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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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This page is written and maintained by Tyler Brubaker. All content is spewed forth from the author's brain, unless otherwise credited. He views his opinion as much more valid than yours, but welcomes all thoughts and comments.