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December 20th, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

I am counting down the hours. With my body still deep in throes of rebellion, I am mere hours from a full two weeks off. It'll be filled with constant running around and obligations so I wouldn't exactly call it vacation, but I won't be getting up at 7:30am and I won't be at a desk praying for the sweet release of death, so that's something.

Before I go stare off into the middle distance for a fortnight, I leave you with my favorite holiday gem of all time, Cheech and Chong's "Santa Claus and His Old Lady". On, Donner! On, Blitzen! On, Chewy! On, Tavo!
C'mon, Becto! Happy Holidays everyone.

Posted 10:46am
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December 18th, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

My body has finally succumbed to the onslaught of germs that comes with living with a school teacher. All of the running around and snow shoveling I'm sure weakened my defenses and made the whole thing possible, but however it came to be here I sit, weak and feeble and wanting very much to be in bed. Alas I sit at my desk plugging away like a good little drone so that I can take two weeks off come Friday. I'd use that time to get healthy, but I fear that it will mostly be more running around and snow shoveling. Alcohol kills germs, right?

I recently read an article that said there hasn't been a worthwhile new Christmas song written in 20 years. I disagree with that, but whether or not it holds true, we can still be thankful for new recordings of old favorites. Here's a fresh take on "Winter Wonderland" from Sleeper Agent. I'll be happy to add it to our holiday mix.

Posted 2:44pm
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December 17th, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

- Jack White's other other band, The Dead Weather, is putting about a bunch of singles this upcoming year before cobbling them together as an album, which like album trailers, is apparently now a thing. Here's the first rocker, "Open Up (That's Enough)".

- Speaking of, tbaggervance.com's official Scottish indie rock band We Were Promised Jetpacks is putting out a live album, which is pretty bold after only two albums. Anyway, it of course has a trailer.

- Indie rock hits the mainstream zeitgeist with its very own Jeopardy! category.

- In the best laid plans sometimes wonderfully underestimate your best case scenario category, here's the original release info for In an Aeroplane Over the Sea.

Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

This is certainly one of the BDGF's favorites, The Kink's "Father Christmas". Perhaps I should forgo presents and just give her cash?

Posted 11:41am
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December 16th, 2013

I declare Christmas over!

Five or six years ago I took a stand and had the best Thanksgiving ever. Instead of traipsing across the country to see some people I share DNA with and fighting traffic and boredom for the better part of a week, Siddhartha and I stayed home in our pajamas and watched movies and played video games. We ordered Chinese food and drank cocktails. It was a stress free holiday and I can still bask in its glory if I close my eyes and concentrate hard enough. It was likely the last one I will ever get, which is too bad.

Last Saturday night we had literally* everyone we know over to our house for the annual viewing of the holiday classic Elf. Yesterday I semi-officially finished my holiday shopping for 2013 at 2:34pm EST. Later that evening I watched Rudolph and A Christmas Story with the family, so by my count, we can dispense with all of this holiday bullshit for another year, yes? Let's forget the rest of the parties, the family get togethers, the niceties and overall pleasant interactions by stuffing them in a sack and trading them for a few beers over some college football bowl games and a familiar nod to those we care about.

This may seem grinch-y and bah-humbug-y, but for years when anyone asks me what I want for some occasion I always say one of two things: "To be left alone" or "Peace and Quiet." The two things no one seems capable of giving me. I still love Chris tams. I love my family, both immediate and extended, and I love my friends and hanging out with them. But enough is enough. In A Christmas Story, they trim the tree on Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve!) after seemingly doing all their shopping mere hours beforehand. And while they don't show it, I bet that tree was down on New Year's Day. So I'm not saying let's nix the whole thing, but how about truncating it? Stand with me now by declaring Xmas over for 2013. You'll never enjoy your upcoming time off more...

*figuratively

Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

This may be my personal favorite for myriad reasons, in particular its obscurity: Vermont's "Santa Claws ". Ignore the video.

Posted 3:09pm
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December 13th, 2013

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

- Album trailers: now a thing. Here's one for the new Nick Waterhouse album to go with the Cloud Nothings trailer from last week. Couple those with the new (previously discussed) Sleeper Agent song and THIS new Tokyo Police Club song and holy shit, bring on the concerts! When you smile with all your teeth, Yeah I'm done. I wanna see you in the bright, bright, bright, bright, bright, bright, bright, bright morning....

- Siddhartha is about to learn that 18 year olds who are going to college on their father's dime don't get the same presents from Santa that carefree high schoolers do. At least his astronomical tuition is still a good value.

- We recently talked holiday entertainment viewing and those of us lucky enough to have extended holiday time off can also use the opportunity to catch up on our binge watching. Perhaps you will finally get around to watching The Wire, or as we recently did, rewatch every episode of Archer from the start. I'm starting Boardwalk Empire and so far, I am pleasantly surprised and kind of shocked no one has insisted I give it a try until recently. For those of you who were put off binging by your junior high health teacher and will only watch the Xmas episodes of Downton Abbey and Doctor Who over the holiday, you can get excited about the return of Community.

- So if you haven't seen it, Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing is finally out on DVD. History will likely show that this little movie had a profound effect on me, as it served as the impetus for my Shakespeare renewal. I was watching the special features the other day, and Joss Whedon kind of encapsulated how I view my crappy personal artistic endeavors:

I am not great at anything. I will never be the guy who can hone the one thing he does to perfection. I can only broaden my experience of the things I do and hope that that will inform the next thing I do.

The difference being that Joss is a genius and I have my little whatevers, but a nice pep talk nonetheless.

- Finally, Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

Remember, holiday music. Here's the BDGF's littlest's new favorite: South Park's "Dreidel song". Happy late Hanukkah everyone.

Posted 10:22am
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December 12th, 2013

Holiday Dos and Don'ts?

- Do! Intake holiday entertainment. Nerve lists the 100 greatest holiday movies and 50 greatest holiday TV episodes. I'm a huge fan of holiday episodes of The Office, The O.C. and Doctor Who. And no Christmas passes without at least one viewing of Die Hard, Elf and It's a Wonderful Life. Oh, and the original Star Wars trilogy. Shut up, it is so a holiday movie.

- Don't! Gorge yourself. Holiday burnout hits us all, but you should still be excited about TBS's A Christmas Story marathon on Christmas Eve. Oh, and it's best to not be sick of your family half way through opening presents too.

- Do! Give money to a worthwhile charity. Take the $20 you were going to use to buy some plastic crap that will be forgotten about by New Year's Day and pass it along to keep someone warm or fed or educated or what have you.

- Don't! Give money to the Salvation Army. This is your yearly reminder that they are huge hateful homophobes that don't deserve your scratch. Also, their motto is "Blood and Fire", which huh?

- Do! Remember the importance of alcohol. It's what smart people do.

- Don't! Forget the reason for the season, which is to open up your heart and home to friends and family and enjoy each other and let everyone know how you feel about them. But only the good stuff. Save the airing of grievances for Festivus.

- Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

Brand new holiday music!?! Stream the new holiday EP by Dr. Dog. It sounds exactly like what you imagine it would, which is a welcome holiday treat.

Posted 10:25am
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December 10th, 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- War on Christmas! To add to your advent jukebox glory, here's a soundboard that pulls the best clips from Sarah Palin's tome Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas. My personal favorite is "An angry atheist with a lawyer is one of the most powerful people in America." So apparently stay back from my big swinging dick, cause I'm comin' for ya.

- Who's dumber than Canadian Senator Ted Cruz? His daddy, who says evolution is a Communist lie and that atheism leads to sexual perversion and abuse. You can't make this stuff up.

- That's nothing compared to this "science" test that if you don't believe in God, you don't believe in Gravity. I think no matter your religious affiliation or lack thereof, we all believe in the power of George Clooney.

- We missed this Thanksgiving gem, wherein Tony Perkins claims the Pilgrims came to America to deny women birth control. God bless us, everyone.

- Fraulein Carrie Underwood wants you mean people out there to know you need Jesus. I actually don't disagree with this as much as you might think, as assholes could probably learn a lot from the teachings of Jesus. But c'mon Carrie, you sound like a petulant child.

- This pastor has my undying respect. If only more assholes knew more gay people.

- Finally, here's an attempt to explain that ol' trope "God is not a god." There's a certain irony that everytime someone tries to explain the mysterious nature of the almighty, they sound like stoners. "You just don't understand, man..."

- Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

For you atheists and agnostics out there , "Joseph, Who Understood " by The New Pornographers. It's a really pretty to imagine Joseph going up to Mary and saying "You're asking me to believe too many things." Which, natch.

Posted 10:42am
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December 9th, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

Christmas officially exploded at our house over the weekend, as the BDGF decided to make gingerbread houses (from scratch) for what I can only assume is every little girl under the age of 12 in Ann Arbor. I used the opportunity to get the fuck out of Dodge and finish my holiday shopping, although the damage was done by the time I walked back in the front door at 11pm. I assume I'll be finding bits of sugar around the house for months.

Let us celebrate a more refined, adult Christmas with Bob and Doug MacKenzie's "12 Days of Christmas." The video may help elucidate what a toque is for you kids from the States.

Posted 2:39pm
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December 6th, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Today our little bundle of joy (and often despair) is nine years old. I've often thought about hanging up my spurs in the last 18 months or so, but at this point I'm pot committed to get to 10 years. I mean, I'll probably keep doing it forever. Maybe. In any case, double digits would be an accomplishment? It's feel like one anyway, so there's that.

As I say every year, I'm humbled that anyone ever stops here, much less the few dozen that do so on a daily basis. I started this not expecting an audience, and for reasons of editorial freedom I try to go about my business pretending I still don't have one. That's changed a bit over the years, but I always know that you're out there, and I love and appreciate all of you. Thanks.

Here's some cursory metrics I threw together, just to see how far we've come:

- In 9 years, we've written over 1800 posts. That's 17 posts a month, or a post every 1.75 days.

- In a standard format word document, those posts equal over 1,600 pages, and over 725,000 words. I suppose getting to a million is the more worthy goal over 10 years of writing.

- Some of the most common words typed: drink (898 times), Michigan (725), BDGF (663), music (581), Sid (373), Jesus (362), fuck (318), tbaggervance (311), sex (266), booze (226) and suck (242).

That's a lot of writing. Every time I randomly look through the archives and cringe at what I wrote thinking "I should take more time and care with this", I'm buoyed by the sheer amount of words and the consistency with which I complete my task. Perhaps when they bury me and the blog, that will be the fitting eulogy: tbaggervance.com wasn't well written, but at least it came out once every 1.75 days for over a decade. That's something. Happy Birthday old boy.

- Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

For my mother, "What Are You Doing New Years Eve?" by Johnny Mathis. She'd be horrified by 90% of this site's content.

Posted 9:57am
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December 5th, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

- Hamilton Leithauser of the recently disbanded Walkmen once sang "It's not the singer, it's the song." I go back and forth on that ideal. Certainly the best songs need only a modicum of talent to elevate the listener, but there's also something to be said for a little crap song that's made glorious by the execution. Yes, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is great, but so is the entire punk movement. Here's an interesting case study on that: listen to a depressing crappy demo of Death Cab for Cutie's "The Sound of Settling". Of course the BDGF will say the final product is also depressing and crappy, but to each her own? It's another debate anyway.

- In honor of that, here's your advent song of the day: Death Cab for Cutie's version of "Baby Please Come Home". Now that's depressing.

- To cleanse the BDGF's palate, here's Jack White performing in conjunction with the new Cohen brothers movie.

- New music! Cloud Nothings have a new album trailer (which is apparently a thing now), Sleeper Agent has a new song and Brendan Benson has a new album. It's going to be a great spring for concerts.

- Finally, it's end of the year, best of time. Check out lists from Rolling Stone, Paste, Spin, The AV Club, Mojo, NME, and Stereogum. The correct answer for #1 is Vampire Weekend.

Posted 10:19am
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December 4th, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Holiday Buying Guide

As we all have come to learn, one's love and level of caring for another human being is measured by the gifts they give them. This means that love is for sale, and is especially true of children and those who are quite juvenile, a category to which I fall squarely in the middle. So for those of you who want my love for Christmas, feel free to buy me the following:

The "Our love is forever, let's have a million babies and live happily ever after" Level:
The original Han Solo Blaster from Empire and Jedi
This gift makes me your bitch for life, noting that I will spend most of the rest of it under the covers stroking my blaster, which is mostly not a euphemism.
Price: ~$300,000

The "I will drive you to airport/help you move/be your booty call for the next decade" Level:
The Hold Steady House Party
Now here's something we can both enjoy: a private concert by The Hold Steady at your house! I say your house, because clearly we will do this at your place so I don't have to clean. Or my place, because I would totally owe you.
Price: $15,000

The "BFF, don't ever change" Level:
Lego Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon
This is the largest commercially available Lego set ever produced at over 5,000 pieces. The majority of my 40's will be spent building this, taking it apart, and building it again.
Price: ~$4,000

See how easy love can be? For those with less deep pockets, I also enjoy booze, vinyl, Michigan football and tools. Outside of that, I'm pretty much set.

- Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

Billy Squire's "Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You"
Poor William Squire, let us not forget that this 80's superstar had his career derailed because he made a super gay music video. I know the instinct is to lament how backwards thinking we all were back then, but then you watch the video and you kind of get it. It's still a great rock and roll Christmas song though.

Posted 11:52am
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December 3rd, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

It's not my intention to turn tbaggervance.com into merely a listing of holiday songs you've heard before for the entire month of December. That said, don't feign too much shock and disappointment when it happens. It's a crazy month for everyone, myself included, and organizing and writing down my thoughts might not happen with its usual alacrity.

For now, enjoy the remarkable ideal that is Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's "Mr. Heatmiser". First, it's a giddy one to one recreation of a fairly obscure childhood memory. More importantly, consider the fact that BBVD managed to carve out a career largely based on the fact that they were in an obscure movie 20 years ago that nobody saw. Now that's a xmas miracle.

Posted 10:52am
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December 2nd, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

We've officially been thrust headlong into the 2013 edition of the holiday season and with the bad (work parties, too much family, gift buying anxiety, xmas music) comes the good (friend's parties, time off, gift getting, xmas music). We here at tbaggervance.com have a special affinity for seasonal holiday tunes, and this year we will be bring you a different holiday ditty every day (or nearly, as our schedule dictates) to make you see the good in xmas music, rather than loathe what you hear on repeat in Bed Bath and Beyond. Think of it as a chocolate advent calendar for your ear holes.

To start, one of our all time favorites, Tom Petty's "Christmas All Over". This has the double special characteristics of not merely being a "rock'n'roll" rehash of a holiday standard, while not being British. Enjoy it while you taunt a mall santa from afar.

Posted 3:20pm
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November 27th, 2013

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

- I'm currently out of television shows to devour binge-style until we decide to delve into Downton Abbey season 4, so I was excited when Dr. Walker urged me to get into Boardwalk Empire. Should get me through the holidays. Meanwhile the BDGF and I are rewatching Archer from the beginning. Here's a guide to season one's most inside jokes, because the Johnny Bench reference left even me scratching my noggin.

- By now you've probably seen the adorable Rube Goldberg video set to the Beastie Boys' "Girls". It unfortunately devolved into this, at which point you have to side with the Beasties? I mean, yes, of course. You always side with the Beasties.

- I have a fairly well documented love/hate relationship with social media, but the penultimate best feature is that people sometimes use defriendeding you as a passive/aggressive way to say they're mad. This is perfect, since there's a 95% chance I had no idea you did it, thus I can passive/passive avoid the situation entirely. Thanks Zuckerberg.

- I sometimes used to think that Ohio's governor was OK, but then he went and did this. Ignoring the wild inaccuracies of his trash talk, I'm going to assume Urban Meyer's douche baggery is contagious, and offer to school him in the finer points of the rivalry by kicking him square in the junk.

- Finally, in honor of Thanksgiving. here's Tracey Morgan saying some Thanksgiving-y things and some Turkey day polls, where people lie about their drinking. I don't know how the Thanksgiving/Hanukkah merger will affect it, but I have to admit that when I say those demos, all I could think of was "Lieberstein's getting hammered!"

Posted 10:23am
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November 26th, 2013

Lemmings

Last night I was talking to the BDGF and referred to Saturday as "that stupid football game." It was an off the cuff remark, but still one that was spontaneously unprecedented. I'm pushing 40, which means I am rapidly approaching a point where I have seen it all. I saw Michigan lose to a I-AA team. I saw us lose to a school from the MAC. I saw us end the season with a losing record and miss a bowl game. These are all things that 10 years ago I would have said "Never." Not unlikely. Not even "As long as I'm alive." But never. What do I know?

Saturday I get to pay an exorbitant amount of money to sit in 35 degree weather and watch my alma matter get punched in the dong for three hours by a team that I hate with the white hot intensity of a million suns. I have no rejoinder if you call me a masochist, other than I derive no pleasure from it. It's going to be a brutal day and the only solace is that I'm old enough now to have been beaten down to the point that I don't care so much anymore. I can't afford to. In 1994 we lost to Ohio and I trudged around their campus for the next 7 hours completely silent, not saying a word to anyone as I was roundly mocked. Saturday I can at least commiserate with those suffering the same plight as me, drinks in our hands noting "At least we saw it coming." If it's somehow close, maybe a "We should be better next year. Right?"

Brian at mgoblog wrote a piece about this, one that I read and said to myself "Yes. Just fucking Christ on a bike yes." I particularly identified with him saying "The only reason I am going on Saturday is because I would feel shame at not going." It depressed me. Then I thought about my dad, whose one of many mantras is "What goes around comes around." He's literally seen everything. Then I thought about my mom. After that game in 1994 I came home dejected, and I overheard my mother, pitying me, saying "Poor tbaggervance, they're never going to beat Ohio while he's in school." Historians among you may remember that the following year, Tim Biakabatuka ran for 313 yards as Michigan took down an undefeated Ohio team. The year after that, the Wolverines went in to Columbus and again beat an undefeated Buckeyes squad thanks to a Tai Streets slant that he took to the house. By the time I was a senior, we were National Champions.

So yeah, Saturday is going to be cold and all kinds of miserable, and I will mostly endure it because I would be ashamed not to go. But I also go because I've seen the impossible before. I have witnessed the inexplicable unfold right before my eyes. I go because as a fan, you earn the victories by suffering the indignities of defeat. I go because I've been around long enough to know you never say never. Besides, worst case, I can string together colorful expletives about what a fucking douchey dickbag that Urban Meyer is. No matter what happens, we're still Michigan, and there's solace in that.

Posted 2:01pm
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November 25th, 2013

The Rich Retyi Music Advisory Board: Week Three

We are at the end of the compulsory period of the Rich Retyi Musical Advisory Board. What does our generous benefactor think of the experiment? As the Owl says, the world may never know. I know that I found a few new gems because of it, and for that I will be forever thankful. I started out with a cheat because 10 new songs a week sounded like a lot, and it is if you define 'new' as 2013. I chose to define it as 'new to you' and hopefully fulfilled my mandate under those loose constrictions. At the end of the day, I can't imagine anyone giving it the ol' college try and actually listening to all the songs I listed not finding something new and enjoyable, but that's my particular brand of hubris. Anyway, we may be back, this may die on the vine, but here's 10 or so more songs for your perusal:

- Destroy This Place - "Werewolf Mask"
Local music! I wish I had included more of this, because there's so much good shit it Detroit. Anyway, go see Destroy This Place, as they rock.
it reminded me of...
- Friendly Foes - "Couch Surfing"
A previous band from one of the songwriters of Destroy This Place. I like Friendly Foes better because of their strong pop sensibilities, and this album should be in your collection.

- The Henry Clay People - "Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives"
Someday I will be too old (if I'm not already) to commiserate with people singing about being 25 forever, but not yet. At least in my own head.
it reminded me of...
- Spoon - "The Beast and Dragon Adored"
This is a shoehorn stretch, but I felt a need to advocate for Spoon, just in case it wasn't on your radar.

- The Thermals - "The Sunset"
The Thermals have been around forever, but since they are still churning out killer pop punk, they thus qualify as new.
they reminded me of...
- Ted Leo + Pharmacists - "Bottled in Cork"
There are so many good things about Ted Leo, and many of his songs that sound more like The Thermals than this one, but it's just my current favorite, so there.

- Nick Waterhouse - "Time's All Gone"
I'm not usually into complete retro genre retreads, but when it's this good...
it reminded me of...
- The Push Stars - "A Little Drunk is Better Than Dead"
I started listening to The Push Stars because Peter Gammons recommended them on an episode of Baseball Tonight 15 years ago. True story.

- Josh Ritter - "Joy to You Baby"
Frequent readers of tbaggervance.com are already familiar with Josh Ritter, but for purposes of completeness, I include it here.
it reminded me of...
- Vermont - "Indiana Jones"
This little known Davey Von Bohlen side project stands as one of my favorite things of all time, because it feels like mine and nobody else's. Plus it's about Indiana Jones. You're welcome.

There ya go. How's that for a three week salvo? It's Thanksgiving so who knows if we'll be back at all this week. If not, use this time to delve deeper in to the Rich Retyi Musical Advisory Board. There's gold in them thar posts.

Posted 10:46am
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November 22nd, 2013

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

- 50th Anniversary! More Doctor Who bubbly-wubbly timey-wimey goodness: Today's' Google Doodle is an 8-bit game where you can play as all 11 Doctors. Hello Friday time suck...

- 50th Anniversary! As you've probably been inundated with, it's the 50th anniversary of Lee Harvey Oswald (et al) assassinating JFK. I found this Bill Simmons/Chuck Klosterman/Chris Connelly podcast to be an erudite discussion of conspiracy theories and the cultural impact of JFK's death. Personally, JFK always makes me think of my mom, who all but worshiped our first and only Catholic president. She wasn't exactly enamored with most of my life choices, but I bet she'd be happy I became the liberal torch bearer of the family.

- Politics! Blah blah crappy website (I get it, they fucked up, don't forget we still 'won') the ACA has put the brakes on health care spending, which was half the point. Plus, filibustering appointments is over, which finally, and the Dow Jones is at 16,000. There could still be a deal on Iran, so let's not kid ourselves, things could be worse - and outside of maybe the Dow, they all would be under different leadership.

- The next time you need proof that there is good in the world and humanity is still a worthwhile endeavor, watch Bill Murray do tongue twisters. You're welcome.

- Finally, on Chandler Rd we are all about interesting headware. Believe it.

Posted 10:33am
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November 21st, 2013

The reason for the season

Last night the BDGF came home from Costco and as we put away all of the bulk purchases, I lamented all of the superfluous packaging. It's packaging upon packaging. Your 1,000 sandwich bags are quartered into boxes of 250 each, and those four boxes are boxed into a larger box. A trip to Costco immediately fills half the recycle bin once everything is separated.

Now that's a super first world problem. As the BDGF immediately pointed out, Costco is one of the good guys. I was unaware of their record, and in retrospect I take back all of things I've said about what a miserable place it is to go. OK, they're still true, but I feel bad about it because the ends justify the means. Or something like that.

I'm used to boycotting giant corporations because of their abject horribleness. Wal-Mart is hosting food drives for their own employees. McDonalds tells their wage slaves to sell their Christmas presents to make ends meet. Even places I like to go like Target are staying open on the Thanksgiving, which, you know, happy holidays.

I know it's impossible to eschew giant conglomerates completely. You can't always go local and I'm a sucker for Amazon Prime just like everybody else. Plus, nobody's perfect and you're local organic food seller could be an anti-semite and you'd never know. But as we head into the zaniness of the holiday season, take a minute to maybe think about buying from someone who respects their employees and doesn't hate gay people. Yes, Costco is on the list.

Posted 11:04am
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November 18th, 2013

The Rich Retyi Music Advisory Board: Week Two

There's been no feedback from our benevolent overlord as to the progress or success of my involvement in the Rich Retyi Music Advisory Board. Not that I need kudos nor admonishment - like everything else in life, I assume silence to indicate "good job!" (exclamation point optional). Here's another 10 songs I cam across and though "Why not?!?" (interrobang mandatory):

- Hound Mouth - "On the Road"
I want this to be slightly less twangy and more raucous, but I still thumbs up it for a seriously locked in groove
it made me think of...
- Alabama Shakes - "Hold On"
This has the emotion I previously referenced for not being there.

- Solids - "Traces"
Grrrrrrrrrrr FUCK YEAH. I want to see this at the Magic Stick right now, and it's a Monday morning. Pass me a PBR.
it made me think of...
- Cloud Nothings - "Stay Useless"
I DID see this at the Stick, and it was my favorite show of 2012.

- Action Bronson - "Pepe Lopez"
I like my hip-hop silly, because it makes the blacks less threatening. And I can relate to silly.
it made me think of...
- The Coup - "Magic Clap"
See above. This was the last hip-hop album I got excited about.

- Bare Mutants - "Growing"
Why do I feel like this is as fast-paced as these guys get? I still like it, but...
it made me think of...
- The National - "Mr. November"
I often feel the same way about the National, but this is peppier, right?

- Hospitality - "I Miss Your Bones"
My favorite song of the week. This is a serious find - one that I feel might become a permanent part of my life.
it made me think of...
- Komeda - "BLOSSOM"
Whether your relationship with the Powerpuff Girls is passing fancy or deep abiding love, you should check out their album "Heroes and Villains" because holy shit is it amazing. This song is a reason why.

There you have it! Two weeks down! I'm going to go listen to that Hospitality song again. Toodles.

Posted 11:16am
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November 15th, 2013

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

- Watch this! More Archer HR clips and a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary trailer. Plus, I'm kind of mind blown by this. Van Damme!

- I have come to terms with the reality that I will never be on The Price is Right. It hasn't been easy, but it's part of becoming an adult. Some part of my lizard brain will always maintain some spark of hope however, so I will be casually studying this from time to time.

- Let us quick hit This Week in Indie Rock, which is on hiatus due to the Rich Retyi Music Advisory Board: Neko Case at the Tiny Desk, Glen Hansard covers the Boss, Jack White gets covered, and Broken Bells are back.

- For some reason, I've just realized that almost every dream I have take place at college. Not necessarily from 1994-1997 at Michigan - the places are always different, I'm always different ages and the people are from random times in my life - always juxtaposed - but always at "college." I don't know what that says (I have some ideas) and it's not worth anything to anyone, but there you have it. Jiro dreams of sushi, tbaggervance dreams of college.

- Finally, despite the fact that it's 10 degrees outside and football season is coming to an anticlimactic close, I feel woefully unprepared for the fact that Christmas is like 5 weeks away you guys. I apologize for springing that on you, but it's a source of anxiety for me. On the upside, it's basketball, so rooting for Michigan athletics is fun again. I'm going to need the positive distraction.

Posted 11:41am
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November 14th, 2013

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

Last night the BDGF was rummaging through our junk drawers looking for a pen. She couldn't find one so I reached into my laptop bag, handed her one, and then absentmindedly forgot to ask for it back. Cut to several hours later, I'm setting up to record a podcast and I reach in my laptop bag - no pen.

It inspired me to rant to my friend Stov, parent to two young boys, thusly: Mark my words, and remember this for a decade from now: at the moment you can't walk two steps in your house without being within arms reach of a pen. You've got drawers full of them. But someday soon, all the pens will be gone. You'll never be able to find a pen, nor a pair of scissors nor a role of tape for love nor money. I'm not sure why, but kids make all the useful things disappear.

It's true. If you have kids at home, go the store, buy a dozen pens, put them in your pen drawer. Come back ten days later and they will all be gone. Like your children are Davids Copperfield and Blaine. I'm constantly running around the house screaming "This is why we can't have nice things!" (usually (half) jokingly). Kids take and take and take, and waiting around for them to give will kill you.

Of course I don't mean back to the world at large, if they don't do that your kids are assholes and I can't help you. But I truly believe your kids don't owe you anything, even really a "thank you." You're going to think "ungrateful little shit" about your kids a lot, and probably rightfully so from time to time. The truth is however, your kids owe you dick. You hope they grow up and take less and less as they get older, and then do the same things for their kids someday. That's all you get, and you're not even entitled to it.

A friend sent me this link today and asked if I had started writing for the Buzzfeed, citing the opening of paragraph two. Now I'm not delusional, I neither invented that phrase nor made it popular. But I feigned indignation to her, as part of the little bit we had going. Then I told her "Being good enough to copy is just as good as a thank you or an attribution if you wrap your head around it." That might not be the key to being a good parent, but I think it's an important mind set to have, especially next time you can't find a pen.

Posted 3:06pm
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November 11th, 2013

The Rich Retyi Music Advisory Board: Week One

By now you should all be familiar with what this is and have a vague idea of how it's going to work: for the next three weeks (or more) I'll be bringing you (and our generous benefactor Mr. Retyi) a handful of new songs, along with older ones that have some sort commonality or shared ethos with what's hip and now. So without further ado, let's begin our musical odyssey:

- King Tuff - "Bad Thing"
King Tuff is ridiculous. In the best possible way. It'll make you think of 70's glam and power pop and while I apologize for the youtube links, it's worth it here, because holy shit what the fuck?
it made me think of...
- The Apples in Stereo - "Go"
I highly recommend you investigate the entire Apples' catalog. Perhaps when next it snows, because they will melt that shit.

- Post Louis - "Pharma"
I tried to dismiss this as 90's throwback chick rock noise pop, but it's far too well constructed for that. There's nothing gimmicky here, or if there is, I just like it.
it made me think of...
-Army/Navy - "Silvery Sleds"
This may be a dubious connection. I can't even say why Post Louis's chaos sparked a connection to this straight ahead pop song, but nevertheless here it is.

- The Internet - "Dontcha"
I'm not hip nor cool enough to be well versed on the Odd Future collective and all of their offshoots, but the groove of this song hooked me.
it made me think of...
- Koop - "Waltz 4 Koop"
Much more ethereal, but holy crap have I always loved the first Koop album. I can't imagine a life without it.

- Porches - "Townie Blunt Guts"
More stuff that sounds like it would have brought the Michigan Daily's arts writers' room to its knees in 1996. The harmonies lift this song from drone to beautiful simplicity.
it made me think of...
- The Promise Ring - "A Picture Postcard"
I can find a Promise Ring analog for anything, and for some reason I'm playing that card way too early here. Ah well, we're all still the better for it.

- Sam Page - "Pheromones"
A very TMBG lyric, but I'm a sucker for cuteness.
it made me think of...
- Ultimate Fakebook - "Far, Far Away"
Yes, a true gimmick, but I'm also a sucker for a song that references George Lucas.

- Dr. Dog - "That Old Back Hole"
I sometimes sit around and wonder why Dr. Dog isn't more of a presence in my life, usually when I remember to sit down and listen to Dr. Dog.
it made me think of...
- Led Zeppelin - "Bron Y Aur Stomp"
OK, you've probably heard this one, but Dr. Dog does the great Zep trick of distilling something super genre-y into something their own.

- Matt Pryor - "Words Get in the Way"
Matt Pryor has apologized for emo in the past, which in fairness, was never a fair "criticism" of his 90's work, outside of him being happy to talk about how girls make him sad. He's just a power pop songrwiter you guys!
it made me think of...
- The Posies - "Solar Sister"
That Posies album is still really good. I'm happy to introduce it to anyone unaware of it.

So there's your salvo into the RRMAB. Hopefully you were introduced into something that caught your ear and you'll perhaps explore further. If not, come back next week, we'll try it again.

Posted 11:01am
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November 8th, 2013

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

- Yes, I've got all kinds of corporate bullshit problems. Whaa whaa. Welcome to the real world asshole. Did you really think you were going to subsist in your little utopian university conclave forever? The answer is yes, yes I did. Now I'm forced to sit through conflict resolution management videos with the HR department at ISIS. If only they were all that good...

- Sometimes I get blog correspondence that exists outside the comment section. I think that's because I come from a time where we as a society didn't exclusively live online. Not that I lament technology's ubiquity mind you, but sometimes it's nice to have a semi-private conversation with someone, which I of course then post online for everyone to see, thus ruining it. I got sent down a rabbit hole yesterday watching atheism videos, my favorite of which is this one centered around the release of Monty Python's Life of Brian. The person who sent me down that hole also sent me this as proof of their nascent adolescent belief system. I'm think of having it laminated and pulling it out every time someone questions my assertion that I was an atheist at 10.

- Politics, politics, politics... In the vein of some people still get it: Hillary explains how to do the job of a member of congress, John Kasich goes off the reservation to cop to the war on the poor. So shines a good dead in a weary world.

- Clearing the docket: Star Wars has a release date, Calvin and Hobbes dance, Saturn is purty.

- Finally, I got hired on contingency for the music advisor job I posted about last week! Me and three other people it sounds like, but whatever, I'll fight it out. The constrictions are loose at best, so here's how I am approaching it: for the next few Mondays, I'll be posting half a dozen songs are so that are fairly brand spanking new, along with another half a dozen songs that they remind me of, or made me think of or sparked something in my brain for whatever reason. They'll all be fairly obscure and esoteric, except for when I am compelled to do otherwise because I can't help myself. Of course I'll include some of my trademark wit, because this is really just an excuse for me to think about music a little more, and in a little different way. That's how the BDGF put it last night, which I immediately amended to: well, I don't know that I'll be thinking about it more, but I'll be writing about it and sharing it differently, so that's something.

Posted 11:01am
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November 7th, 2013

Charm School

I have a new job. Sort of. Not really. I still go to the same place every day and do the same shit, but now I report to someone else. I'd just say I have a new boss, but it's more than that. Someone else pays my salary now. I'm in a new organization with new expectations and responsibilities, even though it's the same job because it's a new job. Sort of. Not really.

Here's what it boils down to: For 15 years I've been my own boss. My progress and efficacy were measured, but marginally. I set the rules and policies and ultimately made the decisions. Until a few years ago anyway, when the villainy of corporate culture started to creep into my little corner of the world and they slowly started to implement a system where I am now a cog. Except I'm not, because I still come up with all the policies and procedures and make the decisions - I just hand them up to someone else so they can take credit for them.

This has been happening for some time and this last step is just the final nail in the coffin. I now am supposed to attend a meeting every morning at 8 a.m. I'm going to be sent away for Lean training, which is exactly the corporate thinking bullshit it sounds like. I'm to submit weekly reports about how I can make improvements in the workplace, and what changes I'd like to see on an institutional level. I spent 15 years avoiding this kind of crap for a reason, yet it found me anyway.

So for now I am trying to embrace it. There are positives that come with the change, like fun new toys and opportunities for advancement. To that end, I'm really trying to lay on the charm with everyone. Putting myself in front of the importants, being funny and pithy and helpful - all of the things I loathe with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. I figured this is my impetus to see what I'm made of: either I schmooze with the best of them and work my way up the ladder to where I get the credit (and more importantly the paycheck) for the decision making, or I find ways to crawl back into my hole so that people leave me the fuck alone. I'm exciting to see which one wins, because if I'm going to put up with this six sigma bullshit I'm going to get paid for it or become a pariah. I just want it to be over, because this charming young man routine is exhausting.

Posted 11:47am
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November 5th, 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- This is the logic of religious conservatives: too immature to have an abortion, just fine to raise a child. Otherwise known as "Life as precious! But a lot less precious once it comes out of the womb and turns out to be not white and poor."

- On a more fun note: Richard Dawkins interviews Ricky Gervais. We're super lucky to be able to choose a religion, or even more so to choose to not have one at all.

- I hesitate to bring this to you because of the BDGF blow back, but you might want to reconsider your love of Jelly Bellies.

- Not all loopholes are bad, but one that lets schools get government cash AND expel students for being gay is not one of them. And super fuck them for marching them in front of the school to admit it. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

- We've been saying this for years: Jesus wasn't a Republican. Which falls in line with this: atheist marriages are better off than religious ones. Well, they last longer anyway, so I guess it's subject to opinion.

- As if you needed another reason to buy Girl Scout cookies.

- David Barton is easily one of my least favorite people on the face of the Earth. For the uninitiated, you can read this, but the Cliff's Notes version is that despite zero academic credentials, he goes around distorting facts and historical data to sell the right wing christian agenda. Nothing makes me angrier than trying to sell a lie with bad scholarship. You don't use science for evil. Unfortunately he preaches to the choir and the dim-witted, otherwise things like claiming abortion is causing climate change would be his undoing.

Posted 10:56am
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November 4th, 2013

The internet is fucked up or Through the looking glass.

Everybody knows (mostly because I won't shut up about it) that there were two rules in my house when Sid was growing up: 1). Never drink and drive and 2). Always wear a condom. They may seem arbitrary to a five year old, but I was a forward thinking type of dad. They may also seem obvious, but trust me when I tell you that teenagers need to be beaten over the head with the obvious.

While I still maintain that my original two rules are the two unforgivable sins and you should model my example, I understand if you aren't as paranoid about teenage pregnancy and drunk driving as I am. Or rather, if you don't want to explain those things to kids who sleep with stuffed animals and for which puberty is a far off, abstract concept. So here's an updated piece of advice that you do need to drill into the heads of 8 year olds and perhaps your friends and relatives who may not realize it: everything you put on the internet can be seen by everyone and lives forever.

Let me reiterate: when you post something on the internet everyone can and will see it. You parents. Your kids. Your co-workers. No matter how anonymous you think you're being or how esoteric the corner of the internet you're posting on is, indeed no matter how exclusive, everyone can and will see it. AND, once it's posted, it lives in perpetuity. Once you hit submit, there's no going back.

I used to be completely open about my life on the internet because I could and I thought it was fun. I've changed my tune a bit on that for personal reasons, but I am also aware that everything I have already posted is still discoverable by anyone by accident. I still have people I don't know come up to me about my site or some profile on a social media platform, acting like they've discovered some secret truth about how I like booze or use colorful profanity. I just smile and nod, because these people don't know what I know about how the internet works.

I am still capable of being surprised of course, at how immediate and strange things can get out here. Like this comment posted on my site Friday, about my car shopping woes:

name: Corky
comment:
I enjoyed reading this. I also genuinely enjoyed meeting you. And I won't flood your inbox. :)

That's my car sales person from the Honda dealership, reading about my anxiety and then confirming it by posting a comment on my site. The internet is full of people following white rabbits.

Posted 10:33am
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November 1st , 2013

It's not you, it's me.

It's been a dream of mine for several years now to not own a car. It's crazy expensive. Everyone else on the road is an idiot and I find myself in a near constant state of road rage. Obviously it's devastating from a carbon footprint standpoint, and I find nothing about automobiles cool or sexy or manly or whatever else I'm supposed to feel as a red blooded 'merican male. Unfortunately, not owning a car is an impractical if not impossible goal at the moment.

Three years ago I decided to lease. The only thing I enjoy less than owning a care is actually taking care of it, so I figured drive one for three years, then when it's time to do actual maintenance, give it back and let it be someone else's problem. It was a pragmatic move and it's worked out pretty well. EXCEPT for the fact that I now have to shop for a car every three years and shopping for a vehicle is the literal worst.

Car shopping is like speed dating the emotionally needy. I go in to take a test drive and all of a sudden my inbox and voicemail is full of platitudes about how nice it was to meet me and when can you come back in and sign on the line that is dotted? If I don't get back to them, then it's "Perhaps you didn't get my previous message?" or "Are you seeing someone else behind my back?!?" The closest thing to a clean break still involves a follow up a week later about how they've changed. They have a whole new list of incentives if I'll just give them another chance.

Of course I also have to break up with my current lease. The audible sigh -> shoulder slump -> puppy eyes -> bargaining stages are every bit as awful as if I were sitting across from a girl whose boobs turned out to be too small for me. I can already imagine the twinge of guilt I'll feel every time I pass a Honda Fit on the road. I just hope my casual glance doesn't linger too long so my new car starts asking "Are you having second thoughts?" You know what? Fuck it. Maybe I'll just drive a Fit the rest of my life. That seems to be the path of least resistance.

Posted 10:20am
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October 31st , 2013

Because you're growns up and you're growns up and you're growns up.

I've always loved Halloween. Mostly because it gives me a chance to make something and be clever. Sure it's also given me the opportunity to dress up as everything from Willy Wonka to Han Solo to Dr. Johnny Fever, but I think I enjoyed the process of making that a reality more than the putting on the costume and walking around part. To wit, I think I enjoyed turning Sid into the entire cast of South Park or the BDGF's littlest into R2-D2 as much as anything I ever got to wear.

This year, there is no costume. I won't be dressing up, and no one needed my 30 years of costume making expertise to make their dream a reality. Your kids, they get old; your friends, they get busy and fail to provide an impetus for you to act like a kid (i.e. there's no Halloween party this year). I'm trying to square with it. I suppose it's a lot like my birthday. It was only a few years ago that I was declaring "Birthday Week!", with a slew of festivites based around my arbitrary trips around the sun. Then somehow celebrating that no longer seemed celebratory. Maybe it's not so much that your kids get old, it's that you do.

- Tom Brady is two years younger than I am. Enjoy it while you can, you sexy beast.

Posted 10:31am
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October 30th , 2013

It's like picking your favorite child.

I've thought about my top five favorite albums. A lot. Certainly more than a grown man should. They are, in no particular order, "Revolver" by The Beatles, The Hold Steady's "Separation Sunday", "Pinkerton" by Weezer, "Led Zeppelin III" and Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". It's forever a work in progress, but I feel pretty good about where it's at. I mean, Weezer is the least entrenched and The Hold Steady might not be there forever, but it's fairly representative of the best of what I like. But I digress - like I said I could talk about this inanity all night.

What I've spent zero time thinking about is my top five favorite songs. Honestly, it's too daunting. How do you choose? How do you make it not completely cliche? I mean, I'd take me a day and a half to pare down my five favorite Beatles songs. That's why when fellow blogger Rich Retyi posted an ad looking for a musical advisor I got intrigued by the application. He asked for five favorite songs of the moment, and five all time favs. I decided to take a stab. As I explained to Rich, I'm probably not the guy for the job, but I just wanted to participate in the exercise. So here's what I came up with off the top of my head:

Top Five Songs I'm into at the moment:
1. Haim - Forever
This may be a little obvious, but I love faux 80's jams, which explains my love of Reggie and The Full Effect around the turn of the century.
2. Elvis Costello and the Roots - Walk Us Uptown
I love weird collaborations like this. The album Elvis did with Burt Bacharach is still a go to for me.
3. Cayucas- Cayucos
This is more ethereal than my usual jams, but I suppose I'm trying to show diversity. Plus, summer-y songs like this are a necessity this time of year for reasons of sanity.
4. The Walkmen - Heartbreaker
Probably my favorite song from last year, it still gets stuck in my head. Hamilton Leighthauser has a way to turn a phrase that makes me never want to write anything again, because how can you be that pithy and brilliant and memorable ever much less often?
5. Dangermouse - Helter Skelter/99 Problems
I never got Jay Z until Dangermouse mixed up his Black Album with the Beatles White Album. I know this happened a while back, but I've put it on a lot recently

Five all time favs:
1. The Replacements - I Will Dare
This is a perfect pop song and if you don't see that we have nothing else to talk about.
2. Musta Got Lost (Live) - J. Geils Band
This is really all about the live intro, which is a masterclass on why you pay to see live music.
3. Rosalita - Bruce Springsteen
I'm not usually a "story song" guy, but come on man, if this doesn't put you in a good, rebellious mood, nothing can.
4. I'm Always in Love - Wilco
Again, just a prefect little pop song. At the end of the day, that's what I adore.
5. Josh Ritter - Thin Blue Flame
This song always gets me worked up, because I can do folksy protest songs too.

As an all time favorite songs list, I obviously hate my answers. I was trying to avoid Beatles songs and obvious tropes, but ended up with Springsteen on there anyway. At the end of the day, I do think this an impossible task, partially because this is a truly fluid idea, one that changes with one's mood and even the seasons. But I'm right about "I Will Dare". We all can agree on that.

Posted 11:05am
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October 29th , 2013

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

- Yesterday at approximately 3:18pm, The Onion made basically the same joke we did here at tbaggervance.com. We are patiently awaiting our apology.

- No one is surprised at Lucasfilm's Tupac like ability to mine the archives for "new" things to sell you despite the fact that what they are selling you has been dead forever. It's huskterism that puts Jack White, Gene Simmons and Walt Disney to shame (worth noting here that Disney now owns Lucasfilm, but whatever). So let us celebrate (while we can) two brand new Star Wars things that (for the moment) the internet bequeaths to you for free! Here's an awesome outtake reel featuring stormtrooper ineptitude and Han Solo fellating a mic and here's a treasure trove of lost footage from ROTJ. The force is strong with them.

- This week in craft beer: Triumph goes to the World Beer Expo and play a game that sounds like I made up but didn't, Craft Beer or Indie Rock Band.

- It's been a strange few days on the Ann Arbor police blotter. Someone was shot in a bar on Main Street, a 15 year old ran away with a 37 year old "family friend", and a 2 year old boy was allegedly abducted. What can we learn from these stories? Don't hang out at Rush Street, 15 year olds and 37 year olds shouldn't be "friends" and that third one, well on that I just call shenanigans.

- Finally, the BDGF just pulled the trigger and we are going to Space Camp next spring. The 10 year old me is somewhere in the time stream having an aneurysm, because I can't think of anything in my life that had a greater disparity between how much I wanted it and how unlikely I was to get it than my desire to go to Space Camp in 1985. Thankfully, you're never too old for space camp, dude.

Posted 10:13am
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October 28th , 2013

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Lou Reed... Lou doesn't get his own headline, not because he doesn't merit it, because I'm not informed enough to write a requisite number of words about the man. Lou always represented 1970's New York City to me, ironically probably because of the song "Dirty Boulevard" that came out in 1989. Anyway, there's no shortage of nice words being said about him right now, but for my money, I hope he's fine with my association when I hear his name, which is that of a transsexual runaway lying in an alley with a needle in his/her arm offering to blow homeless guys for junk. We'll miss ya Lou. Thanks for inventing indie rock. Here's 10 of his best songs.

- Speaking of ten best songs, here's similar lists of the music of Pearl Jam and The New Pornographers. One is too reliant on early work, and the other latter, see if you can tell which.

- This collaboration between Nada Surf's Matthew Caws and Juliana Hatfield sounds as delicious as you'd imagine.

- NME came out with it's annual attempt to offend everyone: their 500 greatest albums of all time list. I don't even know where to start, except for how about with number one?

- Record Store Day: Black Friday version has released their list of goodies for those of you who love vinyl and want to get out of your family's house Friday morning.

- Want proof that Neko Case and I are MFEO? She hates idiots who record concerts on their phones as much as I do.

- Vampire Weekend played Austin City Limits and you can watch it here. There's a discussion to be had about VW's perceived popularity versus their actual album sales etc., but right now I just wish I was in Austin.

- Finally, if you enjoyed the history of the guitar solo video we posted a couple weeks back, here's the drums version. Learn all about the hi-hat!

Posted 10:49am
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October 25th , 2013

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

- Outside of an occasional angry bird, I quit playing video games half a dozen years ago or so. At some point, the intricate problem solving aspects either got dumped or required crazy hand eye coordination in conjunction, and at the end of the day, I got old. So come with me now to a simpler time, and please enjoy Super Mario Bros. in your browser.

- Bad news for space babies: you'll be ill suited to ever be terrestrial again. But hey, you'll probably have crazy super powers from all of the gamma and solar radiation, so trade off.

- Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, asshole republicans who cry out for personal responsibility yet have none: these are a few of my favorite things.

- Have old computers and other electronics littering your basement and/or attic? Free e-cycling in Ypsi tomorrow. Please keep your junk out of the landfills, as much as you someday may want to ski on them, Michigan.

- Finally, no Michigan game this weekend so I'm a man without a distraction (except for field hockey games, horse shows and other pseudo parent support duties of course). As such, I hope to start my car shopping for when my current lease is up in three months. The current leaders in the clubhouse are a Mini Cooper, a Toyota Prius and Fiat 500. Friends who work for the big three, let the consternation and cajoling begin.

Posted 3:05pm
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October 24th , 2013

Cover band.

Last night I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in about a decade. Obviously not in the "Let's slap a fresh coat of paint on the living room" sense or "Let's try and salvage this ugly old dresser by painting it" - I do that shit constantly. But once upon a time I used to paint like the old masters. Painting in the "Let's try and represent real life with watercolors on paper" sense. The "Art is a lie that tells the truth" sense. Except not nearly that good nor artistic.

My "art" is essentially recreating photographs in a different medium. It's very paint by numbers. The best and really only compliment I'm likely to get is "Hey! That looks just like them!" which is what I suppose I'm aspiring to, so I'll take it. What I realized last night is that this is the exact equivalent of what I do musically. When I sing and play a song on the guitar, all I'm hoping for is "Hey! You got the notes right!" It's "art" that begs to be put on the fridge with a magnet.

On the rare occasion I try and do something original, it immediately becomes cartoonish. The songs I write are 45 seconds long, meant to illicit a laugh and then be immediately forgotten. When I draw, I do it for humor. They're still usually drawings of people I know saying something silly. In both cases, I feel like I'm saying to the world "Hey look at this, just not too closely." I know that to myself I'm implicitly saying "I like doing this, but I'm not going to try and be too creative and outside my comfort zone because I will be disappointed with the results."

The BDGF calls this "artistic temperament." I'm slightly better than the average person on the street that never worked at trying this, so it's a little impressive (I suppose) but I personally have impossibly high standards and things never turn out according to what I have in my head, so I'm ultimately disappointed. Someone on twitter tweeted this yesterday:

@MarcusRomer
The Creative Process
1. This is awesome
2. This is tricky
3. This is shit
4. I am shit
5. This might be ok
6. This is awesome

And my immediate thought was "That's exactly how I feel!" Except that I never get to #6. Oh, and I just realized that everything I just said about painting and drawing and playing music applies to my writing. Apparently "artistic temperament" is the same thing as "masochist."

Posted 10:23am
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October 23rd , 2013

Protein pills? Check. Helmet? Check. God's love be with you?

It used to be to get into space you had to be a Navy test pilot with thousands of hours of flight experience, be a perfect physical specimen under 5'6" and have balls the size of $50 pumpkins. Nowadays they're letting any nerd with an aerospace degree go up, but it's still the equivalent of winning the lottery after a lifetime of back breaking academic coursework and accomplishments (or you can apparently just be as good looking as George Clooney or Sandra Bullock. Did she become asian at some point btw?) But I digress.

That's where the free market comes in! These days boldly going is as easy as writing a check. And some of your options don't even require a massive trust fund. So if you're like the love of my life and you won't be happy until you're strapped to a rocket and orbiting the Earth in a tin can, here are your current options:

Virgin Galactic
$250,000
Pros: Your orbiter is pretty cool looking. You can probably pay for this when your parents pass away and you sell their house.
Cons: No rocket. Having to deal with Richard Branson.

World View
$75,000
Pros: 5 figures! That's cheaper than an austentacious convertible.
Cons: Dude, you spent $75,000 on a space balloon. Good luck selling that as cool.

Space Adventures
$15 million - $150 million
Pros: The fucking moon! That's you, Neil Armstrong and like 11 other people. Plus you get the full strapped to a rocket experience and the chance to learn conversational Russian.
Cons: Might be out of your price range. Plus, do you trust a commercial trip to the moon? No one's been their in 40 years. And did you see Gravity? Yikes.

Celestis
$1,000-$12,500
Pros: I have this scratch lying around in my couch cushions! You can even leave the Earth/Moon system!
Cons: You have to be dead first.

Zero-G
$5000
Pros: The company that defined the term "Affordable Weightlessness." Plus, little training and safer than flying to Europe.
Cons: You're probably going to vomit. Plus, not actually space.

Of course like the computer you bought in the 90s, these prices will probably seem ridiculously high in 20 years. Or at least I hope so. I imagine I'm not shuffling off this mortal coil without paying for at least one of these.

Posted 11:08am
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October 22nd , 2013

Angular Momentum.

Certain people refuse to go see a foreign language film because they don't need no book learnin' from their entertainment. Others need a Michael Bay level of blow-'em-ups and at least 15 minutes of Jason Statham screen time before they pop a tape into their VHS players. Most popular culture tries to have a bit of both, sliding the scale from one side or another to maximize audience share or more apropos, pander to a certain demographic.

I need a lot of both in most of what I consume. I generally like my comedy smart and my non-fiction entertaining. I suppose I'm not a populist in my entertainment choices, which is why I have a hard time getting people to go to movies with me. That's why I get excited when something super popular is also super artistic or ambitious or groundbreaking. It's like tricking people into liking something that they can appreciate beyond the 90 minutes they sit in front of it, forgetting about the drudgery of daily life.

The latest case in point is Gravity, which will fuck your shit up. I don't need to extol the virtues of this film, because it does that itself and you've probably already heard tell. (Yes, go see it in 3D on the biggest screen possible.) But there are two popular, justified criticisms of the movie and they are thus: one, there are some giant scientific cheats deployed to make the plot work and two, there's a sappy, emotional story woven into the story that is completely superfluous (and not particularly well executed.)

Now, as already stipulated, these are justified criticisms. Without dwelling or delving into them, I'd like to say while yes, whoopty shit. Let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Having seen everything and knowing a little bit about filmmaking, it's a spectacular, singular movie. If you can't look past a bit of hokey dialogue, you're going to be constantly disappointed in everything in your life. And if you can't suspend a bit of belief - when smart people worked really hard to get 85% of everything else right in a way no one else every has - well see the previous note. Point being, go see this movie. It's jaw droppingly beautiful, smart and entertaining - even if you know the orbits of space stations and telescopes.

- If you're a big nerd and want some insight into howdeydodat - here's an interview with cinematographerEmmanuel Lubezki. Go ahead, learn some more!

Posted 3:21pm
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October 21st , 2013

Requiem for a BDGF.

At some point we all reach the limits of our sympathy for victims of natural disasters. Really Gulf Coast? Another hurricane? Who could have seen that coming? Maybe don't live in a place called "Tornado Alley" if you want to avoid tornados. I'm surprised you can get flood insurance in New Orleans, what with the whole trying to live below sea level right next to the sea thing. Of course cooler heads always prevail and when bad things happen we send in FEMA, because we like Mardi Gras and Tornado Alley is where they grow our food. Of course we're all on board for giving up on Miami, because obviously, but we'll continue to bail the rest of you out because collectivism and what not.

Of course I can afford to be high and mighty about my location and climate choice because we are immune from such disasters. I don't live in fear of drought nor mud slides. I do however, live with someone who views where we live as just as inhospitable as Siberia half of the year. And seeing this forecast for the next week means it's time to batten down the hatches:

Initially this means clearing out the garage so the BDGF can park the van in there. This is harder than it sounds, since it's a one car garage and we basically have to grease the sides of that Honda to get it to fit. Then it's six months or so of trying to mitigate the temperature. I've purchased myriad hats, mittens, heaters, blankets, sweatshirts and every other warming device they make in order to keep my sweet from turning into a popsicle. Sometimes it feels like trying to beat back the tide. I don't mean to compare slightly colder temperatures with those who suffer from nature's truly fickle finger of fate, but it does last half the year. I'm just sayin', get on it FEMA.

Posted 1:31pm
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October 18th , 2013

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

- Social network permeation! If you want to know about me and what's in my life and swirling around my head, you come to tbaggervance.com. Duh, you're here right now. But not all of you have a blog with it's own domain name that you write and host yourself. Probably because you have a life and who wants to write html code? But I like you and want to know what's going on in your life, so while I don't overly participate in other social media sites, I am sure to grab the tbaggervance username across all platforms for purposes of branding and synergy. And so I can be a voyeur into your business. As such I've gotten into tumblr and instagram so I am sure not to miss anything. If I should be following you, LMK. Feel free to follow me back, although I'm mostly hanging out here.

- Here's an utterly depressing map of each state's favorite beer. Lost in the headline though, is a chart later down the page, which notes how much better at drinking I am than college kids. Suck it, 20 year olds.

- I took a little shit on twitter yesterday for noting that the new Pearl Jam album is pretty good. Seriously though you guys, it's pretty good. I'm fairly unashamed of my musical choices through the entirety of my life, even though I take a lot of shit for liking 'emo'. That's why I am truly thankful for this post in LAWeekly, which lists the top 20 emo albums. That's emo people, not your fucking Panic! at the Disco bullshit.

- I've managed to buck a cliche in the sense that I actually like my (pseudo) in-laws. If for no other reason, the BDGF's parents seem to like me. For the most part. They don't overtly hate me anyway, which has been a pleasant change from every other relationship I've had. Anyway, one of the first time I met the BDGF's dad he played Marty Robbins for me, so we put Breaking Bad to bed (again) (finally) with the story of Walter White, set to "El Paso".

- Finally, we didn't talk too much about last weekend's trip to Happy Valley, because obviously. However, lost in the debacle of the football game was our trip to Slippery Rock University. For the uninitiated, scores for Slippery Rock football games have been announced since time immemorial. Why? Read the Wikipedia entry, I prefer not to know and just to rather bathe in the awesomeness of the ritual. Anyway, since we were driving mere miles from the campus on our way to Penn State, we felt compelled to stop. The next thing we know we are being given a personal tour of the facilities, meeting with the head coach and having our picture taken by the redshirt freshman kicker. We are so good at road trips. Except for the winning football games part. If only that was under our control.

Posted 1:41pm
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October 16th , 2013

That's great kid. Don't get cocky.

Few things stick that start with deluded personal fiat. I can declare myself King Shit of Fuck Mountain®, but becoming King Shit of Fuck Mountain® doesn't happen that way. Like most things, you earn it. Through hard work and preservation. And even once obtained, it can be taken from you in the blink of an eye - usually through not continuing to own the title through said hard work and preservation. Sir Paul McCartney currently holds the record of having the longest leash on the title - he'd have to come out against gay marriage and FOR slavery and the Third Reich to be usurped, whereas Bryan Cranston's next project could bomb and we'd all immediately ask "What happened to Walter White." I'm just saying, that's how fickle these things can be.

Most college freshman step on campus and think they've got the world by the balls. Then they fail a midterm and are forced to reassess. Hopefully they use failure as a learning experience, realize they've got work to do and go on to actually having the world by the balls instead of just thinking they do. It's how it's supposed to work. You lose, you adjust, you earn our way back.

Of course not everyone is a fan of hard work. Like Edison said, "Most people don't recognize opportunity when it comes, because it's usually dressed in overalls and looks a lot like work." I think these people tend to be the previously privileged and entitled who have things fall in their lap. When they don't get their way they stomp their feet and go around willingly fucking anyone over in their path rather than earning their way back to having what they want. It's usually an ugly spectacle, but not one without its pleasures once these assholes eventually fail.

It looks like the Senate is going to get (an admittedly weak) deal and we'll avoid default and the Tea Party and the GOP as a whole will taste failure once again. Why? Because this was nothing more than a tantrum thrown by a group of people who didn't earn it. In the last election, the GOP lost the Presidency, Senate and House (yup, the house) by 5, 7, and 1.7 million votes respectively. They used that "mandate" to slow a nascent recovery, put people out of work and hurt the world economy because they didn't like the results of an election they lost 6 years ago. I hope the Democrats don't take this 'victory' (for what it's worth) as fiat. They've still got a lot to earn. Have you heard the new Paul McCartney album? It's fucking great. And he doesn't even have to keep earning your respect.

Posted 11:31am
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October 15th , 2013

I'm still here*.

At some point, I became a fan of the long game. I'm not sure if hap and circumstance necessitated it, I just got old, or it's merely that I've seen the benefit of the ideal work so often, that how could I not seek it out? As with everything, it's probably a bit of all three, with me trying really hard to convince myself it's more of the latter than the former.

Mining the latter, you have to respect someone who has, for lack of a better turn of phrase, stuck it out. There is a cogent counter argument to be made for someone who stays in a bad situation, beating their head against the wall, waiting for something to change that never will, but I think if you can keep from the head banging, those situations can still contain nobility. And when you're the one who outlasts the naysayers and suffers certain slings and arrows only to be the one who emerges on the other side? Isn't that the definition of noble? Of heroic?

Since I am a premature curmudgeon, I think we are all ADD and require an immediacy in everything we do to the point of us being spoiled children. I don't know that I'd claim nobility in anything, but I like to think I have a certain amount of patience. I've been willing to wait, to put stuff off in hopes that trying to maintain a certain ideal would bear fruit. It's worked here and there, and I'm willing to wait some more.While everything worth having might not exactly require waiting for, it's usually sweeter when it does. Or at least that's what I tell myself as an old man who has put off a lot of things in my life. I guess I hope I'm not too old yet.

*bitches.

Posted 10:03am
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October 10th , 2013

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

-With every new version of iOS, there's hidden, under-publicised features that Apple does a terrible job of disseminating. Like did you know the iPhone now has custom vibrations? I'm still that asshole who uses custom ringtones, but that is pretty fucking cool.

- Maps! I've always loved them. I actually miss the days before Google maps when you had to get out an atlas and plan a route if you were going on a road trip. If nothing else it seemed like a more tangible way to get to know a place. Now I'll never figure out downtown Detroit, because I have a computer in my pocket. Que sera sera. Anyway, here's a map assigning one sport to every state (yup, Ohio gets cornhole. heh.) and a little film that may change the way you view the planet as a whole. Ok, that's hyperbolic, but not as much as you think.

- Hey GOP, turns out you were right: the market gets flooded with competition and premiums go down. You know, just like the Heritage Foundation thought when they came up with the idea that eventually became the ACA. Since you've clearly disavowed that, how about this to light a fire: the shutdown is hurting craft brewers. If this affects my ability to get Two Hearted, I will advocate revolution.

- Yesterday, I am sad to report that I finally got Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" stuck in my head. I take solace in the fact that my preternatural resistance and avoidance strategies have spared me this long. Also, this is the much better song. I think because it reminds me of something some nerd made in 1987 on his Texas Instruments computer. It's laughably bad but irresistible. Like reruns of 90210 or a $3 frozen pizza when you're drunk at 2am.

- Finally, I'm headed East for the second straight weekend, this time to Happy Valley to watch Michigan take on Penn State. It'll be the farthest I've been from civilization since I went camping up North last summer. Let's hope nobody thinks I have a purty mouth. Go Blue.

Posted 11:02am
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October 9th , 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

-The new Elvis Costello & The Roots album is pretty fab, as always is any interview with the man. Just imagine if he had a better hairline that was a color that most people dream of when they close their eyes and imagine perfection.

- New music! For my BDGF, looks like Broken Bells are getting the band back together, and for the late 1990s version of myself, new Reggie and The Full Effect and streaming latest Pearl Jam. Garcon! Bring me my oversized jeans with the holes and my finest flannel!

- I have some issues with the 'facts' in this video, but it is nonetheless impressive. The BDGF will be glad to know Jack is included.

- I'm really only making you aware of the new album from The Martha's Vineyard Ferries because a.) You're a ferry and b.) the song title "She's a Fucking Angel (From Fucking Heaven)" makes me laugh.

- Finally, as we are contractually obligated to notify you, Sir Paul McCartney played Jimmy Fallon.

Posted 10:22am
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October 8th , 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

-Science. It's true whether or not you believe in it, but that doesn't excuse you from still learning the facts. I pity kids in Kansas and Texas, who have a harder time than most because certain people are a scared that kids might hear those facts and question the dogma they get indoctrinated with outside of a classroom. Listen, there's plenty of things that school told my kid that I didn't necessarily agree with. You're job as a parent includes being a counterpoint to peers, teachers, other adults etc. Then ultimately, your kid gets to decide. It's how it's supposed to work, and how you should want it to. If your kid decides the world isn't 6,000 years old, blame your parenting and Jesus, not science.

- Hobby Lobby doesn't "cater to you people." Are "you people" the a.) blacks b.) gays c.) jews. If you said c (only because the real answer of "all of the above" wasn't a choice) give yourself 50 blog points.

- In a shocking and disgusting profile of Justice Scalia, he admits to belief in the devil. I don't, but I believe Scalia is evil incarnate, so let's call that a wash.

- This tries to answer the central question of the "What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?" series: why are so many christians so un-christian? Because honestly, outside of the dogma and ritual, I'm a better christian than most of you.

- Which leads us to Obamacare, an attempt to do a very christian thing, yet opposed vehemently by the supposedly most christian of christians in congress. Never mind all of the science about why it's a good idea. NEVERMIND all the places where Jesus talks about healing the sick as one of the basic tenets of his teachings. The important thing is that Obama supports al Qaida and these are end times. Where's your messiah now?

Posted 11:06am
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October 7th , 2013

The Secret of my Success.

The question as to whether life on whole is a zero sum game is something we all struggle with from time to time. As much as we hate to admit it, getting what you want generally comes at the expense of something else. It's not that big of a deal when you're 22, but once you have kids and a mortgage and your metabolism doesn't allow you to sit around all day and eat whatever you want, life becomes a balancing act.

That's where the four burners theory comes in. The idea is that your life is a four burner stove: one representing your work, one your family, one your friends and one your health. In order to be successful, you have to turn off one of the burners and to be really successful, you have to turn off two. I think it's an analogy mainly meant for business seminars, used to weed out who's willing to go the extra mile for the company.

Of course success is a relative word. I think I'd rather adjust the idea and say that you have a finite level of gas, and to turn the heat up on one burner comes at the expense of the others. To boil water on your career means to let your friends simmer. Or something like that. You get the idea. I also think that from a cooking standpoint, if you let something simmer too long without the appropriate amount of heat, you're likely to ruin it. If you hit 40 and make 30 grand a year, your career probably is never going to be super successful from a monetary standpoint. The same could be said if you're fifty, unmarried and have no friends. I hope your other two burners are boiling, because the others are gone forever.

I'm not sure what it all means other than it being a nice explanation as to why I'm not further along in my career at this point. As the analogy applies to me, assuming there's truth to it, I chose and always would to cut off the career first, and since being really successful isn't important to me, cutting off another burner is right out. To go back to my analogy adjustment, I think you can juggle which burner gets more heat from time to time to keep them all just hot enough. That's my hope anyway. I know it's true that you can't have it all, but that doesn't mean you can't try and have most of it. Most of the time anyway.

Posted 1:05pm
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October 2nd , 2013

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

- For Platinum Level Inner Circle Friend o' the Blog© Dr. Walker and her quest to be more like Ziggy Stardust, here's a list of The Thin White Duke's 100 Must-Reads, and as Halloween approacheth, may I present the Bowie Collection from Suckers Apparel.

- For my BDGF (who holds all of the above titles and more), the new Sleigh Bells album is streaming, the new Third Man Vault package has been announced (and it's a doozy) and most importantly, a note to start working on shipping the girls somewhere for this, because who doesn't want to spend Xmas in Nashville?

- Unlike most TPiR aficionados, I'm not a huge Plinko fan. As one of the less skill based games, I'd be pissed if I got on the show and suddenly had my outcome placed in the hands of chance. So just in case, here's how to statistically up your odds. Spoiler alert: Drop it in the middle.

- As an IT professional, it's my job to be in constant state of astonishment at how bad people are at computers. Why don't these things just make sense to you people? Jeesh. And why don't you use the Tab button? Quit taking your hands off the keyboard and going to your mouse. You know how much time you're wasting? It's simple math. But what really frustrates me is how bad you all are at the internet. My 18 year old son who's majoring in computer science comes whining to me about how he can't find something on the internet. How am I ever going to complete my turn into the old curmudgeon if I understand technology more than young people? Since you need help, here's some handy tips on how to the google. Now get off my lawn and get crackin'.

- Finally, you're getting a 5 innocuous post on Wednesday because tomorrow we head to Providence, RI to peruse Brown University. I'd be excited to check Rhode Island off of the "States I've been to" list, but let's be honest, I'm never going to North Kadota or Alaska, so like "Have sex with someone from every Big Ten University," it's a list that I will take to my grave un-completed. More importantly, I haven't watched a Michigan football game in three weeks, so unless I find a bar to marinate at from 3:30 to 7:00 Saturday, I'll be recreating the end of Woody Allen's Interiors, and that grave will be watery and immediate. Pray for me.

Posted 2:05pm
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October 1st , 2013

All of the dicks in the bag. All of them.

It's hard to believe that just over 24 hours ago we were all awash in our post Breaking Bad euphoria, and now, this.

Last night a friend of mine was wondering out loud how to blow up the Republican National Convention while drawing pictures of the prophet Mohammed. I don't thing the two were related, except in their anarchic tendency. Point is, I wanted to be co-conspirator. This is, unfortunately, today's jam.

Posted 11:39am
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September 30th , 2013

There's still good in you. I can feel it.

Friday at work someone asked me for a Breaking Bad finale prediction. Noting that it was just going to be awesome and I didn't care to speculate, I nonetheless said that it was going to be akin to the end of the Star Wars saga. Either Walt was the Emperor and Jesse Pinkman's Darth Vader would sacrifice himself to destroy evil incarnate, or (more likely) Walt was Darth Vader and would sacrifice himself to save his Luke/Jesse offspring, redeeming himself in some part and (hopefully) destroying the Empire in the process.

Spoiler alert, in the end my analogy more or less held. Not because I'm a genius and story telling savant (I'm only one of those) but it was pretty obvious from a story telling standpoint where things had to go. Thankfully Vince Gilligan is both of the aforementioned and didn't try to get overly cutesy with anything, he just decided to hit it so far out of the park that everyone everywhere will be comparing all that comes after to that one home run. It's what people good at their jobs do.

Congress is not good at its job. Especially the GOP. In all likelihood, tomorrow the government will shut down. Why? That's simple. The petulant children on the right don't like that the black man gave poor people health care, so they're doing the one thing they can to protest - stop letting us pay our bills. That's what this is about - not new spending, not an increase in anything really - it's paying for things we already purchased. It's going to have disastrous effects on our fragile economy - that's not debatable. It's going to cost me personally when the market tanks, and I'm not that invested. And the only real reason is an idiotic level of hubris, twinged with a little old timey racism.

Last night there was a commercial during Breaking Bad touting Michigan's governor's accomplishments over the last four years. It was a tad hyperbolic and grandiose, but not un-fair. While I voted for the man, I wouldn't do so again because of the ways in which he's screwed education, but as I noted to my viewing party, he's not been horrible. He's been an old school Republican. You know, what it used to mean when I was in short pants. I found myself missing that Republican party. It served as a necessary counterweight to some of the Democrat's follies. We need that GOP back. There's still good in you assholes. I can feel it.

Posted 11:15am
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September 27th , 2013

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

- I just started reading David Sedaris' latest tome, and per usual, there's a fair bit of nostalgia for the good ol' days, where parents were able to be mean and indifferent to their children's happiness. I lap this stuff up, because in my humble opinion, overly coddled children is near the top of our societal level problems. It's also why I love this Louis CK bit. It also feeds my hatred of cellphones and YES, I know I'm guilty of both of the things I just noted loathing, but I'm aware of it and thus am aloud to hover above and look down on everyone else. Shut up. I am.

- For fans of JGL, Steve Merchant, Jimmy Fallon or comedy, I give you the epic lip sync battle.

- For those of you without attention spans to watch internet videos that go on for minutes at a time, here's Pulp Fiction and Star Wars in under 60 seconds. With stick people.

- For Beliebers and fans of the awkward, Between Two Ferns interviews Justin Bieber. It's the only five minutes I've not wanted to slap the kid since I knew he existed.

- Finally, I was on campus the other night visiting the observatory and looking through 100 year old telescopes with the BDGF and the littlest. As we walked back to the car, past the dormitories, we mingled amongst a vast sea of co-eds heading out for the night. All I could think of was "When did so many girls start majoring in Hooker?" This was followed by the thought "I am interminably old" and my descent to elderly curmudgeon will be swift and complete. So here's Paul McCartney on Jimmy Kimmel. You know, from back when music sounded like music, and not this electronic clap trap that kids listen to today.

Posted 11:07am
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September 26th , 2013

Thursdays are for politickin' - You petulant fucking child edition

I don't personally know anyone who doesn't find Ted Cruz a complete fucking embarrassment of an asshat, but let's assume they exist in tiny, tiny numbers. We can all agree however, that it takes a special kind of ignorant, petulant dickhole to go on for 21 hours on the floor of the Senate and get the moral of a beloved children's book completely wrong.

Here's the thing: that imperfect law of the land known disaffectionately on the right as "Obamacare" is coming, and all signs point to it being better for the public than initially thought. It's not what I want. It's not socialist, progressive or even terribly liberal, despite what Harvard educated senators who don't understand Dr. Suess may tell you. But it is an important first step. And at the end of the day, it may benefit you whether you like it or not. It's like science - it applies to you even if you stand in willfully ignorant obstinence to it.

In that vein, I guess what I should be saying is you're welcome. To those I know personally or tangentially who throw racial epithets at the President and rail against him for not helping small business, you're welcome. To the other half of the country who votes against their own interests because blah blah socialism blah blah freedom, you're welcome.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for a thank you, much less than an apology, but months from now when you're better off and you're reading your child Green Eggs and Ham, maybe a lightbulb will illuminate over your marble head and somewhere in the recesses of your soul you'll think to yourself "Maybe being a petulant fucking child isn't for me." Somewhere in the distance, you'll hear tbaggervance whisper "You're welcome."

Posted 10:51am
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September 25th , 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- You guys, I almost briefly considered dumping these posts altogether because Pope Francis is the shizzle for rizzle. Of course before that thought could even fully form in my brain, I read about how according to the hosts of the Christian radio show "The Sons of Liberty" all the murders are committed by teh gays, and I decided that my work is not done here. Sally forth!

- You know I've spent my fair share of time in some of the seedier underbellies that this great country has to offer, and I've never once run across the devil. You'd think I'd have a giant target on my back for that guy, but never once so much as a "I'll trade you a pack of cigarettes for your soul." Apparently, according the archbishop of Minnesota, Satan is busy with gay marriage, condoms and porn. I get that the devil likes porn, and maybe thinks it's funny that certain christians are a scared of gay weddings, but I'd bet my life that Satan rides bareback.

- Some Australian creationist claims that Bill Nye doesn't understand science because he doesn't believe the literal interpretation of the Bible. I saw we all go beat the hell out of that guy with a dictionary.

- Speaking of, Texas is once again letting creationist loons mess with their science textbooks. If anyone out there is a lawyer, I'm considering a child abuse case against anyone raising their children in Texas.

-Finally, that pesky science finds religion highly correlational with depression, because science is also for pointing out the obvious.

Posted 10:33am
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September 24th , 2013

Who put this relief map of the Tennessee valley on my face?

Try as I might to stave it off, I turned 38 yesterday. It's not a particularly significant number, outside of how alarmingly close to 40 it is. It did seem significant to me that it was half a lifetime ago when I was a freshman in college, which was also the last time I wasn't someone's dad. That's hard to wrap my head around.

At the end of the day it's arbitrary markers of the passage of time. I do honestly believe that. And I wouldn't go back to being 19 if you paid me. But for the first time (I think) I'm looking at photos from half a lifetime ago and wondering "When was that?" Not in a "I can't remember things" way, but in more of a "Was I ever so young?" vein.

More importantly, was my hair ever so red? I mean, posing for a daguerreotype wasn't the same thing as the fancy camera phones the kids carry today, but that looks hand tinted. It's amazing I didn't burst into flames everytime I went in the sun back then.

Posted 2:49pm
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September 20th , 2013

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

- Happy Friday everyone! I know that sometimes life is hard. That it's hard to find prescient examples of justice in the world. That it often feels like we are as a species in a state of rapid descent towards the basest of natures and are doomed to destroy ourselves. But there - on the hill - a beacon shone so bright that it illuminated humanity and convinced us collectively and wholly, that there is still a chance for our survival. I'm not a religious person, but my first thought at seeing this was there is a god. So shines a good dead in a weary world.

- When I was in college, I constantly pitched a show to anyone who would listen, that consisted of me sitting in my favorite chair watching TV. That was the show. Just me and a guest, watching a different television show as a television show. It was supposed to be absurdist and a commentary on the nascent reality TV genre. It will surprise no one now that I am some kind of all knowing oracle. If you could make my check out to CASH for tax purposes, I would appreciate it Bravo.

- I turn 38 very shortly, and that along with hap and circumstance has led me to find myself taking stock and contemplating what I've accomplished in my life. It doesn't help that someone two years my junior has already managed to traverse the solar system and enter interstellar space. Show off.

- I'm trying to keep up and foster my Shakespeare knowledge, because what's the point of knowledge acquisition if you don't maintain and cultivate it? To wit, I highly recommend this video on original pronunciation productions of Shakespeare's dialogue. I say there is no darkness but ignorance.

- Finally, I also just finished William Shakespeare's Star Wars, a book wherein someone took the time to translate the original space opera into iambic pentameter. It reminded me how good that original movie actually is. Why it is special and why it continues to resonate - so much so that the middling-at-best prequels still manage to make people virulently angry almost 15 years after the first one came out. I won't rehash the arguments here, because you either know them intimately or couldn't give a shit. But as someone who does, and concurrently as someone who is insanely sensitive, emotional and in an indefatigable search for hope, this made me happy. Hopeful. Pining for a blow 'em up movie two years before it hits screens may be a little childish and stupid, but if finding solace in something that has a chance to be beautiful and true is wrong, I don't want to be right. Even if it has Wookies.

Posted 1:24pm
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September 19th , 2013

Backhanded Thanks

When your workplace says "Thank you" by buying you lunch, what they're really saying is "Hey, remember all that extra work you did and the shit you had to put up with? How about you spend your one free hour a day with these assholes as a sign of our appreciation!?!" Next time, how about I give you $10, you kick me in the balls, and we both go about our business, because I'm still catching up on all my normal work that I neglected last week while doing that project you're so "appreciative" of.

The next person that says "team building" gets a detached retina.

Posted 4:17pm
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September 18th , 2013

Not for emetophobes

I felt terrible for Siddhartha when he got his housing assignment. When I was a freshman I was exiled to North Campus - a satellite area of the University only accessible by bus. It's where they stick engineers, artists and musicians. That part isn't so terrible, but being removed from the main campus by a 10 minute bus ride was. It turns you into an old person quickly - as in "It's too cold to go down to campus, let's stay in tonight." Sid is an engineer so his assignment up north was less terrible, but he still has to deal with that bus.

We called it the Vomit Comet. On Fridays and Saturdays, after heavily pre-drinking in our rooms, we'd head down to campus to whatever party was rumored to be letting freshman in. At some point in the journey, someone who had overdone it would predictably spew on themselves, or in the seat next to them, which were molded plastic and served as a nice bowl to hold the barf. The offender would get off at the next stop to spend the night in bed, and the warm regurgitit would shlosh back and forth in its container the rest of the way to campus. Good times.

Of course things have changed in the last 20 years. The buses are nicer now, and more eco-friendly. I'm told the seats are no longer molded plastic, although I'm not sure that helps or hurts the throw-up conundrum. One thing they apparently downgraded was the doors. Last week on his way to the game, Sid was on a bus to campus that was on going around a corner when the doors spontaneously opened, spilling three co-eds onto the street. When he was telling the story I said impossible, but apparently Sid doesn't exaggerate.

Sid was less chagrinned than I was we got assigned to North Campus. After all, that's where all the classes in his major are, and he's less concerned with going to campus ragers than I was at his age. He's a much more responsible human than I was at 18, and also a much more go with the flow soul. As long he doesn't stand near the doors of the vomit comet, he should be just fine.

Posted 11:59am
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September 17th , 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

- So let's get this out of the way, it being the elephant in the room: Fiona Apple covered Willy Wonka for Chipotle. Whew. I know I feel better.

- Other things to watch as they move: The Pixies play Fallon, and The Hold Steady return (sort of, just watch).

- Speaking of THS, why don't they open for the recently reunited Replacements on a tour of the midwest? Has there ever been a better fit on a double bill? It's like the anti-Guns 'n' Roses/Metallica bill from the mid-90s. Or the opposite of when Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth went on the "snubbed by Van Halen" tour. I'm just sayin' I'd go see it. If you are unfamiliar with the 'Mats, here's a beginners guide to their work. Or you could just go listen to "I Will Dare" and if that doesn't do it for you, I can't help you.

- Finally, I don't suppose most people sit around and think about the evolution of their musical tastes outside of in conversation saying "I used to love that band, whatever happened to them?" I however, am a self-reflective music snob who while painting with broad strokes enjoys the minutia of nuance. I dive down rabbit holes as to how my musical tastes during different points of my life are influenced by my romantic relationships or parenting or significant concerts I saw or just who I find myself hanging around with. I find it a fascinating exercise, but that's the type of person I am. I thought a lot about the late 1990s when I heard this song from Cleveland's Signals Midwest. I was a bleary eyed parent in a difficult relationship trying to stay young and independent and thus clutched and grabbed at the post-emo, hardcore twinged, power pop of things like Cap'n Jazz and The Get Up Kids. I think I would have loved the Signals Midwest back then, and now I merely find them interesting and solid. The irony is that 15 years later, I'm more likely to go see a band like them in a tiny bar in Detroit some Saturday night. I may have finally figured out the staying young and independent part, at least until it turns to sad and desperate.

Posted 11:53am
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September 16th , 2013

From totally geek, to totally sheik (and vice versa).

So that sucked. Last week I was tasked with upgrading 400+ machines from Windows XP to Windows 7. Not all by myself of course, but it was a stressful, 60+ hour week. The blog was the first thing to go. So we missed a lot, and I can't begin to make up for the lost time, especially since I'm still doing that with my normal work activities.

Ten days is a lot of time though. In that period Michigan football went from knocking on the door of being in the national championship conversation, to will we win another game? College football is fickle like that. Whatever just happened is going to keep happening forever, ignoring part two of Newton's laws of motion (that being that outside forces exist.) We're all dumb and reactionary like that, even people like myself who have been paying attention for 30 years and know empirically that it's not true.

Politics is dishearteningly similar. Blinded by affiliation, the forest hides among the trees. Minds are made up and courses are set, new and pertinent information be damned. That's the opposite of leadership. That was at the top of the list as to why I hated our last president, and more importantly, it has everything to do with why I voted for our current president twice.

In the last ten days, we went from certain war with Syria to totally having an out. The knee jerk reaction of course is to be how the administration derped its way into it, but does that make it more or less admirable? Our pragmatic President hits nails on heads:

Had we rolled out something that was very smooth and disciplined and linear, they would have graded it well, even if it was a disastrous policy. We know that, because that’s exactly how they graded the Iraq war.

That's who I want leading me. That's who I want in charge. Last week during the Notre Dame game, this happened:

Brady Hoke desperately tries to call a timeout, and when he fails and we score a touchdown anyway, he shrugs his shoulders with a wry smile. I'm trying to figure out how after working my ass off for a week despite my employers certain disdain for me is going to lead me to come out the other side smelling like roses a la President Obama or Brady Hoke, but I'm struggling to find a throughline. My patience is waning.

Posted 10:20am
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September 6th , 2013

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

- We've been largely ignoring politics here at tbaggervance.com, at least directly, for awhile now. Mostly because, as it pertains to my proclivities, nothing's happening. Or at least nothing that I feel I have anything worth publicly bloviating about. I will however, come out strongly in favor of this, as it only seems fair.

- I don't know how you watch this and don't immediately want Patrick Stewart to be your new best friend.

- How are we decorating our dorm room? Ohio decorates their ER with the name Abercrombie and Fitch.

- Barely missing the other day's deadline for indie rock: Abbey Road's side 2 acapella, Neko plays Fallon, and The Pixies birth new music.

- Finally, it's Michigan/Notre Dame weekend. The last one in Ann Arbor maybe ever. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone who is making the trek to our little corner of the world to share in the high holiday, and am more than a little sad for those who won't be there. I hope to look over my shoulder in the fourth quarter and see you there in Return of the Jedi silhouette, and we can all sing "Hail to the Victors" together.

Posted 10:12am
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September 5th , 2013

They don't mean to but they do.

It should go without saying that I love my parents and they did right by me, beyond any measure that I can think of. Of course no one's perfect. Communication may have not been their strongest of points. Kindly it's a steely reserve, but in actuality it's a Brubaker trait to always be nervous and fretting about something that's not your actual problem. You need an outlet to bitch about something, but it's never what you're actually worried about. You never burden anyone with that.

My father had a nervous breakdown in his thirties. He turned the same age his father was when he died and basically decided not to get out of bed for awhile. My mother waited until no one was around to die. I can't prove that one, but she called everybody home because she knew it was time, and then waited until we all left to pass away. She didn't want to bother anyone by having to be there for the end. I can't prove it, but I know it.

I've been thinking a lot about those two things as of late, as I've been scatterbrained at best these last couple of months. Sid was moving out. Markie C was moving away. I've got work issues. It took a toll on my psyche and of course there was collateral damage. I internalized as much as I could, which isn't healthy in and of itself, plus keeping it all in is an impossibility - something is gonna bleed out, and when it does, you've lost the ability to control how and when.

So I've got some bad habits. Some flawed traits that need work. I hope that by identifying and owning up to them I can get around them or at least keep them in check. You are who you are, but we're still all capable of being the best versions of ourselves. Then you just hope that's good enough (and that's the version your kids see.)

This Be The Verse
by Phillip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Posted 10:51am
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September 4th , 2013

This week in Indie Rock

- Legendary drunken bar band The Replacements reunited for the first time in 22 years recently, making you feel super old (unless you only know those two Paul Westerburg songs from the Singles soundtrack, in which case you may just feel nostalgic, making me feel older. What I'm getting at is I hate you and your young looking skin.) I would have loved to see the show, but downloading the mp3s is almost as good when it comes to the curiosity factor. I mean, of course Westerburg forgets the lyrics to "I Will Dare" even though there's 10 words in the whole song, but not because he's drunk or pissed at Tommy, which is the train wreck you want to see if you're gonna roam this planet telling people you saw the 'Mats once.

- Newly streaming tunes: an Ezra Furman single and an Army/Navy EP. Both are wonderful and should speed you through this humpday afternoon.

- Newly announced albums: Paul McCartney, Sleigh Bells, a Death Cab re-release and if you parse twitter correctly, Sleeper Agent. You can also find hints about the next Hold Steady record there, but now we're really getting ahead of ourselves.

- Music related videos: Neko Case makes borscht and Patton Oswalt starts a heavy metal tuba band. Most importantly though: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost perform the definitive cover of "Get Lucky". I haven't heard the original, but that's flawless.

- Finally, here's The Hold Steady's Craig Finn talking about his love of the Minnesota Twins. I probably don't have to point out that Craig loves the Twins in part because they are underdogs, and that I and so many others love him and his band in part for the very same reason. Long live those who do more with less, and in their own way and under their own terms. At the end of the day, they've already won before the game is played.

Posted 10:18am
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August 30th , 2013

Exodus

So I wrote this Wednesday night before moving Sid into his dorm room. I'm posting it now. For the record, he lives on a floor with 3 other guys and 16 girls. He has his own shared bathroom. I kind of hate him right now.

This might be weird, inappropriate and awful; probably the first, maybe the second but hopefully not the third. I'm writing it anyway because it's kind of overwhelming in my brain right now. In any case, you've been warned.

I don't remember crying when my mom died. I bawled when we had our heart to heart shortly before she passed, but not after she was actually gone. I could chalk it up to being strong or just putting on a good face, but truthfully I was flooded with such a mix of emotions that waxed and waned with such speed and ferocity that I don't think the tears ever found time to take root. Or for the dam to break or some other, better metaphor.

Of course my state was mostly infinite sadness. I lost my mother much too soon so that part doesn't necessitate explanation. I was also happy, because as anyone who has seen a loved one waste away from cancer will tell you, you're glad their suffering is over. But you're also (or I was anyway) glad that your suffering is over, and that's the tip of a tricky iceberg.

I also felt a huge sense of guilt - for not being a better son at the top of the list. There was nervousness over having to deal with mourners, anxiety over being an atheist at my mother's Catholic funeral and pride for all of the people who came to pay their respects (perhaps a little anger towards anyone who didn't.) There was also elation that I didn't have to tell my mother that Sid's mother and I were separating.

Coincidentally, the last and only other time I was awash in such conflicting and competing emotions was when Sid's mother told me she was pregnant. Fear, anxiety, nerves, sadness, guilt, happiness - all there seven years earlier in a different concoction. There was no not telling my mother that time, and not coincidentally, I thought about her reaction a lot as we laid her to rest. It was weird to concentrate on the former as I was going through the latter, but I suppose I was connecting times of such intense emotion. I've been doing it again as I send Sid off to college.

Today he's moving into the dorms. No more partner to go see superhero movies with. No one to enlist in helping me with some lame project or other. No one to play games with who understands the way games are supposed to be played - to the death and with severe disdain for your opponent (whom you love.) No one to help me balance the avalanche of estrogen in my house. He won't be at the dinner table, he won't be downstairs when I want to talk to him. He's gone, outside of holidays and special occasions, probably for good.

Not that he did so after turning on his heel and throwing his middle finger in the air. He's going to Michigan, which I can't explain to you in any cogent manner how amazing is to me. It's literally all I've wanted for him (and me) his entire life. And while I have guilt about my shortcomings in raising him and anxiety that he'll do well and excitement for all the fun he's going to have (as well as metric tons of other emotional responses) it's not like I can't see him almost anytime I want. Still though...

The calming factor of it all this time is the throughline. I think of my mother's reaction, were she able to provide it, knowing what he's accomplished. I think of how happy she'd be knowing that he did well, and thus I failed to screw it up. In that sense, it's a music up, couples kiss happy ending. Which, me being who I am, means I will cry like a baby when it happens. They'll just be tears of joy. Mostly.

Posted 11:57am
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August 28th , 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Lesbians are coming to steal your seed and enslave you. Am I the only one finds the coincidence that people who want to live in an idealized 1950s version of America also want that decade's weird horror movies to return hilarious?

- Here's a creationist who wants evolution taught in religion class. I laughed out loud when he said "Now, that may belong in a comparative religions class, where you can teach all sorts of varieties of nonsense," because he called religion nonsense (OK, all religion that isn't his) but I can't put it any better than the Fark headline: Creationist wants evolution taught as religion not biology, two fields which he misunderstands completely.

- Pat Robertson says teh gays spread AIDS by pricking people with special rings. Wait until he finds out about semen charged lesbians.

- Finally, well reasoned and educated people have no problem understanding morality sans religion, to the point that I personally find the idea that we need religion to be moral offensive. And there's tons of annecdotal and correlational evidence to prove that point. But now! Proof that science triggers moral behavior. Viva la science!

Posted 11:57am
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August 27th , 2013

It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine

You'll forgive me, but as my son sits on the precipice of leaving me forever and Michigan prepping its return to the gridiron, I'm a little preoccupied with my alma matter. I of course think it's the greatest institution of higher learning in existence, as well as having the greatest, most tradition rich athletic department anywhere. But that's me. What does science say?

- The HuffPo ranked the "Best and Most Collaborative U.S. Colleges" and spoiler alert, it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

- Which is the greatest Big Ten town for football fans? It's getting embarassing already.

- Speaking of football, what are we looking forward to this season?

- Finally, for those of you who think this is all nonsense (e.g. all of you) here's Dante's Inferno in Lego and two awesome gifs from NASA:

Posted 11:46am
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August 26th , 2013

Summer of Shakespeare: What did we learn?

Last night we finished our Summer of Shakespeare with Henry V. It turned out to be a prescient choice (even though it got bumped on the schedule due to our trip to Cananada to see Othello and thus was more a case of hap and circumstance rather than choice, but I digress) as the historical nature of the play, coupled with the fact that some it is in French, humbled me into realizing I don't know shit about Shakespeare yet.

I asked the BDGF what she learned over our Summer of Shakespeare as the credits rolled last night and she said "That Richard Branagh is an actor and a director?" I'm not sure what level of a joke answer that was, but in that vein, I'd say that if you take a copy of the complete annotated Shakespeare out into the wild, at least one person will ask you if you are reading the dictionary. Every. Time.

There are certain things I'll freely admit that I don't know shit about. Jazz. Opera. Russian literature. Partical physics. When I do cop to that though, I usually caveat it by saying "I mean, I know more than 90% of the population, but that still accounts for jack shit." I don't know that I'm on that level when it comes to Shakespeare even after this summer. I'd like to be there, but I'm reluctant to throw out such a paltry proclamation.

I certainly can now summarize plots, name characters and talk about the themes of what I've read. Since the impetus was to be better at Shakespeare trivia questions, I've more than served my purpose. But what did I actually learn? I think the most import thing was a reaffirmation of my existing belief at how important the Bard is. Or even more broadly, how important the classics are. Or even more importantly, how essential lifelong learning is: how dumb and undereducated I am, and how I want to keep rectifying that, knowing full well I'll never eradicate that condition. Fortunately I still find that more exhilarating than exhausting.

Posted 11:59am
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August 23rd , 2013

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

- We are less than a week away from the 2103 college football season! That of course means the much anticipated return of We are So Good at Football. Stov and I are back to tipsily inform you about who's hot and who's not on the gridiron. This weeks preseason ep is a little rambly, but we promise to be back in midseason form for our week one preview next week.

- Normally when I see links that make ridiculous claims about changing your life, I'm put off by the hyperbole (go figure, I know.) While I wont cop to having my life changed, this shortcut for reopening closed tabs in Chrome is quite tasty. It has the potential to save me seconds a week.

- For your listening pleasure: the new Neko Case album in its entirety, a new Cloud Nothings sketch from Dylan Baldi, and most importantly, listen to Dolly Parton's "Jolene" slowed way the fuck down. Interestingly, I recently discussed with the BDGF what the greatest song of all time was that had the fewest amount of words in its lyrics, and when I saw this link to "twentytwowords.com" I got stupid excited. Turns out there's more than 22 words in Jolene, so it was short lived.

- The World's End comes out today, and I say fie on you if you're not already in line. If you're reading this on your phone as you wait for previews to start, may I suggest this dance mashup featuring Edgar Wright's latest, along with sounds from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

- Finally, Siddhartha is less than a week away from leaving home and starting his dorm and college life. It hath made me more than a tad reflective, as you might imagine. There's a lot I want to say, but I'm struggling with what's appropriate to put down on the internet. I know that's weird coming from me, but as David St. Hubbins once said "too much fucking perspective." Anyway, one thing I am happy about is that just in time for his arrival, there's now condoms in the dorm vending machines. Viva la progress! Because I will not be a grandfather before 40.

Posted 9:34am
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August 22nd , 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- What with Pope Francis coming out and saying that the gays are no worse than the Jews (I'm paraphrasing), The Onion takes a look at the church's views on homosexuality throughout history.

- Included in this article summarizing the nuttiest right wing comments of the week: Pat Robertson says killing someone in a video game is the same as murder in real life (he may have just watched A Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time), Rick Santorum can't shower at the Y because liberals, Mike Huckabee reaches out to the Islamic community and Rep. Steve King says climate change is a religion, not science. He then predictably goes to show how he has no understanding of science, which of course.

- Here's a creationist telling you that dragons are real, because they were in the Bible. No, really, he said it. They do exist! And by they, I mean people that dumb.

- Here's some science that says religiosity is negatively correlated with intelligence. It's something I want to believe, but I don't trust the science yet. It's still my operating thesis though.

- The government is trying to give a tax break to a church, and the church is refusing. Probably because the "church" is a bunch of atheists saying "How do you not get this?"

- Finally, even Jesus is trying to cash in on the final episodes of Breaking Bad. If you want to make the case that Walter White is the devil, I'm listening.

Posted 10:58am
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August 21st , 2013

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Leonard...

I met Elmore Leonard once at a book signing. He was in his late seventies at the time, and even if you had no idea who the man was, you could tell he was the coolest guy in the room. When it came time to get my book signed, he asked me my name and said "That's a good name. I'll have to use that in my next book." Now even before I read his next several books and never saw my name anywhere, I assumed this was something he said to people because it was a cool thing to tell someone. Me being a smitten kitten ate it right up. But I was already a member of the cult of Dutch.

I started reading his novels in high school, and then during college, when Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight came out, I started to worship them. His Rules of Writing are spot on, even if I am woefully undertalented to abide by them. I tend to lean towards style over substance when I write, because it's all I'm capable of. Dutch was complete substance. He was spartan without being bland. You know how sometimes you eat something super spicy and it makes your eyes water but at the end of the day, it's just a bunch of hot sauce dumped in there to get a reaction? And then you have something that's not as over the top, but it has a complex heat. It hints at things and lets other flavors enhance the experience. You may not have the palate to accurately describe everything that's going on, but it's there and you can't help but enjoy it. That was an Elmore Leonard book to me. Everything else was knock off hot sauce.

It of course didn't hurt that he was from Detroit, about which he accurately noted "There are cities that get by on their good looks. Detroit has to work for a living." I was also weirdly proud that characters in his novels always seemed to be going to Ann Arbor to buy drugs. OK maybe that was just in Freaky Deaky, but I still loved it. You can (and should) read obits from HuffPo and Grantland. The NYTimes has a video homage to his films, annarbor.com has a local perspective and Salon tries to get to why he matters. Of course what you should really do is go read his books. They're guaranteed to make you feel cool.

Posted 10:10am
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August 20th , 2013

Should we or should we not follow the advice of the galactically stupid?

- Sometimes you take a step forward only to take a few back. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is still pushing the misnomer that marijuana is as or more harmful than alcohol. This is most lamentable since it's A.) False and B.) being propagated by people who are supposed to promote SCIENCE. It turns out that the Seattle Police Department are smarter and more benevolent.

- There are few things dumber than parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Unfortunately, these dolts are on the rise here in Michigan. Pro tip: you can "philosophically" opposed to something, but that doesn't change the science. Thankfully I don't have small children whom I have to keep from playing with the poor unvaccinated bastard down the street. Those kids are in for a rough one, and that's before they get a very preventable disease.

- While I am certainly imperfect, people driving while texting drives me batshit crazy. You know you're basically drunk driving when you're doing it, right? Still unconvinced? Watch this documentary and realize what a horrible human being you've been.

- Someday you'll be as embarrassed that you thought climate change wasn't anthropogenic as you are about those gay jokes you made in junior high. Or you won't and you should die in a fire.

- Remember when we all thought that Ayn Rand was a solipsistic idiot? Also known as the good ol' days.

- Finally, I don't normally promote Twitter as a place to go and learn anything, but Patton Oswalt has elevated the platform to a new level. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Posted 9:55am
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August 19th , 2013

Paralysis.

Friday the BDGF and I took the girls on a behind the scenes tour of Michigan stadium. It was set up by 826 Michigan, which is partly why the BDGF got suckered in and brought the girls along. I don't know if she considered that it would be the end of all of my cognitive functions not relating to Michigan football for several months, or if she did the math and figured, who gives a shit if that happens now or in ten days? Either way, inevitable.

I realize I probably write this post almost verbatim every year. I know that while it's slightly hyperbolic, it's not nearly as much so as I'd be comfortable admitting. We all are assured that while the tone of what I'm writing right now is glib, self deprecating and hopefully somewhat humorous, the subject I'm addressing is decidedly not. At least to me.

Yes, it's dumb and trivial and juvenile and makes no analytic sense. The funniest part to me is that I bet the BDGF finds it impossible that I once took this much more seriously than I currently do. Early in our relationship when we were talking about moving things forward, it was at the top of a short list of things I would kindly not like fucked with. I know it's ridiculous, but if we can just please leave it at that and let it be sacrosanct, we'll all be fine.

I sometimes feel guilt about how seriously I take all of it and the unintended consequences it has on her and the rest of the household. All of the Saturdays consumed by my obsession. The days leading up to and after where I am off in my own head thinking about it. I take the guilt I feel as a sign of maturation, as that emotion was unfathomable to me 20 years ago. I guess that's baby steps, but hey, we're 12 days out. Leave me alone.

Posted 11:50am
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August 16th , 2013

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

- I don't always use hot sauce, but when I do, I apparently have impeccable taste. The top 2 in this top ten have been staples in my kitchen for years now.

- What is happiness? My instinct this time of year would be to wax poetically about Michigan football, but Alfred Hitchcock kind of nails it in more universal terms.

- Remember how Orson Scott Card pulled a "Come on, guys!" over a potential boycott of the Enders Game movie because he's a giant homophobe? Well he went out and wrote a big racist fantasy about how Obama is going to stay in power forever, just in case you were thinking about making an argument that separates art from author. Pro tip: comparing someone to Hitler is never the trump card you think it is.

- I'm as guilty as they come when it comes to painting rural yokels as ignorant, gun toting, Jesus loving rubes. I paint with a big brush, use broad strokes and am sure to use several coats for complete coverage. So I'd be remiss in my sense of fairness not to post this segment from The Colbert Report. Well done sir. That guy at the end gives me hope for humanity.

- Finally, the summer of Shakespeare is winding down but already being talked about as one of the great ideas ever. I hope to someday soon find a way to port this still developing curriculum to the public somehow, as Ann Arbor is surely full of enough nerds who can get behind this idea. tbaggervance.com inner circle member Dr. Walker sent me this, which is a good reminder of how much the Bard infects our day to day language. Speaking of, this:

Enjoy the weekend, I'll be reading and watching The Merchant of Venice.

Posted 11:36am
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August 15th , 2013

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Closing out our post-Cananadian love fest, here's a guide for the uninitiated to our Northern neighbors greatest rock export: Rush.

- In Huckster Jack news, his ex-wife filed a restraining order, and he filed with the court in turn. So much Nashvillian drama.

- White guys covering white guys! Comedians lip sync Mumford & Sons, Ted Leo covers the Ramones. Neither is a surprise nor a stretch. Both are fabulous.

- Ranking Elvis Costello albums. I have an unnatural love for that Burt Bacharach collaboration.

- More new Neko Case. Also predictably great.

- Wanna watch Brain May deconstruct the multitrack from "Bohemian Rhapsody" for half an hour? The correct answer is "Yes and on a loop please, forever and ever."

- Finally, the other day I was listening to a conversation between Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman where they asked each other what TV show or character did they embarrassingly identify with, perhaps even to this day. I could easily say "The oversensitive boy on every teenage drama for the last 25 years," but honestly I immediately thought "Seth Cohen." Seth and I didn't have much in common, except for our nerdy love of pop culture, which just happened to be an almost perfect Venn diagram of two overlapping circles. Here's a great article about indie rock, The O.C. and how they co-existed and developed together. It does make me want to call in sick tomorrow and binge watch the first two seasons. Welcome to the O.C., bitch.

Posted 10:52am
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August 14th , 2013

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. " Along with "Don't be an asshole," it's the closest thing I have to a mantra. I say that knowing I trade in my share of righteous indignation as well as having been called an asshole by everyone I've ever known for more than five minutes, but these are goals to strive towards, not a maintenance reminder. Plus there's some sort of adage I'm supposed to remember when it comes to shortcomings. What was it again?

This ideal is especially important to remember when it comes to politics, where there is no perfect. Count me among the literally everyone who voted for Obama and has been disappointed by him. But anyone who claims to have been duped, swindled or baited and switched is either woefully naive, complaining just to complain, or both. I voted for a pragmatist who was going to try and do a few big things and otherwise generally govern within the system, but do so from a position of reason and analytic thought. Otherwise known as the opposite of the previous eight years.

In my estimation, that's what we've got more or less. Take Eric Holder. I don't have a lot of love for the guy. He's screwed the pooch more than once in his tenure. But the other day he came out and said "Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason." As the NYTimes pointed out, it's a statement so "duh" that even in Washington, no one came out to rail against it. I'm sure at some point someone will, when we get into the implications of racism and classism, but this is one thing to not aspire to be #1 at.

Here was my immediate reaction when this initiative was announced: this would have never happened under a Republican president. It's a no brainer. It's math. It's the humane and just thing, but the machinations of the GOP wouldn't allow it. That made me sad, except for the fact that it's happening, and I got over my melancholy. Is this pronouncement a day late and a dollar short? Absolutely. But it's happening, just like health care reform and gays in the military and dozens of other things that aren't perfect but steps in the right direction. The future has already won, that's important to remember too, but we should still take time to appreciate the steps people take to move that agenda forward more quickly, as imperfect as they may be.

Posted 10:36am
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August 13th , 2013

Crusade.


Cananada gets it.

I have no problem with a carbon tax. I love that Congress dictates what lightbulbs we can buy. I'd vote to increase gas taxes to pay for infrastructure and I long for the day when we ban plastic bags. I assume we all think that people who drive Hummers might as well have the word "douche" tattooed on their foreheads, but that's not the way to move an environmental agenda forward.

It's the classic catching flies with honey argument. Environmentally and otherwise, I try and convince people to modify their behavior based on a reward system - usually saving them time or money. Americans however, are convenience addicts. I mean I get it - if you have a full time job and a couple of kids (which is almost everyone I know at this point) every second in a day can be precious. You're already trying to think ahead and anticipate over 1,000 things before lunch, where you get hydration probably isn't near the top of your list, but it should be.

Bottled water is pretty much the worst thing ever. To me, the most mind boggling thing about that link is that it doesn't include the fact that bottled water didn't even exist 20 years ago. OK it existed, but not with the ubiquity it does now. It's merely a product of marketing and convenience. That alone should shame you from using it, but that's clearly not working.

The BDGF and I have argued about this many a time. There's constantly bottled water in our house and I feel like I'm always 10 seconds away from an epileptic fit. I can't understand why she can't put tap water in one of the 75 refillable water bottles littering our kitchen before she leaves the house. She'd call me a hypocrite for drinking 20oz bottles of Diet Coke, so I tried to get a little quid pro quo by purchasing a refillable tumbler to put my Diet Coke in, thus lessening my environmental impact. She still bought a case of bottled water for the littlest's birthday party. It almost gave me an aneurysm.

I hope I don't come across as trying to sound holier than thou. I just think this is an issue easily solved by a modicum of foresight. I have half a dozen canvass bags in my car for when I go shopping. Sometimes they run out or I forget to take them into a store and I am forced to use a plastic bag. It makes me feel guilty. I'm not saying bottled water shouldn't necessarily exist (although I'd pretty much vote for that) but I want people to feel guilty when they are forced to use it. I mean not drinking bottled water saves you money AND gives you an opportunity to accessorize with a cool refillable bottle that you can carry around while shooting death stares at people chugging Desani. We can all get behind that, right?

Posted 10:44am
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August 12th , 2013

We are North American.

Outside of a little Bob and Doug Mackenzie buffoonery and being 10-15 years behind the times culturally, most Canadian stereotypes are positive. They are polite. Their cities are clean, poverty and crime are low. They have kick ass universal health care and awesome European style socialism. I don't get poutine, but I'm still a fan of Cananada.

During our last night in our neighbor to the North, the BDGF and I tried to figure out what one thing we would export back to the States if we could. Obviously the health care and the politesse, but there's also things like the dollar coin, the fact that they nixed the penny, the metric system and their super secure credit card system (seriously, it makes us look like Uganda.) Canadians are as pragmatic as they are polite.

Now that we've given just praise, here's what Cananada is terrible at: booze and food. The domestic swill favored by the brothers Mackenzie aside, Canadian beer is a joke. The only explanation is that hops don't grow north of 54° 40'. But even the mixed drinks sucked. Your staples were watered down and there wasn't an inspired cocktail to be found anywhere in a city of 2 million people. That's poor form, hosers. And in four days, we had one dish between us that qualified as actually tasty. I'm no foodie, but I also don't generally finish a meal and think "I can't believe they had the balls to charge me for that."

Of course all of it was expensive too, because they have to pay for all that healthcare somehow, and their VAT figures heavily into it. Of course bleeding heart that I am, I don't mind paying that, even as an outsider on vacation. But at one point, the BDGF wondered aloud "I wonder if I'd be willing to trade terrible booze and bad food for universal health care and people being nice to each other." The answer ultimately is of course, because you'd have to, but I hate how much they made me consider it. Perhaps we can trade some of our brewers for some of their lawmakers so that everyone wins. Because if you can't get a decent IPA and get your ACL repaired for free, well you're just not truly civilized.

Posted 11:00am
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August 6th , 2013

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

- I'm always happy to pass along a top ten that Ann Arbor shows up in, like this one where it ranks second among college towns. I'm also happy to report that we are not on this list of the best cities for hippies. I'm still lobbying the city council to ban the String Cheese Incident from ever entering the city limits again.

- I love a good ol' fashioned boycott. For personal reasons, there are several establishments in Ann Arbor that I have vowed to never patronize again, and I am proud to hold firm in my righteous indignation. National boycotts make me feel good too, even though I get a little sad when I pass a Chick-fil-a and know I am not allowed to eat their delicious (and admittedly bigoted) chicken. But now the confusing question of "How do I keep my money from going to the Koch brothers?" has been made easier, as there's an app for that.

- Sid just got back from Lollapalooza, where he somehow managed to miss the last of the last Postal Service show, but turned me on San Cisco, so a net positive for me? That's how I'm taking it. He now officially has a roommate (that's into Pokemon!) and is mere days from moving out of my house, probably forever. I don't think he's even considering the fact that he's leaving me defenseless in a house full of woman. What an asshole.

- Despite my reasonable and analytically erudite objections, we now have a zipline in our backyard. It has a launch tower and everything. You'll have to come over to see it in all its splendid glory; assuming I'm not in jail for negligence once someone permanently maims themselves on the thing. But, whatever baby wants, so...

- Finally, the BDGF and I are off to the great white north today for one last hurrah before the girls return from their summer hiatus in the great American northwest. We'll be hitting Stratford, CA for a little Shakespeare before bumming around Toronto for a couple days. I unfortunately just found out that Edgar Wright's latest opus The World's End is premiering there tomorrow, so if anyone has a line on getting us passes, it'd save me a lot time in planning on how we're going to meet, hang out, and become best friends with him. Otherwise, stayed tuned for details on what will surely soon be classified as an "international incident."

Posted 10:29am
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August 5th , 2013

Words, words, words.

If we think words are things and have no feelings in words...
...then we say things to each other that mean nothing.
But if we felt what we said, we'd say less and mean more.

Those are the words of a homeless man in New York City, captured in the documentary Looking For Richard. I've been thinking of them a lot this summer, as they in a sense quantify and define why I love Shakespeare and decided to undertake this little summer project in the first place. I thought of them specifically today as I read this interesting article about Shakespeare and nothingness.

There's myriad reasons Shakespeare persists to this day - from the mere timing of his existence to the quality of his words. I think why he continues to be the epitome of a wordsmith however, is because he managed to distill the gamut of human emotion in his works: the jealousy of Othello, the guilt of Macbeth, the ambition of Richard III, the lust of Romeo and Juliet, and the point of it all melancholy of Hamlet.

I love words. I love when they are cleverly arranged to make you realize something about yourself or the word in a surprising or interesting way. I love it when those words make me laugh just as much as when they make me cry. I think it's all important and key to understanding each other. When we contemplate the importance of words and the weight that they can carry, perhaps we will choose them more carefully. If we feel them, perhaps we'll take a closer look at their meaning.

Posted 10:26am
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August 2nd , 2013

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

- So apparently the BDGF and I were on TV last week. Channel 4 did a story on 826 Michigan and we shot some B roll stuff. We got cut out of the actual piece (we were apparently in the teasers on the commercials all day) but still worth watching!

- Speaking of: The rest of your Friday watch list: Prepare for the return of Breaking Bad (with bonus top 10 BB MacGyver moments), drunk Ron Weasly wishes Harry Potter happy birthday, a compelling mini-doc call Bankrupt by Beanie Babies, and most importantly, RDJ performs "Driven to Tears" with Sting. /swoon.

- We are four weeks and one day from football season being back! I am slowly resisting the inevitability of going straight down the rabbit hole, wherein I will watch old game film and spent an inordinate amount of time scouring the internet for any hint of information on my beloved Wolverines. But here's a story even the BDGF would appreciate: an Ohio boy got cancer and named his tumor 'Michigan' as motivation to beat the thing. Even Brady Hoke was glad Michigan lost that one. So much so, he invited him and his family to the Big House for The Game this year. Hail to the victors valiant and all that.

- I'm generally excited about two TV developments as of late. One is Google's new Chromecast, a $35 dongle that let's you stream your phone or tablet's video to a television. I certainly don't need it at home, but for $35, imagine being able to stream Netflix to the TV in your hotel room or at your in-laws? Speaking of, the Netflix original series are some of the best programming out there. Obvs. Arrested Development, but I also loved House of Cards and am currently binging on Orange is the New Black, which may be my favorite of the bunch so far.

- Finally, yesterday I was interviewed by my former college at the University of Michigan as part of an initiative to connect with alumni and get feedback on some of their programs. It was a fun little hour where I got to talk about myself and Michigan, which are literally my two favorite things. Near the end of the interview, my fresh faced interrogator asked me what I was most passionate about in life. I gave a wordy, inelegant answer where I talked about information, ideas and the exchanging of those things. How my favorite things in the world was sitting down at the end of the day with my BDGF and a cocktail and talking about whatever came into our purview and then seeing where the discussion takes us. She turned me on to this interview Stephen Colbert conducted with Atul Gawande and more importantly, this article he wrote in the New Yorker about slow ideas. It is very worth your time.

Posted 10:52am
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August 1st , 2013

Gentrification.

Detroit is bankrupt. This is lamentable. The city is far too large to remain tenable in its current incarnation and whatever husk is left after they pay all of the bloated pensions, it'll never return to its 1950s peak. But that's OK.

I don't know when Detroit hit rock bottom, but it wasn't in the last two weeks. I remember Detroit in the 1990s. It was way scarier. Driving around during the day time felt a lot like I had just picked up Fawn Liebowitz on our way to see Otis Day and the Knights. Those parts still exist, don't get me wrong, but the amount of the city you can take your kids without having your head on a swivel has grown exponentially.

A few Saturdays ago we started a Detroit metro adventure in Midtown. It's always been one of the nicer parts of Detroit proper - Wayne Sate is there, as well as the museums and artsy fartsy stuff. But it's still Detroit, and still poor. We were at S'Mittenfest, hearing kids in their 20s rapping about how they don't have enough to eat. It was certainly much lower on the socioeconomic ladder than where I currently sit. It was young people, starting out in life, still figuring it out.

After we headed north to Bloomfield Hills to catch a movie at the Maple Theater. The theater itself is perhaps the nicest I've ever been in. It had plush leather seats that were almost wide enough for two people to sit in, and you could order a glass of beer and take it to your seat (and I don't mean just like in no paper cup.) We pulled into the parking lot in my 2010 Honda Fit and we were twice over the shittiest car in the lot (the row we parked in went Porsche, Lexus, Lexus, Mercedes, some Italian thing I've never heard of that costs more than our house.) The average age was easily twice from where we had just came and while I imagine we "passed", not many people who were just drinking PBR at 2pm on a Saturday at The Magic Stick would have.

We ended the day in fashionable Ferndale, which is a lot like being in Ann Arbor. Everyone is between 25 and 50, they dress nice and drink expensive booze while sitting around and talking about 401ks and kids and Downton Abbey. That or they're young and gay and worried about 'drama', and in ten years they'll be talking about the next decade's Downton Abbey equivalent. Either way you can walk down a not-well-lit side street after midnight without fear of reprisal. It was the most comfortable I felt all day.

I don't want everything to merge towards a Ferndale median, or even a Midtown one. I like neighborhood disparity and am weirdly proud of my ability to somewhat blend in up and down the ladder. But I'm for a vibrant Detroit. I'm for consolidating what's best about the city and trying to concentrate it in order to save it. I want more people from Ferndale and Bloomfield Hills and Ann Arbor to come downtown and spend their money because of the experience that's available there. These are vague, not well born out thoughts - and it's that kind of lack of direction that probably helped bring the city to the brink of ruin. But I hope someone figures things out, because I for one love Detroit, and want it to thrive.

Posted 10:56am
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July 31st , 2013

A custom honored more in the breech than the observance

Remember the Papa Johns guy? He's kinda douche-y, a little rape-y looking. You can tell he uses 'dude' and 'bro' a lot. He's the friend of a friend who you find out is gonna be at a party and thus decide to stay home rather than suffer him. You can tell most of that by the mere cut of his jib, but then he came out in the wake of the ACA and publicly wept at the fact that he might have to charge as much as 50 cents more per pie in order to provide his workers health care. When they say Papa John, they mean da asshole.

As of late, Wal-Mart is having it out with Washington D.C. The district recently passed a law that ostensibly said if Wal-Mart comes to town, then they have to pay people 50% more than the current minimum wage. The Economist lays out the fight fairly. How much can these businesses afford to pay people and still keep prices competitive and low? And moreover, is it right or fair for the government to pick winner and losers, and to ask big business to carry a disproportionate burden?

Well you can probably guess my position on these matters, and now science has started to weigh in. Fast food workers in major cities are walking off the job in protest of their non-living wages. Of course we all assume that an outrageous demand like DOUBLING their salaries would make their business model untenable - because no one is going to pay the same price for a Big Mac as they would to sit down at a nice restaurant and have a proper meal with things like flavor and nutrition. So can we calculate what it would cost acquiesce to these outrageous demands?

We can. A student at the University of Kansas calculated what it would cost McDonalds to double the salary of everyone in their organization and the results are as staggering as you might expect. The price of a certain dignity is a whopping 68 cents per Big Mac and 17 cents for every item on the dollar menu. And that's with doubling the outrageous pay of the CEO and keeping profit levels the same.

I'm at a loss for words, and not a very proud member of our species at the moment.

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in
reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving
how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel!
in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the
world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is
this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no

Posted 10:20am
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July 30th , 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

- Details have emerged on new music from tbaggervance.com favorites The New Pornographers and The Blow. Get thee post haste to their back catalogs if you are hereto unfamiliar.

- Speaking of New Pornographers, Neko Case plays the latest live music sensation on the internet, Dressing Room Sessions. Ezra Furman plays live music staple The AV Club Undercover, doing Wilco on the Navy Pier, as it was meant to be.

- Now streaming: New CYHSY, Childish Gambino and The Roots and Elvis Costello. That's right, together at last.

- Somehow, there are still Beatles' photographs to unearth. They are the Tupac of still images. I'm fine with that.

- Finally, I'll probably never forgive myself for skipping the Postal Service reunion tour when it came to Detroit, but here's a cool short documentary to placate my sense of failure, for it hangs o'er me like the great weight of a thousand Gibbards.

Posted 1:31pm
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July 29th , 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

What with vacations and several weeks of limited blogging, some of this stuff will likely seem ancient - especially in an internet time frame. Sorry for that, I still want to mention it so you're stuck for today. -Ed.

- Pat Robertson suggests a 'vomit' button for Facebook. So... how often do you think someone Pat's age goes on Facebook? And whom is he friends with that is posting pics of gay couples kissing? As with most things Pat, it goes from improbable to making no sense at all faster than you can say "Methinks he doth protest too much."

- I'm all for a good ol' fashioned boycott for even illogical reasons, but deciding to ban together and not go see Ender's Game because it was written by a hateful bigot is something we should all get behind (pun intended). ESPECIALLY given his outrage and call for tolerance. Fuck that guy in the asshole.

- California's teen birth rate is plummeting, probably thanks to comprehensive sex education. If this makes no sense to you or your reaction is "Yeah but...", please don't have children, don't work with children and preferably go jump off a bridge. From, Analytical Thought.

- Priests are becoming atheists, because (wait for it) they're starting to read the Bible. Money quote: "Hardly anyone reads the Bible. If they did, the whole thing would be in trouble." Finally, we have the clergy on our side.

- The gays in Ohio (as they always have, for the record) have the law on their side. Also of note, Ohio has the gays.

- It's worse in Louisiana, where they're still arresting people on anti-sodomy laws. Bonus: "Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine." I'm pretty sure that's been settled you guys.

- In our weekly hat tip to when religion gets things right, here's a reminder as we come upon the anniversary of the Scopes/Monkey trial, not every theologian (even back then) was anti-science.

- Finally, another nod of respect to tbaggervance.com's favorite Bishop of Rome: Catholicism's latest Pope drives around in a late model Ford*, tells people not to build statues of him and says "Who am I to judge, it's OK to be Takei." We're going to ignore that the church is "selling" "indulgences" again, because the fact that it's Twitter (and Twitter is free) is fairly funny. Pray on, Pontiff...

* Ad idea for Ford: From God's mouth to you behind the wheel. Or something like that.

Posted 1:31pm
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July 24th , 2013

Aging gracefully

I've started to tell people I'm 40. People over 30 (or probably even 21) aren't supposed to lie about their age in such a manner, but I figure (or hope anyway) that this will take some of the sting out of the actual event. Plus I've got a kid in college, I'm old. Ultimately, what would be the point of not being truthful about my seniority?

I suppose I'm lucky in the sense that I still have all my hair and weigh what I did when I was 25. I of course look older, but again, not having the outward signs takes the sting out of it. And as long as I kinda sorta still look in the mirror and see 25, it's easy to say "age is just a number" and not fret about being 40. Or egads, even older.

Because when my time comes, I have no qualms about snuffing out the light. Now I don't mean this in a superficial or vain way. If my hair starts to fall out I don't need to be put on suicide watch. But when my body starts to fail and I can't get around or when the inevitable bout of cancer comes calling, there will be no extreme measures to prolong a miserable existence.

I often refer to this as my "ice flow exit strategy." In the Inuit tradition, when I get too old to be useful, just put me on an ice flow and let me drift off into the sunset. Luckily the BDGF and I are on the same page when it comes to this (minus the actual iceflow) and we have a handshake, tacit agreement to take care of the other when the time comes. By that we don't mean spending a year sitting shiva in a hospital room.

The subject came up last weekend, and I drew a flowchart to assist us in the decision making process when the time comes. I recreated it in powerpoint to make it pretty, and now you too can use it to help plan your golden years. You're welcome.

Posted 10:23am
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July 23rd , 2013

On Stephen Malkmus, Chris Martin (and Dave Matthews)

In the final edition of my high school newspaper prior to graduating, I was referred to by my English teacher as "crabby". It was one of those pieces where the teachers all gave their fond farewells to the class of '94 and what they would remember about the individuals therein. My reputation as a pessimist, crank, curmudgeon and hater was already indelible at 18 and would follow me for at least the next 15 years or so, if it doesn't continue to inform many people's driving thrust of who I am to this day. I suppose my vitriol was even worse than the general teenage malaise of "everything is stupid", because I was singled out for it, and continue to be by certain sectors of the populace to this day. I am effectively Mikey from the Life cereal commercials.

Given that my obsession with music has been a constant over that entire time frame, my hatred of certain sectors of the art form have always been at the forefront of how I treat and talk about it. When modern country broke in the early nineties, I hated all of it: the entirety of the genre that ever existed. This lasted until the alt-country boom during college and my subsequent crush on a girl who loved Uncle Tupelo. Now I love Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson and early Wilco and can even admit that Garth Brooks is a hell of a performer and better than average song writer. Begrudgingly, but still...

I had the inverse relationship with Dave Matthews. I loved DMB for for most of my University matriculation. I had a fuck you attitude towards all of his fans who would sit around and argue about who heard him first and was thus the purest of "Under the Table and Dreaming" heart. Dave was for everyone to enjoy. Then at some point, around the time Jerry Garcia died and they became the heir apparent to that ethos, I started to hate Dave Matthews. It became stupid hippy clap trap that I intuited during an epiphany was adored by a bunch of people I loathed. I disavowed the half a dozen times I saw him in concert and was filled with self hatred every time I heard "Ants Marching" and still kinda dug it.

The hatred in my heart that burns with the intensity of a thousand suns has never abated for two specific artists however: Stephen Malkmus and Chris Martin. They are the twin faces of evil for me when it comes to their respective bands, Pavement and Coldplay. They represent the opposite ends of the two things I hate about what people pretend to like about certain kinds of music: that of the snob who likes something because they're supposed to, and that of the musical proletariat who likes something completely milquetoast and think it's important.

When I wrote for the Michigan Daily in college, there was none higher on the mountaintop than Pavement. They were the lo-fi lords of "real music". Their songs were supposedly sparse but brilliant. Like the Sex Pistols before them, they couldn't play their instruments (although I've always suspected that this was rouse on the part of Pavement, but that's neither here nor there for this piece) but it didn't matter because they were brilliant in their spartaness and foremost, they were "important". I heard Pavement. I didn't get it. I came up with a grand conspiracy theory where everyone gushed over Pavement because they were supposed to, rather than because the music had any merit or was enjoyable. Someone in Greenwich Village (probably that asshole Robert Christgau) decided to like them as a joke, and it somehow got out of hand, and now Stephen Malkmus was indie rock royalty, even though he sucked. It was a groupthink, sheeple effect gone cosmically awry with the express intent to enrage me. It was really the only logical explanation.

Years later, my animus turned to Coldplay. I call this one the "Da Vinci Code Effect": Take the spark of a half good idea and surround it with the most bland elements imaginable with the express intent of marketing it to the largest audience possible. Once that bland pile of mash potatoes hits the tipping point, the audience starts to imbue it with an importance that doesn't exist. People start to see something that isn't there due to a conflagration of not knowing what actual quality sounds/looks/feels like and a refusal to admit to the world that they like something utterly shitty unironically. Next thing you know they're winning Grammys (not that that's been synonymous with artistic merit in my lifetime).

As an "adult" (in so far as that label applies to me) I've tried to mellow my vitriol. I can admit that the Phish has some good ideas. I understand that my hatred for Coldplay and Pavement exists more for what they represent than what is actually contained in their music. I no longer make asinine statements like "I like all music except for country" or "I can't stand hip hop". I try to be open and find merit in things that I hate and not chastise everyone I meet who has more than one Jimmy Buffet record. The ultimate concern is does music make you happy? Does it relax you, excite you, make you feel something... anything? If it does, then who am I to say you're wrong? I'll still always hate Chris Martin and Stephen Malkmus, because the funeral pyre that burns in my soul can't be extinguished. Part of me will always be that angry young man, but I no longer want those two gentlemen to die in a fire while being beaten about the genitalia. Now I mostly turn to self loathing when I work Doors' references into my writing. Sigh.

Posted 10:28am
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July 19th , 2013

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

- Today's PSA: AT&T is selling your data, and of course you're automatically opted in. It's presumably just anonymous statistics for now, but those interested in an ounce of prevention can click here.

- There's lots of good news coming out of 826 Michigan: 1.) We're expanding into Detroit! 2.) We've got a tutoring home in Ypsi! 3.) S'Mittenfest is TOMORROW. The BDGF and I will be working the merch/schmooze table 3-6, so come by for great local music all day at the Stick.

- Stop the press! The girls (and my nieces) made the world famous Beacher of Long Beach Indiana. You can see them (and the award winning float designed in part by yours truly) half way down the page on the right. (It's the page landscaped instead of portrait.) I'm not sure why such a world renowned publication has such a jank website, but perhaps they realize the future of publishing is still in the broadsheet. The internet's a fad.

- Speaking of, I had a genuine moment of seriously missing the girls last night when I saw a facebook post where the littlest noted "I'm really glad the moon isn't the Death Star." The BDGF had prepped a care package to send to them and asked me to draw something on it, so I came up with the following. I like the idea better than the execution, but top of the head and all that.

- Finally, last night I tried to figure out (with the BDGF's help) how far back in history I'd have to go to blow people's minds with my working knowledge of technology. For instance, I couldn't go back to the 50's and create a computer, because I couldn't do it from scratch. I could go back to prehistoric times and create fire, or change the world in middle ages by coming up with moveable type before Gutenberg, but I should be able to get closer than that. The problem of course is that technology has become so complicated, we rely on it without understanding it. I don't have an answer yet, but even with all of our technological advances, it's important to remember we're still stupid.

Posted 11:33am
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July 18th , 2013

What is and what should never be

The BDGF is constantly rolling her eyes in frustration at me because I am hesitant to make substitutions when ordering in a restaurant. The only time I will send anything back is if they bring me the wrong beverage, because I suppose we have to draw the line somewhere and that's mine. I recently ordered prescription sunglasses that I can't wear because the lenses were incorrectly ground and rather than go back and complain and get them fixed I ate the $40, because that seemed like a reasonable price not to have to go in and argue with some clerk.

I'm not sure why that's my modus operandi. I'm certainly not afraid of confrontation. I don't fear some abstract retribution for complaining about something that clearly was someone else's fault. Part of it is that I don't want to put anyone out and I never want to seem like a whiney, entitled asshole. I imagine that there's a bit of me that's been beaten down and is so used to taking it on the chin that it often seems like par for the course. I hope that part of it is that I was such an angry young man for so long, I am trying to atone for the sins of my former self.

I know I think people as a whole are whiney little dicks. Everything has to happen now and the exact way they envision it, otherwise all holy hell breaks loose. Nothing disgusts me more than when adults act like petulant teenagers. Today I was at a CVS waiting to check out when a guy comes in and asks to speak to the manager. He shows the manager a pair of shoes in a plastic bag and says that he was there yesterday, and walking out to the parking lot his plastic CVS bag broke, whatever was in it shattered and ruined his brand new pair of shoes. He wanted to know what the manager was going to do about it.

I'll note with disappointment right now that I didn't stick around to see what happened, even though I wanted to. It is nevertheless amazing to me that this guy thought he was entitled to compensation because his bag broke. Who has that mind set? I've been at dinner before when a waiter accidentally spills something on someone, and in that scenario, you expect the manager to come over and offer some compensation in some way. And that's the way it's always worked - some free food and an offer to pay your dry cleaning bill. If you are unhappy with the compensation, just don't go to that restaurant again, don't haggle over it. I can't imagine what would even make this CVS fucker happy in that scenario. I know that if I stuck around to find out that the CVS manager offered to buy that guy new shoes, I'd never shop there again, because I refuse to tacitly condone something that's contributing to the problem.

Posted 1:41pm
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July 17th , 2013

This Week in Indie Rock.

- I don't generally have a "summer jam". I've never stopped listening to new music, but I also haven't listened to the radio in 20 years or watched MTV for almost that long (there was still some music on the channel when I last watched it, so that should give you some indication.)Thus whatever "song of the summer" the kids are listening to usually escapes me. This list compiled by an indie rock site that I actually enjoy lists 6 songs and I could give a shit about all of them outside of Vampire Weekend. This list going back ten years further proves my point, as outside of Beyonce, I couldn't tell you what one of those songs sounds like, and I'll bet you a dollar they'd all sounds similarly awful to me, to the point that I would refuse to even try and tell them apart. I guess at the end of the day, despite my attempts to try and stay relevant musically, I'm quickly becoming an old man - surely to most teenagers who were born after Pearl Jam was no longer relevant. The good news is I never aspired to be "cool" in their eyes. They are awful nascent human beings and I give zero weight to their tastes and opinions. Give me a song like this, which is aptly described as a "honeyed, melancholy midtempo sigh." If I am doomed, as the author states, to "pretend it will always be 1974," that's OK with me.

- Speaking of Pearl Jam, they're prepping a new album. I recently learned that there's a whole group of people who still worship Eddie Vedder, which I suppose is slightly better and more interesting than say Phishheads.

- Also here's a new Ben Folds Five video, just because.

- Finally, if you really want to feel old and get upset, here's EW's Top 100 Albums of All Time. The only real question is what will the compilers of this list be more embarrassed about in 10 years: Kanye at #8 or Adele at #17, both ahead of Abbey Road, Highway 61 Revisited and Innervisions. That's not even justifiable on a subjective level.

Posted 1:42pm
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July 16th , 2013

Legacy.

I'm an atheist and a man of science, so I don't contemplate mortality much. We're bags of water and electricity and like all machines at some point we stop working. End of story. I've made my peace with it. It'd be nice to go out on my own terms, but you generally don't get much choice in the matter, so I hope I get lucky. But I'm not even gonna spend an inordinate amount of time crossing my fingers.

At the same time, I'm no different than anyone else in that I'd like my time spent around here while things do still work to mean something. The fact that I'll soon be 40 and I have no idea exactly what I want it to mean is beginning to be troubling. I've spent the last 15 years at the same job that's an utter dead end. My hobbies have no hope of providing me any income and I haven't amassed enough knowledge to be a Jeopardy champion, much less a renowned expert on anything.

I'm told, and I suppose I realize, that the good news is that I'm not even forty, so there's still a decade or two to turn things around. I could write a book. I could quit my job and find something that makes me happy. I could start something that sustains itself long after I'm gone. Statistically I'm well over halfway finished, but given how useless we all are for the first 20 years and the last 15 or so, I'm technically still somewhere in the prime of it.

Of course none of that could happen too. I could easily grind out another 15 years behind this desk, drifting between this and that until I hit semi-retirement and take my rightful place as a curmudgeon who hates those damn neighborhood hoodlums. Luckily should that most likely scenario play itself out I still have something to hang my hat on.

Siddhartha turns 18 today. He's a smart, concerned, empathetic man with great taste in music. No matter what I do for the rest of my life, I've already done the best, most important thing I'm ever going to do. I can't thank him enough for that. Plus, when my apathy leads to me never doing anything else, I can blame him for why I just coasted.

Posted 10:44am
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July 12th , 2013

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

- Sleep well citizen, there are still people in Washington doing things on your behalf instead of the special interests that line their pockets. Elizabeth Warren is trying to re-enact Glass-Steagall and Al Franken (et al) is trying to overturn Citizens United. These are two things I've been railing about for the last few years, so I'm 100% behind both these heroes.

- Movie time! The summer blockbusters so far have been middling to decent, but I can highly recommend two smaller movies that I've caught so far: Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing and the coming of age comedy The Kings of Summer. You'll remember both long after you've forgotten the McGuffin-y plot of something like Man of Steel. I've also recently caught two rockumentaries about bands that almost but didn't make it: Big Star's Nothing Can Hurt Me and The Replacements Color Me Obsessed. I highly recommend both films and of course both bands.

- Happy belated birthday to the MoeMan who turned 75 on Tuesday, and happy early birthday to my only begotten son Siddhartha, who turns 18 next Tuesday. More on that later, because obviously time is really marching on relentlessly at the moment.

- Sundays with Shakespeare update! This Sunday is still The Taming of the Shrew via 10 Things I Hate About You, but we're swapping Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream the next two weeks, as they're doing the Dream at Bells in Kalamazoo next weekend, and how could we pass up seeing King Oberon in Bell's beer garden? We've also booked tickets to see Othello at the Stratford Festival outside of Toronto in early August, proving we are taking this Shakespeare to it's logical conclusion. By which I mean the BDGF and I will likely take our own lives at the end of the summer in a tragedy of bad timing and misunderstanding.

- Finally, I assume that most of us would have eventually come up with this idea were we to have access to Billy Dee Williams, Jason Schwartzman and Patton Oswalt, but well done @nerdist nonetheless: here's Cantina Karaoke.

Posted 10:59am
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July 10th , 2013

Turn, turn, turn.

It's almost cliche at this point to point out that I'm of the last generation to not have technology be ubiquitous in their lives. I mean, we haven't reached the singularity yet, but my formative years were spent in a pre-digital world. Rotary dial phones. No cable TV. Our Wikipedia was books.

Contrast that with my son's experience. He's never known life without cell phones and the internet. When he's my age he can regale his kids with tales of an age when the TVs weren't flat (a concept he'll barely remember.) My family got its first computer in 1992. It didn't have a hard drive.

It's hard for me to imagine how much nerdier I may have grown up if I could have had access to computers and the internet. I spent countless hours copying tapes and albums I got from the library. I had the VCR programmed every night of the week to record something that was happening in the middle of the night. It's hard to imagine instantly having access to everything.

Including human interaction. I stopped reading comic books and started playing sports because of girls. Had I been able to even message board, much less 4chan or chatroullette, I might have gone down a technological rabbit hole rather than square peg into round hole my unathletic proclivities. It certainly would have been a better fit.

Of course there are downsides. I'm certainly a much more well rounded person. When you are forced to work with limited resources, you often get more interesting results. Last night I asked Sid if he had any plans for the evening and he said "Do you mean in real life or online?" Gross. I'm going to make an excellent old man, telling kids how things were better back in my day. Although at this rate, there'll be no kids to yell at to get off of my lawn.

Posted 10:46am
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July 8th , 2013

Time off for good behavior.

I hate the word 'staycation'. It sounds like something Oprah made up. It's what your elderly aunt does so she can work on her rose garden. It belies what a vacation is supposed to be: a chance to get away. At least I used to think so. I continue to hate the verbiage, but I love the ideal.

I just had a week off 'vacation' that was in no way an according to Hoyle vacation. It had your typical vacation trope of leaving the state for a beautiful locale and spending time on the beach, but it lacked the essential essence of what a vacation is, and that's getting away.

I'm a person who has trouble relaxing. If there's a to-do list, I have trouble sitting still and letting it fester. I check my email on vacation, and my job's not that important. Relaxing becomes impossible when I have to be in best behavior. mode. This includes but is not limited to any time spent around the children and extended family.

So a 'vacation' at my in-laws with the children in tow where my brother's family also shows up is a nightmare. When we have to wake up at 8:30 am to go to a Fourth of July parade, it officially become worse than going to work. It was the end of day four before I got to sit down and try and read a book - the only thing I wanted to do while I was there.

Don't get me wrong - I love each and every one of these people. The beach house is amazing - only a monster can sit on a deck watching the sun set over Lake Michigan and not get enjoyment out of it. However, after a week of vacation, I finally got relaxed sometime around 10pm last night when I finally sat down and turned on our Sundays with Shakespeare feature.

The good news is that before returning to Michigan we dropped the girls off at the airport so they could fly west to spend a month with their father. Couple that with the fact that Siddhartha is a week from turning 18, and we are essentially childless for the next month. That means in about three and half weeks after I put a significant dent in my to-do list, I can relax for a day or two before the girls come home and we start the whole back to school/send your kid to college rigmarole, at which point I can relax again sometime around 2017.

Posted 10:31am
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June 28th , 2013

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

- For the first time in neigh on a decade, there's new Pixies music! Ironically right after Kim announced she was quitting the band, but there you go. In related music quirk: tour Jack White's Third Man Records in Nashville. It's as cool as it looks, trust me.

- Lost in the week's gay rights victory(s) was Obama's climate change proposal and Wendy Davis' heroic filibuster. It was a pretty big week and we should all celebrate. I propose getting drunk and then going to start a fight with Rick Perry, because I'd love to take a baseball bat to that man's thick, thick skull.

- Siddhartha was on the University of Michigan campus this week for orientation purposes as he preps to officially matriculate this fall. Oh and in less than three weeks he'll be 18 years old. Being impossibly old doesn't necessarily make me happy in and around the present moment, but how well Sid turned out and how excited for him I am definitely does, so net positive.

- For those keeping up with the Stratford upon Chandler's Sundays with Shakespeare festival, this week we're showing (in conjunction with the Michigan Theater) Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. The play is a quick read. It's quite funny. I highly recommend giving the actual text a go before you show up at the theater. You could always watch Buffy or The Avengers to prep as well. I for one will probably go out and buy this, just because.

- Finally, I'm taking next week off for a well deserved break. Enjoy your Independence Day. May I suggest making it a sexy one with the founding fathers? Oh, and while I read my Shakespeare and sit on the beach, I intend to get around to making these, because the effort looks totally worthwhile.

Posted 11:39am
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June 26th , 2013

Win some, lose some.

I wasn't very happy that yesterday SCOTUS decided that racism wasn't a problem in the South anymore. My only guess is that they wrote the opinion before the Paula Dean story broke and ran out of time to change their minds. But I figured that meant that maybe we'd get some justice today with some rulings that were totally gay. You can't lose 'em all, right?

We managed sweet victory at 10:05 this morning when DOMA was finally struck down. Thanks GOP for spending all that taxpayer money defending it in court, you assholes. The Prop 8 case was not quite as rousing a celebration, as they decided to dismiss it on standing (which ultimately means that gay Californians can marry, but as it applies to the rest of us, punt...) As far as managed expectations go, it's the ruling I expected. I of course still held out hope...

It's why people love sports. You can be up against the wall and still pull out a victory. Sometimes David manages to take down Goliath. And the sweet, sweet taste of victory is always worth both the fight and enduring the losses to get there. Today is a win for sure. But I still look forward to the next fight, because I want to win the big one and I want to run up the score when we do.

- As an addendum to the other day's musings on Ayn Rand, I highly recommend listening to the Dead Authors Podcast, where H.G. Wells interviews Ms. Rand. Enlightenment and hilarity will ensue.

Posted 10:53am
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June 24th , 2013

Defending the indefensible

I don't have a ton of time at the moment, but a quick treatise on why I currently, reluctantly consider myself a Democrat.

It's true that the Democrats as a rule aren't any better than any other party. I have almost as many problems with 'my' party as the next. And yup, politicians of all strife are more or less the same. It is also inarguable that party affiliation doesn't define even partially the sum total of anyone. Thus indignation serves no one and stereotypes are often useless when it comes to politics.

Except when you can throw all of the above out and it really is that simple. Libertarianism (and it's spiritual leader Ayn Rand) is a naive, utopian and ultimately nascent philosophy. It's why it's so popular with a certain set of 16-24 olds, and then so eschewed by anyone who's actually lived in the real world. Chris Kluwe explains is fairly eruditely in this takedown of Atlas Shrugged. If you know an adult who still holds this book dear, they are stupid. Think Paul Ryan. I really liked Dave Mathews for about 18 months in the 1990s, and I'm less embarrassed about that then I would be if I thought there was anything to learn from objectivism - other than what not to do.

Conservatism in its current incarnation is similarly small minded and without a trace of empathy. I was raised to be fiscally conservative and I still hold most of those principles dear, but since Nixon got in bed with religious conservatives and Reagan with Wall Street, these guiding philosophies have little to do with the GOP. Read this and try not to be disgusted. Forget the relative arguments of equality of opportunity versus outcome, this is boot on the throat, 100% pure Machiavellian philosophy.

So I'm a reluctant Democrat because I want nothing to do with either of those ideologies, either as they were or are being espoused. More so I don't want to be next to, near, or lumped in with them. The only troubling thing to me is how anyone would.

Posted 2:26pm
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June 21st , 2013

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

- Siddhartha heads to freshman orientation this week, meaning his becoming a Wolverine, an adult and moving out of the house is an avalanche building speed as it tumbles down a mountain. In the not news department, he'll be attending the most athletically and academically dominant college in the world. Hey, it's not me saying it, it's science.

- It's also a fairly responsible drinking state. I mean, we drink more and do it more responsibly than Ohio, not that that's saying much. I'm still not sure however, how we're not higher on this list. Although if you think Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada are craft beers, I've got news for you. We should be at the top strictly because we make Two-Hearted.

- That's no moon. It's a super moon.

- Bobby Jindal's definition of Liberalismis fucking awesome. I won't take the time to unpack it all, but I will tell you what he got right: the Second Amendment is outdated, government run health care is can be high quality and pornography is fine (some finer than others). I do believe those things and frankly, if you don't you're probably an asshole.

- Finally, Hi! I'm Troy McClure.

Posted 10:52am
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June 20th , 2013

Shakespeare Sundays

As previously noted on tbaggervance.com, this summer's project/film series is the works of William Shakespeare. The idea is to read a different Shakespeare play every week, then watch an adaptation of the play on Sunday nights at the Chandler Drive-In (also known as the side of the garage in our backyard.)

So I spent yesterday reading Much Ado About Nothing in anticipation of the new Joss Whedon adaptation, only to find out that it doesn't open at the Michigan until next Friday. Never fear though, I've reworked the schedule and Shakespeare Sundays will continue unabated. Feel free to read along and stop by on Sunday nights. I promise to keep the pre-show lectures down to 45 minutes.

Sunday, June 23 - Macbeth

It may seem weird to start out with a tragedy, but this one has witches! Plus I've moved heaven and earth to bring you the lost classic Scotland, PA (2002). Setting the tale of a man beset to ambition by his scheming wife in rural 1970's Pennsylvania, Shakespeare's shortest tragedy becomes quirkier and funnier than Bill probably originally intended. Also includes the greatest name of a tanning salon ever uttered on celluloid. Bonus: Christopher Walken.

Sunday, June 30 - Much Ado About Nothing

A special screening of Joss Whedon's latest film, shown in conjunction with the Michigan Theater. Starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion <<swoon>> and more of your favorites from the Whedonverse, this is a light comedy that even the reluctant among you should enjoy. Yes, it's in black and white and they still use the original text, but your smart enough to still get the jokes.

Sunday, July 7 - Richard III

I did a report on this play in high school, and I can tell you that outside of some memorable lines, it's kind of interminably boring. At least that's how I remembered it until I saw Al Pacino's 1996 documentary Looking for Richard. It's the perfect way to ingest this play without having to sit through it. Tons of bonus Shakespeare ruminations as well.

Sunday July 14 - The Taming of the Shrew

After the bleakness of King Richard, I bring you loose, lighthearted John Hughes-ian interpretation 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). Featuring The Joker as Petruchio and Robin as Lucentio, we will basically be interpreting the interpretation as a Batman prequel.

Sunday July 21 - Hamlet

By far my favorite Shakespeare play, we have a plethora of choices to show in conjunction with debating out loud to ourselves whether or not to commit suicide. The Mel Gibson oedipus version? The 8 hour Kenneth Brannagh version? The sequel starring Steve Coogan? I've decided to show one I have yet to watch, the 2010 BBC version, because it pits Dr. Who vs. Jean-Luc Picard, and we've all been waiting for that slugfest.

Sunday July 28 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

This is about midsummer in Ann Arbor, so what better time to show the Bard's most popular comedy? And you didn't think we getting through this with a Brannagh interpretation, did you? Come for his 1999 perfectly cast masterpiece and find out where your favorite beer got its name.

Sunday Aug. 4 - Henry V

As long as we're dealing with Brannagh, let's go with his 1989 version of this play I know almost nothing about, even though I'm fond of saying "Once more unto the breach, dear friends." I'm usually talking about drinking and not conquering France, but we may do both before the night's over.

Sunday Aug. 11 - The Tempest

OK, you made it through the middle gritty, and there should be a comedy here. But what if I told you we'd watch 1956's Forbidden Planet? That's right, Leslie Nielson and Robby the Robot. Tell me that's not a comedy...

Sunday Aug. 18 - The Merchant of Venice

Again, I chose this because I'm wholly unfamiliar with this play. Outside of 'Jews are bad' I mean. The 2004 Al Pacino adaptation is supposed to be good, so let's go with that.

Sunday Aug. 25 - Make up date

We can all assume that things won't go as planned, right? We'll leave the last Sunday of the summer open for when everything gets pushed back a week. Or we'll wrap things up with Shakespeare in Love and see how many new references we get now that we're all Shakespeare scholars.

Posted 2:05pm
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June 19th , 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I saw This is the End last night. Aside from being hilarious, it also lightly tackled some religious ideas, specifically around the rapture. While I'm unconcerned about whether or not I get into a place that doesn't exist, I am fascinated with the ideals of those who do see it as the end goal. Good on ya, Catholics.

- Friend of the Blog Stov sent me this study about science and religion and a la carte belief systems. Most shocking: 18% of people believe the sun revolves around the Earth. Seriously. (And again, way to go Catholics.)

- Where is Satan lurking? Apparently both in D & D and Yoga. The asshat in the latter can't spell the word commandment, and the former is worried about D&D related teen suicide, but apparently not those that come from gay bullying. Gross.

- Mr. Rogers was the best. And he was apparently a minister, which is doubly impressive since I had no idea.

- Finally, this dog's butt looks like Jesus. He works in mysterious ways...

Posted 11:51am
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June 17th , 2013

On a bicycle built for two...

I've become enamored as of late with the idea of running a movie theater. Whether it be a small black box place that serves great beer and shows tiny movies or a grand theater that I just get to curate, it sounds like my perfect 'retirement.' Anyone with ideas as to how to make this happen please contact me post haste.

My parents loved movies. They remember life pre-television, where movies were the only screen you got to stare at. My mother loved thrillers and musicals and my dad westerns and war dramas. I knew the canons of Hitchcock and John Wayne by the time I was 10, even though they had both been long dead.

When I was around that age, my dad decided to show me Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don't think he was a huge fan of the movie, but he knew I loved space and Star Wars so he gave me some exposition and we sat there and watched the film unfold in bold silence.

I've seen that movie at least a dozen times now, and I'm still not sure I can wholly tell you what it's about. No one could who was being completely honest with you, but that goes double for someone still in their first decade of life.

Again, I don't know what my dad's relationship with that movie was, but I can tell you my immediate takeaway was "He must think I'm a lot smarter than I am because this is waaaay over my head." Ironically it turned out to be an ego boosting shot of confidence. It gave me something to live up to.

I doubt it was consciously, deliberately so, and it was something I probably didn't need even at that age, but for the subsequent 30 years it helped define what my dad thought I was and thus who I wanted to try and be. Here I am almost 40, still trying to frame my life through cinema. However it turns out, thanks Moe.

- I got beautifully written cards from my child(ren) yesterday, but I also felt a little like this guy.

Posted 10:13am
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June 14th , 2013

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

- "You already have zero privacy - get over it." That's the chairman of Sun Microsystems in the late 1990s in regards to the internet ending personal freedoms. I don't want to be flippant about the government spying on people, but the right time to be indignant was when the Patriot Act was passed. I was livid then, but I have a hard time getting my ire up now. The internet isn't your bedroom, it's the town square. Everything you do there is seen by everyone and lives forever. That's something to remember always and why I have the above quote on the bulletin board in my office. Giant corporations who have zero interest in your best interest have been mining your data for well over a decade, and no one seems to give two shits as long as their aunt Myrtle can see pictures of their baby. Now the government is doing it and it's news? Ultimately my response to the 'scandal' is the same as it was weeks ago when the right was apoplectic about profiling of conservative groups. Wait, you've been advocating profiling for years, but now when it's happening to white people you're upset? Does your alarm going off in the morning cause you to shit your pants?

- Always worth noting is new Neko Case music, which is here! This also gets me super excited, since we'll be catching Fitz and the Tantrums next Thursday. That's my kind of dance party.

- Did you hear? Mike Huckabee can't believe that there's same sex couples on TV! Oh, and Marco Rubio thinks that your employer should be allowed to fire you for being gay! The GOP: party of inclusion. Since Sunday is Father's Day, I suggest sending them both one of these cards. Again, I don't want them to die in a fire, but I sure wouldn't mind it.

- Today is the last day for the AAPS, which means sometime about now the BDGF is officially off for the summer. That means tonight there'll be a screening of Dazed and Confused in our backyard, as tradition dictates. Last night we watched Sir Paul McCartney on Stephen Colbert, which was a helluva way to celebrate the second to last day of school. Other things to help my love kick off a care free summer: Here's NASA in the 1950s, and here's the Space X capsule on display. Who knows what ridiculous space adventure we will embark on before school resumes in the fall?

- Finally, the tbaggervance.com summer movie series starts tomorrow night. This summer will be Shakespeare Sundays (with an obvious exception for week one starting on a Saturday). "Shakespeare Shorts" kicks things off, including "15 minute Hamlet" and the "Atomic Shakespeare" episode of Moonlighting. After that, there'll be a different movie every Sunday night around 9ish. I'll be reading the plays leading up to the movie every week, and I'll be sure to post some sort of schedule for those that want to play along.With any luck I'll be blogging in iambic pentameter my the end of the summer.

Posted 1:32pm
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June 10th , 2013

Now what?

The other day the BDGF said that tbaggervance.com was turning into a 'dad blog'. I don't know what the exact definition of that is, but I found the idea reflexively reprehensible. Having fatherhood thrust upon me rather than choosing it, I've always wanted to simultaneously be the best dad I could, while not being associated with it whatsoever. I suppose there is irony in the fact that I'm apparently embracing it just as my legal obligations are about to run out.

So as regular readers already know, our house has been grad party central for the last couple of months. Saturday it finally came time to throw it all together. Time for a photodump:

So yay, we made it! Most importantly, Sid enjoyed himself and the BDGF and I made it through without coming to blows. After the mess had all been cleaned up and put away, I started to wrap my head around the idea of not having a major project to consider anymore - which lasted all of five minutes before the BDGF declared "I want all of this buckthron pulled out of the backyard." So rust never sleeps. Oh and legally mine or not, did I mention that we get to do all of this over again next year for the BDGF's oldest? I may be hitting my dad stride just in the nick of time after all.

Posted 11:04am
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June 5th , 2013

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

- My Siddhartha officially graduates tomorrow, which means I'm off the next couple of days to clean and prep for the party to end all parties this Saturday. (Here's Neil deGrasse Tyson giving Rice's commencement address last month to put you in the mood.) I'll be bleaching the grounds and running around A2 like a chicken with its head cut off picking up last minute supplies and intermittently crying for no discernable reason to those around me. Let's clean out the bin before I head off on my non-vacation...

- Speaking of intermittent weeping, Baby Jesus did his best to keep the crying Speaker in place. Also tear inducing: Ohio prez Gordo Gee claims "Can't trust those damn Catholics," then declines his commencement speakership at a Catholic high school (before retiring). Huh. Also: Dan Savage gives the best advice, period. Bonus: to combine Savage and Tyson: NASA says "It Gets Better."

- In Indie Rock, friend of the blog Markie C introduced me last year's terrific album by The Coup, just before Patton Oswalt creates this terrific video. Also: stream Ben Folds Five Live. Bonus: Jack White saves the Masonic, gets part of it named after him. Hometown boy makes good.

- In Star Wars porn: the world's largest Lego structure is this X-Wing. Also: The original trilogy as pulp novels. Bonus: of all the Star Wars bathing suits, the force is strongest with this one. Now let's blow this thing and go home.

- Finally, not lost in all the graduation craziness: Lieberstein(s) return(s) to A2 today! Nothing is worse than when your favorite people in the world pack up and move, but it does mean cause for great celebration when they return, albeit always for all too briefly. Welcome home Liebs.

Posted 10:22am
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June 4th , 2013

Signal vs. Noise.

The BDGF and I are going on four years together. That's long enough that I should be able to pick up on all of the body language, contextual cues and double entendres that she throws at me. At this point I should even be getting it right when she says yes but means no, although truly I'm still guessing at those.

I'm not throwing stones in an accusatory way when I say these things. We all do them and learning to pick up on your partner's eccentricities is one of the things that makes you a good partner. Right? Like when something breaks around the house, the BDGF notifies me that it needs fixing. When it needs fixing now, she says "The ________ is still broken, I'm going to call the repair guy," knowing that I will spiral into panic at the thought of paying someone to do something I might be capable of, and thus it gets fixed toot suite.

Sometimes I'm completely oblivious to her ulterior motives though. Like earlier this year, she bought her littlest some strawberry plants, which she noted necessitated me building window boxes on the side of the house to grow them. Of course what I didn't see coming was that once I proved my competence in building strawberry holders for the side of the house, I'd be building flower boxes for the front as well.

Of course I'm exaggerating. I don't think for a minute that the BDGF hatched a Machiavellian plot where she drew a through line from strawberries to window boxes on the front of the house, because at the end of the day she could have just asked for them knowing I would have said yes. But she also wants a zip line in the backyard, which I refuse to build or in any way be a part of. I think I need to inspect any father's day presents with a critical and skeptical eye. Otherwise, who knows what rabbit hole I may fall down.

Posted 10:30am
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June 3rd , 2013

Sunk costs.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm not better prepared for certain things. Or at least better warned. Is it because certain things I wouldn't believe even if you told me? Is it because sadistically people who have been through these things take pleasure in watching others suffer the same indignities? Or perhaps I'm living a solipsistic, idiosyncratic existence and my foibles are all my own.

I don't remember my older brother's high school graduation. I remember my younger brother and I had new Snoopy outfits and we weren't to dirty them before people showed up (we were 6 and 4). I remember my graduation being 20ish people, a case of beer and some cake. There were probably some old pictures of me to elicit 'awws' and embarrassment, but to call it a 'production' would be right out. It was barely a BBQ that happened after I happened to graduate.

This Saturday we host a graduation party for Siddhartha that will rival at least a third of the weddings I've ever attended. We've been planning for several months. I've spent every weekend and evening drawing and shopping and landscaping to prepare. I've borrowed chairs, tablecloths and coolers from almost everyone I know. I'm taking two days off of work for 'finishing touches.' All because my kid completed something best described as 'compulsory'.

Now is this something everyone goes through? Is this rigmarole because of my proclivities or the BDGF's? Why did no one tell me that the bill for the graduation party is the giant balloon payment for 18 years of parenting? Or could I have avoided all of this with a half barrel of Oberon and who gives a shit attitude? As Mr. Owl so once wisely opined, the world may never know. I do know that I get to do it all over again next year; which means given what I know now, I get about a week off before I start planning for that.

Posted 11:53am
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May 31st, 2013

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

- As far as comic books go, I've always been exclusively a Marvel guy. For you non-true believers out there, there's two comic book companies out there: One has Batman and Superman and Wonderwoman and Aquaman, the other has Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men and the Avengers. I took the gritty realism and relatable problems of the latter band of misfits. That said, I'll still go see any comic book movie that looks like it's got a chance to be decent, so like all fanboys, I'm looking forward to the new Superman movie. The looming question of course, is how does someone who is invulnerable shave? Some of your favorite scientists and comic book nerds try and answer the paradox.

- Speaking of The Avengers, King of the Nerds Joss Whedon is this week's tbaggervance.com commencement speaker. His message: you are all going to die.

- I'm on the last 6 months of the lease for my current vehicle, so it will soon be time to shop around for my next car. I'd love to ditch the car completely, but there are a few factors keeping me from jumping on that (figurative) train, so I'm stuck in the rural American paradigm. The next best thing of course would be to go electric, but I don't know if I'm committed to solving all of those problems and outlaying all that extra cash. I am excited about Tesla's aggressive plans to roll out their "Supercharger Network" though. Maybe one one conventional combustion lease... Never bet against Elon Musk.

- I'm only three episodes in to the season 4 dump of Arrested Development, as I'm trying to be super patient and watch them with the BDGF. I will say this so far: I agree with some of the criticisms about how weirdly it was shot and it's not the same show it was, but it's still amazing and I look forward to seeing the gestalt of this giant jigsaw puzzle they're building. It'll just take a while. So I promise to stop talking about it now, and leave you with Quote-a-Bluth. Come on!

- Finally, while Siddhartha has finished his compulsory schooling, he's enjoying the senior privilege of finishing a month before the rest of the district. Thus the BDGF and the girls still have two weeks to go. That means a fortnight from now we'll be celebrating the completion of another year of the BDGF's service as a teacher by watching Dazed and Confused at the Chandler Drive-In. It's her favorite movie and watching it on the actual last day of school drives home the point that it's out for summer. It's too bad that this won't be ready for three months from now, because it sounds like it might be the perfect spiritual send off for Sid as leaves home. But let's not rush that just yet.

Posted 11:16am
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May 30th, 2013

No Fun.

I've been working since I was about 10. Back then it was two or three lawns every week in the summer, but it was enough to keep me in snow cones and comic books. Odd jobs here and there expanded until I was 16 and got my first full time job. It was manual labor. It paid $4 an hour. Sometimes we'd spend our days breaking up concrete with sledgehammers in 100 degree heat. Nothing made me want to get an education more, so I never had to do that shit again.

I used the money I made to pay for my own entertainment, my own transportation, and eventually my own education. I was simultaneously proud that I earned everything I had and jealous of everyone I knew who didn't have to work so hard or at all. I wanted to find a way to give Sid that sense of pride without the indignant jealousy. I'm not sure how good of a job I've done.

Sid's never had a job. Not a real/semi-permanent one anyway. I feel like I bear some responsibility for not insisting, but what do you do when a kid rarely asks for money? Still, it's the summer before he goes to college, and he's going to have to foot the bill for some things over the next four years, so for the last month or so I've been warning him. He knows that starting Monday, I turn off internet access at home so he can't sit around all day screwing around instead of earning his keep.

I should have insisted/threatened earlier, because I got this text last night, after 10 straight days of telling him to get a job 20 times a day:

In the words of Iggy and the Stooges, I got a job

Luckily for him he's getting paid to tutor kids in math instead of breaking up concrete with a sledgehammer. I'm pretty sure he doesn't need that object lesson.

Posted 10:53am
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May 29th, 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I've been fairly excited about the new Pope. He at least seems to value some old school Jesus humility and eschew the pomp and circumstance of his predecessor. I mean, he's not going to come out tomorrow and say "We've fucked up, you should totally wear a condom," but you take what you can get. Like here's a good example: Recently, the Pope came out and said 'Atheists are people too!' which is neigh unthinkable under the last Holy See. Of course, it didn't take long for the hierarchy to come in and walk it all the way back, but you can't expect an institution that's been running for thousands of years to just start giving away what they've been so successfully selling.

- And of course for every Catholic good, there's a Catholic evil. Why anyone is still a Catholic in the face of all that child rape and the justification for it by those in charge completely galls me.

- Where do the Atheists live? Mostly China. What makes them annoying? Certainly not these things, because whoa. Except perhaps I think I look smarter than I am, but Jimmy Pardo recently referred to me as professor, so I think I even got that covered.

- Bad news for Jesus the pundit: this candidate he "endorsed" came in dead last. Bonus: to an openly gay man. Zing!

- Church can be sexual, albeit I assume unintentionally?

- Finally, people often talk about the comfort and pleasure they find in religion. If you can't find it there, maybe you find it in the laughter of a small child? Or we can all be adults about this and admit that those things pale in comparison to sex and drugs. Science!

Posted 11:22am
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May 24th, 2013

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

- It's Arrested Development weekend! And none too soon - after a fortnight of at times punishing heat, Memorial Day weekend promising to hover right below 70. Spend the 'inclement' weather with the Bluths. Also, you're gonna get some hop-ons.

- After three straight weeks of summer movie gold (Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby and Star Trek Into Darkness) this weekend we're stuck with a completely warmed over movie about 'roid heads driving cars and thinking their cool and another Hangover that sounds like it will fail to atone for the sins of its predecessor they way Iron Man 3 did. Take solace, there's the previously noted Arrested Development drop and you could also take a break from the summer spectacle with Jesse and Celine.

- I've always postulated that once the Affordable Care Act gets implemented and people start to get used to what it provides, it will become an intractable part of our society that people will rely on and enjoy. I've been as disappointed in the Obama Administration as anyone as of late, and I was opining last night that we're sitting on a precipice of how history may ultimately judge his presidency. Will people lament that he couldn't untangle enough of W's eight years of horror while blindly continuing much of it, or will he leave a legacy of civil rights accomplishments and be seen as a steward of long hard fight to get the economy back on track? As someone who likes to see the country do well, I liked his speech yesterday and see this as wonderful news. Keep swinging kid (and stop the petty fucking around.)

- Twenty-ish years ago (it was more like '95) I used to play this great game on the personal computer that came on something called a CD-ROM. It was an irreverent trivia game show called You Don't Know Jack. It died sometime around 10 years ago, about the same time CD-ROMs did. It has tried to resurrect itself several times over the years on gaming consoles, the internet and once as an iPhone app. It's back again, more interactive than ever, and since there's a new game every day, I've become addicted and hope it stays awhile in this current iteration. Try it out on your phone or facebook or however the kids are ingesting their entertainment these days.

- Finally, it's all over but the pomp and circumstance for the only begotten son of yours truly. Sid's last day of high school was today, meaning we get to take a moment to reflect and congratulate the young man. Of course it's just high school, meaning he's gotten over a compulsory bar set intentionally low by society that entitles you to jack and squat. Good work kid, now get back to work. Here's the season's first viral commencement address, delivered by Stephen Colbert.

Posted 2:21pm
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May 23rd, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

- For those of you who may harbor dreams of rock stardom, I know the guy running the rock geeks camp on page 5 of this PDF and I'll vouch for its coolness. However the flyer I saw listed ages 13-110, so pre-teens and those that remember the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand need not apply.

- Fans of the Paul-only vocal track of "Helter Skelter" that was made famous here at tbaggervance.com will also likely enjoy this drum-and-bass-only version of "Something". Those Liverpudlians may be on to something.

- Alternate track lovers rejoice! This early unreleased version of "Psycho Killer" is bad fucking ass.

- The lovely and angelic Neko Case is back in the studio, and NPR is there. Here's hoping the next album cover is half this good:

- Finally, here's 20 music documentaries deemed to have the goods by Pitchfork. Not mentioned is I am Trying to Break Your Heart, which is a must for fans of Wilco and it's happenstance insight into the modern music industry.

Posted 11:22am
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May 22nd, 2013

Today's Ultimate Dreg of Humanity...

I was listening to NPR this weekend as I was running between home improvement stores (I am apparently the penultimate 40 year old stereotype suburban dad now) and This American Life was talking about climate change. Specifically, the part I initially caught was about a former Republican congressman who lost his seat because he believes in anthropogenic climate change and what he's doing now to change the national dialogue - specifically among conservatives - on this paramount issue. This of course made me apoplectic, because like evolution and gravity, there's no debate amongst scientists on this issue . I mean I was seriously angry. These fucks need to all pack up and move to some religious fundamentalist country and stop impeding our progress. May I suggest Iran?

So after stewing about it for several days, I'm trying out a new semi-regular feature here at tbaggervance.com so that I don't marinate in my own bile over fucksticks who are anti-science, pro-hate, and other things that generally make us worse off as a collective species. Thus our inaugural member in Today's Ultimate Dreg of Humanity® is the Republican Nominee for Lt. Governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson. He's a giant homophobe. I'm torn between wanting him to die in a fire and getting elected immediately to spur millions of progressives to action.

Since I am making you aware of something awful in an attempt to diffuse my own consternation over it, I feel the need to balance out the blog's chi. To that end, here's our inaugural Today's Hero of the Internet®: Reggie Watts and his cover of "Never Gonna Give You Up." Now sally forth and do nice things.

Posted 11:22am
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May 21st , 2013

Hindsight.

In high school my brother had a Beatles' haircut. This was the late '70s/early '80s, so I assume at the time it was a tad unusual. Legend has it he was mistaken for Paul McCartney once at an airport, but seeing as they're 25 years apart in age and my brother has never played the bass, I kind of doubt it. The goofy, dated coif was mentioned to me a lot when I was in high school, as I had a similarly goofy, dated terrible mess of hair on my head. What I never understood - even at the time - was how everyone said I would "regret" my haircut. How my brother could barely look at himself in those old pictures with his goofy 'do. Like there was some secret shame in making bad stylistic choices tied to an era in society. Like we all didn't or wouldn't have them someday.

From the time I entered high school up until about the time I left home, my mother and I fought. Not a day went by where we missed an opportunity to take shots at each other. It was a Hatfields and McCoys blood feud. One of us was always in the red - Superfly TNT, The Guns of the Navarone level batshit out of control apoplectic about the other. I was a 16 year old atheist who wanted to drink and smoke and participate in things my mother didn't know existed and would be embarrassed to read about. We were about as far apart as two people get. Luckily for our relationship, I moved out and quickly became a father, and we started to see more eye to eye. Our differences didn't go away, but our prioritization of them changed and there emerged an unspoken respect of one an another. I suppose that's how it's engineered to work.

I've never for one second regretted my goofy haircut. I can't erase the word "mullet" from my resume and that's OK by me. I'm not ashamed of the trench coat I wore all through high school or the fact that I used to wear rental bowling shoes outside of bowling alleys. They were choices that certainly look silly now, some would have said silly then, but it's who I was. I like those pictures and thoughts and remembering previous iterations of tbaggervance. I feel that way about almost everything, hoping to learn from the silly and stupid but understanding that it's part of the journey. The exception to that are those tumultuous years with my mother. Even knowing it was rite of passage stuff that happens to everyone, I feel bad for the way I treated her. She was mostly just trying to protect me and I should have handled that differently. It's certainly more regrettable than business up front, party in the rear.

Posted 11:03am
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May 17th , 2013

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

- Star Trek: Into Darkness opens this weekend. In honor of the return of Captain James T. Kirk, here's a comparison of some of pop culture's most famous interstellar spaceships and here's George Takei responding to "traditional" marriage fans. The TARDIS and George Takei have distinctly unfair advantages as they are unique and mythical forces you do not fuck with, and everything bends to their will.

- Still to come: the return of Arrested Development. Here's the official trailer and a list of the 10 best recurring gags. Come on!

- Ann Arbor's serial graffiti "artist" is now in custody. I personally hope he gets the chair. Stick to chalk kids.

- A healthy distrust of giant corporations is paramount to not getting fucked over by them. I mean, they're still gonna fuck you - no two ways about it. But with constant vigilance, you can at least see them coming and lube up first. Here's a list of who is and isn't likely to play just the tip with you. Twitter whispers sweet nothings in your ear, Verizon roofies you and leaves you walking crooked for a week.

- Finally, I'm prone to crying at movies and am otherwise easily manipulated emotionally by TV shows, sappy songs and even television commercials. Which is why I am unapologetically inspired by these inspirational posters. Get out there and whole ass something.

Posted 10:32am
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May 16th , 2013

Fight or Flight.

When I was 12 years old my family was on vacation in Chicago and as we were bustling around the city (desperately trying to get to Saturday evening mass!) a thief stuck his hand in my mom's purse and took out her pocketbook. I instinctively yelled a simple "Hey!" in his direction, which turned out to be enough for him to drop the wallet and turn on his heel.

I've told that story here before and I don't do it to brag, I was a dumb kid acting instinctively and had I thought about it, I would have probably done nothing. But something in my still meager 165lb frame always chooses fight over flight. Now I don't say that in physical way, I've thrown few punches in my life. But when it comes time to say something or not, I'm usually going to say something. If nothing else, it usually makes me feel better.

This subject merits a better post that's more thought out than what I'm going to give it, but in the time I have I want to document what happened yesterday. My sister went to facebook to rant about her healthcare costs, as she is wont to do. Now most of you know my facebook policy, so I don't even see this stuff, but the BDGF did and warned me that there was stupidity afoot and it was making her angry, so I checked it out. Leaving the insurance stuff aside, this blew my gasket:

Well I obviously couldn't hold my tongue, so I responded:

The whole story kind of hinges on what comes next, which has been unfortunately redacted. But my account of it goes like this: I was referred to as "Taylor", I was called "small minded", I was accused of turning women to lesbianism, and I was told if I came to see her, she'd kick my ass and make me wish she was never born. To which I said:

Now I almost ended up feeling sorry for this women who has clearly been beaten down by life, but then I kept remembering she's a horrible racist and while I don't wish her any specific ill, I am completely fine if she were to die in a fire.

I'm not overly politically correct. I can handle just about anything without a blush, embarrassment or even offense. But I do draw the line at hate speech. Politics aside, even the massively ignorant aren't supposed to be ignored when using racial epithets. There may be a fine line on when it's appropriate to speak up in these situations and I may often overstep it, but I think we're all better off when we tell these assholes where to stick that kind of shit. At least I'll continue to burn that bridge whenever I come across it, even when the better part of valor may be to run across and put it out of your mind.

Posted 1:20pm
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May 15th , 2013

This Week in Indie Rock.

Before we get to the nitty gritty of everything that's just released, coming out soon or streaming, let's give it up for the land of 10,000 lakes for being totally gay. Watch out bigots, homophobes and conservative assholes: we're coming for you...

- Now streaming on the interwebs: The soon to be released opus from sad crooners The National and out now album from local pop rocking songsmiths Destroy This Place. I enjoy people who can listen to these albums back to back and find stuff to love in each. You are eclectic and smart and have good taste.

- Wanna feel old? Weezer's Blue Album turned 19 last week. I am insulated from this since my son graduates high school in less than a month. I'm already stocking up on geritol and denture cleaner.

- For two of my favorite ladies, here's astronaut Chris Hadfield singing David Bowie IN SPACE.

- One of the reasons I'd be a terrible business owner is because I totally think denying someone entry to a show because they didn't know enough about the band a totally reasonable business practice. I'm the worst fucking snob.

- Finally, loyal readers know that uber-douche Dan Brown represents the complete opposite of everything tbaggervance.com holds dear. The hackiest of hacks, I challenge any of you with small children to write down a story they tell word for word and see if it's not more well written than The Da Vinci Code. He's got a seat at the head table of the rogue's gallery to tbaggervance's Justice League. Anyway, turns out he's as terrible musically as he is with the written word, as witnessed by this song he wrote and performed about phone sex, "976-LOVE". You're welcome.

Posted 10:59am
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May 13th , 2013

Promenade.

I can't imagine Sid and I having much different high school experiences. My entire school was about the size of his senior class. I was big fish/small pond with no opportunities and he has the opposite of that. I think we both agree that he got the better end of the deal. I was also out drinking most weekends while he's in his room wearing a headset on the internet. I'm not sure I'd trade places with him on that one, but he's probably better off for it.

We both ended up going to our senior proms with friends amongst a large group of people. I'm not sure what that says about us if anything, but when I finally got a call about 1:30 am Saturday night that said "I won't be home tonight," after I got over my initial parental gut reaction of being irrationally upset, I realized that maybe our experiences are more similar than I originally thought, separated by more time and setting than anything else. Then I realized that maybe being upset wasn't that irrational.

- He clearly had a good time, as he's dancing with his hands in the air in the background of one of these annarbor.com photos. I don't think I was at my senior prom long enough to get a picture taken long enough other than the one above, so he probably got in less trouble than I did? Let's go with it.

Posted 10:50am
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May 9th , 2013

Better call Saul.

My BDGF loves me. This I know because at night when we sit around having cocktails and I go off on a 20 minute tangential rant about filmmakers and let's say... the legacy or Sergio Leone and his influence on modern westerns, or how Lucas lost the influence of Joseph Campbell when writing the prequels - she not only patiently listens but she even describes it as 'cute'. She does this knowing very few of the reference points I'm using to make my argument, and caring about them even less. I know, it's not even been four years, give her time.

When I play the game of "If you could do anything for a job, what would it be?" I quickly move on from bartender (because I would hold too much disdain for the customers) to something to do with movies. I love them. I love watching them, attending them, talking about them. I know a lot of stuff about a lot of things, but movies are probably near the top of the list. I know if I worked at it I could fill in the gaps of my knowledge and be a veritable expert. I'd love to write about them, but I'll probably just end up as a volunteer usher at the Michigan when I retire.

I especially love old movies. Back when effects were practical and cameras had film in them. There's something much more visceral about it. Storytelling was aloud to move more slowly. Jokes allowed to be more subtle. Movies had a different feel to them. Almost a tooth. I don't know if I've always been destined to be a grizzled old curmudgeon (as many have often argued) but being nostalgic at 37 for an era that was nearly gone by the time I was 10 is certainly a lynchpin argument. If you're at all like me, please to enjoy this Google Doodle Movie celebrating the late, great Saul Bass. You know, from back when movies were aloud to have title sequences and the greats found ways to make them interesting. Which is, I know, the opposite of me blabbering on about them. Even if you are sweetly lying to me like my BDGF.

Posted 10:28am
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May 8th , 2013

The tbaggervance.com 2013 Guide to Summer

A few years ago we started to aggregate a list of all the free (or almost so) festivals and events within a driving distance of our home base here in Ann Arbor. Well austerity being what it is, 'Free' ain't what it used to be, but it's still out there, and there's always plenty of 'suggested donation' good times and who's going to complain about a mere $10 for a lawn seat to one of the great rockers of the 1980s? That's right nobody. With that in mind, here's your 2013 Guide to Summer:

Edward G. Money
May 24
Summer begins in earnest with the man who brought you such gems as "Take Me Home Tonight," "Shakin'," Two Tickets to Paradise," "Baby Hold on to Me," "Everybody Rock and Roll the Place" and many, many more (OK not that many).

Do-Division Street Fest
June 1-3
One of many Chicago neighborhood festivals, they lack a true headliner this year, unless JEFF the Brotherhood does it for ya.

Sonic Lunch
June 6 - Aug 29
A2's FREE downtown lunchtime concert series. Full lineup isn't announced until later this week, but Martha and the Vandellas kick things off on the 6th, so promising...

Chicago Ribfest
June 7-9
Pork and We Were Promised Jetpacks on Sunday! A great way to start the summer if I've ever heard one.

A2 Restaurant Week
June 9-14
Downtown A2 reminds you that they are relevant the week before everyone abandons it for Top of the Park. Get your reservations early.

Top of the Park
June 14 - July 7
The A2 staple. A $3 lightly suggested donation means you can bring in your own cooler that no one will ever question the contents of. I do love this town. Plus, this year's movie lineup is the best ever. I plan on seeing them all.

Taste of Randolph Street
June 14-16
Another Chicago neighborhood fest combing food, music and shopping. This year's lineup features The Divine Fits and The Joy Formidable, so there's some kind of naming theme there.

Green Music Fest
June 22-23
Another Chicago neighborhood fest? Yes. A Talking Heads tribute band and Manchester Orchestra announced so far, $5 donation? You could do worse...

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

Toronto Urban Roots Festival
July 4-7
The fact The Hold Steady, Neko Case and Fitz and the Tantrums will all be here puts this festival on our map for the first time.

Common Ground Fest
July 8-14
Ben Folds Five, Barenaked Ladies, Credence Clearwater Revisited, Slash and Sevendust continue this Lansing festival's tradition of bringing back from the dead artists you remember from high school and have no feelings one way or another about. Plus Josh Ritter, The Avett Brothers and MGMT, so they are moving up in the world.

Elvis Fest
July 12-13
One day I will be forced to go this just so I can say I went. But I will kick that ball down the road as long as possible...

Bunbury Music Fest
July 12-14
This Cinci festival has the likes of Tokyo Police Club, Cake and The National, unfortunately not on the same day.

Pitchfork
July 19-21
Chicago's hippest fest features Belle & Sebastian, The Breeders, and a bunch of other artists you're no longer cool enough to have heard of.

Art Fair
July 17-20
Where the temps will soar into the high 90's and at least one storm will rip through Ann Arbor causing mass hysteria. Also a good week to leave town.

Beer Fest
July 26-27
The best thing to ever happen to Ypsilanti and my favorite non-Michigan football Saturday of the year.

Lolla
Aug 2-4
I'd love to see the Cure in Grant Park, but tickets sold out faster than you can say heat stroke.

Dream Cruise
Aug 17
FOR AVOIDANCE PURPOSES ONLY

Arts, Beats & Eats
Labor Day Weekend
Nobody knows what this lineup will entail, but don't forget to check back in August. It's right down the street from the Vodka Bar, so worth the trip!

Posted 10:28am
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May 7th , 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Here's a setup for a joke: What are Glen Beck's favorite kind of illegal immigrants? Then you realize the answer is white and evangelical and it's more sad than funny.

- Here's another one: When is global climate change not man made? When Jesus did it!

- When does a state representative in North Carolina come out AGAINST prayer before a government meeting? Why when the prayer is Islamic of course! Bonus: that's terrorism! Double bonus: it's about religious freedom! Zing!

- A high school principal in West Virginny threatened to call a high school senior's upcoming college and report her as having "bad character" if she didn't drop her protest of a speaker who'd come to preach abstinence and tell girls on birth control that their mothers hate them. Then she showed that limp dick asshole what balls really are.

- Mitt Romney is getting Mormons to breed a religious army. Literally.

- Here's an alternately depressing and not-surprising list of religious bands.

- George Takei shows you how to deal with homophobes.

- Here's a Creationist "science" test for fourth graders. I give Fs all around.

- WWJD? Apparently blame the victims of rape. I'd like to introduce that guy to this soldier.

- Finally, here's what happened when Josh Ritter accidentally showed up to play a gig at an anti-gay Christian college. I love that guy.

Posted 10:59am
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May 3rd , 2013

Happy (early) Star Wars Day!

I was once in Vegas on St. Patrick's Day that also happened to coincide with the first Saturday of the NCAA basketball tournament. That was a drunk degenerate's waking wet dream. Tomorrow happens to be both Star Wars Day and Comic Book Day. Celebrate in your mother's basement by taking a non-voluntary pledge of abstinence. This guy knows what I'm talking about...

- I'll call this Star Wars meets John Hughes.

- There's nohting to call this but Star Wars meets School House Rock.

- Here's every time Star Wars met 30 Rock.

- And you can stop waiting for Star Wars, Patton Oswalt and Russ Meyer to meet, because that happened (of a sort).

- When will we all meet at the theater for the next three Star Wars installments? Mystery solved.

- Finally, tomorrow's holiday may or may not be government approved, depending on your home world's affiliation.

Posted 10:26am
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May 2nd , 2013

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

- The NBA is totally gay! If you haven't read Jason Collins' actual piece on coming out, it is well worth your time. I don't ultimately know if there was only positive reaction to the news or if people just decided not to cover the negative hate speech, but I'm glad for it either way. I suppose the fact that this former NFLer lost work for trying to be a Christian and like gay people proves that it was out there, but it must have been minimal, so way to go America.

- The summer movie season is upon us with the release of Iron Man 3 this weekend. I'm excited for that, plus The Great Gatsby and Star Trek: Into Darkness the subsequent two weekends. You can read The AV Club's guide to those and the rest of your summer fare here and here (with part 3 to come.)

- I know college football is months away and most of you don't care, but it makes me giddy that former college football cheats (and two guys who basically ruined each other's careers in the eyes of everyone but the faithful) got together to play charity basketball recently. One of them is still popular enough in the Buckeye State to get a bobblehead night at a college he was never a head coach at in a sport he has no relationship to. So O-H? You guys are the best.

- We all know that the University of Michigan is super smart, but how about sexy? I don't know their methodology, but hey, science!

- Finally, I make no secret of the fact that while we may be friends on Facebook, I probably don't see your status updates. It only takes you posting one thing that I vociferously disagree with for me to block you from coming up in my newsfeed. I just don't have the time. Writing things on the internet is not the equivalent of the salon of a French philosophe, mostly because this is what people talk about. I'll stick to Twitter, which is a slightly less solipsistic form of social media. Slightly.

Posted 11:55am
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May 1st , 2013

That's great kid, don't get cocky.

I think I'm coming down with a case of sympathy senior-osis. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel with Sid graduating in a month, but right now I'm picturing myself figuratively walking backwards out of school after the last bell rings, both middle fingers in the air, shouting a defiant "Fuck you guys, I'm outta here!"

I've been counting down to this for a long time, and I'm still giving my stock answer of "I'm almost done!" It's of course less true for me than it is for Sid or any senior. Not only will I continue to parent Sid for the rest of my days, I also have two girls at home, one of which is barely half way through the whole child rearing process. We've all got miles to go before we sleep.

Still, I've always viewed this as my Return of the Jedi moment. We get to neatly wrap up all the loose ends with a tight little bow, and the son redeems the sins of the father by not making the same mistakes. It's a nice little narrative. At the moment however, it feels very Empire Strikes Back-y. There's a million things to do and pay for in the next few months and this better be the behind-the-eight-ball part of the second act, because Christ on a bike if it gets worse, we're all fucked.

The ultimate truth of it all is that this is Sid's A New Hope moment. He's shedding the shackles of being under his parent's roofs and going off on the grand adventure. Sure there's crotchety old hermits and friend's with delusions of grandeur to help him along his way, but he's still on his own for the first time in his life. As the parent over the next few months, I keep coming back to "This is not for you to enjoy, it's for you to survive." I can get through the bullshit of the next eight weeks, if for no other reason than I have to. Besides, they're making three new Star Wars movies, there's a shit ton of story left no matter how you look at it.

Posted 11:40am
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April 26th, 2013

No accounting for taste

John Hodgman has a podcast called Judge John Hodgman where he appropriately doles out justice to people who bring him their disputes. One of the precedents he has set that runs throughout his podcast is that you can't make someone like something. Generally these are relationship-y problems wherein one person is upset that the other doesn't like a movie or a band or doing some particular activity. As none of us are boring clones of one another, this is a meme that is bound to rear its head in every relationship, romantic or otherwise.

In the Nerdist podcast, former Singled Out host Chris Hardwick talks a lot about what it means to be a nerd. At the end of the day, being a nerd in today's society is merely loving something deeply, passionately and unapologetically. You can be a nerd for Star Wars or comic books, but being really into fantasy baseball or the movie Die Hard is just as nerdy. Nerdity, he argues, is about your level of interest and immersion, regardless of subject matter. Yes, people who tend to know the plot of every episode of Doctor Who or can tell you the starting lineup of the 1984 Tigers tend to look like your typical Gilbert and Lewis, but that's neither here nor there.

Together I think these two philosophies form a pretty good foundation as to how your tastes should inform your life. You should love what you love and not let anyone shame or ridicule how or to what depths you find enjoyment in it. Finding someone to share those things with is one of life's great joys, but you can't force it. Finding someone who shares your love of Mr. Belvedere can be magical, and you shouldn't let the fact that the same person could care less about Full House sully that beauty. If you can find a way to balance those, you've got yourself a winner. I'm pretty sure there's a middle east peace template somewhere in there, but I'll leave it to you guys to find it, because I'm not that into it.

- I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to Arrested Development. Here's some new posters and even a new video clip. Enjoy.

- And for my BDGF, who loves Jack White more than I love almost anything, here's Detroit's favorite son demo-ing his new in store vinyl studio.

Posted 11:02am
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April 25th, 2013

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

- I don't know where the above image came from (I snaked it from mgoblog.com) but it's a nice distillation of how awesome we are (although what's the deal with the kid in a Cubs shirt? That clearly wasn't vetted.). ¡Viva utopia!

- Of course everything in Tree Town is not perfect. The students are a tad up in arms over the student section at football games going general admission. I mean, I get why seniors might be miffed, but the thing is a third empty all the time and if you want to incentivize getting there early, I can think of worse ideas. I may finally be old enough to start feeling guilty about never being in my seat for kickoff, but my seat is guaranteed, so who gives a shit? ¡Viva la Blue!

- I've taken to watching a couple of back episodes of Arrested Development every time I go to the gym in anticipation of the show's return, a strategy I highly recommend. You can also get excited with these new images. I'm excited to see how Buster is doing over at Army. ¡Viva la Bluths!

- In the "I'm not gay, but I make no case for it..." department, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Chaning Tatum are purportedly in talks for a Guys & Dolls remake. Eeeeeek! ¡Viva la Chemistry! (Si, chemistry...)

- Finally, the littlest state in our union has passed a gay marriage bill. ¡Viva la difference!

Posted 10:49am
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April 23rd, 2013

Tuesday's are for politickin'

Ed. note: I'm having trouble using my words as of late. Don't know what it is, but there you have it. Lot's of things I'd like to say, but unsure as of how to say them. Like last week my dear dear friends The Jesuses were in town, but I can't come up with how to write about it. So you're just going to get links to stuff you probably already know. And this picture of AJ on a pony.

- Prepare thyself, we've got a plethora of Republicans saying atrocious things today. Starting with the head of the Michigan GOP Dave Agema comparing homosexuals to alcoholics, offering to help them "get out it," and by it meaning their "filthy lifestyle." Keep reaching out, kiddos.

- Georgia governor Nathan Deal refuses to comment on a local prom because "This is a leftist front group for the state Democratic party and we're not going to lend a hand to their silly publicity stunt." What's so special about this prom? They're trying to integrate it. Reeeeaaaaching ouuuuuuuttttttt...

- Senator Lindsey Graham wants the Boston bombing suspects to be tried as enemy combatants, because, you know, terrorism. The Obama administration fortunately respects the rule of law a little but more than that, and charged the suspect in civilian court. Lindsey must miss the days when he could go home and masturbate to the thought of us torturing foreigners for no reason.

- And to not be hypocritical and reach out myself, kudos to Chris Christie and Adolphus Busch IV for standing up to the NRA. It won't make me like Jersey or Budweiser any more, but you both are all right in my book today.

Posted 10:58am
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April 19th, 2013

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

- Star Wars Day is still over two weeks away, but I would be remiss if I sat on these two links for that long: First, Patton Oswalt (improvising on the set of Parks and Rec) goes off an 8 minute epic rant wherein he sketches out an epic Episode VII. Prepare for Robot Chewbacca. Then, the first rule of Harrison Ford is you don't talk to Harrison Ford about Star Wars. It'd be funnier if it didn't ring so true.

- To prepare for the return of Arrested Development, brush up on how to be more like Lucille Bluth. You could do worse when it comes to role models.

- Guess who the NRA is giving huge amounts of money to? Would you believe 42 of the 45 Senators who blocked the gun control bill? I know, me neither...

- I woke up this morning and checked Twitter (as I do most mornings) to try and start my brain. It quickly became a completely surreal experience as I digested last night's Boston nightmare 144 characters at a time. After confirming that my favorite Bostonians were all OK, I started to read the "proper" news coverage and quickly realized that it was superfluous. Even with Twitter's false starts, retractions and bad information, I got a complete and ultimately accurate picture. Had I been awake while all of this was going down, I also would have gotten it speed of light quicker than had I been watching a gun shy CNN. That's kinda cool.

- Finally, the other night I saw a billboard outside of Detroit that had the old english D, a heart and the Sox's B. I argued with someone last night whether or not this was a show of solidarity that prioritized the important things over the trivial, or somehow vice versa cheapened the sentiment and was completely superfluous, because of course we stand with Boston. I'm a sentimental fool, so I love the reminder. I mean, can we really argue that playing "Sweet Caroline" at a Yankee's game isn't meaningful? Stay strong Boston.

Posted 10:50am
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April 18th, 2013

Fuck off

In the wake of 20 elementary school children being gunned down by a madman, your U.S. Senate voted more en masse to deregulate firearms than to regulate them. Let that sink in. Twenty children are dead. The Senate takes up a measure that over 90% of Americans agree with. They can only get 54 votes. The next day they take up a measure to expand conceal carry permits and they get 57 votes. Here's the 46 senators who voted against a modest expansion of background checks. If they represent you, call them and ask them how they sleep at night. Write them and ask whom they think they are protecting. At the very least, promise to never vote for them ever again; encourage people you know to do the same.

I'm anti-gun. Probably mostly because I don't have an inferior penis. I don't begrudge anyone owning a shotgun or a rifle. It's not my thing but I've fired them before - they're fun, I get it. I even realize that we can't get rid of handguns, although analytically I can't fathom why. What I don't get is why anyone thinks they have a right to own weapons designed to kill multiple human beings in a short amount of time. Why anyone thinks that they shouldn't have to wait a week to take delivery of any firearm. These rights aren't guaranteed anywhere. Save me any slippery slope arguments. Your tiny manhood and the need to convince the world that it's actually 18 inches of swinging death is all that this is about.

The world fails to make sense in time like these. Who on earth would stand with Wayne LaPierre over Gabby Giffords? It all reeks of cowardice, hypocrisy and lack of conviction. With gerrymandered districts and an abounding ignorance in this country, I don't hold out much hope that we can throw the bums out, but I'll keep talking about it, doing what I can to hold a candle up to these fucksticks. Because when we can't pass a bill that holds 90% public support in the wake of a tragedy, what hope do we have of anything?

Posted 2:31pm
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April 17th, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

- Stereogum has been having a field day as of late ranking different bands discographies. Here's one for Spoon and one for Death Cab. If your The National, you only get your ten best songs ranked. Speaking of Britt, he has more side projects.

- Ever wonder what vinyl look like really close up? Just like Beggar's Canyon back home. And speaking of, the BDGF and I are going to have to get back to Nashville, because huckster Jack has just installed a booth where you can record your own vinyl album at Third Man.

- Visitors of Westeros may have noticed that The Hold Steady closed out last Sunday's Game of Thrones with the song "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" They also got ranked in Rolling Stone's 100 greatest debut albums of all time. That's going to be one expensive record when I finally find a copy...

- The AV Club has revived their Undercover series. I highly recommend Frightened Rabbit covering Cheap Trick.

- I used to routinely go see many a band that featured legendary Ann Arbor saxophonist Colin Stetson. I liked that music a lot more than what he does now with the Arcade Fire and Bon Iver, but it's still nice to see a local boy make good.

- Finally, you can stream the new Phoenix album over at iTunes. My only problem with the band, as catchy and danceable as they are, is that isn't like one of those songs enough? Who needs an entire album? Feels like I'm stuck in a bad 70's discotheque.

Posted 10:35am
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April 16th, 2013

Crisis/Opportunity.

A friend and former resident of Boston once told me "You have to live in Boston before you die. That town was made for you." Having been there a few times, I see his point. I love Boston. I could totally live there. Several people I cherish are there right now, and thankfully they are all safe and sound after yesterday's events.

I don't have anything profound to say about what happened yesterday. My heart aches for the city's citizens, the victims, and people like this who use tragedy to grow fear and hatred. Then there's this, which is opportunistic in the best way:

Boston. Fucking horrible. 

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. 

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness. 

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago. 

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

That's Patton Oswalt, reminding us that good will always prevail, because evil is dumb. Or something like that.

They say the best revenge is living well. That may sound a little relationship-y and inconsequential to apply here, but I think it's a serious thing to hang your hat on right about now. Sad and angry are understandable, appropriate responses to tragedy. A better one is to go out and help someone. Give money. Give time. Give blood. Make the world better in a way completely unrelated to what happened in Boston yesterday. These things in numbers are far more powerful than a coward's bomb stuffed in a trashcan.

Posted 1:50pm
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April 15th, 2013

Taking time to get it right.

My finger ached all weekend. The flesh colored flap of skin that remained after I cooked my finger is now gone, revealing a raw, red ring of blood and muscle and basal epidermis. Sorry for being graphic, but I promise not to actually show it to you. Anyway, I hastily did something and hurt myself, despite knowing the consequences had I actually stopped to consider them. These are the mistakes we make when we are cranky, in a hurry, or young.

My junior year of high school I decided I was going to Michigan. I wasn't going to be told no, much less be swayed or persuaded that it wasn't the most responsible decision. It was practically my birthright as I saw it; an entitlement I had earned through my intellect and long suffering in a desolate place without culture. Nevermind my mother's constant droning on about how it was the most expensive state school in the country and that they had no money to give me. Oh, and I was an out of state student.

I don't regret my decision to go to Michigan for one second, despite having to pay for it by myself and continuing to have to do so while son attends the same institution 20 years later. My experience while matriculating however was marred by constant financial worries. Where would money for books and rent and food and booze come from? And what about the fact that that list is in the opposite order of how I prioritized them? It was precarious, but I made it and will always be proud of that, whether or not it was smart to undertake the endeavor in the first place.

However wrongheadedly proud I may be, I wanted the opposite for Siddhartha. I knew I was never going to be able to write a check, slap him on the back and say "There ya go son, go buy an education." but I wanted to be in a position to say "As long as you do the work, you never have to worry about money while you're trying to learn." That's why I sweated his financial aid letter almost as much as his acceptance one.

Saturday my much more mechanically inclined friend Mysterious Al came over to look at the van that had briefly attempted to turn my pinky into a corn dog. After confirming that the problem was likely what I had previously thought, Al took the important step of fixing the damn thing - in a cautious, orderly, well reasoned manner. Two hours later the van was up and running and no one was hurt.

This morning I got Sid's financial aid package for his freshman year. Without getting into specifics, it's very doable. He won't graduate debt free, but with a little sacrificing on my part, he should also be able to go out for pizza with his friends without maxing out a credit card, and without working 25 hours a week. It may not be much, and I'm not one to advocate living vicariously through your children, but I still have a tiny feeling of finally getting the damn thing right. It's the next best thing to actually going back.

Posted 2:40pm
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April 12th, 2013

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

- It's Yuri's night! I don't know if we're finally far enough away from the cold war (clearly not according to Mittens Romney), the BDGF's space obsession has awakened me to it or the public is finally starting to realize that we need to trick kids into thinking science is cool*, but I've never heard of this before and now it seems to be everywhere. There's a party at the Necto for chrissake. Take a look at some of the cool stuff NASA is working on and listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson explain how we got so far and fell so fast. Never stop dreaming.

- The return of Arrested Development is rapidly approaching. Here are the official teaser posters and unofficial vintage album covers to celebrate. If you're not down with AD, here's some regular old movie poster tropes for you to peruse.

- The ability to donate to charity online or via cell phone has certainly been a boon to the convenience of helping people out. All of you of course know this after helping out our Trivia for Cheaters team (thanks again). Of course Ann Arbor, in its generosity, ranks fifth in the nation in online giving. You're welcome, poor and indigent.

- Booze and politics often come together as ingesting one leads people to spewing the other. There are other times, however, where politics and booze's relationship is purely professional. Like who isn't behind congress giving craft beer a tax break? Also, I understand the need for regulating how many and where bars go, but we all also agree that more bars is better, right?

- Finally, here are 18 of the best Ron Swanson quotes. Not included: last night, when asked if there was a history of mental illness in his family, he responded "I had an uncle who did yoga."

*kidding, science is the coolest, natch.

Posted 10:53am
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April 11th, 2013

Well, I suppose you were due...

1. For the first 25 years or so of my life, I didn't feel particularly klutzy. Uncoordinated? Sure. Unathletic? Obviously. But not accident prone. I didn't have any scars with great stories; I'd never broken a bone. Walking around with something bandaged was not de rigueur. At some point though, that obviously changed. I started to fall down. I tried to do things that were above my level of coordination and characteristically failed. I just became klutzy. Shattered ankles. Broken ribs. Missing tips of fingers. Multiple massive forehead injuries. Not all of them were even alcohol induced.

2. I'm relatively handy. I'll take a crack at fixing anything and over the years I've developed a fairly large repository of knowledge on subjects such as plumbing, electrical work and general carpentry. One thing I freely admit knowing nothing about is automobiles. I can drive a stick, change a tire, wiper blades, battery and oil, and that's about it. If it's not a blown fuse, I'm out. Outside of owning jumper cables and knowing red/red and black/black (which I've done dozens of times) I have no special automotive knowledge.

3. The BDGF's van is dying. I attribute this directly to her purchasing a shiny red convertible - the van was left for a younger, sexier model and now is struggling to find the will to live. Last night I get a call that the van won't start. I'm told the symptoms and in my limited knowledge, it's not a battery problem, but could I jump it when I get home? Why not. It's one thing I know how to do. So upon arriving home and popping the hood, I see a fair amount of corrosion on the positive battery terminal. I've seen this before! Best to clean it off before I jump the sucker. What happened next I can't quite explain, despite understanding how batteries work and having performed this procedure several times before. Somehow when removing the terminal from the battery, I caught my pinky ring on something and the current started to flow, rapidly cooking my littlest finger.

I should have taken a picture shortly after, because it looked exactly like a flesh colored wedding band was growing around my finger as the electricity superheated my ring and thus the flesh directly underneath it. But the pressure was too great and now it's just withered, tender skin. As the BDGF said, I was due. I just wish I could have fixed the van in the process.

Posted 10:49am
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April 10th, 2013

Behold his unadulterated hubris...

So Monday night sucked. OK that's not fair at all. Monday night was awesome until the end, which sucked. That sucked and the officiating sucked, which are the two things you don't want to lament in the aftermath of a championship game. But the game was sweet. Especially our li'l Spike Albrecht, whom we extolled the virtues of here in this very space in Monday's lead up. He went out and scored 17 points Monday night, knocking down threes with ice in his veins. Postgame, he used his new found fame to hit on the hottest chick in the universe:

See? Spike ain't scared. Trey Burke may be bolting for the NBA, but the future of Michigan basketball is in the hands of the fearless. Can't wait until next year.

- What's your dream school? Michigan manages to make both parents and seniors top ten lists, dropping one spot for parents merely because Catholics want their kids to go to Notre Dame.

Posted 11:00am
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April 8th, 2013

What did I just say?!?

During an important game earlier this season, Michigan deployed diminutive 5'11" freshman guard Spike Albrecht to spell all-world best-player-in-the-country Trey Burke and my buddy commented "Spike ain't scared."

Spike isn't famous, probably even on Michigan's campus. He wasn't recruited by many major programs. He's never going to play in the NBA. He came to Michigan to eek out whatever playing time he could against guys who were endowed by their creator with more speed, agility and height than he was.

Guys like that are hustle guys. They play for the love of the game. They beat you with smarts and guts because that's all they have to throw at you. They play with a confidence that belies their ability. They certainly don't play scared.

So every time Coach John Belien deploys the undersized freshman, I note "Spike ain't scared," reminding him, convincing myself. Saturday night against Syracuse when he hit the court, I yelled to the room (after noting "Spike ain't scared") "He's gonna hit a three before he leaves the court. Watch."

Not 10 seconds later I awoke the neighborhood screaming "What did I just say?!?" as Spike hit the first of two threes he'd drill, ice in his veins and not a trace of fear in his heart on the biggest stage in college basketball.

I love this team because they're Michigan. I love that we have the best player in the country. I love Hardaway and the trio of freshman that've stepped up and carried this team on their backs when people seemed to stand around and say "Who's gonna do this?" But guys who do more with less make my heart soar, and goddamnit I love Spike. May we all be celebrating around midnight tonight.

- The Daily reminds you again: DON'T PANIC. Let's hope they're right one more time.

Posted 10:55am
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April 5th, 2013

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

- Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Ebert... Roger Ebert had a profound impact on my life (and not just because he wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, which if you haven't seen, what's wrong with you?) I watched his movie review show from the time when it was called Sneak Previews and only appeared on PBS late Sunday nights. Roger brought the world of cinema into my home every week, and talked about it with the reverence and importance that I thought it deserved. He did more to elevate film discussion and the way we think about the medium than, well probably anyone. And here's the thing I admire most about the man: while being a consummate showman and publicity hound, he never once dumbed down his message or sacrificed the integrity of his dialogue. Nobody does that anymore, which is a terrible shame. Thanks Roger. You were a class act, and even when we disagreed, I respected your argument.

- Want to spend your afternoon reading about Roger?

- Famous people write and tweet obits.
- His ten best films of all time.
- His favorite films by year.
- The Best of Ebert on TV.
- 20 great movie pans.
- The Trib pays tribute.
- So does the AVClub.
- 13 great quotes from the man.

- Who doesn't hate Ticketmaster/Live Nation? 33% of what it costs me to attend a show goes directly to filling their coffers. How is that even legal? Live Nation is the eviler of two evils, as their site rarely works. I haven't been able to purchase tickets through their site the last few times I've tried because I get weird error messages. So today I emailed them this:

Everytime I try and buy tickets on your site, I get a forbidden, You don't have permission to access /checkout/order on this server. Your fees are outrageous and I'd give anything to never have to use your horrible service ever again, but congratulations on your monopoly, I'm stuck with your incompetence. Please kill yourself.

I hate you ticketbastard.

- In a move surprising no one, Conservative/Libertarian Think Tank The Mercatus Center names North Dakota as the most free state in the Union. Also not surprising, libertarians unconcerned with the rights of women and minorities, exclusively care about tax bourdon. You're terrible human beings.

- Finally, Michigan plays Syracuse Saturday night for the right to play in the national championship game. I will be pacing in my backyard, trying very hard not have some sort of aneurysm or other physical malady. Although if you believe the kids over at the Michigan Daily, everything's gonna be alright.

Posted 11:45am
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April 4th, 2013

Humblebrag?

I know nothing about jazz, opera or classical music in general. I'm not well read. I have a cursory understanding of physics and chemistry. On the other hand, I know more about those subjects than 75-90% of the population (depending on which one you're talking about.) I think this says more about the public at large than me in particular. I'm smart enough to recognize Coltrane, Wagner or Beethoven by ear. I've read most of Shakespeare and can at least summarize the plots of the classics. I can even try and explain string theory, but I'm also smart enough to know that I barely scratch the surface of these things, and that I'm ultimately a dummy.

I say this partly because I am inherently self-deprecating for an arrogant asshole, and partly as defense mechanism. No one wants to be the guy who acts like he knows Chicago because he once went to Wrigley Field. That guys a dick and will eventually get called on his shit by someone who actually knows what they're talking about, leaving the dick to walk away, head hung low Charlie Brown style with the sad piano music playing in the background. No one wants to be Charlie Brown. He's the Charlie Browniest.

Stuff I do claim to know quite a bit about is another story. That I will go out on a limb on, counting on the fact that my superior knowledge will get me through. I'm comfortable discussing the cinematography of Gordon Willis, and will bring it up both because I think it's interesting and to make it seem like I'm really smart. At one point I'm sure that I thought that women would find this attractive, but I'm pretty sure that never panned out. I should have hung out at the Michigan Theater more.

Of course there's always someone who knows more than you, and you will eventually be summarily dismissed by them in a condescending manner. It will make you feel small and angry and leave you justifying why that guy's an asshole who really doesn't understand the subject in the way that you do. Or at least that's how I roll.

Last night I went to music trivia with my buddy Markie C. I know a lot about music, but I've known Markie C for 20 years and have no issues admitting that he knows more than I do on the subject. That also means that combined, I assume we should be a lock to win any music trivia contest. Through four of five rounds last night, we were the cream of the crop. Almost anyway. There was a lot of obscure 1960's questions that I was lost on. Markie C fared better than I, but we were still down 7 points going into the last round. That round was classical interpretations of recent music - which is basically how quickly can you recognize a melody, hook or rhythm of a song and reference that across your musical database. That's my wheel house. We went from down 7 to up 5 and won the night. I realize that we got lucky with the way the categories fell and perhaps - perhaps - there were teams there with more musical knowledge than us. I'm going to try and concentrate on that rather than the fact that we won, because otherwise I'll soon be making an ass of myself trying to explain Schrodinger's cat to a bunch of physics grad students.

Posted 11:07am
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April 3rd , 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week? - Good luck with that Edition

- Mississippi (surprise) is gearing up to defend a law that allows for prayer in schools. Ugh. I don't even have the energy. You clearly don't get it Mississippi. Perhaps it is because you are woefully uneducated. Good luck with subverting the Constitution.

- Not to be outdone, North Carolina is gonna go ahead and establish a state religion. I'm assuming because they are in stupid-off with Mississippi and want to see who can get laughed out of district court quicker. Good luck Mississippi, NC is going full retard.

- Jerry Fallwell Jr. is looking to create tens of thousands of Kirk Camerons. Good luck with that Jerry, because you have just forced us to create hundreds of thousands of Sylvester Stabones.

- Indiana, in its infinite wisdom, is passing legislation to limit access to abortion services under the guise of "protecting women's health." I'd advise talking to Texas first, Indiana. The long term effects of your crusade might not be what you think they are. Good luck with that.

- Pat Robertson explains why there's no miracles in America: education. Religion needs you to stay dumb and pliant. Good luck with that, religion.

- Finally, I thought Maureen Dowd's column on gay marriage today was well done. I'd wish gay marriage proponents luck, but we don't need it. How about a hang in there?

Posted 10:34am
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April 2nd , 2013

TV Junkie

I don't have cable. I hate saying that - not because I wish I had cable, but because I believe to be impossible to say without sounding smug, satisfied and superior when you do. It's like those assholes who interject "I don't own a TV" before someone can finish the question "Do you watch..." I own a big ass TV and I watch it regularly. I just think cable is for suckers. I've found alternate delivery systems for the shows I love and go to the bar to watch sports. Smug or not, it's better than paying $100+ a month for crappy reality TV and movies cut up with commercials.

Last weekend marked the return of both Doctor Who and Game of Thrones (as well as the season finale of The Walking Dead) and Mad Men returns next week. 75% of those shows are specifically produced for nerds! But I digress. The BDGF gives me grief regularly for watching too much TV. I regularly go on and on about the quality of current television programming, coupled with how when I watch TV I'm usually also writing or drawing or cataloging or something to occupy other parts of my brain, because that's how I work. She usually stops listening half way through that speech because she was just saying I watch a lot of TV, and I doth protest too much.

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu - not to mention the Ann Arbor District Library, which has just about every movie and TV show ever on DVD: who needs cable? In fact, regular broadcast TV comes through the coax in my house in glorious high definition whether I pay for it or not. So what's my point? I don't know Babs, but I do know this: there's a lot of great television these days and it's relatively cheap. And Breaking Bad isn't even back until the summer.

Posted 10:40am
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April 1st , 2013

Contemplation

The fact that it was Easter Sunday was probably ultimately serendipitous. I certainly didn't wake up that morning feeling any different. There was no pull or desire to attend mass, much less get up and get dressed before noon. But something inside began to stir as Michigan went up 13-0 against Florida. Let's call it a moment of clarity.

There's probably a certain level of ridiculousness to claim a sporting even moved you to have a religious experience. Over the years of devout atheism, people of various ilks have ascribed myriad things as "my religion." The government. Environmentalism. Science. Yes, Michigan football. But none of those things remotely approach any definition of religion. Especially in the sense that every religious person has tried to describe it to me.

I've had many a conversation over the years debating the existence of God. And while at the end of the day we all know we can't empirically prove that He exists or not, adherents will always describe that feeling. The presence of God in their life. That extra thing that guides them, that comforts them, that is unexplained but undoubtedly exists. That's how they know there's a God.

I've never had that. Certainly not without illicit substances. Not before yesterday I should say. I don't know what any of it means. I feel like my eyes have been opened and my heart is full in a way I've never known before. I don't know if it's God, but for the first time I'm listening, and I'm hoping and praying someone answers.

Posted 11:05am
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March 29th, 2013

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

- It's come up the last couple of days, so in honor of good Friday, I'd like to say I'm down with Jesus. He was pretty spot-on about most things without being overly hippy about it (I may be overly generous about the last part.) When I denigrate religion, it's because of the dogma, the hypocrisy and the justification for which it gets used. When individuals take what's good about faith/religion and discard the bullshit, I say huzzah and kudos. Incidentally, I think the same thing about our parents and how we were raised, but I digress. Anyway, I don't hold out much hope for the Catholic church, but maybe the new Pope gets it. At least in some areas.

- In a week of cool buzzfeed lists, here are some awesome movie theaters, and some great ideas to spruce up the backyard this summer. Since I can't work outside yet, I've already turned a couple of Valentine Vodka bottles into tiki torches. Let's get to work, Oberon.

- I was at the bar having a few Oberons the other day, when I noticed that the particular downtown A2 establishment I was at was carrying not one, but TWO craft beers from the state of Ohio. Now I have nothing against these particular brews, I've had them and they are tasty enough, but we live in the Great Beer State. Couldn't those taps be more appropriately apportioned to Michigan beers? Something from Dark Horse or Greenbush perhaps? It made me angrier than it should have, probably because the mere thought of Ohio just irks me. Anyway, a reminder to be careful out there, because you never know what conglomerate has gobbled up your beloved indie product. Although if you thought Blue Moon was real craft beer and liked it, kill yourself.

-We missed Nathan Fillion's birthday earlier this week, and justly rectify that now. Here's 20 iconic Cap'n Mal moments from Firefly. If you want to get him a belated present, he's asking for donations to help bring clean water to those who desperately need it. I don't need to remind you that you take orders from the captain.

- Finally, we are mere hours from Michigan's first appearance in the Sweet 16 since I've officially been a Wolverine. When I was matriculating, we won a national championship in football and two in hockey, and I've been secretly hoping for 15 years or so that having a Brubaker enrolled at the U means multiple national championships for the Maize and Blue (no pressure, Sid. Good choice with engineering, btw.) Anyway, someone took the major conferences and assigned Simpsons' characters to them, and pretty much nailed it. I have no problem admitting that we're J. Montgomery Burns. Exxxxxxcellent...

Posted 2:19pm
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March 28th, 2013

Gay Day 2: Electric Boogaloo

- So yesterday we moved from Prop 8 to DOMA, and Justice Sonia ¡Sotomayor! puts the smack down on the lawyer 'defending' congress's bigotry:

Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits? Or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other decision-making that the government could make -- denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?

To which he responds "Duh, uh, derp, d'oh." It's like a real life Onion article.

- Is Bud Light kinda cool or shamelessly opportunistic with this? I say good for them, too bad their beer is terrible.

- Always good to get a foreign perspective on what's happening in America, so here's how The Economist is covering teh gays.

- Finally, I think I found this in pondering gun violence and the second amendment, but it certainly applies to the last few days:

I am certainly not an advocate for for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors

That's the always spot-on Thomas Jefferson, you know, the guy responsible for how we do things, telling you to grow up while calling himself barbarous. Worth noting, I guess.

Posted 10:37am
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March 27th, 2013

tbaggervance.com goes totally gay.

The Supremes this week are hearing arguments as to whether when Thomas Jefferson stated that "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." did he really mean everybody. Certainly during different points in our country's history the answer to that question has been an emphatic "No." From the color of your skin to your lack of external genitalia, there's been myriad reasons that the old white men who run things found ways to deny you this or that over the years. Hell, just over fifty years ago even if you were a white male you couldn't marry a woman that wasn't the same pasty shade of pink that you were, for fear of... shit I don't know. Interracial babies are the cutest.

And that's the best reason I'll someday be able to tell my grandkids when they ask me why when I was little, two dudes couldn't tie the knot. I don't know? Fear and ignorance and Jesus? And when those little atheist heathens respond "PawPaw, the only thing we know about Jesus is that he said to love each other..." all I'll be able to say is "Here's a dollar, go ask your father."

My seventeen year olds are already incredulous about the whole thing. I was trying to explain how that while the Prop 8 case is getting the most publicity, it's the DOMA case that will likely mean more to actual gay couples, all the while parsing out Kennedy's questions yesterday and what they likely mean towards an ultimate ruling. They patiently listened, bless their hearts, but you could tell all they kept thinking was "People your age are fucking dumb." And all I could telepathically answer back was "I know. I'm sorry."

- Here's the best signs supporting gay marriage from the capitol yesterday, and 20 youngsters who will one day be lying to their grandkids about the major civil rights movement of their lifetime. Hopefully their kids are more forgiving than most Christians.

- I enjoyed Maureen Dowd's take on the court's current conundrum. However, as much as I get frustration over "Why not just fix this right away?!?" we're getting there faster than anyone would've imagined 10 or even 5 years ago, and that should make us all happy.

- Finally, if you ever doubted that Justice Antonin Scalia was one of the worst, most deplorable, asshats in the history of the legal profession, here's some of his thoughts of homosexuality over the years, and here he was just yesterday. He clearly doesn't trust the American Academy of Pediatrics, because what would they know? I'd love to punch that fat fuck in his fat fucking face.

Posted 10:44am
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March 26th, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

- Those who enjoy best-ofs and countdowns may enjoy Stereogum's take on David Bowie albums and They Might be Giants songs. I in no way condone the ordering of the latter.

- In new music now streaming on the internet:

- Vampire Weekend preview new tunes at SxSW.
- The Postal Service release another new old song.
- The sultry sounds of Neko Case.
- The Thermals and Destroy This Place have new tunes, replete with video.

- Finally, The National have a new album announced, which you can't listen to yet but should nevertheless get excited about.

Posted 10:42am
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March 25th, 2013

Happy Oberon Day!

I'll admit, my devotion to Oberon is a little silly. I know that. I'd like to think it's different than someone who's hopelessly devoted to Budweiser, but at the end of the day, not really. It's a beer. To imbue it with any more importance than that borders on asinine. However, last night at midnight I ventured out to get my first taste of the season the very minute it was legally allowable (again, silly, I know). It was 30 degrees outside, windy, with snow flurries in the forecast. But I swear to you, after that first pint of Oberon I expected to walk outside and shield my eyes from the sun and throw my coat on the ground from the warmth. As I sipped the delicious nectar I could almost feel the sun beating on me and freckling my shoulders. With this godforsaken, endless winter, I needed that. In fact, I take it all back. Oberon devotion is not silly. It is more than beer. You think Bud Light can fight back against an endless tide of 30 degree weather? Pshaw. When the thermometer hits 60 in the next 10 days, you can thank Oberon. Until then, grab a pint and pretend. It's almost as good.

Posted 11:06am
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March 22nd, 2013

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

- While Ann Arbor's real estate market has bounced back faster (after falling not quite so drastically) than the rest of Michigan, it apparently isn't enough for some people. They respond by making this promotional video for Tree Town, which reminds you that we're pretty pompous jerks to those who don't drink the kool aid. Of course I'm inside the insular bubble, so I just think we're awesome.

- Before I forget, just a reminder that the next 60 hours are so will be your last without Oberon for summer 2013. I know the weather outside belies that statement, but never doubt the power of the king of the fairies to bring forth glorious summer.

- Now it's time for another rousing game of who's the more obtuse asshole? Is it this guy from the Family Research Counsel who says that single people have "no right" to sex out of wedlock, and that they should be shamed and punished by society? Or perhaps this fuckhole who calls environmentalism the greatest threat to Western civilization? I think we need some research to see if taking communion lowers your IQ, because there's definitely correlational evidence.

- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is a busy guy. In addition to running Amazon, he's also fishing for old F1 engines from Saturn V rockets. That's my kind of billionaire playboy.

- Finally, last night we went to see Book of Mormon in Detroit. If you have an abnormal love of the theater (for a straight man) like I do, I can't recommend it highly enough. It was also the BDGF's birthday. I know it's impolite to mention her age, but as most of you know, despite her gorgeous youthful visage, she is technically older than I am. It's something I don't think too much about, because it almost never occurs to me*. As I told her, she was 40 when we met, and she'll probably always be that age to me. That means it won't be long until I'm older than she is, which sounds about right. Here's her birthday card, because being with my BDGF is a lot like being strapped to a rocket.

*Outside of using it to make fun of her, natch.

Posted 1:42pm
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March 21st, 2013

We are the Champions.

OK, so Team Skinny Pete didn't win last night's Trivia for Cheaters event. We ended up something like fourth-ish. But the important thing is that the event raised over $15,000, of which tbaggervance.com's readership was a significant part. So it is with a humble and full heart that I say thank you to everyone who donated. You guys are the best. I promise to thank you all individually, as well as return the favor for something similar down the line (although showing you that picture of Freddie is basically repayment.)

Posted 1:59pm
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March 20th, 2013

The universe conspires against me once again.

Two years ago my family decided to plan a last minute birthday excursion in Toledo that just happened to coincide with Michigan's round 2 tournament game with Duke. Last year it was tickets to take the kids to see Mythbusters Live! 365 days later, it's tickets to see The Book of Mormon. I am not a conspiracy theorist. I certainly don't believe in divine intervention and I only believe in karma in the sense that Paul McCartney did*. That leaves no real answers as to why I have such a hard time seeing Michigan play basketball in March.

I'm not even really a basketball fan. Football I am rabid about. I draw lines of demarcation to try and prevent anything in the world from coming between me and Michigan football. That doesn't stop someone from marrying or having to attend a field hockey match when I should be watching football at least once a year, but the people around me (begrudgingly) understand and do their best to insulate me from outside obligation. Hockey's my second favorite sport and it gets no priority (They're rarely on TV and I know no one that really cares). I watch basketball when I can and generally don't think twice about doing something in lieu of catching even an important game, but this tournament streak of not seeing the games is getting to be regoddamndiculous.

Two years ago I managed to DVR the game and spend the day in a media blackout. Anyone who's tried such nonsense before knows that it's ultimately unfulfilling and is neigh on impossible not to fast forward to the final 60 seconds. Either way, Michigan barely lost to Duke. Of course last year was extra painful as they lost their one and only game in the opening round, meaning I saw exactly none of the action. Optimists could argue that was for the best, as I was spared the pain of bowing out in the first round against a MAC team. This year my fingers are crossed for a deep tournament run that renders a first round game against the Jackrabbits inconsequential. If not, hey it's only basketball. I'll appropriately be attending the theater, because that's the kind of guy I apparently am.

*In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Posted 11:04am
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March 19th, 2013

It's back! Sort of. In a sense it never left.

Yesterday I was fulfilling my fake dad duties by chaperoning the little one's fourth grade class trip to Lansing, MI. Dealing with other people's children has never been my favorite part of parenting. You wouldn't believe what passes for discipline in some people's homes. You also wouldn't believe how homoerotic little boys are. There was more slap tickle on that bus than at a sorority pillow fight. Of course if you've been around 10 year olds recently, all of the above qualifies as "duh". Luckily the BDGF's littlest is a girl and we were going to the state capitol! Which means that I got to see where our stupid state laws are made while being condescending to 10 year olds who don't know as much about checks and balances as I do! That's all kinds of win. Perhaps I've been desensitized having gone through all of this before, or more likely, I'm finally close enough to the right age to have a ten year old. Either way, this aspect of parenting has been more tolerable the second time around. It's just hard to say no when a 10 year old asks you to be her chaperone, even when it means a day of telling 10 year old boys to keep their hands to themselves.

- David Brent is back! Check his video for 'Equality Street'. It's no 'Free Love Freeway'.

- I got initially excited to find out that people were producing new Calvin & Hobbes comics. Then I remembered that I'm an adult and this is basically fan fiction and then I felt dirty.

- It's the last day to donate to Skinny Pete. We are facing an uphill battle Wednesday due to a fundraising deficit. Those that donate help us to close the gap that will ultimately be eradicated by our superior intellect. That's the idea anyway.

DONATE TO TEAM SKINNY PETE

Posted 10:50am
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March 15th, 2013

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

- It's banner week for asshole homophobes. This Christian radio asshole compares homosexuality to slavery (and not in a "Let's fight oppression!" sort of way.) This guy is against gay marriage in Minnesota because he doesn't understand gay sex (like really doesn't understand, but is super excited to tell you about it.) This sweet talker from the NOM calls adoption the second best option while trying to sway Chief Justice John Roberts, who has two adopted children. And this kid fights to wear an anti-gay t-shirt at school. I'm anti-bullying, but I hope a bunch of kids jump him after school and beat his ass. Oh! And rising GOP star Marco Rubio says being anti-gay marriage doesn't make him a bigot. He also said "science" proves that life begins at conception but not climate change, proving he doesn't understand the meaning of the words "bigot" and "science".

- In sort of the opposite of that, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman now backs gay marriage because his son came out of the closet. Kind of makes you wonder where all the hate goes once someone you know is gay. Which makes you wonder why people are still fighting this battle.

- Two maps debuting this week: The saddest states in the U.S. and the methiest ones. Someone needs to tell Indiana and Tennessee that crystal is not a coping mechanism for living in your terrible state.

- To watch as you kill time until happy hour: Louis CK crushes a heckler, the Kick Ass 2 trailer, an animated tribute to Stanley Kubrick, new Venture Bros., and finally, Cloud Nothings play a new song at SXSW. I wish I was there, except for the claustrophobic douche overload that I'd be experiencing.

- Finally, it's St. Patrick's Day Sunday. Here's your A2 megaguide and for advanced users everywhere, here's some booze hacks. Oh, and just a reminder, 10 days until Oberon returns. Spring is coming...

DONATE TO TEAM SKINNY PETE

Posted 10:40am
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March 14th, 2013

Happy Pi Day!

I've always had a pretty high math acumen, but I stopped once I hit calculus. At that point in my life all I wanted to do was draw and play guitar and I couldn't be bothered to learn an entire new discipline when it came to numbers. It's a shame - I've since felt like I've wasted a pretty good head for numbers. Now I'm resigned to calculating 20% tip and being embarrassed at trivia when they ask about the quadratic formula and I can't remember it. Ah well. It's been years since Sid asked me for help with his math homework, which is good because he passed my current state of knowledge years ago.

- In honor of Pi and Einstein's birthday, here's 14 great things about Neil deGrasse Tyson.

- Before you stop giving a shit, here's everything you need to know about the Pope.

- Finally, if you are like me and panicking over Google's discontinuation of Google Reader, here's some tips for the end of the world. Or at least an era.

DONATE TO TEAM SKINNY PETE

Posted 2:51pm
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March 13th, 2013

Two weeks! ONE WEEK!

So many of you have been so generous so far. The legions of tbaggervance readers have already donated $570 to the good people at 826 Michigan. I am grateful, humbled and as always, overwhelmed by your generosity. For those of you who haven't yet donated: why miss out on all the fun? Everybody's doing it! $5? $10? $25? Certainly you have some change in your couch that you wouldn't miss. Outside of supporting 826 and the children of Washtenaw County and beyond, why donate?

1. I'd do it for you. And will next time you ask (as long as it's not to the GOP or KKK)
2. Donate and I promise to give you IT advice, draw you a picture, write you a song or pledge my undying gratitude.
3. You will feel warm and fuzzy afterwards*.

Again, thanks to those of you that have already given and those that are still considering it. Skinny Pete promises to bring home the championship one week from tonight**.
* assumes you take a shot of whiskey while donating
** not a legally binding promise

DONATE TO TEAM SKINNY PETE

Posted 10:55am
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March 12th, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Streaming now! Dave Grohl's Sound City album that either came out of a documentary film or vice versa, depending on whom you believe. I also recommend you try the wry folk stylings of Jordan Hull, whom we found by accident in Nashville and I really enjoy.

- New songs! Art Brut have apparently been around long enough for a greatest hits compilation featuring new songs, Ted Leo records a song for a young adult novel, because that's the world we live in now.

- Coming soon but not yet: The Hold Steady record a song for Game of Thrones (making my BDGF have an aneurysm) and Brittany Howard records for Third Man, which is the opposite of aneurysm. Orgasm? Also, tonight: Josh Ritter is on Lettermen, which means you can watch it online tomorrow.

- This acoustic mashup of Beatles songs is kind of terrible (especially because it's not performed live) but I bookmarked it anyway. These Postal Service auditions are kind of awesome.

- This David Bowie discussion featuring Chuck K is an epic epic of epicness.

- Finally, visualize The Beatles album sales. I don't think I would have guessed Abbey Road is their best selling album, but in hindsight I guess duh.

Posted 2:12pm
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March 11th, 2013

Finely tuned Olympic athletes.

I used to love pseudo-threatening the BDGF's oldest daughter's first boyfriend. I felt it my duty as pseudo-dad to try and scare the little shit. I doubt it worked, but it was a fun thing to get creative with. Once during a party at our house I struck up a conversation with him and started to go on about how satisfying it was to get older and be surrounded by friends that you've known for so long. He stared at me quizzically before I finished the thought with "Because if you ever mistreated my fake daughter, any of them would take a baseball bat to your fucking head if I so much as asked."

I spent Saturday night with eight of those guys I've known the longest. Some of them I haven't seen in years, most of them I don't get to see often enough. Of course when we do manage to clear our schedules, we quickly regress to our juvenile selves. It's the closest thing I have to a time machine, even if we do spend more time talking about our kids than anything else these days. The manufactured event to bring us altogether on Saturday was the first annual Class of '94(ish) Bar Olympics. Bowling, pool, darts, pop-a-shot and skee ball. There's no interesting anecdotes or play by play to relay. I hoped to finish in the top half of the standings, but missed thanks to my inability to roll a bowling ball straight. That and the fact that I know some serious degenerates who have spent their lives in bars and are more coordinated than I am. These are my oldest friends. May I never have to call them and ask them to come over carrying a bat.

- You may remember the BDGF and I's television debut about six months ago on the HBO show Brody Stevens: Enjoy It. We are now prominently featured in the new Doug Benson Documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Rolled. You can buy it over at chill.com for a mere $8. Here's a still from one of our scenes. Time to update my IMDB page.

Posted 2:12pm
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March 8th, 2013

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

- Hooray for things right outside my door! U of M maintains its ranking as the 12th best U in the world by reputation and the Argo Cascades are appropriately gushed over. You should definitely come over this summer and do the cascades with us.

- A bit of quick politickin':

- I find Rand Paul generally deplorable but I'll give him kudos for that filibuster. I also generally don't care for Eric Holder, but I love this snark.
- How's come the GOP gets hammered by the electorate for their stance on women yet continue to argue that Planned Parenthood gets kids hooked on sex so they can profit from abortions (srsly) while the guy who signed DOMA apologizes and says "I was wrong"? I mean I get why, I just want to point out how rarely that's the other way around.
- Here's some straight talk on fraking, which I want to be viable but am scared it's not.

- Out of trailers for Iron Man 3, The Hangover 3 and Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, I am most giddy about the latter. Because a.) I am a secret Shakespeare nerd and b.) Captain Malcolm Reynolds doing Shakespeare!

- Harrison Ford has signed on to Star Wars 7 (along with Luke and Leia) and Anchorman 2, making this his best year since he made Empire and Raiders. Hopefully it makes it a good year for all of us as well.

- Finally, my BDGF and her girls get home today after being crowned State Champs in math nerdery. Hooray! Then tomorrow I'm off to Cleveland to compete in the first annual NHS class of 94(ish) Bar Olympics. Otherwise known as the guys I went to high school with getting drunk and making fun of each other. Wish me luck.

Posted 10:27am
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March 6th, 2013

Lord to be 17 forever.

As you get older, everything gets better but the stories. At least that's what I'm telling myself these days. I suppose if you're doing things according to script, this is a natural manifestation of getting older. Aging hopefully provides comfort and stability (both emotionally and financially), which in turn leads to less foolish behavior and not as many stupid chances. These things probably are intrinsically intertwined and necessarily so, but with that curve comes a diminishing return of great yarns about that time you drank absinthe in New Orleans with the cast of that drag show or when you were stranded in Iowa, wearing shorts and a tank top in December with $2.25 to your name. That stuff rarely happens anymore.

Not that I'm complaining. I like comfort and stability, plus I still challenge myself and am still young and dumb enough to get myself in a pickle or two that makes for a good anecdote. But I no longer get anxious about a wasted night if I don't go looking for trouble. The girls are out of town the next couple of days, making me a bachelor for 48 hours or so. My 25 year old self is apoplectic that I am going to waste those precious few hours of no responsibility by watching the movies and eating the food that my BDGF wants nothing to do with, while reveling in having the house to myself by cleaning things I don't normally have time for when I'm picking up after everyone else. Even the 37 year old me admits it's a tad pathetic, but it will make me incredibly happy.

Of course once the girls get back, I'm off for a night of debauchery with the guys. I know I'm somewhat of an anomaly to still have good friends from high school. We don't get together 3 or 4 times a year like we did 10 years ago, but we still manage to find time once in a while - between kids and wives and work. And like every group of guys who has known each other since junior high, we will immediately revert to that mental age once we are all together. Plus there will be alcohol, so the chance that something dumb and funny and story worthy are high, assuming I can remember how it all goes down.

At the end of the day I'll gladly trade the ability to travel and eat good food and drink the best booze for the stories one generates by being stupid and having no resources and nothing to lose. As long as I can still let loose once in a while and put myself in a situation where something interesting might happen. If it's a sliding scale I know that I'm on the back half of it. I'm going to dig my heels in and stop sliding best I can in the interest of creating new memories that are worth sharing. I am supremely confident that I'll do fine, and worst case I've still got a lot of great stories in the bank. In that sense, I suppose it all just gets better.

Posted 11:07am
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March 5th, 2013

Confirmation bias.

It would certainly be argued by those who have opinions different than mine that this entire blog is an exercise in confirmation bias. I read a lot. I have time to scour the internet (or rather I know how to use an RSS reader) and bookmark things and then present them to you, dear readers, in a hopefully arty or witty way for your education and enjoyment. Or to couch it even further, for your consideration. But confirmation bias dictates that I'm going to present you things that I already agree with and throw out that which does not vibe with my current understanding. Our brains just tend to work that way. Now I'm not a journalist. I am neither fair nor balanced. This blog is absolutely an exercise in what I find interesting. I do however, make an honest effort to keep an open mind. Not for the sake of the blog but for my intellectual development as a human being. I try to admit when I'm wrong. I even occasionally try and point out when mine enemies serve the greater good. I'll still call them names whilst I'm doing the pointing, but only because this is ultimately suppose to be fun and I'm still quite juvenile. Anyway, here's a bunch of stuff that you and I already knew, but that doesn't make us wrong...

- Justice Scalia is ostensibly Rush Limbaugh in SCOTUS robe. Fuck you.

- This isn't nearly as science-y as the link that led me to it indicated, but I still like this argument that there's no bigger whine than that of "But the liberal media!" Grow up.

- There's obviously no arguing with climate change deniers - your best move is to cut them out of your life for their inability to think analytically. Pity them, but do not suffer them. That makes this flow chart about how to "win" a climate change argument moot, but still semi-interesting.

- If you've been reading Christopher Hitchens for years, or frankly have ever looked into it, you know that Mother Theresa is a fraud. I sort of get the tourists who come to Detroit looking for "ruin porn", but leave the idea of "beautiful suffering" for crappy French musicals. Catholics have issues, man.

- Finally, guess what happens when you 'save' $73 million by cutting your state's budget for family planning? If you said that now the taxpayers have to pay $273 million due to unplanned pregnancies, come collect your free birth control.

Posted 10:25am
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March 4th, 2013

Because the King of the Fairies makes it so.

In last Friday's post that was lost to the ether, I suggested that I was going to bring forth Spring by sheer force of will in one week's time. Partly because I nearly threw my shoulder out shoveling the world's heaviest snow last week. Mostly because if my BDGF doesn't get some warmth soon, I worry that she might take on the characteristics of a praying mantis and devour me out of spite. Ultimately, because I'm done with it and I've got shit to do. I've got a backyard to prep for a graduation party and I'm tired of my winter coat.

There's lots of signs and signifiers that things are about to change for the better. Traditionalists will tell you that the equinox is a mere 16 days away. Baseball fans may point to opening day in a scant four weeks, or if they're religious, that Easter is the day before. Sticklers may cross their arms and point to May 24th, noting that it's all a moot point until the Moneyman comes to Pine Knob, but those people are never satisfied cranks who need to move to Arizona where they can complain about the heat. tbaggervance.com devotees however know that Spring truly comes three short weeks from today, when Oberon returns.

The girls are headed to the State Math Tournament on Wednesday, meaning upon their return Friday, a great burden will be off my BDGF's shoulders and she will deserve and demand a bump in temperature. I'd love to be able to hand her an Oberon as she sits outside in a light jacket while wearing sunglasses, as a reward for all of her hard work, and for everyone for enduring these three or four months of biting winds and driving show. None of that is going to happen, but at least I can point to the calendar without flipping the month and say "See? Soon..."

Posted 10:58am
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March 1st, 2013

Fuck you, Microsoft

I just spent a not insignificant amount of time typing a 500 word post about a bicycle that can carry a growler, Allison Bree covering Jack White, how Ann Arbor is a super healthy city, my digitizing of all my media and how spring starts next Friday. Then Windows decided to restart without warning for no good goddamn reason. Fuck you Microsoft. Fuck you and your buggy, over complicated, non-user friendly, piece of shit operating system. If you had balls, I'd three curl hop kick you in them. Dickless, innefectual, milquetoast bastards. You exist merely to complicate the lives of people, and that must be a miserable way to go through life. I pity you. I pity you and your existence where everyone loathes you and merely tolerates you because they have to, like a dictator with a tiny penis. You vile excuse for a company. Your name will only ever be celebrated when you lay down and die.

Posted 11:01am
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February 28th, 2013

Thursdays are for Politickin' - Sequester Edition

I ultimately, above all, consider myself a pragmatist. At times I suffer from naive optimism, others a bleak desperation that insists we are fucked like never before. I'm a bleeding heart liberal who doesn't get worked up when people start talking about eliminating the Department of Education. I grew up without a lot of money but Catholic, which means you use what you have to take care of each other - government included - but it's anathema to ask for more than anyone's willing to give. I like to simplest, most efficient solution to any problem, but I'll take a fair amount of waste if it means that the people that need it most are actually getting helped. The perfect should never be the enemy of the good - you get the idea: pragmatism.

Way back over there Congress lit a time bomb of dumb, blunt budget cuts with everyone in agreement that they were so blunt and dumb, Congress would have no choice but to diffuse them before they went off. Now we sit on the precipice of a single digit countdown and no one can agree which wire to cut to stop the thing from ticking. Sound familiar? This shit seems to rear its head every few months anymore.

I agree with the Congress who lit the time bomb that these cuts are blunt and dumb, and I'm angry that they haven't and won't have fixed them before they explode on our fragile economy. As horrible as the deficit is, now is a criminally dumb time to deal with it like a MASH unit, cutting off the limb as if it's now or never. Look around the world, learn from the examples already in place: austerity now! should not be our Costanza-esque catch phrase.

I disagree with my own bomb narrative and the White House's rhetoric about the devastating effects of the sequester. I fart in its general direction. We're talking about 1-2% of total government spending that doesn't touch say social security payments. We'll weather this storm without foul weather gear. Yes, some people will be hit particularly hard (guess which segment of the population?) and again, these cuts are dumb, but they "gut" nothing and the military could learn from the slap on its bloated, bloated wrist.

So while I'm of a very "We'll be fine either way" mentality, I'm still fairly apoplectic at the Republicans. Because here's the thing: revenues have to go up. Here's why. To draw that line in the sand here and now is dogmatic and obstinate and has nothing to do with good policy or the best for the American people. I get principled stands. I love to make them. But I wouldn't let people I care about twist in the wind over one. That's fucking stupid and self serving and antithetical to your job description. I still think of myself as fairly fiscally conservative. There was a time I called myself Republican and I put off calling myself a Democrat for a very long time because of their gross incompetence. Not anymore. The GOP is comically irresponsible and I honestly can't understand how anyone stands with them. Even if you agree with their bedrock principles: they don't anymore.

- Here's a typically stupid Republican, who claims to favor a strict, literal interpretation of the Constitution.

- Elizabeth Warren has the biggest, swingingest dick in Congress, and I hope to vote for her for president some day.

- In the interest of fairness, some Republicans get it. A little late, but better than never as they say.

- Finally, 10 weirdest members of Congress. Try to refute it, either side.

Posted 11:13am
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February 26th, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

Before we get started, there seems to have been an issue with 826's donation system. I'm sure all of you were attempting to donate and ran into problems, and for that I humbly apologize. I beg of you not to let this minor trifle hinder your good nature nor your willingness to donate to this fabulous cause.

DONATE TO TEAM SKINNY PETE

Thanks again. I promise to ask nothing else of you in 2013. On with the show...

- Writing about old music? We gots that. Here's an article on BFF's Missing the War and one explaining John Lennon's immortal performance on Twist and Shout.

- New songs by your favorite old bands? We got that too...

- The Postal Service release a new old song from Give Up's 10th anniversary deluxe edition.
- More new Strokes.
- New but vintage Thermals.
- Last but not least, the entire new Josh Ritter album. You're welcome.

- Video? You bet. Here's a Belle and Sebastian documentary, a new Brendan Benson song for Nashville, the Divine Fits cover the Boss, and some VH1 show did an episode with Jack White at Third Man explaining some crazy new invention of his. Oh that Jack White...

- Finally, here's an article on rock's craziest drummers, featuring art by Ann Arbor favorite Jeremy Wheeler. He once did a poster that included my name. It's hanging in my bedroom.

Posted 10:52am
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February 25th, 2013

Two great tastes that go great together

Lately the BDGF has been reminding my son that in order to maintain a healthy relationship, you must placate your significant other. Specifically, you have to take them places to do things that you wouldn't otherwise do, because you are partners and that's what partners do - put on a smile and pretend you're having a good time even when your not. I whole heartedly agree with this assessment even though I rarely have to do it anymore.

Of course there are office parties and family functions that we all have to endure. There are children obligations where neither of you want to be there, but you both go because that's why they're called obligations. The BDGF's favorite example of my doing this for her is when we went to see Foster the People. I'll give her that one - it was fairly brutal. She gets dragged to the occasional movie or tailgate, although I always give her the out AND provide alcohol, because the latter is also key to keeping the peace over the long haul. Otherwise, the BDGF and I are generally on the same page when it comes to good times.

This year was the fourth February vacation that the BDGF have taken together. Our children are whisked away to the other halves of their parentage and we get a week together unencumbered. We generally favor large cities that have idiosyncratic nightlife and might be warm at the end of February. We've been much luckier at finding the former, much to the chagrin of my beloved, but she's usually nice enough not to blame me directly when we hit unseasonably cool temperatures. We knew going in that it was going to be the case this year when we chose Nashville.

Why would two people who don't dance in a line or honky any tonks choose the home of country music? For one, it's also the home of the BDGF's personal musical muse Jack White. It also happens to be two hours from Huntsville, AL - home of the Marshall Space Flight Center. As per our thesis statement, I also love both these things. I'd follow my BDGF anywhere, but thankfully we always seem to be headed in the same direction anyway.

We randomly took a chance on live music. We hung out in dive bars. We ate at hole in the wall taquerias. As you can see above, we made our pilgrimage to Jack White's Third Man Records and saw one of three remaking Saturn V rockets in the world. We also took a tour of a tiny distillery where they make small batch, hand crafted spirits, where naturally, we both fell in love.

So yes, Siddhartha, your significant other will need to be placated along the way. You'll grind your way through shopping malls and tolerate their long time friends that you find completely tedious and hopefully your partner will return the favor in kind for your idiosyncratic proclivities. But I have no greater wish for you than that someday you find someone whose peccadilloes align with yours in a way that rather than leading each other from place to place to find happiness, you get to walk hand in hand, pulling in the same direction; because I assure you, there's nothing better.

DONATE TO TEAM SKINNY PETE

Posted 1:49pm
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February 16th, 2013

Trivia for cheaters!

Skinny pete

My love for the organization known as 826 Michigan is well documented around these parts. I've met some of my best friends in the world because of it, including my BDGF, so I'll never be able to repay it. That's great for me personally, but you should love it because of its mission statement, which put simply, is to make kids love to write. To foster that, build on it. It's a lofty goal and one I couldn't be prouder to be a small part of.

In the past, my dear readership has been kind enough to donate money to the organization on my behalf via a series of "_______ for cheaters" events. You may remember the scrabble tournament that Sid and I almost won. You may remember the Euchre tournament where we were compared in the local paper to the Cobra Kai. Or even the Spelling Bee where the BDGF called Dave Eggers "dimples". We've been close, but never actually won one of these things. Until now...

This year it's trivia for cheaters. I'm assuming our team hasn't been crowned champion yet merely due to the fact that it would screw up the fundraising aspect of the thing. And that's where you come in. First off, I didn't participate last year, so this is the first request for funds in a while. Secondly, this is your chance to be part of a sure-fire winning team. I love trivia like nobody's business, and I've assembled a team of whip smart trivia nerds to assist me. What could go wrong?

Yes, lots of things. I'm sure at some point we could get a Katy Perry question and I don't even know who that is (outside of her boobs gracing the pages of HuffPo every few days). But in any event, your donation will still go to great cause, and you don't want to walk around with the label "Hater of children" do you? Because that's what I'll call you if you fail to donate.

DONATE TO TEAM SKINNY PETE

Posted 7:53pm
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February 15th, 2013

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

- It's Oscar season! Zack Galifianakis interviews Oscar hopefuls in Between Two Ferns and Christoph Waltz hosts SNL. He also teaches the art of seduction, which should start and end with wearing that jacket he's got on. I need that jacket.

- The new SI swimsuit issue is out, which would be irrelevant what with the internet chock full of porn and all, except that they keep putting Kate Upton on the cover. In related news of stupidity, people think she's fat. I don't understand the internet much less the world some days.

- Cleaning out the cupboard: Yoda facts and Seinfeld aliases. Also, I can't improve on this Fark headline: In shocking news, the Koch brothers have been using fake charities to secretly spend hundreds of millions of dollars in political spending and deliberate misinformation about Obama.

- Monday is President's Day! To celebrate, get your Presidential Monster action figures, find every President's favorite tipple or view some Presidential portraits paired with sassy sayings. That's right, I said sassy.

- Finally, as of four o'clock today I am on vacation. After tonight's Love Hangover performance (@ 7:15!), tomorrow's mandatory viewing of A Good Day to Die Hard, and dropping the girls at the airport on Sunday, it begins in earnest as the BDGF and I head down to Nashville. It is the least planned vacation we have taken so far, and I can't wait. Fingers crossed that the BDGF gets her drum lesson from Jack. See you suckers in 10 days.

Posted 10:20am
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February 14th, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I get that it's been commercialized to death. I understand the pressure if you're in a relationship and the stigma if you're not around Feb. 14th. I hate the former and have been on both sides of the latter - it sucks. But I'm also a heart on my sleeve type of guy. I'm a way too excited about the newest thing guy. I'm a Summerteeth era Jeff Tweedy guy.

Love isn't just reserved for the significant other in your life. It's the other people in your life you can't live without. It's your relationship with the books and music and movies that have left a lasting impact on you. It's the feeling you get right after doing whatever it is that blows your hair back, from playing a video game to sitting outside and drinking beer. I invite you to share something you love today. Reconnect with something special that you haven't revisited in too long. Love something. I don't care how sappy it makes me, I'm always in love.

- Here's a Valentine from Charles Blow to President Obama. Yes, I'm not happy with President on transparency and the way he's dealt with Wall Street and I'm iffy on the drone stuff. But I trust him, my 403B is booming and terrorists are dead, so I'm not going to dwell on it. He's still the guy I voted for twice, and maybe now a little more on the progressive side.

- Finally, for my BDGF, whom I love and adore, here's some objects in space shaped like hearts. Xoxo my sweet.

Posted 10:54am
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February 12th, 2013

Happy Birthday Darwin!

I can't imagine there's anyone reading this who has any doubts as to the validity of Darwin's theory of evolution via natural selection. Y'all are smart, educated people. But we all know someone who will tell you that they "refuse to believe we came from monkeys." Maybe it's a kooky uncle or high school girlfriend - unfortunately only 4 in 10 of us 'believe' in evolution. Chances are you can find a non-believer among your Facebook friends. Be sure to wish them a happy Darwin Day today. Maybe encourage them to watch Planet of the Apes and tell them it's a documentary. Or paint them a picture of Jesus riding a dinosaur as a present.

- Bad news for creationists: their museum in Kentucky is showing declining revenues and they are having trouble raising money for their replica Noah's Ark. If you want to help them out, I'd love a copy of Dinosaurs of Eden.

- Bad news for everyone: asteroids are hurdling towards Earth as we speak. The good news: asshole science-y types (like Bill Nye) are working to protect us all, whether you believe in science or not. Thanks Science Guy.

Posted 10:59am
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February 11th, 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I don't think it's arguable that the Catholic church is responsible for ruining more people's lives than any other institution or government in the history of mankind. From actual wars to inquisitions to child rape to the millions of people both born and killed because of their obstinacy towards birth control, they've got a lot of blood on their hands, literally and figuratively. So when their pajama clad oligarch steps down for the first time in 600 years, it's a big story. For the sake of everyone, pray for a progressive replacement. But don't hold your breath.

- Creepy abandoned Bible theme park screams to have low budget horror movie filmed there.

- Kirk Cameron 1980's abstinence PSA will blow your mind hole, not change your opinion on sex.

- The next back door salvo towards challenging evolution in schools. It's unrelated to the fraternity merit badge of the same name.

- I have to admit that I've been asked a few of these in my day and I will never get tired of answering them. Do it right and it's like watching the Dawn of Man segment from 2001.

- The NRO is taking time from it's busy schedule to correct Obama because he referred to the holocaust as "senseless." Yes, the NRO defends Nazis to denounce Obama. Welcome to discourse in 2013 everybody.

- Finally, outside of the millennia of murder and rape mentioned above, want to know why I hate the Catholic church? First, the Obama administration bends over backwards to keep them from paying for birth control, only to have them come back with a "fuck you." Meanwhile, they're arguing in court that fetuses aren't people to save a couple of bucks. I mean, can you imagine a bigger example of hypocrisy? I humbly invite the church to eat a bag of dicks. Assholes.

Posted 11:08am
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February 8th, 2013

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

- I finally finished watching The Wire! As with most shows that everyone tells me to watch and I avoid pointlessly only to eventually break down and watch, it's amazing. Not Breaking Bad or Mad Men amazing, but amazing. Amazing has degrees you guys. I did find it ironic that while the show has been off the air for five years and I avoided knowing anything about it that entire time, I had a major plot point spoiled by Portlandia just two weeks ago. Omar comin' yo.

- These Lego riddles are awesome. If you miss even one question on this news quiz, you don't read enough. Same goes for this Who said it: Kafka or Marissa Cooper. If The O.C. was a book anyway.

- President Obama encourages the Boy Scouts to admit the gays. Rick Perry says otherwise. This is one of many reasons that one of these men is president, and the other is a hair do and punchline on par with these scholars.

- You aa.com roundup: Gov. Snyder proposes raising the gas tax to pay for roads and expanding medicare (I knew I voted for the guy for a reason), Quality 16 is back with it's Oscar pick'em and Rich Retyi mines tipping in a2. If you're under 20%, you're a dick.

- Finally, I'm playing this again this year:

Next Friday, Woodruff's, I'm sure I'll go on at 7. Come watch me embarrass myself, because one of these times will be the last. OK probably not.

Posted 11:37am
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February 7th, 2013

Thursdays are for politickin'.

- Sometime this summer I'll pass the tipping point and will have officially lived in Michigan longer than the state of my previous residence. Some say you can't change your home state (mostly people who like or are proud of where they come from I imagine), I say I did it 15 years ago. Either way, I'm proud of my state, outside of the fact that everything above Flint is filled with Republican assholes. You know, old white guys who are deathly afraid of vaginas thus know what's best for them.

- Here's a state by state list of the worst politicians. Michigan, it's exactly who you think it is.

- Don't you remember being taught at some point in your educational career that gerrymandering is illegal? Doesn't it seem like an explicit threat to a representative democracy? It should. To put it another way, Republicans might want to concentrate more on hearts and minds and less on gamin the system.

- Like this guy, who basically argues that minority votes don't count. Can't make this stuff up.

- Conservatives last ditch effort to justify the 'sanctity' of opposite sex marriage? Only opposite sex couples accidentally get pregnant. As you can imagine, I find this especially offensive.

- Finally, in our other pet issue news, legislation has been introduced to 'legalize' marijuana federally. Specifically, it removes pot from being a schedule 1 controlled substance and moves oversight from the DEA to the ATF. It's such common sense, level headed legislation that I'm sure it has chance of even coming to a vote. Just ask the post office.

Posted 2:00pm
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February 6th, 2013

Master of none.

Like most people from time to time I find myself daydreaming about another occupation. Sometimes (rarely) this is a direct result of my dissatisfaction with my current employment and I actively try to conjure up other ways to make money given my 15 years in information technology. Most often these flights of fancy are a direct result of some piece of pop culture I consumed. Watching old episodes of The West Wing really makes me want to go into politics. Reading Rolling Stone makes me wonder why I'm not a journalist. Listening to Greg Proops makes me want to be a comedian. I even sometimes ponder some sort of life as a handy man when I'm puttering around my backyard fixing things. Luckily I know that all of these are horrible, terrible, no good ideas.

When I was in college and had to choose a major, I landed on psychology because it served both sides of my brain. It was science, but there was an art to it. Or in it. Or so I thought. It was too late in the game when I realized that I was signing up for a profession that involved talking to people and that I hated doing that. So I'm in IT because I can problem solve and more importantly, somebody offered me a job doing it. The most likely scenario is that I will do this for the next 15 years, muddling through until I can retire with full health care bennies and then I can do something completely different. Like writing. Or fixing things. Or cooking crystal meth (I probably won't be as into that once Breaking Bad is over.)

Bottom line: I guess I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. That's not true. I'm an intellectual who's engaged in the world, goes to great shows and has lots of fun in bars. That's exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, which I did. My problem is that I don't know what I want to do to pay for food, shelter and concert tickets. I'm too little talented to do anything artsy. I'm too noncommittal to pick something that takes time to master and be good at. I'm deathly afraid of choosing something I love and having it turn into an obligation that I hate. All I want is to work from 10-4, Monday through Friday and get paid low six figures. I'll do just about anything if those are the terms (assuming I also get an hour for lunch and minimum five weeks of vacation a year.) Did I mention I don't need insurance?

Posted 2:10pm
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February 5th, 2013

To the victor go the spoils

It's a well documented fact that I'm hyper-competitive It's more than minor problem. It's one that I've passed on to my son, either genetically or through modeled behavior. I want to win and I want to remind you that I won after the fact. It's been a point of contention with most of the relationships I've had in my life, from girlfriends to coworkers to my family. I'm a competitive asshole.

Here's the thing that everyone needs to understand: that's never going to change. At this point I'm an addict. I won't ever not be a competitive asshole, but I can change the way it manifests itself. I can manage the outward expression of this character flaw. I can channel that energy towards the good.

Believe it or not I do this constantly. I am always tamping down my id and trying to not be a know it all. Sometimes I'm good at it and I come off as merely mildly dickish, other times I fail and I get myself in trouble. But I am trying. I do my best to save my competitive nature for appropriate moments.

Because competition is good. It's important. As a market force or one for personal and professional growth, competition drives us. The era of "participation ribbons", kindergarten graduations and not keeping score that our children have grown up in is ludicrous. I'm not advocating for preschool hunger games, but life is full of winners and losers, and people need to understand that to the victor go the spoils, and everyone wants spoils.

I've gone to trivia on Monday nights for over a decade. I started playing on a team that was there to win. On a good night you'd drink for free and come out ahead, other times you'd drive home beating yourself up for not remembering who played Alice on The Brady Bunch. Over the years the team has morphed to be more about people I truly like getting together for a couple of beers. It's more fun than tolerating other trivia nerds to win $10.

Of course I've never lost my competitive spirit and I know smart people, so we still do well. It's never been about winning money as much as measuring your intellect against others anyway, so when they added a trophy to the winnings for the first time last night, I wanted that trophy. It's not a take home thing, it'll just sit on the winner's table the next week, signifying the intellectual prowess of those sitting around it. Guess what?

No time for losers, cause we are the champions. The good kind of competitive.The appropriate kind.

Posted 10:32am
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February 1st, 2013

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

- I haven't had a chance to watch last night's season finale of 30 Rock, but I have read 50 tributes to the show this week, from why it never found an actual audience to how it changed television. Here's a ranking of Liz Lemon's boyfriends, which has always been one of my favorite parts of the show.

- 30 Rock is gone, but Community is coming back! Here's a little remix that will infect your brain while prepping it for the return of Annie's boobs.

- Remember how bad the last Indiana Jones movie was? If you're like me, you probably only think you do. I remember an OK but kind of off first 20 minutes, then things got dumb and weird, and then aliens showed up and I had an aneurysm. Here's an honest trailer that shows you that it was worse than that.

- Video things to do and look forward to: How I Met Your Mother is ending (finally), for Ayesha and the Jesuses there's an O.C. drinking game and for the entire world of people that are intelligent and have taste: Cristoph Waltz is hosting SNL. With Alabama Shakes, as if you needed more incentive.

- Finally, if you don't have children and didn't see Wreck it Ralph, you missed my favorite movie of the year. No, not the feature, but the short before it. Please take 6 minutes to watch Paperman. And if you're a hopeless romantic/big ol' softie like me, have a tissue at the ready.

Posted 11:13am
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January 31st, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

- Just a reminder (can't remember if I posted this or not - Full Jack White on ACL (as well as other full ACL performances) are available here.

- Tons of new music has just been announced! Ready?:

- Vampire Weekend announce LP3, play new music live.
- The Flaming Lips announce new insanity, exist in a Super Bowl commercial for Hyundai. Nothing about Wayne Coyne should ever surprise you.
- The Strokes have new song and album forthcoming. Long live dirty assholes.
- Stream the entire new Frightened Rabbit album here.
- The Postal Service are reuniting somehow, with no new music promised. Here's some covers of their shit to tide you over.
- We loved The Hounds Below when we caught them at Mittenfest this year. Turns out it's the dude from The Von Bondies! The one who got jacked by Jack White! It explains why the BDGF instinctively liked them.
- Details on the new Thermals LP.
- And you can hear another Josh Ritter track from the upcoming The Beast in its Tracks over at NPR.

- Here's a list of the Walkmen's 10 Best Songs. They got #1 right, which is all that really matters, as it's one of the best songs ever.

- Finally, Brendan Benson on fatherhood in rock and roll. I'm waiting for my phone call, Stereogum.

Posted 11:50am
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January 30th, 2013

Unintended Hiatus

Last year, as partially documented in this space, my workplace lost a crucial employee and despite his departure being a known entity for six months prior to his leaving, management's last minute solution was to have me do his job until they found a replacement. Nine months later, I got a new boss who finally replaced that guy. I got a hearty pat on the back for doing the job of two people for the better part of a year and a "maybe next year" on the raise they promised me two years prior that never materialized.

Every job will eventually fuck you sideways, so I'm no different than anyone else. It just gets especially frustrating when you tell them how to fix things and they don't listen, instead bending you over because that's what middle management seems to live for. Ah well, point is that guy they hired to lighten my load has been out all week, which means I get to do his job too, which means the blog goes unattended. Swamped at work, I'm also trying to navigate all of the paperwork that comes with sending your child to college. My mantra is now "Less than 3 weeks til vacation... Less than 3 weeks til vacation... Less than 3 weeks til vacation..."

Posted 10:51am
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January 25th, 2013

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in anad around the present moment - Belated Anniversary Edition

Six years now we've been doing this. After today it'll be 985 things that have innocuously made me happy. This was never meant to be a self-help, new age-y type of thing (outside of the blog being therapy on the whole) but think about that - that's a happy thought every 2.2 days. And those are just the ones I take time to write down. And they're innocuous! I'm a lucky guy.

- Yesterday I finally replaced my ancient tube TV with a sleek, 50" LED HDTV. It's gorgeous...

OK crappy pic, but trust me, it's pretty rad. The BDGF finds it ridiculous, but I'll get use out of the basement if it's the last thing I do.

- Speaking of, I randomly chose to watch the J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot as the film to christen my new baby. It must have been fate, because yesterday it was unofficially announced that the J.J. guy is taking over Star Wars as well. While I agree with the internet at large that putting the same guy in charge of these two titans of science fiction franchises is dubious at best, I say huzzah. That Star Trek movie is great. Alias is great. Lost. Even Felicity. Most importantly, J.J. understands storytelling, which the lack of is ultimately what doomed the prequels. That and a lack of Han Solo. But before you go getting any ideas, I've got two things to remind you of: Crystal Skulls and this:

Sorry. Forget I showed you that.

- For my BDGF (OK, really more for me because this involves film nerdery) here's a great explanation from a filmmaker as to why the moon landing wasn't faked. Not that we need anyone (even the Mythbusters!) to tell us that, but it's a pretty cool little film. About film. And the moon.

- The BDGF and I are also slowly working our way through Breaking Bad. We've been stuck on season 3 for the better part of a year now, and after finishing it last night, I finally get what people meant when I told them I was in the middle of season 3 and they went "Fuck yeah, season 3..." Anyway, that brings me to this, which troubles me because I can't decide what I want more: to own it or not be the type of person anymore who spends money on shit like it.

- Finally, it's a sad day for democracy. Or as I choose to look at it, a beautiful day for schaudenfreude if you loathe the current GOP. Being on the wrong side of history and facing a shrinking core demographic, the GOP - instead of evaluating their positions and reaching out to people that aren't rich, white, old and religious - they've decided to game the system. I choose to laugh because we won't let this happen, right?

Posted 10:58am
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January 23rd, 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- You know why people are more accepting these days of things like gay marriage, abortion and pornography? Education. Who's against education? Rick Santorum. Of course the hate mongers over at the National Organization for Marriage have proven that watching porn leads to the acceptance of gay marriage. If these dickless assholes had their way, they'd just do away with the internet. Except for maybe christiansingles.com. J-date is definitely out.

- Now that we're stuck with Barack Obama for another four years, how does the not-so-distant future look? The American Family Association predicts polygamy, Muslims in the White House, and conservative Christians being treated "like African Americans were prior to civil rights." Who knew they had so much in common with the gays?

- The hair-do with boots Rick Perry is back with a simple solution to our nation's gun problem: prayer. You heard me. I'm just gonna let that one sit.

- Former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has again sponsered a bill that would allow rapists to sue their victims. It's a man's world, baby.

- More proof that the Catholic church hid priests that were guilty of sexual abuse from the proper authorities. Apparently whomever was in charge of covering up the cover up wasn't doing his job.

- 2013 may be the year that the cult of Scientology implodes. How these fucks ever got tax exempt status is beyond me. I mean an alien space cathedral? At least it's a more interesting explanation of crop circles than M. Night Shamalyan gave us.

- Finally, the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. will now perform same-sex weddings. So shines a good deed in a weary world...

Posted 9:58am
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January 22nd, 2013

The Subjectivity of Nerd-dom

There's been countless pop culture examinations of what it means to be a nerd. Movies like Revenge of the Nerds tackle it from a nerd-empowerment angle, with the nerds owning their nerdiness, while movies like Lucas or Weird Science find nerds trying to enter actual society, either on their own terms or through traditional high school hierarchy. But some time between Skippy on Family Ties and Freaks and Geeks, nerd permeation hit a tipping point. Nerd became less of a pejorative and more of an adjective for either a proclivity towards a certain type of pop culture, or any obssessiveness over something niche.

This is a point of contention for some in the traditional nerd community. Guys (and yeah, it's overwhelmingly guys) who play D&D, are socially awkward in even today's mainstream culture where The Avengers makes a BILLION dollars, and who can't play sports or sing or look cool take umbrage with someone who refers to themselves as 'nerdy' because they've adopted something that was formerly nerdy and is now de rigueur part od the zeitgeist. Real nerds don't see their condition as a choice, it's who they are. That society now likes superheroes doesn't mean they feel less awkward. The Big Bang Theory is everyone laughing at them, not with them.

 

I am a nerd. I'm a huge nerd. I've read comic books since I was a kid. I still go to the comic book store to buy single issues that have advertising for footie pajamas in them. I make obsessive databases about my comics. And my mp3 collection. And my movie collection. I'm spectacularly uncoordinated and I read non-fiction books about astrophysics for fun. But the guy in that video from last week's Portlandia probably doesn't see me as a nerd at all, and I sympathize with that.

See, around 10 years old I discovered girls. Or rather, I was awoken to the fact that I really wanted to touch one and became singularly focused towards that goal. I slowly put the comics aside, stopped paying attention to Star Wars and started paying attention to pop music, and learned to fake my way through sports. I tried to enter the mainstream. I wanted to pass as normal.

It mostly worked. I played sports and learned to not talk obsessively about computers or Iron Man. I eventually got to touch a girl. More importantly, I eventually got to move. While I convinced those in my immediate surroundings that I was OK, but I still got harassed for being 'gay.' People still made fun of my Batman shirt, because I refused to hide everything and I lived in a part of the world that wouldn't tolerate anything.

Now I mostly don't have to hide. My BDGF thinks my love of football is as weird/nerdy as my comic book collection, and she still likes me. I wear t-shirts that mash up Star Wars and The Beatles and get compliments on them. Maybe I've been forever excommunicated from the hard core nerd community for going the route of Gary and Wyatt rather than Gilbert and Lewis, but ostracizing those of us who did what we had to do isn't very understanding from those who've known persecution. Besides, we should be concentrating on that hot girl who calls herself a nerd. She's the problem.

Posted 11:12am
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January 18th, 2013

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

- Christoph Waltz is undoubtedly the best (do I need to remind you of Der Humpink?) and unbelievably handsome. But ladies, did you know as a young man he was even more handsome? I choose to believe he's more awesome now, because A.) He couldn't have been any cooler previously B.) Young people are the worst C.) People get better as they age. That last one really needs to be true.

- So it turns out that I went to high school with the guy who broke the Manti Te'o story, which is weird? He was a skinny punk the last time I saw him, now he's talking to Matt Lauer. So yes, weird. Not weird but awesome is this GIF, which may have been inevitable, but bravo on the execution.

- I'm not going to belabor the Notre Dame schaudenfreude - sure their legends from Knute Rockne to Rudy are built on lies but that's not the point. Every major college sports program is a cult. Including Michigan. We all have skeletons that we have to apologize for when they rear their ugly heads - hopefully not too many that won you championships that you can no longer take credit for. But I loved this John U. Bacon article today, only partially because it happened to do with Michigan, more so because it champions what's right in sports.

- There's a lot I have in my head about this quote from comedian Todd Glass, who recently came out, but I haven't found a way to not have it sound preachy, pedantic and pompous. For now I'll just say it's a good club to have in your bag next time you hear someone say "I don't get it" when talking about the gays.

- Finally, we finally got Book of Mormon tickets this morning! It better be fan-fucking-tastic because holy shit, tickets to go see musicals are expensive.

Posted 11:02am
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January 17th, 2013

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer.. .dead. Conrad Bain and Manti Te'o's credibility...

Let's not bury the lead today: Conrad Bain - the man who convinced us that not all old, rich white dudes are drenched in racism, has shuffled off his mortal coil. It's true that he was a man of means, but he also singularly stands as the most understanding father in the history of TV. From little kids experimenting with cigarettes to getting molested by the manager of an FM radio station in Cincinnati, Mr. Drummond was always there with sage advice and open arms. It's true that in real life his TV children were Lohan-ian train wrecks, but no one's perfect. Now enjoy trying to get the Diff'rent Strokes theme song out of your head all day.

As for yesterday's Notre Dame schaudenfreude, there are two possibilities when it comes to Te'o himself (and only two): 1. Te'o and his buddy started a joke that got wildly out of hand and they didn't know how to put the genie back in the bottle, so they ran with it. 2. Te'o is gayer than 4 guys blowing 5 guys and this was a cover up or one of the great all-time dupings of someone who is unbelievably uncomfortable in his own skin. I feel for ND fans, as how do you see this coming out of a kid like that? But then they supposedly knew for a month and said nothing, continuing to milk it leading up to the National Championship game, so that's your athletic department and you deserve neither sympathy nor empathy. At the end of the day, hahahahahhahahahahhahaha.

- BONUS! In celebration of Archer's return tonight, an insulting nickname supercut.

Posted 10:23am
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January 16th, 2013

Nocturnal admissions

Hard as I try, I can't go to sleep before midnight. I'm as uncomfortable getting up before 10. I don't need 10 hours of sleep - my body's natural cycle would probably be 2:30am to 10:45am, and that's probably waking up before 10 and turning on the TV to watch an old Doctor Who episode before I face the world. The largest problem with this of course is that most workplaces get upset if you stroll in at 11. Because of course I don't want to work a minute past 5 o'clock.

This predilection goes back as far as I can remember. In elementary school I looked forward to the weekends so I could stay up for Letterman and SNL. By the time I was a 'tween, I spent summers staying up as late as possible with my sister. We'd leave the house around 10:30 at night to get to the video store before it closed at 11, pick out some Bugs Bunny cartoons or old movie, stop at the Sterling's for popcorn and then go home and stay up until we ran out of content to watch or passed out. There'd always by multitasking going on too - drawing, writing, building Legos... they were the most productive hours of my day.

That became even more true as I got into high school. After 10 everyone else in the house was in bed. It was like having the place to myself. I'd play guitar, watch MTV, paint, write, sit on my deck and smoke cigarettes. It was very adult and bohemian in my mind. Every once in a while I could find a partner in crime to sneak out into the night for shenanigans. Getting back by 6am and having a friend lift me up to my second story balcony got precarious more than once. And parents wonder why teenagers sleep all day.

This was of course de rigueur in college, when I finally became surrounded by thousands of people who lived this way. I guess at some point in one's late 20s you're supposed to grow out of it. You're job becomes demanding, you have kids, you get married and both of you site and read in bed for half an hour before lights out at 11:30. Your rapidly diminishing boundless energy demands it. Or it's supposed to anyway. I won't claim boundless energy, but I do feel like I'm at my best after 10. Is this residual "beat the night" hubris of youth? Is it an escape into precious "me time" after the children are in bed? Whatever amalgam of body clock dynamics and clinging to youth that makes it so, I know I love the night. I love being awake at midnight, laptop open, an old James Bond movie on TV and some project at my feet that demands my attention. As long as I can do that and make it to work before 9 the next day, cling to it is my exact intention.

Posted 2:19pm
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January 14th, 2013

When things we like intersect

Last night the BDGF and I went out with some friends to see a Scottish play (no, not that one) in a bar. I enjoy live theater more than most straight men, but when you take it out of a stuffy theater and put it in a pub, I mean what more do you want out of life? OK it helped that the play was super funny an adorable (except for the middle of the second act where it went from cute to pompous faster than a Gus Van Sant movie in the 90s) but why not take more great, cool, awesome things and put them together? Here are some:

- The Black Keys and The Flaming Lips are doing some dates together this late April, early May. This means that I will probably be paying an exorbitant amount of money for scalped tickets and driving to Nashville twice in the next three months.

- It seems like just yesterday the BDGF and I were rushing home from a party to watch the final Conan O'Brien hosted Tonight Show. Here's Coco talking about the creative process with one Jack White for a full 75 minutes. Enjoy the pomposity!

- I don't know how defining it is for either of our personalities, but the BDGF and I are both bleeding heart liberals AND lovers of Star Wars. So here's the White House responding to a petition to create a Death Star. And you guys wanted Mitt Romney. Psffftt.

- I've probably played this vocal only edition of "Helter Skelter" for you before, because it is one of the greatest things ever and proof that life is worth living. Someone took it and mashed it up with Led Zeppelin, because they could. Intersect!

- Fine art + Bill Murray = sweet.

- Finally, this isn't really an intersection of anything, but I'd be remiss if I didn't tell my BDGF that her favorite show returns this Thursday. Highway to the Danger Zone!

Posted 11:01am
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January 11th, 2013

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

- We've moved on from Siddhartha getting into college to how we are going to pay for it, but let us take a moment to peruse this article in The Michigan Daily that says it's harder than ever to get in, especially early. That's right. BOOM.

- In the musical crushes department, former crush Ben Gibbard played Colbert last night, with all-time crush Ted Leo in his all-star band, and in honor of platinum level, inner circle, friend of the blog Dr. Walker and her all-time crush, here's five classic David Bowie performances (also in honor of his return to the music making.)

- Here's some green resolutions that you should be making in 2013. Seriously, don't drink bottled water in my presence ever. If I can keep from saying something, I will still be violently seething inside. Also, plastic bags are for assholes. There, I've said my piece.

- Other things to watch as you attempt to kill Friday until the whistle blows for happy hour: Will Ferrel and Ryan Gosling are The Knife Guys, The ABC's of Architects and for you readers out there, I found this NYTimes piece on the Paul Schrader/Bret Easton Ellis/Lindsay Lohan collaboration an enjoyable description of a train wreck.

- Finally, the BDGF and I have finalized our winter 2013 vacation plans and we are appropriately headed to Music City, U.S.A. After a couple of years of flying somewhere and then driving all over holy hell to get around, I'm happy to cut out the expensive flight portion and just be driving. I think. I'll of course be heartbroken when we get to Third Man Records and my BDGF runs off with Jack White, but far be it from me to stand in her way. Anyone who is familiar with Tennessee in general is encouraged to submit travel tips - especially places for me to drown my sorrows once I am single again.

Posted 10:43am
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January 10th, 2013

Trivial Pursuits

I was very young when Trivial Pursuit first reached ubiquity in the cultural zeitgeist. At that time it was all my family did at holiday gatherings. And since these people were Brubakers, they were insanely competitive. I can't tell you how old I was, less than 10, but I certainly didn't have an impressive span of knowledge in the areas of history or literature or any category found on your standard Trivial Pursuit card. However since this was before I discovered alcohol and started killing off brain cells by the millions nightly, I had uncanny recall. I sat around listening to the adults playing that game a lot, and since they played it so often and the cards got turned over rapidly, questions came up time and time again. Long story short, more than once I ended up in tears because question after question no one would listen to me despite my having the right answer. Fucking adults. I hated every single last one of them.

I don't know how much that paradigm contributed to both my love of trivia and my cut-throat, win at all cost nature, but let's call it a factor. My grandmother played cards every day with me every day from the age of four. And she cheated. When I got to elementary school I was athletically awkward and goofy, but I was smart. Without turning this into too much of a therapy session, I like playing games by the rules. When playing a game, I like everyone's attention to be on the matter at hand. I love to win. All of this goes double when it comes to trivia. I doubt this is news to anyone reading this who knows me personally.

Poker players talk about never remembering big wins, but having uncanny recall for every bad beat they've ever had. Trivia is like that for me. Even question by question, ask me the next day about a game from the night before, and I'm much more prone to remember something I missed rather than something I got right. Hopefully this makes you a better player, because it certainly can bum you out.

At the height of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I made it through some preliminary round to a portion of the process where I had to answer a phone questionnaire. There where four questions read to you over the phone that involved putting things in order. I breezed through the first 3 questions and then immediately panicked. I guess I was imagining flying to New York and staying in a nice hotel on someone else's dime when a calm, automated voice asked me to put the following in order, according to the 1959 novel by Saul Bellow:

1. Rain
2. The
3. King
4. Henderson

I've read that book. I can tell you the plot and the themes. I know every word to the song "The Rain King" on the Counting Crowe's first album. But in that moment I bitched it, and to this day I've never met Regis.

Several times since I've "tried out" for Jeopardy by completing their online test. A couple times a year, you can take an online test to be on the show, and if you do well enough, they invite you to come to a local TV station to see how you do on a test show. Every time I've taken the test I've done well enough to go on to the next phase, but apparently if too many people pass that portion, they choose people at random and I've never been randomly picked. Someone sent me a link to tell me that the online test was available starting Tuesday. I figured what the heck and signed up and then completely forgot to log on and take the damn thing. So I signed up again for tonight. It's at 11pm so I'll probably have had a cocktail or two by the time I take it. I figure it can only help. I look forward to posting my airing of Jeopardy on facebook, so all of my aunts and uncles who never listened to me all those years ago can choke on it.

Posted 10:47am
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January 8th, 2013

World's Biggest Asshole(s)

I've been trying to steer clear from politics as of late, because what is there to say? The GOP received fewer votes in all three areas of the federal government last election yet insist on digging trenches like their valiantly defending the will of the people. Even Rasmussen finds just 3 in 10 Americans find the Tea Party favorable. And they only poll old white people with landlines! We've had a social safety net in this country for almost 75 years yet Republicans want to pretend that we're on a sudden march towards becoming Sweden and only the good ol' days of the 1920s can save us.

I know that I'm painting with a wide brush here, but this is what the leadership of the party is presenting the American public. They're gearing up to hold their breath over paying our debt! Not adding spending, but paying the bills we've already incurred. How is that responsible? How is it conservative? How can they do it with a straight face when these same assholes voted to raise the ceiling 19 times during W's administration, to the tune of $4 trillion?

The best part of all of this is the righteous indignation of it all. They take less responsibility than your average pregnant teenager. Or drunk teenager. Or teenager. It's your fault. It's gay marriage's fault. It's Sandra Fluke's fault. What did you think was going to happen when you left the house dressed like that? I think it's best encapsulated by this photo:

If you don't like the social contract that you implicitly sign by living in the United States, please get the fuck out. In this country we tip. We take care of each other because the alternative isn't civilized.

Posted 2:07pm
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January 7th, 2013

Things other than writing

I'm a tad short in the words department at the moment, so while I gather my thoughts I'm updating the Musee d'tbaggervance and finally adding a Brewery Pics section.

A few months ago I started texting pictures of breweries I was at to one of my friends as kind of a dick thing to do - in a "I'm here and you're not" sort of fashion. I then decided this would be a good thing to do at all the breweries I find myself at, giving me one more thing to collect here at tbaggervance.com. I'm sure I'm the only one who cares, but I find these sorts of things to be nice travelogues to enjoy now and again. Feel free to ignore it.

Otherwise I'm just dealing with the disappointment of not being able to file my taxes right this second. Turns out they're not taking electronic submissions until at least the 18th, which like come on government - get your shit together. I suppose you may be busy deciding just how much money I owe you, in which case may I suggest including deductions on malted hop beverages?

Posted 11:51am
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January 4th, 2013

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

- My pop culture resolution for the year is to knock out as many movies as I can that are deficiencies in my repertoire. I started the year the Sean Connery crappy sci-fi double feature, Zardoz and The Highlander. Zardoz was everything you'd expect from a John Boorman 70's freakout about God and Guns (which equals awesome) and The Highlander is even crappier than I expected. I'd avoided it for 25 years and I know why - the always god awful Christopher Lambert, unlistenable score by the always dreadful Michael Kamen and laughably bad 80s tropes permeate every fiber of the shifest. Even the Queen song isn't that good. It's only redeeming factor (much like the movie The Rock) is Connery himself. What a badass. ANYWAY, if you have something to add to the list, that'd be awesome. There's too much vegetables on it right now: Das Boot, Reds, The Thin Red Line, Rules of the Game, Barry Lyndon. Please throw in some blaxploitation awesomeness or bad 80s scifi to cleanse the palate.

- Looking forward, this is a pretty good list of pop culture goodness to come in 2013. Of course all that really matters is the return of Arrested Development.

- Now that I'm soon to be paying money to the University of Michigan again, I'm happy to see it's still a relative bargain. Of course it all depends on that financial aid package, which I will now sweat for six months. You thought waiting for him to get accepted was bad...

- Perhaps the coolest cover of an Adele song yet: Paul F. Tompkins crushes "Skyfall."

- Finally, cleaning up otra Indie Rock news and notes we missed yesterday, JackWhite is on ACL this weekend and Mittenfest raised over $22,000 for 826 Michigan this year. Hooray! Now everyone start scheduling tours that come through SEMichigan. It's 2 degrees outside and I need rock to to warm my soul.

Posted 10:48am
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January 3rd, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

- So this was a while back but we have yet to address it (and in case you missed it) Sir Paul McCartney came out and fronted the surviving members of Nirvana at the Hurricane Benefit a fortnight or so back. (This video of them doing it on SNL is actually much better.) Yes, it sounds like a terrible, horrible, no-good, gimmicky idea, until you remember that Dave Grohl is one of rock's greatest drummers ever and despite Sir Paul making music for 20+ years that your mom finds palatable, he still wrote "Helter Skelter" and can rock your face clean off whenever he chooses.

- Speaking of past video we never got around to showing you, hears Ben Folds Five doing (again) what must be the only song they're aloud to record live from the new album, and Jack White making an appearance on Portlandia.

- I love that this person's favorite live performance of the year was also mine and more importantly, that Cloud Nothings are in the studio and set to drop new music in 2013.

- ?uestlove v. Fred Armison: FIGHT!

- For fans of Celtic punk, you can stream the new Dropkick Murphys album.

- Finally, for those of you lucky enough to live in SEMichigan, let's talk about a few local bands that you should check out. Mittenfest helped ring in the New Year once again, and the BDGF and I were there to celebrate. My two favorite performances were by the Pistol Brides and The Hounds Below. Check them out where ever you are. Also starting to play again, tbaggervance.com favorite Destroy This Place. Hope to see you at their Blind Pig show in a few weeks.

Posted 11:47am
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January 2nd, 2013

The not-so-great Gatsby

So we've circumnavigated the sun again, bringing forth a plethora of best of lists and the taking of stock and making of resolutions. Normally I'm more for the former than the latter. Partially because I'd rather talk about Django Unchained than my personal shortcomings, also because I find the date arbitrary. Even more so, because I make resolutions every week of the year. Some of these are things we are all in a constant state of "I need to be better about..." At least once a month I resolve to go the gym more. Every now and then I decide to try and eat better. Others we reach a tipping point or rock bottom on and hopefully those are the ones that stick. I decided a while back to try and get out of debt before Sid went to college and I went back into debt. I'm of course not quite going to make it, but I'm still constantly working towards it, so I'll be generous towards myself and say resolution kept.

Money has always been an issue for me. We didn't have a lot growing up, a fact which I exaggerate. We were no vacation, buy your own car, send yourself to school poor, which is only poor here in the United States. But things are always relative and it put a chip on my shoulder. My sister has always claimed that the best gift our parents ever gave us was not having money, because then everything we have we've earned - nothing was given to us. There's logic in that, but there's a side effect in my brain that makes me look at everyone with money as an asshole. It's like an insane anti-jealousy. I end up telling myself that I don't need whatever it is they have. Every item that's not a "need" becomes austentacious. I find it hard to enjoy meals at a restaurant, much less a vacation because of what the money could be better serving. I feel the disappointed gaze of my mother searing a burn mark in the back of my head.

Amazingly the BDGF and I almost never argue about money. Mostly because she is magnanimous and when we falter, it's usually because I become apoplectic at what she decides to spend money on. That's how crazy I am - it's not even my money and I get angry. When she got us a family membership at an athletic club with the pools and tennis courts and climbing walls, all I could think of was "Ugh, I'm the only person here who understands what a dollar is actually worth." Over the break she bought a convertible. Right now I can't imagine riding in it without assuming every person who sees me will think "asshole." Because if I saw a 37 year old guy driving a red convertible, that's what I'd think.

I'm not sure who is better off - Jay Gatsby who amassed a fortune in response to his meager beginnings or tbaggervance, who tries to sit in his figurative ivory tower passing judgment on everyone who drives a car that costs more than $20,000. I assume we are similarly miserable. So that'll pass for as good of a resolution as any - don't be miserable. Maybe it's OK to have nice things. Maybe people who flash a little cash work just as hard as I do and enjoy spending their spoils on finer things because that's what they are - finer. I need to remember that I drink beer that costs $10 a six pack, and a former version of myself is somewhere being absolutely livid every time I open a bottle.

Posted 10:43am
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This page is written and maintained by Tyler Brubaker. All content is spewed forth from the author's brain, unless otherwise credited. He views his opinion as much more valid than yours, but welcomes all thoughts and comments.