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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.

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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.