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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 annarbor.com. 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 aa.com 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 tbaggervance.com 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 tbaggervance.com. 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 tbaggervance.com. 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 tbaggervance.com, 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, tbaggervance.com 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 tbaggervance.com 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 tbaggervance.com 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 tbaggervance.com 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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