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December 20th, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

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

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

Posted 10:46am
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December 18th, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

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

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

Posted 2:44pm
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December 17th, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

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

Posted 11:41am
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December 16th, 2013

I declare Christmas over!

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

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

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

*figuratively

Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

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

Posted 3:09pm
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December 13th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:22am
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December 12th, 2013

Holiday Dos and Don'ts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

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

Posted 10:25am
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December 10th, 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

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

Posted 10:42am
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December 9th, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

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

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

Posted 2:39pm
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December 6th, 2013

Happy Birthday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

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

Posted 9:57am
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December 5th, 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:19am
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December 4th, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Holiday Buying Guide

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

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

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

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

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

- Your Advent Jukebox Song o' the Day:

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

Posted 11:52am
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December 3rd, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

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

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

Posted 10:52am
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December 2nd, 2013

tbaggervance.com's 2013 Advent Jukebox

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

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

Posted 3:20pm
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November 27th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:23am
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November 26th, 2013

Lemmings

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

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

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

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

Posted 2:01pm
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November 25th, 2013

The Rich Retyi Music Advisory Board: Week Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:46am
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November 22nd, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:33am
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November 21st, 2013

The reason for the season

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:04am
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November 18th, 2013

The Rich Retyi Music Advisory Board: Week Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:16am
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November 15th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:41am
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November 14th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 3:06pm
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November 11th, 2013

The Rich Retyi Music Advisory Board: Week One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:01am
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November 8th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:01am
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November 7th, 2013

Charm School

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:47am
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November 5th, 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:56am
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November 4th, 2013

The internet is fucked up or Through the looking glass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:33am
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November 1st , 2013

It's not you, it's me.

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:20am
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October 31st , 2013

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:31am
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October 30th , 2013

It's like picking your favorite child.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:05am
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October 29th , 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:13am
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October 28th , 2013

This Week in Indie Rock.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:49am
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October 25th , 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 3:05pm
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October 24th , 2013

Cover band.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:23am
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October 23rd , 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:08am
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October 22nd , 2013

Angular Momentum.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 3:21pm
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October 21st , 2013

Requiem for a BDGF.

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

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

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

Posted 1:31pm
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October 18th , 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:41pm
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October 16th , 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:31am
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October 15th , 2013

I'm still here*.

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

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

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

*bitches.

Posted 10:03am
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October 10th , 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:02am
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October 9th , 2013

This Week in Indie Rock

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 10:22am
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October 8th , 2013

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 11:06am
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October 7th , 2013

The Secret of my Success.

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

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

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

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

Posted 1:05pm
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October 2nd , 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted 2:05pm
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October 1st , 2013

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

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

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

Posted 11:39am
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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.