 2012 5 (mostly innocuous) things for which I am thankful.

- Somewhere around season 3 of The West Wing it came time for President Bartlett to run for re-election and frankly, he was having trouble getting up for it. He was running against an empty headed suit (that might as well have been Mitt Romney) and at one point they run into each other at an event. The President is dealing with some crisis about someone getting shot or something and the Mitt clone says "Crime. Boy, I don't know." They continue their conversation, Mitt insults the President's policies and the President concludes the meeting with "'Crime. Boy, I don't know,' is when I decided to kick your ass." I spend time telling you that anecdote that didn't happen to me because it's what I think of every time I read about Marco Rubio saying "I'm not a scientist, man." Guess what Marco? Neither are most people, but I'm pretty sure a quick google search will provide you with a number that all of us sane people agree on: about 4.5 billion years. The age of the Earth is not, as Mr. Rubio would have you believe "one of the great mysteries." My mind is made up about you Marco. I look forward to kicking your ass. Thanks.

BONUS CONTENT! Maybe Marco went to school in Louisiana, because THIS IS THEIR ACTUAL TEXTBOOK. For fifth grade! How does that not make your head explode?

- I am eternally thankful for Legos. They were my favorite toy as a kid and up until a few years ago, I still rebuilt the Star Wars Legos sets I had purchased for Siddhartha. A lot. Like a couple times a month. And I secretly wish someone would buy me the Lego Millennium Falcon, because speaking of heads exploding, somewhere the 8 year old me just passed out. Or how about this Lego Xmas tree made out of 350,000 bricks? Too ostentatious? - Thanks to vinyl! I love albums and the fact that more vinyl will be sold this year than any other year since 1991 makes me so happy. I still enjoy my mp3s though, because as pretty and visceral as albums are, they don't translate to the gym or car or etc. But I love owning the vinyl. And when you buy an album these days, they usually let you download the mp3s for free when you buy the vinyl. Smart, right? What if publishing did the same thing? Because I haven't gone e-reader yet, partially because I never want to stop owning books. - I am of course thankful to be a Michigan Wolverine. I've always said (far too often this past decade) that even when we lose to Ohio, after the game we still get to be Michigan, and they have to spend the rest of their lives as Buckeyes, so win. Want proof that this is undoubtedly true? Here's part of this week's Meijer ad. See how the M fans are wearing Chucks and jeans? The Ohio fans? Sweats. No person with self respect let's others see them in sweats. That's just science. Go Blue.

- Finally, I'd be remiss not to note how thankful I am for my family. Siddhartha doesn't have any choice to endure me, but I love that he at least placates me and my long, drawn out bullshit and that I get to spend actual Thanksgiving with him this year. The BDGF's girls somewhat similarly have to endure me, and I can't believe how magnanimous and benevolent they continue to be towards me. Of course it's the BDGF I am most thankful for, in the sense that she has the choice and chooses to stay. Thanks to all of you for putting up with me. I promise to try and spoil you all at Xmas.

Posted 10:10am
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November 19th, 2012 The times, they are a changed.

There was a time when college football was more insular. They idea of appealing to a nationwide audience only ever occurred when your* team was very good and playing a similarly good team, preferably a rival. Even then the idea wasn't a purposeful 'appealing', ABC would just bump your game to later in the afternoon so that people on the west coast who liked football wouldn't need a rooster to get up in time for kickoff. The style of football your team played was dictated by what region of the country you resided. The Big Ten played plodding football where small quick running backs ran off tackle behind guys whom, if you saw them on the street, looked out of shape. West coast teams threw the ball around wildly and didn't give a damn about defense. The south picked the best athletes, put them in skill positions and tried to win by being faster than you. The only time these styles really clashed was in late December, when as a reward for being good at football, your team went on vacation and played one of these other styles. Everyone watched and then debated which style was superior based on the outcome.At some point we reached a tipping point. The game got too popular. Notre Dame got its own TV network and people looked at these style clashes and decided to pick and choose the best elements of each so they could win these big late December clashes. If you won those, more kids would come to your University. Schools in Michigan needed speed from Florida. Texas wanted large, sturdy midwestern types. The game became a business quicker than your AD could start to sell you on the merits of 'branding.'Now everyone has luxury boxes in their stadiums. Conferences have their own TV networks to maximize profitability. The biggest and historically best schools heap cash on their programs in an arms race designed to keep them at the top, and everyone else as an also-ran. For the most part, it's working. For me, that means everything costs more. Tickets, parking, merchandise, you name it. It also means that they can't just pander to alumni and zealots like myself. Game day now has circus elements so that they can hook the kids early. But don't take my word for it. 60 Minutes spelled it out last night. Today, Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big Ten.Why? Like manifest destiny, the Big Ten wants to expand to the east coast. They want the New York and DC markets to have eye balls on the Big Ten Network. Even if it means adding teams that would have seemed a ridiculous style of fit even when I was in college. But so goes the way of the world. The genie won't go back in the bottle, it was come to wreak its havoc and we reap what we sow.

Yes, I am sentimental and nostalgic for the way things used to be. I suppose that's inevitable as we get older. I take my solace in the three hours I get thirteen Saturdays a year to forget about all of it and enjoy what happens on the field, because that is the same as it ever was and they can't take it away.

Posted 1:52pm
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November 16th, 2012 5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- From the liberal rag The Economist, we'd like to point out that while Republicans still hold a House majority, Democrats received more votes in every branch of government this election. Kiss my mandate.- I for one welcome our new Google overlords. Seriously, whatever flavor of dystopian future reality we end up in, be it the Matrix, Blade Runner, or a more obscure Ready Player One, we can all admit that it'll be Google that brings forth the singularity and causes it, right?- Video of a guy doing impressions. The years biggest movie flops. No through line, not related.- Let me say this once and once only: if you're not willing to pay $.50 more for a pizza so that everyone can have health care, you are a terrible person. And if you charge customers a 5% Obamacare surcharge while telling them "Just tip less" to balance it out, you're worse. They are building a new concentric circle of hell for that asshole.

- Finally, today is November 16th. That's six days from Thanksgiving, eight days from the Michigan/Ohio game, 39 days from Xmas and 45 left in 2012. Holy shit, right? I'm my mother's son, so my xmas shopping is either done or planned out to the last dime, but that still seems boom! gonna be here before ya know it. Stock your liquor cabinets and your excuse list for parties you don't want to go to, the holidays are here.

Posted 11:22am
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November 15th, 2012 Parenthood.

1. I've been saying for almost two decades now that parenting is easy. I still feel that way, even when I think it's the most arduous things to ever have been attempted. However, co-parenting sucks ass. The amount of shit you have to eat is immense. I honestly don't know how any couple survives it. I just imagine people in their forties staring at a clock going "When can I get away from this person and not damage my children?"2. I never want anything to end and that proclivity has been known to get me in trouble. I'm always the one that says "One more drink..." after everyone knows we should have called it an hour ago. I am the opposite when it comes to raising children. Most mothers I know enjoy babying their kids and want to keep them young. I desperately have always wanted Siddhartha to be grown-up and capable of taking care of himself. I view it as the job description: take this helpless thing and turn it into a functioning member of society that doesn't ask to move back into his old room when he graduates college. Of course I expect to be a Jewish grandmother by Xmas break his freshman year (How come you never call or stop over?)

3. I have always tried to be conscious of the fact that no one wants to hear you drone on for hours about your kids. Seriously, no one cares. The only people that listen are the ones hoping for reciprocity when you're done, so they can bloviate about how interesting their kids are. It's a snake eating its own tail. That's why I apologize for anyone who's had to hear me talk about Sid's ACT math and science sub scores and his AP tests the last two months. I swear it's not bragging, it's just a nervous tick. So close to the finish line, you'd hate to trip and ruin an otherwise well run race.

Posted 10:52am
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November 14th, 2012 This Week in Indie Rock.

- For anyone still screaming 'TOO EARLY' when they see Xmas stuff - Thanksgiving is in two weeks. Yes, still early, but come on - it's not like they're pulling Halloween costumes to put up trees (yes, something they do, but that's like soooo two weeks ago.) Anyway, point is suck it up, you've got 6-8 weeks of holiday spirit to be awash in. Here's the Shins covering Sir Paul's Xmas "classic" "Wonderful Chistmastime." - For her birthday this year, I went down the Jack White huckster rabbit hole and got the BDGF a subscription to the Third Man Record's Vault. It basically means that I give Mr. White $20 every month and then every three, he sends the BDGF some shiny new vinyl. As scams go, it's one I don't feel too bad for participating in. Here's a taste from the new Vault package, which you can only ever own if you are a member. See how he gets ya?- New new music? Some from Vampire Weekend and What Made Milwaukee Famous. Plus a press release touting a new album from the Thermals.

- Finally, 32 guitars ranked by moral virtue. It's pretty spot on, except for 1.) The Prince guitar is only repugnant if you're not Prince. 2.) You don't trust a guy playing a Bo Diddley guitar with the band money and c.) the Fender Telecaster is the paragon of virtue. Just ask the Boss.

Posted 10:31am
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November 13th, 2012 I don't give a damn about my bad reputation.

I imagine to a lot of people I may seem a little like Kevin Kline's character Paden in the movie Silverado. "Paden doesn't seem to care about anything, except he does. You just can never tell what it's going to be." I suppose that's a round about way to say I'm weirdly principled. And to some people and certainly in some instances, that's a nice way of saying I'm an asshole. I refuse to participate in certain endeavors and I not so silently judge other people when they hold certain positions. The former is mostly a problem for the BDGF and the latter for my family. Do I draw arbitrary lines in the sand about what I think are the rules and appropriate behavior? I'm sure it seems that way. I know it can drive the BDGF crazy. Do I staunchly defend certain positions that I should probably care a little less about? I know my family thinks so. It certainly makes me acerbic at best from time to time. I think we all do those things. We all have our arbitrary lines. They shouldn't be used to justify abhorrent behavior with a mantra of "That's just the way I am, take it or leave it." That's a quick descent from acting like an asshole to being an asshole. And as far as that goes, I realize that I should curb my acerbicness for the sake of the BDGF if nothing else. Would you believe me if I said I actively do?

I don't mean to make a case for me being virtuous or above anything - quite the opposite. I run off at the mouth more than most because I believe I'm right and that's what I was taught to do: speak up for yourself. Now I too often do that in ways that would make my mother shudder and certainly do it for things she disagrees with, but somewhere in my muddled brain it's still the right thing. I'll just have to keep trying to find the right things to care about.

Posted 12:57pm
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November 12th, 2012 Let's Go.

Once upon a time my family was playing Trivial Pursuit and early on in the game (it had to have been early because no one had quit yet due to someone else being an asshole) my mother got a question about Campbell Soup and Marilyn Monroe or being famous for fifteen minutes or something else entirely in which the answer was obviously Andy Warhol. She thunk and thunk on it but eventually gave up without giving any answer whatsoever. When I told her the answer she replied "Never heard of him." I looked at her incredulously and asked "You don't know who Andy Warhol is?" and she matter of factly dismissed me with "Eh, it was the sixties. I was busy having babies."This event probably happened after I had already procreated, but whatever the timing, I'll always remember that moment because my mother had given voice to my greatest fear. Now my mother was never going to visit the Factory and live a bohemian lifestyle children or no, but the idea that you could go completely unaware of an entire movement or even phenomenon was anathema to me. I similarly probably never would have moved to SoHo or hitchhiked across the country or attended burning man whether or not I had kids at all much less at nineteen. But I know who Andy Warhol is and I love to shake my ass.OK that may seem like a logic leap, but I assure you it's not. Last night the BDGF and I went and saw Matt & Kim, which is ostensibly a big sing-a-long dance party. Most of the night the crowd looks like a group of synchronous tiggers. We danced. We sang. We pumped our fists and it felt great. I don't know how long I can continue to do those things, but the BDGF has more than a couple years on me and she's still shaking it, so I've got plenty of time. The point is that I don't ever want to be out of the loop. I need to be aware of the Matt & Kims out there and I need to go lose myself jumping around in a sea of people. If nothing else it may be an answer to a Trivial Pursuit question somewhere down the road, and I can use that knowledge to crush my siblings.

Posted 10:52am
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November 9th, 2012 5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment.

- Skyfall opens today which opens me up to one of the great pitfalls of sequestering myself in a liberal hippy enclave - no one gives a shit. James Bond was one the things I shared with my dad and to this day I could spend a Sunday watching a James Bond marathon and only have to get up for the occasional sustenance. I can't even get Sid interested, and he's supposed to bail me out on this stuff. Ah well. For those of you excited as I am: here's a list of Bond's conquests, Bond posters, Top 50 moments, Bond theme songs*, Bond gadgets, and just generally what makes Bond so great and enduring. Misogynistic? Sure. Cold war relic? Possibly. Is there part of me that still enjoys it just because my mother hated the naked silhouettes in the title sequence? Absolutely. I'll be there this weekend while my family shops for free range, certified organic kale. We'll all come home happy.- I suppose this is a Halloween leftover? Anyway, here's 101 of the greatest movie villains. Don't you look at me! - One last bit of politickin' (because here at, it never really goes away): I generally love the post-election schaudenfreude of the GOP, from Karl Rove's implosion to Lindsay Graham's level headed quote: If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn't conservative enough I'm going to go nuts. We're not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we're not being hard-ass enough. This chart explains it all. I honestly hope the GOP gets their shit together and becomes the party of fiscal sanity (as opposed to their current incarnation of "be scared of melanin, gays and vaginas white dudes!") they once were. That's because I'm smart enough not to trust the Democrats. However, if they implode it'll be awesome to watch. And we can all be high and gay while the ship sinks. -Did I say one more? Sorry, hard for me to concentrate on anything else for a while and I'm still decompressing. ANYWAY, funny how people with nary a neighbor vote for the bootstrappy guy, and those of us who live on top of each other believe in collectivism. Who would have thought? - Finally, a fair part of my identity is tied up in intelligence so I was happy to see the following this week:
1.) Intelligent people drink more, because of course they do (thanks to everyone who forwarded that to me. It was a lot of you and that makes me happy.)
2.) Educated states vote Obama, uneducated vote Romney. Science! *This list is complete and utter bullshit. Anyone who says "Nobody Does it Better" isn't the best theme song is either delusional or lying to themselves.

Posted 10:52am
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November 8th, 2012 The Force is Strong with This One.

So George Lucas bequeathed the universe he created to what I imagine was in his mind the only media conglomerate large enough to handle it. The obvious upside of this is that there's now a chance to redeem the awful prequels and they won't have Lucas around to fuck them up. Plus despite what I think about Disney, they gave The Avengers to Joss Whedon, so there's a chance they could do something similarly awesome here. The downside is the inevitable continued dilution of a once mighty franchise that so enchanted those of us born in the 1970s. At the end of the day, it's already been diluted and no matter what awesomeness they come up, they won't have Harrison Ford as Han Solo. That and the fact that I'm no longer an adolescent means they'll never be as precious to me as the original trilogy, so I can sit back and try to enjoy them for what they are - whatever that ends up being.- Here's a cool infographic explaining the Saga, including The New Republic novelization that they say won't end up being Episode VII. - Of course maybe they will have Harrison Ford, although old Han Solo sounds only slightly more fun than young Darth Vader. - Star Wars crafts! Mini Death Star and R2-D2 Keg. You heard me. - Star Wars videos! Baby plays with lightsaber. Star Wars theme on a washing machine. For some reason, a Star Wars/30 Rock mashup. - Star Wars reality! Leia's coke nail. Speeder bikes come to fruition. An interview with Michigan alumnus James Earl Jones.

Posted 10:52am
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November 7th, 2012 Object Permanence or the tbaggervanceification of America.

Congratulations Republicans, you get a center-left moderate as your president for the next four years. That's what America voted for: not a bleeding heart liberal nor a socialist but a pragmatic, middle of the road guy. You can cry all you want about where the road has taken us, but without a time machine it's time to realize that if you're that upset about last night, your America is gone. We have our first openly gay Senator in Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. Republicans who openly mocked women about rape and abortion lost otherwise winnable elections. Elizabeth Warren proved smart professors can still beat rich hunky assholes. People voted to make gay marriage legal in three states and another two legalized pot. From Karl Rove to Donald Trump, the ancient oligarchy have lost their minds because their wedge issues are gone and the people decided that the cool black guy who gave everybody health care and killed the boogeyman deserved some more time, because the alternative was icky and he just might have another rabbit in his hat. I rarely believe in the people as a whole, but sometimes they get it right. I didn't want to believe that anyone would want Mitt Romney as the leader of the free world, so I'm glad that over half of us who bothered to show up know C. Montgomery Burns when we see him. It was victory of so many things. Of math of the Nate Silver variety over that of Paul Ryan. Of voter rights over voter suppression. Of women and minorities. Of collectivism that doesn't belie rugged individualism. It was a rebuff of super pacs and their ability to inundate the electorate. It was a celebration of our differences and our unique American ability to come together despite them. Last night was America at her best in so many ways. And if last night makes you run to facebook and post "The nightmare continues" guess what? a.) I've blocked you and you don't show up in my feed anymore! and b.) I'd invite you to move to Canada or really any industrialized nation, but you really don't want to know how those people live. - Here's our electoral college map from last night. I'd like to make an excuse about freehand drawing it on the wall while trying to use a pic on my phone as a reference, but I still deserve your scorn for the shape of Texas alone.

And that concludes our election coverage. We can hopefully put politics to bed for awhile. Tomorrow: Star Wars!

Posted 10:37am
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November 6th, 2012 Vote.

My son is a mere 9 months from being eligible to vote and that makes him sad. He'd have loved to cast his first ballot in such an important election. As it stands he can only watch returns with his old man tonight and perhaps learn a new curse word or two. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but voting is not only your duty, it's an immense privilege and should be treated with the reverence it deserves. It's so important that old white men are actively working to suppress your ability to do so if your a minority. So go vote. And then turn on the coverage tonight and drink every time someone says Ohio. You'll wake up tomorrow and one way or another, it'll all be over. - And let's be honest, it'd take a miracle for things not to go the way we want around here. The Economist calls it a heavily weighted coin flip. Nate Silver is up to 91.6% and the Princeton Election Consortium has it at 99.2%. You can play with the math here. I can tell you that I think O gets to 270 without Ohio and that he'll go ahead and win Ohio anyway. Mitt Romney would have put half the state out of work and that's on him.- Local ballot guides! Michigan Radio gives you the State proposal language, here's your A2 ballot and if you want someone's endorsement, agrees with the MetroTimes. - Ready to be done? Chris Rock helps you laugh at what's going on, Louis CK let's you laugh at Presidents past.

Posted 09:55am
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November 5th, 2012 The election eve spectacular!

I know, I know, but we are like 40 hours from paydirt. Sure we all feel like this little girl, but this is important. And come what may I promise to put politics back in its appropriate place by Wednesday. OK maybe Thursday. Soon anyway and we can all put our indignancy away until the fiscal cliff comes calling.- The big local proposal here in A2 is the new downtown library, and I'm not sure why the handful of people who are opposing it are wasting so much time and energy, but here's the reasons why it makes sense. Libraries are awesome and we deserve a stellar one. Vote yay.- From my father-in-common-law, here's the Federal Budget Challenge, where you can take a shot at reducing the deficit. My takehome: holy shit those Bush tax cuts really fucked us. I had that bitch almost balanced and then I extended the cuts for everyone making less than $250,000 and then we were fucked again. It's going to cost us to fix this you guys. - You won't believe this, but "Heckuva Job Brownie" - the guy who botched the Katrina response - criticized Obama for his Sandy response. For being too quick to respond. Why does anyone vote Republican? I swear to Jesus fucking tap dancing Christ. - Speaking of the new GOP hotness: vote Republican or you are going to hell. Literally. And it's coming down by fiat from the Catholic church! Even that weasel Paul Ryan is scaring the uneducated by telling them Judeo-Christian values are at stake! Luckily there's people out there with brass balls like this gentleman, who's a superhero in my eyes. - This letter to young conservatives is pretty damn good (HT to PFTompkins). My favorite bit:

The world doesn't need help being harder. It's almost insult to the world and the baked-in difficulties it presents for us to structure our societies in an attempt to make it even harder just to be a living, breathing person in this world. Designing the systems that govern our lives to make everyone's life more, rather than less, difficult is like standing next to a hurricane with a super-soaker just to make absolutely certain that everyone gets wet. We don’t need to elect leaders who promise to ensure that human life is a perpetual life-or-death competition for everyone, young, old, or incredibly old, a "war of all against all." The world already IS that way, without any help from us.

- STILL undecided? Buzzfeed helps you with science, The NYTimes will walk you through it, or just listen to Will Ferrel. - Finally, we implicitly trust Nate Silver 'round these parts, and reading his blog shall calm and satiate you. But if you are still worried, live in a swing state and know anyone who could still possibly be swayed: Romney didn't pay taxes for a decade. Yes he did it legally, but it's also unconscionable to anyone with any sense of fairness or a working moral compass. There's not enough disinfectant in the world to get the stink off you if you cast your lot in with this piece of garbage. Remember that.

Posted 10:18am
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November 2nd, 2012 The 2012 endorsement

Last night the BDGF asked me who I was voting for (I assume jokingly.) In case she wasn't kidding, I decided to answer her...I've come to believe certain things over time. And when I say believe, I'm being polite. I know them. I know I'm right about these things through a combination of evidence and experience. Some of them are as follows:I believe that all men are created equal. Gay men too. Oh yeah, and let's go ahead and include women in there. The law should treat them that way, regardless of what your religion espouses. I believe it to be unconscionable in a society that has flourished as ours has, to let people go hungry or to deny them basic health care.I believe in the collective. Rugged individualism is great in theory, but nobody accomplishes anything on their own.I believe in pragmatic leadership. I don't believe in being malleable enough to lie to people's faces or to completely abandon your previously stated principles in order to get a job.I believe that three Supreme Court justices are over 75 years old, and one of them is Scalia. I know that Romney's nominees to replace these people would be a literal disaster for individual rights in this country.I believe in climate change. I'm ashamed that we still dig into the ground for the majority of our energy and have to buy it from cartels and despots.I believe in Teddy Roosevelt's idea of diplomacy, not W's. Yes, we've got the biggest swingingest dick. That alone should be reason enough not to have to whip it out.I believe that Fed should give almost free money to everyone who wants to go to college. We should all pay it back one way or another, but investing in people is good government.I believe that we should be working to get more people to vote, not less.I believe that corporations aren't people, that money isn't speech and subsidies have no place next to billion dollar profit margins. I further believe in Glass-Steagal. I believe that a party that won't take $3 in spending cuts for $1 in revenue isn't serious about anything.I believe in the EPA, FEMA, public transportation and infrastructure spending.I believe that children brought here by their illegal immigrant parents deserve a break and that telling them to self-deport is the opposite ideal that made this country great.For these reasons endorses Barack Obama for president of the United States. I have myriad problems with Barack Obama's presidency so far. But if you told me four years ago that we'd be out of Iraq, have some version of health care reform, DADT would be over, Bin Laden would be dead and we'd have two qualified female justices on the Bench, I'd say it's a start. If you think for one hot minute that we'd be better off right now had John McCain been elected in 2008, you are delusional. If you think I'm wrong about any of the above, I put it in your court to question our friendship.Here's the thing: I'm a 37 year old upper middle class white guy. I'm made of teflon. I'm superfly TNT. I'm the Guns of the Navarone. I'm the kling klang king of the rim ram room. Tagg Romney could be President next Wednesday morning and I'd end up A-OK. Every door would still be open to me. I'd still have a good job, health insurance, lines of credit and an incredible personal safety net should anything unexpected happen. I have the American dream.You know who doesn't? Most people. I'm not OK with that and neither should you be. I know that several people I consider friends and people I have to consider family will vote for Willard Romney on Tuesday. I seriously doubt one of them can give me one cogent reason why. I'm fairly certain within five minutes I can give them several reasons why they are voting against their self interests. In my benevolence I will forgive these people, but they already know I think less of them. Not that they should care about that, but they should think a little bit more about the direction of their country.

Posted 10:21am
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November 1st, 2012 Timing.

Timing is everything, and I often feel like I have terrible timing. Around 6 or 7 years ago I started to panic as the last of my friends got engaged and/or started having children (or even worse more children.) I had a kid when I was 19 and was thus winding down my parenting. My life was finally starting to free up as all of my friends' lives began to get more entangled in red tape and obligations. In typical overly dramatic fashion, I began to bemoan my life being over.Then I found Ayesha and things were good. Well they bounced like a superball from high to low anyway. She moved away after a year and panic set in again. Luckily I had the Jesuses. I met them through Ayesha and after an awkward transition period we became close. They were the lynchpin to alleviating panic because it quickly became clear that I was going to know these people forever. No matter what, these were likely life long friends that I met in my 30s. They disproved my dystopian paradigm. And then they moved.I was of course sad to see them go, but this time there was no panic. Less panic. I knew it would be only a matter of time before I could add some people into my life that I enjoyed and would go do stupid mid-week things with me because they didn't have small children underfoot. I eventually found 826 and met dozens of fantastic, fun loving people who had impeccable taste in music and loved booze and enjoyed being snarky and silly in all the ways that I do. We became friends as adults, which I think matters greatly. Childhood friends and even college buddies go through twists and turns and after a time, you remain friends through shared experiences as much as anything else. You end up tolerating a lot of them even though they become Republican or start to watch crime procedurals on CBS (or probably both.) Adult friends are people you like because you are ideologically similar and in the same time and place in your lives. Chief among this new friend set were Amy, Jason, Lieberstein and Dr. Walker. We went to shows together. We played trivia and photohunt together. We got drunk on Thursday nights together. We even spent holidays together. This was my new cohort and life was fabulous. Of course before too long Amy and Jason got married and pregnant and Lieberstein and Dr. Walker moved away.Again I was sad to see them go but by the time it all went down I was with the BDGF and despite another paradigm shift, life had stabilized into a constant zen of near perfection. Now I get to enjoy other people's babies without ever have to change a diaper or wake up ion the middle of the night or worry about their safety. I get to plan vacations where I can visit my far flung friends in their exotic locales and not have to worry about getting a hotel room. Perhaps most importantly, they get to come visit me and we can pretend for a few days that they never left. That's how it is with the people you truly love. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes my timing is perfect. Girls, welcome home:

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Posted 9:35am
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October 31st, 2012 Happy Halloween.

I've always loved Halloween. I made a quick transition from dressing up to get candy to dressing up and going out with friends. Then before you knew it I had a tiny version of myself to play dress up with, so we did things like this:

It's not as cool as this guy and I am way jealous of this costume, but it was still pretty fun. Spoil sport that he is, Sid bailed on Halloween shortly after hitting double digits, so these days I have to try and find something palatable for the BDGF to play along with. Our big party isn't until Saturday, so you'll have to wait for pictures until next week.- I'm also a big horror movie fan, albeit more of the 80's schlocky horror comedy variety than turn of the century torture porn. Anyway, here's the 100 most maniacal movie laughs. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.- I'm completely convinced at this point that Willard Romney is a super villain in the mold of Dr. Evil. I'm never a fan of telling people what they want to hear (often to my own detriment) but blatantly lying to people's faces - knowingly deceiving them on a grand scale is abhorrent and should disqualify one from public office. I saw this FDR clip a week or two ago and I literally can't get it out of my head. Watch and be fair warned.

Posted 10:38am
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October 30th, 2012 Tuesdays are for politickin' - And then there were seven. Days that is.

- This close to Halloween, auteur Joss Whedon would like to endorse Mitt Romney - to help bring about the zombie apocalypse.- Tina Fey, as per usual, says it best: And if I have to listen to one more grey-faced man with a $2 haircut explain to me what rape is, I am going to lose my mind. Seriously (this is me talking now) any woman who lives in a district where these assholes are saying this shit and allows them to be elected deserves whatever they get. If you all go out and vote for your lady junk, they don't stand a chance.- I just started watching The Wire and I'm only half a season in, but this 90 Days, 90 Reasons essay by Paul F. Tompkins is a spot on analogy. You should really watch The Wire and you should really vote for Obama. - If you've paid two seconds of attention to this election then you should find this Romney ad so completely galling that you'll want to punch something, preferably Mitt Romney's smug fucking face. The balls on this fucker. The fact is that Obama is probably going to win Ohio because he pulled the auto industry out of the fire and good for him and rightfully so. You could catch Mitt Romney in the act of fucking your wife and he'd look you straight in the eye and tell you "No I didn't." - So this hurricane business is serious. Just ask the National Weather Service. So let's take a minute to remind you that in the last year, Mitt Romney called FEMA "immoral." Of course right this second he's clarifying his remarks. Prepare yourselves for President Romney, the guy who swears he'll cut enough government waste to pay for tax cuts for everybody, but no he's not going to actually cut that thing you like that works! Promise! - Finally, here's a heartwarming piece entitled "11 excellent reasons not to vote." Fret not, it had the opposite effect on me. I'm no different than anyone else in that I'm burned fucking out by politics at the moment. But don't ever forget that your right to vote is something to be cherished and no matter what the odds say, it is your chance to affect change and make a difference. Think of what a few thousand people in Florida could have changed a dozen years ago. Huge, history changing votes that could have been cast! It's like Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." It rarely seems like it, but what would you leave to chance if you could easily mitigate it? I'm just saying. Yes, the election is basically where it was six months ago when this all started in earnest. See voting as closure. View it as payoff for enduring election coverage. Use it to say "fuck off" to either candidate for lying to you over and over again. But vote. Or be dead to me. Your choice.

Posted 11:13am
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October 29th, 2012 Midwestern Hospitality and Public Transportation.

As previously noted, I took the train to Lincoln, Nebraska over the weekend and before you stop reading a football post, the two things I took from the weekend have nothing to do with the gridiron: public transportation is the shit and Nebraskans are exceedingly nice.Now neither of these is a revelation and the latter the only thing remotely new to me, but they were distinct, palpable and permeating themes over the last couple of days. Let's look at the rail system. We rode about 10 hours from Chicago to Lincoln (slightly longer than a car ride, I'm told). For the price of ~$150, we played cards and drank alcohol for the duration of the trip instead of sitting cramped in a tiny car and hating each other. OK, so it was an hour late showing up on the way back. And we didn't take the train the entire way due to concerns about the A2 to Chicago leg being woefully unreliable. But these are problems to solve and reasons for spending more money on public transportation, not arguments towards its failings. Trains aren't always the answer, but they should be more of a box you can check. And that's for everything from interstate heavy rail to high speed trains to light rail. I'm just saying, I've pretty much always had a pleasant rail experience and almost never enjoyed flying.As for the good people of Nebraska, all I can really say is thanks. From the 76 year old grandmother who practically greeted us at the city limits noting "Don't worry, we don't sing your fight song and insert the words cocksucker and motherfucker," to literally everyone else who came up to us, shook our hands and asked "Is everyone treating you OK? You having a good time?" the conrhuskers were the most gracious of hosts. Having been treated not so nicely in places like Champaign-Urbana and Iowa City, the only reason I can conjure for the disparity is that Nebraska knows what it's like to win and doesn't need to shit on other people to feel good about itself. They've been to the top of the mountain, so they don't need to berate the Wolverines for having done it too (this is opposite of the feeling you get in the aforementioned Big Ten towns.) It's just a theory and one that doesn't explain Ohio's behavior, but we can all agree that they are in a category of their own.OK so the end bit was a tad about football. I apologize. I can go on about all the great breweries we visited and the delicious pizza and BBQ we grabbed along the way, but I really should look into how Denard's doing, because I'd like to fix the one thing that wasn't enjoyable about the trip. Yes, the football.

Posted 10:52am
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October 25th, 2012 5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment.

- Yesterday I got to "meet" Richard Dawkins. Meet is in quotes because I didn't shake his hand and eruditely discuss evolutionary biology with the man, but he was in my building, giving a lecture in my auditorium, and I got to watch it. He gave a version of his talk called "Darwin's Five Bridges" which basically recounts Darwin's explanation of evolution by natural selection and lays it out as the most important idea in the history of science. Hard to argue and fun to listen to, but what I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about during Prof. Dawkins lecture was the fact that I grew up with people that don't believe this. That I'm still friendly with people who don't view this as science fact. It's one of the main reasons I get hives thinking about going back to where I grew up. I get called snobby and elitist by these people routinely and I can finally say that if you don't believe Darwin's postulate - than I am smarter than you. I can't believe I've had arguments with people about this. Yes, I do look down on you. Yes I think you are dumb and yes, I am better than you because you are a cretin and I have considered some of the fundamental tenets of the universe. You have not and it's your fault, so I won't take back the name calling. - Speaking of delusional, this guy probably believes that the Earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaur bones were put there by God to test our faith. If Michigan goes red, I'll stick my dick in a blender. - Halloween is coming! If you see me roaming around Ann Arbor you may assume that I came into some money and managed to purchase this, but I assure you, that is not the case. - Also coming! Two of my absolute favorite people in the world return to Ann Arbor next week. The only positive things about having people you love move away is that you now have a new place to visit and when they come back, you can pretend you are much younger than you are trying to pack in six months worth of fun into a few days. I am a fan of this, so whhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeee! - Finally, tomorrow I head to Lincoln, Nebraska to watch the Michigan Wolverines play the Cornhuskers. It's Team Voltron®'s annual trip abroad to see the Wolverines in action. This year we travel by train, so we get to entertain the bar car on the ten hour trip from Chicago to Lincoln. Every scenario you are contemplating after hearing that sentence we aim to make come true. Well almost every scenario. I've promised the BDGF to come back unscathed and I intend to keep my promise. Other than that, all bets are off, so let's do this. Go Blue.

Posted 10:40am
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October 24th, 2012 Trash day.

Blogging has been intermittent at best the past couple of weeks due to injury, illness and an overly heavy workload. When this happens I get a bunch of links that quickly become outdated before I can work out a common thread and find a way to disseminate them. Or sometimes they just sit there because I initially think they're interesting and they turn out to be not. Anyway, since I'm headed to Nebraska tomorrow, I'm following Empire protocol and dumping the trash before going into hyperspace.- Here's 25 first edition covers of great books. Why? Why not?- Need a last minute Halloween costume? I suggest going as a Tri-Lamb.- Here's music videos (not extinct!) from Cloud Nothings (via Buzzby Berkeley) and Jack White, where he faces off against Jack White. Cough-Ego-Cough. - Here you can fact check Focus on the Family's predictions for Obama's election in 2008, and then check out what happens when you elect the Republicans and they get to choose who sits on the House Science Committee. Spoiler alert: you're elementary schooler has a better understanding of science.- In drinking, DUIs are down, butt chugging is up, and oh to be on Madison Avenue in the 1960s. - Excited for the return of Arrested Development yet? You will be. You're going to get some hop ons.

Posted 9:53am
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October 23rd, 2012 Tuesdays are for politickin' - Two Weeks Edition.

So the marathon becomes a sprint. Sort of anyway. Amongst 100,000 or so people in Ohio maybe. I didn't even bother to watch the debate last night, because as noted last week, Romney's particular brand of smug and dumb incites me to violence. I yearn for him to be a historical footnote. As such I decided to re-up my donation to the Obama campaign (and I encourage you to give whatever you can as well) because while I didn't actually watch the debate, I know that the kind of balls it takes to spout the exact same rhetoric as a sitting President but then claim a difference based on Fox News buzzwords like "apologies" and "leading from behind." is not the same kind of balls it takes to be President. I read someone explain it as Obama making decisions in real time that matter and adjusting to get to those positions based on good evidence and then Romney getting out of the cab for the last 100m of the race going "Me toooooo! But with leadership!!!" Fuck him. Plus this:

While we're at it, I first heard about this clip on Buzzfeed and assumed it was an Onion type headline "Obama tells Romney the 1980s called and they want their foreign policy back," but it actually happened! So did the piece about horses and bayonets.What did it all mean? Not even Nate Silver knows. I suggest the President get the Boss to read this letter straight to camera in front of an American flag and then carpet bomb swing state televisions with it. Or just ask people if they want to be on the same side as this douche. Of course even a pro-proletariat, everyone needs to vote! guy such as myself admits that if you haven't made up your mind yet, maybe you should sit this one out, because you are clearly incapable of making an informed decision. (as an aside, these are probably the people who are making "Paul Ryan shirtless" 9x more popular than "Paul Ryan budget." This of course is good news for Romney.) I do however STRONGLY encourage you to make sure you know your local ballot before entering your polling place in a fortnight (Here's the Ann Arbor specific issues. Vote for the new library!) Because srsly, and I can't emphasize this enough - vote or I will personally consider you a piece of shit asshat. May God bless America.

Posted 9:53am
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October 22nd, 2012 Time off for good behavior.

I only posted twice last week. It feels weird merely contemplating it. At some point many years ago I decided it was important to post every day to make it habit. I wanted it to become de rigueur so it wouldn't feel like I was being forced, it was just something I did. It apparently worked if I feel weird about hitting 40% of my goal over the course of a week. Now did it work to the point of making me a better writer? Some questions are best left unanswered. The mainly serves as archive and repository of embarrassing ideas and prose. Much like looking at photos of myself from the early 1990s, I hate to love looking at things I once thought were cool. Or I love to hate them. It's complicated ok. It's probably most like eating an entire pizza myself. Proud that I did it always, but immediately filled with shame upon completion. I'm going to leave out any sex metaphor.- Michigan finally got Little Brother off its back Saturday, beating State after a four year skid into some serious shame territory. But now we are whole again. I was at a a conference last Friday and thus missed the annual dueling columns between M and State about the game. It was still a pleasure to read this morning. Yes, we are smug, entitled assholes. Mostly because we earned it, but either way, I always feel like Col. Nathan Jessup when that little barb gets thrown out. "YOU"RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID." Or am. Either way...

Posted 11:52am
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October 18th, 2012 My body hath forsaken me

So I used to not think I was klutzy and I also used to think I was healthy. I haven't had the flu in ten years. I can eat anything and not get an upset stomach. I have an iron constitution and my body repels germs. Except when it doesn't, which is often. I may be immune to (even semi-) serious illness, but I'll get a cold at the drop of a hat, which is to say 3-4 times a year. The first day I get a sore throat that feels like I smoked two packs of cigarettes after filming an all oral gang bang movie. The next day my body simulates what it would feel like if I ran a marathon the day before, while producing enough mucus for 3 nickelodeon kid's choice awards. I can't breathe nor get out of bed. Then days 3-5 I have a bit of a sniffle. It's not the worst thing in the world and as an otherwise healthy person I have no right to complain. But I just did, so there.- After the debate Tuesday, Tagg Romney said he wanted to take a swing at Obama. I know how he felt because I'd really like to punch a smug rich entitled lying asshole. Since the secret service won't let me near Mittens, I'd like to say to Tagg, come at this liberal asshole. One of us is going to get what he wants, and I'm guessing it's the guy that's been in a fight before. Because Obama exaggerating Romney's plan by 1 trillion out of 7 is the same as this. With a straight face he said the opposite of what he's espoused for 4 years now on women's rights and health care and gun control and taxes. I'll take on any two Romney boys at the same time, counting on my righteous indignation to carry me through.

Posted 11:51am
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October 16th, 2012 Humpty Dumpty

I didn't used to think of myself as klutzy. I never have and never will think of myself as coordinated, but for the first 30 years of my life I managed to skate through without any broken bones nor so much as a single stitch to hold me together. The intervening seven however, have been a series of trips to the emergency room, and that's only when someone insists I go instead of grinning and barring it.So perhaps I'm just getting older and whatever grace and agility I once had has faded and my body, once 160 pounds of twisted blue steel is now as fragile as a pane of glass. Perhaps the paradigm hasn't shifted at all and I just now find myself in the care of compassionate women who don't accept "I'll rub some dirt on it it'll be fine," as an acceptable answer to blood pouring from your head. Maybe even it's just that the rest of my life is so unbelievably good that karma is evening out the universe by taking its pound of flesh.Whatever eloquent turn of phrase I put on it, it all comes down to me being a stumblebum. It all started six or seven years ago when I fell down the steps of the L in Chicago. Since then it's been a series of stitches, walking casts and doctors saying "There's not much we can do other give you this big mess of Vicodin." There's your silver lining.For the record: Saturday night, after the Tigers game when I should have gone to bed, I tried to do some things in anticipation of Sunday morning and I slipped and fell on my face. I also managed to hit the metal footrest of our bed before I hit floor, so I got several nice little scrapes out of it - two of which required stitches. Luckily I am relatively young and before you can say Trick or Treat my beautiful visage will be back to its old homely self. And while I'm not a huge believer in Karma and even if the Universe isn't giving me a humbling ego check, it's not like I couldn't always use one.

Posted 10:19am
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October 12th, 2012 5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- So I didn't get to watch much of the debate last night, as I was recording the We Are So Good at Football Podcast, but I saw enough and read enough to know how it shook out. It's funny how much liberals hated Romney's performance and conservatives hated Biden's given how similar they were. Not in terms of content of course - Biden didn't reach the Himalayan heights of Romney's bullshit - but rather in their somewhat smirky and animated demeanor. Here was the Onion's debate keys going in (includingbonus coverage of Ryan debate prep). Gail Collins nailed the Democratic mindset going in. Putting a cap on the first presidential debate, I highly recommend Bad Lip Reading's take, as well as Bill Clinton's. - As Siddhartha maps his future by investigating and picking a University, I can unequivocally tell you that there are differences to be found. I had a computer science teacher in junior high who used to feed me a line that Ohio and Michigan were the same school academically and at the time, I didn't know any better so I didn't argue. If I ever get a time machine I'm using it to go back to 1988 and punch him in the face, because to quote Sam Jackson, ain't no muthafuckin' ball park neither. Take this tweet from Ohio backup QB Cardale Jones, who calls classes POINTLESS because "we ain't come to play SCHOOL." Stay classy Ohio. - Blending college football and politics, I will go on record saying that I have no problem with this if it works. And if that doesn't, lets do our best to make sure everyone sees this. The writing staff of the Onion with the world's best photoshopper couldn't have done better. - While I'm not as gaga about Toy Story 2 as most cinephiles inexplicably are, I love this top ten list of the Best Movies of the 90s. (It's actually a top 30 list, but the subsequent 20 I have problems with.) ANYWAY, I highly recommend you get on any film on that list you haven't seen, especially Chunking Express and Out of Sight, which would be numbers 2 and 3 on my list after Pulp Fiction. They are underseen gems that will make your heart leap. - Finally, it's going to be a very sports-centric weekend (much to the BDGF's chagrin I'm sure) but Sid and I have Michigan hockey tickets tonight, M v. Illinois tomorrow, plus the Tigers made the ALCS and there might be other college and professional football games on television over the next two days. I'm just saying, I'm going to enjoy this.

Posted 10:56am
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October 11th, 2012 The tbaggervance parenting farewell tour: Senior milestones

Sid has never been much for a typical school experience. Not much into school dances, didn't bring home yearbooks signed by half his class, never attended football or basketball games with his friends. Maybe kids don't do that anymore. I know a lot of the kids at his particular high school don't. Sometimes I feel like I went to high school in the 1950s.Of course there's exceptions. He did manage a last minute excursion to homecoming last weekend. I was happy he got at least one shot at that stereotypical experience. I was extremely impressed that the three 'friends' he went with were three hot chicks. But hey, he's a lot like his old man, except much better looking.Now I'm not big on posed school photographs period. They're staid and sterile and generally look like low end glamour shots. That is except for this one, which is the cutest thing ever:

But of course senior pictures are a time honored tradition, mostly so that people who consider themselves "photographers" can have something to do after wedding season and that we succinctly encapsulate how dated we looked when we graduated high school. As such, here's some selections from Sid's senior picture photoshoot:

This is where I imagine the photographer asked him "Do you have a little Captain in you?" Covert art for his 1970's era folk album, Sweet Baby Sid. This one is the most natural, so probably my favorite.

OK, that's enough milestoning for me for a lifetime. Back to concentrating on us doing things like going to movies and hockey games together and figuring out how to get his acceptance letters early.

Posted 11:07am
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October 10th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Here's someone working a scholarly angle on something we all know to be true: the Bible has no concept of modern homosexual relationships. That being said, the production work on the video is very gay. - This video about contraception (courtesy of those who really know about it - nuns) starts by claiming that it's harder to get laid on birth control (he'd rather have you when you're ovulating than fuck a supermodel!), and then goes on to claim that female contraception turns men gay. As we always say here at tbaggervance THERE'S NOTHING WORSE THAN BEING GAY. You can't make this stuff up people.- I hope you got your fill of Chick-fil-A in the last fortnight since they walked back their gay bashing financial support of hate groups, because their back supporting "Biblical families," whatever that means. I assume he means subservient women and the stoning of unruly children, but only because that's what's in the Bible. - GOP functional retard Todd Akin is back saying that liberals love abortion so much, they're giving them to women who aren't even pregnant! Wrap your head around that one... - Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia sits on the House Science committee, so of course he recently said this:

All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don't believe that the Earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That's what the Bible says.

I'll allow Bill Nye (noted science guy) to retort:

Since the economic future of the United States depends on our tradition of technological innovation, Representative Broun's views are not in the national interest. For example, the Earth is simply not 9,000 years old.

He is, by any measure, unqualified to make decisions about science, space, and technology.

I'll add "cram it up your ass" for good measure.

Posted 10:37am
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October 9th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- Those of us who were teen and college aged denizens of the 1990s can rejoice at the reuniting of the Afghan Whigs, who are back and continuing to kick ass. Greg Dulli always makes me want to watch Backbeat.- Siddhartha and I went and saw the reunited Ben Folds Five last week, and outside of fat Robert Sledge, were exactly as I remembered them. This 20 something feels the opposite, because she somehow has the same wonky perspective issues she blames Ben Folds for and all of a sudden thinks he was an asshole for writing about his girlfriend's abortion. She is dumb, so just watch them on Colbert instead. - Staying with the oldies, here's a new Paul Westerberg song and a list of Big Stars Ten Best Songs. 20 blog points to those of you who had to google neither name.- In new music, stream The New Pornographers frontman A.C. Newman's new album, and a new song from the mature Benjamin Gibbard. Yup, Benjamin. - Finally, you can stream Radiohead's new Austin City Limits, and for any of you out there, who shall remain nameless, that doubt Radiohead's awesomeness, here's Jess Pinkman and James Bond to tell you that you are wrong.

Posted 11:02am
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October 8th, 2012 The Snobby Elitist

Back in college I had a roommate that was fond of pointing out, in the moment, what he referred to as "Only at Michigan" conversations. These discussions encompassed anything from world literature to politics to how to best promote literacy. And yes, these are the conversations you are supposed to be having at school and hopefully everyone is tackling them in the classroom if they're going to throw obscene amounts of money to institutions of higher learning. But these weren't classroom conversations, these were the conversations we'd have while drank cases of cheap beer. They were the parties we routinely went to where we drank a punch made from beer and vodka and frozen lemonade concentrate. I visited a lot of colleges back in my day and I drank a lot of weird alcoholic concoctions and had a lot of deep philosophical conversations, but it did seem to be a fairly unique Michigan experience, at least in frequency and number of people participating.Surely that scenario happens other places and I am of course romanticizing it, but my point is that it's all I've ever wanted to do since, all the time and always. I fell in love with the BDGF and continue to be madly in love with her because that's how we spend our time together (although we've upgraded our libations - no more pink panty pull down.) I continue to choose my friends based on their penchant to just sit around with a cocktail in hand and talk about things other than work and family. Saturday night we had half a dozen people over to watch a comedian and a news pundit debate the issues of the day while we sat around a fire, drinks in hand doing the same thing the famous people on the internet were doing. I couldn't help but think that the college version of myself would be pretty happy with how I turned out that night.- You'll probably see 100 links to this today, but it is really not to be missed and I implore you to stay until the end, because that when it hits its stride. Now get on the the 'R' train and remember, there's nothing worse than being gay.

Posted 11:41am
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October 5th, 2012

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

- Since I talked yesterday about the debate fallout and what consensus would be post fact-checking, let's take a quick look around the internet: here's a list of Mitt's lies, occurring at almost one per minute. Here's a closer look at his egregious energy lies, here's his biggest lie of the night on health care, and here's what happens when you try to teach Mittens mathematics. But vote for him because he was more animated!- I put this near or at the top of the list of things I wished existed. This does exist and my fingers are crossed for awesome. - James Bond is turning 50. His gadgets may not stand up to the scrutiny of Neil deGrasse Tyson, but his theme songs are consistently awesome. - For those looking for a sexy Friday, here's a taboo story about a guy and his hot sister. Trust me, stay until the end. - Finally, a reminder that tomorrow, 8pm, is The Rumble in the Air Conditioned Auditorium. I recommend you grab the closest alcohol and come on over to the Chandler Drive In for a viewing.

Posted 10:34am
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October 4th, 2012

Thursdays are for politickin'

So consensus is that Mittens won the debate last night, and I can't argue against it this morning. Romney looked more energized, in command and control of the evening than the President. This of course has led some to speculate that the race is now a dead heat and it's a race to the finish or even that last night will be seen historically as the moment Obama lost the election. Hold on just a second. First of all, we can all concede that since the start of the summer, this election has been about a few hundred thousand voters in half a dozen swing states. The rest of us with half a brain who aren't attention whores have known whom we are voting for for some time now. Secondly, Willard had to lie through his teeth and bully his way through the night to come out with a 'victory.' People will be talking about Leher and Obama both being asleep in the aftermath, but the fact checkers will have something to say about the proceedings too before it's all said and done.The bottom line is that the media will run with the Romney comeback narrative because it's an easy talking point, but that doesn't mean the fundamentals of the election have drastically changed. As they both laid out last night over and over again, this is a referendum of what you want the federal government to be. Now Romney did his best job yet of running with GOP tropes that sound good ideologically but turn out to not be how they govern whatsoever, and at the end of the day, people know that all too well.- Could Obama's performance last night been affected by the fact that Creed lead singer Scott Stapp tacitly endorsed Willard? BTW, I've never noticed this before, but Scotty is looking a lot like the illegitimate burnout offspring of Edward Money these days.- What does your vote mean? Well in what I imagine doesn't violate their status as a non-profit nor breaks any election laws, the Catholic Bishops want you to know that voting Democrat sends you directly to hell. Now go vote sillys!- Continuing the GOP's war on women, Breitbart calls going down on a girl 'gross.' Thankfully we all assume that the bloated balding white captains of the GOP all pay for it or are closeted gays, and unlike eating pussy, head is the opposite of gross.- Finally, if you are concerned about how much your vote matters, statistically it doesn't. At all. The good news is that thanks to the electoral college, no one's vote matters. Or at least we've arbitrarily decided whose does and whose doesn't. Sleep tight citizen.

Posted 9:42am
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October 3rd, 2012

More parental blathering

I warned you.The other day a long time friend of mine was discussing parenting with me and she asked me what my favorite age was. For our intents and purposes I'm assuming she meant what age of children and the rearing therein did I most enjoy. I almost immediately said something along the lines of "I liked it when you could start enjoying the same things in the same way. So like 8, 9, 10..." OK, I immediately said something like "Ask me in nine months when I'm no longer legally responsible for him." But my mind immediately went to the age of the BDGF's youngest, because, you know, Harrison Ford.Last week we took the littlest one to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in IMAX and to watch someone watch that perfect film for the first time, and literally be on the edge of their seat as Indy replaces the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol with a bag of sand is pure unadulterated joy. To have young kids ask to watch Star Wars with you so you can equally swoon over Han Solo is a parenting I can get behind. It makes everything from the diaper changing to staring out the window waiting for them to come home because curfew was midnight and it's now 12:25am almost worthwhile. Barely almost.But I'd like to change my answer. Because as pure and truly wonderful those 8-10 year old experiences are, it's not truly same level, shared experience stuff. You're seeing yourself at that age. It's great and transformative but it's not simultaneous sharing. You're not equals. I had my first glimpse of something approaching that last night, and it was one of the coolest things that ever happened to me.Sid and I went to see the reunited Ben Folds Five last night. It's a band that I adored in college and that's a love I've passed onto Sid. It's been one of his favorite bands his whole life. So last night, watching something neither of us have seen (in at least a long time) and enjoying the music viscerally - singing along and jumping up and down - I had a moment of enjoying something with my son as an equal. He wasn't my kid that I was dragging with me so I could show him something, he was just this person I enjoy coming with me to see something we loved, because it's always more fun doing that with someone you like next to you.Of course we're not equals. Even in this scenario there's a nostalgia component that resonates more with me than it could possibly with him. But as your kids get older and thier tastes mature and they become actual people with not only thoughts and feelings but a history, you can connect on a level that's not tied to a parent/child dynamic. When Sid was younger Michigan football was just something that either made daddy happy or sad. Now it's beginning to have an effect on him, and if he ends up at my alma matter, we'll quickly become equals on that level. I look forward to that. I always rail against parents whom I accuse of wanting to be their children's friends. Your kids have plenty of friends, they need parents (he said accusingly.) And Sid will always need me as a parent on some level. It's a lifelong job for sure. But as far as favorites go, I enjoy getting to experience my kid as a person, especially since he's such a good one. And things are getting better all the time.

Posted 10:44am
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October 2nd, 2012

Throwing Your Cap Over the Wall

They say that eventually we all turn into our parents. There's also that bit about monkeys typing Shakespeare, and both are about equally true. Our parents being our most immediate example of everything during so many facets of our life certainly provide the template for the most de rigueur aspects of our existence. Even the things we find lamentable or detestable about our parental overlords growing up often end up rearing their ugly heads as we get older - no matter how much we may protest.Of course I'm not suggesting inevitability nor that we lack free will in the equation. Certainly at our best we correct perceived mistakes and rail against that which we found abhorrent. Once you have children of your own this becomes that much more prescient, as you begin to turn over the machinations in your head and try to extrapolate what your offspring will react to and try to 'fix' as they enter adulthood. All you can really hope for is that they take the good and leave the bad in some sort of utopian Facts of Life scenario. Sid and I went to Michigan Engineering's "Tech Day" on Saturday. Sid has declared Michigan the leader in the clubhouse for his academic dollars to the point of everyone else being told that they might as well go home. The only catch is that he has to choose between LS&A and Engineering. I initially tried very hard to steer him towards LS&A because there he's a shoe in for admission, whereas Engin is much more competitive and I don't think my heart could take seeing him get denied what he wants most in life at this moment. It's the safe play. It's prudent. It's what my parents would have told me to do.Now when I was going through this process some 20 years ago, my dad would take me to visit schools where I would go through the U's spiel while he stood in the back and read the paper, tried to find a TV or just stared off into the middle distance. That's the Moeman and now it's me. Saturday I wandered around the engineering campus, skipped out on some of the lectures that the parents were supposed to attend and basically spent most of the day patiently waiting for things to be over.

But at some point something changed. A switch got flipped. I think I started to get a sense of Sid belonging there. After passively listening to people drone on about the Leaders and Best for a few hours, something seeped in and I started to realize that this was Sid deserved to be. So I started to talk to some of the current students that were there to ask questions. I struck up a conversation with the director of admissions. I got the director of undergraduate recruiting initiatives' business card. I tried to step up and out of my comfort zone because I suddenly remembered being Sid's age and being told not to go to Michigan because it was too expensive and I threw my cap over the wall anyway. It would be betrayal of my former self to tell Sid to be prudent. I wanted to tell him to toss his cap - and that only because it probably would be wrong for me to rip it off his head and throw it for him. There's plenty of bad modeling for Sid to leave behind as grows up, I feel I owe him as much positive reinforcement as I can muster with what time I have left.

Posted 11:09am
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September 28th, 2012

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

- As a kid I loved Legos. I know all kids love Legos, but I loved Legos like I know love booze. As in, you start playing with it Friday night and the next thing you know it's Monday morning. I coveted every piece like it was the one true ring. So while for many of you this Lego Rube Goldberg video may be seven minutes of your life that you'll never get back, I was mesmerized. Yes, I also watched this cheesy Pixar ripoff on the history of the Lego company. I told you guys, I really liked Legos. -I will admit to a chink in the armor of my indefatigableness when it comes to Obama's reelection, mostly just because, as previously noted, it's approaching inevitability. Not that any of you would ever not vote in any election, I encourage you to get bitch slapped by Samuel L. Jackson to Wake the Fuck Up. - Last night Siddhartha had a tennis match and I watched him scratch and claw and fight harder than I've ever seen him before in his seventeen years on this rock. He eventually lost, but I wasn't even disappointed because of the effort and sheer will to win the game that was on display. I've rarely seen anyone get truly fired up at a high school tennis match, and I've seen my fair share these last few years, but Sid was ready to burst through a brick wall yesterday, and I wanted nothing more than to follow him into the breach. It was something else, partially because I saw so much of myself in that person. People have often said how similar the two of us are (both very true and not even remotely) as well as how close we must be given the scant 20 years in our age difference (same rubric applies.) In any case, Sid's college experience is going to be very different than mine, as the NYTimes points out in this article noting how technology is replacing the dive bar. No I did not just tear up, fuck you. - Speaking of Junior, I do realize that I'm on a bit of a farewell tour with him. A year from now he'll be in college and even if (fingers crossed) he goes to Michigan, the amount of time I spend with him will drastically decrease. Tomorrow we tour Michigan's engineering campus, crossing our fingers that some counselor will tell us that it is at least very likely that he'd be accepted to the prestigious institution. Next Tuesday we have tickets to go see Ben Folds Five. Sometime over the weekend we'll probably go see the new Bruce Willis movie and I should really teach him how to change the tire on a car, like I swore I would over a year ago. Time keeps on ticking and you, dear readers, should prepare thyselves to hear a lot about it. At least until my keyboard gets waterlogged with tears.- Finally, the BDGF and I were on HBO! If you are a subscriber and have access to HBOGO, watch the first episode of Brody Stevens: Enjoy It, and see our fuzzy heads right front and center. Or, just peep this screen cap:

Sometimes we're so famous it's a wonder we can walk the streets unmolested.

Posted 9:45am
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September 28th, 2012

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

- As a kid I loved Legos. I know all kids love Legos, but I loved Legos like I know love booze. As in, you start playing with it Friday night and the next thing you know it's Monday morning. I coveted every piece like it was the one true ring. So while for many of you this Lego Rube Goldberg video may be seven minutes of your life that you'll never get back, I was mesmerized. Yes, I also watched this cheesy Pixar ripoff on the history of the Lego company. I told you guys, I really liked Legos.

-I will admit to a chink in the armor of my indefatigableness when it comes to Obama's reelection, mostly just because, as previously noted, it's approaching inevitability. Not that any of you would ever not vote in any election, I encourage you to get bitch slapped by Samuel L. Jackson to Wake the Fuck Up.

- Last night Siddhartha had a tennis match and I watched him scratch and claw and fight harder than I've ever seen him before in his seventeen years on this rock. He eventually lost, but I wasn't even disappointed because of the effort and sheer will to win the game that was on display. I've rarely seen anyone get truly fired up at a high school tennis match, and I've seen my fair share these last few years, but Sid was ready to burst through a brick wall yesterday, and I wanted nothing more than to follow him into the breach. It was something else, partially because I saw so much of myself in that person. People have often said how similar the two of us are (both very true and not even remotely) as well as how close we must be given the scant 20 years in our age difference (same rubric applies.) In any case, Sid's college experience is going to be very different than mine, as the NYTimes points out in this article noting how technology is replacing the dive bar. No I did not just tear up, fuck you.

- Speaking of Junior, I do realize that I'm on a bit of a farewell tour with him. A year from now he'll be in college and even if (fingers crossed) he goes to Michigan, the amount of time I spend with him will drastically decrease. Tomorrow we tour Michigan's engineering campus, crossing our fingers that some counselor will tell us that it is at least very likely that he'd be accepted to the prestigious institution. Next Tuesday we have tickets to go see Ben Folds Five. Sometime over the weekend we'll probably go see the new Bruce Willis movie and I should really teach him how to change the tire on a car, like I swore I would over a year ago. Time keeps on ticking and you, dear readers, should prepare thyselves to hear a lot about it. At least until my keyboard gets waterlogged with tears.

- Finally, the BDGF and I were on HBO! If you are a subscriber and have access to HBOGO, watch the first episode of Brody Stevens: Enjoy It, and see our fuzzy heads right front and center. Or, just peep this screen cap:

Sometimes we're so famous it's a wonder we can walk the streets unmolested.

Posted 9:45am
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September 27th, 2012

Thursdays are for politickin' - 40 days out edition

- If you live in Ohio, you may feel a little like Noah during the great flood, if rain was the equivalent of hearing "...and I approve this message." The bad news is you're on an Ark filled with more feces than you can imagine. The good news is that you only have 40 days and 40 nights left. I know that my readers have been registered since they were 18 and hit their polling places to perform their civic duty regularly, but so you can forward it to your deadbeat friends, here's how to get registered to vote.

- The last post is especially important this election because with a shrinking demographic and positions that are on both the wrong side of history and public opinion, the GOP has moved towards voter suppression as their last best hope at a decided schematic advantage. Listen to Sarah Silverman and prepare to get apoplectic.

- When we are talking about matters analytical, about things that can be proven or disproven, about science - do you trust Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, or The Union of Concerned Scientists? Well the latter says both the former are 93% and 80% (respectively) inaccurate and misleading when they talk about climate change. Move along citizen, we already said fair and balanced. Don't make us tell you twice.

- Want to know what's wrong with people? Follow this exchange when a reporter asks someone about McDonalds labeling their food with the calories they contain:

"I like that you have the information before you order," he told me, when I asked about the labels. "It's better than some kind of government health mandate in Obamacare."

I told him that the calorie labels were, in fact, a government health mandate in Obamacare.

"Well that changes things a bit," he responded. "I thought this was more of a voluntary sort of thing. Now I'm not quite sure how I feel about it."

Pardon my French, but you're an asshole.

- Finally, this post by Matt Taibbi I think misses the mark. Maybe I'm too optimistic, but I don't see a lack of separation in national polling data as a failure by the Democrats to beat an empty suit filled with bad ideas. I see Obama pulling away down the stretch as a testament to the American people's bullshit detector. He makes cogent points about the media and the general ideological divide and how it's manipulated, but I don't see Obama doing some Jon Lovitiz as Dukakis paraphrasing, saying "How the heck am I barely beating this guy?" I've much preferred Charles Blow's coverage as of late, who seems to be almost snickering in his cautious optimism, which I guess is ultimately where I want to be.

Posted 10:48am
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September 26th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- One of the first things we learn in life is that the farmer takes a wife and the cheese stands alone. Baby Jesus, apparently not made out of cheese, might have bucked that "whole made up centuries later" thing about Christianity and celibacy and got married. I say good for him, although please don't take this as an endorsement of Dan Brown.

- So Dr. Pepper made an ad that trades on the old trope of a product being so revolutionary that it evolves mankind. Unfortunately this is the last thing you want to do in 1920s 2012 America. Enjoy comments like "Not progress, man did not evolve from an ape, If that were true, then that would mean that God was an ape, not so." I'm moving to Canada.

- Rick Santorum makes sense for the first time as an adult, noting
"We will never have the elite, smart people on our side." Rick Santorum, champion of the dumb. Follow him into the breach, dear friend!

- Here's a catchy, perplexing anti-abortion song by Michael Jackson and just to trump it, music by L. Ron Hubbard*.

- Finally, let's play a game of "What idiot politician said what about the gays?!?" First, we have a politician that says hating gays is as natural as falling out of a boat and hitting water:

The things you talk about like traditional marriage and family and entrepreneurship. These aren't values that are indicative to any one person or creed or color. These are American values, these are universal human values

See? It's just the natural order to deny rights to fellow human beings. It's like accepting that homosexuality even exists is akin to throwing your entire society into anarchy:

Who has said that if you like or believe in doing something ugly and others do not accept your behavior, they're denying your freedom? Who says that? Perhaps in a country they wish to legitimize stealing?

I realize that references to America and broken english are huge clues as to who said what, but the former is vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and the latter is Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Or vice versa, because those two really are just two peas in a homophobic pod. Christians and Muslims - closer in beliefs than you might think.

*not recommended for listening by anyone.

Posted 10:16am
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September 25th, 2012

Secret Birthday

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. It's ostensibly my job, so there's that love/hate - which is another post - but I am enamored with gadgets and connectivity and all of the blah blah amazing things semiconductors and microprocessors have given us. Always have been. I didn't get a computer (that didn't even have a hard drive) until I was in high school, and now I can play any one of 1,500 albums in any room of my house by pressing a button on the computer that's in my pocket. That's a tessellation of things I love that defies appropriate adjectives.

But there's no better analogy to illustrate my hatred of technology than the bar argument. I despise the fact that you can no longer wildly gesticulate about a song that comes on at the bar without someone googling it on their phone and removing all doubt about something that you're passionate about. I loathe settling arguments with IMDB when I already told you that I'm sure that James Horner scored both The Pelican Brief and Sneakers (they're the same score!) We've lost a certain level of discourse that used to lead to interesting conversations that became wildly tangential of their own fruition.

And don't get me started on four people hanging out together for what is supposed to be a chance for social interaction, only to find all four said individuals staring at a 4 inch screen so that they can see if anyone more interesting posted something on the facebook. I joined Mark Zuckerberg's folly back when it was only available to those with university email accounts. I admit I found the voyeuristic aspects of it fascinating initially, but it quickly became a forum for easy self-flaggelation.

I mean that in both the negative sense of masochism and the positive nature of a masturbatory sense. Look how cute my kid is! Look at the cool place I just checked in at! Look at what I had for dinner! Click like to reassure me! Please? Facebook can be used in times of woe for self-loathing, but it's more often one big circle jerk. As such, a year or so ago I took the ability to see my birth date off the site.

I know first hand how great it is to log into the site and see how many of your "friends" wished you happy birthday. Honestly though, it just means that someone you went to high school with logged into the same site and an algorithm told them it was your birthday, and they decided it was worth 15 seconds of their time to remind you of that. I did the math and calculated that it would be more fulfilling to see who actually remembered it was my birthday of their own volition - not as a test - but as the adage goes it's the thought that counts, and effort means everything.

It should also be noted that I stopped looking forward to my birthday about a year ago. I am officially in my late thirties and before you can say "I loved the 80s" I'll be 40 and have two(ish) kids in college. At some point you don't need to be reminded of your own mortality (not to mention the price tag of it all.) So I appreciate everyone who took the time to well wish. I absolutely enjoy when the people that I love make a modicum of effort to mark that I've improbably survived another year on this rock. But outside of begrudgingly marking the decades as they will inevitably pass, I'm over birthdays.

Before I go I should note that the BDGF has been amazing about all of this. She drug me to Knight's for an amazing steak dinner on Friday when my curmudgeonly ass was ambivalent about it. She did unbelievable field work and presented me with the first truly nice guitar of my life during halftime of the Michigan game on Saturday. She even braved the cold to watch a little known 1980s movie with me outside Sunday night. That's dedication homes. But I still took a vacation day Monday so that I could have some alone time to square with it all and enjoy a day where I could celebrate being born without anyone reminding me that I was actually a year older. And for the most part, I stayed off my phone.

Posted 10:12am
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September 21st, 2012

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

- Pray for good weather October 6th, because it'll be a streaming party in the backyard for a Jon Stewart vs Bill O'Reilly smackdown. It's why Al Gore invented the internet.

- In the mother of all reunions, the cast of The West Wing gets together to encourage you to vote. And not just generally, but for Bridget McCormack. For Michigan State Supreme Court! How do you not win in a walk with a Jed Bartlett endorsement?

- If you love adorableness and Matt Smith, you may pass out watching this four year old recap Doctor Who episodes. Almost enough to make me want to have more kids and get them interested in the Doctor, except not even remotely.

- There's a recently published study that suggests women are happiest in their relationship when they wait SIX MONTHS before having sex for the first time with their current partner. I'm assuming that this study took place in Utah, because the only non-Mormon people who wait six months to have sex with someone they're dating are virgins and unattractive people. AmIRight?

- Finally, tomorrow Michigan faces off against Notre Dame in a battle of the two most prestigious, storied and winningest programs in college football. Jesus Christ I hate them with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns and the only more satisfying thing in the world is to beat Ohio. Michigan has snake bit ND the last three years so logic dictates they have one coming soon, but whatever happens, many people want to remind you to enjoy Denard Robinson while he's around, because you are witnessing a once in a lifetime player. Amen to that. Now let's go run roughshod over some Catholic ass.

Posted 10:59am
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September 19th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- Last weekend the BDGF and I attended Riot Fest in Chicago where we saw Iggy Pop (who is impossibly old), Elvis Costello (who is unbelievably cool), Gogol Bordello (who are Russian Gypsies) and The Promise Ring - who pointed out the BDGF during the middle of their set because she was carrying a parasol. Here they are covering Adele's "Rumor Has It." Yes, you read that right.

- I haven't deeply ruminated on it yet, but I'm pretty sure The Walkmen's Heaven is the best album of the year. Watch them on Conan.

- Ben Folds Five latest is out and fairly tremendous in its own right, especially the first Single "Do It Anyway." It's enhanced immeasurably by this video that includes Anna Kendrick, Rob Cordry, Chris Hardwick and The Fraggles. Yes, those Fraggles.

- The video for 'Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry" is seminal 80's cheese and a master class in crappy MTV story telling from a bygone era. If you remember it, you'll surely not want to miss this. Long live Aimee Mann.

- Jeff Tweedy speaks about fame and privacy and all things Wilco, which cannot be killed and thus will never die.

- Finally, Pat of The Black Keys got married last weekend with Will Forte officiating. To all other minor indie rock celebrities: I am ordained and available.

Posted 10:29am
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September 18th, 2012

A buyer's guide to tbaggervance

I'm not a big ticket item kind of guy. I often get labeled cheap, but nothing could be further from the truth. It's true that I was raised in a very frugal household, but I've mostly shaken off the shackles of that paradigm. I'm just as likely to be chastised by the BDGF for buying too many rounds at the bar as I am for crossing my arms and saying "can't afford it." My point is that if I have money in my pocket I'll readily spend it, but when I don't I'd just as soon sit home than go into hock for any reason or experience. And more importantly, I don't need anything too nice. Maybe someday I'll only settle for the very best, but I've got too many things I want to do to be able to do them all first class.

I put myself through school and had a kid when I was 19, so I'll be spending the rest of my life digging out of debt. I spent too many years living under the philosophy of "I refuse to let money dictate what I can and can't do," which is untenable at best. Things are under control now. They're so good that I can quickly pay down debt and still afford to take the BDGF on vacation during the doldrums of winter. But I'm still careful when it comes to spending money in even the triple digits. My wardrobe mostly consists of items that cost under $20. I drink cheap vodka and don't really like going out to eat, because I can get sustenance on the cheap at home. I splurge on expensive beer, because life is too short to drink Miller Lite, but that's another post.

Every once in a while however, I am forced to splurge by hap and circumstance. I've purchased three cars in my life: a 1979 Toyota Celica for $500, a 1992 Mazda 626 for $6000 and a 2002 Mazda Protege for $10,000. I saw the way that was escalating and went to a lease for my last vehicle. The next most expensive thing I've purchased was a very primitive HDTV for $1000 about 6 years ago that weighs 200 pounds and is half the TV I could purchase now for half the price. The next thing down the list? I bought a suit ten years ago that cost about $600 - because I figured I was only going to buy one suit in my life, I may as well make it nice. No, that's probably not going to be sound logic going forward either.

So outside of automobiles (and an $80,000 degree which I'm not counting) my expenditures don't get into even four digits, until last night. Our decrepit washer and dryer finally decided to crank out its last wheeze and the BDGF and I said enough is enough. Since the BDGF has always taken one for the team on the big ticket stuff around the house, I figured it was my turn to absorb the hit. I let her pick out whatever she wanted, so now we have a dryer with a steam function, whatever that is. She did note on the way out that they were probably too big to wear on her finger, reminding me that someday very soon there will be a new number one with a bullet on my most expensive expenditure list.

Posted 10:45am
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September 14th, 2012

Statistical Easing

As I type this, Nate Silver of has President Obama's chances of being reelected at 78.6%. The most recent NBC/Marist polls have Obama up 5 points in Virginia and Florida and 7 points in Ohio (this despite 90% of the people I went to high school with posting daily "likes" about Romney and the Tea Party and the Constitution and other various sundries they don't understand, but I digress.) 7-Election only has 3 states going red! It is beginning to look as if Romney botching a simple foreign policy moment has become the equivalent of McCain suspending his campaign in 2008, or even Michael Dukakis riding in a tank.

Personally, I've always been cautiously optimistic about the President's chances. I've been outwardly contrarian when people would say "No way people are going to elect a Sears and Roebuck model with the personality of a robot - and not even a cool robot at that!" "What about a Eurozone crisis?!? What if everyone remembers he's black?!?" I'd yell. Then I'd get called an old stick in the mud and the cool kids would go sit somewhere else. Sigh.

But I'm on board now. I know there's still seven-ish weeks to go and four debates to be had that I will soak up like a sponge, but I'm ready to enjoy it rather than fret it. I'm ready to talk about things in the context of how they will actually become manifest in Obama's second term. I'm ready to summarily dismiss people who compare Obama getting a second term to W doing the same! I guess the bottom line is that I'm ready to stop living in fear of the phrase "President Willard" because the American people are smarter than I too often give them credit for. Sorry guys, I can be a real dick sometimes.

Posted 11:07am
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September 13th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock - List Edition

Often I'll hear something in a song and it will inspire me to think about other similar instances in other songs and before you know it you have the genesis of a list (like this time when I talked about band members referring to each other by name in studio recordings.) Often this comes in a flurry as the BDGF and I sit outside and talk the night away, other times these lists sit on my phone for months, untouched, as I struggle to add to them. There's a couple like that sitting on my phone now, so I'm going to dump them upon you, dear reader, in one massive missive - because I'm tired of staring at them. You can point and laugh at what obvious things I missed.

Vocabulary Songs
These are 50 cent words in rock songs.

- Vampire Weekend
This happens a lot. For example, their first album has the songs "Oxford Comma" and "Mansard Roof", and the most pretentious of lines on this entire list: Spilled kefir on your keffiyah

- Spoon
Their slacker anthem "The Way We Get By" features the line We seek out the taciturn... Look that one up.

- The White Stripes
Jack's vocabulary may not be mighty, but I love the way he says obtuse in "My Doorbell." Even if he only got it from watching Shawshank.

- Nick Waterhouse
Is apparently the anti-Jack, in the sense that in his song "Some Place" he asks Am I sounding too oblique?

- Tokyo Police Club
Have a song called "Tessellate." Extra points for math nerdiness.

- Ted Leo
Has a song called "Timorous Me." Points for being self-effacing.

Authors in Pop Songs
Authors only - not literary characters.

- Brendan Benson
In "Pleasure Seeker" he notes when he thinks he's Saul Bellow

- The Hold Steady
Craig Finn loves an author reference. In "Boys and Girls in America" he name checks John Berryman (and Sal Paradise, which might as well be Kerouac) and in "Chips Ahoy" William Blake. Them's deep cuts.

- The Police
In "Don't Stand So Close to Me", Sting famously butchers the pronunciation of Nabokov while admitting to feelings of pedophilia.

Mistaken famous names in lyrics
What does this song have to do with Who's the Boss?

- Elton John "Tiny Dancer"
Hold me closer Tony Danza ...

- The Beatles "Nothing's Gonna Change my World"
Jack Arute Day Long....

- Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
My libido, Dan Marino

Add to any or all in the comments section! It'll be like a conversation! Between stoners!

Posted 10:33am
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September 12th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Bill Nye (Science Guy) made a little video that went viral last week, begging adults not to teach there children creationism, because duh. Of course some christians found this objectionable, especially the Creation Museum. My favorite part? This quote from Georgia Purdom, who claims to have a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the Ohio State University:

Do we start with man's ideas about the past, who wasn't here during the supposed billions of years of Earth history, or do we start with the Bible -- the written revelation of the eyewitness account of the eternal God who created it all? Rather than being inconsistent as Bill Nye states, observational science confirms the literal history and genesis.

All I can say is way to go OSU. Way to go.

- You may remember a while back when sex advice columnist Dan Savage challenged the head of National Organization for Marriage to a debate on the Bible "any time, any place." Here's the video of that debate from Dan's living room. I always loved how moon faced these evangelicals get when confronted with facts.

- How does Scientology pick Tom Cruise's sham marriages? All is revealed!

- Pat Robertson advises a man to move to Saudi Arabia so he can beat his wife because she won't "submit." But there's no right wing war on women, so move along citizen.

- Want good news? An atheist bisexual woman just won a congressional primary - IN ARIZONA. She also went to BYU and is smokin' hot, so you're guess as to how this exists is as good as mine.

- Finally, Catholics and their centuries long relationship with sexual abuse are back in the news. A bishop in Kansas City is convicted for shielding pedophiles in the church (he got two years probation, so justice served for allowing child rape.) But that's nothing compared to Father Benedict Groeschel, who recently claimed

People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.

So if we can just get these kids to stop strutting around the vestibule in their tight pants this will cease to be a problem. Amen.

Posted 10:34am
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September 11th, 2012

The tbaggervance parenting farewell tour: Part I

Last night I attended my last curriculum night ever! (You can't see it but I'm doing hero hands in between typing.) I survived twelve of those slogs and now it's over.

This is my last year of legal responsibility for the only person who is a direct result of half of my DNA. As such, I'm going to be relishing every second of doing the things that I never have to do again. I know I'm suppose to perseverate on the things I never GET to do again, and I suppose there'll be some of that too, but I'm more excited for the things I never HAVE to do again. Last night was the first of those, and it felt every bit as good as I anticipated. In a way, Sid and I are both Seniors. We're going to be saying goodbye to a lot of things over the next year, and I for one will doing it mostly with a "Later bitches..." joie de vivre.

OK, so I suppose technically none of that is true. Every single senior year milestone I have to endure this year I get to immediately repeat next year when the BDGF's oldest has to go through the entire process. That's like failing senior year. And I may have forgot to include the fact that I am going to another curriculum night tonight for the BDGF's littlest - which given that the BDGF is a teacher doing the curriculum thing on the same night across town, I'll be doing every year - by myself - for the foreseeable future. That's like being thrown into the Sarlacc Pit to be digested over thousands of years while easy listening music plays at tinnitus inducing volumes.

But I'm Dad. Or at least "dad" in the latter. This is our lot in life. And it could be a lot worse. I keep shuddering at the thought that in two weeks I will be 37 - THE AGE MY FATHER WAS WHEN I WAS BORN. I can take solace in the fact that I never have to hit reset and start from the beginning as an old man, because lord knows I wouldn't have it in me. A man can survive only so many potlucks.

Posted 10:45am
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September 10th, 2012

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

- Fall is generally a good time for new music, and on that tip here's two new songs from a reunited Ben Folds Five, a supergroup worthy performance from Divine Fits, and finally, I can't think of a band who tailors their songs more to being preformed live than Matt & Kim. At least not since we lost Freddie Mercury.

- This doesn't make me happy per se, but if you've ever compared Wal-Mart to a virus that is devouring America (and knowing most of you, you probably have) here's a GIF that will drive home your analogy of Sam Walton to the deadly Motaba virus.

- Michigan football didn't look great again Saturday, but a win is a win and home game tailgating makes everything feel like victory. Plus, when Hoke shows up at the end of this 'Welcome Back to Michigan' video, I still believe all things are possible.

- It's the time of year where I start to wind down 'outside' projects at home - outside of leaf raking which will occupy much of my time in the months to come. I also like to start to think about things I'll need to do come spring, because I'm anal and there's certain things that can only be planted then, so it's an opportunity to be seized. Last spring I went into overdrive as we were hosting a wedding. It was good in that it forced me to work hard and make things extra nice, but I was also looking forward to a much more leisurely paced spring in 2013. Then I remembered I'll probably have a graduation to prep for then. And another one the year after that. And that being a 'homeowner' really does mean you're never done. Hooray.

- Finally, between bringing the blog back online and being too insanely busy over the past two weeks to even get a post up every day, I neglected to note that the BDGF and I recently celebrated three glorious years together. The first night we met was at trivia, so I'm sure she found me absurdly intense. The second time was after watching Inglorious Basterds and I began to feel the spark of a connection. By the third time she was crossing circles of people to grab me and say "I think I'll keep you." I never stood a chance. That night she also took my hand and led me into a photobooth to take these now legendary pictures, which we repeat late every August to commemorate that we are still willing to put up with each other. Someday these will show the passage of time and we'll have to notice how old we got, but for now we are young and thin and beautiful and don't I have it far better than I deserve? xoxo my sweet...

Posted 3:00pm
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September 6th, 2012

Thursdays are for politickin'

My best friend for almost 30 years now once said that I'm the only person he's ever met that gets more liberal the older he gets. I don't know about the singularity of the phenomenon, but it's undoubtedly true. Growing up I was a 'Republican' because my father was. Up through high school I probably spouted a lot of conservative rhetoric on fiscal issues, choosing to view most of the moral and equality questions of our society solved and it was time to move on. Hey I was a teenager - with two of them at home I can tell you that there's nothing dumber.

As I moved from farm country to a liberal enclave and got exposed to other ways of thinking, I went from reading Rush Limbaugh to Al Franken. I went from caring about taxes to social justice. I re prioritized what I thought the government is should be doing and is capable of. I could be pithy and say I got educated or got a clue, but I started to actually care and look into these things, and the more I do the more I realize ways in which I was wrong. Twenty years ago, ten, even five.

I'm still a relative fiscal conservative. I'm generally anti-nanny state and pro-entitlement reform. I'm for throwing money at a problem, but I'm also for pulling it away when it doesn't work. I want to cut government and raise revenue. I was a Republican, then an independent, and with the path of the GOP I now reluctantly call myself a Democrat. But what I've always been is a pragmatist.

I know Mitt Romney wouldn't be the death knell of this country. I can't find much of anything to agree with him on based on rhetoric, but I'm not some idiot like Chuck Norris predicting a President would usher in a 1,000 years of darkness. I'm scared of his Supreme Court nominees because I like my privacy and see corporations as evil greed factories beholden to the entrenched white and wealthy. I don't like the way his party treats minorities and women and I think it's a fiscal fallacy to run a budget the way he purports to want to do.

But I as much as anyone spends too much time talking about what the other side of the aisle gets wrong. I've watched enough of both conventions so far to get a tenor for both parties. I realize that the incumbent party has an advantage on rhetoric, but the disparity of approach is undeniable. I didn't like Bill Clinton for about half his presidency, but I've come around about 180 degrees on the man. The things I disliked no longer matter, and I know venerate him as one of the most brilliant politicians and public speakers I've ever seen. Watch his speech from last night. Go back and watch any speech from Tampa. Who do you believe? Whose side do you want to be on? I'm on the side of the former Romney advisor who called the speech "the moment that probably reelected Barack Obama." I hope he's right, because I've apparently become the leftiest of bleeding heart liberals. I know my mother would be proud.

Posted 11:06am
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September 4th, 2012

Not quite the winter of our discontent

Summer is unofficially over. Time to put away the whites dust off your jackets. Sure there's plenty of warm and sunny weather left to enjoy, but it's time to face facts: no more beach blanket bingo in 2012. Take your medicine. Take it like a man.

If I'm blunt it's because the thing that is supposed to make the waning of summer palatable took a real kick to the dick Saturday night. Even for a game I wasn't expecting to win, it unfolded in probably the most brutal fashion imaginable. The idea of a magical season was thoroughly debunked midway through the first quarter of the first game, and there's suddenly falling leaves and no solace in anything.

Except for when there is. That hot mess of a game was far and away against the best competition we'll see all year. We've got two unloseable home games before we play Notre Dame at night at their place - which we may lose as well - but we'll know where we're at by then and it can't be the pulling the rug out from underneath you experience that Saturday was.

Most importantly, Siddhartha came over to watch the first part of the game with me. It was dudes watching football. He talked about certain players and aspects of the game that weren't merely parroted talking points that he'd heard me spew. He knew shit. And when he spouted his knowledge, he referred to Michigan as 'we.' We men of Michigan. The football team, Siddhartha and I. It made me giddy for his future and made me remember why I love college football. I needed that.

Posted 11:06am
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August 31st, 2012

Irrational exuberance

I'm not exactly sure how it happened. I was a nine year old boy who couldn't throw a ball and had to take extra gym lessons to learn how to skip properly. I was gangly, uncoordinated and artsy. I built legos and read comic books. I was a nerd when the term only had a derogatory meaning.

Initially it was probably girls. Girls were a titillating mystery that I wanted to explore, and you didn't get to talk to girls based on your vast knowledge of Spider-Man. So I signed up for little league, then junior high football. I never earned the title 'athlete' in anyone's mind, but like a gay man in a town full of religious zealots, I managed to pass.

Of course it wasn't enough to be a member of the team and sit on the bench. You had to collect baseball cards. You needed to watch the games. You needed to have a favorite team. I did all of this, and at some point it went from a means to an end to having a life of its own.

By the time I hit high school in Northwest Ohio, I had no choice but to vehemently defend my status as a Michigan fan. I suppose one didn't have to, but my proclivities being what they are, I did, and did so with fervor. Against a sea of obnoxious Ohio fans, I had to stand up against the hordes like I was an Argonaut. I owned it to the point that when the time came to pick a college, there was only one choice.

From the time I set foot on campus to this very moment as my head swims at the prospect of Denard and "what if.." being a Michigan Wolverine has meant more to me than just about anything. I'm part of something bigger than myself - something that's existed for longer than I can comprehend and will exist long after any memory of my time here still exists. It's both comforting and something I want to defend against all comers. It's family.

I know this is irrational. I know that putting your happiness in the hands of a bunch of 20 year olds playing a game is illogical. In a world of serious problems, caring about a game with somewhat arbitrary rules is just plain dumb. I've never played a down of football for Michigan and I'll never do anything that has any impact on the outcome of any game. I know all of that, but despite it all I still care. I sit here a bundle of nerves in anticipation of an inflated oblong pigskin being hurled into a high arcing parabola off the end of someone's foot.

I devour every piece of writing about Michigan I can this time of year, even though I know everything that can be said by now. I take it all in hoping to find some previously untold nugget of information that will placate my fears or reinforce my preconceived ideas of success. I try to process all of these things analytically, knowing that my heart will remain unchanged about what it wants to happen on any given Saturday. I love Michigan and when they win, I take it as a personal victory. I am dumb.

In an essay about how football evolves intellectually from an x's and o's standpoint, Chuck Klosterman said the following:

Football allows the intellectual part of my brain to evolve, but it allows the emotional part to remain unchanged. It has a liberal cerebellum and a reactionary heart. And this is all I want from everything, all the time, always.

That's exactly how I feel. I hope come midnight tomorrow, both my emotion and intellect are intact.

Posted 2:28pm
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August 30th, 2012

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

- I decided not to dump a month's worth of politics on your ass, mostly because a lot of that stuff has a short expiration date. (Given last night's convention activities, I will throw out this Paul Ryan takedown which accurately describes his brand of hypocrisy as that of a gigantic fool or massive fraud*.) I should also point out two sites I've been following leading up to the election: Twitter tracks the candidates and from Dave Eggers, lefty intellectual and Hollywood types give you 90 days, 90 reasons to vote for Obama. Any single one is about reason enough for me, but I'll read every one regardless.

*even Fox News points out what a massive liar he was last night.

- Video dump (not as bad as it sounds): Dr. Who returns this weekend! 90210 stars return to shill for Old Navy! A gritty pitch for a Daredevil movie (that will sadly never get made) and an alternate opening to The Avengers.

- My only begotten son has one year left of living under my roof and by my rules before he goes off into the world to make his fortune. We're visiting colleges that he might attend while filling out applications and forms and taking tests and all the rigmarole that comes with your last year of high school. I'll probably be writing about it a lot in the coming months, as I spend the majority of this year on the verge of tears and just trying to hold it together. It is cause for celebration though - not only in praise of his accomplishments and anticipation of his grand adventure, but for me being released of my legal obligation to keep him alive and generally out of harm's way. Whew! Almost home... Yes, I've managed to tack on a decade of pseudo child rearing to my sentence, but it's not a legal obligation, so there's that. I'm certainly done procreating, even though something as cool as this makes me lament a missed opportunity.

- Tomorrow will likely be a sappy soliloquy about college football. That is if I can make my brain string words together into sentences, because it's really going collegefootballcollegefootballcollegefootball 24/7 right now. I'm even reading weird Davey Rothbart interviews of Brady Hoke (I KNOW!) In the last fortnight I've watched all five seasons of Friday Night Lights. That's not even college football! OK, I'm starting to perseverate... have to finish this post... One last plug for We Are So Good at Football before I go.

- Finally, before we go completely down the rabbit hole, a tale of two t-shirts: This kid in Oklahoma was told to turn his Michigan shirt inside out because it violated the school's dress code. The kid is 5. Michigan AD Dave Brandon called it a bunch of crap and made the kid a shirt that still says Michigan when you turn it inside out. Cute. Let us contrast that with this shirt out of Columbus that condones child rape over cheering for Michigan. Stay classy Ohio.

Posted 11:01am
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August 29th, 2012

This Week Month in Indie Rock

Someday soon I will stop playing catch up and cleaning out my links file and do some actual writing. Probably.

- Matt & Kim's new record Lightning has a release date (Oct. 2nd) and the duo also has a date at the Majestic Theater. I recommend you partake of both.

- You can preview the the new season of ACL with these clips of Radiohead and Bon Iver. Unless you're the BDGF, in which case watching any of those clips might drive you to suicide.

- Speaking of - new Ben Gibbard!

- Jack White played a concert in the woods, because of course he did.

- All covers of Hold Steady songs performed by Neko Case collaborators will be posted with due diligence.

- Most music sold today is old music, about which I have mixed feelings. Because most people stop listening actively to new music sometime shortly after high school, and that's lamentable (even if the year you graduated high school was 1994, which was a very fortunate year.) On the other hand, new mainstream music is terrible and there's a treasure trove of back catalog to explore, so there you go.

- Finally, while guessing #1 is easy, see how many people you can guess is on this list of the 30 richest drummers. Then read the list and dream of being a crappy drummer on one super popular album and then never working again.

Posted 10:22am
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August 28th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week month?

I didn't stop collecting stories of religious hypocrisy even though I wasn't writing about them. Time to clear out the hopper.

- As you might have guessed, Baby J hates the kind of light BDSM that middle aged housewives like to read about.

- For those of you still curious about the Mormon faith, they have many tips for curing you of masturbating (have you tried swaddling yourself?) and if you're on a Mormon mission, they've got a rule for everything (including four rules (56-59) on playing basketball.) Willard should take note that rule 100 is Do Not Get Involved in Politics.

- For even crazier 'religious' ideas, here's a Scientology glossary.

- Many people forwarded me the following story, and I still kind of can't believe it: the St. Paul minor league baseball team - The Saints - had a promotion where, in honor of atheists, they became the Aints for a night. How'd that state elect Tim Pawlenty?

- Did you know the first woman in space was a lesbian? Kind of cool how not big of a deal that was.

- From the Pat Robertson says the darndest things department: supporting gay marriage is the death knell of the Democratic party and Atheists were to blame for the Sikh Temple shooting. No word on whether or not he thinks God sent that hurricane to Tampa because Republicans aren't conservative enough.

- Supporters of gay marriage? Fox News! Well, Shep Smith and Megyn Kelly anyway. I picture Roger Ailes fuming and imagining which gestapo tactics to employ.

- Here's a heartbreaking letter a father sent to his son, disowning him for being gay because Jesus said. Whatsoever you do to the least of my people...

- Another study finds Atheism up, religion down in America. Yawn.

- Finally, you know how you sometimes here Michelle Bachmann talk about how religious the founding fathers were and you wonder "Where does she get such blatant bullshit?" It's from this guy. Man would I love to punch that guy in his stupid face. Luckily even his publisher is pulling his latest book from the shelves for being a complete crock of shit. Next time your elderly parents parrot some stupid Fox News talking point about what Jefferson meant by separation of church and state and now get your ass to church, feel free to completely blame this douche.

Posted 10:48am
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August 27th, 2012

I'm back bitches

At some point enough is enough. You can't wait around forever for something that's never going to happen. About a month ago a job opened up in the Athletic Department here at the University of Michigan that I thought I had a chance at and was worth pursuing. As such I was convinced to pull the blog off the internet so that my new potential employers might find me more palatable should they Google me as part of application process. I thought it a fair trade at the time, but my patience hath run out.

Knowing what I do about how the University works, I suppose it's not out of the realm of possibility that they just haven't gotten around to calling me yet and I could be fixing Brady Hoke's computer by the Notre Dame game. But if that happens it'll be in spite of me telling Paul Ryan that he can eat a bag of dicks or my full throated support of gay marriage, legalized marijuana or whatever other bullshit that gets pounded out on my keyboard (or said on the return of the We Are So Good at Football Podcast!)

What went down while I was in self-imposed exile? Too much to sum up in a pithy blog post. The girls came home, Sid started visiting colleges, our house was invaded by the British and I saw the lost episode of the Facts of Life, performed in drag. It was a pretty sweet August, I wish you could have been there with me. But que sera sera. I promise to never go away like that again. Thanks to all of you who asked me to get back in the saddle. I missed you more than you missed me.

- Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Armstrong... As a young kid I was fascinated with space, and no individual became a focus or embodied my fascination more than Neil Armstrong. He was truly an American Hero. Here's some of his most famous quotes. I highly recommend visiting his museum in Wapakoneta and that you salute the moon in his honor the next time you look up.

Posted 10:48am
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July 31st, 2012


So as a heads up, this site may go dark someday very soon without warning. It's been over 15 years since I've applied for a job, but one has come to my attention that might be worth shortly suspending my principles for and taking the site down temporarily as I submit myself for employment. Is that necessary? Who knows. Part of me doesn't want to work for someone who has a problem with me using the word fuckstick five times a paragraph on the internet, but then again for the right position, compromising by taking it down for a week as a precaution while they Google my name hardly seems like manufacturing munitions for Hitler to make a quick buck. Short version: if you come here tomorrow or the next day to see what I'm pissed off about and all you find is some stupid gif of kittens in a basket, don't panic. We promise to come back ASAP in all of our foul mouthed glory. Until then, cross your fingers for me, I may have exciting news upon my return.

This post is so short because I have to update my resume and the previous iteration has me as college sophomore. What have I been up to since 1996?

Posted 11:00am
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July 30th, 2012

tbaggervance: not a real 'Merican.

Outside of my ability to read a box score and what now seems like an old timey love (or at least respect) for the game of baseball, I am woefully un-American. That's perhaps too far. I am woefully unconcerned with and not a part nor member of the things that Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin think make up and define "Real Americans." I don't like guns. I don't like religion. I think that people who drive pick up trucks and aren't in the industries of construction or agriculture are probably assholes, and everyone who drives an SUV that gets under 20mpg definitely is. I'm ashamed at both how fat and entitled we are as a nation, not to mention the mere idea that at any point, being intellectual or analytical can be vilified. I get that it's a big country and blue collar workers who love Toby Keith have every right to their opinion just as much as I do, but I think we as a collective didn't get here nor can exist on doctrines of Jesus or Might making right. If you read that and think "communist" or "socialist" well then you go a long way towards proving my point for me.

That's probably an unnecessarily inflammatory way to intro the fact that I don't care about the Olympics. Sure I get the cultural significance of Jesse Owens long jumping in front of Hitler, or even 1980's miracle on ice, but pardon me if I don't give two shits about whether or not the U.S. of A is better at ping pong than China. The idea that track and field is somehow now interesting because of a flag on someone's tank top is one without merit in my book. I am much more concerned with the fact the Large Hadron Collider exists in Europe and not here, or the fact that we now need to bum rides to even get into low Earth orbit.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with anyone else getting swept up into an innocuous piece of Nationalism. I'm not calling the Olympics mere existence silly (ok, perhaps a little) nor would I call anyone's interest in them utterly misplaced and chastisable given the competing ideas of rugged individualism versus collectivism that is taking place in this country in particular. In fact I think the Olympics exemplify America's embracement of both of those somewhat dissimilar ideals. I just wish more people would see it that way. Like say, Willard Romney did:

You Olympians, however, know you didn't get here solely on your own power. For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We've already cheered the Olympians, let's also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right!

That was in the context of celebrating their individual achievements. See? He agrees with Obama. Like we all do when partisan hacks aren't trying to sell us a Venn diagram in which those two things don't overlap. So I guess USA! USA ! USA?

Posted 1:21pm
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July 27th, 2012

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

- So the Republican nominee for the office of the Presidency headed overseas after months of railing at how our current President had ruined our relationships with other countries. It went about as well as it would have were they to have nominated Sarah Palin. Any plans Willard and his crack staff had to paint him as anything but an out of touch, privileged, stiff, under whelming, milquetoast, uninformed rich dick in a suit just took ten steps back. For the record, after an unnamed advisor tried to 'wink wink' 'nudge nudge' some Brits with an "At least he's white!" salvo, Willard gets openly mocked by their Prime Minister AND the mayor of London while calling the country by the wrong name, forgetting to engage American media and admitting to discussions with MI6. Is it a wonder that Willard was trending on Twitter as #AmericanBorat? I don't know whether to be excited at the prospect of how much fun this is going to be, or despondent as I imagine a scenario triggered by a Grexit that puts this guy in office. It goes from giggly to soul crushingly depressing real quick.

- Back at home, here's a quaint little story about how awesome Ann Arbor is. Plus, a website to track Wolverines at the Olympics.

- Movies! I've made it to the cinema this summer more frequently than I have in years, and I want to thank Sid and the BDGF and Dr. Walker and Markie C and Chermack Chermack for helping me make that a reality. Summer is FOR movies in my mind, and I am one trip to the drive-in from calling this the best movie summer in a decade. From Woody Allen to Batman, I've loved it all. But blah blah blah: Here's 2001 as a modern blockbuster, a list of the best movie trilogies ever (I know, I know), an courtesy of Lieberstein, the film map. Oh, and anyone around A2 this weekend, The Blues Brothers is playing at the Chandler Drive-In tomorrow night.

- Time for an economics lesson: Much like climate change and Newtonian physics, there's not much debate about our economy amongst people who know what they're talking about. Know your Adam Smith: "The rich should contribute to the public expense not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion." The rich are not paying their fair share. And for good measure, Paul Krugman makes a case for cheap money. If you read one of those, I'll buy you a beer. Read them all, and you deserve a drink right now.

- Finally, tomorrow is Beerfest! One of my favorite days of the year. Some might say that the bloom has come of the rose a tad, as the normal crew that I usually go with all bailed this year. But I choose to see it as more beer for me. I am a lucky, lucky guy that my BDGF is game for this sort of thing...

Posted 10:34am
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July 26th, 2012

Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride.

I was fairly popular in high school. I had long hair and wore a trench coat and I wasn't an athlete but I still managed to be president of my senior class. Napoleon is a fairly hick city, but it's nothing compared to the surrounding towns and villages. Despite looking and dressing differently from most of the kids in my high school, I could certainly walk the halls with impunity. Not the case if you drove 10 minutes in any direction. Then I heard the word faggot a lot. I have trouble biting my tongue, so it was dodgy more than once.

Ann Arbor is a liberal haven and enclave, but it's not terribly different from where I grew up if you drive 10 minutes in any direction. Occasionally I still get in arguments or harassed by out of towners who've come into town for a football game or to work some menial job. My usual response to these intolerant assholes is "Fuck off and get out of town," because I'm the majority now, and hayseed bigots aren't the norm.

Yesterday I was riding the scooter home from downtown. I was driving the speed limit. I used turn signals. The only difference from being in a car is the 100 miles to the gallon it gets. But as I turned off of a main road into my neighborhood, some hill jacker in a pick up truck yells out his window "Get off the road, faggot."

I'm still upset about it. Partly because he drove off before I could tell him to eat a bag of dicks or something. Partly because that word carries so much hatred with it. Someone could insinuate that I love cock and I'd be 'meh', but that word makes me want to punch someone in the face. But I think a bigger part than I'd like to admit has to do with it taking me back to being 16 and feeling different and helpless about it. I don't know what it's like to be gay, but I do know the feeling of walking down the street and hoping not to hear the word faggot lobbed in your direction while planning an exit strategy. That's not the case for me anymore, but when it happens out of the blue I go back to that place in my head and get angry that it still exists for anyone.

- Here's a list of conservative businesses that fund right wong causes, many of which contribute to a culture that I just talked about. Luckily, outside of Chick-fil-A, you aren't missing anything.

Posted 11:09am
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July 25th, 2012

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Hemsley...

The Jeffersons came on the air in 1975, so I've never known existence without George and Weezy. I don't know that I have anything profound to say about the show, other than when I heard Sherman Hemsley had passed I knew I was going to write about it. George Jefferson not only was important due to the fact that he was one of the few black people I had access to, but he helped reinforce the paradigm of a boisterous male stereotype that at the end of the day is beholden to his wife. As long as we live, it's you and me baby,
There ain't nothin wrong with that
. No, no there's not. Thanks Sherman. Rest in peace.

- The shooting in Colorado happened as I was headed out of town without internet access, so I missed the initial coverage and mostly avoided the rest, because it's tragic and sad and I abhor violence. It makes me uncomfortable. What I can't understand though are the people who feel compelled to defend the NRA and the second amendment in the wake of this. I shot guns growing up. Not regularly, but I've done it and I get it. More importantly, I nor any reasonable person I've ever heard opine on the matter wants to take away anyone's hunting rifle. I don't feel strongly about gun control, but when stuff like this happens I sit and wonder why I don't. Here's Jason Alexander, Andy Richter and Bill Moyers speaking about it. I agree with all of them. Here's a direct response to Mr. Alexander that refutes a lot of what he says, but I still side with the former, and not just emotionally.

- As a palate cleanser, here's Will and Zack reading the starting lineup at a Cubs game.

Posted 10:36am
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July 24th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- My father-in-common-law recently sent me this documentary hosted by Richard Dawkins that is especially notable for the fact that he "debates" a pre-gay sex scandal Ted Haggard. It's also a good example of how I think that it's neigh on impossible for an Atheist to discuss much with a believer and not come off as condescending. Dawkins, while being respectful, can't hide the "How can you be so obtuse?" look on his face the entire time he's talking to Haggard. I often worry about this and lament that there's no way around it, but then I remember that these are people who lump us in the same category as rapists, and then I sleep easy dreaming of them fucking themselves.

- We've all pre-apologized for something we knew our parents were going to do. It's usually something innocuous, like some awful dish your girlfriend is going to have to pretend to enjoy or warning your friend that your dad is going try and sell him Amway. But how would like to be Brad Pitt and have your mother write an anti-gay, pro-Romney letter to the editor and have the media run with it? If you answered "If it means I get to be Brad Pitt then I'm fine with it" you get a gold star.

- Extending the ACA to its logical conclusion, this infamous ass hat suggests the government tax atheists (and all non-christians, presumably) who don't go to church. See! There's your silver lining conservatives... precedent for an atheist tax.

- Here's a slideshow of famous Atheists throughout history. I warn you, every time I see a slideshow pointing out Scientologists I have a celebrity or two forever ruined for me, so if you feel that way about Atheists - I'm just saying you can't put the genie back in the bottle.

- Speaking of Xenu, here's a heartbreaking story of one woman's escape from that cult. <<shudder>>

- Here's a little excerpt about astronauts and faith that made me a tad uncomfortable.

- Finally, Chick-fil-Acame out of the anti-gay closet and gave a "yup, we're bigots" interview that they didn't back down from. The internet being what it is, shit blew up like the Godfather after that. The "We got your back" crowd includes Mike Huckabee and all of these geniuses who posted on his facebook wall for Chick-fil-A appreciation day. In the other corner we have Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and The Muppets. I remember the last time I ate at Chick-fil-A I was way out of town and it was easy and much tastier than say McDonalds. But I felt guilty then and now to be ostensibly scolded by Kermit? It's the friends you keep people...

Posted 10:24am
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July 23th, 2012

The Great Outdoors.

As I am fond of saying, I am a city mouse*. I generally don't derive a lot of pleasure from the out of doors. I like being outside, assuming the weather is somewhat temperate, but I still want to be within line of site to indoor plumbing. I'm the opposite of hikers and rowers and cyclists and climbers. What's important to me is that there are several bars for me to go to after midnight. That you can get a decent meal after 10 on a Tuesday. I need cab companies and ATMs and for the love of all that is holy, I need 3G cellular data access. Minimum. What are we, cave men?

That being said, I am certainly capable of roughing it. I grew up in the sticks and while my family didn't own one shred of camping gear, it's not like I don't know what I am doing. After college some friends had a yearly sojourn into Northern Michigan to camp, canoe and drink like it was the last night on Earth. While I can take or leave the first two, the latter of that trio is right in my wheelhouse, so I became a regular at these weekends. Sadly as people in the group started to procreate and otherwise entangle themselves in obligations, the canoe trips died out.

Somehow last year the BDGF learned of this historic trips and decided that we should make an attempt at reviving them. Or at least do one more for old times sake. Now I take it as a point of personal pride in knowing what - and more importantly what not - to put in front of the BDGF. I can usually tell if she's going to enjoy a new band that I'm listening to, and I'm very good at steering her away from movies in which she has no interest. However, being the wonderful partner and all around trooper that she is, she sometimes ignores my advice because she knows it is something that I will enjoy and she doesn't want me to have to go it alone. This is a very under appreciated trait and I hope you have someone in your life half as game. Anyway...

I knew early on that the BDGF was 'taking one for the team' when we planned to go up to our old canoe trip stomping grounds to make the magic happen once more. As such I offered her every opportunity to back out completely and did whatever I could to minimize the Deliverance-ness of the situation should she go through with it. To her credit, go through with it she did. Now the BDGF is much like me in that she's not unfamiliar with camping, but she is a city mouse. And if I'm Brooklyn, she's Manhattan. Plus I can pee standing up. I know the BDGF wishes she had never heard of a vaulted toilet.

Friday we drove up to Grayling Michigan and set up a tent. We then immediately left and drove to the nearest brewery and spent as much time as we could there and still drive back to the campsite, where we built a fire and blared the iPod while we talked about whatever the subject of the day was. Then we sort of slept before spending four hours lazily canoeing down the Manistee River on Saturday. By the time we finished our float down the river, the BDGF had nothing left to prove and we threw our gear back into the van and headed home, to have a proper shower and sleep in a proper bed. Of course when we got home we setup the projector and watched some episodes of Breaking Bad sitting in our backyard, so we were kind of still communing with nature - just city mouse style.

*Thus not a country mouse.

Posted 10:13am
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July 19th, 2012

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

- The BDGF and I are headed North tomorrow to spend a weekend in the great outdoors. There will be canoeing. There will be sleeping in tents. Otherwise we intend to make it as much like any other weekend as we possibly can, so you know, a quick run to a brewery one night and a dive bar the other. It's why they call it God's country. I think.

- I know tbaggervance readers are smart and already know this, but tell your parents, uncles and whatever Republicans that you can stand to be around for more than five minutes that when they bitch about the unemployment rate and the economy they can blame the government - for drastically cutting public jobs.

- Marijuana legalization doesn't have the momentum of say gay marriage, but it is something we can look forward to once old white men who hate science start to die off. The good news is that when it happens, it could be super cheap. Like, makes Thunderbird look expensive cheap. Imagine how much tax you could levy on that and still keep a handful of joints cheaper than a pack of cigarettes. Or a six pack.

- Since I'm a huge comic book nerd, I'm looking forward to the new Batman movie that opens this weekend. I'm having trouble deciding whether I want to see it at the drive in or in IMAX, but don't worry too much about it guys, I'll be fine either way. Here's 20 things you didn't know about the Bat, and they are actually interesting for once.

- Finally, I've been thinking a lot about being cognizant of other people and how that idea extends from simple things like merging into traffic all the way to big idea things like liberalism. I'm not much for inspirational quotes (OK, I totally am much for things like that, but it seems silly and that I shouldn't admit it) but I love this:

How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.

...because it's true, it speaks to liberalism and progressivism in ways that reassure me, and Einstein said it. Boom, you got scienced.

Posted 10:33am
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July 18th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock.

- This Week in Jack White: he's releasing what I assume are professionally recorded versions of the first White Stripes show in 1997 and just to prove how far he's come, he also has this austentacious new video for "Freedom at 21." You've come a long way Jackie Boy.

- Last weekend the BDGF and I attended the Pitchfork Music Festival on Saturday. You can read recaps from The Michigan Daily, Stereogum and The AV Club. I will tell you that: it rained and we are in the works of creating a new app for your smartphone called hipster bingo. It's going to be all the rage and may include additional flavors like Vegas Bingo, Wal-Mart Bingo, Theme Park Bingo and Wedding Bingo. Stay tuned.

- The best performance of the weekend? Cloud Nothings, hands down. At the end of their set they got their mics cut off, and they kept going through their guitar amps while the crowd sang the lyrics. It was an emotional moment.

- Same sort of thing happened when Paul McCartney joined Bruce Springsteen on stage in London last week. Which, like, wow. Whoever pulled that plug has brass fucking balls.

- New records and tours are being announced all official like for Benjamin Gibbard and a reunited Ben Folds Five. The former I imagine to balance the late 90's angst of the latter. Or something. There will be songs about abortion from both sides.

- Finally, science proves what we all already suspected, Freddie Mercury > Beyonce. Boom, you got scienced.

Posted 11:09am
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July 17th, 2012

Tuesdays are for politickin'.

- Yesterday Republicans in Senate blocked a vote on the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that simply (and merely) requires that political donations be publicly revealed. Why would anyone be against this modicum of transparency? It's like if people found out Chick-fil-A was vehemently anti-gay, they'd stop eating there (they are and you should.) But we live in a post-Citizens United world, in which the most central issue to saving our Democracy is in exponentially more trouble thanks to a shrinking minority of rich white men greedily consolidating power. Did you know that we could fix this and it wouldn't cost the taxpayers an extra dime? Of course the proletariat is illiterate and doesn't get it, but at least those of us with our eyes open can support this.

- Still peseverating on on the ACA? Here's 5 myths debunked by the Times. Here's where you can go to get away from it. And if you are wondering if when the Republicans call it the largest tax increase in the history of anything are lying, of course they are.

- Psst! Obama is going to tackle the failed war on drugs. Puff puff give. I mean pass it on.

- Which political party has been a better steward of the economy since back when Harry was givin' 'em hell? Come on, you already know the answer.

- I hate mentioning Limbaugh, because why? But I think he actually believes this, so I will make an exception. I'm not sure why a fat blowhard who bloviates himself to orgasm every day would hate women, but I have some ideas.

- Finally, I think without too much wrangling we can also blame Citizens United for ruining this season of college football. Way to go SCOTUS. Whatever good will the Chief Justice had with me is officially spent.

Posted 10:33am
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July 16th, 2012

Lord to be seventeen forever...

Today my only begotten son turns seventeen. This is remarkable on several levels, especially given that he is not a supreme fuck up and all of my hair is not bone white. I know I recently espoused his virtues in this very space and I in no way want to bore you by perseverating how great my kid is - mostly because that is exactly the way I'm supposed to feel as a parent and I hate it when people go on and on about their offspring's piddly accomplishments. Call me when they cure cancer, I'll shake both your hands. But even beyond that I don't want to do anything that sounds like bragging because at the end of the day it's really just luck.

I don't mean to belittle anything he has achieved. These are laudable things to be sure. What I mean to say is that any success I have had as a parent is due almost solely to the fact that Sid's temperament and proclivities match my own so closely. He not only responds to my brand of logic and has an affinity for the same brand of pop culture that I do, but he's a similar too smart for his own good kid whose problems lie more in getting bored with situations than in understanding them. That's something to which I can relate. Were he the opposite, I'd be drowning.

So seventeen. I remember that age. Barely anymore, but it's in there somewhere. Sid and I aren't nearly the same person, as 20 years ago I spent all my time thinking about girls and where I was going to score enough alcohol to get me through the weekend. (I guess not much has changed.) Siddhartha doesn't seem to have his priorities or hormones so out of whack, so thanks (again) for being better than your old man kiddo. Not a very high bar I suppose, but thanks too for being enough like me that we can understand each other. I don't know how I would have made it through seventeen years otherwise.

Posted 10:55am
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July 13th, 2012

A quick one while he's away...

So my non-internet based flights of fancy have occupied far too much of my time as of late, so despite hanging out with pseudo-famous LA rock stars and performing under the pseudonym Fat Betty Draper and other various fits of fabulousness, no real post today. I will however point you to the upper right hand corner of the blog to our new Google Custom Search. That's right, in addition to wonderful advertising targeting the needs of the tbaggervance demographic, you can now search the entirety of our archives with a few strokes of your keyboard. Want to see how many times I've used the word fuckstick in 7 years? Want to see how many times I've mentioned your official tbaggervance internet pseudonym? Want to search for previous points in history where I've contradicted myself? Well go ahead and keep killin' them brain cells, because your memory is now moot. I'm off to Chicago to see a bunch of bands you've never heard of because I am immanently cooler than you. Toodles.

Posted 4:07pm
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July 12th, 2012

Apples and Trees (including trees at the tops of hills that allow fallen fruit to roll far from their bases)

I was a bit of a bon vivant as a teenager, which in Northwest Ohio parlance meant that I had a penchant for drinking a lot of cheap domestic beer and smoking a lot of cigarettes in empty fields, the backs of cars, or wherever parents were not to be found. Not surprisingly my sainted mother had a problem with this, as she disgustingly would ask me if I had been drinking every night when I came home, to which I would always indignantly reply "No!" as I used the wall to hold myself up.

She didn't have very long to throw that well worn parental barb at me: "I hope some day you have a kid that grows up to act just like you," as by 19 I was well on the way to finding out. It should be noted that I feel appropriately guilty about my childish behavior in the early 90s, and it would be cosmic justice on a karmic scale if my kid were even half the arrogant, entitled, bon vivant that I was in high school.

Earlier this week Siddhartha took the scooter to go meet up with his buddies, with an understanding that he get home around midnight. When he was going to be a few minutes late, he texted to let me know. When he came home, he hadn't been drinking - not even a little! I suppose I understand my mother's anxiety that centered around my teenage self, as I get worried about Siddhartha riding a scooter around town at night, but her wish for me to be punished by Jesus by giving me a version of myself to contend with as a parent seems to be a fleeting opportunity.

Except for the good parts. Sid got his AP test scores back yesterday and let us just say that like his old man, he's on track to start college with at least a semester in the books. And truth be told, he got a 5 (out of 5!) on the exam that I only got a 3 on, and he took it a year earlier than I did. Add that to the fact that he doesn't butcher Rush songs through a 150W amplifier that shakes the foundation of the house in complete disregard of anyone else that lives there. So sorry mom, but I got a much, much better version of myself.

Posted 11:07am
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July 11th, 2012

Crack (and) advertising.

There was no post yesterday. Sorry about that. The reasons are two-fold, and yes one of them involves me being dumb and hurting myself.

1. For the second consecutive summer, I would appear to have cracked a rib. The second time around's not overly dramatic, involves no perilous endangerment of 8 year olds nor me being flung from anything. I was running from first base to second, clearly going to be forced out, and trying to get out of the base path so the short stop wouldn't hit me with the ball as he tried to turn two. He didn't, but instead flung his entire body full speed into mine, nearly knocking me over and almost certainly cracking a rib on my left side. Almost certainly, he noted, because he refused to go to the doctor for confirmation, as the lecture wasn't worth the vicodin.

2. My website (that which you are reading at this very moment) is arcane and archaic in its design and implementation. Which isn't that big of deal, other than it takes me more effort than it should to administrate because I am (somewhat ironically) bad at coding. Since I am 36 and not likely to learn the actual eccentricities of html, php, sql or css, that is not going to change dramatically. What I would like to change is the fact that it costs me money. So that means ads. I will make them unobtrusive as possible, and I hope that whatever Google deems appropriate to advertise on my website will provide a giggle from time to time. I'm sure this will never make me rich, but cross your fingers that it pays my hosting bill.

So yeah, that's why. I was laid up yesterday and whatever time I spent on the web was done administratively. I'm also going to start generating content for a few other sites, in an attempt to make actual money and have an actual audience, so this may happen again from time to time. Gird your loins and we'll get through it together.

Posted 10:55am
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July 9th, 2012

I'd ask you kindly to get off my lawn

Friday night the BDGF and I went to see Tenacious D in Detroit, and - spoiler alert - the show featured a 30 foot phallic phoenix that ejaculated all over the stage at the end of the show. True story. I'd show you a picture of it but I'm not a douche nozzle that spends the entirety of a show on his phone, taking pictures, video and textertwittering up a storm.

There's been some debate as of late as to just how much and what sort of asshole I am, and while I'd like to table that discussion here, there seems to be a resounding consensus that I am a 'mean ol' man.' I am 36 years old and mere weeks away from yelling at the neighborhood kids for no apparent reason and holding everyone in contempt for not living up to my ideals of good citizenry. There may be a nuanced discussion about my assholery, but there's little doubt that I'm a curmudgeon.

As such I won't abide someone trying to play some new-age disco music in my house. I've never heard Gotye or "Call Me Maybe" and I don't want to see this week's version of Rebecca Black on the internet to laugh at ironically. I also am indifferent to things that make children happy if they are a pain in my ass and honestly believe that everyone under 30 is the worst.

Which is why I was surprised to hear NPR's Bob Boilen attempting to defend cell phone use at concerts. I get that he's trying to make a case for appropriate and respectful cell phone use, which I appreciate, but as a mean old man, my definition is much stricter than his (despite Bob being 15+ years my senior.) As you know, I take pictures of the marquees outside of venues, which of course is innocuous. So are pictures with your friends between sets. I will magnanimously allow one (and only one) picture of the performers on stage while they are performing, as I think that serves as a nice reminder of what you saw that night. All other picture taking and ALL video taking is right out. Not only is cell phone video of a dark club crappy both auditory and visually, but you are knowingly blocking the view of the stage of the person behind you. Jerk face.

I suppose an occasional tweet is OK. Texting and facebooking are annoying and let's just say as a rule, save your cell phone use for before and after the show. It's not only polite you're doing yourself a favor. Your body will remember what it's like to enjoy your surroundings and be of the moment. The argument that your doing all of this for posterity of some sort of anticipated nostalgia is specious and stupid, because you're creating a paradigm in which you remember being on your cell phone in a crowded bar while something else cool was in the room. Whoopty shit.

So yes, Put Down The Camera And Watch The Show. Really. While you're at it either stand in the back or don't go to the bar 50 times during the show. And don't yell things from the balcony over and over again hoping the performers will hear you - they can't. Don't wear the t-shirt of the band you're going to see and if I ever see you holding up your phone and swaying it back and forth as an analog for a cigarette lighter I will kick you so hard in the junk it'll give your already born children a birth defect.

Posted 2:48pm
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July 6th, 2012

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

- Think you know exactly what's in the ACA and why you hate it? Take this quiz to make sure you know what the fuck you are talking about. Willing to admit that you don't know what's in the bill? Here it is explained at a five year old's level.

- In addition to his campaign's inability to correctly spell 'America', Camp Willard this week decided to delve into the popular internet meme of Venn Diagrams. As you might have guessed, he draws overlapping circles about as well as spells his country of origin. And what dear readers happens when you fail at an internet meme? Preparing Mitt, Venn and Now...

- We are in process of choosing between and amongst chaise lounges, hammocks and porch swings for the back yard, that is I'm assuming until this came along, which case closed amiright?

- Last night the BDGF and I had a very typical long, meandering talk about many a thing, that at one point touched on what it means to be cool. And while I can't quite articulate both sides of the discussion we were having last night, I think we can all agree that James Bond is fucking cool.

- Finally, 8 weeks from tomorrow marks the return of college football. I'll very much be taking deep breaths and trying to remain calm between now and then. If history holds, I'll likely make it somewhere in the middle of August before I become completely consumed by it and find myself all the way through the looking glass, at which point you can all bitch when I talk about why John L. Smith filing for bankruptcy is hilarious, or how Urban Meyer needs an out clause because Ohio's reputation has more stains on it than a freshman's mattress. But no matter what happens this fall, we can all agree that this is hilarious and awful, amiright?

Posted 10:59am
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July 5th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- There's a new Fleetwood Mac tribute album, which features the New Pornographers doing "Think About Me", because if you need Lindsay and Stevie analogues, you could do worse than AC Newman and Neko Case.

- The Onion's AV Club forges ahead with their covers project: please to enjoy the Polyphonic Spree covering Neil Young and Grouplove covering Andrew WK.

- Matt & Kim have a new album coming out this fall, and the lead single is already floating in the ether.

- Speaking of new music, Britt of Spoon has a new band called the Divine Fits. They sound like this.

- I can't recall ever seeing a surprise guest pop up from backstage to sing a song with the headliner and everyone going nuts, but I do know that 1995 tbaggervance would have died to see Eddie Vedder pop in on Tom Petty.

- The Westboro Baptist Church is protesting outside Death Cab concerts because Ben Gibbard supports gay marriage (not because Death Cab sounds totally gay.) My goal is to get enough traffic that they come protest outside the offices.

- POGO makes Pulp Fiction even more danceable.

- The results are in and the Indie Rock song of the summer is... The Japandroids "The House That Heaven Built." I can't say its a bad choice, but let me suggest "25 For the Rest of Our Lives" by The Henry Clay People, because that's how I want to feel in the summer.

- Finally, when I was in shitty high school garage bands, we used to hop in the car every weekend and drive 45 minutes into the city so we could visit different music stores and stare at equipment we couldn't afford. It was also an excuse to smoke as many cigarettes as possible and get Taco Bell, which wasn't available in our little podunk neck of the woods. Perhaps more than anything though, it was a chance to listen to music, and one of the biggest staples of those trips was the Singles Soundtrack. I've just been informed that was 20 years ago. Now do you see why 25 for the rest of my life is appealing?

Posted 10:14am
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July 3rd, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? TomKat Edition

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to imagine a young girl in Toledo, Ohio. She's sweet if somewhat quiet. She has posters on her wall of movie stars and dreams of one day being an actress. Lo and behold before she hits 20 she becomes famous. She has a hit TV show and acts in movies. After several years of a somewhat sliding fame, she has chance to meet one of the very movie stars who used to adorn her wall. Sure he is 17 years her senior, wildly purported to be gay and deeply involved in legal cult, but also the world's biggest movie star, so the pros and cons are a wash. They get together, procreate and live happily ever after.

Almost any way. I hate to talk tabloid gossip, but we've been following Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes from the beginning here at It was our twelfth ever post back on June 13th, 2005. If you would have told me then that she would divorce him over their child's indoctrination into Scientology and that the cult of L. Ron would be following her like the FBI on a Gambino, I would have said that's a little too on the nose. Yet here we are. The easiest way to get a handle on this sham of a marriage is to read this list of the 10 creepy things that have embodied it. I for one believe every single thing on that list, from her being cast as his wife to her five year out clause. The question now becomes when will she tell all and what direction does Tom go in? I want her on the Today show and him in bed with Travolta stat! That's my happily ever after.

- I get a little angry inside every time I see a Jesus Fish on someone's car, so it's a good thing I don't live in Florida, as I would be constantly rear ending these people.

- Children are becoming godless heathens. Hooray!

- Finally, the IRS is stepping up to investigate tax exempt groups, otherwise known as doing its job. Of course nothing in the article about church's telling their congregations who to vote for, so that's still wink wink, nudge nudge 'illegal.'

Posted 10:14am
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July 2nd, 2012

Fat Betty Draper

Ed. note: Archives are on your right...

Who doesn't love naming things? I grew up in a culture of nicknames, where you do something dumb once when you were twelve and by the time you're a senior in high school they're calling you Bisquick and no one seems to know why. It's half the fun of owning a boat or dog or even a human child - you get to pick the name. Or your wife does in the case of the last one, but that's why dads give out nicknames.

My little brother had droopy diapers as a baby. My brother (14 years his senior) used to make fun of him by calling him 'baggy staggs.' I can't imagine he as a baby felt one way or the other about it at the time, "Whoopty shit, I'm a baby, of course my diapers are ridiculous" is what I imagine him thinking. But as nicknames are wont to do, it morphed. It went from 'baggy staggs' to just 'staggs.' From 'staggs' to 'staggbert.' From 'staggbert' to just 'Bert,' and there it stood for 30+ years. I can't ever remember calling him by his given name in my life. Same thing with my old man. I was a teenager before I realized it didn't say 'Moe' on his birth certificate.

So sometimes these things stick. I don't know if it has any bearing on the quality of the nickname, it just sometimes does. I never really had a nickname that stuck, just a series of riffs on the fact that my first name begins with the letter T. T-man, T-bag, T-sac, Tyrone, T-time, tbaggervance. No one has really ever called me that by the way. A couple of different people came up with it many years ago and used it as a one off joke. I named my site after it because I thought it'd be memorable when I told people what my address was. It was probably short sighted as I knowingly left myself open to jokes about balls in my mouth, and could have gotten a backlash of people who actually call me tbaggervance. Luckily neither of these things has happened.

Anyway, sometimes a turn of phrase strikes me as funny and I'll say "That's the name of my first album," or "That was my nickname in high school," just to get a laugh. It's a thinking man's "That's what she said*." So as the BDGF and I are finally working our way through the last season of Mad Men, I've become obsessed with naming something "Fat Betty Draper." Alas this is probably a meme that came and went, and to address it now is probably cliche, but I can't think of the phrase and not smile just a little. Will it be better or worse for me personally if she gains or loses weight over the course of the season? Time will tell...

* no it's not.

Posted 4:19pm
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June 29th, 2012

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

- Last night the BDGF and I went to Howell to play trivia, and perhaps because she was in tow, it seemed twice as readnecky as it normally does. Or maybe it was because of these two exchanges:

1. After we correctly answered questions about the Chrysler Building and named the five burroughs of NYC, another player came up to me and said "You must be from New York..."

2. I buzzed in in an attempt to answer "What was the little boys "shining" in the movie "The Shining?" I said "Clairvoyance" and the host looked at me with a blank stare. I went on to say something about communicating with your mind and eventually got a "Sorry, I'm looking for two words." When nobody else buzzed in the host said "I was looking for 'mental telepathy,'" I responded "What's the definition of clairvoyant?" to which he said "I don't know."

- It's a big week for you iPhone, as yesterday Google released apps for both Chrome and Google Drive, something I've long been waiting for and use a million times a day. I've said that the only thing my phone is missing is turn by turn navigation that'll re-route me (coming this fall!) but the next iPhone will also apparently have NFC technology, which is pretty cool.

- For my BDGF, two space related infographics: All 786 known planets and the tin cans in which we throw ourselves hurdling into space. The Space Shuttle was huge!

- Yesterday's SCOTUS decision on the ACA will provide fodder for pundits and bloggers for months to come, but if you'd like the definitive breakdown of the decision, here it is explained using gifs from the The O.C.

- Finally, I whine from time to time about how I never get to see movies anymore, because I love going to the movies almost as much as anything. But this summer, well I've gotten to see A Cabin in the Woods and Prometheus with friends, The Avengers with Siddhartha and the BDGF and I even saw Moonrise Kingdom. I may convince her to go see Safety Not Guaranteed since it's playing at the Michigan Theater, so bundle all of that with Top of the Park and the Chandler drive in and we are on pace for a fabulous summer movie season. That's a happy that's not so innocuous for me.

Posted 10:59am
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June 28th, 2012

Let's go out and get sick to celebrate.

So amazingly, we have Chief Justice Roberts to thank for affirming that the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate, is constitutional. It's less of a "Fuck Yeah!" moment than a <<WHEW.>> or "oh thank god" one, but a moment to at least raise a glass and say "Cheers." I'll have to read a bunch of analysis to parse what it means that they ruled on it as a tax rather than a reading of the commerce clause and blah blah legal blah, but despite the headline on at 10:10 today that said "Mandate Struck Down" (nice work, CNN) it seems that this is a complete vindication for "Obamacare."

Now it was suggested that I "eat crow" if ACA was upheld - especially by Chief Justice Roberts, to which I said "I stand by my quote of "Fucking ball breaking conservative fucksticks."" I'm happy that ACA got upheld. Millions of people just had their lives literally saved and the idea that we take care of each other in this county is not dead. But let us be clear about just how fucksticky conservatives - and specifically Republicans - are these days.

This is the platform of the Texas GOP. If you don't want to read the whole thing - and I recommend you do - here's the five craziest things in it. And that list doesn't include this bit about the gays. So Texas wants to beat your children while NOT teaching them analytical thinking, and OKs bigotry towards homos. Unfortunately I know too many people who are on board with this, so let us plot a solution: let Texas secede from the Union. Give the rest of the country say 6 months to move there (along with the mass exodus of Houston and Dallas) and we can go our separate ways (Austin will of course remain part of the U.S. or exist as a Vatican City style autonomy within the new Texas Republic.) Honestly, with the shit the GOP is spewing these days, I don't see any other way.

- In light of today's ruling and the consternation it gave all of us, I advise you to read this story about SCOTUS and the election. Note the last sentence "If she dies and Romney wins, the Supreme Court will be the most conservative in history." and vote in November accordingly.

- On a happy, no vitriolic note, enjoy this Arrested Development fan art.

Posted 10:45am
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June 27th, 2012

I'm not even supposed to be here today

I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering why the fuck I do this. About why I built a place on the internet frontier and hung out a shingle out of some desire to share things with friends but didn't want to be one of those people who forwards emails to everyone he knows five times a day and unbeknownst to him elicits sighs, groans and eye rolls from his supposed constituents. Why did that turn into me sharing so much about my life and thoughts? Why does it have to be every goddamn day?

Whatever this started as an alternative to, and whatever it has morphed into, it has certainly become a love/hate relationship. There was certainly a sweet spot - a few years where it never felt like an obligation, there were always things to write about and I could write whatever the fuck I wanted about whomever I wanted and as far as I was concerned, there were no consequences; but none of those things are true anymore. Now people have expectations. Now people want to inform me of grammatical errors and present counter arguments to me trying to be off the cuff and pithy. None of that was ever supposed to happen.

Of course this is the internet, so I was being naive. Or at least have a low enough opinion of myself to have never contemplated anyone caring at all, much less enough to respond - either in person or online (75% of the responses are in person, for the record.) But here many of you are nonetheless. Friends, family members, strangers, and the largest group of you - people I know tangentially at this point but still bother to come here anyway. Don't get me wrong, I am flattered and sincerely hope you are entertained or informed or outraged - whichever emotive response you come here to receive. But remember, I'm not doing this for you.

I do this because I find myself endlessly amusing. I generally think I am a terrible writer, but much like the one solid swing in golf that makes an otherwise frustrating game seem worthwhile, a eloquently crass turn of phrase that rolls off the tongue and makes me smile makes me this blog's bitch. Even when I get corrected. Even through someone telling me how inappropriate something is. Especially when someone gets offended.

I've only ever had to take one paragraph on this blog in seven and a half years, and it still eats at me. Not as much as the stuff I have to sit on these days in deference to certain people in my life, but it will forever be that bloop single in the third of an otherwise perfect game. (Two sports metaphors in one post! Suck it everyone who says "you write about sports too much" when I do it twice in a month.) Maybe I should have written this anonymously. I try to keep people's names out of things, but everyone assumes everyone knows when I'm talking about them. I do feel bad for the BDGF from time to time. I think if she has one more person introduced to her and they say "So you're the BDGF?" she will kick me to the curb.

Ultimately this a dumping ground. My brain is whirling dervish and I need to get the devil out frequently. And I like the dairy aspect of it, as it's fun to go back and revisit a portion of your past, even if you cringe at the writing. So I don't mean to whine. I suppose I'm being a little Randall-esque saying "This job would be great if it wasn't for the fucking customers." Truth be told I'm embroiled in fisticuffs with a piss ant middle manager at work who wants to tell me how to do my job so he can be a good little toadie and go back to his higher ups and say "Look what I did!" How in-fucking-sufferable. Let me do my job. I know it's fun for you to interject, but I was here before you and I'll be here after you. My stars are indifferent to your astronomy. I'm Schrodinger's cat.

The blog's the same thing, which is why I'm writing this instead of 500 words about how I hate my job. I know not everyone likes a process story, but I'm a wonk. And I now feel better about the inept troglodyte trying to assert his will over mine, because while I've always known deep down that's not going to happen, writing down the words gives me the bravado and reassurance I need to get me through the day. It feeds my constant vigilance. It reminds me of my indefatigability. Ultimately that's why I'm here and will churn out this sludge as long as I have breath in my lungs. Or until I get fired for insubordination and have to take down the site while I look for a new job, because like Rick Santorum before me, I may have a bit of a google problem.

Posted 10:41am
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June 26th, 2012

Tuesdays are for politickin'.

- It's a clearinghouse of "Would you believe... ?"'s here today at This is mostly because Willard lies so much that we can't keep up. You know, how he took credit for the auto bailout after writing an op-ed that we should let Detroit go bankrupt. Or how Obama has raised your taxes and doubled the deficit and passed the Affordable Care Act knowing it was going to cripple the economy. These are are not only demonstrably false, there's zero evidence to prove his claims and ample data to refute them. Yet the hits just keep on comin'. You know I'd vote for Willard tomorrow if someone could give me an honest policy or program of his that they think we'd be better off having*. Because as far as I can tell, he's running on "I'm not Obama", "Lower taxes for everyone while cutting nothing!" and "Hey guys! Small government!" At least one of those things is actually true and/or possible.

- Want to take a guess which president since the 1950s has the slowest annualized growth of federal spending? According to the liberal rag Forbes, it's that Kenyan socialist. Here's the Heritage Foundation's rebuttal to cut ljv off at the pass, but as you would expect, it makes about as much sense as one of his comment tirades.

- Want to know how W will continue to screw this country for decades? 500 blog points if you said SCOTUS. With the hotly anticipated decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act due Thursday, Bloomberg asked 21 constitutional law scholars what they thought should happen - 19 of 21 said SCOTUS should uphold the law. Unfortunately, only 8 of the same people think that's what will happen. With special knife twisting quotes like "The precedent makes this a very easy case." Fucking ball breaking conservative fucksticks.

- Speaking of conservatives ruining this country, (non-judicial variety) could it be that there was a lot of time, energy and let's say money spent to obfuscate the health care debate, causing the majority of Americans to vehemently oppose the ACA? Maybe, or maybe I'm indignant when people really don't believe or even want what's in the ACA. Or maybe the facts say I had it right the first time.

- Oh yeah, and like Ron Paul cashing a social security check, the people that hate it the most are the one's reaping the benefits. There should be a high school class called "voting against your self interests."

- Finally, just in case you needed a laugh, this weekend there will be a "summit" on Atlas Shrugged, featuring Grover Norquist, Allen West and John Stossel. As counter programming, I'm going to start a book club with Elmo, Kenneth from 30 Rock and Katy Lee Gifford where we talk about the philosophical impact of Roald Dahl. 6 to 5 and pick 'em as to which room is more erudite.

Posted 10:46am
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June 25th, 2012

Don't say anything mean about the girls and you - keep your shirt on

Having accidentally experienced burlesque before, it was my job Saturday night to try and prepare the BDGF of what we were going to experience. Not that I am any expert mind you, but I wanted to reassure her that burlesque was a far cry from going to see strippers. That not only were these not dead eyed single mothers with terrible boob jobs and low self-esteem, but this was a whole movement that was based in female empowerment, or so I've heard argued anyway. These weren't girls hoping to make it into Playboy - in fact most of them know that's not a possibility. I was basically trying to let her know that she wasn't going to contract anything from being at the show, and that I wasn't there to ogle women - I was there for Star Wars parody.

So when we walked in the theater (which was super-tiny black box that held less than 100 people) the guy told us that there was only two rules, "Don't say anything mean about the girls - and you keep your shirt on." The latter was obviously directed at me. I assume this was a standard joke and not something he picked up on in my character, as even when pretty drunk, I'm not prone to de-shirting. The former was a vindication of what I had been trying to impart about the women who we were about to see. And I will say this - the women on stage ran the gamut of shapes and sizes, but they were all hilarious. From C-3PO to Obi-wan, from Millennium Falcon pasties to Rebel Alliance logo panties, the girls were game and went for it. I laughed out loud several times, and so did the BDGF.

A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque probably tops Thank You For Being a Friend: A Golden Girls Musical as the most bizarre thing I've ever seen in a theater, although the latter had a lot more dildos. A lot. Of course I'm totally ready to go see the Golden Girls company's production of The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode and I don't know that I need to attend Indiana Jones and the Temple of Boobs. Apparently guys in drag beats chicks with pasties in my book. Huh.

Posted 10:12am
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June 22nd, 2012

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

- The BDGF has been at the beach house all week, which means I'm sure she's been subjected to a heavy dose of Fox News in a style I'm sure she would describe as Clockwork Orange-ian. I just hope she doesn't come back believing Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, because scientifically, that's what happens.

- Moonrise Kingdom is finally playing in A2, so I will shortly get my much needed dose of Bill Murray. For those of you in rural parts of the world (and those who need as much Murray as they can get their hands on, i.e. all of you) here he is being inducted into the Minor League Hall of Fame. Adorable.

- You know how awful big government is and how new agencies and regulations just add to the bureaucracy and waste our tax dollars and live free or die and don't tread on me? Well fuck that in the ear. Republicans can go stick their dicks in the garbage disposal.

- This may come off as a little humble-bragy, but what the hell, so is the whole damn blog. Last night we went to a bar in the country to drink good beer and play trivia, as those are two of my favorite things. The trivia was amazing, as they had buzzers and everything and we won the first two games rather handily. So why, with such success and rollicking good times, am I still upset that we didn't win the third game? I am clearly an awful person incapable of happiness and will die alone and unsatisfied. At least they can't say I'm not self-aware.

- Finally, I know I started off this post bashing Fox News for their complicit role in obfuscating the truth and making this country dumber, and every time I hear world's biggest asshat Sean Hannity say "The U.S. is the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the earth." I want to punch him square in the junk and move to Toronto. However, U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!

Posted 11:06am
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June 21st, 2012

A Nude Hope

Last summer I was driving around with the BDGF when she started having one of her wanderlust episodes and demanded "Take me to do something interesting and different!" Luckily I always keep keep something in my back pocket for when this happens, because it routinely does. That night we ended up in Fashionable Ferndale to see a drag production of The Golden Girls: The Lost Episode. It started a love affair with the Ringwald Theater and Ferndale in general and is generally considered to be one of my better ideas (so much so that the BDGF usually takes credit for it, as she is wont to do.)

Late last winter when we were looking for something to occupy our time in Chicago, I came across A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque. Now while the BDGF loves Star Wars, live nude people is not her thing. Truth be told it's not mine either, but a Princess Leia strip tease? It has to be hilarious right? This has to be more about fun and frivolity than titillation. So I've mentioned it once or twice since, and she always says "Fine we'll go," to which the only appropriate response is, "It's no big deal, we don't have to." But as proof that the BDGF loves me and wants me to be happy, she got us tickets (as a Father's Day present!) for this Saturday. Because there is no try, only do or do not. And we do.

- Star Wars fan art, when stylized and minimalist, is generally awesome. Like this and this.

- Disappointed with how Sam Jackson was used in the Star Wars prequels, here's a little bit of satisfaction.

- Getting famous voice actors to do a table read of Star Wars sounds like a great idea, but even I couldn't get through this.

- I am jealous of this AT-AT loft bed, because it seems more within my budget than creating this Star Wars home theater.

- Quien es mas macho? Empire Strikes Back Telenovella, or rare unearthed Return of the Jedi footage?

- Finally, MC Escher, Legos and Star Wars. Almost as good as Star Wars, Burlesque and tbaggervance.

Posted 10:40am
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June 20th, 2012


As previously noted, all of the girls are gone from my domicile and it's a week of pure unadulterated testosterone at our house. This of course changes little in terms of routine, outside of the types of movies I can watch and the level of discourse falling drastically; as I am only talking to myself, and since I always agree with what I have to say, the evening is one big circle jerk.

Oh, and things stay clean. As Sid heads to his mother's today, I have no one to pick up after for three whole days. To be home and have everything in its right place (or as near as I can get without becoming a hermit and living alone) with no one making demands is better than any vacation I can imagine. I don't even mind going to work!

I'd love to blame my parents for passing on to me both genetically and behaviorally whatever combination of OCD and anal retentiveness that made me clean the house the minute I got home and had the place to myself for a week. I mean, I can blame them - it's their fault, the both of them. They're also to blame for making me care about other people to the extent that I choose to live with kids who make all the messes that will probably eventually give me an aneurysm and kill me, but whom I also miss terribly when they're gone for more than a couple days. So thanks?

- Here's the two funniest videos currently circulating the internet: Jimmy Kimmel's Lie Detector test and Conan sends Jack McBreyer to Weinerville.

Posted 10:41am
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June 15th, 2012

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

- Summer starts now! I know we've talked about several things being "the start of summer" around here, but this is the ultimate one: no more school. This means little to my day to day routine, outside of leaving my BDGF in bed as I go to slog away the day instead of vice versa, but she and the childrens are excited. I do look forward to the BDGF not having to go to bed early, even if that occasionally spells trouble for me the next day.

- Speaking of, both the BDGF and the girls will be gone all next week. That means I'll be looking for movie suggestions as well as someone to use my extra ticket for the Nada Surf show at the Blind Pig next Friday. Also just stop by for a drink, as I will likely be sitting outside enjoying the peace and quiet.

- Speaking of, Sunday is Father's Day and if your looking for something to get a Dad who still has children in the house, stop shopping because they all want the same thing - peace and quiet. If it's a dad without children under foot, then they just want to be called or seen, whichever is feasible.

- Speaking of, whenever I talk to the Moeman, the topic of conversation eventually turns to Michigan, and then ultimately to Michigan football. Here's a story about a classy Ohio fan who offered a $2000 bounty to end the career of high school kid who has never so much as played a down for Michigan, just merely intends to someday. Luckily, Brady and Urban can apparently be in the same room and not immediately batten down the hatches. Although the power of BBQ may have something to do with that.

- Speaking of, I know there's a big difference between BBQ and grilling, but it is summer, and I encourage all of you to do all of your cooking, nay, live as much of your existence outside as possible for the next three months. It is good for the mind, body and soul. If you are having trouble, listen to this song and by the end of it you will likely find yourself with open sky above you. Cheers.

Posted 10:19am
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June 14th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- Ted Leo loves Rush and will not apologize for it. This is why I love that man. Also, while I'm on the subject, when we saw Craig Finn a few weeks back in Chicago, he quoted Ted Leo on stage:

And when I say me
I mean my brain
And when I say give me the cure
I mean to kill the pain

And when I say kill the pain
I mean to get the devil out
And when I say devil
I mean the manifestation of doubt

It was like meeting Santa Clause and him offering me an Oberon. SANTA DRINKS OBERON!

- For documentary purposes, here's Jack White's ten weirdest merch items. He's got nothing on the Flaming Lips.

- Say what you want about The Eagles, but Joe Walsh is a bad muthafucka. Enjoy this audio interview he did with Chuck Klosterman.

- Wanna see a rock star with pendulous balls? RHCP drummer Chad Smith ended their show in Columbus last week by Singing "Hail to the Victors". I doff my cap to you sir, as I've been punched from behind and had beers thrown at me more times than I can count for far, far less in that town.

- Finally, this is a bit of a shoe horn for indie rock, but I dare you to debate the awesomeness of Neil Patrick Harris at the Tonys. Legen...

Posted 10:42am
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June 13th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- A nun talking about masturbation is something neither I nor the Catholic church apparently wants to hear, albeit for different reasons. They for some reason find it blasphemous and I just think it unsexy. Of course their 'for some reason' is the church's pro-suffering/anti-pleasure ideology, coupled with their goal of keeping women subservient. Maureen Dowd lays it all out, who is coincidentally much sexier than a 77 year old nun.

- A disgusting, frightening, shameful percentage of Americans think that God created the Earth and humans in their present forms in the last 10,000 years. Yes, almost half of the American population are dyed in the wool creationists. Worse still, only 15% believe in godless evolution. You 85% can thank the 15% - they are your doctors, engineers and scientists - you know, the ones who make it possible for the rest of you to be employed by learning and innovating, not to mention are responsible for the fact that you have indoor plumbing much less a computer in your pocket that can answer any question you can think of - just don't google carbon dating.

- I will admit that I haven't read all of "Battlefield Earth". L. Ron Hubbard wasn't a very good writer and his ideas are all recycled new age crap. I did see the movie, laying on my couch hungover one afternoon many years ago, and I can tell you it's the worst piece of shit to ever feature Forest Whitaker. So what does it say about someone who claims it is their favorite novel? What if that person read that book for the first time in their late 30s? What if that person was a member of a cult other than Scientology and running for President? And I thought I couldn't lose any more respect for Willard. I promise to sit out the vote in November if Obama starts praising Dianetics. Don't hold your breath.

- Finally, it saddens me deeply to report that my home state is trying to ram through an omnibus abortion bill, designed to severely limit women's access to health care and best practice medicine. The State Senate won't take it up for debate until September, at which point you may very well find me wearing pink and holding a sign outside of the Capitol building. Either that or figuring out the logistics of having Ann Arbor secede from the rest of this backwater.

Posted 10:47am
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June 12th, 2012

When they say tbaggervance, they mean the asshole.

It was a long weekend. It was a good weekend, filled with nuptials and food and booze, but it was long. By the time I got through my softball game last night, my brain was sort of mush. So when the large, older gentleman came up to me at the bar and started out with "I'm the guest from out of town..." I had no idea where he was going. Was this dude at my house? I didn't recognize him. "I'm the guest from out of town you called an asshole." I was processing, so I stalled for time "That sounds like something I would do." "I'm the guy who was coming the wrong way out of the parking lot who you mouthed asshole to." Now we are on the same page.

Turns out that two hours earlier I was on my way to softball and as I approached the parking lot, some idiot was sitting in the entrance lane trying to get out. As this is clearly marked (and I had a long weekend) I mouthed to myself "Asshole." I mean, I must have, because I'm told I did, but I don't remember it. Not that I'm begging off, I call someone an asshole to myself while driving literally every day. It doesn't register as significant because it is de rigueur. So when he finally explained "I'm the guy who was coming the wrong way out of the parking lot who you mouthed asshole to." I responded "Oh, then you deserved it." I thought he was playing with me, so I was playing back, and everyone got a good laugh out of it. But then it got weird. He then started to go off about how the situation didn't warrant an 'asshole' and hadn't I ever made a mistake and he's a 'guest' in our town and finally, that I better "check myself".

At this point I figured out that this 60 year old man was my friend's dad, who was in town for another wedding that weekend, and proceeded to sit five feet from me and drink for the next hour after telling me to "check myself". Good times. A bizarre end to a weekend where I spent an inordinate amount of time telling people that yes, I was ordained on the internet, for free. Yes, I am an atheist. No, they don't tell you what to say. Yes, I do live here, and all of you are killing my grass, so thanks.

Posted 10:46am
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June 7th, 2012

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment - Kat and Mysterious Al Edition.

- There's a wedding reception in my backyard this weekend. There will be entirely too many people in way too small a space and the foot traffic alone will put some serious strain on all my hard work this spring to make things green, pretty and not altogether unkempt. But that's the only downside. No hotel room to rent, no cab to call to get me home. Sure it may be Animal House when I wake up Sunday morning and my neighbors may hate me forever, but at least I can take the blame for the BDGF, who we all know would put it on me whether I deserved it or not.

- Along with the pleasures of an open bar, this weekend also marks the return of Gold level inner circle member Dr. Walker to Ann Arbor. She sent me the trailer for the new Quentin Tarantino movie last night, and I got even more excited to spend some time in her illustrious company this weekend. It also made me want to watch this, because Der Humpink is not a metaphor.

- Before there was a wedding, tradition dictated a bachelor party, which we used as an excuse to go down to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Not much can be said here about the events that transpired down in hill country, but I can tell you if you ever make it down, lie to your significant other about how much the weekend cost upon your return - which will not save you from admonishment for not picking the winner of the big race, but should save you some heartache nonetheless. Anyway, here's the bachelor in his derby hat. I wish I could tell you about the hot mess in the white dress sitting next to him, because wow.

- A full year and a half ago the BDGF and I threw Al and Kat an engagement party, which taxed my creativity to no end. This weekend asks less of my talents, but I did make this card to give to our neighbors, so that they know beforehand that their property values are about to take a massive hit:

- Finally, not only am I co-reception host by default with my beautiful BDGF, but I will also be performing the ceremony. I am now officially Ann Arbor's Atheist Officiant for hire®. Having been to dozens upon dozens of weddings and participated in a number approaching double digits, it is super hard to imagine getting through a ceremony without falling into religious tropes or making fun of them, but that is exactly my task come Saturday. I'd say place your bets on whether or not I can get through it without massively offending someone, but I don't think many people are going to take one side of that action.

Posted 11:01am
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June 6th, 2012

Wednesdays are for politickin'.

The BDGF's dad spent part of the weekend trying to convince me that I was 'conservative' because I was 'responsible'. The BDGF was irate because obviously in her father's eye, liberals can't be responsible. I just said thanks, because I rarely get called responsible, and I can pretend when he said 'conservative' he meant 'doesn't wear sweatpants in public.' This led to a discussion of which end of the political spectrum was more emotional, hysterical and took things personally. We had a calm, rational discussion about the way things get approached, but I'd like to say for the millionth time, yes, all politicians are terrible and both parties are for sale and people on both sides of the aisle need to get a grip and for once in their life govern like they have a conscience. But it should also be noted that ain't no motherfuckin' ball park neither.

Democrats like to run "Get out the vote" campaigns. They occasionally get criticized for inflating numbers, etc., but these are generally conflated and unfounded. In any case, it's the opposite of the Republican tactic - which is to disenfranchise voters that aren't in their target demographic. Hey, the right to vote is only the foundation of our Republic, but as an even casual observer will tell you, the GOP always wants to be the one to draw the line in the sand.

The only people that lie more than politicians are the media pundits who cover them, am I right?!? You can surely find half truths and obfuscations from every corner of the political world, but is it me or do the Republicans always seem to be the ones that will blatantly tell the biggest lies with a straight face while looking you in the eye? While we're at it, both sides run negative, mudslinging ads but the media goes down on Obama like a circus seal while giving Willard titty twisters and noogies? That's what we're told (especially by those on the right just trying to keep things fair and balanced) and out of fairness most of the time we have to admit that it must be true, but to cop Tarantino again, that don't make it necessarily fucking so.

Yes, everything is horrible and the Democrats are far from paragons of virtue. The whole system needs reforming from how we generate revenue to how we hold elections. But I am absolutely done with those advancing the arguments that things are equal. That it's all a bowl of Machiavellian soup feeding everyone equally. That MSNBC is as bad a Fox News, that Obama is just as bad as Romney. Fuck each and every one of you up your stupid asses. You are incapable of data assessment, analytical analysis and abstract thought. Take your persecution complex and sense of 1950s fairness and and shove them up your collective butthole. I'm done.

- This is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper. I had a lot of political discussions with my father-in-common-law over the weekend. I couldn't begin to even summarize either of our positions, but at some point I noted that I wouldn't vote for a Republican for national office any time soon because of what happened to the Supreme Court under W. I won't bore you with a diatribe about it since I know I've done it quite enough around here, but I was thinking about it as Scott Walker staved off a recall last night. Why? Here's why. See what I said about ballparks?

Posted 10:14am
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June 5th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock.

- All of us here at are of the correct position that much like climate change deniers, people who are anything other than reverent towards The Beatles are contrarian douche bags. So you may take this list of anti-Beatles songs as a 'know your enemy' type thing (even though it includes some songs by Beatles).

- More evidence that Jack White is awash in his own weirdness - he makes Beck sound weird.

- What do you get when a mass market pop culture magazine makes a list of the 30 greatest music artists right now? If you said a ridiculous chart of untalented hacks and has beens topped by Adele, you win the big prize. THe only reason I don't set that list on fire and pee on the ashes is the appearance of The Black Keys and Jack White back to back in the top ten, who were clearly only put there to placate me.

- OK, I take back everything I've ever said about Jack White being weird, because I can't unsee this Black Keys video.

- This list of metal musician's high school yearbook photos is about exactly what you'd expect, complete with a plethora of bad mustaches.

- Finally, I don't want to get your hopes up, because this is in no way as brilliant as Dangermouse's mix of Jay Z's The Black Album and The Beatles' The White Album, but here's In My G4 Over Da Sea, which combines hip-hop with Neutral Milk Hotel. I'm off to listen to "99 Problems" with "Helter Skelter" behind it.

Posted 10:48am
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June 4th, 2012

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Dawson...

Getting to stay home from school as a kid afforded one two television opportunities that weren't normally available to your standard 10 year old. The first was obviously The Price is Right, which has been a constant 11am mainstay for what I assume is eternity (may it soldier ever forward). Now TPiR is the king for its ubiquity, longevity and perfect 11am start time. It was always a bummer when you were violently ill and slept through Bob Barker and his beauties, but a low grade fever will have you just climbing out of your slumber by 10:45am, perfect timing for putting in your lunch request before they came on down.

Second only to TPiR was Family Feud. FF was even more play-alongable than TPiR, and hosted by the only guy cooler and creepier than Bob Barker, Dick Dawson. Now until the advent of the Game Show Network, I knew Dick Dawson merely as the leisure suit wearing, lady smooching host of FF. But GSN introduced my generation to Match Game Dick, who was equally cool and aloof, as well as the best player of Match Game that the world had ever seen. He could also apparently down three martinis over a lunch break, which earns him a special place in my heart.

Of course he was also on Hogan's Heroes and Laugh In and parodied himself in The Running Man, but it's Match Game and FF Dawson that most of us will remember. It's quite a legacy in itself - one that Ron Burgandy himself would tip his hat to. Rest in Peace Richard, I'm sure you are running around up there somewhere looking for some <blank>.

Posted 11:01am
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June 1st , 2012

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

- Ah Ann Arbor! Not only am I privileged enough to work at one of the best places to be employed in the country, but it is also one of the top 20 summer vacation destinations according to Frommers. All of this, by the way, exists within walking distance from my front door. OK that was snotty, but this is Ann Arbor! We're better than you!

- Let's wrap up graduation season with this speech by Neil Gaiman. I know it is in part because he's got an English accent, but everything I've ever heard Neil say sounds smart and ensconced in wisdom. As an aside, I'm finally going to try and read Sandman. Yes, finally.

- There's not much debate left to have (no matter what conservatives say) about the fact that the Earth is getting warmer, but how do go about convincing the children still crossing their arms and holding their breath over the refusal to see the truth? Turns out that all the science in the world is not going to persuade them, because they're just assholes. I'm paraphrasing, but that's basically what the article says.

- This is super dated and kitschy, but surely you can't pass up the opportunity to hear a young Bill Murray play The Human Torch? Bonus narration by Stan Lee!

- Finally, we head West tonight for weekend number one of three in the next month at the Beach House. These trips will include two Craig Finn shows, a Hold Steady Show, two Chicago street festivals and with a little luck and perhaps the implementation of a sad puppy face, a trip to 3 Floyds. Oh! And the beach and shopping and Shoreline and Damma and Dampa and an avalanche of wine. My life is so difficult sometimes...

Posted 10:51am
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May 31st , 2012

My hatred burns with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.

I liked apartment living because of the minimal upkeep. If something went wrong, there was someone to call and I could wash my hands of the situation. Don't get me wrong, I love fixing things. As the BDGF says I'm a bit of a tinkerer. As such I do tend to fix things around the house, sometimes whether they need it or not. But if those things were to go away, I'm sure I'd find something else to tinker with. Perhaps it wouldn't be something that gets torn up after I spent hours grooming and nurturing it back to health, causing an embolism in my brain.

I didn't enjoy apartment living because of the lack of ownership. You couldn't really 'fix things up' too much because there was no return on your investment. Everything had to be portable, nothing installed. You'd take the time to paint the place and then get dinged on your security deposit for using too dark a color. The place is never really yours, you're supposed to leave it as you found it.

So while I lament some of the upkeep and the constant break/fix nature of a home, I take great pride in it. I love seeing an improvement. I enjoy staring at something I've made better and getting to enjoy it. After a few years in an apartment, things just get older and there's nothing you can do about it. When you get tired of something in a house, you can change it and it's yours. When you fix something yourself, it's on your schedule in the manner you see fit, not the half ass job of some handy man employed by your landlord who does just enough to keep you from bitching.

I've been working on our backyard for the last two months in preparation for a wedding reception that is to take place there in 9 days. I've been working on the thing for two years now, but there's been a real push to make things as nice as the lot, my knowhow and my budget will allow. I have been fairly pleased and proud with how things have progressed, so I am very protective of it. I've been praying that the littlest one forgets about her slip and slide at least until the wedding is over because of what it does to the lawn. Unfortunately another critter which I have even less control over encroached on my plans.

I came home today to find a giant hole in the back corner of my yard. Apparently the gopher I have seen lurking back there decided to build a driveway on my turf. I've got news for him, he fucked with the wrong marine. I slave for two years to get things up snuff and he comes in with less than 10 days to go and shits where I eat? I'm going Keyser Soze on him. I am superfly TNT, I'm the guns of the Navarone. He better make peace with whatever god he prays to soon, because I am about to rain hellfire down upon him and his family. Then I'm bringing in Carl Spackler to have sex with his dead corpse. Vengeance will be mine.

Posted 2:19pm
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May 30th , 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Ladies and Gentlemen, presented for your viewing pleasure, the bout to end all bouts. It's NOM vs HOMO. Jesus vs GGG. Dogma vs Science, Hatred and Bigotry vs Love and Tolerance. In this corner, America's only sex advice columnist, weighing in at 170 fabulous pounds, Dan "It's on motherfucker" Savage. And in the other corner, from the National Organization for Marriage, weighing in with 8 homechooled children, Brian "Gay marriage is not a civil right" "Boom Boom" Brown. Now who wouldn't want to see the creator/spokesman for "It Gets Better" debate the Bible with the President of an organization who's sole purpose is to deny gay people their civil rights? Someone's bringing a knife to a gun fight...

- I'll go out on a limb and say that this kid didn't come to this conclusion of his own volition. We should all be afraid of the Christianists outbreeding those of us who are capable of abstract thought.

- Church going Americans are now a minority. Maybe there is a war on Christmas?

- How much do you want to bet that this guy never saw the movie Grizzly Man? To quote Vincent Vega, you play with fire you gonna get burned.

- Finally kudos to this pastor, who wrote a letter to his fellow black clergymen to support gay marriage. Money quote:

The question I believe we should pose to our congregations is, "Should all Americans have the same civil rights?" This is a radically different question than the one you raised with the ministers, "Does the church have the right to perform or not perform certain religious rites." There is difference between rights and rites. We should never misconstrue rights designed to protect diverse individuals in a pluralistic society versus religious rites designed by faith communities to communicate a theological or doctrinal perspective.

I'd like to invite that guy over to dinner, not for a debate but to merely say thanks.

Posted 1:13pm
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May 29th , 2012

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

A week or two ago I made a half-hearted argument about my righteous indignation and moral high ground in regards to Mitten's 'bullying' problem. It was a quick, off the cuff thought - I couldn't in good conscience attempt to degrade an opponent's character in a manner that I felt was in any way specious. It was a response to something I read in which a conservative pundit cheered Obama for coming out in favor of same sex marriage, because the bigots are Republican and that would galvanize and motivate them to vote for an otherwise milquetoast Romney. I know the Machiavellis, Montgomery Burns and Karl Roves of the world may salivate and creepily rub their hands together over the thought, but I perhaps naively think that most people would at least like to hold themselves to a higher standard.

Now I will freely admit to being a name caller. I do it here because I'm trying to be entertaining and I'll do it in an argument with someone if they can't be swayed with facts, because if I'm fighting a lost cause at least being quick witted and visceral can provide me with a sense of accomplishment. But the most important thing in both these instances is that nothing is at stake. I'm not lying or sensationalizing in order to dupe, nor am I even doing those things in order to sell you something. It is merely for my own edification - if someone is ever even temporarily wounded by these barbs, well then they should get thicker skin, take a joke, and know better to than to step in the ring to begin with, because we both know my proclivities.

It's both my personal moral compass and joy in telling someone to eat a bag of dicks that would make me a terrible politician. Ironically it's Bible verse in the title that I kept thinking of when I read what Mittens said yesterday, and how his willingness to slough it off is the basis of his skillset. He "need(s) to get to 50.1%" and will stand next to charlatans, liars and thieves to get there. And he thinks that's OK. How is it that I'm always the one more closely adhering to Jesus' teachings while being told I'm going to hell for not believing in him? I look forward to someday watching Willard try and pass through the eye of a needle.

- Joe Biden is a punching bag and too often rightfully so, but in honor of yesterday being Memorial Day, if you have a minute I'd recommend watching this speech he gave to families of fallen veterans over the weekend. It's moving and honest and I'll think of it next time somebody calls him an idiot.

Posted 11:11am
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May 25th , 2012

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

- The BDGF is fairly obsessed with space and even more specifically, the 1950s and 60s 'space race' and the Apollo program. So for her (and the 12 year old me) here's a rare interview with Neil Armstrong.

- It's graduation season and of the many celebrity commencement speeches out there, I highly recommend (as always) that of Eugene Mirman.

- A warning for my buddy Stov - there's something other than Arby sauce in the 5 for 5 in Michigan. I rarely eat fast food outside of Chipotle - only during road trips when eating in the car saves time, but from now on I may have to remember to bring a snack.

- Lost in this year's "'s Guide to Summer" was the Drive-in at Compuware Arena. The very first movie I can remember going to as a kid was at a drive-in, and while I do love daylight savings time, it is lamentable in its role in killing the ability to watch movies from the backseat of your car. Lucky for us, there's a great drive-in a mere 15 minutes from Ann Arbor, and I highly recommend it. I mean, sneaking booze into the movies was never so easy!

- Finally, in college my roommate was obsessed with the birthday paradox, which states that if you put 20 people in a room, there's something like a 50/50 chance that two of them will have the same birthday. Anytime he was in a room with 20 people, he'd get all of their birthdays to find out who matched. Unsurprisingly, he was a virgin the first half of his matriculation. I thought of him when I saw this chart, which will verify your suspicion that most people are born because their parents got drunk at a holiday party. Sorry if I made you think about your parents doing it. Here's a drawing of me with a beard as an apology:

Posted 11:30am
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May 24th , 2012

Competitive Edge.

I have an inherent need to be right. This often manifests itself as me being a dick, especially since if I can be right and someone else can be wrong, well then all the better. There's a tendency to poke and prod where it isn't warranted and to not let trivial things go. I am acutely aware of this. Sometimes I come off as a big sweetie who calls out complete bullshit or hypocrisy and is a paragon of virtue, but mostly people would call it a character flaw.

When I was in second grade, I was doing some cut and paste art project where our teacher specifically told us not to perform the task a certain way. I considered what she said, and decided that she was wrong, and that her verboten measures were actually a time saver. In the middle of doing what I was specifically told not to, said teacher leaned over my shoulder and asked me "Do you lie awake at night thinking of ways to frustrate me?" I was eight, so I can't say if I did or not, but I vividly remember my project being as good as anyone else's, thus I was right, and she was wrong.

In fifth grade, I was in a gifted and talented group that got together once or twice a week to practice "outside the box" thinking. We were once tasked with figuring out a way to cut a certain number of donuts into a certain number of pieces in so many cuts, and we were assured that there was only one way to do it. When I asked "What if we figure out an alternate way?" the instructor promised us donuts every class for the rest of the year. As you can guess, when I proved her wrong, I never saw another donut from that bitch again.

It's been pointed out to me time and time again that this specific character flaw makes me an asshole to play games with. The irony of the assertion is that when I play games, I insist on playing by the rules. That and paying attention are paramount to me, such that when people can't meet my expectations, I'm sure I am a total dick. I will take a second to note that I am not a sore loser nor rarely not gracious. I can be a dick to my buddies or my son, but we have that dynamic in play. Trash talking amongst dudes just happens - it's testosterone and millions of years of evolution. But I can usually tone that down when in mixed company or say, around in-laws.

I am also not a cheater. To cheat belies the point of the game. I love to win, so I find my competitive advantage in knowing the rules of the game and exploiting them. It's using the backward four card in Sorry right after you get out of home to skip going around the board. It's leading your one off suit in euchre so that your partner can lead it back and you can trump it. Did you know that there are a finite number of houses in Monopoly? It's why you never buy hotels - when the houses are gone, no one else can develop (it also helps to know that the red and orange properties around Free Parking are the statistically most landed on).

Unfortunately, pointing out these rules (in an often militant fashion) also makes you a dick. Siddhartha and I did it in a euchre tournament a few year back and compared us to the Cobra Kai. They missed the fact that I didn't call a renege in the championship match so the parents of the person running the tournament could win, but I'm over it*. So I can't win. Well that's not fair. I win a lot, and sometimes even magnanimously, but as far as I've come in being a congenial game player, anyone who plays a game with me and has to learn the rules as we go is going to end up thinking me a dick.

And that's OK. Usually I can let it go and when my head hits the pillow as I drift off to sleep I know that I'm right in my resolve and the collective 'they' have hippy parents who taught them that you play for fun and everybody deserves a treat after the game is over. These are the people that adore completely subjective games like Apples to Apples that are worse than an ice breaking exercise at summer camp. But I digress. For those of you who love an honest competition where people pay attention and know the rules and move things at a brisk pace, I promise to give you my best effort, shake your hand if you beat me and never whine at a stroke of bad luck. Everyone else, I'm working on it, but maybe feel free to exclude me from your reindeer games. I promise not to be offended, although I may stand in the corner and roll my eyes at the proceedings. Because at the end of the day, I'm right. I may be no fun and a dick in your estimation, but I'm not wrong, and that's more important than anything to me.

*I'm not.

Posted 9:56am
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May 23rd , 2012

This Week in Indie Rock - They're Baaaaaack Edition.

- JB and Rage Cage are back in an attempt to redeem themselves post Pick of Destiny. The original Tenacious D HBO shorts and the subsequent debut album that was based in large part on it stands behind only Spinal Tap in the pantheon of great rock comedy/parody acts. Is that sustainable? Judge for yourself: here they are on Letterman and with an appropriately inappropriate video.

- Cincinnati's own Afghan Whigs are back after a 13 year hiatus, which in mind ended shortly after they played the house band singing Barry White songs in the movie Beautiful Girls. Anyway, a baker's dozen years later they are back to do the reunion thing, which given that Greg Dulli has one of rock 'n' roll's greatest set of pipes, that's a welcome thing. Here they are on Fallon.

- Ben Folds Five is back after a similar absence to take the money of people in their late 30s who crave 90's nostalgia. Here's Ben talking about the project - you had me at "BFF Reunion" Ben.

- Wonder where Spoon has been? Well I don't have a concrete answer, other than to tell you there's a new Britt Daniel side project that will attempt to fill the void in your heart.

- The Walkmen never really went away, but I'd be remiss if I didn't let you know that you can stream their new album over at NPR. It's typically pretty great.

- The Beatles of course live forever in our hearts and in the constant laughter of children everywhere, but for those rich, eccentric collectors out there, here's an alternate Abbey Road cover that, warning, contains Paul wearing flip=flops, which you can't unsee.

- Finally, you may have heard that Jack White dissed the good folks over at Guinness, to which they responded in kind, prompting Jack to do an obviously ridiculous Jack White-ian thing. I'm exhausted, but it sounds like it's over, meaning we'll never know if this was just Jack being a huckster looking for free publicity or if he really perceived some imagined slight. As a fan, I know that I don't want the answer. Instead let's concentrate on the Flaming Lips actual attempt at a Guinness World Record in which they play 8 concerts in 8 cities in a single day. I'll take Wayne's weirdness any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Amen.

Posted 11:29am
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May 22nd , 2012

On Intelligence...

Ed. note: My biggest fear as a blogger is that I keep repeating myself. Not that I don't have anything else to say - that's a different fear that I'm ironically less worried about. However, doing this every day for seven plus years means that from time to time in a pinch, I will tend to write about the same things over and over again. While my mind is a veritable steel trap, I can't remember every turn of phrase I've imparted here. So there may be several posts that are nearly identical iterations on things I care about, and his may be one of those. So it goes...

Any definition of intelligence is specious to say the least. Take the way we throw the word genius around. We use it talk about people who are great analytic scientific thinkers like an Einstein as easily as we do great artists like Paul McCartney or Vincent Van Gogh. And that's just the apt examples. I'll bandy about genius to describe a Jeff Tweedy chord change, so I'm no better than anyone else (although while I would attempt to make a cogent argument about some of the ideas on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, I still might be overstepping my bounds.)

However lightly I think any semantic definition of genius has come to be inferred in the public lexicon, I think it is both over and under used. And that goes back to our definition. Any psychologist with an average IQ test will attempt to measure spacial reasoning and problem solving and number sense. Those are the most easily quantifiable aspects of intelligence. I don't know what Miles Davis' or Jackson Pollack's IQ was, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were geniuses. For that matter, an eight year old who can tell you what geologic period Australopithecus was from may not be an according to hoyle genius even by popular definition, but that kid has a certain level of innate intelligence. These are undervalued. When we look at even Tom Brady's performance in a Super Bowl (praised be his name) or the way DeNiro mugs for the camera in Goodfellas, genius may be a strong word.

Ultimately 'genius' is over used. But equating certain abilities and values with 'intelligence' is underestimated. Memory is a troublesome factor in itself. Cultural factors are so inherent that many people eschew it as a component in itself. Am I smart because I can tell you the cinematographer on the Godfather? Maybe maybe not, but if I can describe to you the differences of a movie shot by Gordon Willis compared to every other movie Copolla made without him, doesn't that say something about my observational skills? And isn't comparing and contrasting a vital component help define how 'smart' we deem someone? What about Tom Brady's ability to read a defense and call an audible at the line of scrimmage and then read three receiver routes in 4 seconds and THEN tell his brain to make a perfect strike for a first down? That's objectively smart.

Intelligence in art is even trickier. Yes, art is subjective, but it is not unquantifiable. Yet there's a method to it on some level. There's a reason that everyone studies Shakespeare and only assholes don't see merit in the Beatles. I realize that free market forces force rich douche bags and corporations to pay tens of millions for a Van Gogh that was worth mere sheckles in his lifetime, but would anyone argue there's not beauty in "Starry Night"? As an aside, that's why I'm so interested in the objectification of art. My BDGF may like to say Neil Young sucks, but it's not true. Lots of people may hate Neil Young, but he's objectively great. I mean, I never want to hear the Grateful Dead again, but I get why people like them - even beyond the cultural drug experience of going to see them.

At the end of the day (again to take a queue from my BDGF) I think we all have our own (semi) valid definition of intelligence, based in unequal parts of what we value and what we are good at. Personally, I'm not a 'genius' at anything. I have a very high IQ, but I'm also artistic on several levels and have a memory like an elephant. That's self aggrandizing, but what I mean to say is I don't hang my hat on any one of those things, I believe them all important. I bow at the alter of famous musicians who can sing and play an instrument in ways I cannot fathom. I worship painters whose hands can portray things in ways my brain would never consider. I humbly doff my cap to my son (and my BDGF) who can run circles around me mathematically. And I similarly look down upon so-called geniuses who can't change a tire on car or read a map or (god forbid) name all of the members of the Beatles.

I imagine it's about proclivities. Charlie Parker could care less about how to find the area underneath a curve and I imagine Stephen Hawking doesn't feel like less of a human being because he didn't write Slaughterhouse Five. I sleep at night not because I don't wish I haven't done any of those things - I actively lose sleep because I haven't. But I find solace in knowing that I have a hand in all of those areas of what I consider to components of intelligence. The breadth of my knowledge and skill set and abilities and proclivities is where I hang my hat. And in my arrogance, I take all comers when it comes to that. Hopefully you rage against the dying of the light at whatever you love or aspire to, because otherwise we're all failing in our collective duties.

Posted 2:06pm
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May 21st , 2012's 2012 Guide to Summer

A few years ago we started to aggregate a list of all the free (or almost so) festivals and events within a driving distance of our home base here in Ann Arbor. Well austerity being what it is, 'Free' ain't what it used to be, but it's still out there, and there's always plenty of 'suggested donation' good times and who's going to complain about a mere $10 for a lawn seat to one of the great rockers of the 1980s? That's right nobody. With that in mind, here's your 2012 Guide to Summer:

Edward G. Money
May 25
Summer begins in earnest with the man who brought you such gems as "Take Me Home Tonight" "Shakin'" Two Tickets to Paradise" "Baby Hold on to Me" "Everybody Rock and Roll the Place" and many, many more (OK not that many).

Do-Division Street Fest
June 1-3
One of many Chicago neighborhood festivals, a five buck donation gets you a solo Craig Finn of the Hold Steady, so we'll be there.

Sonic Lunch
June 7 - Aug 30
A2's FREE downtown lunchtime concert series. I've actually never made it down to this, but every year there's a few bands I mean to check out, so it's worth perusing.

A2 Restaurant Week
June 10-15
This seems weirdly timed, but the BDGF points out that the last week of school means parents don't want to cook, which I get. Cross your fingers, one of these times we will actually get a a reservation at Logan.

Top of the Park
June 15 - July 8
The A2 staple. A $3 lightly suggested donation means you can bring in your own cooler that no one will ever question the contents of. I do love this town.

Taste of Randolph Street
June 15-17
Another Chicago neighborhood fest combing food, music and shopping. The artist lineup isn't completely announced, but look for Chicago fave Ezra Furman to be there.

Green Music Fest
June 23-24
Another Chicago neighborhood fest? Yes. But hey, Ravonettes, Dinosaur Jr., $5 donation? You could do worse...

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

Common Ground Fest
July 9-15
Like aging artists that were popular 20 years ago in genres that only exist in parody anymore? Common Ground is for you. And Lansing, because of course it's in Lansing.

Elvis Fest
July 13-14
One day I will be forced to go this just so I can say I went. But I will kick that ball down the road as long as possible...

July 13-15
...especially when it coincides with Chicago's best bargain basement indie rock festival. Check Saturday's lineup out - we'll be there.

Art Fair
July 18-21
Where the temps will soar into the high 90's and at least one storm will rip through Ann Arbor causing mass hysteria. Also a good week to leave town.

Beer Fest
July 27-28
The best thing to ever happen to Ypsilanti and my favorite non-Michigan football Saturday of the year.

Aug 3-5
Not a great lineup this year, plus I am clearly going to be in Chicago a lot already seeing cheaper, less crowded acts.

Dream Cruise
Aug 18

Arts, Beats & Eats
Labor Day Weekend
Nobody knows what this lineup will entail, but don't forget to check back in August - last year they had George Clinton!

Posted 10:37am
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May 17th , 2012

Thursdays are for politickin' - Profiles in Courage Edition

- I don't know what makes Minnesota so perfectly liberal, but it tends to be a bastion of the progressive movement - the one guaranteed blue state not touching a coast nor containing Chicago. As such we salute Gov. Mark Dayton, he of the land of 10,000 lakes, for vetoing back to back "abortion" bills. That's the definition of backbone.

- The U.S. tax code is in-fucking-sane. It has been corrupted to tilt the wealth of this country into the pockets of those that already have it, and those people still spend the majority of their time shouting at the rain about the 'death tax' and paying a lower marginal rate than they have in 80 years. All this and almost all of the Republicans in Congress have sided with one of the world's truly great idiots - Grover Norquist - to pledge that any tax increases must be revenue neutral. Yes, even though it belies an eighth grader's understanding of economics. Almost all Republicans except Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). Read his answer to the second question, he gets it.

- You may have heard that the Commonwealth of Virginia threw out the appointment of a very qualified judge because he is a gay. But you may not have heard they did it after being admonished by their conservative governor for using something other than merit to appoint any nominee. You know, like logic would dictate.

- Obama's failed energy policy has us on track to potentially be energy independent by 2020. For those who don't want to read the article - spoiler alert - it doesn't mention bombing Iran back to the stone age and picking fights with Russia, which as I understand it are the cornerstones of the Mittens Romney camp's foreign policy.

- I've always been enamored with David Letterman. As a kid, staying up to see him was about the most magical thing available to me during the mid to late 1980s. And I don't know if this is actual courage, but for a guy I admire, who's not known for being overly political, I love to hear him say "What more do we want this man to do for us, honest to god?" when talking about the president.

- Finally, the BDGF and I were talking last night about Mittens' days as a high school bully and how relevant it was to his modern day character and on what level should his opposition weave it into the narrative of who he is. The BDGF thinks it's not only completely fair but compelling to a large portion of the electorate who are parents and see bullying as a problem. I stupidly take the moral high ground, arguing that I'd rather be right and lose than wrong and win (I'd be a terrible politician). I not only don't think it's overly relevant, but smells of swiftboating to me. At the end of the day, I don't want to be like this person, who essentially is saying "Thanks for calling Obama the gay president, because a lot of my base are homophobes!" What a terrible, bigoted, who-do-you-sleep-at-night thing to say. Again, I'd be the worst politician ever because I would actively tell those people not to vote for me.

Posted 10:49am
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May 16th , 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? Porno Edition

Americans love their porno. They like super softcore love scenes that you can show on basic cable after 10pm, and they like at least a little bit of raunch too - the kind you search the internet for and immediately gets escalated beyond belief, to the point where you find yourself wondering "Who gets turned on by this shit?" But I assure you people do. Most of us may not stray into the avenues of true hard core, but everybody wants to see naked people, and from time to time we want them to touch each other.

Which is why I wonder why politicians like Mittens Romney and religion in general bother going after porn. Now were they to strictly concentrate on combating the exploitive parts of the industry, or to keep 10 year olds from seeing someone pee on someone else, well that's all well and good. But to posture like it shouldn't even exist? Well that's blaspheming my religion. Porn can be a healthy thing. Porn can be shared. Porn is love.

However, not according to the trailer for Harmless. Harmless, according to its producers is "the story about a husband and father and his battle with a box of porn that is found in the closet." Not just any story though, a horror story. Yes, add to the long lineage of Jason, Freddy, Chucky, Pinhead and the Tall Man, a box of porn. Now I've started to watch porn thinking it was one thing and it horrifyingly turned out to be another, but I don't think that's the conceit of this film. I do think it has the potential to be the funniest movie of all time, but like most potentially interesting things about religion, it will probably be profoundly boring.

- Libraries are banning the adult erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" for being, well, erotic. I don't get word porn, but I imagine "Fifty Shades of Grey" to be some young guy touching an older lady for five minutes and then spending the rest of the day fixing things around the house.

- Priests embroiled in sex scandals are nothing new, but I enjoyed two things about this article: 1. The opening sentence "The Legion of Christ religious order, still reeling from revelations that its late founder was a pedophile," and 2. The subject of the article's job title is "American moral theologian". You'd think that if you're founder was a known pedophile, you'd disband and all get back together the following day and rename your group. And a "moral theologian" that fathers children out of wed lock? Now I obviously don't have a problem with that construct, but I don't run around telling people not to over imbibe either.

- Finally, an Arizona religious school forfeited the state championships because their opponent had a chick playing second base. I'm not sure what they were worried about, that every guy would get thrown out going to second as they stopped to stare at her freshman boobs? I've played softball for 15 years and I've never had to touch another dude during the process. My best guess is that being a Catholic school, they didn't want to take a chance at losing to a girl and thus tacitly admitting that women are equal to men in any way.

Posted 11:09am
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May 15th , 2012

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

- In a down economy with austerity measures crippling local governments, the free summer festival has kind of gone the way of the dodo. But not in our little utopian hippie hamlet, where we still argue about how many millions to spend on public art funding. That means the Ann Arbor Summer Festival is alive and kicking, and Top of the Park is in full effect. My personal austerity measures of course mean that I will still be sneaking in my own booze.

- I've been a stick driver since I purchased my first car in 1993 (a 1979 Toyota Celica for the price of $500). When I leased my last car, I was puzzled to see that the MPG listed for the manual transmission was less than the automatic. Turns out that the computers have bested the humans yet again. Now of course I'm so adroit behind the wheel that I just know I can still best the automatic's numbers, plus the stick is just more fun to drive and for that reason alone I never want to give it up. Of course electric cars don't have transmissions, so my days are numbered no matter what.

- Congratulations goes out to Connecticut, who joins 48 other states in the 19th century by allowing alcohol sales on Sunday. Unfortunately for yours truly, the last hold out is Indiana, home of the in-laws Beach House, which means that I will still have plan ahead on Saturday evenings. That or drive the 10 minutes back to Michigan if we run out on Sundays, which <<shudder>>. In related news, Michigan Stadium is trying to get a temporary liquor license for the New Years Day Red Wings game next year. I will use this fact to justify sneaking in booze to every home game next year. Just go with it.

- Which of these idiots said the dumber, more hateful thing? 1. Bill Donohue, president of "The Catholic League" who wants the law to discriminate against the gays OR 2. Bristol Palin, who challengesBarack Obama's leadership as a father. Congrats Catholics, you are the intellectual equivalent of a girl who gets knocked up in high school and thinks the leader of the free world is a bad parental example.

- Finally, it's well documented how I disdain interactions with other human beings. I've made my kid call and order the pizza since he was 6 or 7, because I don't want to talk to those people. I adore the self checkout line at the grocery, unless I'm buying alcohol, which means they have to come check my ID and the interaction becomes 1,000x worse. The more automated the world becomes, the happier I am. My biggest pet peeve is talking on the phone. Haven't we gotten past this as necessity by now? Talking on the phone is the worst and oh how I wish I never had to do it again. Good news for me: we're getting there. One more bit of evidence that society is slowly conforming to my idea of a utopian society...

Posted 11:40am
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May 14th , 2012

Happy (Belated) Mother's Day!

We don't post on the weekends 'round these parts, so we missed yesterday's annual guilt trip centered around mother appreciation. Don't get us wrong, when we say guilt trip we are totally on board - every one of us needs a little kick in the ass now and again when it comes to thanking and appreciating our moms. My mom has been gone a long time now, and not a day goes by where I don't stop and actively reflect on something she instilled in me or explicitly warned me about or even just outright did for me. That's how good moms are.

So thanks to my baby mama who's co-parented with me for almost seventeen years without ever so much as talking to lawyer - I can't stress enough as I get older how amazing and rare a feet that's been. Our kid is about to be accepted into some of the world's great institutions of higher learning, so we did something right. And thanks to my BDGF, who not only counsels and consoles my kid, but managed her children so well, that after two and a half years, neither one has ever yelled "You're not my father!" at me, nor so much as given me a cold shoulder.

Not only are all of these lovely children level headed, well adjusted (mostly) burgeoning adults, but they are also quite fetching. Observe:

Happy Mother's Day to each and every mom out there.

Posted 10:06am
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May 11th , 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- Chuck Klosterman manages to pull off the rock journalist's equivalent of war time reporting: hitting a Creed and Nickleback show in the same night. The horror...

- Jack White is everywhere these days: The Colbert Report, Jools Holland (with Alabama Shakes!) and giving the AV Club interviews where he reminds his fans: I'm not like you. Which, unless you're vampire guitar genius, is probably accurate.

- Norah Jones has a new Dangermouse produced album, which she rocked on Letterman this week.

- The newly reformed Ben Folds Five has new music that will rock your face.

- There's a lot of retro genres gaining steam right now (see the aforementioned Alabama Shakes) and Nick Waterhouse is among my favorites.

- Stream the new Tenacious D, all over your face.

- Finally, Nada Surf covers New Order. Cheers.

Posted 10:26am
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May 10th , 2012

Contented Bliss

Last weekend I sat on the infield of Churchill Downs as a storm came down to bear on Louisville, Kentucky. Armed security guards started to make the rounds to evacuate everyone out of concerns for our safety. My friend Troy urged us to pack up and get out before some weather tragedy befell us all. I just looked at him and said "Eh, I've lived a good life."

Yesterday the President of the United States took a stand that embodied a several hundred year old trope - the idea that all men are created equal. He did so a day after one of those United States passed a law that ostensibly said "We really don't like gay people" and a mere three days after one of his subordinates said "What's the big deal?" Most importantly, he did so hours after I defended his prudence on the matter, noting that it was probably the best course of action. I've never been so happy to be so wrong.

Not that I am wrong necessarily. Time will tell and since we can't put the genie back in the bottle, we'll never really know. But none of that is neither here nor there right now because I'm so happy. Gay conservative blogopundit Andrew Sullivan, who earlier yesterday said that it didn't matter what the President did on the matter, admitted after the fact that "There's something about hearing the President affirm your humanity." I can't imagine how amazing that must feel but I get indefatigable about this issue because I believe everyone deserves that. I believe that we are equal and endowed with unalienable rights. I love this country and get emotional when the people that lead us stand up for the best of our ideals, rather than hide behind the worst of our fears.

But I digress. I wasn't going to do that, because that made me happy yesterday, but that wasn't all. In part to celebrate Siddhartha finishing his Advanced Placement exams for the year, I got to go to a comic book movie I've been waiting 30 years to see with both of my teenagers. I told Troy last Friday that I'd lived a good life to get a laugh as god knows what was about to come down on us, but man oh man if I wasn't 100% right. So right that shortly after I said it we went and sought shelter, because when it's this good, you just want more.

Posted 10:36am
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May 9th , 2012

Wednesdays are for politickin' - Eat a bag of dicks, North Carolina... Edition

Congratulations go out to the Tar Heel State, which is apparently gunning to be thrown in with the likes of Florida and Mississippi when it comes to ignorant, backwards bullshit. Yesterday the voters in the state decided to make gay marriage doubly illegal. What's the point? Apparently, North Carolinians are upset that gay partners can visit each other in times of medical emergency, or get domestic partner benefits from their employers. Of course, this was the last time NC amended their constitution in regards to marriage. You stay classy North Carolina. I'm sure history will smile on your stupid redneck faces.

- Let us no pivot to Willard Romney, who is inarguably anti-gay. Take these ads he helped pay for in California. Take his foreign policy spokesman - or don't, because he was forced out for being gay. He may have been a moderate on the issue when he was trying to get elected in Massachusetts, but he's clearly ready to acquiesce to homophobes in his party and his religion when we get down to brass tacks.

- As for Mr. Obama, many are decrying his 'evolving' stance on the issue and encouraging him to champion the cause. I for one think he's played this perfectly. Repealing DADT and deciding not to defend DOMA were honorable stances. I think for him to come out for gay marriage now, with the climate he's in and his opponents dead set on defeating whatever he's for, would do more harm to the movement than good. So I'm as inpatient as the next guy, but it's sort of a case of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

- For good measure, he's a piece by Bruce Fucking Bartlett that explains economics 101 to the current crop of stupid Paul Ryan led economic ideas. Enjoy your ideology, assholes.

- Before we go, please to enjoy this informative article about Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital, which is at least twice as horrible as you've likely already imagined. Thankfully, his electoral map isn't something to be optimistic about.

Posted 10:58am
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May 8th , 2012

The Happiness Trope: Recap and Wrap up

It's time to put a bow on this little feature, as I think by this point we've had our way with it and there's little left to explore. To recap, over the past two months we've looked at the following cultural pathways to happiness:

1. One thing
2. Work
3. Possibilities
4. God
5. The best of all possible worlds
6. "All You Need is Love"

I honestly believe that all of these have merit for particular people, and find all wanting when it comes to being an ultimate solution. For me personally, I immediately throw out God (for obv. reasons) and work (for reasons I discussed at the time). Now clearly that doesn't mean that God or Work are incapable of making you happy, but these things vary person to person. And that's kind of the point - no self-help, happiness trope is going to work for everyone, nor will a single idea make you happy all the time. We take a little from column A, some from column B in hopes of finding ourselves more happy than not.

I have several "one things" in my life. I can always crack an Oberon and put on "Rosalita" by Bruce Springsteen and be happy, because I love music and a cocktail. And I believe in the power of possibilities, because imagining where I'll be at in 5 years and working to make that happen makes me smile. I think optimism can be uplifting and that love is a powerful emotion and can make you transcendent. It all works. But there's one more thing.

I think that all of the above things are great and most of them necessary in part for a person to be happy, but I also think you need a partner that embodies these things as well. Going through life is an absolute slog by yourself. I think being a teenager sucks so much because you go through a period of feeling like you are utterly alone and that no one could possibly relate to what you are going through. When you realize that life is a shared experience, things get a little easier. I've been lucky in that having a kid at 19, I've always had someone by my side to look to and say "We're in this together, right?" It became more comforting when he could understand what I meant and actually respond, but it was really there even without that. And of course eventually I met the BDGF.

If we're talking about single entities, nothing has made me happier or changed my outlook more than her. She's many one things to me, whether we are going to a show or sitting outside and talking until way too late. She's opened up possibilities, from where we're going on vacation to where we'll live when we get old. Having her around assures me that everything is going to be all right, and well, the love part goes without saying.

It's perhaps a little sappy, but I am a lot sappy guy from time to time. Bottom line, I nor anyone else can tell you how to be happy. Anyone who says they can is trying to fleece you of something. I would suggest finding a hobby, keeping your options open, being a little optimistic and willing to love. Keep those things in your brain and find someone who agrees with you about them. And of course don't be an asshole, I can't stress that enough.

Posted 11:23am
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May 7th , 2012

I'll have another

After returning home having spent four days on a bachelor party excursion that amounted to the longest period the BDGF and I had been apart in over two years, thirty seconds of "I miss you" pleasantries quickly became "How did you not bet on a horse named I'll have another?" This quickly became "You spent how much?" but we all saw that part coming.

It does strike me as ironic in hindsight that during my first trip to the Kentucky Derby the winning horse's name was a reference to drinking and I wouldn't have a single bet on it. The short version as to why not is that after reading and hearing hundreds of predictions over two days of derby prep, I thought I was going to bet the big race smartly. Every other race over the course of two days I based my prediction on a number or a name or a feeling, but the one where it counted and I could have made out, I tried to go with cold hard science, or whatever the horse racing world's version of that term is. As much as we love it, we must remember that science is not infallible.

Striking out on a big, fat, slow eephus pitch taylor made to my swing aside, the Kentucky Derby as a bucket list event pretty much lives up to the hype. Lots of fancy people in suits and floppy hats, lots of hillbillies missing both the sleeves on their t-shirts and teeth in their mouth. As far spectacle and pomp and circumstance go, it has them in spades. It has plenty county fair-esque tropes and charms as well, so for every fancy lady on the arm of a guy in a seer sucker, there's a reminder that you are still in Kentucky.

Of course it being the one weekend a year for local businesses to take advantage of people who aren't forced to live in Kentucky, they all take the opportunity to jack their prices up 300%. So it's not cheap. As such I don't know that I need to go back, except perhaps to see it from the grandstands on the other side where the truly posh watch from. But I'm guessing I'd miss both the toothless hillbillies and the mere $11 mint juleps. Probably.

Posted 10:33am
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May 3th , 2012

Happy Star Wars Day!

OK so I'm a day early. But since I will be somewhere drinking copious amounts of alcohol and spending the children's college fund on getting long shots to place, I have to say "May the fourth be with you" on May 3rd. But the fourth will be with you. Always.

- It's been 13 years since The Phantom Menace came out, and nerds everywhere are still obsessed with fixing it. For my money, this guy ends the debate. I want to see that movie, because in hind sight it's both exactly what I wanted and everything the actual Phantom Menace is not.

- I can't decide if I'm more upset that these people thought of this and I didn't, or that they did such a poor job with the Millennium Falcon. That took you three months? I could have knocked something that wopperjod on a Saturday afternoon.

- Again, this is better executed and something I'd like to replicate, as Star Wars and vinyl are two of my favorite things.

- Darth Vader as a model of fatherhood.

- Finally, rare "behind the scenes" Star Wars photos are like Tupac albums - it's hard to believe how many new ones still exist. And while it's fun to see Carrie Fisher make out with every creature in the Star Wars universe, all of the photos pale in comparison to Freddy Mercury on Darth Vader's shoulders. Yes, it exists:

George was never my scene and I don't like Star Wars? Please.

Posted 10:42am
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May 2nd , 2012

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

- I've been slow to warm to web-based serial content. I'll watch anything for 5-10 minutes, but somehow something that requires say 5-10 minutes every Monday seems beyond the pale to me. I can get hypnotized by 2 minutes of Kate Upton dancing, sure, but I have yet to tune in on a weekly basis to any web-based show. That changes with this new interview show starring Paul F. Tompkins. You have fooled me twice sir.

- For my BDGF, who dreams with the voracity of a 10 year old in the 1960s of going into space: Space X is commercially launching rockets to service the ISS, and Reaction Engines are working on ingesting oxygen instead of bringing it with, which could quickly mean cheap(er) commercial space flight. I promise to do everything in my power to at least get that girl into low Earth orbit before all's said and done.

- Dan Savage recently pointed out the inherent hypocrisy in people using the Bible to gay bash and the right prototypically lost their shit. What's ironic of course is that the only majority that really has to be worried about being 'bashed' or 'declared war on' is women, and that's because the power structure lies in the church and old white men worried about the status quo - both of whom are scared to death of vaginas.

- The Promise Ring has announced a tiny tour this summer, spending one weekend a month going to the East or West coasts. I wonder what kind of guarantee I'd have to provide to get them to come to Michigan? Or I can sit back and wait for more dates...

- Finally, this weekend I'm off to the Bluegrass State to take in the fastest two minutes in sports as part of a friend's bachelor party. I've never been, but if you Google image search "Kentucky Derby Infield", well let's just say here's hoping we make it back intact. Cheers.

Posted 11:01am
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May 1st , 2012

The Happiness Trope: Part Six.

Ed.Note: Our look into the advice we encounter that is designed to distill happiness into an easily digestible phrase or idea continues unabated. Of course seeing ourselves as final arbiter on all matters of public import, you should pay attention. I really shoehorned this, so apologies for poor through lines, limp turn of phrase and general poor writing. We need to wrap this series up, as I clearly have run out of steam.

The idea that love is the be all, end all of human emotion and existence is everywhere. Pop culture is littered with the idea that love is not only the goal of why we are here, but a trump card that wins wars, ends poverty and lifts us up beyond this mortal coil towards transcendence. Jesus talked about it. Buddha too, in a sense. In some ways, it encapsulates a lot of our series up to this point. Like Jackie Wilson sang, love is lifting me higher and higher. I'm certainly susceptible to its wares. I've always told Siddhartha that what John and Paul said were true - "All You Need is Love." Because it feels right and we all want it inherently to be true. The question, of course, is it?

In a certain sense, yes. Much like our initial ideal of "One Thing", if you have love in your life, you're probably ok - at least when that's manifesting itself. When your love is around and prescient, there's a spring in your step. Probably even better than that. If you're a delusional evangelical (which yes, is redundant) then you feel like it permeates your day to day existence. But when your love is a tangible thing or idea, it's transient. It comes and it goes. Anyone who who has ever copped to loving anything will tell you, when your love is inaccessible, it's the worst pain imaginable. The sense of being let down or made unwhole is a palpable sense of loss that for my money, is worse than a three curl hop kick to the jimmy.

And the idea of love being the strongest of all emotions? Littered with holes. The dark side of the force still took Qui Gon's life and Luke's hand. I can't even bear to mention the copious amounts of lives lost on this planet to hate and fear. Perhaps ultimately extinguished by forces for good on the side of love, but at what cost? From heartbreak to genocide, love has a lot of ugly losses on its record.

All you need is love? I hate to contradict even Ringo, but that better not be the only club in your bag. All feelings and emotions are important and can provide comfort and happiness in moderation. They can be just as fulfilling and make you as happy as love does. These are perhaps more in the moment ideals and much more short term tropes than the concept of love, but to live on love alone is a fool's paradise. Plus it's a hippy catch phrase that belies reality. I'm overly sentimental at heart, so I believe in the triumphant power love, but I don't think it's all you need. I will still walk over broken glass to show someone up in a game of trivial pursuit or shout down a well meaning nun to prove my point of view is more valid. That's not love, but holy shit does it make me happy. "All You Need is Love," while nice and important and perhaps ultimately triumphant, is flawed in its claim of being ultimate and requires context and surrounding players to carry true weight. On a scale of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones to The Empire Strikes Back, we find "All You Need is Love" to be "Return of the Jedi."

Posted 11:45am
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April 30th , 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- We feel morally obligated to cover every Kirk Cameron related story on the internet, so here's a bunch of other former child stars (who I am apparently too old to recognize) coming out against Kirk and his homophobia. Insert "Show me that smile again..." joke.

- I've always kind of understood those that think Siddhartha got short shrift growing up, or that he was somehow a lesser member of society or merely that his parents didn't love him as much because they were never married and didn't live together. I mean don't get me wrong, those fucking narrow minded simpletons can eat a bag of dicks, but I get it. But I am just recently finding out that people think that not only about kids who were adopted, but their parents as well. Take always classy Bill Donahue of The Catholic League. My question is, if you're against adoption AND abortion, you're basically condoning life sentences to two kids and an unborn child for a misdemeanor offense. That seems cruel and unusual, even for Catholics.

- This is a four+ year old story, but small government GOP candidate Mittens Romney wants a mandatory porn filter on your computer. Mormons are the worst.

- Finally, for those of you who need to understand how something comes from nothing re: the origin of the universe without the touch of a supreme being, Dr. Lawrence Krauss has an explanation for you. For those not into Cosmology, theoretical physics and the idea of an infinite multiverse, feel free to just take away this nugget, where he paraphrases Steven Weinberg: "Science doesn't make it impossible to believe in God, it just makes it possible to not believe in God." Fair point that.

Posted 10:31am
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April 27th , 2012

Managed Expectations.

Ed. Note - You're going to get a lot of these in the next 18 months. It'll be the same thing written over and over again probably. During these troubled times, I'd like to remind you that this site is free and I owe you nothing.

I don't admit this lightly, so take it with the understanding of the necessary ipecac it took for me to write this: I was once an Ohio State fan. I was young, naive and had a child's understanding of the world - and most importantly had a brother 12 years older than me whom I worshiped and who loved the BUckeyes. As such, so did I. Until one day, my father, a devote Wolverine disciple, took me to visit Ann Arbor - a trip he thusly instituted on a semi-annual basis. He took me to Columbus as well, but I am in no way sugar coating anything to say he let me see both sides of the coin and choose for myself. I don't think it was ever in his head that I'd someday go to Michigan, and he certainly never advocated it, much less try and sway my fandom. I decided it of my own volition having had the pros and cons laid out in front of me.

I don't know when I decided that I was going to go to Michigan. I don't know when my allegiance changed. I know as a kid growing up in Ohio I was told that Michigan and Ohio were (ostensibly) the same school (obv. by Ohio fans). I know that having seen both campuses come junior high, that was clearly not the case in my head. This was exponentially exacerbated once I got to high school and started to look at colleges, and once it was pointed out to me that Michigan was the premier public institution of higher learning in the United Stated and Ohio was a glorified community college, well that coupled with knowing that I was indeed smart enough to attend such a fine University, my life became laser focused to make that a reality. Now maybe I went from wanting to emulate my brother to making my father happy. Maybe I liked being the underdog amongst all of my classmates who were Ohio slappys. All of it played a part, but at some point I knew I belonged at Michigan, and truer words were never spoken.

Quick jump cut to 20 years later and my own son is about to apply to institutions of higher learning. Now I can't cop to Moeman levels of equal time or even magnanimity, but I swear to each and every one of you on the eternal soul of Tom Brady that I have never once even suggested that my son go to Michigan. Do I wear my heart on my sleeve about my love for Michigan? Obviously. Is Siddhartha surrounded with the physical presence and lore of the Leaders and Best? Absolutely. But did I ever say "You need to to Michigan"? No. Did I ever threaten to pull funding if he choose another college? Of course not. OK, I told him in no way would I ever give a dime to MSU, Notre Dame or Ohio, but that's just fiscal responsibility. I'm not paying more money for him to go to a lesser school when he has the academic ability to go to the best. That's just asinine.

Long story short, without too much prompting, my son is on track to be a freshman at Michigan in a scant 16 months. While I know that I carry sway and influence, I do believe that this is his decision. He's wondered about engineering at different schools and wistfully dreamed of MIT, and of course I will be immeasurably proud of him no matter where he goes, assuming he works hard and graduates with a degree. But as we've worried about the rigors of acceptance at the Ivy League, and fretted about the inability to dual apply to Michigan in both engineering and LS&A, he's said to me "I want to make sure I get into Michigan, because as long as that happens, I can never be disappointed."*

So I stand on the cusp of getting everything I ever wanted but was always too scared to advocate for. Alright, so I moved to him Ann Arbor, inundated him with the virtues of the University while spending 12 years saying how Columbus is a pit where people who could barely graduate from high school go to get drunk for two years while their parents pay for them to get laid and flunk out. Sue me. If he ends up at some other school to pursue engineering or another course of study I'll be fine with it. I'll never get a good night's sleep again and eternally wonder why I didn't make stronger case in a veil of perpetual tears, but as long he gets an education and a degree I will be fine with it. Really.

*This is me taking poetic license with his words, but trust me it's what he meant. The kid's a science nerd, verbal eloquence is not his strong suit, so I've prettied things up for him. I'm his father, it's my right.

Posted 10:18am
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April 26th , 2012

Thursdays are for politickin'.

- We eulogized Santorum months ago, but now that he's officially gone (and Newt too) let's look back on his wreck of a campaign, HuffPo style and Onion style.

- Now that we have our political pugilists for 2012, it's time to actually assess the race. No one has been doing that better the last week than Charles Blow, who is killing it. Killing it!

- The BDGF and I were bandying about what 2016 is going to look like, and who each party's candidate will be. I expressed my dream of a gay marriage loving, pot legalization atheist, but I know I'll go 0-3. That doesn't mean I can't get behind states like Colorado who are fighting the good fight.

- In things that are over already and don't matter, here's how batshit the Nuge is, and here's a listing of 2012 celebrity endorsements. When I view those, I try and forget that Bruce Willis is a Republican, because when that thought crosses my cranium, I die just a little bit inside.

- How dumb is the Republican budget and mindset right now? Catholics are coming out in droves to tell Paul Ryan to eat a dick and liberal rags like The Economist are calling them stupid to their stupid faces. Seems like the only people who believe what they're shoveling are themselves. Quite a feedback loop they've got going.

- Speaking of dumb, as England double dips into another recession due to austerity measures, here's an explanation of where these things have gone historically. Note how much worse things could have been, and how obtuse cuts would be at the moment.

- Finally, whatever your political leanings or ideology, whether you drive a truck with a gun rack or a hybrid with a vegan bumper sticker, from uneducated factory worker to college professor, we all can agree that a malleable robot subject to the whims of pollsters deserves a beat down from a President cool enough to slow jam the news. I said good day sir.

Posted 10:35am
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April 24th , 2012

The Happiness Trope: Part Five.

Ed.Note: Our look into the advice we encounter that is designed to distill happiness into an easily digestible phrase or idea continues unabated. Of course seeing ourselves as final arbiter on all matters of public import, you should pay attention. It probably would have been more informative to discuss solely Voltaire's views on happiness this week, but I can't do that eruditely after 3 drinks at 11pm on a Monday night. If only I was writing this in 1995...

My favorite philosopher has always been Voltaire. I could rip off five hundred words why in my sleep, but for the purposes of this essay let's just say that I read Candide when I was 15 and it changed my world. Or rather even than changed it, justified it. As a kid I was a cynic. I like to think I've grown into a pragmatist, and the BDGF often insists that I'm an optimist, but I assure her and those of you who have known me long enough can attest, this was not always the case. My high school English teacher's dedication to me my senior year referred to me as 'crabby'. I've been sullied with surly, a burgeoning curmudgeon, anti-everything and every other pejorative you can imagine (asshole being most common among them). I trace this back to being a very smart and precocious kid in a town where being too smart for your own good was rarely celebrated, but rather reminded the adults around me of their own shortcomings (or those of their own children, but that's complicating things). In any respect, I was a kid who considered himself the smartest person in the room from a very young age, and when that's in your head and people won't listen to you merely (from your perspective) because they have years on you, you become a raging cynic. When I read Voltaire's treatise on the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds, to say it hit home is an understatement.

To this day I don't get blind optimism. When the BDGF saddles me with a variant of that adjective, I tend to take it as a belief in myself. I tend to think things are going to be OK for me because I know I will do whatever it takes to make that my reality. It gets more muddled when we delve into politics and education and the like - I think people on the whole are stupid (pessimist) but that history indicates that we move forward and things will get better (optimist or pragmatist, depending on your argument). What I dread and find laughable is what Dr. Pangloss from Candide would profess, that this is the "Best of all possible worlds". I laugh every time I hear Sean Hannity ape it, noting "The U.S. is the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the earth." Even taking the God out of it, it's utter hogwash. Because that's what blind optimism is - faith in something that isn't true despite every tangible piece of evidence you can get your hands on. We can go back to last week's discussion about a higher power for talking points, but you should just read Candide, because it's the ultimate treatise on why we call bullshit on this.

If you take this as merely another manifestation of last week's trope, let's take a different tact, with a cue from Hannity. People are prone to view the world through rose colored glasses and think things were better 20 years ago - when invariably life was simpler and more cohesive and just better. But nothing could be further from the truth. Society marches forward and despite a few twists and turns, we are always better off now than we were just a few years ago. Ask any minority. Look at the standard of living on this planet as a whole. For anyone that says this is the best of all possible worlds, I say tell that to anyone from a decade ago.

I'm a man without faith, but one who almost covets it. I believe it is comforting, soothing, and something to cling to in times of trouble and despair. But I ultimately think it's hollow and why I am devoid of it. I have probably said I don't have faith in anything but myself, but even that's not true. I believe in myself because of historical context and data about my skill set. I know should everything go to shit, I'll still be alright, but the rest of you are probably fucked. That's not a belief in this as the best of all possible worlds. I believe were are in a constant struggle to cut our problems by half, and any junior high math student will tell you that never gets you to the best possible iteration of anything, it just gets you closer. For this reason, we find the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds, on a scale of Full House to Cheers, to be a solid Family Matters.

Posted 9:35am
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April 23th , 2012

Daddy I do not want to be Fred Flintstone.

It's tough as a father to know which of your own parent's peccadilloes to pass on. On one level, I like myself and think I turned out ok, which would indicate that I should ape what my parents did in order to replicate their perceived success. On the other hand, I did not have a great relationship with my parents for many years and that's something I'd like to avoid. Plus, as much as a mean old man I like to pretend to be, I'm still a big softie most of the time. Who wants to make their kid do all of the things that they loathed when they were growing up?

As such I have never dragged my kid to church. OK that's more for my benefit. What I do regret to this point in my sons's development is that at 16, he has no idea what real work is. I've had a job since I was at least twelve. This started as mowing several lawns around the neighborhood that I would ride my bike to, escalating up to doing maintenance and landscaping work. I planted trees. I built a pole barn. I busted concrete with a sledgehammer - all for the king's ransom of $4.25 an hour. I was relating this sum to the fake daughter the other day and I had both break her heart that no, that's not a lot of money and worse still, I wasn't allowed to go blow it at the mall on build-a-bears.

Yesterday I need to pick up a couple hundred rocks to build borders for the flower beds around the house, so I enlisted Siddhartha to help. After a mere hour of picking up rocks and lugging them around, he declared that he now knew what he did not want to do when he grew up - work in quarry. He then went inside to take a nap while I installed the new boulders for the next two hours.

Now I will say to his credit (and thus by communicative property mine) he didn't whine and complain through the process. I take solace in this because when I think of how soft the youth of today are collectively, I imagine a constant stream of what hurts diatribes and pleas for are we done yet? Thankfully, this is not my kid. He was however completely wiped after two hours. I think of breaking up concrete with a sledgehammer for eight hours in 90 degree heat at his age and I bristle that I'm not living up to my parent's legacy.

I think it's important to know what it feels like to do an "honest days work" because it can both motivate you to never do it again, and people can't throw it your face for your cushy desk job if you've been there. I never wanted my kid to go into the massive debt hole that I did to get an education, but perhaps I have not been vigilant enough in ensuring that he understands what a work ethic actually is. Luckily there is time left. Not lucky for Sid of course, but at least he'll be making more than $4.25 an hour.

- Today is the tenth anniversary of both Wilco's seminal Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and The Promise Ring's swan song Wood/Water. 2002 must have been way awesomer than I remember.

Posted 2:04pm
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April 20th , 2012

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

- Tonight! The red carpet premier of The Five Year Engagement at The Michigan Theater to benefit 826 Michigan. That is a trifecta of awesome and you should totally go. I'll be there.

- I'm not a big "day drinker" outside of vacations and football season, but when done right, I do admit that there isn't a more beautiful thing to behold and be enveloped in. Don't believe me? It's endorsed by the New York Motherfuckin' Times! Drink up!

- How great is Ann Arbor? Top 15 Main Streets in America great to be sure. And now, if you're under 21 and drink too much, you can go to the emergency room without fear of getting a MIP. When's the last time something useful passed the Senate unanimously?

- Paul F. Tompkins is bar none my favorite comedian at the moment. He has a new special premiering on Comedy Central tomorrow night. If you are home on a Saturday night, watching it might make you feel less sad about that fact.

- Finally, as we talked about earlier this week, there is a lot of home improvement going on as of late and the more I toil, the harder it will ever be to leave the place, even with the lure of the downtown loft utopian dream. Of course we need to work on the walkscore of our neighborhood, which is abysmal. Perhaps if we open a bar in the backyard...

Posted 11:00am
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April 19th , 2012

The Internet: Now with video.

- The Avengers is fast approaching, merging one of my favorite things from my childhood (comic book superheroes) and one of my favorite adult storytellers (Joss Whedon). It also has Scarlet Johansson's boobs, which should please people of all ages.

- From the mind of director Edgar Wright comes Brandon Generator, which is, well, Edgar Wright is better seen than described.

- Parks and Recreation returns tonight, so let us celebrate with some Ron Swanson woodworking.

- My progeny Siddhartha would like to suggest these Epic Rap Battles of History which look like what I imagine old people shake their heads at when they imagine kids on the youtube.

- You can't watch this yet, but the elusive season 4 of Arrested Development is coming, in one big chunk to Netflix. Come on!

- Finally, I try not to be judgmental of other parents, because I know what the job entails and as John Lennon used to say, whatever gets you through the night... But that doesn't mean I don't judge, and I say if you take an embarrassing situation and then wildly exacerbate it by going on the evening news to tell the world about it, well I hope you're saving money for orthodontia, university and years of psychotherapy, because tonight's top story: Girl Poops Pants. I keep watching it, it keeps making me laugh. I didn't even notice the girl's last name is Skidmore until the third time through. Skidmore! Priceless.

Posted 10:42am
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April 18th , 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- I can't imagine a worse idea than the children of the Beatles coming together to form The Beatles 2, yet that appears to be the goal. Who would have thought it was Ringo's kid who'd be the reasonable one.

- You can now stream Jack White's solo debut Blunderbuss over at iTunes. If you needed reminding of why you love Mr. White, there's also (another) White Stripes live DVD on the way. #huckster

- I'm no fan of Madonna if if she did attend Michigan for the blink of an eye. So I fart in the general direction of her album sinking faster than the Titanic on the Billboard charts. Her music is terrible.

- The Lollapalooza lineup is out, although not in any order yet. If all the stuff I want to see happens on the same day, I'll be excited about going for an afternoon. Otherwise, I'll be happy to take the BDGF to see Jack White.

- Here's Chuck Klosterman interviewing Sammy Hagar. If you're not going to read Sammy's biography, you should at least listen to this interview. I'll never figure out if I'm more surprised at how rich and famous Sammy actually is, or how rich and famous Sammy thinks he is.

- The Black Keys were apparently on some cooking show? Because people do that now? This is what happens when you don't have cable and watch less than an hour of TV a day - out of the loop.

- Here's a hybrid band of Cursive and Cymbals Eat Guitars doing the early 90's classic "Hey Jealousy". I was in a lot of bands that played that song back in high school and we will pretend we were as sloppy awesome as this cover is.

- Finally, we are headed back to the Michigan Theater this Saturday to see the Fab Faux perform Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety. I apologize in advance to the people sitting behind for all of the dancing and singing at the top of our lungs that the wife and I are bound to do.

Posted 10:36am
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April 17th , 2012

The Happiness Trope: Part Four

Ed.Note: Our look into the advice we encounter that is designed to distill happiness into an easily digestible phrase or idea continues unabated. Of course seeing ourselves as final arbiter on all matters of public import, you should pay attention. I'd like to note that today's entry may piss people off, so you've been warned and stuff. Then again, it shouldn't be surprising.

I like to think I was born an atheist, but it's not according to hoyle true. Or rather more to the point, my sainted mother did her best to undo what nature had instilled in me. Judy Conners Brubaker was a super Catholic. A true believer. She made sure we never missed a mass or Sunday school. As I got older, she was the "principal" at CCD - which for you non-Catholics is Sunday school for older kids who don't go to a Catholic school - a fate we were only saved due to the fact that the Catholic school where we grew up was tiny and universally renowned as crappy when it came to educational standards. At some point she tried to institute after dinner Bible readings, which lasted exactly one night due to me heckling her the entire time. I am no longer proud of this, but it did happen.

When I was but a wee lad I had a pastor friend of my parents explain to me that there were a group of scholars who hypothesized that during the time of "Jesus", the learned people of the era got tired of waiting around for their Lord's only begotten son to show up, so they created one (I'd later learn that this is largely the plot to Monty Python's Life of Brian). Well this little nugget of wisdom was enough for me to take all of my doubts about what I considered to be a Santa Clausian level nonsense and run with the theme. Shortly after I privately held myself to be an agnostic (in deference to said sainted mother) and not long after that I took the plunge into full fledged atheism. Baby Jesus has been crying ever since.

In the intervening 20 years or so, I've become fairly fascinated with religion, the idea of spirituality and the general belief in a higher power. Stemming from the "know your enemy" philosophy, I've at least cursorily studied all of the world's major religions and found one, pervasive, over-arching theme - religion is designed to comfort. Or in the parlance of this series, make you happy. Religion has inarguably sprung up over the history of civilization as an attempt to explain that which our tiny human brains could not. Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Native Americans, Mayans, Incans, Mormons and Scientologists - it's all the same - help me explain the things I can' wrap my brain around and alleviate the pressure. Most of the time this manifests itself as making us less fearful of death, and as such, provides us a path vis a vis our daily earthly behavior to either avoid death, or at least make it more palatable. Of course my previous use of the word inarguably assumes you don't believe that anyone who has walked this rock has ever had a conversation, much less heard the voice of a supreme being. If that's your tip, put down the laptop and go light a candle.

But even if such drivel is your proclivity, or if you eschew the hocus pocus of it all and find comfort in the inexorable social conventions of what religion has become in the 21st century - a sense of community and charity and stability for your children - well let us take a gander at how that lives up as a happiness trope. First off, while I know they exist from watching the news and reading about Congress, I personally don't know anyone who believes in an inerrant Bible or any other holy book. Even more so for the tenants of any particular denomination. Religion has become a la carte these days. Most Catholics use birth control. Muslims don't interpret the violent parts of the Koran to mean death to America. To my knowledge, most Jews question every word of their holy book and that is encouraged. But yet they still cling to the notion of one, omnipresent superbeing, and many of them think he has a daily interest in what happens down here.

Perhaps that's my biggest beef with the believers. Besides all of the provable science that points to the ridiculousness of it all, there's an avalanche of circumstantial proof that says God either doesn't exist, or doesn't care. Or if he is up there watching, he's a colossal dick. I can't prove God doesn't exist, but outside of the rote manifestations of "I feel him in my daily life" what do you want to point to that he does? But I'm getting off track here. OK, so you believe in some higher power. This gives you guidance and purpose. If you're an alcoholic, it let's you surrender the uncontrollable to something bigger than yourself. If your uneducated or uncurious enough to ever ponder the origins of our existence, then it explains things to you in a way that's easily understandable. I suppose that may be OK, as long as you shut out anyone trying to give you concrete proof of God. These people are charlatans and trying to sell you bullshit science textbooks in Tennessee.

What I mean to say is I get why every civilization since the beginning of time has created some form of God. It's to fill in the gaps and give us piece of mind. It makes the world less scary. In the days before public education, it allowed the most learned of us to tell the rabble not to eat the pork that's been sitting in the desert sun for a week. These are all important things that advanced society. Without all of it, we still might be living in a world where might makes right, and I'd be fucked - repeatedly by giant men with clubs. But it's an idea that's outlived its purpose. Or has it? Not all of us can ponder string theory or extrapolate the idea of the big bang over billions of years to where I can play Draw Something on my phone. And I know I'm belittling, but I suppose that's nice for you. If you're not going to search for the best, most plausible, possible scenario, I can imagine this working for you and giving you solace. Just know that you're settling and keep it to yourself. On a 1990's scale of Creed to Pearl Jam, we rate "God" as Stone Temple Pilots.

Posted 11:01am
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April 16th , 2012

The Great American Pastime

1. I am not a golfer. While I am not terribly athletic nor coordinated, these are not the major impediments to my taking up the sport. I like being outdoors enough and when necessary, have the patience of a saint. Plus I'm hypercompetitve and under the right circumstances there's drinking involved, so you could make a cogent argument that golf is something I should give the ol' college try if nothing else. And I sort of have. I cobbled together a bag and my dad's old clubs and various other accoutrements so that I could play in a scramble or two a year, usually centered around someone's bachelor party. But even with these caveats and casual forays into a good walk spoiled, I never really delved into the links for one reason and one reason only: the cost. Golf seems like an insanely stupid hobby or habit. While I piecemealed together the necessary gear to play 36 holes a year out of shear will and duct tape, to be serious about it requires an outlay of several hundred if not thousand dollars. And that's before you get into weekly greens fees to actually go out and use the asininely expensive equipment. I can't keep my left arm straight, but that's not why I don't golf.

2. My late twenties and early thirties were spent mostly wondering how and when I was going to own a house. I've led a fairly unconventional life, but everyone around me who was sticking to the script spent an inordinate amount of time telling me how obtuse I was by renting. And I always shook my head and tacitly agreed with them. I was throwing money down the drain. I was confining my child to a cramped space and not giving him a yard of his own to play in. I was giving money to someone on finite terms instead of building equity. I was wasting time renting when I would eventually buy and kick myself for all of those years where I could have been paying down principle instead of making slumlords rich. Hindsight proved me right in that I would have bought during a boom and would now surely be under water in a shitty mortgage. But I could never pull the trigger because it wasn't financially viable in my midwestern conservative mind set. I had no down payment. I had no money to pay a mortgage and taxes and sewer and all of the other fun bills that a landlords builds into your rent. I was too concerned with making childcare payments on a tight budget to put money away for closing fees. I felt it was the right thing to do at the time, and while I can now look back and be glad it never came to fruition, I still would have gladly done so if the opportunity presented itself.

3. My dad worked "in the yard" a lot as a kid. He was always planting this or trimming that - mowing the lawn or watering everything else. I, as most kids I assume, just figured that's what dad's do. Later in life, I assumed that dads partook in this ritual because it provided them a certain serenity. Dad's working in the yard, being a necessary thing, don't get bothered. He can't play your game or run you here or there because there's yard work to be done. It's a get out of jail free card. He puts on his headphones and runs some piece of equipment that makes no sense to you. You try and get his attention and he takes one headphone off and says "Huh?" and then to whatever your query, responds "Just let me finish this..." and you hopefully never mention it again. That's the best case scenario anyway.

I am 36 years old and still not a homeowner. But I feel like one. The BDGF owns the house we live in and could give me the boot tomorrow and I would be utterly homeless without a stake in anything. But that doesn't mean that over the course of the last year and a half we haven't built a home on this plot of land. That home existed long before I showed up, but I had to somehow figure out a way to integrate myself into it and make it ours (in my mind anyway). That started long before I ever changed my address my trying to fix anything and everything I could that needed love and attention. Leaky faucets. Door handles. Bathroom fans. If I could figure out how to address the situation, I wanted to make it better. Once I became a full fledged member of the domicile, I wanted to redouble my efforts. Not so much to put my stamp on things, but to make it the best possible iteration of what the place could be for the people who lived there. For lack of a better turn of phrase, I wanted to earn my keep.

Every spring this means copious amounts of yard work. I emulate my father and weed and trim and build things up so that they are ostensibly better than they were the year before. It has the ancillary benefits of providing me some uninterrupted alone time, but that's not why I do it. I make multiple trips to the hardware store every weekend, spending money on ground cover and mulch and paving stones that would easily pay for my greens fees, but in the process I get to create a landscape that I can be proud of (and hopefully get compliments on) that the rest of the residents of our little home can also enjoy. My pastime/hobby is now going to Lowe's so I can give the wife and kids a sanctuary they can fully enjoy and of which I can be proud. The BDGF and I are prone to fantasize about living in a loft downtown where we can walk to restaurants and bars and live the ultimate urban lifestyle, and I still love that ideal. But the the more work I put into this place, the harder it will be to give it up. Whether or not my name is on the mortgage I have a stake in this place. It's our home, and I am damn proud of how far it's come. The big caveat there of course is how far it still has to go in my head. But I am genuinely excited by that process and look forward to it. I love the idea of the grandkids playing in the same tree house that the littlest does now. Of course if I have to build bunk beds for them in our tiny downtown loft so they can spend Xmas with us, you won't hear me complain about that either.

Posted 9:50am
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April 13th , 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- If you're going to stand up in front of a bunch of kids and tell them that those of you with single parents, who are adopted or may have two mommies aren't as good as kids with traditional, normal families, you should probably stick to elementary students, because high schoolers know bigotry when they see it and will fight back. I'd love to shake the hands of every one of those kids.

- What did Jesus think about homosexuality? He probably didn't. What you think about the gays however, may be a bit more telling. In other words, methinks thou doth protest too much.

- In Arizona, who is trying hard to jockey positions and overtake Florida as America's craziest state, they've defined life as beginning before conception, so you know, you could be pregnant right now even if you haven't had sex in a month. Texas says don't forget about us, we fire people for getting pregnant while unmarried. Now go back and read that in your announcer voice while "America The Beautiful" plays in the background. You'll shed tears of pride.

- That Tennessee bill that says "We could give two shits about science" is now law. Congratulations Tennessee. You win.

- I've heard news of moles at Fox News, which must explain this post where they admit that Thomas Jefferson wasn't down with Jesus' divinity. A rare misstep off message - you guys are slipping.

- Finally, as a kid I watched movies like War Games and dreamed of all the cool shit I was going to one day do with my huge nerd brain and vast knowledge of computers. Cut to 25 years later, I can make computers do a million more incredible things than anyone ever dreamed of in 1987, but I'm still impressed with a case of simple password hacking. I really hope somewhere Matthew Broderick is leaning his back, feet up, hands behind head. Life moves pretty fast...

Posted 10:19am
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April 12th , 2012

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

- I dream a lot about college. Never me in the mid-90s as it happened variety, but always me at 36 going back to school in some scenario. Being in the dorms, living with 8 guys in a house again - but all as my aging self. It's always interesting but never some glamorized, glorious return in which I wake up finding myself longing for the carefree days of my twenties. Truth be told, my twenties weren't that care free as I was a father at 19. Which explains why I'm probably dreaming about this stuff so much lately: my kid is taking the ACT, studying for AP classes and toot suite, applying to college. Sweet Baby Jesus...

- Sid has stated for some time now that his intent is to go to the University of Michigan, likely in an attempt to watch his father die from happiness. But lately he's been hinting around at MIT, which, if he can get, I would only be slightly less proud. You'll of course not be surprised that those two schools were of the three mentioned that were "doing it right" on the Colbert Report the other night. Hail to the Victors Valiant... and whatever they say at MIT.

- Paying for college will of course be a nightmare for me as I try to not make it so for him. I struggled to get through school financially as I was paying for it all myself. I made it, and in ten short more years it'll be all paid for. For both those reasons, I'm always interested in new ideas in making college affordable. Here's an interesting idea that instead of paying for school, give the U back 5% of your income for 20 years after graduation. But that's a big risk for someone with a liberal arts degree. How about we get Alumni to loan money to current undergrads? I promise to participate in that as soon as all three kids get their education paid for. Assuming I'm still upright and mobile when that happens.

- I never sweat Urban Meyer's hiring at Ohio, because we have Brady Hoke and Urban's an easy douche bag to hate, so status quo more than anything. But it's a fun little conundrum to try and decide "How did we not see this coming or should we just enjoy it?" reading about how Urban is not the super clean, stand up, forthright guy the media likes to slobber over. Again, status quo more than anything. Have fun being the current iteration of Florida when your savior bolts in 4 years.

- Finally, college is about expanding your horizons, trying new things and experimenting. While I would never advocate my child taking drugs (publicly), that doesn't mean that it isn't my responsibility to make sure that he would do so in a safe manner should the opportunity ever present itself. As such, here's 5 ways to avoid getting caught smoking marijuana. I'd add in Ann Arbor, just don't get caught doing it on U property, which makes it a state crime. Local law makes it a $20 fine.

Posted 11:04am
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April 11th , 2012

Wednesdays are for politickin'

- Gas prices are up, which means so is the talking head blustering. However, no matter how many times Sarah Palin screams "Drill Baby Drill!" I've always retorted "domestic oil production is going to have no long term - much less short term - effect on gasoline prices." Let's bring in science to break the tie. The truth is that Presidents and even Congress have less effect on gas prices than they do on the unemployment rate. For those of you worried that this means Fox News will no longer be able to blame Obama and 'Big government' on it taking an extra $40 a week to top off their SUVs, don't worry, they're on it.

- President Obama is on the road touting support for the Buffet Rule that taxes the wealthy at a rate closer to what you or I pay. If you're conservative, this is typical class warfare that won't move the meter on our deficit. If you're more rational, it's a first step towards raising revenue and a show of good faith that they will make an effort to make things something akin to fair. Everyone knows that it won't fix anything, but as a salvo I like it. now let's see some support for re-enacting Glass-Steagal and getting this report to find purchase.

- As scientists begin to study the phenomenon of conservatives, they have come up with the jaw-dropping findings that low-effort thinking leads to conservative mindsets and that Conservatives trust in science is at an all time low. I am shocked - shocked! - to find gambling in this establishment.

- Finally, yes, there is a magazine out there called The Conservative Teen and yes, it is exactly as amazing as you were hoping it would be. What's the old adage? Show me a conservative teen and I'll show you a closeted homosexual? Or was it brainwashed religious zealot? I apologize for mixing my metaphors.

Posted 10:54am
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April 10th , 2012

The Happiness Trope: Part Three

Ed.Note: Our look into the advice we encounter that is designed to distill happiness into an easily digestible phrase or idea continues unabated. Of course seeing ourselves as final arbiter on all matters of public import, you should pay attention. I'd like to note that my writing has been pretty crappy as of late, especially in this series. That's on me. I'd say you deserve better, but that's probably not true.

In poker, they tell you to never put yourself in a position where you don't have any outs. Most of the people I know that are unhappy in their marriages are completely stuck due to the fact that leaving would leave them penniless or their children in a precarious position or face family/societal disapproval or all three. In a relative sense, my being 'poor' in the past has generally led to less happiness because I was limited financially in certain things that I wanted to do. So when I recently read John U. Bacon's book Three and Out about Rich Rodriquez, this sentence struck a chord: "A case could be made that all happiness is feeling like you have possibilities." To which I said "A ha! Happiness trope!"

Now for the anecdotal reasons stated above and basic common sense, this would seem superficially to be a no-brainer truism. A lack of options resigns you to whatever fate is in front of you and that is generally, no matter what the instance, depressing as hell. If you've ever found yourself hungry in small town America after 10pm on a weeknight, you know this to be true. If at some point in your life you've been in a soul crushing job in which the money was too good to leave, you say of course. And if by some chance you know what it's like to have a child when you're still a teenager and the birth and your involvement in said child's life is a fait accompli, you shout Amen.

Yet my problem with this particular trope is not its superficial logic, but that there's so many instances in everyone's life where lack of possibility in no way leads to being unhappy. If my only option for dinner is pizza, no matter how crappy, I'm probably ok with it. If every radio station is playing The Beatles, I'm ecstatic. I love that my kid is who he is and I can't change it, and I wouldn't trade all the anonymous sex in the world for being with my wife. But perhaps the ultimate argument against this particular trope is that ignorance is bliss.

Now not knowing leading to happiness is something for which I would never advocate. Quite the opposite. But if you've never had the divine experience of falling in love with someone who completes your existence, you may well settle for someone you can tolerate and hence never know the difference. That's probably a bad example because pop culture has inundated us with the idea of romantic love since the time of Shakespeare, but I think you know what I'm getting at. The majority of people aren't aware of most of the things that bring me the most sublime happiness, and if they did, it wouldn't affect their state of mind in the least. The people that love country music aren't comforted any more by the existence of Spoon than I am by that of Conway Twitty.

To further the point, knowing about possibilities can have quite a depressive effect in its own right. If you smoke cigarettes for ten years and quit for all the right reasons, you still want a cigarette. I suppose the option or possibility of you tasting tobacco again is still in play, but that possibility leads to more depression than joy. Same goes for when you get your heart broken. Or you have a heart attack and have to cut your red meat intake. Or marry a shrew who insists that you never watch college football again. Once you know these possibilities exist and are denied them, it's the worst thing in the world.

Options are great. Even when you sit on the couch with your partner and discuss where to eat and neither of you can decide, it's better than if you were resigned to go to White Castle because it's the only place that's open. At the same time, if you love White Castle, your lot in life is not so bad, no matter how sorry I feel for you. As a happiness trope, we find 'possibilities' to be an interesting social barometer on a case by case basis, but one that carries no weight when measuring actual happiness. On a scale of Ratt to Van Halen, we rate it Poison.

Posted 3:04pm
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April 9th , 2012

Holiday Road.

I always operate from a position that teenager's opinions have no merit. I do my best to caveat and make exception for this when it comes to my own brilliant, erudite, self-aware children, but at the end of the day, their input on matters of import matters not. My own progeny can best me on a number of levels when it comes to scholarly matters (largely because my memory of non-euclidean geometry and calculating the area under a curve have been lost to the ether) but while his opinion on the films of Martin Scorcese may be interesting and his thoughts on how to handle my retirement fund may be adorable, they are largely for entertainment purposes only.

When I usually talk about this it comes out as "Teenagers are incapable of being cool." I'll admit to you now that this is not resolute but still as a maxim useful. My point is this: teenagers, smart and wonderful and in certain aspects our betters, are still reactionary beings whose existence is completely tied to pop culture and the society within they revolve. They lack experience and wisdom. It's a necessary point of evolution, and when they eventually reach escape velocity they become whole adult human beings that drive us forward collectively and ultimately, take care of us when we decide we've had enough and deserve some rest. This is a Panglossian best of all possible worlds scenario, but my kids are that good, so I choose to believe it.

But as such, teenagers understand very little of what it means to be an adult. They don't understand adult responsibilities, adult relationships and they sure as shit don't get adult priorities. Again, necessary and lamentable, but nevertheless true. I think about this a lot when I realize adult trueisms. Because extrapolated, the younger you are, the dumber you are. As I often talk about it, the older I get, the smarter my parents are. Perhaps that's why we turn into them, but that's neither here nor there right now.

Recently I was listening to a podcast and the host was talking about how he had recently heard the Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" for the first time since he was a kid and, as a man in his late thirties, it took on a whole new meaning for him. Now I loved that song when it came out, but I was eight. I liked the big shoulder pads and the arm gestures from the video. I had no idea what the sentiment of the song was. I've heard that song a lot since, as the Talking Heads are amazing and totally worth your time, but the combination of hearing that podcast and being on vacation for (ostensibly) a week with my family made me see it a whole new light once again.

I won't go over the central conceit of the song because you're smart and art is interpretive and if you don't get it as I type the rest of this, you likely never will. We decided on a 'light' family vacation this year - five states in a week. We visited museums and restaurants and water parks and did everything a good Griswold would do. I've been a parent for a long ass time, but this is still new territory for me, and all I could think of the entire time was David Byrne. Not so much the "Same as it ever was" part nor the "My god, what have I done?" sentiment, but surely the the sense of "How did I get here?" and truly that this cannot be my beautiful wife.

I realize that for many Talking Heads' connoisseurs I may be muddling the central conceit of the song, and to those I say go back a few paragraphs where I talk about art being subjective. My point is that I imagine most of us wake up at some point in our lives and wonder "How did I get here?" John Lennon said "Life's what happens to you when you're busy making other plans" and it's kind of the same thing. Someday you'll turn around and be halfway through life and no amount of introspection will give you the answer of how you ended up exactly where you are.

I'm as introspective as they come and I've thought about it a lot, but as I drove a minivan around the great american mid-west for a week I had no answer to "How did I get here?" More than anything I want to know so I can tell my aforementioned naive teenagers how I did it so unconventionally and yet ended up so lucky. Because I want to believe it wasn't luck. Not all luck anyway. The only things I come up with the more I think about it amount to platitudes. So I give them this: Do what you think is right. Think about what your parents would want you to do. Think about what your partner would want you to do. Consider (briefly) what your kids would want you to do then largely ignore it. Weigh all of it and then make a decision. Quickly. When you fuck up, say so publicly and atone and then don't do it again. It's a bit wordier than "To thine own self be true" but it's also better philosophically. Shakespeare was a terrible father.

Posted 10:57am
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April 5th , 2012

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

- The BDGF and I are just finishing the first season of The West Wing. It's her first time through the series, and my fourth or fifth. I'm happy to report that it holds up really well, even if you yearn a tad for them to take on more topical issues. Wait! What's this? A new political show from WW creator Aaron Sorkin?!? Looks like the perfect format for Sorkin's pragmatic liberalism, or if your me, awesome political porn.

- Well for all your futurists and science fiction prognosticators out there - pencil's down. Google has brought you the future, and after watching this I had to sit down, as I was feeling a little flush. I really hope I never find out that Larry Paige is turning old people into Soylent Green.

- As we ramp for the "Summer of Hitchcock" at the Chandler Drive In, peep this time lapse montage of Rear Window. You kind of have to know the movie to realize how cool this is, so feel free to wait until we screen it before clicking.

- As long as we are watching internet video, I'd be remiss if I didn't draw your attention to these car ride sing-a-longs: actual musicians doing Hall & Oates "I Can't Go for That" and colossally drunk guy doing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the back of a cop car. Trust, watch both until the end. They are worth your time.

- Finally, tomorrow we pack up the family truckster Griswold style and head south for a long weekend. I'm fighting a cold tooth and nail at the moment, so if things take a turn for the worse and my virus addled body is too busy repairing itself to put energy into things like patience, pray for my children. Even if I wake up tomorrow feeling chipper, you can still expect me at some point to slam on the brakes and turn around and say "I think you're all fucked in the head," just because.

Posted 11:22am
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April 4th , 2012

The Happiness Trope: Part Two.

Ed.Note: This is part two of our look into the advice we encounter that is designed to distill happiness into an easily digestible phrase or idea. Of course seeing ourselves as final arbiter on all matters of public import, you should pay attention. Oh, and this one references my dad a lot too, but that's coincidence. For reals.

As a teenager, I was furious with my father. Not in a constant brooding, parents just don't understand way, but in this very specific point of contention: I had been around long enough and had enough literary savvy to know that the Moeman was a well respected writer. Family lore had further informed me over the years there had been interest from bigger papers in larger towns for my father's services. But he had never entertained these offers on the auspices that he wanted to raise his children in the quaint, small town environment where he grew up.

I can't say with any voracity as to how much of the above is true - probably most, and in any case I took it as gospel truth as a teenager and nothing more fueled my pubescent rage than that paradigm. In my mind I could have been spared a backwater existence AND moved up the socioeconomic ladder in the process. As such, prior to adulthood my only goals in life were to make obscene amounts of money and live somewhere that didn't shut completely down at 10pm on a Wednesday. Dream big, I always say.

Then shortly before my 20th birthday I became a father and was forced to reassess my priorities. I have never lost my desire to have entertainment and cuisine options past the time when streetlights come on, but the dreams of fists full of cash took a back seat to stability, flexability and benefits.

My first full time, post-collegiate job came just as Sid was about to be without insurance. The position also largely made me my own boss, had ample sick and vacation time, and as I would soon learn most importantly, let me jump out in the middle of the day to take care of a sick kid or even chaperone a field trip.

So my priorities drastically realigned. I saw my father's choices for what they were and forgave his sins. My kid would grow up in a liberal enclave as opposed to a hillbilly backwater, but otherwise I viewed the decision as making the same sacrifices my father before me had. Apples and trees.

The adage goes that if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. I find this particular trope to be complete and utter bullshit.

Now I honestly believe my father likes what he does, and I know I do. My job is diverse and challenging and allows me to constantly learn new things. And it to the previously mentioned benefits, and it's damn near the perfect scenario for someone in my encumbered situation. But let's not pretend for one hot minute that it's not work.

I've always viewed my dad's profession is the perfect iteration of this proposition. Sport's journalists, after and to a point, don't get to enjoy sports anymore. You have to be objective and dispassionate about that which you cover, and after spending 9 to 5 plus dissecting it, do you really want to sit down and watch more sports to unwind? Can you still love it with the same abandon that you did at 22? I'm arguing no. My dad still watches sports and gives a damn when it comes to Michigan, but I don't think it's the same.

This is the reason I am not an artist, musician or writer. That and I suppose lack of talent, but what I wanted desperately to avoid, despite my proclivities in these areas, was to ever not look forward to doing them. I have a penchant for technology. I've had zero training but it just makes sense to me. This makes me good at my job, but it wouldn't be in the top ten things I would use to describe the sum of my being to a stranger. It is work. I get paid to do it so that I can go home and do whatever it is at the moment that strikes my fancy.

I know there are many people out there whose lives revolve around the office. Their self worth is defined by a march up the corporate ladder. And as such I would never assume that I am any more or less happy than they are. Their personality type differs from mine. But I think people with varied interests that would rather work 40 hours a week and go home to spend time with loved ones and hobbies and enjoy a drink on the back porch. Our vacations are spent in the continental U.S. as opposed to Europe and our cars are litter older, but I think we are the majority and are lives being more diverse are likely better spent.

At the end of the day, the idea of work making you happy should be relegated to jaded loners and Alpha types whose need for more will never be satiated. For the rest of us, keep your loves as hobbies, get a job that allows you to leave your work at the office and perhaps even allows your peccadilloes to become useful to that which earns your keep. That's more of a win/win in my book.

In summation, we find doing what you love as a road to happiness a very specific trope for the highly motivated and laser focused, and leaves the rest of us perplexed. On a scale of Ladyhawk to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we rate it Excaliber.

Posted 2:46pm
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April 3rd , 2012

Gay Watch.

I noticed this little piece of disgusting hypocrisy pop up last week and didn't want to let it slip by without comment. The National Organization for Marriage* recently was compelled to release some internal documents, which eluded to pitting the blacks and the gays against each other, but this was my favorite part, paraphrased thusly:

To me the most striking detail was that NOM had budgeted $120,000 for a project to locate children of gay households willing to denounce their parents on camera.

Whenever I hear NOM described as “pro-family” from now on, I will think of that fact.

Focus on the Family. National Organization for Marriage. These groups should all have asterisks or a parenthetical (ironic) listed after them so that people know there's no truth in advertising. Please all lay down and die now.

- In Rick Santorum news, he's afraid of mixing boys and the color pink, and when he offers to pray for Dan Savage, Dan offers to gay for him.

- Finally, where is your state when it comes to civil rights? Here's a map showing each state's current laws on marriage equality. You can also peep pending legislation, so you know where to get boots on the ground.

*At least their narrow definition of marriage.

Posted 1:22pm
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March 30th, 2012

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

- Our brief dalliance with summer seems to have tapered off, so may I suggest coaxing it back with the aural pleasures of Vacationer? 60% of the time it works every time.

- Speaking of, it's the return of one Ron Burgandy.

- Game of Thrones returns this Sunday, and since I never read the books nor really planned on falling down the rabbit hole on this one, I'll need this season one refresher. And if you're like me and haven't gotten around to last week's season premier of Mad Men, here's a summation of that entire series.

- I don't plan on ever exploring the world of The Hunger Games, mostly because I am an adult and cool. I did however read this list of racist Hunger Games fans, because racist teens who fail at reading comprehension are funny.

- Finally, there's a mini-vacation happening over the next 10 days as the children get their second spring break of the year. I'll probably manage a post or two in the middle of next week, hopefully largely comprised of pictures. If you get withdrawal from lack of tbaggervance in the meantime, I suggest you suck it up.

Posted 10:42am
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March 29th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- In this corner - representing love, tolerance, gay marriage and the starfleet federation: George Takei. In the other corner - representing bigotry, intolerance, Kirk Cameron and Baby Jesus - Stephen Baldwin. He never had a chance.

- I will forever maintain that moderate, sensible Christians and religious folks should be the most interested in what's making Baby J weep on a weekly basis - much more than us bemused Atheists. Why? Because the crazies beget atheism. It's science.

- Speaking of, this isn't exactly the 95 thesis, but it certainly is funnier.

- Tennessee, site of The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes some 87 years ago, is trying to put the genie back in the bottle by passing a law saying that teachers will not be reprimanded for pointing out the weaknesses of evolution. Tennessee: where lawmakers know more about science than the National Academy of Science and The National Association of Biology Teachers combined.

- The whole family is headed down to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area next week and we thought it'd be hilarious and awesome to visit the Creation Museum. Then we saw admission prices, and decided that was a high price to pay for some bullshit. If I get a kickstarter going, you think I could get the trip funded?

- Finally, you can decry homosexuality, rail against evolution and plaster every courthouse in the country with the ten commandments, but you right wing christianist fucks stay the hell away from Star Wars. You've been warned.

Posted 11:02am
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March 28th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- This was a blow to the BDGF, who never got to see the White Stripes in concert. I still maintain that even if he doesn't ever need the money, he'll want the attention at some point. Fingers crossed, for my sweetheart if nothing else. In more immediate and good news, rumors abound that Jack will be headlining this year's Lollapalooza, so I might have to actually attend this year after avoiding it all this time.

- More summer festival news: Ann Arbor has announced its lineup of the usual stodgy, expensive shows that old people go watch* while I sit on the grass, drinking Captain and Cokes while watching Top Gun. You're doing it wrong, by the way.

- Record Store Day 2012 is a mere three weeks away from this Saturday. Peep what will be showing up at your local independent retailer here.

- The AV Club's Undercover project moves on, with Memoryhouse covering the Police. It's nice and all, but to hear the better pseudo-cover of "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," you want The Blow.

- Former tbaggervance roommate's Taproot are still kicking out the jams. They have a new 'concept' album called "The Episodes", out April 10. Huh.

- Finally, Jack and KG are back, more glorious than ever. Long live the D!

*Except for Al Green. Al Green is a badass.

Posted 10:00am
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March 27th, 2012

The Happiness Trope: Part One

Ed.Note: This is part of what we here at tbaggervance hope to be an ongoing serious in which we take a look at pop culture, philosophy and good old fashioned common sense for their pearls of wisdom as it pertains to happiness. These areas of expertise all at one point or another attempt to distill down the keys to abating sadness into a singular entity or idea, and we here at tbaggervance are putting on our critic's tuque to assess how close they got to any validity. Of course seeing ourselves as final arbiter on all matters of public import, you should pay attention.

Since this is the opening salvo in our first crack at an ongoing series in a while around here, we decided to start with a bang. Or at least, the idea that was the seed for this endeavor that has stuck with me the longest. It's going to take quick flourish of pop culture references to get there, so stay with me.

When I was in high school, I felt like I had nothing in common with my father. We had little to talk about other than him reprimanding me for whatever thing I had recently done that had pissed my mother off. In City Slickers, Billy Crystal talks with his friends about the importance of baseball in his life, because despite his strained relationship with his father, they could always talk about sport. Well my relationship with my old man wasn't strained, but there was a point in time where they only thing we really shared in common was the show Cheers. It was the one half hour a week my dad and I sat down together, and apart from the fact that it was one of the best television shows ever, I looked forward to watching it because my dad and I could laugh at the same thing for a finite period of time.

So the final episode of Cheers finds Sam Malone searching for the meaning of life, the key to happiness. In the penultimate scene he asks his best friend Norm for the answer, and Norm tells him "One thing." In Norm's case he's talking about the stool in the bar where he spends the majority of his life, and shortly after, Sam realizes for him it's the bar itself, and that the happiness he's been searching for has been surrounding him all along. As a writer's trick it's fairly trite; as a way to end the series I'll go ahead and say that it was note perfect.

That's why I love that ideal and why it's stuck with me for so long, but how does it hold up when scrutinized as a philosophy to organize your life around? Superficially it seems fairly obvious - love one thing, rely on it, and happiness will always be there for you. If you love your job and it means everything to you, well then that's your thing. If you pour your heart and soul into a hobby - be it juggling or going to the symphony - that thing can center you and make the world melt away. If you find that one thing is a person, well then that person can stem the unrelenting tide and bring you happiness when everything comes crashing down around you. I find the most credence in the last iteration of the ideal. Whether it's your spouse or children or best friend, the calming ideal of one overriding, unconditional love is both pretty powerful and for the lucky amongst us, tangible.

But of course it's been said by many smarter than I that nothing lasts forever. Nations crash and civilizations crumble. You wife cheats on you. Your kids become fuck ups. The Cubs don't win a world series in 100 years. Tangible things can let you down. Unless your one thing is a sled from your childhood that you can curl up against every night, your thing will falter (and as an aside, if your thing is Rosebud, your thing isn't really Rosebud. You are missing the point.) Plus, I've organized my life as such that I'm in love with many things. I love my wife and my kids and they center me and make me happy beyond belief. But I'd be ibid if I couldn't create. I'd die on the vine without writing and drawing and letting things spring forth from my mind hole. And I haven't even mentioned booze or music yet!

I'm all for singularity of focus. It can keep you happy for weeks on end. But the idea of coming back to one thing over and over again as the object of your affection - and that you only need to open your eyes to see it - is a cheap trick of writers and filmmakers. It's the equivalent of Oprah's "secret" - designed to make you find the happiness around you and thus relate to the story being told to you. That's not always a malevolent thing, sometimes it's just to tug at your heartstrings and assure you that characters you spent 11 years watching every Thursday night are going to be OK even though they will no longer be on your television. But I find it wanting as a trope to live your life by. If you can modify it to say "immerse yourself in something from time to time and revel in it, take solace that it's there, but don't be afraid to move on." then we are closer. When talking about individuals, well that's closer still. They can really do it, but you still are going to need a hobby, because no one is everything to someone else.

At the end of the day, we find the concept of "One thing" an intriguing one, with some obvious flaws that doesn't hold up all that well to serious scrutiny. As a Happiness Trope, from a scale of 0-10, 0 being Twilight and 10 being Star Wars, we give it a Chasing Amy, or a 6.5.

Posted 9:59am
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March 26th, 2012

Happy Oberon Day!

Ah Oberon! King of the fairies and harbinger of summer! Today we mark your triumphant return from necessary exile - one that ensures that we may properly appreciate your color, scent and taste, and only pair it with the appropriate warmth of a summer's day. Oberon you are a cherished member of our barbeques, baseball games and all outdoor activities wherein we worship the sun and plead with it never to leave. Welcome back old friend. You were missed, but when you're back, it's like we never missed a beat.

- Our summer buddy is also now available in 12 packs! On sale at Busch's right now for $15.77.

- We inadvertently missed the 49th anniversary of Please Please Me last Thursday. We correct that mistake by presenting you with the greatest rock and roll vocal of all time: John Lennon on "Twist and Shout".

Posted 10:17am
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March 23rd, 2012

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

- Back when I was in college, my roommate always used to note as we walked home from some party how different Ann Arbor and U of M was. This usually was because we were getting drunk and discussing Voltaire's influence on the Enlightenment or something of the sort. "Only in Ann Arbor.." he'd say. I thought of him when I read this.

- I had seen that many people I respected were in the throes of love with the BBC show Downton Abbey, but I wasn't expecting to fall down that rabbit hole. But then an afternoon at the in-laws turned into a Downton Abbey marathon and before I knew it I was clamoring for more. It's fitting that we just finished the last episode before another show I feel similarly about, Mad Men, returns this Sunday. In honor of both, here's a slideshow pairing the characters of Downton Abbey with their Md Men soul mates.

- Angry Birds. Words with Friends. Qrank. Most of the app games people have told me were amazing and would change my life were absolutely spot on. Add Draw Something to the list. If you're playing, please find tbaggervance and start a game. I'm quite good...

- Thanks to the unseasonably warm weather, this year's Chandler Drive In is in full swing. Last summer, I used our backyard movie theater to show Siddhartha all of the films of Quentin Tarantino. This summer: the movies of Alfred Hitchcock. Luckily for him we won't be able to get to them all.

- Finally, as I type this, there are 61 hours and 27 minutes until Oberon is released. I'll be like a kid trying to fall asleep on Xmas eve until then. Plus, I just found out that it will now be available in 12 packs, which is going to change my entire life. Cheers.

Posted 10:50am
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March 22nd, 2012


I know we talked politics yesterday, but I don't have my thoughts organized on other things I want to talk to you about and truth be told, this shit has been building up in my cache and I want to dump it and move on. So what follows are links/articles/op-eds/ideas that have been and are going to be ignored (smart) or countered (dumb) by the GOP in the coming months. OK, it's a "No so bad with the Obama, eh?" post. I tried to stay away from blatantly liberal blogs and stick to national news organizations. For those who want an overly wordy counterpoint, I'm sure ljv will have something in the comments section as soon as he has a free period.

- From the NYTimes: The government bought up $225 billion in toxic mortgage backed securities a while back, in order to stabilize markets during the downturn. End cost to the taxpayers: $25 billion. Profit.

- From USAToday: 4 million seniors saved over $2 billion on prescription drugs last year, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Overall savings to the government are even more, as many of these medications allow for outpatient treatment or are preventative medicines.

- From The Hill: Fox News contributor points out that not only did 'The Stimulus' work, but to argue against it is to say that huge tax cuts don't work, and that might not be what those arguing against it want to say.

- Again from The Nation's Newspaper - we said the auto bailouts were wrong at the time. Turns out we were wrong. Let's go ahead and ALL admit that.

- From the Atlantic: Obama is more fiscally conservative than Reagan. I could debunk what the GOP thinks of Reagan from now until election day. What a farce.

So there you go. Next time someone tells you that all that spending the government is doing isn't working, you counter with math. And a few curse words, because the mouth breathers probably won't get the math.

Posted 11:50am
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March 21st, 2012

Wednesdays are for politickin'.

Let's make this quick. Mittens Romney won Illinois handily last night and bully for him. His position as the nominee is the same fait accompli that it was months ago. That doesn't mean that Santorum or Gingrich or Paul are going away, but the narrative may finally start to change. I for one knew that the end was neigh when Santorum declared war on porn. People give lip service to a lot of conservative bullshit because it sounds good and like what you're supposed to say, but you come for their booze or their porn and you're going to get a lot of "Beg your pardon?"s. It's America Rick. Love it or leave it.

With all of the hullabaloo out of the way, it's time for Willard to start talking to the American public at large - like a national candidate as opposed to the niche lackey that primaries require. That's why I laughed until my balls ached that he came out of the gate with this gem: "I don't see how anyone who is a young person could vote for a Democrat, I'm going to be honest with you."

Now Romney's no idiot. He's far closer to a spoiled Machiavelli who doesn't understand why people don't like him. Shrewd but obtuse. A bad actor, but one who can memorize his lines. The trouble starts, as it generally does in politics, when the truth comes out. But in addition to being of a party that wants to remove porn from the internet, let's look at some of the other things on the GOP agenda that young people are lining up to support:

- To run for office in South Carolina, they insist that you abstain from pre-marital sex. I'm sure that will be very popular.

- In Wisconsin, they want you to know that underage sex is a crime (you should watch the video in that link where the guy says that "Nobody knows more about sex than ME." and then pray for his homeschooled children).

- Their latest budget slashes funding of Pell grants for college, while lowering the top tax rate by 10%. Makes sense, most 20 year olds make $300,000 a year as opposed to attending school.

Funding for women's health. Gay marriage. Immigration. The Republican party is on the opposite side of young America on all of these issues. Yet Willard can't understand why if you're 22 you wouldn't vote Republican. Maybe I'm underestimating the amount of high school seniors who hate sex, don't want to go to college and are scared of women, gays and hispanics the same way you're average 57 year old hedge fund manager or third generation rural farmer are. I guess we'll find out on election day.

- If you haven't seen this, I swear it is worth your time: Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

Posted 10:53am
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March 20th, 2012

En garde, society!

Last night I was trying to make a left turn onto a one way into downton Ann Arbor and was forced to sit there while three people making a right turn waited to see if the d-bag standing on the corner was going to cross the street in front of them or not. While I place the majority of blame onto the bro standing there casually glancing at his phone, not knowing where he was going - as well as the third car who watched him do so and didn't just gun it, I find them all in violation of the social contract.

I recently saw an autograph that Louie CK signed for a little kid that said simply: "Don't be an asshole." That's as succinct of a distillation as I could give to my own philosophy. We have a certain set of prescribed rules in this society. They largely stem from Biblical pretexts and the Hammurabic code, which means they are so overtly simplistic that people several millennia ago said "That seems about right." Most of these laws people obey without thinking about them. They are fairly absolute, black and white, and haven't truly been argued about for centuries. Sure we play in the gray areas, but that's the privilege of an advanced society.

However, being civilized in my little corner of the world means more than that. These are the things that I've cobbled together through my midwestern upbringing, my early indoctrination into Catholicism and the following 25 years of analytical analysis. And while "Don't be an asshole" is a nice turn-of-phrase distillation, we unfortunately have to get a tad more overt than that, because people don't seem to get it.

First off, I'll caveat it by saying that sometimes it's important to be an asshole. I'll loosely define this behavior as "Calling people on their shit" but it could more politely be stated as "Stand up for what you believe in." While in 'refined' society (not to be confused with society-at-large or civilized society) it may make you persona-non-grata to call out an elder for being racist, or your friend for saying that Obama is a Muslim, or your co-worker for leaving shit in the community fridge for months on end, in the code of tbaggervance that is exactly what you must do. To tolerate intolerance or injustice gives these things tacit permission, and thus you would be found guilty of hindering our advancement in the court of tbaggervance.

Now I have (and continue to, to a lesser degree) take this as a mandate to call people out on lesser shit - whether it be their love for The Da Vinci Code or Twilight, or their advocacy of a non-progressive tax code, or even their fondness for Coldplay. I feel it the duty of every man to advocate for their beliefs. Not to the point of proselytizing mind you, but if someone across from you says something akin to "The Beatles are overrated" you don't just sit there. You don't even just walk away. You set the record straight. You do so with facts and knowledge and passion if you can, and with the eviscerating barbs of profanity and condescension if you can't. If you are not well versed in this, please sign up for my class "Making people fell small while validating your pre-conceived notions" at the learning annex.

But these are not the real world problems most of us face. I get that most people don't lie awake at night because they heard someone say at the bar "Dianetics changed my life." But I have a distinct idea that many of us have our day to day existence marred by people driving the speed limit in the left hand lane, or by trying to get on an elevator before you get off of it, or by taking their sweet goddamn time checking out at the self-checkout lane in the grocery store.

As a society, we function at our best when we consider those around us. This can manifest itself by giving time or money to a cause you believe in, by not driving past a line of cars waiting to get into a construction zone when the highway goes down to one lane and merging at the last second, or by simply holding the door for whomever is behind you going to the same place. These are simple things that cost you little to nothing, but yet prove the best in us in that we have taken the time to admit that solipsism is no way to go through life.

When I saw that idiot standing on the street corner tonight, with both he and the cars around him wondering if he was going to cross the street, I noted to the BDGF that it's a good thing for the idiots of the world that I wouldn't last in prison, because otherwise I'd thin the herd every chance I get. Actually, I said it's a good thing for society, but in hindsight my wording was wrong - It would be a fantastic thing for society, just not the least among you. I imagine this is the same thought process H.G. Wells had when he wrote The Time Machine.

Posted 9:39am
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March 19th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock.

- There's a plethora of Jack White media saturation out there, so in deference to the BDGF, let's go to the tape: here's a review of his SXSW performance (which included reworked White Stripes songs), here's a similar review of Jack's new endeavor that includes the line "White has often ceded the stage to great but less charismatic talents like Brendan Benson." so that's dumb, and speaking of Mr. Benson, here comes a Raconteurs' DVD. Oh, and this is the best song of his solo debut yet.

- Radiohead are finally playing Detroit! Well, Auburn Hills anyway. Here's hoping that these idiots come along for the ride.

- Jeff Tweady's kid is making music and it is not bad. Makes you feel old, eh?

- The A.V. Club is back with it's Undercover series, and it kicks off with the Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks classic "Stop Dragging my Heart Around". Baby you could never look me in the eye...

- The Shins are streaming their new LP on iTunes. I like the Shins, but I will never get excited by them, because when it comes to excitement and the Shins, never the twain shall meet.

- Craig Finn is making his own beer. I've watched him drink a million Coronas on stage over the years, so pardon me if I sit this one out. One week until Oberon returns!

- Finally, Ann Arbor's hottest low-fi duo, Death Wish Squirrel play Woodruffs this Thursday at 8pm sharp. Dig it. And try not to judge them for existing on MySpace. Yes, apparently still a thing.

Posted 10:29am
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March 16th, 2012

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

- Here's a new meme that I am totally on board with: Mitt Romney quotes as read by Lucille Bluth and Sterling Archer quotes as read by James Bond. Come on!

- Community returned last night, so in celebration, we give the hottest animated gifs of Allison Bree and Gillian Jacobs.

- Michigan plays in the opening round of the NCAA tournament tonight. Sadly, I will be with Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman watching Mythbusters Live. As far as sacrafices go, a pretty easy one. As a pre-game snack, please enjoy this analysis of why Ohio fans are douche bags. Nailed it.

- There's no way to tie these two things together, so I'll just note it gives me unadulterated joy that Dr. Horrible may be coming back and that Chuck Klosterman also enjoyed the late 80's Canadian teen melodrama Fifteen. That show was my church on Sunday mornings back in the day.

- Finally, tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. My pride in my Irish heritage compells me to celebrate, but there's nothing worse than a Saturday St. Pats. It makes the amateur component explode exponentially. Anyway, enjoy this Guiness commercial which, of course, nails it. Erin Go Bragh.

Posted 3:14pm
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March 15th, 2012

This is how the world ends.

Ed. note: This is for my own edification. No one should decide to read it of their own volition, except in which case they find my profanity laden diatribes funny, but I even can't promise that right now.

Deep down in my heart of hearts I am eternally grateful. Back in 1998 I had been working at a research firm that served as my student employment. After graduation, I was stuck with a degree that was essentially useless in the real world, a desire to never sit in a classroom again, and a three year old who needed food, shelter and insurance. So when my employer at the time offered me a full time job (albeit one not in my field of study) I jumped at the opportunity. Despite going into college wanting to set the world on fire and have a career path drastically different from my old man's, I found myself taking a steady job to provide for a toddler. My dad always said the older you get the smarter your parents are, and the older I get, the more I agree with him.

Now this was not a dire scenario by any stretch of the imagination. My new salary afforded me the opportunity to pay my bills, let my son be insured, and most importantly, came with a flexibility so that I could be there for the little one when time called. I worked nine to five, five days a week - and if I needed to leave at 10am because someone threw up at school, no worries mate.

Plus it was a fairly challenging position. I knew computers because I was a nerd, but not having any formal training, there was a lot of learning as I went. And the tasks were diverse - I literally learned the ins and outs of every part of IT support. Show me a computer now and I can tell you within 30 seconds what's wrong with it. Turns out to be a valuable skill. You think doctors have a tough time at a party when the guests find out and he spends the evening being asked "Can you look at this blemish on my scrotum?" Try being in IT. Same thing except they don't have anything to show you. "How come all of the sudden my computer at home doesn't print?" Turns out "Probably because you're an idiot." isn't a valid response.

But as he too often is, the Moeman was right. For a dozen years I never had to miss a team practice. I got to coach baseball that met at 4pm on a Thursday. I picked Sid up from school on half days and had no trouble staying home when he was sick or even if his belly hurt. I wouldn't trade that for the world.

After a decade or so however, I started to think about longevity. I saw the end of the line wherein I didn't have 2pm emergencies or International nights or the need to be a taxi cab to tennis practice. I started to feel a sense of entitlement where one had previously not existed. I had done good work for a long time, and while I had grown accustomed to the cushy University life, I now also wanted compensated for my experience. I had earned it. It was time to make money, and I would very much like to do that with very little additional effort or finding a new job thank you.

Let us fast forward to a year ago. Things started to snowball when the guy for all intents and purposes 'above me' decided to leave. This was to be my big break. A chance to set an agenda for myself to become the IT overlord for an entire department, just I had envisioned for years. Everyone at work loved me, and I knew not only problems but the solutions to that which plagued us. Of course best laid plans...

Almost a year later, after having me do the job of the guy that left in addition to my previous responsibilities, and hiring an 'IT Manager' for the department without so much as informing that it was going to happen (much less giving me the opportunity to apply for the position) I find myself butting heads with a stereotypical middle management asshole who takes my ideas and spouts them to the higher ups as if they were his own while I sit at the office, now 11:12pm on a Wednesday night, doing the menial work of a temp. So much for being indispensable.

As I stopped home quickly to drink a beer in the sun before heading back to my cave for the evening, the BDGF reminded me "Oh, come on, it's not the end of the world..." To which I summarily responded "Yes it is." When she asked for one example how it was , I told her "When the idiots of the world stop listening to those smarter than they and quit respecting their ideas in deference to their own wrong-headedness, we are fucked as a society." That's as arrogant as it gets people. The BDGF laughed. I contend, as I sit here in my spite, that I am right.

Now my at work troubles don't amount to a hill of beans. Maybe I'm not as good as I think I am. Maybe I'm too young and still too acerbic a personality to rise to the vaunted level of middle management. But I know the reason I sit here right now pounding the keyboard as if it were my enemy only exists because people didn't listen to me. At the very least I'm right a little bit. And of course I still contend a lot. Maybe I'll never be rich and successful and get what I deserve for years of dedicated service. Sometimes I worry about that. But I always take solace in the Moeman paradigm. I'm sure he had to deal with worse than I have so far, and he seemed to be OK in his lot in life. At the end of the day, I could do worse. Although if any more of them end up with me printing posters at midnight on a Wednesday, the end of the day is going to come with me taking a shit in someone's office. At the very least...

Posted 10:36am
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March 13th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I don't care too terribly much about pro football, certainly no single team owns my allegiance. I find it hard to root for pro athletes who are inherently flawed individuals who I may not agree with, thus putting me at odds with loving them on the field and loathing them off. Take Philip Rivers for example. Not only would I be jumping ship if I were any sort of a Chargers fan, I now look forward to rooting against them for as long as he's on the team.

- We've talked about Kirk Cameron's homophobia ad nauseam 'round these parts, and I normally wouldn't bother following it up just because his one time TV dad Alan Thicke rebuked him, but I also do not want to deny you this headline: Kirk Cameron's Growing Pains co-stars no longer showing him that smile. Nailed it.

- Ah Utah, home of Mormons and Karl Malone. Therefore you shouldn't be surprised that they've passed an abstinence only sex-ed bill. But what if I also told you that it prohibits even mentioning homosexuality and gives schools the choice to forgo sex-ed al altogether? Yeah, barely phases me either.

- Here's some stuff the Bible says 'tsk, tsk' to that you probably participated in. Sinner.

- If you're looking for an alternate moral code, you could do worse than Louis CK.

- Finally, we are all for conflating the Obama = Savior meme around here, especially when it's done in reverse.

Posted 11:36am
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March 12th, 2012

I declare this winter over!

The BDGF hates winter like I hate conservative hypocrites. She gruffs her way from November on every year. And come every January I remind her of the promise of St. Patrick's Day. The first year we were together St. Pats broke the back of winter. We were buried under a foot of snow at the beginning of March, but the powers of the Drunken Irish beat back the cold and on March 17th that year, we walked around in the sun without even coats to keep ourselves warm.

Every year she grouses, every year I remind her. At which point she usually tells me how tired of waiting she is, along with another string of expletives as she turns up the heat in the house. Well I am happy to report - as you obviously already know, that she didn't have to wait even until St. Patrick's Day this year. Yesterday I worked outside in SHORTS. The extended 10 day forecast doesn't have a temperature below 60 for a high. Whether it be climate change, global warming or just a weird point in nature's cycle, I hereby declare winter to be stone dead. Make forth glorious summer! Even if Oberon is still two weeks away...

- I imagine it's still pretty cold in Quebec come April, so we will plan our trip to these for sometime in August. Because Hoth proved that the force cannot keep you warm.

- There's some interesting math going on here. But it also includes a Star Wars reference, so worth checking out.

- Hey about that contraception being a liberal plot to force conservatives to subsidize promiscuity thing - is that pill easier to swallow if it saves us a billion dollars? Aw well, it was worth a shot...

Posted 11:48am
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March 9th, 2012

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

- There was quite a bit of good music on television this week, highlighted by Jack White on SNL and Elvis Costello and the Roots covering Bruce Springsteen on Fallon. Yowza.

- I found it interesting that of the top ten bars in Ann Arbor (ranked by total alcohol sales) I'd only be caught dead in one of them. I can't decide if this means I'm not doing enough at the bars I do frequent, or I'm single handedly keeping them afloat.

- I leave it to you as to which of these "Who said it?"s is funnier: Mitt Romney or Mr Burns? OR Rick Santorum or the Grand Ayatollah? Did I say funny? I think I meant disturbing.

-It's tourney time! Almost anyway. Michigan plays in the Big Ten Tournament this weekend before the Big Dance starts next Thursday. I will watch more basketball in the next ten days than I will the rest of the year. And on Monday I will fill out a bracket wherein I will spectacularly fail to predict the correct upsets, yet still carry around a sheet with my picks on it, and two pens so that I can mark the games I get right and those I inevitably get wrong. Wait, there's got to be an app for that, right?

- Finally, the BDGF returns today, trophy in hand for another State Championship for her little math nerds. We couldn't be prouder of her or more happy to have her back. xoxo my sweet.

Posted 10:44am
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March 8th, 2012

Further down the nerd hole...

Along with my parenting duties (and cleaning the hideousness that had festered underneath our basement stairs) so far I have watched: a documentary about Star Wars fans who feel like George Lucas mouth raped their childhood, Brubaker, a 1980 Robert Redford prison movie that features plenty of actual rape, and a "where are they now?" documentary about the world's best video gamers in 1982. Tonight I may read a bit of the Teddy Roosevelt biography while listening to Chris Bathgate on vinyl before settling down to watch a 1982 German film about a rubber baron who tried to build an opera house in the Peruvian jungle. Jealous? If someone wants to come over and play Star Wars/Lord of the Rings/Beatles Trivial Pursuit (yes, I own all three editions, why do you ask?) my night would be complete. I'll also start to feel a little bit like those guys from the video game documentary. Minus the living with my parents part. On to the nerd links!

- The new iPad is out and I finally really want one. We always bring a laptop with us when we travel, and I always get to be the one to lug it around. That's just the tip of the iceberg as to why I am ready to take the plunge. Here's a comparison between the iPad's latest specs and its top competitors.

- That 70's Show (and I supposeWin a Date with Tad Hamilton?)'s Topher Grace edited the three Star Wars prequels together into an action packed 90-minute movie, and it's apparently not too shabby. You'll never get to see it of course, so keep dreaming of another decent Star Wars movie.

- For Ann Arbor Star Wars fans, a lament - they are tearing down the building that used to house Sze Chuan West to build a Noodles and Co. This is not only lamentable because boo crappy chain restaurants, but if any of you ever had the pleasure of going to the old Sze Chuan, you know it was as close to actually being on Tatooine that you could find this side of Tunisia. My dream that someone would turn it into a replica of the Mos Eisley Cantina will soon be dead.

- Finally, venn diagrams, when done well, are a perfect cocktail of nerd awesome.

Posted 3:17pm
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March 7th, 2012

Bachelor Dad!

It's that time of year again when the BDGF goes away on business for a couple of days and I am left hold down the fort and fend for myself and the girls. This basically means that I have to get up an hour early to get them to school and be in charge of getting the littlest into bed at reasonable time (midnight?) The rest of my existence will ostensibly be the same.

Except for the fact that I have about 4 hours to kill after the littlest goes to bed every night all by my lonesome. And while I will miss my BDGF I am going to make the most of my alone time by going on a nerd binge. The BGDF and I agree on most things to a level that approaches disturbing, but I do have a few proclivities that she does not share. I once averaged watching a movie at LEAST every other day, now not so much. I absolutely adore slow, mellow, trenchant music - but not around the BDGF.

So for the next 48 hours I'm going to watch long, methodical movies that most people have never heard of (who's ready for Fitzcarraldo!) and listen to Chris Bathgate and Radiohead. And I'll get to enjoy it without a single eyeroll from my better half. Of course I'll be more than ready to have her back come Friday, because while I look forward to placating my inner nerd, I'd much rather sit around and discuss the entirety of the day's NYTimes with my BDGF (which is of course pretty nerdy in and of itself).

- Wormer.. .dead. Niedermeyer... dead. McQuarrie... Star Wars concept artist and populator of my adolescent dreams Ralph McQuarrie has passed away at the age of 82. Perhaps no other person outside of Lucas himself was responsible for how awesome Star Wars looked. I like to think he was lying in bed and then suddenly just disappeared, leaving nothing but a cloak in his wake.

- Neil Degrasse Tyson is perhaps the world's most badass astrophysicist. You've seen him on the Daily Show and Colbert. He has a kick ass podcast. You can generally ask him anything about science and he'll give you an answer that not only sounds irrefutable, but also eloquent. Here he is giving you the most astounding thing about the universe.

- Finally, the cherry on today's nerd Sunday: The Dr. Who/Sherlock musical mash up. I said good day sir.

Posted 09:54am
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March 6th, 2012

That to which we aspire.

I suppose I've had some adversity in my life. Not as much as someone born truly poor who had to worry about going to bed hungry growing up, more than someone who had the means to buy their way out of trouble and make it go away. And while most of the people who knew me as a teenager would have described me as pessimistic at best, at the very least I've grown to consider myself an extremely lucky individual. No more so in how I managed to become a father at 19 and literally, just survive. And while I've had a fortuitous nature in a lot of the aspects of that paradigm, in my mind what made that possible was the kind of kid I had. Nature versus nurture aside, I've been told that Sid and I do everything alike from enter a room the same way to similarly condescend to our enemies while playing a game of euchre. Had this not been the case, I would have struggled far more mightily than I did.

I'm fairly certain that his success is predicated on this. Sid is a smart kid. The veritable textbook case of what you'd think parents would want their child to be. Most importantly for me, he approaches things (mostly) like I did. This is paramount because as I'm fond of saying, I wouldn't have had the first clue what to do with a kid that struggled. Pardon my not-humble nature (and hyperbole) but I barely needed to open a book in high school to get straight A's nor in college to get a degree from one of the better institutions of higher learning in the country. This is not necessarily something to brag about nor aspire to, as it made me lazy and dismissive and (along with needing to pay for a toddler) stopped my educational career far before it may have otherwise progressed.

But years later, when I had a smart kid on my hands who needed challenging rather than help to stay afloat, I had the tools to deal with it. Because like every parent who has ever existed, I wanted more for my kid than that which I had for myself. It's the epitome of the American dream. I've done whatever (although admittedly certainly not everything - I'm still somewhat lazy) I could to foster a climate of educational importance in Sid's life. To push him, prod him and ensure that he's performing up to his potential, rather than skating by like his father years before him too often did.

Sid takes his ACT exam this week. I'm confident in his success, because I have no reason to expect otherwise. My fingers are crossed that he goes to the University of Michigan and revels in being a Wolverine like his old man. It's a dream that I never allowed myself to have until recently, but now it burns within me like so much the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. It is all consuming and all I want in life. I can say this knowing that A.) he will never read this, and B.) that - honestly - if he goes to a good school and works hard I'll be as proud of him as I would be were we to have matching diplomas. Honest. Mostly.

What I don't get is, who doesn't want that for their kid? I understand that not everyone is as lucky as I have been and that dream is not attainable for every single 16 year old in America, but some version of it is. In my estimation this goes back to the election of George W. Bush, but it assuredly stems back further if not having existed ad infinitum. It also seems to be somewhat uniquely American, but I'm willing to be wrong on that too and not defend it vehemently. However long it's existed and wherever it's most prevalent, there's a push back against intellectualism in this country, and it makes me want to vomit more profusely than Rick Santorum contemplating JFK's mere existence.

What makes "elitism" an ugly word? I mean, I know that it's a GOP meme meant to conjure up vapid, over-educated souls who have never done a hard day's work in their life and who think they know how to fix your problems despite never having experienced them, but what makes that OK when applied to education but not business 'elites' who are certainly as soft and more coddled than their University counterparts? The latter is celebrated while the former serves as a Limbaugh punchline (nevermind that those routinely throwing said barbs have master's level degrees and higher).

My little brother is a farmer. He's two years younger than I am. Never went to school, has problems with subject/verb agreement when speaking extemporaneously. He's read fewer books in his lifetime than I have in my 30s and can't begin to define string theory or the argument for preemptive war with Iran versus sanctions and diplomacy. Yet I don't doubt for a second that he's every bit as happy on a day to day basis as I am. I don't look down on my brother for one second because of the choices he's made or how he's decided to live his life. The truth is, despite eschewing college, he's engaged in bettering himself through apprenticeship programs and courses designed to teach him a trade until he's found a place for himself. He may not be done yet, but if that's the case, I'm sure he's not going to sit back and stop searching.

I'm also fairly certain that he doesn't think I'm a condescending asshole for getting a degree. I mean, I KNOW he thinks I'm a condescending asshole, but for the same reason that most people think I am - because it's true. At the end of the day, we both have the same values instilled in us by out parents: Work hard. Do right. Don't rest on your laurels. Find something that makes sense to you and then give back, because not everyone is as lucky as you are. Disparate paths, same result.

I want everyone to be educated because I think it's the highest ideal. I think that more often than not, those who can apply their brains to the abstract end up solving the concrete problems we face. That a knowledge of history and the basic building blocks of chemistry, physics, literature, mathematics and art allow us to stand on the shoulders of giants and solve problems we would have otherwise not ever been made aware of. Failing that, I want my kid to get a good job and not have to fret too much about living paycheck to paycheck so that he can worry a little less and take vacations a little more. I honestly believe that an education is the best way to do that. I really hope that Sid crushes my ACT score, even if that fact will hinder my sleep patterns for the better part of a month.

Posted 09:21am
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March 5th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Rick Santorum is very concerned that President Obama wants to make over the you of America 'in his image' by sending them to college to be educated. Mr. Santorum has a great fear that attending college will make people less religious. I'm here to tell Rick that his fears are 100% correct. I'm fond of the argument that politics and religion are the two things that most people get indoctrinated into at a very young age and then never bother to explore for themselves. This is not to say that many people don't question their faith or political leanings and end up coming down exactly where they've always been told that they belong, but my question to Santorum and any other believer out there would be "What are you afraid of?" Isn't the unexamined life not worth living? Does your belief system and set of dogmas not pass the muster of scrutiny? By overtly stating that an education makes you less religious, you're the one pointing out flaws in your system - which by the way you think should inform and be arbiter of every piece of public discourse and policy. Christ on a bike what house of cards...

- As the contraception and "personhood" arguments heat up like we've time warped back to the 1950s, this hero proposes masturbation be a crime. Thankfully he was joking, but disgustingly it's like one foot behind the line in the sand they are trying to draw.

- Witness the most disturbing documentary trailer you've seen since "Jesus Camp": "Kidnapped for Christ" Because if you're rich, super-christian and your kid tells you they're gay, it's off to the re-education camps. Again: documentary.

- Wait, Kirk Cameron says homosexuality is detrimental to society. I take back the above post.

- What was that show where Alyssa Milano was a witch? I want to see her and whoever else was on that show take on these bitches: The Teen Exorcism Squad. Again, I'm not making this shit up.

- Finally, this little segment may have outlived its usefulness, as it would appear Miley Cyrus is an atheist. Game over, we won. Peace out.

Posted 10:44am
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March 2nd, 2012

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

- So the Oscars, as per usual, were pretty bland. We get it, you think you have to be milquetoast. But do you have to trot out a catskill comedian recycling jokes from Vaudeville and treading on his the same exact shtick he's done 8 times before? Christ on a bike. Wanna know how meh the Oscars were? Watch Seth Rogen's opening remarks from the American Spirit Awards (BTW, the movie 50/50 didn't get nominated for anything? It was way better than a lot of the dreck that got noms). Or the montage from the Jimmy Kimmel Show post-Oscars. Oye vey Billy Crystal, worse than we thought in the moment.

- I hate mentioning people like Rush Limbaugh because I feel like I'm contributing to the problem by merely repeating the vile things that come out of his mouth. But this, well... he said that if we mandate coverage for birth control, then women should have to tape themselves having sex and put it on the internet so he can watch. Ironically, it's dumber than this parody of the GOP's war on women's reproductive rights - which they tried to make so dumb as to be laughable. Congrats Rush and the whole GOP - that's tough to do.

- One of my favorite conversations (and one I've been having for 20 years) is about how all artists are thieves. Anyone who has ever created anything stands on the shoulders of giants, and I write that stealing a quote that I'm not attributing, thus completing the cycle. Anyway, rather than give you my version of the diatribe, I can't recommend enough that you watch these videos "Everything is a Remix". My buddy Rohrs emailed it to me, noting "I think we had this conversation many moons ago." We did, and let's go ahead and pretend we were that erudite.

- Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Breitbart... Political asshat Andrew Breitbart died yesterday at the age of 43, and I have no problem saying about time. I know I should feel bad that he had friends and family and they are mourning, but I'd feel worse if he had lived and they had continued to suffer him, in an even more personal, up close way than the world had to. He was a horrible, vile human being that politically embodied the worst of humanity (minus things such as genocide). I can't say it any better than Matt Taibbi did: Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Douche.

- Finally, yesterday Bells Brewery announced that Oberon will be released March 26th (it's always the last Monday in March, but it's good to have things all official like). That means we are just a tad more than three weeks away from the official start of spring. Let's get the weather to cooperate now please and thank you. Cheers.

Posted 10:44am
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March 1st, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- This is ancient news at this point, but people were upset at Dave Grohl dissing electronic music on the Grammys, and which point he kind of clarified what he meant. He was right all along - music is about self-expression, and most of what you hear on the radio (I assume, anyway) is not that.

- Announced - Sleigh Bells go on tour and Pitchfork's Festival lineup 2012.

- I have no idea what bizarre internet show this is, but Ted Leo plays "Bottled in Cork" at the 17:45 mark.

- Jimmy Fallon + Eddie Vedder + Jeremy Lin = This.

- I remember the first time I heard Norah Jones. I thought "This is something" and promptly listened to the album 1 zillion times. Then six months later it became a huge adult contemporary thing I needed a shower. Since then she's made a number of awesome career zigs and zags, including acting in a Wong Kar Wai movie collaborating with Jack White and Dangermouse. Incidentally, Danger produces her new album, and I like the first track. If that means I am headed for Lite FM, so be it. I mean how dare you!

- My all time greatest indie rock underground crush The Promise Ring reunited again last Saturday night in Chicago. Due to travel schedules I had to miss the show, so here's hoping this turns into some sort of mini reunion tour, because imagine how much fun it would be to pretend it's 1997 again...

- Finally, Wormer.. dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Davey Jones... I certainly am not old enough to have been the Monkee's target demographic when they were hatched in a lab sometime in 1964, but I certainly saw most if not all of their TV episodes growing up, which I think speaks to the quality (if not necessarily enduring power) of what they were doing. Sometimes old guys in suits decide to copy something in the zeitgeist and despite their best efforts, fail to screw it up. I put the Monkees in that category. No they didn't play their instruments, but that makes this not a good song or more importantly, not super fun? No, no it doesn't. RIP Davey...

Posted 11:03am
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February 29th, 2012

Wednesdays are for politickin'...

- I'll admit that I thought about voting for Rick Santorum yesterday. Michigan has an open primary so I could have gone in, asked for a Republican ballot and cast my lot with vilest of the vile in hopes of obfuscating the GOP race. Ultimately, I didn't because I don't want to be that kind of person. Not because of the liberals yelling "If he gets elected I'm blaming you!" because that prospect is as likely me turning down a free drink. I like to think that I have a little higher set of ideals. Let them run whomever they think best represents their direction for the country and let's have an honest debate about it. None of this will happen mind you, but not because I'm fucking around and giggling with the kids at Daily Kos.

- So let us eulogize the man synonymous with anal sex liquids, mostly because I have a million links in my file I need to dump. Let us remember Santorum by remembering what he believed in:

- Global warming is a hoax.
- College is for snobs (and Obama mandates your attendance).
- You have no constitutional right to privacy.
- There's no such thing as a liberal Christian.
- JFK was a pussy.

Thanks for the good times Santorum. And thanks to every woman and non-Catholic who voted for him and prolonged his run in the spotlight - you took one for the team knowing that Santorum hates you and has no respect for your rights as an individual.

- You know how the biggest homophobes in the Republican party doth tend to protest too much? This does nothing to dispel that.

- And while I always knew that the Girl Scouts had a rampant pro-homosexual agenda, I had no clue they were also encouraging the sexualization of children as an arm of Panned Parenthood. The more you know...

- Finally, with a little luck, I give you the first female president of the United States. I'd vote for her.

Posted 11:41am
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February 28th, 2012

tbaggervance and the BDGF in: I'd run away with you baby... Part two: Viva Las Vegas

When the BDGF initially proffered the idea of including Vegas on our Southwestern United States vacation, I was excited. I love Vegas. Or I did. Back in the day Vegas was a wonderful, giant, gold plated turd. Sure at some point they tried to gentrify it and make a family friendly vacation destination, but it still had seediness at its core. You could still get rooms for $40 a night on the strip in what amounted to a motel. And these low rent dens of inequity would comp your stay if you agreed to play blackjack at five dollars a hand for eight hours at their tables (and they'd throw in a breakfast buffet on top of it). But I came in to that scenario as the waiters were clearing dessert, and that version of Vegas has faded into memory. The Disneyfication of the Strip is complete, and while it's still a giant, gold plated turd populated with shirtless hillbillies wearing yard long glasses of margaritas around their collective necks, seeing said spectacle is no longer possible on a budget. You can't find $5 blackjack anymore. The late night sirloin and baked potato deals for $1.99 are gone, replaced with meals fit for Applebees at twice the price. You not only don't get comped for charming the pit boss anymore, you are forbidden from making eye contact with the overweight goombas running the tables. People now bring four year olds to wander Las Vegas Boulevard, staring at business cards with naked women with stars covering their nipples and ogling at billboards featuring men in g-strings. I have a problem with this on several levels.

My trepidation didn't hit me initially. I knew that the BDGF has OCD levels of germaphobia, but that could be dealt with by wearing gloves. And I knew she wouldn't want to partake in whatever was left of my 'Dirty Vegas', where you could hope to win $100 in an hour on $5 blackjack and feel like you affected the pit's take for the day. It started to bother me when I remembered that my last two trips to Sin City ended up in my then girlfriend breaking up with me and getting mugged. My Vegas was gone. Since then I had had my heart broken and wallet stolen from me. Why was I going back here? When our itinerary went from one night to three, I started to panic.

Yet there I was Wednesday morning, checking out of our beautiful, eclectic hotel in Phoenix to head North to stay in a rundown Vegas casino where they charged $15 a night for WIRED internet access. The first night would be easy. We had tickets to see Penn & Teller at the Rio, so it was merely a matter of turning in the rental car, checking in, and going to the show. Nothing could possibly go wrong. And while I know this should be the point where I tell you a story of a horrific nature, outside of the piss poor pizza we ate out of necessity and convenience, everything went to plan. We checked in, the BDGF learned an important lesson about never stopping to talk to anyone offering you anything in Vegas, we saw the show and went back to the hotel to hang out much like we were back in Ann Arbor. The BDGF already started to express her reservations about how skeevy the city was, but I knew that was coming. Incidentally, having never been to a Vegas show before, I highly recommend Penn & Teller. Amazing magic, $50 a ticket, hilarious. Fuck $100+ for Cirque du Soleil.

The next day it was time to walk the strip and revel in all of its retarded opulence. We were resplendent in the juxtaposition of carefully recreated world treasures against the backdrop of fat Americans in their fanny packs pushing strollers. We ate pseudo French cuisine while watching tourists pay $5 to touch a guy's snake (not a euphemism). After enough sightseeing to require two showers, we took a cab to an out of the way, low rent casino to see an aging Beatles cover band that rocked our faces. We were complimented by several strangers for being able to sing every word to every song and just being utterly adorable, and both agreed that it was our favorite evening of our adventure. It's amazing at how John and Paul's words can make everything melt away, even when you are 10 years the youngest people in the room.

Friday we walked the strip again, with a detour to one of the few places my Vegas still exists: Ellis Island. Its a dump of a place with a square footage no larger than our house. But we drank their $2 beers and managed to roll them for $60 collectively at blackjack in the span of 30 minutes, thus the hero hands.

We then decided to find a spot to watch the spectacle unfold and play the ultimate Vegas game. It started as Girlfriend/Mistress/Wife but unfolded to include the following categories:

1st wife
2nd wife
Sugar daddy
King of Queens/ reverse King of Queens
Mistress turned 2nd wife
The Sarandon
Mrs. Robinson
Hillbilly Hookup
Lesbians or sisters?
The Beard (aka the Tom cruise)
Gaybies (Gay men with babies)
The Mailorder
The Mr. mom
The Manstress

It's a game you can play anywhere, but you will find no better content anywhere than in Vegas.

Friday night was to include a taste of the best Vegas had to offer, so at the suggestion of former Vegas resident, Sin City confidant and long time friend of tbaggervance RJ, we went to the Chandelier at the Cosmopolitan. It's the current reason Vegas has a reputation for being hip and cool and above the fray, and deservedly so. It didn't hurt that I had this on my arm:

That being said, its coolness still had a vibe of entitlement and Eurotrash to it. When you charge me $18 for two vodka sodas and act like I just kicked you in the junk when I tip you two bucks, you can politely go fuck yourself. Of course it was still amazing and being in Vegas for 48 hours, I was used to overpaying and being made to feel like it was my fault for it.

We made our way back to the hotel and checked out the following morning and made our way home. The BDGF had experienced Vegas and realized what she knew going in: that it was a dirty place she wanted no part of. I had a similar awakening in that my Vegas was truly all but dead. That of course was tempered by the notion that I got to experience it with my favorite person in the world, and what ever taboos I had about the place were similarly extinct. I no longer have a desire to visit Vegas the way I once did, but it's also not a harbinger of evil. I have better, more important ways to spend my time. The last day we were there, the BDGF and I posed in front of a chapel and posted it to facebook, hoping that people would extrapolate that we'd made a spur of the moment decision to making an honest man and woman of each other. No one bit, but that ended up being besides the point. It solidified for me something I'd known for some time now - I'd have said yes in a heartbeat. What more does anyone want out of a vacation?

Posted 9:38am
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February 27th, 2012

tbaggervance and the BDGF in: I'd run away with you baby... Part one: We said we'd never drive on vacation again

I don't think for a second that the BDGF and I are the only couple in the world who routinely look each other in the eye and agree out loud to never do something again, only to find ourselves in said situation the very next time the opportunity arises. I am extremely glad, however, that those things are never horrible habits like letting each other down, but rather silly things that tend to revolve around spoiling the children or driving on vacation.

I got my way once again this year in that we agreed to try and balance fun and warmth by traveling to a probably warm city rather than a definitely warm remote resort where we'd eat dinner next to Bob and Midge from Charlotsville for six straight nights. And just as to not bury the lead - the weather was nigh on perfect. After two years of rollercoaster-y at best temps, the BDGF got a week of mid to high 70's. Of course just for cohesion's sake, we also got 9 degrees and snow on the ground.

Our original plan was to spend a week in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. I'm a big fan of their light rail transportation and figured that in a place that size, we could find a way to kill a week. After looking around a bit, the BDGF wasn't so sure. So we added Las Vegas to the itinerary. After scheduling the girl's simultaneous trip and finding the cheapest flight we arrived in Las Vegas, bound for Phoenix via economy rental car, just before midnight on Sunday night.

Of course since we were going to be so close, we just had to see the Grand Canyon on the way. Now the first summer the BDGF and I were together we drove to both South Carolina and South Kadota because family made those trips necessary. Then last year we drove up and down the East coast with the children because the older ones will be gone soon and togetherness is paramount. After that trip we swore off traveling great distances by automobile. Yet here I was, traveling through the middle of the night, 3 hours out of the way to see the sunrise over a giant hole in a car with no cruise control (seriously Ford?) And when we got there it was 9 degrees fahrenheit outside.

But what, we were going to be a couple hours from the Grand Canyon and not see it? By the time we drove south a few more hours and lowered our elevation by several thousand feet, we were sitting poolside at our hotel, basking in the 75 degree sunshine. We spent the next two days drinking outside on patios, which would have been enough to make a successful vacation for either of us.

We also met up with my ex Ayesha, who gave the BDGF a fairly prototypical Ayesha experience. It was good to see her and whatever awkwardness that's inherent in those things melted fairly quickly - thanks in large part, as always, to alcohol. And of course as we try to do every vacation, we found pub trivia to play. Phoenix may not be an intellectual mecca nor world renowned for its erudite citizenry, but let that not take away from the fact that the two of us kicked that trivia night's ass.

We clearly could have stayed longer, as we quickly fell in love with our hotel and the weather. We spent the last night sitting on the roof, just drinking and talking as we are wont to do. Because while we may fall into the trap of looking each other in the eye, stating that we'll never do something again that we clearly will, after two and half years we still just like looking at each other.

Tomorrow: Bright light city gonna set my soul on fire!

Posted 11:41am
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February 17th, 2012

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

- You've seen Documentaries, Rockumentaries and Mockumentaries, but are you aware of Filmumentaries? Jamie Benning takes watching your favorite films to a new behind the scenes level, this time with my personal favorite movie of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Dig it.

- More film fun! See how many times through it takes you to name all of these movies, A to Z. I watched it 3 times, I'm still missing two letters.

- Paul Krugman's op-ed in the Times today tries to tackle why people vote against their self interests. I think he misses an important reason that's tough to quantify but I think is nevertheless true: People vote Republican because they think someday they (or their children) will be rich enough to take advantage of their gamed system. I think this is largely unconscious and people who participate in this behavior often wouldn't quantify it in this way, but I think it's an actual thing. I mean, it can't all be wedge issues, the gays and lady parts aren't that scary.

- I've long been calling Romney 'inevitable'. And as much as I love the dog and pony show, I always want the opposition to run somewhat not totally batshit, because what if they win? I could always move to Toronto, but I don't think the BDGF would survive the cold. Anyway, I thought Romney was not so bad. Outside of the magic underwear thing, the guy is so malleable that he probably wouldn't be the worst President in the world. Now I'm starting to waver, because you won't believe the example of talking out of both sides of one's mouth I'm about to lay on you: Mittens was against the bailout of the auto industry. Big time. Said to let Detroit go bankrupt and kept saying it, this despite every reasonable person in the world saying that IN HINDSIGHT even, this was a rousing success. Then IN DETROIT he gets up, IN PUBLIC, and takes credit for GM being profitable. Who the fuck does this guy think he is?

- Finally, the blog will be an empty plain filled with nothing but tumbleweeds next week as I head to the great American Southwest for a much needed respite from the grind of the working week. We struggle with where to go every year, because the BDGF wants nothing more than to be able to wear dresses and be warm, and I'd rather stay home and go to work than spend a bunch of money to go to some resort and have forced interaction with Biff and Wendy from Pecoima. So we try and find somewhere South that has actual culture and a nightlife and things to do. Year one was Austin, which was fairly perfect outside of the one day that it snowed (for the first time in Austin in 30 years). Year two we hit LA, where we still had to wear coats outside and crank the heater to put the top down on the convertible. This year we'll be in PHX and Las Vegas, checking out the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam as we ferry between the two. Please please please let it be above 70 while we are there. I have no doubt that one of these years I will have to bite the bullet and end up somewhere in the Caribbean where nothing is open after 10pm, but if I can get a week of highs of 77, I might be able to kick that ball down the road a while longer.

Posted 10:37am
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February 16th, 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- More Craig Finn... Playing NPR's Tiny Desk and Minnesota Public Radio.

- And so that the BDGF's other crush doesn't get jealous over qualms of equal time, Jack White has a new video and solo tour dates. I wonder if his tour bus is a hearse since he clearly spends daylight hours sleeping in a coffin.

- Sleigh Bells new album Reign of Terror is streaming over at the NYTimes. Well la di da...

- If I were to tell you that Bill Cosby covered "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and it was even awesomer than what you are imagining in your brain right now, would you listen? You better.

- Want a Super Bowl halftime show that will rock your face? Vote for Weird Al.

- Finally, last night's Love Hangover was a rousing success. Here's a picture to prove it happened:

If and when video gets posted, it will be appeneded here. That's of course assuming that it's not a total train wreck of embarassment. Cross your fingers...

Update 12:57pm

Videos are up! Two of Us and Punk Rock Girl.

Posted 11:08am
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February 15th, 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? Crazy Catholic edition

I wouldn't say that growing up Catholic made me an Atheist - that was probably inevitable. I do think that you could make a cogent argument that it hastened the process. How they can teach you the rampant hypocrisy and corruption that has existed in the institution of the Church throughout its history and NOT expect you to say 'Fuck all this' is beyond me.

So while I love railing against all religious hypocrisy, there's a special place in my heart when it comes to the Catholic church. There's an extra gear of ire to get into. The past couple of weeks, the Catholics have been firing on all cylinders, and my dander is up people. Let's go to the tape.

- If you're institutionally raping young boys for decades, you'd think the least you owed them and society at large is an apology. Well Cardinal Egan would like you to know that if he did apologize, he shouldn't have and he takes it back. The power of Christ compels him!

- We talked last week about religious morality being arbitrary at the end of the day, and that's never more true when looking at politicians. Just so happens that the two biggest d-bags vying for the GOP nomination are both Catholic. Here's ten specific ways Gingrich and Santorum are picking and choosing to be pious. Enjoy the buffet.

- Here's Maureen Dowd on the rise of exorcisms in the the Catholic church. 'Nuff said.

- Finally, the Catholics are going to the mattresses over the birth control mandate upcoming as health care reform is implemented. Now I have a problem with religious institutions being tax exempt, and you know, I believe the science when it empirically tells me the societal advantages of giving women access to birth control, but I'm not Jesus, and apparently he differs with me. And I imagine that he doesn't care that most Catholics agree with me and the Obama administration. Here's Gail Collins laying out the argument, including an anecdote about women using birth control being no better than common street whores. Stay classy, Catholics.

Posted 11:51am
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February 14th, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day.

It's a super busy week here at Today is Valentine's, tomorrow is the Love Hangover, and on Friday, we head off for a week's vacation. So we are feeling a little overwhelmed. But not so much that we can't wish you, dear readers, a Happy Valentine's Day.

I'm always for telling the people you love that you love them. It's something that you pretty much can't do too much. OK you can, but that's probably the least of your problems if that's becoming an issue. But I digress. Tell your kids you love them, because otherwise you're just a mean old man. Here's my Valentine's card to them:

My nerdiness knows no bounds.

Of course tell your partner you love them too. They put up with you and all of your awfulness. You don't deserve them and they should not only know that you appreciate them for who they are, but for the fact that they tolerate you, because you know you're a piece of work. I love my BDGF and I'm pretty sure she knows it. I used to blanche at the word partner because it seemed sterile and an overly PC way to play the pronoun game, but the BDGF has made me rethink it. Mostly because with her it makes sense - she's my partner in the very best sense of the word. We do everything together, hand in hand, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Oh, and I made her a card too, but she hasn't seen it yet, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see it. Happy Valentine's one and all.

Posted 10:19am
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February 13th, 2012

You will be found out.

In my penchant for being a cranky old man that longs for the day when I can yell at children to get off my lawn, I love warning the children that they will never get away with anything. I tell them that they are in the unenviable position of having young parents who have already tried everything that they could possibly conceive of, and thus are hyper aware of the ins and outs of getting away with it. My parents were old and slow and tired and I still managed to get caught being colossally dumb during my teenage years, because teenagers are inherently dumb and overconfident. Eventually, with persistence, you can out fox your elders through sheer force of will, breaking them down over time. However, without a generation gap to distance you from what your parents imagine your possibilities and resources are, this becomes more difficult.

This of course depends somewhat on your definition of "getting away with it". A lot of the time, all you want is the experience, consequences be damned. I participated in a lot of foolish behavior knowing damn well that I'd be caught eventually, but not until the so called damage was done. This is much more possible than getting off scott free, even for those with hyper vigilant parents who have a working understanding of technology. It's a sucker punch to a much more powerful adversary - you got your shot in, and now you are going to pay for it.

This is a willing trade for someone in my situation growing up. Of course the upside of having young parents is that the rule of asking forgiveness rather than permission does not generally apply. Understanding the paradigm the way we do, we're willing to concede a level of stupidity if we feel we can cover it with an overarching umbrella of safety. It's the choice between calling your parents to come get you when you've been drinking vs. driving anyway and hoping you get home with no one being the wiser. These are the choices we want to avoid ever being made. Because make no mistake about it, you will be found out, one way or another.

- Take these assholes. Regular readers know's feelings towards sweatpants, and we make no exception for those made to look like you're some sort of hipster douche bag executive. Wearing sweatpants outside of the house makes you look like a homeless person. End of story.

- Take this asshole. What chance does a women hating, war mongering homophobe have of winning an election when this is his stance on freedom:

This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don't think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.

That's Rick Santorum noting that the government has every right to peek into your bedroom. Screw individual freedom. Welcome to the new GOP.

Posted 1:47pm
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February 10th, 2012

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

- In celebration of Prop 8 suffering another Death Blow, here's the best anti- Prop 8 posters. In honor of Washington getting a step closer to marriage equality, here's Howard Stern defending gay people. Seriously.

- In honor of two of my favorite TV shows: here's two Archer soundboards and some free advice from Ron Swanson.

- Thankfully, I have a fake 8 year old daughter who loves Star Wars so I don't have to hem and haw about whether or not to see Star Wars: Episode One: The Phantom Menace in 3D this weekend. Of course we're going - she's never seen ANY Star Wars movie in a theater! How EXCITING! Sadly, she'll never get to see the original trilogy in its original glory, but sadder still is that George Lucas is still trying to justify his "Greedo shot first" retconning of one of the greatest heroes in the history of cinema. Now he's saying it was always this way. He's clearly a not well individual.

- When the original Spider-man came out way back in 2002, I thought it was pretty perfect. So I also thought it was also pretty dumb to reboot the franchise a mere 10 years later. Then I saw the new trailer and a day later I'm still trying to hide my nerd boner. This looks totally like the Spider-man ethos I grew up with. And plus, at the end of the day, it's more comic book movies, why would I ever be against that?

- Finally, this is next Wednesday:

My son has recently decided to become a full fledged teenager, which means everything sucks and everyone is stupid and thus he will not be performing with me this year. In his stead, I got the BDGF and Markie C to join me and help focus attention away from my crappy guitar playing (plus Chermack Chermack on bass to completely spackle over my shoddy musicianship). We go on at 7, so get there early.

Posted 10:30am
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February 9th, 2012

This week in Indie Rock - You should never meet your heroes edition.

This is Craig Finn:

He's normally the frontman for the band The Hold Steady. He's not famous. He's 40 and kind of schlubby. But I love him. And so does the BDGF.

Last night we went and saw him perform his new solo album at a tiny hipster bar in Detroit. With barely over a 100 people in the place, we were able to get right up front and as anyone who had an HDTV in the early days before they figured out how to put the makeup on right will tell you, there's such a thing as too much clarity.

Craig spits when he sings. Not on purpose, but he's forceful into the mic and often times that's accompanied by large plumes of saliva. The BDGF cringed with every speck of spittle. He also got completely hammered half way through the show. He kept looking at the crowd like Nicholson in The Shining. He completely stopped playing his guitar. Don't get me wrong, Mr. Finn is a professional and the set sounded great, but it was perhaps a tad too intimate.

After the performance the BDGF rushed over to get an autograph, and he took her hand, called her sweet, and led her to the back of the club where he set up to greet the fans, giving her a guitar pick as they walked back. The fantasy of making out with Craig may have died in his spit soaked microphone screen, but I think the small interaction went a long way to putting the bloom back on the rose.

- Things to watch:

- Nada Surf on Fallon
- Wilco on ACL
- The Black Keys new video for "Gold on the Ceiling"

- Finally, the BDGF's secondary crush may be a spit talker and her main one may be slowly turning into Lestat, but we will always celebrate both of their musical endeavors. Here's a list of the 13 best Jack White collaborations and listen to his new song, "Machine Gun Silhouette".

Posted 11:08am
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February 8th, 2012

You've got to let love rule.

Yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided legally what we all know to be true in our hearts:

Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.

I've read a lot of analysis that argues that wording in the decision is very narrow and not only makes the decision apply specifically to California, but gives the Supreme Court enough cover to deny even hearing the case. But we here at are not here to be the Debbie Downers of the internet. Victory is ours. Let us rejoice.

This blog deals a lot with what it considers to be hypocrisy. Particularly when it comes with a religious bent. There's a lot of inconsistencies in the Bible, and that's putting it extremely benevolently. I think it's somewhat possible analytically to resolve the paradoxes that exist between the old and new testament, but how then do you not consider any evidence of the intervening 2,000 years? At the end of the day you are arbitrarily picking and choosing your morality, and/or listening to authority figures that have a very status quo agenda.

I suppose that's fine for your personal existence. I'm no fan of a nanny state and your business isn't mine much less the government's. But we're talking about giving someone second class citizen status for who they inherently are. How does that not make you angry? If it doesn't, who are you to say, in a plural society, that you are the best arbiter of doling out inalienable rights? Remember, the basis of your morality is inconsistent, paradoxical and ultimately flawed.

I know we are on the right side of history and the fight has already been won, but I still get upset about it. I hate that I live in a country where this isn't rote and de rigueur and a no-brainer. It is frustrating to exist in a world where analytical thought, the scientific method and cogent analysis don't rule the day. And I said I wasn't going to be Debbie Downer.

But hey! We won! Bill O'Reilly is apoplectic, and that's always a good sign. And yes, ljv, Ted Olsen has a huge hand in this. To quote a famous boxer, "If I can change, and you can change, we all can change." Remember, he beat Ivan Drago.

Posted 1:27am
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February 7th, 2012

Tuesdays are for politickin' - You're doing it wrong edition

- We live in amazing times. Not only does the internet take time wasting to a whole new level that would be unimaginable to even our younger selves, but it can effect actual change in the world. All of that and I haven't even mentioned the porn! But I digress. From regime change in the Middle East to stopping SOPA and PIPA in their tracks, the internet provides information dissemination and a rallying cry to action in a way never before possible. The best, most recent example of this is Planned Parenthood vs. The Komen Foundation. The internet's righteous indignation over Komen's overtly political decision not only immediately replaced the pulled funds of the Foundation with small, grassroots donations, but eventually got the foundation to reverse its decision. That's a beautiful thing. Guess what side of the 'debate' Mittens Romney came down on? To be fair, that was his position yesterday. Give it time.

- Yes, it's going to be a day dedicated to GOP stupidity. In several caucuses/popularity contests today, guess who is poised to surge? After he toured a sweater vest factory! And no, that's not even from the Onion.

- Speaking of ineffectual, more evidence that sex education (or lack thereof) is not getting the job done in red states. Apparently adhering to the 'ostrich method' works just as well around horny teenagers as it does in the wild.

- If you weren't watching the Super Bowl in Michigan last Sunday, you might have missed Republican Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra's racist, xenophobic campaign ad. There's nothing like a bit of actual racism to make me feel bad about all the times I make fun of my son for being an asian stereotype.

- Finally, no matter where you watched the game, chances are you saw the Clint Eastwood "It's Halftime in America" ad for Chrysler. And if you're scene was anything like ours, you were chanting "USA! USA!" after it. Clint's not only an American icon, all-time bad ass and renaissance man, he's also an authority figure. He's going to tell you the truth, and then no matter how bad it is, remind you to do the right thing and be a man about it. Or more importantly in the parlance of the commercial, be an American about it. It's powerful stuff. Especially around Detroit, a very proud city that yearns to be great again. Of course several Republicans want to demonize this as an Obama campaign ad (despite the facts) precisely because it's so effective. The problem being, it doesn't fit their narrative. It should, it's a typically Republican sentiment, but it lacks that notable derision that they can't live without. Well I've got some advice for Karl Rove and anyone else in the GOP who wants to whine about corporations 'using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising" that shills for the president: shut up and be a man about it. Be an American.

Posted 10:40am
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February 6th , 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I eschewed Parks and Recreation for the longest time because I thought it was dumb. I tried to watch it a couple of times because the entirety of the internet assured be it was awesome, but every time I tried I found myself colossally bored. So I decided to give it one more serious college try and internet, I owe you an apology. You were right, I was wrong. Specifically, I love Ron Swanson. I have unknowingly been modeling my work persona on him for over a decade. Please enjoy Nick Offerman and his wife Megan Mullaly performing a country song about a Paleontologist falling for a Creationist. You had me at meat tornado.

- Three of my favorite people live in the black mining hills of South Kadota, so I put them in charge of policing this potential stupidity so that is doesn't spiral out of control. I encourage academic study of the Bible, as you can't really understand History or Art without it, but let's be honest, this is a stupid loophole.

- Speaking of stupid state governments, Pennsylvania unanimously declared 2012 The Year of the Bible. I'm not sure how the approximately 50 Chinese people in Pennsylvania feel about this, because if you ask them, I'm pretty sure it's the year of the dragon. I'm also pretty sure every founding father would call this a violation of the Constitution.

- There are still heroes in the world - the asshat State senator form Tennessee who authored the 'Don't Say Gay" bill and spouts fallacies about HIV was recently denied service at a local restaurant because, well he's an idiot and a bigot. Kudos ma'am.

- I'm not exactly sure who Baby J would feel about erotic Bible fan fiction, but I can guess.

- Finally, in typical 'turn the other cheek', 'whatever you do to the least of my people', 'Christian compassion' fashion, the girl who had a prayer banner removed from her school is getting death threats. Stay classy zealots, Baby Jesus is watching...

Posted 10:50am
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February 3rd, 2012

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

- Welcome to another Drum Fill Friday! Fear for the future of humanity by watching how colossally stupid American teenagers are! Or if you are like me, write down every question in the video and then take them home to ask your own teenagers to answer them to restore your faith. Please please please restore my faith...

- Two things on the horizon: The Oscars are February 26th and The Hamtramck Blowout starts Feb. 29th. Ann Arborites can enter Quality 16's annual Oscar contest here, and those with rock and roll in their hearts can peep the Blowout's lineup here.

- I expect Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan to end up fairly high on most lists ranking intellectual prowess and general secular awesomeness, but being in the 19 most fun-loving colleges was pleasantly surprising. I was similarly impressed with my home state in these charts of "Is Your State on the Right Side of History?" until I got all the way down to gay marriage. Come on Michigan, we're better than that.

- Mitt Romney may be breathing a little easier after winning Florida and his pending status of 'inevitable' may finally start getting etched in stone. Too bad for him that this is happening at the same time the other 'inevitable' is coming to fruition - the economy is gaining momentum. They're really gonna run against his record? Listen, I'm no sycophant, there's issues out there to exploit, but what's your case? Foreign policy? Bin Laden's dead and we're ending wars and changing regimes without losing soldiers. The economy? The stimulus and bailouts worked and things are turning around. I guess you can try and outflank him on social issues, hoping that progressives think he hasn't done enough, because otherwise his policies are with the majority. I watched Romney's victory speech Tuesday, and I got news for him, you can't lie in a debate with the President the way you can to Floridian septuagenarians. I'm starting to prepare myself to enjoy this...

- Finally, the Superbowl is Sunday. I for one welcome the opportunity for Captain Dreamboat to win his fourth Superbowl and forever shut the door on who is the greatest quarterback of all time. Of course for those of you who give two shits about the game, don't forget that there's still copious amounts of bad food to eat, booze to guzzle and commercials to watch. Like this Ferris Bueller update and Avengers preview. Hopefully things get more interesting than that.

Posted 10:46am
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February 2nd, 2012

Thursdays are for politickin'

- First off, it's Groundhog Day, which is political, since whether or not Puxatawny Phil sees his shadow is decided by a small Pennsylvanian aristocracy. They decided he did, so six more weeks of winter, which who cares: it's going to be 47 tomorrow. But I digress, because we buried the lead about GH Day: it takes place at Gobblers Knob. True story. Now get out there and try and make that stick as someone's nickname.

- For those nostalgic for elections of yore, I give you the trailer for HBO's Game Change. Looks nostalgically awesome! Remember hating Palin?

- Washington moves forward on gay marriage. Hooray! I haven't been so proud of you guys since grunge.

- Fox should know better than to screw with a frog and a pig. They don't have the wit, much less the intellectual firepower.

- In the bucklingest of buckling moves, the Komen Foundation is backing out of Planned Parenthood. To tell these people to go fuck themselves, please donate to Planned Parenthood.

- Finally, Florida did something right for once and sounded the death knell for America's least favorite bridge troll, Newt Gingrich. So, let us begin the vetting process of one Willard Mittens Romney. What do we like? He was the Republican governor of a hugely liberal state, where he seemed to bend to the will of the people and compromise, including passing a universal health care law NEARLY IDENTICAL to that of President Obama. Of course that's not how he's running for president, so let's talk about the things we don't care for:

1. He's mormon. Like really, really, mormon. Which means we can assume he hates gays and women and wears magic underwear.
2. He's rich. Disgustingly, ill-gotten rich. In fact, if you took the wealth of every President from Nixon to Obama and DOUBLED it, Romney would still have more cash.
3. That's mildly palatable for most people, except he thinks that corporations are people, that $300,000 is not that much money, makes $10,000 bets on a whim and oh, he's "not concerned about the very poor."
4. When asked to defend that statement, he said it's not that he doesn't care, it's that he's not going to do anything for them.
5. He once pulled a Griswold and strapped his dog to the roof of his car for a 12 hour trip.

The guy's a piece of shit. Of course he's probably the least of all evils in the GOP field. Were he to be elected, history shows he could be swayed to the side of public opinion more often than not. (Now all we have to worry about is public opinion.) However, I keep seeing this meme show up, and when I first heard it proffered by the BDGF a month ago, I immediately knew it to be true: Willard is John Kerry. Enjoy Republicans!

Posted 10:33am
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February 1st , 2012

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Cornelius...

I'm pretty sure Soul Train was my first foray into Black culture. For all I know Don Cornelius was the first black person I ever saw. Growing up in the late '70s and early '80s in very rural Ohio with no cable TV, my exposure to what was going on in the world was limited at best. Not that I cared that much, all I really wanted was the four hours of respite offered to me by Saturday morning cartoons.

Do they even exist anymore? Saturday morning cartoons were literally the center of my existence for the first ten years of my life. Before Nickelodeon and Disney, it was the only block of programming designed for my demographic. It seems strangely sad to me that they might not even exist anymore, much less be something that kids look forward to for six days a week. But I digress.

After Saturday morning cartoons were over, I would desperately scan the 6 channels we got looking for anything that would occupy my brain for just a tad longer. This usually ended up being some old Vincent Price movie on the Saturday Afternoon Double Creature Feature, but not before a brief pause up the dial to see what was going down on Soul Train.

I do remember, even at the time, unworldly as I was, thinking that it seemed dated. Like it wasn't just another part of the world featuring people who I had nothing in common with, but from a different age. A bygone era of disco, bell bottoms and people being smooth yet funky. Like a black Saturday Night Fever. Clearly this a confused remembrance tied up in nostalgia crossed wires. Chances are I saw my sister's copy of the SNF soundtrack, saw that people on Soul Train wore similar clothes and equated the two. Who knows.

In any event, Don Cornelius passed away yesterday. I always paused on Soul Train because I wanted to hear Don's voice, even for a second. It blew my mind that anyone sounded like that in real life. I couldn't wrap my brain around the music and the clothes made it seem like every Saturday was Halloween, but I knew that Don Cornelius was cool. Thanks for that, even if I'd be nothing but disappointed several years later when I started meeting actual black people and found out they weren't all so silver tongued and smooth.

Posted 10:34am
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January 30th , 2012

For my BDGF, who loves another.

This is Jack White:

Early on in the BDGF and I's relationship we divulged our celebrity sexceptions and Jack was at the top of her list.* I for one was thrilled. Not only do I love Jack's music, not only is he a guitar god and from the city of Detroit, but he looks like a ghoul. No one would be surprised to find out he sleeps in a coffin and suffers from a vitamin D deficiency. I'm sure he's been mistaken for Johnny Depp's derelict cousin more than once. He can play guitar and sing and I get that those abilities are inherently sexy, but I imagine a guy who looks like that trying to pick up my BDGF and laugh.

The BDGF never got to see in concert the reason she fell for Jack in the first place, The White Stripes, and I wish I could find a DeLorean or TARDIS to make that happen for her. I imagine that some day Jack the Huckster will need either the money or attention that a White Stripes reunion could afford him, and when that happens we'll be there at every show within a day's driving radius. Until then I offer her this:

Jack White Announces Solo Album

The new single is on his website, the album out April 24th. Enjoy my sweet. I'll be there to catch you as you swoon at every show. If you make it back stage, you're on your own.

*for the record, she also gets Craig Finn (who goes to church!), I get Neko Case and Tom Brady. The BDGF may be far better looking than I and much more likely to charm the pants off her crushes, but pasty white guys and people who get out of bed on Sunday mornings to go to church I don't sweat.

Posted 2:24pm
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January 27th , 2012

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

- Side by side comparisons are often illuminating. Take the tax returns of Obama, Romney and Gingrich. Takeaway - Newt is a stingy douche. But I suppose we all knew that. You can also look at the tax rates in America going all the way back to Eisenhower. If the GOP wants to go back to the good ol' days, then they should at least, for consistency's sake, have to go back to the tax rates in place at the time too.

- There's new songs from The Boss and Brendan Benson online. The former is surprisingly good, the latter surprisingly meh (if you can be surprising and meh at the same time).

- The BDGF brought up this Stephen Colbert interview with Maurice Sendak three times over the last couple of days, so I finally had to watch it. Hear Maurice say "Newt Gingrich is an idiot of great reknown." It's worth your time.

- More video? Here's 50 years of Doctor Who in 10 minutes, 10 misconceptions debunked and How Return of the Jedi should have ended. 10.

- Finally, for Dr. Walker, Liebs, the Sumersquales and my BDGF (who actually found this) - Mythbusters Photo Hunt. Another round of Vodka Sodas please...

Posted 10:55am
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January 26th , 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I read about this girl who got a prayer banner removed from her school under the auspices of separation of church and state and had my typical two point reaction: 1. Good for her and atheism 2. I bet she was insufferable about it and probably should have left well enough alone. THEN I read the reaction of the guy who originally wrote the prayer:

I am upset, disappointed, and not to say, outraged. It's a shame that some judge with an appointment out of a Cracker Jack box can make a ruling like that.

She also had to leave school due to threats. So I apologize Jessica for ever assuming you were insufferable. Your are 100% bad ass awesome.

- I know we already eulogized Santorum, but since this isn't a political context but rather a religious one - just know that his advisers think that it is against God's will that I woman be president. It will always be the 1950s somewhere..

- I'm told that this is real and not a parody. It's a fairly tongue in cheek thing either way, but note the following:

1. It's the girl who's all horned up and the guy, in violation of the immutable laws of the universe, who says no.
2. They're clearly getting married the week after high school graduation, so good luck with those odds. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET MARRIED JUST SO YOU CAN HAVE SEX.
3. They clearly elude to fucking stuffed animals in lieu of sex.

- Tennessee is once again going the ostrich route on homosexuality, bringing back their "Don't say gay" bill to prevent school children from learning that the gays exist. I'm pretty sure this is why Will and Grace is no longer on the air.

- Here's a bit of refreshing honesty - a bunch of religious leaders don't want gay marriage to be legal because then we could call them what they are - bigots. Where do we get off?

- I love this girl too. When a local printer refused to print her non-offensive, tolerance boosting t-shirt, she not only found someone else to do it, but made sure that all of the other clubs in her school that normally do business with the printer knew about it. Where's your messiah now, eh?

- Not only do these Minnesota parents want "pray away the gay" therapy to be taught in their schools, they also want HIV/AIDS to be called "Gay-related Immune Deficiency", which is about as forward thinking as calling black people 'colored' as a sign of respect.

- Finally, here's a video that shows the relative size of our universe. I post here because wow is it impressive and when you see it like this, it's a little easier to wrap your brain around.

Posted 11:47am
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January 25th , 2012

Political unrest and rebellion.

Tyrants must be opposed. 'Tis true that a small band of rebels cannot only come together and take movement to groundswell and effect change, it's the only thing that ever has. Of course I'm talking about Star Wars. The SOTU was nice. I loved the tone and most of the ideas. But I don't fee like getting into at the moment. LJV's recent posts in comments section have left me frustrated. Clearly there's a class of citizens out there willing to vote for Newt Gingrich of all people. These people are obtuse, pig headed, obstinate and wholly unaware, either through ignorance or the blinders of the media they consume, as to both what has happened in this country under the current administration and what's at stake going forward. So instead, Star Wars!

- I'm not sure what level of fandom it takes to sit through Star Wars Uncut - a version of the original film completely sweded by fans on the internet 15 seconds at a time - but whatever it is, I'm clearly just over the bar. Well, I only half paid attention, so maybe I hit the bar but it stayed on its post.

- This week in Star Wars fan art - Minimalist movie posters and Lando Calrissian on a 40. Don't let the smooth taste fool ya.

- This week in Star Wars fan video - Darth Draper and dogs do the Star Wars theme? I'm not quite sure what the latter is, but it supposedly means Star Wars Super Bowl commercials, of which I am in favor.

- Here's a real life exchange between what I imagine in my head is Ned Flanders and the Comic Book Guy. Or say a really PG version of a scene from Clerks.

- Here's a reasonable parsing of why Star Wars and Star Trek are better than each other. I mean it's fair attempt, because Lightsabers, Darth Vader and the Millennium Falcon win anything in a walk.

- Finally, George Lucas claims to be retiring from big budget filmmaking, in no small part due to the fact that people on the internet are mean. To which I say, WE DID IT YOU GUYS! You see, a small group of rebels CAN affect change in this world. Remember that the next time someone tells you it can't be done and you soldier on. May the Force be with You.

Posted 10:25am
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January 24th , 2012

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment - Happy Anniversary Edition!

Five years. Don't they go by in a blink. That's 770 things that have made me smile over half a decade. The blog getting older and reaching milestones has the exact same effect as my kids doing it - I feel old and tired. I mean, write 100 words about a thousand different things that make you happy. It'd probably take just over 6 years. I didn't intend on doing it, but sometime a year and a half from now, I'll have done it. I'll be contacting Stan Lee for my no prize. Let's get crackin'...

- I am in love with Ann Arbor. I've felt it since I first stepped foot on campus. And I just found out that 2/3rds of its residents aren't religiously affiliated! The hits just keep on coming. Like President Obama making his second trip here on Friday. He'll be speaking about making college affordable, so I'm going to suggest the Wondertwins listen up, as that's a subject very, very important to them all too quickly.

- While A2 routinely makes any list of the best college towns, I find it hilarious that I've been to almost a third of the towns listed as the absolute worst places to go to school. Yes, Albion, Ada and South Bend are collective pits and I pity anyone who had to matriculate there. But come on, no love for West Lafayette? The only fun thing to do there is pack up and leave.

- Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Paterno... Well as usual, The Onion pretty much sums it up.

- Following up on yesterday's harangue of "Newt Gingrich is an ass faced weasel whose hypocrisy knows no bounds", Gingrich, while an admitted pot smoker, once tried to make bringing 2 ounces of pot into America an offense punishable by death. It shouldn't surprise, this man's personal philosophy is, and I quote: ‘It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say’. No foolin'. Oh,and this:

- Finally, Oscar noms are out this morning. Big up yourself to the Academy for nominating Melissa McCarthy for her role in Bridesmaids and Bret McKenzie for "Man or Muppet". Shame for not giving Albert Brooks his own big ups for Drive. I've got some movies to see between now and February 26th.

Posted 10:29am
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January 23rd , 2012

You cannot be serious.

Newt Gingrich crushed in South Carolina over the weekend. A fact that I laughed off on Saturday. I mean, it's South Carolina. To not laugh off anything they do is practically a tacit affirmation of racism. There have been three primaries/caucausi and we now have three separate winners. All according to the GOP's obvious self-destructive plan. But then I saw this and I had two thoughts: The first was Mitt Romney as Jon Lovitz as Michael Dukakis looking into the camera and going "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!" and the second was an image of myself drunk and cowering in the fetal position as John Roberts swears in President Newt.

Don't get me wrong, I still maintain that without an economic collapse or some other unforeseen catastrophe, Obama is Parker Lewis*. I said it 18 months ago and I still believe it to be just as true today if not more so. I mean we're talking about a fat headed hypocrite blowhard who's about as likeable as the powertripping weasel who used to manage the Subway you worked at in high school. This is a guy who tried a sitting President in the media for getting a BJ and then cries foul for the media's intrusion into his personal life. A man who decries big government while raking in 'consulting' cash from Fannie Mae. The first Speaker of the House to be disciplined for ethics violations. The kind of a man who asks his wife for an open marriage six months AFTER he checks the box marked yes.

Now I love this country and while most of the time I think we are collectively about as smart as box of hammers, I don't think that even an indifferent America elects this fuckstick to be President, much less one that's starting to climb back out of the muck and mire. But then I remember one chilling fact that sends fear shooting down my spine and reminds me that are we capable of unspeakable evils: George W. Bush was elected to the highest office in this country. Twice. And when my liberal voice screams back "He was never elected the first time!" I know that the fact remains that he was still President for 8 years. Sometimes I wonder how I sleep at night.

* he can't lose. I hate footnoting that, but I have to be reminded from time to time that my remembrances of obscure pop culture are not universal.

Posted 11:05am
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January 20th , 2012

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

- It's Drum Fill Friday! Take this super easy quiz to celebrate and see if it doesn't make you want to listen to "Hot For Teacher".

- Many years ago, Class 'A' asshole Jack Valenti created the MPAA and steered them into decision after decision that was not only managerially stupid, but had negative impact on the filmgoing public. We can't go into all of them, let's just say that A.) He created the movie rating system wherein some housewife in Burbank decides how much boob a 13 year old can see and B.) He's so scared of technology he once compared the VCR to the Boston Strangler. True story. Unfortunately Hollywood has money, and since this guy used to lick LBJ's boots, they let him peddle their influence, no matter how backward and insular his understanding of the world was. He's dead now, so that's over. But he has a new champion in Chris Dodd, former blow hard senator and current head of the MPAA. Like his mentor Valenti, Dodd is showing an outstanding lack of understanding about technology. First he goes on record as calling Wednesday's blackout "irresponsible", and then threatens to take Hollywood's money away from the President if he doesn't support SOPA. Three words: delusions of grandeur.

- I'm fairly happy with the era I got to be a college student in. The music was good, illicit substances were readily available and the internet was so young that we could still run the naked mile at the end of the year. But I'm pretty sure there weren't people filming porn in their dorm rooms. I think I would have heard about it.

- I wasn't going to do this, but Monday was MLK day, and yes, there is still plenty of hatred and ignorance in America. If you see any of these people, plead with them not to procreate.

- Finally, while the GOP field (what remains of it) is so uninspiring I'd never vote for anyone but Obama later this year, I'd like to see him do a thing or two to get me excited about the prospect. I'm not holding out for him to make a declarative stance on gay marriage or anything, as Mr. Nuance just gradually evolves over time, hopefully in my direction. I am happy he nixed this awful pipeline idea, but of course they could reroute the thing and it could pass, so just putting the toe over the line of status quo. Natch.

Posted 11:57am
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January 19th , 2012

We Win!

OK, so the thing was on its deathbed to begin with, but yesterday's coordinated blackout seems to have worked. People are certainly more aware today than they were yesterday, and congressmen are dropping their support faster than if the thing was just endorsed by Hitler. Of course the issue isn't dead. The idea of copyright infringement didn't just go away, and the people with deep pockets who want this issue addressed will not take their ball and go home. So we'll continue to talk about it here at We will stay vigilant. We will remain indefatigable. Because otherwise, James Burrows could shut us down tomorrow for using the above image.

- One of my biggest pet peeves is people wearing sweats in public. I got so disgusted walking through an airport years years back that I came up with this little diddy that continues to infect my brain to this day:

If you're gonna leave the house don't wear sweats [clap clap]
If you're gonna leave the house don't wear sweats [clap clap]
If you're gonna leave the house then have some self respect
If you're gonna leave the house don't wear sweats [clap clap]

Sing it to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it..." next time you're in a public place and people don't have the common decency to get dressed before walking out the front door. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to live in a civilized society - one were people don't bring babies to bars or on airplanes, where people let you get off the elevator before forcing their way on, and one were people don't wear sweats, spandex or pajamas in public. That's why despite my disdain for the nanny state, I am 100% on board with this. Otherwise, before you know it we'll be living in some sort of Lord of the Flies dystopia.

- As long as were discussing politics, one last hurrah for Santorum, because A.) As a kid he was McLovin'. and B.) this headline: Revealed: Wife of pro-life presidential candidate Rick Santorum had love affair with abortion doctor 40 years her senior... who delivered her as baby. Damnit that's fucking awesome!

- Colbert almost makes Super PACs worthwhile.

- Finally, I leave you with this dead on quote from David Brook's op-ed earlier in the week:

I sometimes wonder if the Republican Party has become the receding roar of white America as it pines for a way of life that will never return.

Sometimes I actually want to get old so I can point and laugh at everyone I know who's currently on the wrong side of history and scream "I told you so!" It's a good thing I'll never get there, because I would be the world's most annoying old man.

Posted 10:31am
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January 18th , 2012

End piracy, not liberty.

We're black today as we stand behind our internet brethren like Google, Wikipedia and Reddit in opposition of SOPA and PIPA. For background info, here's Adam Savage's explanation of these bills and why they are worth spending time and energy opposing. We encourage you to sign Google's petition if for no other reason, it pisses off Rupert Murdoch. Cheers.

Posted 9:31am
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January 17th , 2012

This Week in Indie Rock.

- That "Eeeeeeeeeeee!" you heard was me listening to the new Craig Finn solo album, which is available to stream from NPR. For those of you who could give a shit, this will mostly cap our Craig Finn coverage until the new Hold Steady album comes out at the end of the year.

- And since you can't have one of the BDGF's boyfriends without the other, here's Jack White buying a dead elephant head on a show called American Pickers, which I assume is something old people watch between that show about the pawn shop and episodes of Bill O'Reilly.

- For those of you who ever worshiped at the alter of 90's pseudo-punk, prepare to shed a tear, as Lookout! Records finally shuttered its doors. THey got plenty of my money over the years publishing Ted Leo albums, so I bid you a fond adieu, regardless of how I feel about Operation Ivy.

- Speaking of Teddy, here he is being interviewed by ABC News of all people. I haven't seen Ted Leo live in ages (OK, solo last year in L.A., but I need a full show with the Pharmacists, damn it!) so him being interviewed by the big time media is a good sign.

- New single releases that bode well for some sweet new albums: Nada Surf's "Waiting for Something" and Ezra Furman's "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde".

- Finally, Tom Brady (for the second time in two months) once again killed the Tim Tebow = Jesus meme last Sunday. You're welcome, humanity. That doesn't mean we can't say goodbye with Jimmy Fallon doing TeBowie.

Posted 10:51am
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January 16th , 2012

Doctor, doctor...

A key provision in the accord that the BDGF and I signed when realized we were going to try and make this work was that I promised to be around for a minimum of 30 years. Not in a limited, non-exclusive contract sort of way, but that I was going to live for at least that long. Getting to 65 may be a no-brianer for most of you out there not living in the third world, but it wasn't necessarily a guarantee on my part. With my offspring rapidly approaching adulthood I was quite content with my original plan to drink with reckless abandon and let the chips fall where they may. This is apparently not a desirable trait in a life mate.

Add in some ugly family history, my fair skin and myriad other things I participate in not associated with longevity, and it turns out that even a promise isn't enough assurance. In a move of caring placation, I am headed to the Doctor this afternoon to get checked out. I told the BDGF that if she made the appointment and told them exactly what she wanted done* I'd submit to being poked and prodded. Am I worried? Not really. I'm still relatively young. I'm not overweight and I feel great. I don't expect my liver to hold out so that I see triple digits, but I'm guessing we're not in permanent damage territory yet either.

Actually I expect to go in there and get told what I always get told: he'd like to see me drink less but won't make a compelling argument as to why. With perfect blood pressure, cholesterol barely above 200 and whatever enzymes they look at to make sure my liver is still functioning (and really, how could it not be?) I should be able to kick the ball down the road at least another ten years, right? I mean let's all hope so, because a promise is a promise, but that was one in which I assumed I was going to live forever when I made it.

- The good news? More evidence that pot isn't really bad for you after all. So I suppose that if I ever have to pull back on the reigns, there's my out.

- The bad news? Turns out red wine doesn't really have all of those redemptive qualities that got people so excited. I'm guessing it's still better for you than rum, so there's that.

- The ultimate reason to stick it out? Seniors out drink everyone. And I'm not talking about those about to graduate, I'm talking AARP card carryin', Price is Right watchin' septuagenarians. Ain't no party like a nursin' home party... until someone breaks a hip.

*sans prostate.

Posted 10:59am
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January 13th , 2012

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

- I love movie trailers. God help you if we are going to the movies and you make us late thus missing even one of the trailers before the actual film*. It's part of the filmgoing experience. And while watching trailers on the internet while you are alone in your office is not nearly the transcendent experience of sitting in a darkened theater ramming popcorn into your maw and slurping a spiked Diet Coke, it can still be emotionally satisfying. Take this trailer for the new Wes Anderson movie, which is exactly what I want my childhood to retroactively be like, and this trailer for the LCD Soundsystem documentary, which is want I want the rest of my life to be like all the time always.

- Speaking of movies, this is a super fun 1970s A to Z movie quiz. Don't scroll down too far, as the answers are below. N threw me at first and then I had a 'duh' moment.

- College football is over for another year so those of you who could give two shits can rejoice in the fact that I won't bring up again until August. Right after this, that is: How fucking awesome is it that after winning 10 games, including a bowl victory, all little brother wants to talk about is waaaaah waaaaah but Michigan? And that's why you'll always be Little Brother.

- These 25 best autocorrects made me laugh out loud, and super glad that texting and my parents never co-existed.

-Finally, Sunday night are the Golden Globes, bringing together three of my favorite things: movies, atheism and award shows. OK that's a stretch. I don't especially even care about award shows and the Golden Globes are only about atheism in the sense that Ricky Gervais is hosting. For the last three weeks I've made the declarative statement 'I am going to the movies this weekend.' to no one in particular, and I am currently batting 0-3. I said it again yesterday, and I guess what I am telling you is that Sunday night's Golden Globes are a decent substitute for going to the movies.

* Exception for kids movies, wherein all of the trailers will make me fear for the future of humanity

Posted 10:51am
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January 12th , 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Some wacky pastor in Texas is planning on spending 24 hours in bed on top of a church to promote healthy sexual relationships within marriage. Which, you know, sounds like a mostly harmless misappropriation of an old John Lennon trope, until you realize that it's not surprisingly penis/vagina only, at which point fuck you.

- Here's a nice timeline of where Baby Jesus has and hasn't been spending his time. Tim Tebow must have a kickass fooseball table or something, because he hangs out with the dude a lot.

- Apparently Satan is giddy that American religious cult leaders like Joel Osteen aren't decrying Romney for being Mormon? I can't even begin to want to untangle that rubric.

- Yooooo Hooooooo! I live in the Sixth Gayest City in America! Who wants to go shopping for leather pants?

- I mention the gay thing because the Pope is back calling gay marriage a "threat to the future of humanity" in an obvious attempt to leech other religion's disciples by out-homophobing them. Sadly, it may work.

- When the BDGF's littlest wanted to join Brownies, we had to do some quick Google searching to make sure that they weren't in league with the Boy Scouts on the whole gay=evil thing. We read enough to give it a green light, but this little girl had the opposite reaction, specifically to transgender girl scouts. I get being scared of penises, but how does it affect your ability to get a merit badge for making a house out of popsicle sticks?

- Finally, I think people find religion comforting both in times of need and for the fact that trying to understand the science behind the history of the planet is neigh on impossible given it's six billion year existence. Like, if the history of the Earth is a 24 hour clock, humans show up at 11:58pm. It's much easier to just imagine God sculpting us out of clay, isn't it?

Posted 3:48pm
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January 11th , 2012

Wednesdays are for politickin'

- So the primary season kicked off in earnest yesterday, and this Onion headline pretty much says it all. You're all-but-certain nominee and frontrunner for the last two years manages less than 40%. Meh. Feel free to stay on the couch, it's probably going to play out like this barring all of the crazies dropping out and rallying behind Huntsman, in which case we get to play a game of "Who seems less Mormon-y?"

- After engaging in one of the dumbest tirades against education I've ever heard and then tying Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire with a limp 9.4% of the vote, let us take a moment to eulogize Rick Santorum's presidential bid. I'll be honest, it got more traction than I ever thought possible. I choose to see this as a reflection of Romney being a huge skeev rather than a barometer for the mood of the country, but that's just me. Let us send out the man synonymous with frothy ass juice with a slideshow of the one sartorial choice made only by cheating college football coaches who look like child molesters and homophobic Catholics who fear both Iran's theocracy AND Obama's secular government: the sweatervest.

- I know I just spent two paragraphs making jokes about our feckless primaries, but I implore you to watch this video explaining the process. Even if you're sure you have it all laid out, just as a refresher. Better yet, show it to your children. Lord knows my teenagers need to see it.

- Good news in gay! New Jersey is fast tracking a bill to legalize gay marriage (that will be likely vetoed by Senior Largess himself) and Washington State's push towards equality gets an endorsement from a Republican Senator. His name is Steve Litzow and he notes

I am a traditional Republican. When you think about gay marriage, it’s the right thing to do and it’s very consistent with the tenets of being a Republican — such as individual freedom and personal responsibility.

He is awesome and I would love to buy him a drink for having the courage to not only stand for his convictions but do so in such a cogent fashion.

- SOPA is not dead yet people. There are rumors that major opponents of the bill are coordinating a blackout on their sites to raise awareness of the bill. Think people would notice if Google and Facebook went down for a few hours? Reddit has already sacked up. Meanwhile, if one of your representatives is on this list of supporters, give them a call and tell them to get their shit together.

- Finally, I'd like to leave you with two quotes from my favorite President:

The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows. That is what you fought for in the Civil War, and that is what we strive for now... We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community.

This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.

That's noted socialist and Republican president Teddy Roosevelt. Call him weak. I dare you.

Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses —whether these uses be to speculate in stocks and wreck railroads himself, or to allow his son to lead a life of foolish and expensive idleness and gross debauchery, or to purchase some scoundrel of high social position, foreign or native, for his daughter. Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil. There are not very many of them, but there is a very great number of men who approach more or less closely to the type, and, just in so far as they do so approach, they are curses to the country.

I wonder if TR would still think that there are not very many of these men. They seem to be everywhere if you ask me.

Posted 11:59am
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January 10th , 2012

This Week in Indie Rock

- Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn is rapidly approaching the release date of his solo debut Clear Heart Full Eyes, out 1/24 on Vagrant. You can hear the new track "New Friend Jesus" here, or for the BDGF, here's him performing "Jackson" over at the AV Club's One Track Mind again.

- Wilco's new album is great and you should go back and listen to it again, because you've clearly forgotten that. While you're at it, you can watch Jeff Tweedy do the weather, and then watch Wilco AND Nick Lowe AND Mavis Staples cover the band. It's as awesome as it sounds.

- If you need another reason to love the Black Keys, here's them dissing Nickelback, who should clearly be made to suck it.

- Jack White's latest team up: Tom Jones.

- Remember when they used advertise albums on TV? Man, we are old. But even I was surprised they did it for Nirvana.

- Album covers minus the dead guys.

- Finally, there was a time in my life (from about 1985-1988) where Van Halen meant everything to me. Eventually I transitioned to Led Zeppelin and then finally to grunge, where the seed of the music snob that types before you today was planted. But my first obsession was Van Halen. Hearing those songs takes me back to being 10 years old and wanting to do nothing but sit in my room and listen to Eddie play guitar as loud as my stereo from Sears would allow. That being said, I have zero desire to pay $50 to sit a mile away in some giant corporate stadium and watch them go through the motions because they are broke. Now the NYTimes gave a glowing review of their industry preview show, and Chuck K predictable calls the VH reunion incredibly, insanely, undeniably awesome, and if I saw them in a tiny club for free I'm sure I'd feel exactly the same. But watch their new video for their new song and tell me you feel compelled to participate in this.

Posted 11:50am
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January 9th , 2012

Apples and anal retentive trees.

I didn't grow up in a house like Cameron Frye, but a certain sense of order and expectation of cleanliness was imbued in all of the Brubaker children. My mother was in a constant state of stemming the tide of sticky, haphazard children, admonishing those who didn't pick up after themselves and spending most Sunday mornings cleaning the house top to bottom. My father would contemplatively try to remain above the fray, silently repeating his mantra of "they're only children" to himself over and over until he'd snap and take all of the shoes left here and there around the house and place them on the front porch under a sign that read "Shoes for sale". True story.

I like to say that I got the least of the anal retentive gene/indoctrination of all of my siblings, but to the outside world that's like discussing which Kardashian is the least whore-ish. Moot point. I need order. I crave cleanliness. Watching someone carelessly leave a mess about - even with the caveat of noting "I'll clean it up later" - is akin to walking into my home and taking off The Beatles to put on Coldplay while making out with my sister. I don't know how people get through the day knowing that there's piles of months old magazines laying about in their living rooms, or sleep at night with a sink full of dishes, but apparently to some people these are not sins much less an affront to all that is good and decent in the world.

And while we were raised to be neat, we were also raised relatively poor. That's of course hyperbolic in that we weren't poor at all, but my mother could stretch a nickel farther than any two people I know. We rarely got extravagances like going out to dinner, so the idea of having a cleaning lady would have been right up there with putting the family on a plane to go on vacation out of state. These are pipe dreams of the rich and famous. So when I moved in with the BDGF and found out that she had a woman come and clean the house for an hour every other week, I was caught in a paradox.

On the one hand, I get to walk in the front door of our home once every fortnight and everything smells of bleach and is in its rightful place. If I could do this with a drink in my hand it would the most peaceful, stress free moment of my existence. Of course this service costs money, which means paying someone to do something that I could easily do myself. That's a no-no. My initial attempts to alleviate this cognitive dissonance involved me traipsing around the house pointing out all of the deficiencies in our cleaning lady's technique. I then tried to offer for the BDGF to pay me half what she pays her to do the same job. Lucky for me the BDGF is benevolent and laughs off my specific level of OCD. Instead we (I) have arrived at a compromise where I furiously arrange the house the night prior to the cleaning lady's arrival to ensure we get our maximum value during her hour. In short, I clean before the cleaning lady comes. And yet I still maintain my anal retentiveness pales in comparison to the rest of my clan's. Believe it.

Posted 11:59am
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January 6th , 2012

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- My family has a general, non-spoken agreement to not talk about politics or religion, mostly (at least in my mind) because I go down the rabbit hole into condescending prick far too quickly. Well there was a moment of unintentional panic when my baby brother mentioned that somebody said that the founding fathers weren't religious and I started to explain what it means to be a Deist. The BDGF shot me a look like I was willfully violating the prime directive and first rule of fight club in one simultaneous shot, so it go dropped. In my family, the mere stating of facts can be too much. So for Bertrum C. Bertrum, here's the truth from a third party. God Bless America.

- After Hitch passed away a few weeks back, #GodisNotGreat started trending on twitter. Here's some of the best "turn the other cheek" reactions you'd expect from the followers of Baby Jesus.

- I don't generally get upset by nativity scenes. I usually can find one anachronistic thing about them to make fun of and laugh at. This guy, not so much. Love the TJ quote though.

- Alas, Michelle "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann's presidential run hit an iceberg in Iowa this week. This means that will be deprived of out first First Husband and his agenda of Homophobia. Methinks thou dost... awww you know what, that fruit is so low hanging it's on the ground.

- Pro-tip: If you're some random Christian Fundamentalist on twitter, you probably don't want to get in a war of words with Ricky Gervais. Just sayin'...

- Finally, I have to admit that I almost abandoned my atheism, belief in Darwinism and evolution, and certitude that the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old when I read this. Luckily I didn't panic and remembered by elementary school lessons about the water cycle and the fact that all the water that's ever been on the Earth is still here and that amount basically never changes. Whew! That was close...

Posted 11:09am
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January 5th , 2012

Thursdays are for politickin'

Oh Iowa. Your caucus system is woefully outdated and its placement at the head of our political process is specious at best. The thought of the millions of dollars being thrown around your state trying to influence a bunch of elderly rubes and the subsequent influence that process can have frankly sickens me.

Take your 2012 imbroglio. You've taken time out to give momentary credence to Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and now Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum! The one non-Mormon I was sure would never get his day in the sun. Rick Santorum! I mean Google it! Rick Santorum! A man so sexually pent up and confused he doesn't believe in non-reproductive sex within the confines of marriage. He thinks birth control should be illegal! Do you guys hate Mormons that much?

Look, I know at the end of the day you picked the inevitable nominee by a whole 8 votes. And I suppose you still get a pass for the momentum you gave Obama in 2008. But you either need to get a special system for your evangelicals where they can vote for the Pope of "we're scared of the places our bathing suits cover", or lay down your sword. Now the country will go back to forgetting you exist for four years. I said good day sir.

- This is all a moot point I suppose, as I've been saying for over a year now that the GOP doesn't have anyone to run that can beat Obama short of the economy turning into an absolute tire fire, and that doesn't appear to be happening. Healthcare reform has numerous positive aspects and he's sacked up and appointed a head to Consumer Protection Bureau during the recess. John McCain can yell all he wants about leading from behind while the President shrugs his shoulders and says "Libya bin Laden". Even with the Republicans resigning themselves to the sanest candidate of the bunch, this is going to be fun.

- Finally, Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing a constitutional amendment to overturn the back assward Citizens United decision. I implore you to sign the petition. The Montana State Supreme Court can't do this all by themselves.

Posted 11:01am
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January 3rd , 2012

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

Editors note: The holidays were grand. Too grandiose to do justice here in any sort of summary post. Was there merriment? Of course. Was there seldom seen friends? Thankfully. Was there vomit? Copious amounts. But we are now living in 2012. The past is prologue! Except for this stuff...

- Mittenfest! You've probably been reading long enough to know about this annual music festival that supports 826 Michigan. It was another banner year for my enjoyment, but more importantly, this year's festivities raised over $20,000 for our student programs. I only wish I could of gone and drank MORE Captain and Diets, but that would have been impossible.

- Hopefully you are already aware of the government's latest attempt to ruin the internet, this time in the form of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. If you need to know why this (and the Protect IP Act) are truly terrible, internet-ruining pieces of legislation, Adam Savage of Mythbusters sums it up quite succinctly. If you need to know which multinational conglomerates are propping up this horrible bill (and who's got your back) your boycott list is readily available.

- Our Christmas morning was very vinyl-centric, with the BDGF and I trading celebrity crush records (her getting wax by Craig Finn and Jack White, and I receiving the lovely visage of Neko Case). Since I am overly generous (and also nurse my own Craig Finn crush) here he is promoting his new record AND talking about and performing a new song on the AV Club's One Track Mind.

- Tonight, 2011 is finally wrapped as Michigan takes on Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. I am nervous and excited and kind of can't believe that I agreed to come into work today. Bowl games are often seen as launching pads for the following season, so not only will people be watching tonight to put a bow on a fairly glorious 2011, but to see how much however undeserved hype will be placed on this team prior to next fall's version taking the field. Here's a write up on defensive God Greg Mattison in the NYTimes. My prediction for the game: M 35 VT 24. Go Blue.

- Finally, we moved! Hopefully you didn't notice, but if you bookmarked our old URL, you'll need to point your browsers to for now and ever more. Again, since this is now costing me money you may see an ad or two. For those of you behind government or corporate firewalls, you can now enjoy the site from your computers rather than your phones. And yes, I know the comments are down at the moment, but if you find any other maladies, please let me know so that I may tend to them. Otherwise, enjoy our new diggs, which are exactly the same as our old ones. xoxo...

Posted 10:55am
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