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December 24th, 2014

Happy nondenominational holiday greeting


It's not a Santa suit, it's a holiday suit. Although as Rankin-Bass taught us, Santa is a red head.

As an atheist, xmas means little to me. As a born and raised (erstwhile cultural) Catholic, xmas was everything. My parents were loathe to splurge, much less pull out all the stops on anything, but xmas was the notable exception. In hindsight, it felt like they scrimped and saved for 364 days just to have one where you got everything you ever wanted. It felt worth it. It was special. I don't know if I've been any good at it, but I've always aspired to replicate what Moe and Judy gave to us (outside of the Jesus bit). I may not be able to give the kids, or the BDGF or even my friends everything they want or even deserve on a Tuesday in March, but I can do my best to try and do it once a year. Or at least try and remind them that I wish I could I give them the world.I think that's what the holidays mean to me. Outside of dogma, I think that's some version of what the holidays are supposed to be. Show everyone how much you appreciate them. Take a breath and try to relax and enjoy your surroundings. What's the point of the rest of the year otherwise? Enjoy the next ten days everyone. Hold onto the feeling once they are gone, then work to keep it around even when your loved ones are far flung and you have to get up and go to work everyday. If the holidays are a reminder of what's important, don't let that go to waste.

- Killing time? Here's a half hour of celebrities expressing their opinion on the age old question Lennon or McCartney? and here's Jeff Tweedy covering someone called Black Eyed Pea. I am old.

Posted 8:59am
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December 18th, 2014

Best of 2014

Once again we've chosen an arbitrary point to mark the Earth's circumnavigation of the sun, giving us cause to take stock of that trip's best culture. Let us round them up so you can see what you missed and rectify the situation:- Movies: The best films according to The AV Club, The Dissolve, IMDB, and Edgar Wright. The worst films according to Rotten Tomatoes and The Dissolve. - Music: The best according to Stereogum, Rolling Stone, The AV Club, NPR, Spin and Pitchfork. The AV Club also provides their annual list of least essential albums. - The AV Club, in their infinite cataloging wisdom, also provides data on the best comedy albums, TV Shows, graphic novels and film scenes.

As for tbaggervance.com, our favorite film was Birdman, our favorite album was Here and Nowhere Else by Cloud Nothings, our favorite TV show was Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (with a special award for scripted comedy to The Mindy Project) and the best bathroom book is Just the Tips by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (unless children are ever in your house, in which case you probably shouldn't own it. It's the dick joke equivalent of a handgun.)

Posted 10:30am
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December 16th, 2014

tbaggervance vs. Dennis Rodman

My only begotten son returns home from his devil may care, globe trotting ways in one week! I imagine he'll suffer from the colder temps and the fact that he is relatively shorter, but we'll be glad to have him home. Of course that's assuming he makes it back at all, after what I am sure is about to be an international incident. In order to quell any groundswells and thwart any potential calls to arms, let me first state that I've never mailed anything internationally before. I read the rules about prohibited items, but figured if I abided by those, I would otherwise enjoy the same level of privacy as I am afforded by the USPS domestically. Perhaps that level I expected was naively high. We put together a care package for Siddhartha, which amongst some other trifles, included the following picture:

But despite the insane postage for sending something half way around the world, he never received it. At this point I can only assume that it has been confiscated by the fascist censors who control the postal industrial complex on the koreatown peninsula. For the record, I am willing to forget the lost trinkets and forgo recompense for the astronomical shipping charges if you return my progeny to his native soil. We can just forget this whole thing ever happened.

Posted 8:53am
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December 12th, 2014

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

- Your Friday watch list: Jack White visits CBS This Morning to talk old records, Al Green shows Letterman how it's done, trailers for Broadchurch 2 and Doctor Who Xmas, in anticipation of the next Bond movie, a history of SPECTRE and for a little holiday spirit, here's some TV Xmas episodes available on Netflix.. - If you're like me, there's an inherent internal giggle when you hear or even read the phrase "oral history". That being said, once you get past your 13 year old sense of humor, you'll enjoy these oral histories of the fist bump from Big Hero Six and the PT Anderson classic Boogie Nights. Oral.- Having seen 2 of the 3 Saturn V rockets that still exist, I can tell you in the words of Tiny Elvis, that thing's huge. Just check out this graphic of all the machines that have carried humans into space if you don't believe me. It's bigger than the ISS and weighed 6 million pounds. How do people not think NASA is the coolest? - The myriad side effects of the two bigs being in college has caused me to miss many a show in the last few months. Spoon, The New Pornographers, Hamilton Leithauser - all came to town without my formidable presence being at their shows. That of course does not make me happy per se, I even had to by a single ticket to go see Belle & Sebastian by myself in order to heal my psyche. To add insult to injury, The Hold Steady are in the middle of playing a three night stand in Toronto, and on the first two nights they played their first two albums in their entirety. I could choose to hate myself for missing what amounts to a dream set of shows, but instead, I choose to be excited, because this will happen again, and the BDGF and I will be there. Lord to be 17 forever.

- Finally, whether you have diagnosed seasonal affective disorder, generally hate the holidays or perhaps just have a case of the Mondays, here's some inspirational posters from the mind of Werner Herzog.

Posted 11:02am
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December 9th, 2014

Tuesdays are for politickin'

- While Rumsfeld insists he never authorized it and Cheney does his best Col. Jessup (he'd just rather you said Thank You and went on your way) turns out we tortured people and it was an unshockingly terrible idea. All of this should make you question your government and country as a whole, but the true head scratcher is those that weep not for these deeds, but for the fact that the truth is coming to light. I'd respect them more (which is to say at all) if they just gave us a "You're goddamn right I did!"- One of the many reasons I stay away from facebook for the most part is people's ignorant and ugly political opinions. There always seems to be a rash of idiots there who want welfare recipients drug tested, because reasons? It's usually people who champion "freedom" and want the government out of their lives, which makes it extra tasty. As usual, Carl Hiaassen nails it. - NASA is going to space again! Included here because I've seen people bitch about the cost. These people are un-American and are invited to leave because they are fundamentally flawed in their understanding of what this country is.

- Finally, President Obama visited Colbert last night. Well worth a watch, as that guy is still one of the good ones, despite everything.

Posted 2:06pm
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December 5th, 2014

Now We Are 10

Ten goddamn years. Jesus Tap Dancing Christ.This quote has been in my "things to talk about" queue for several years now:

Writing is what's important to me, and anything that helps me do that—or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation—is worth it to me.

That's Chris Hitchens, assessing his priorities. It's a sentiment I've felt a kinship with my whole life, and for the golden years of this blog, it's how I felt about writing. Clearly that has transmogrified as of late. The writing used to flow through me. It became important for me to find connections and then try to use my wit to make a case for a pithy version of a larger truth. Now I mostly link to things on the internet, semi-witty comment on said thing optional. I still completely love the ideal Hitch was talking about. It's still important to me and part of who I think I am, but I don't feel that way about writing anymore. Perhaps I ran out of things to say, maybe I'm disillusioned. Whatever the factors that have led to once a week postings about nothing instead of an exploration of the world around me, it's where we are. In some ways, after 10 years and 768,161 words, we've come full circle. Huh. That's perhaps a tad morbid "Happy Birthday tbaggervance.com!" but don't fret. The blog will be here as long as I am, anemic as it may have become. I still need an outlet to put things out there, and facebook and instagram are for people older or younger than me respectively. Besides, more than anything, I'm really proud of our little corner of the internet. We built it from scratch and it is 100% ours. There's too little of that anymore.

So thanks for being here tbaggervance.com. Ten years from now when I need to bitch about kids who won't get off my lawn, I know you'll still be here, and that's very comforting.

Posted 9:01am
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November 26th, 2014

Binge/Purge

Happy Thanksgiving! Before we collectively gorge ourselves and have our spouses remove us from living rooms because we drank too much and are about to say something we can't take back, let's clear out the link bag:- Brits have chosen Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" as the top funeral song, cementing their status as having a better sense of humor than the rest of you.- Our stance here at tbaggervance.com has always been to posit green choices as economically smart, because getting people to do things for the "right reason" ain't never gonna happen. So hooray! wind and solar energy are starting to best fossil fuels when it comes to cheap energy. Thanks do-gooders and government subsidies, you might save our selfish asses yet.- For my BDGF, here's a great oral history of The Right Stuff, here's a cool video montage from the ISS and Elon Musk gets inspiration from Star Wars for his rockets. That guy is a marketing genius. And a regular genius. Oh, and in non-space BDGF news, new Jack White.

- Just when you think there's nothing old to be uncovered anymore, another Shakespeare folio is unearthed by hap and circumstance. If I had known such things were still possible, I would have followed my childhood dream to become Indiana Jones.

Posted 10:19am
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November 21st, 2014

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

- Your Friday watch list: Benedict Cumberbatch is the new Rich Little, who needs health care?, Belle and Sebastian go disco and while there's nothing to see here, let's shoehorn in the new Hamilton Leithauser peppy dirge "Room for Forgiveness". Please come back to Michigan Hamilton. Sorry I missed you last time. - Under the tab of "Things for my BDGF": The new Orion space capsule is Michigan engineered (with another M space flag imminent), Separation Sunday gets the praise it so richly deserves and not to be repetitive, but I could always use another Millennium Falcon for Xmas! - There's nothing quite like an idea you are 100% behind being presented in an intriguing way, which is why you are all going to love this advertisement (to find out what a newspaper is, ask Siri or Google). - Obama attempts some immigration "reform" and despite what your parents and Sean Hannity tell you, it's NBD and completely legal. I'm starting to see the GOP as Demi Moore in A Few Good Men: "We strenuously object! Move to reconsider!" I get that the public isn't a court martial judge and thus it works on the unilateral vox populi (just ask your mother or Megyn Kelly) but come on guys. I mean, why don't you just throw a fit about health care again? Oh, I see then. Carry on, asshats. - Finally, this will all eventually become clear, either as "come by my place for drink" or "well, we never actually thought it'd work", but we are making progress people. Cross your fingers (and potential investors get the first tastes).

Posted 10:10am
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November 14th, 2014

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

- Your Friday watch list: Christoph Waltz tells you how to get to Sesame Street (it's no Der Humpnik, but still worth your time), The Planetary Society has a Random Space Fact Friday video that you should check out and . - Baby J news: Pope Frank tells the haters to sit the fuck down, Rachel Maddow shows the anti-science crowd the power of the internet and Michigan State handles some science haters with incredible aplomb. That sentence wasn't easy to type, but well done Sparty.- Movie review time: Interstellar suffers from the fact the Christopher Nolan has a cold black heart that is avoid of emotion - but it barely felt like a three hour movie to me, which is saying something. Definitely see it in IMAX. Big Hero Six is a near perfect superhero movie, and since it is PIXAR, you shouldn't feel weird at all about going to see it without children in tow. It of course has a touch of Pixar's melancholy, but if you can handle the first 10 minutes of Up, you'll be fine. Also don't forget to go see Birdman. That movie is transcendent. - Thrillist ranks a lot of things, many of which exist wholly in my wheel house. Like 9 small beer cities worth your attention, or the best pizzeria in every state. It makes me want to travel! And go to lunch.

- Finally, there's snow on the ground and Thanksgiving plans are in the works, which means requests for Xmas music are already being made in our house. I usually declare Xmas music off limits until at least after Thanksgiving, because Xmas music is saccharine - it's really sweet and a little bit of it makes you feel good, but before you know it you're ODing on it and you'll give anything to make it go away. I caved last week and let it fly because it also reminds me of people that aren't around as much or at all any more, and hating myself for acquiescing so early when I want to kill myself by mid-December seemed like a worthwhile trade in the moment. So Merry Christmas movie house! Here's a new xmas tune from The Both.

Posted 10:56am
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November 13th, 2014

Thursdays are for politickin'

Well the Grand Ol' Party now controls the Senate, giving them two of the three branches of government. Hooray! We know how well this works out. If nothing else, it's guaranteed to bring back the above post heading as I have to scream "You morons" all the time again. Ugh. - Congratulations democracy! You've completely failed my home state. I know both parties trade in this, but it fucking sickens me either way, especially when it fucks over where I live. Of course there was good news in the Mitten, as banning same-sex partner benefits got appropriately ruled unconstitutional. If we had proportional representation, maybe we'd be in the center of this Venn Diagram. Ever notice how the center of a Venn Diagram is usually where you want to be? - Speaking of, I've declared that I will never vote for a Republican presidential candidate again because of the Supreme Court. Maybe there's others out there like me and Dems can run on that fact in 2016. -Of course with the GOP in control, you get people like James Inhofe - who calls global warming a hoax and the EPA a "gestapo bureaucracy" - chairing the Environment and Public Works Committee. Awesome. I'm too lazy to google it, but I guarantee he lost his shit over Solyndra, which guess what? Maybe I'll open my distillery in Cananada.- Finally, Net Neutrality is back in the news! Ted Cruz may not know what it is and the FCC may have given Obama the Heisman, but hey Justice Scalia is for it? I have no idea what's going on right now.

Posted 9:30am
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November 7th, 2014

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

- Movie time! I saw St. Vincent last weekend - it's a pretty generic feel goodie elevated by Bill Murray. Birdman, on the otra, affected me in a way a movie hasn't in a long time. An inspired piece of filmmaking that is as technically dazzling as it is profound. Maybe not super profound, but certainly in my wheelhouse about what I like to be pretentious about. Either way, see it if for no other reason than to try and find the cuts. Big Hero Six and Interstellar are on deck. Oh, and in case this is the only site you visit on the internet, the new Star Wars movie has a title. - Your Friday time wasters: Archer sneak peeks its return, and you can time warp to the arcades of the 1980s virtually now (there's no girls hanging out here either).- TWiIR: Watch! Wilco plays backstage at The Tonight Show and Prince owns SNL. Plus you can zoom out on some famous album covers and increase your vocabulary with power of rock 'n' roll. -Dolts! Half-wits! Bunglers! Nobody throws shade like Skeletor. Although how subversive is calling someone a boob? Now Bill W. (not that Bill W.) knew how to put someone in their place. (BONUS: You can now stream RSC plays online! I'm a huge nerd!)

- Finally, Siddhartha is alive and well in Koreatown, thanks for asking. We talked this morning about his housing situation when he returns, quelling my fears that he was going to run away forever, so whew. Here's an interview he did with some student publication across the sea. He can explain the outfit when he gets home.

Posted 11:25am
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November 4th, 2014

Vote. Or Don't, it probably doesn't matter.

I've had many a conversation over the years with the apathetic about the importance of voting. The simplest version of that conversation is "My vote doesn't matter, plus there's virtually no difference in the candidates," to which I usually say "Fine. Then don't ever complain about anything the government touches ever, because you've forfeited your right to bitch." To me, that's airtight and solid logic, plus a pretty good reason to skip out on work 20 minutes early and go talk to the old people who run your local polling place.In 2014 however, there's a reason staring you in your stupid face as to why it's an actual important, big deal: people in power are actively trying to take this right away from you. Mostly Republicans and mostly if you are an inner-city minority, but keep that in mind: voting is so powerful that the powers that be who are entrenched in trying to screw you over don't want you to do it. Be honest, there's still that part of your brain that's 16 years old and reactionarily wants to do that which your overlords tell you not to. So vote. Especially for Democrats. If nothing else, it'll piss off the people you hate.

- Ann Arborites: here's some voting info (more here) so you can spend 10 minutes researching what boxes to check once you get there.

Posted 9:55am
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October 31st, 2014

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

- TWiIR: Stream: The Flaming Lips cover Sgt. Peppers, new bands Cayetana, the Sundials and Young Statues. Watch: Tweedy on ACL and Daniel Radcliff exhibits some serious flow. - NASA exploded a rocket earlier this week (accidentally) and since no one was hurt, let us watch some spectacular footage and ooh and ahh at what it looks like when tens of thousands of pounds of rocket fuel goes boom.- I never imagined I'd be the type of person to take time off of work to do more work - especially work that pays bupkis - but nevertheless that's exactly the type of person I increasingly am. Turns out I can't relax when there's an avalanche of things to be done - doubly so when poor weather is approaching and the avalanche consists of outdoor work. The good news is that the backyard is now bereft of leaves and the side of our house is now graded to keep water out of the basement. I can now relax for five minutes! Of course it's back to work on Sunday.

-In Baby Jesus news: Pope Frank reiterates how Catholics aren't as anti-science as you may have guessed (hooray!) and Ohio proves that it is the worst. Someday people will remember* that Jesus was a collectivist hippie and using him to justify your abject selfishness is as ludicrous as it is un-Christian.

*This probably won't actually happen. Especially in Ohio.

- Finally, breaking news (as I type this) is that Dave Brandon is resigning this afternoon! We did it! Below is the letter I wrote to him last week. I won't take all of the credit, but certainly my poorly written missive was the straw that broke the camel's back. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, you corporate stooge.

Dear Mr. Brandon,
I write to you as an alumnus, 16 year employee, season ticket holder and donor to Michigan athletics. My father was a sports writer who spent over 40 years in the Michigan press box. My wife is an alumnae and two of our children are current students at the U. My roots are deep.

For that reason, I support all things Michigan to a fault. No one is perfect and I believe that everyone involved at the University does what they believe is in the best interest of this institution. I've disagreed with many of your decisions over the years, but that's to be expected. Our aesthetics don't have to align for me to want you and the Athletic Department to succeed. To wit, I was pleased to read about your decision to lower student ticket prices. I had to pay for my education by myself, going deeply into debt as an out-of-state student to do so, but that's just how much I wanted to be here. Now with two kids in college, it’s a great point of pride that I’m able to help my kids get an education in a way that my parents could not. But money is tight, and everyone in my house knows it. Which is why I was deeply offended at your tone deaf comment that I read today about "After all, it’s mommy and daddy’s money!" It was MY money as a poor student struggling to get by twenty years ago (as I'm sure is the case for many current students), and my children certainly don't have your cavalier attitude about how things get paid for. Turning Michigan football Saturdays into a circus is one thing, but saying "who cares!?!" about families struggling to pay astronomical sums to attend Michigan is egregious to me. Given the last two months, I fail to see how any independent evaluation of your performance would fail to find you in dereliction of duty at best. The University of Michigan will always have my allegiance, but you sir have overstayed your welcome and have lost whatever support you once had. As someone who clearly cares about this university, perhaps you'd agree that it's time for a change of leadership?

Go Blue
-T

Posted 11:46am
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October 27th, 2014

Fin

We did it! OK, so there's still the matter of covering up the underneath and the other non-trivial matter of the thing not falling apart, but otherwise C. Jason and I built a deck. That feels pretty good.

It probably could have been done more quickly and professionally with some outside help, but I'm over the moon as to how it turned out and I'm no easy please. Plus I got to spend a bunch of time with the Sumersquales, which I too often don't get enough of. I'd lament it being over and done with, except I imagine I'll get enlisted to help with something else sometime soon. I look forward to it.

Posted 1:57pm
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October 24th, 2014

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

- Just the other day I had this conversation for the hundredth time:

me: Oh, I have to go record a podcast.
other person: Oh, you have a podcast?
me: Yeah, but it's about football.
other person: Oh. Sorry, I'll never listen to it.

Which is TOTALLY fine and understandable. I wouldn't listen to your podcast about baking or soccer or Babylon 5, even though I really like you as a person. That said, I am really proud of it, especially of our intros the last couple of weeks. So you still might not get it, and yes, they are really dumb, but if you want a sample of what we do over at We Are So Good at Football but couldn't bear to hear Stov and talk about things like ATS or utter phrases like "They've hit the over 5 of their last 6 at home," for an hour, try The Ballad of Charlie Weiss, Congratulations Mississippi or Lou Holtz's Dance Party. We may also be kind of mean. - Ann Arbor was recently ranked the seventh most liberal city in America. Hooray! Being liberal is the best. I especially love it when people think they're indicting you in some way by saying you are open to new ideas or favor progress. Like in this year's "dueling columns" between The Michigan Daily and The State News, wherein Sparty refers to Ann Arbor as "your pathetic, kale-eating, Prius-driving town." Raise your hand if you think East Lansing beats Ann Arbor as a city in anything. Nobody? Huh. - Movie time! Brad Pitt goes Between Two Ferns, Indiana Jones conquers his Last Crusade in 60 seconds, and you can watch an MST3K episode completely annotated! Bonus since I know Mitchell is one of Markie C's personal favorites. - Am I the only one who almost went blind yesterday trying to catch a glimpse of the partial solar eclipse? All the more reason that this looks awesome. Also space nerds, here's a treasure trove of potential ring tones (etc.) to let everyone know just how big of a geek you are. Bonus: Tom Hanks writes fiction (it of course involves the moon.)

- Finally, tonight we are attempting to squeeze in one last outdoor bonfire/movie night on Chandler before the BDGF has to go into hibernation for the winter. We'll be having a Simpson's Treehouse of Horror marathon, so it's not to be missed. Plus when everyone gets too cold and goes inside, I will try and squeeze in a showing of something truly morbid, like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Evil Dead. Or maybe something topical like Contagion?

Posted 10:36am
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October 20th, 2014

So manly!

My psuedo-in-laws recently bought their first house. Below you can see what the previous owners felt justified in calling a "deck." It's just palettes with some extra facing screwed together (none of the materials used were weatherproof). Since this 9 month old abomination was unsurprisingly disintegrating before their eyes, they contacted me about building a replacement. I took that to mean "build a version of what we have that won't immediately fall apart". What they meant was "let's build a deck!" So that's what we did.

 

It's almost done now. There's still stairs and some aesthetic stuff to finish, but we did it! I don't know if I can articulate the pride and ownership that comes with doing something yourself - especially when the results exceed your expectations - but I know I'll enjoy the fuck out of that deck every time I sit on it and drink a beer. I hope the Sumersquales do too.

Posted 2:32pm
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October 17th, 2014

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

- Here we are halfway through October and I have no costume ideas and haven't watched a single horror movie. I keep thinking "sexy-something" has got to be the answer. I'm sure it'll come to me, perhaps while working on my candy corn infused vodka. Or maybe if I just make some time to watch Re-Animator. - TWiIR: Jack White visits Ellen, and the New Pornos visit Conan. For those keeping track at home, that's one link each for the BDGF and I's sexceptions. Bonus "music" link: I never got a "chance" to see the Dead play live, but after listening to this, I really feel like I have. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I took all the drugs I could find first. Question mark?- Fun with movies! It always helps to have a chronological timeline around when contemplating Tarantino movies, or the Marvel universe for that matter. And we all know digital is awesome and all, but as someone with an extensive collection of vinyl records, I'll be at the forefront of saving analog movies as well. Bonus internet "movie": Homestar Runner returns! Burninating all the peasants! - We're all on board with the idea that Columbus was kind of a monster and probably shouldn't get his own holiday. John Oliver sent up the idea pretty well, but this is pretty great too. Bonus "politics" link: Anyone still distressed that Romney didn't win the last election, at least his campaign promises are being kept. Ahead of schedule!

- Finally, I think (I hope) I've turned a happiness corner. I've been under the assumption for a while that I could will my way out of a rut. Worse still, that events that transpired justified it. So I owe everyone an apology for that (especially my family who bore the brunt of my behavior). In any event, I decided that being the change I wanted to see was the answer. I've focused on the things I can actually make happen rather than sitting around lamenting my position and repeating "It's fine" to myself over and over and over again. It's a bunch of new-age nonsense I suppose, but isolating what's bothering me and finding workarounds while moving towards longer term goals seems to be working so far. That and keeping busy, because for me, idle hands are a chance to brood. Fingers crossed and all that, but it's the best overall week I've had in a while, so here's to progress.

Posted 9:57am
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October 9th, 2014

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

- Red Bull gives you wings! I often lament the nascent internet we had to endure while I was in college, but how great would it have been to have Red Bull? That stuff is turbo jet fuel for an evening of debauchery. Of course it doesn't literally give you wings, so now you party Lionel Ritchie style AND they will give you $10. What a country. - The new Weezer album is getting a ton of love for its "return to form". I haven't listened yet, so I'll reserve judgment (while admittedly being skeptical) but this guy clearly doesn't get it. Kids these days. - The rest of the Michigan football season is going to be a Herculean task, testing my resolve in ways heretofore never imagined. The subsequent coaching search will also probably be a series of slaps to the junk that will make me question if I have battered wife syndrome. Of course unless this has any credence, in which case I will be enveloped in a sea of calm*.

*I know - not gonna happen.

- I realize that for the rest of my life I will probably have conversations about the efficacy of Obama's presidency. I, for one, pretty much got what I paid for: a pragmatic, evidence based executive. Not perfect by a long shot, but we'll probably never get an actual progressive in that position, so I'll take what I can get. Here's a by-the-numbers look you can memorize for future debates.

- Finally, two of my favorite ex-pats hit town today. Words cannot express my excitement nor my affection for these two. It's like a vacation that comes to me! Your best friends pulling up stakes is a terrible thing, but when they come back, cramming six months worth of fun in 4 days is a wonderful task to try and accomplish. Here we go (Lionel Ritchie style) ...

Posted 10:38am
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October 3rd, 2014

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

- This Week in Indie Rock: The Both visit Seth Meyers, The New Pornos release a new video, stream the new Jetpacks album, Beck tells ACL "Where It's At" and Tom Petty's Wildflowers gets the gushing praise article it so richly deserves. - White board of the week:

More on that later. - Baby J update: Satan picks up Roger Ebert's mantle, teacher takes his god and goes home, ISIS and evangelicalshave shared values and just because Neil deGrasse Tyson said something not true doesn't make science not. I mean come on guys, you don't fuck with NdG nor science. - Your Friday afternoon time wasters: Triumph is back (for me to poop on) and Wacko's States and Capitols song gets a lengthy update.

- Finally, weather permitting, I'm playing construction foreman this weekend. My pseudo-in-laws are looking for a small deck off the back of their new house and apparently I was their best option. I'm fully immersed in the cliche guy love of tools. When the BDGF and I talk about someday living in a maintenance free loft downtown, I relish never having to do yardwork again, but I would greatly miss the opportunity to go out to the garage and build something. So just in case the dream of living downtown ever comes to fruitition, I will gather my 2.5" deck screws while I may. Cross your fingers that the flaws in my deck construction aren't so blatantly obvious and horrible that I don't have to perseverate on them every time I'm at their house for the next ten years. That and I don't permanently injure myself.

Posted 11:39am
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September 30th, 2014

Paging Dr. Pangloss.

Ugh. I am going to apologize in advance for this. The tenor of a lot of my posts lately hasn't been cheery nor optimistic, but ultimately this is a place to throw my thoughts out into the ether so that they don't rot my brain. This one is basically about football, which I know makes many of you check out immediately, which is probably a wise choice.

I've been in love with Michigan football for a long time and for a lot of reasons. You can probably enumerate them as well as I can. But one of the main, oft overlooked ones is that it always seemed indestructible to me. You can't win every game, but you always won more than you lost. You never lost to MAC teams. You had to think hard to remember the last time you lost to Minnesota. January in Pasadena was expected every few years as was beating your rivals.

More important than anything on the field, they did things the right way and they had been doing it that way since time immemorial. No one second guessed your integrity, outside of thinking you were full of yourself. And it wasn't just you, it was a big, extended family you were a part of. It was always "we", no matter how silly that sounded to people who weren't in the club. It was a utopian view of the program, but one based on a mountain of evidence.

Then 2007 hit and things started to evaporate. We lost to a I-AA team. We had entire losing seasons. We missed bowl games. Our mortal lock on the all-time winning percentage was gone. We were hit with NCAA investigations (specious though they were). All of these tiny things that in my mind kept us above the fray started to fade. Bo died and everything went to shit.

Now Moe died and things are bottoming out. I know these are merely correlational events, but I'm left without someone to look up to and tell me that everything will be all right in the end, and that makes it feel worse. Brandon has to go, and so does Hoke. My employment at this fine institution has shaken my faith in this place, and the athletic department seems intent on killing it. That's an exacerbated problem when you've got no one to look up to anymore for solace.

Where does one turn when the one seemingly unshakeable thing you've clinged to turns out to be a something inscrutably terrible? What does it say about the individual who stays on a sinking ship after he's waste deep in sewage? I know if you are a true believer you stay and furiously start bailing out water to try and save the thing you love, but I'm so tired and there's no land in sight. I really didn't need another "Now what?"

Posted 3:31pm
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September 25th, 2014

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

- Movie time! I saw Love is Strange the other day, which I think was a bit muddled and overly ambitious for such a tiny film, but has there ever been a more charming couple than John Lithgow and Alfred Molina? The answer is no. And Speaking of Alfred Molina, if you want the most nerdtacular thing you can do today: Steven Soderbergh took the color and the sound out of Raiders to highlight the staging inherent in the movie. Did I watch it? You're goddamn right I did. Was it fabulous? You bet.

- Music time! The Hold Steady were on World Cafe, The Black Keys cover "A Girl Like You" (presumably because their new album isn't very good), it's George Harrison Week over at Conan and another new Weezer track appropriately described as "perfectly acceptable!" Harrumph.

- Music and Movie time! The usually excellent website The Dissolve put together a list of the movie's 50 best pop music moments. It's terrible. Where to start? First off, lots of not-pop music is included. I hate the term "pop culture" because what people usually mean when they use the phrase is just 'culture'. To include the term POP indicates stuff that is truly popular - and usually merely popular without much artistic merit. The Dissolve tries to caveat this, but listen, Nick Cave isn't pop music, whether or not you argue he should be. Second, it seems to be overly reliant on scenes they like for the ironic juxtaposition of the image and music, OR because someone does an odd interpretation. The latter is closer to getting at what they seem to be aiming for, but still seems to miss the point to me. The top ten is pretty OK, and it's an interesting jumping off point for a discussion, but there's too many classics missing. No "As Time Goes By"? No Ferris doing "Twist and Shout"? I reject your entire premise, sirs.

- Every year for my birthday I take the day off of work and hit the birthday quadfecta: Brewery, Record Store, Tacqueria (or Pizza Parlor) and Movie Theater. I try to go to new instances of all four every year, which means it can be a bit of a dice roll. This year was middling at best for potential new staples, but I got some new vinyl, and middling beer and tacos are still better than spending my day at a desk being shit on, so calling it a win.

- Finally, given my employment woes I've been actively trying to figure out my happiness outside of the innocuous realm. It's a difficult prospect when you get to be just shy of 40 and have the prerequisite financial obligations and have spent your entire professional life doing something you have little interest in continuing doing. After six months or so of daydreaming and playing theoretical games of "If you could do anything for the rest of your life..." I may have something. I can only say so much here, but if nothing else the prospect has given me something to perseverate on - something I can work towards incrementally and with which to placate my brain so I don't snap and drive my car into a goddamn bridge abutment. It of course could all fall apart and never come to fruition, but I look forward to the minimum six months of pushing the boulder up the mountain before it rolls back down and Sisyphus has to find a new one. When you're Sisyphus, you have to be indefatigable.

Posted 10:10am
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September 19th, 2014

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

- Ann Arbor is making the rounds again on various lists of the best of everything: best public University in America, top 25 most beautiful college campuses and the most educated city in America. Go team!

- The environmental team over here at tbaggervance.com has long been a proponent of the idea that once you make 'environmentalism' economically viable, more people will start to come around. What about if it was free? Unfortunately this going to take a lot of education, which we may be terrible at. I mean, people still hate 'Obamacare', right? Question mark?

- Movie time! Sesame Street does Star Wars and Lego does Ferris Bueller's Day Off. You killed the car.

- Jack White sat down for an hour long interview with Dan Rather (which we referenced the other day). You can now watch the whole thing. I'm a little ascared, as serious Jack White can make me uncomfortable.

- Finally, I yelled my first obscenity this morning at 7:25am. It's been a rough week. I've always believed in the restorative power of the weekend, but that ideal becomes doubly important when things aren't going well otherwise. I've also got three of my favorite Ann Arbor ex-pats coming to town toot suite, so I know that if I bite down hard and make it through the next little bit, celebrations will soon be in order. That does more than make me innocuously happy in the moment, it's the anticipation that buoys me. That and the football game tomorrow, assuming they win. I guess as long as you have something to hope for and look forward to, you have a reason to stay upright, right?

Posted 11:46am
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September 17th, 2014

This Week in Indie Rock

- Stream a little stream: New albums from King Tuff, Tweedy and Leonard Cohen.

- If you still need a Queen primer, well you've probably hopelessly wasted your life, but just in case you're interested in salvation, here ya go.

- For anyone not fortunate enough to be at Riot Fest in Chicago this weekend, here's a review and here are Saturday's pictures. Come for the mudtacular, stay for Wayne Coyne's spectacle.

- Here's 100 bass riffs in about 17 minutes. I'm going to assume you all know 80+%, which when you think about it, is pretty cool.

- I'm not sure who Jack White thinks he's placating here, but calling Detroit cynical may not be the way to stay #1 in our hearts.

- Finally, you can watch Death Cab say goodbye to founding member Chris Walla over the weekend. I don't listen to Death Cab like I did in 2006. We kinda went in opposite directions. We matured and in the end didn't mean that much to each other anymore. I still remember Death Cab fondly, and when I get an itch to hear them again, it takes serious scratching to make it go away. I can fall down a Death Cab rabbit hole and be 3 albums in before I know what hit me. I think that's a testament to how good those early albums are, and certainly to what they meant to me. If anyone needs me I'll be in the corner complaining about how relationships in your twenties compare unfavorably to the simpleness of childhood. Or something like that.

Posted 10:34am
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September 16th, 2014

Ready... Set... Go!

It is inarguable that Bill Murray is a national treasure. Take any five people and ask them their favorite Bill Murray movie and you might get five different answers, all with a solid claim at correctness. The great thing about a Bill Murray movie is that they're usually imminently rewatchable. And quotable. We've all seen multiple Murray movies multiple times. But the rub of that is that we generally only pay to watch them once.

So, we must ask, how well does Mr. Murray do at the box office? I found the answer surprising. Grab a pen and a paper and try to name the top ten highest grossing Bill Murray movies. For whatever reason, I can tell you that the list does not include Space Jam, Zombieland, nor Little Shop of Horrors as "Bill Murray Movies" despite him being in the cast. One point for every one you get right, half a point for every movie you name that's in the top 11-25. So pencils ready, and Ready... Set... Go!

Posted 3:00pm
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September 12th, 2014

Stop the press.

I know what you're going to say: "tbaggervance let his kid run off to Koreatown and now he's all hopped on k-pop weirdness, probably running around the peninsula dressed up like a Pokemon." Well that remains to be seen, but this - THIS - is not from Siddhartha. I FOUND IT. And you're welcome.

 

I could not avert my eyes, try as I might. If you only watch it once, chances are you're dead inside, not that I'm into litmus tests.

- To cleanse thy palette: Here's AC Newman trying out for the Brill Building (plus an HOUR LONG live New Pornographers concert!) Now go have a weekend...

Posted 10:19am
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September 11th, 2014

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

- Good news for our teenage former Chandler residents: Michigan freshman are amongst the happiest in the country. I'm sure this is unrelated. Although I think I heard this song more than once driving through campus last night.

- Sing it with me:

If you're gonna leave the house, don't wear sweats
If you're gonna leave the house, don't wear sweats
If you're gonna leave the house, then have some self respect
If you're gonna leave the house, don't wear sweats

- Like the rest of you, I audibly groan everytime I click on a link and it turns out to be a video rather than text. I made an exception for this video about redheads. If you're still videophobic, I understand. For you: Rocket Racoon and Groot as Calvin and Hobbes.

- This Week in Indie Rock: Watch! Jack White acoustic! New Pornos on Letterman! Spoon on Letterman! Braid covers T'Pau! New Politics cover Vampire Weekend! And The Replacements return to NBC on Fallon! Sound without pictures of new Jetpacks and Weezer tunes. There's a lot of buzz about the upcoming Weezer album, what with it being produced by Rick Ocasek and all. I was completely unimpressed with "Back to the Shack", but this new one is pretty good old school jam.

- Finally, everyone loves an opportunity for some state pride. As funny as it seems now, I was once an avid Natural Light devotee. So adherent, that when I finally succumbed to the lure of Michigan craft beer, I turned the heads of people I had known since college. I can't tell you the last time I had a Natural Light, and outside of a PBR here and there at hipster bars, I haven't had a mass market domestic brew since god knows when. So I am thankful for Michigan beer for saving me from myself. As such it is with great pride that I note that Michigan is ranked number 4 in the country in this list of the best beer states. And while I know California has great breweries, my experience in Los Angeles is that great beer fervency has none of the permeation it does in the Mitten. Try and go to a bar in this state without Bells on tap. Finding great beer in LA was a chore last time I was there. I'm just saying.

Posted 10:21am
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September 8th, 2014

The lows are so extreme, that the good seems fucking cheap.

Self preservation is a funny thing. Sometime late in the fourth quarter of the Michigan/Notre Dame game, it became glaringly apparent that being surrounded by Notre Dame fans 200 yards from the stadium was a horrible idea.So we did the logical thing and left. To stay would have been masochistic.

Feeling quite numb in the moment, I was telling myself in mantra like fashion "It's a football game. It doesn't matter." This statement is so undeniably true that in the moment I willed myself to believe it. There was no way to force exuberance, but anything other than hang dog was a win. I concentrated on getting back to seeing my family and truly thinking about things that I know matter.

Of course today scrolling through my bookmarks and going about my normal Monday morning business of reading the weekend's news is inescapably masochistic. The hurt I had bottled up began to wash over me. Thankfully I'm experienced enough in these matters to let it pass and again will myself to put on a brave face and go about the business of life.

It still sucks. The pain isn't really mitigated by the fact that our whole conference is all kinds of terrible. I feel like Jason Segal in Freaks & Geeks walking around telling people "John Bonham died." It's that thought that helps, because the ridiculousness of the premise is played for laughs, but there's still an understandable truth beneath it. At least that's how I choose to see it. I can still be sad inside about a football game that doesn't matter, even though the mere idea is dumb. Besides, nothing lasts forever, and sometimes when you're on...

Posted 1:04pm
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September 4th, 2014

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

- Fans of the We Are So Good at Football podcast will be excited to know that we have a special guest host this week! Not fans of the fact that the podcast is about football will be excited to know that it's a girl! Who knows almost nothing about football! Join the BDGF and I as we break down all of week two's action. Sort of break down. It's more of me spouting jargon and her asking me "Is that english?" Go to wearesogoodatfootball.com or subscribe in iTunes. And for those who listen and want more info about Ohio telling their fans to sit the fuck down, I wasn't kidding.

- Movie break: Try to interpret the Culture Ministry of Russia's top foreign films, check off your list of Bill Hader's top 200 comedies, and infographic the most expensive movie props. Also, in actual movies you can watch, the Michigan Beer Film is streaming over at the AADL website, assuming you have a valid library card.

- From the Baby Jesus and the infinite sadness department: 5 reasons Baby J may never have existed, Fox is scared of Atheists and nothing is more satisfying than calling out bullshit hypocrisy with "Have you read the Bible?"

- This week's whiteboard: we timeline the dark/middle ages and the Spanish Inquisition as Moses and Jesus shake hands.

- Finally, Team Voltron's annual college football pilgrimage is this weekend as the Team heads to South Bend for the requiem of a rivalry. My hatred for Notre Dame is surpassed only by that for Ohio, even though they have the nicest, most cordial fans on the planet. It's weird to hate a group of people with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns yet have them treat you with nothing but respect and magnanimity. I still hope we win. Regardless, it'll be a weekend of good beer and bad food with a bunch of dudes, which we all need at least once a year.

Posted 09:44am
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August 29th, 2014

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

- Movie break: I have no desire to be rich, except as a means to have this in my house. SNL goes to the movies: the infographic. Out of Sight is the movie of the week over at the dissolve. I recommend you read all of their analysis, and then watch the movie. Twice. It's that good.

- I recommend you save this video to watch the next time you are stressed out and need to calm down. It'll work, that's a tbaggervance guarantee.

- We recently installed a whiteboard in our bedroom. Stay with me. The BDGF and I are prone to having wild, meandering discussions late into the night. Sometimes these discussions require retention of knowledge and previous points made. We found ourselves spending too much time reiterating or even remembering these points, so we decided "Why not write them down?" Thus the bedroom whiteboard was born. Here's how we filled the first one. I'll let you speculate what it all means.

- Our house now officially has 40% fewer residents, as the BDGF's eldest moved into the dorms yesterday. Before we left, the girls and I went to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which provided an interesting cultural juxtaposition. Watching John Hughes' version of kids in 1986 right before seeing the kids of 2014 and being flooded with memories of my freshman year in 1994 makes for some hilarious compare and contrast. Here's me and my roommate from way back then. This picture constitutes 60% of the interaction we had that year.

- Finally, football returns tomorrow. Obviously my college football fandom is a sisyphean task that lasts four months every year. Yes, that boulder is going to be even bigger this year without Moeman and Sid out of the country. True, the fact that Dave Brandon will metaphorically be kicking 100,000 fans in the junk for three hours tomorrow makes me homicidal. Yet right now, my only reaction to all of that is 'fuck it'. Football returns tomorrow. To pretend that it's still not, with all the caveats, like being a kid on Christmas eve is futile. College football is my religion in the sense that I am imbued with the power of its holy spirit. I can't explain it to you if you're a non-believer, it's just there, filling me with pure, unadulterated joy. Thanks for that college football. I needed it. Oh, and if you want to try and understand, here's 25 maps that will attempt to explain it to you. Much like the Bible, I don't expect it to convert you, but maybe it'll provide some background and insight into my delirium.

Posted 10:01am
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August 28th, 2014

Shameless self promotion

Ever since I discovered podcasts, I knew I had to do one. Much like the website, I didn't expect anyone to listen, it just sounded creative and fun. So after some failed attempts at a traditional rotating guest show (which is just awkward. As friend of the blog C. Jason once said, asking people to be on your podcast is the new "Can you pick me up at the airport?") I turned to my oldest friend in the world. We could talk about anything for an hour a week, but long story short, we decided on college football.

Thus We Are So Good at Football was born. Today marks the start of our fourth season. People actually listen! I think we're getting better at it! (although admittedly I can't bring myself to listen to the old episodes to check.) Anyway, if you are fan of college football, gambling or Stov and I's incoherent rambling, subscribe in iTunes, and if you want 50+ blog points, leave a review. Then get yourself a bookie, place some bets and watch the cash roll in. Maybe.

Posted 9:01am
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August 27th, 2014

The pursuit of happiness

Parents have an inherent need to worry. It's somewhere on page one of the book they hand you in the delivery room. You worry about merely keeping the kid alive for two years, and then it spreads out like the roots of a tree or water finding the pass of least resistance over a surface. If you get lucky, you slowly realize that your kid is going to be OK academically and that they're street smart enough not to fall in with the wrong crowd and then you're still left perseverating on whether or not they're going to be successful and happy.

My mother famously worried my freshman year of college that Michigan would never beat Ohio in football while I was in school. She knew how important it was to me and coming off getting beat once in Columbus, she immediately got anxious that it might not ever happen. That's ridiculous (and historically the opposite of what went down) but that's how parents operate. It's in the handbook.

Siddhartha is brilliant. He's confident and capable. I know that he'll ultimately be successful and have the wherewithal to navigate whatever life throws at him. It's why when everyone asks me "How are you handling Sid going to Koreatown for four months?" I give a perfunctory "OK." He can handle the work. He can navigate a foreign land all by himself because he's never given me a reason not to think that. What's to worry about? The answer of course is something, because I'm his father.

So I worry about him being happy. He's built up this trip as the be-all, end-all of his existence so far, so that's what I want it to be for him. I want him to tell me stories about how much fun he's having. I want him to be too busy to tell me how much fun he's having. I want him to have new experiences and those experiences to meet his expectations. I'll wait over the next few days and weeks to be placated with a text or a Skype chat that confirms my expectations and desires, at which point I will begin to perseverate on how I'm going to lose him to a Koreatown expatriation. But hey, if that's his Michigan beating Ohio State, I got a national championship my senior year. He deserves the same thing.

Posted 9:48am
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August 21st, 2014

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

- TWiIR: Stream The New Pornographers' Brill Bruisers, a new King Tuff track, read this article that basically says "Nada Surf is pretty great", and then take this quiz naming the top 50 songs of 1994. Score to beat: 27/50.

- It costs more to live in some places than others. This is intuitively obvious. Here's an interesting chart listing the buying power of $100 in every state. I bet if you think about it, you can guess the state where $100 goes the farthest and where it gets you the least. Also intuitively obvious: the more it costs to live there, the more you'll want to.

- Nine days to Michigan football! It's going to be a long, strange season for me personally, but that's well documented around these parts. It's also going to be a strange opening salvo for all Michigan fans, as the greatest blight on the history of the program is being revisited thanks to our idiot athletic director Dave Brandon (the link is to his twitter account, in case you want to tell him how much you enjoy the entire college football community pointing and laughing at your program as the 2014 season starts). To personally celebrate, may I suggest this as your new desktop background?

On another note, my sister and her family are coming up for the game, and even the BDGF and her littlest may attend. Here's the only thing I can think of to get her excited about the game:

- Congratulations humanity! Cananada's hitchhiking robot made it all of the way across the country. I'd say this bodes well for our peaceful co-existence with our eventual robot overlords, but let's be honest, it was Cananada. That thing wouldn't have made it out of New England before it was stripped for parts and had "Honkeylips" written on the side.

- Finally, Siddhartha leaves for Koreatown on Sunday. I'm overwhelmed with excitement about his adventure, and the hardest part is going to be waiting for him to get back. Yes, because I'm going to miss him, but moreso because I want to see how he changes and matures over those four months. Also what he will look like, because this is what I am expecting:

Posted 10:24am
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August 19th, 2014

Ready... Set.. Go!

This week's Ready... Set... Go! may be a short list. How many albums can you name that have two versions of the same song? Now many artists re-recorded old hits again, or you probably know at least two versions of "Revolution" by The Beatles, but I'm talking about an album containing two versions of (basically, ostensibly) the same song. No "bonus tracks" on re-releases or "remixes" tacked onto the end of the album, because obviously

I came up with four. I know there has to be more. I even can probably guess a couple of artists that have probably done it, but remember, no googling. So, Ready... Set... Go!

Posted 09:30am
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August 15th, 2014

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

- TWiIR update! Muppets do The Beasties, new New Pornographers and Jetpacks, and covers of John Cougar and The Police, by Hamilton Leithauser and The Afghan Whigs respectively. Oh, and if you want your ire raised, here's NME's list of the 100 most influential bands. In fairness, you've been warned.

- Willie Nelson: your most trusted guide on weed. I'd love to watch Maureen Dowd smoke on Willie's bus.

- Wormer.. .dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Robin Williams... well look, I can't say anything you likely already haven't read. I always go back to something Mrs. Jesus said in a comment on this blog, which amounted to "Why not celebrate some of these people while they're alive?" Especially apropos for someone who committed suicide related to depression. I mean, if Robin Williams didn't know he was loved, who can? I think ultimately the takeaway is an understanding of how dark depression can be. I hope so anyway. I guess go watch The Fisher King or Good Will Hunting or Aladdin and then tell everyone you love how much they mean to you? It couldn't hurt.

- I too, mourn the loss of true night. A someone who likes to look up, I've come to notice it more and more even in my own literal backyard. I guess that doesn't technically qualify as something that's making me innocuously happy, other than I guess I like that people are taking note and will hopefully consider doing something about. Rage, rage against the dying of the night...

- Finally, with a scant 15 days until the start of Michigan Football, my brain is slowly turning to mush. There's actually two events at the stadium this weekend: Saturday the team opens its practice to onlookers and Sunday they're showing The Lego Movie on the jumbotrons. Last season I suffered from anticipation anxiety over whether or not Sid would show up to our tailgate before games. This year, I have to navigate the season without him as well as my dad. Not news, as I'm sure I've mentioned it once or twice here, but man is it starting to hang over me like the sword of Damocles. If the team holds together and wins, it'll certainly mitigate my apprehension and nervousness and sadness and all of those other emotions that take a toll on everyone that has to live with me. Come on baby, hold together...

Posted 11:59am
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August 13th, 2014

Pivot

For over a decade now, I've gone to Conor O'Neill's every Monday night to play trivia. The people who have joined me in this endeavor have morphed over the years, but the pilgrimage to compete has been a constant since something that feels like time immemorial.

Similarly, for the last six years I've gone to the Robot Store at 826 every Wednesday to volunteer. I met some of my favorite people in the world thanks to my involvement there, and the ways my participation in the little non-profit have made me a better, happier person are immeasurable.

Nothing good lasts forever though. My frustration with Monday night trivia started to boil over. It caused stupid, unnecessary arguments between the BDGF and I and at the end of the day the only things I enjoyed about it anymore were the format and the routine. Getting to 826 on Wednesdays started to cause problems at work, and as I got older and the majority of volunteers stayed the same age, I began to feel less connected to the joint.

I love trivia and volunteering, but I began to realize I was holding on to specific instances that were causing me problems and no longer making me happy in the way that they used to. So I decided to pivot. Conor O'Neill's is largely dead to me and I will no longer be at 826 every Wednesday. I've immediately replaced both of these staples with other trivia and volunteering opportunities, and the newness of these bright, shiny, nascent staples is exhilarating.

That of course is how new relationships work. It's all the exciting, getting-to-know-you parts without the annoying ticks and complacency that mars old standards. Of course I like to remain friends with my exes. I'll still sub at the robot store and in a month or two, I could be talked into going back to Conor's for trivia on a Monday. But I'm hoping I've found my new rosebuds. At least for the time being. I can handle going out and finding something new 10 years from now.

Posted 2:16pm
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August 11th, 2014

Ready... Set.. Go!

This week's Ready... Set... Go! marks a return to the open ended music category. This go round we are looking for songs where the lyrics mention another famous musician. Por ejemplo, in The Beatles' "For You Blue", George Harrison sings "Elmore James got nuthin' on this baby". I'm thinking duets where people refer to each other by first name are out, so when Eddie Money sings "Just like Ronnie sang..." that's a no good.

There are a baker's dozen or so that I came up with in the comments section, which I feel like is totally beatable. So, Ready... Set... Go!

Posted 10:05am
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August 8th, 2014

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

- TWiIR update! Spoon performs two songs on the Tonight Show, some Beatles facts you be unawares of, and Chris Pratt charmingly forgets about Dre. Oh, and please vote Weird Al for Super Bowl halftime performer.

- So those crazy Canadians are creating some preemptive evidence that humans and robots can live in harmony once the latter become sentient and the only thing preventing our destruction is their magnanimity. The experiment? Having a robot hitch hike across Cananada. Because it's still the 1970s in Cananada and apparently hitchhiking is still a thing.

- Apparently yesterday was National IPA day and all week has been Ypsi-Arbor Beer Week. I guess I don't need to raise my awareness of craft beer nor an impetus to enjoy an IPA. In fact I've been accidentally celebrating for a while now, so hop hop hooray!

- Friday afternoon videos: Stephen Colbert breaks character to give advice to teenage girls, Harry Potter Scott Pilgrim style and I finally watched this star-studded episode of Getting Doug with High (and you should too). Who doesn't want to get high with Sarah Silverman and Dan Harmon?

- Finally, the girls are back tomorrow! The kitchen table is refinished, the house is clean, we somehow have a drum set in our basement now and I finally got to watch Das Boot. Not a bad bout of productivity, which means peace and quiet time must be over. Let the chaos resume.

Posted 11:31am
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August 5th, 2014

Bachelor-Con 2014

The BDGF's littlest will soon be winging her way back across the country to reunite our little brood (for a few weeks anyway, until her eldest heads to college and Sid heads to Koreatown). But before we are all reunited (which will feel so good) the ladies of Chandler Rd. will have a sojourn at the beach, leaving just the doods alone at home. It's Bachelor-Con 2014 (Summer Edition).

We all know what this means at this point. I get to listen to Radiohead and Chris Bathgate while eating crappy food and watching foreign films. Oh, and plenty of home improvement projects. And cleaning. Deep, deep cleaning. Because I'm such a player. Baller? I'm apparently too old to even sling the lingo around ironically.

Anyway, anyone with furniture refinishing tips or recommendations for 3+ hour German submarine movies, I'm listening. As happens every time I'm left alone in my home, I get antsy for everyone to come back after a few days, but simultaneously wish I had more time to get stuff done. I'm clearly going to need at least a couple of movies that don't rely on subtitles, because I can't read while I'm stripping varnish off of the kitchen table.

Posted 10:16am
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August 4th, 2014

Ready... Set.. Go!

For this week's Ready... Set... Go! we turn to the realm of cinema. There are 22 movies that have won Best Picture at the Oscars that have one word titles. One from the 10s, three are from the 00s, three from the 90s, three from the 80s, three from the 60s/70s, three from 50s, three from the40s and three from the 20s/30s.

Since even I would struggle to remember 1931's Cimarron, consider yourself victorious if you can get over half, which will probably be everything from 1970 on. Answers are in the comments section, so ready... set... go!

Posted 11:31am
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August 1st, 2014

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

- TWiIR update! New Sloan, Jacks White and Black (et al) record Beck's Song Reader, new Big Star inspired rock from Twin Peaks, Tokyo Police Club cover Wheatus, an 8-bit grunge homage and stream the entire new Spoon opus. All are mandatory listens. Maybe not the 8-bit grunge...

- In the Michigan/Ohio rivalry, one side thinks the other is a salon of uptight holier-than-thou snobs and the otra is cacophony of truck drivin' hillbillies. They both generally cop to these being accurate stereotypes, caveats aside. This broad stroke disdain is all well and good for a football rivalry, but when it comes to living in the actual world, I'll never understand choosing willfully ignorant over a little pompous jackassery that sometimes comes with being 'informed'. When it comes to politics, chastising science, information and analytic thought is unconscionable. "Puffed-up 'nerd' culture" is bad? How about we take our science and go home. The rest of you can go be Lothar of the Hill People.

- Here's a list of the best bars in Michigan outside of Detroit. I'm all for HopCat (and greatly anticipate its Ann Arbor location) but I'll never understand all of the Ashley's love. Yeah, it has a lot of taps, but it's filthy, tiny and pretty generic. I mean, it's all well and good, but its appearance on numerous "best of" lists is quizzical. One a side note, how have I never been to One-Eyed Betty's?

- I feel like I'm in serious need of a wardrobe update. Like most guys, I normally pick up something here and there, throwing stuff out as it gets irrevocably stained or ripped; letting the overall base slowly evolve over time. Every once in a while though, it's nice to be merciless in pitching things that are outdated or ill fitting and starting fresh with a bunch of new stuff. It's really too bad that we have two kids in college and I can't afford the overhaul. I'd start here if I could though, because I'd like to start my shift towards more nattily clad and dapper.

- Finally, it's a cinema filled weekend! Last night the BDGF and I went to see Stop Making Sense (which, THIS, is how you open a movie). Sunday we have plans to catch Richard Linklater's Boyhood and tomorrow (TOMORROW!) I somehow convinced my magnanimous BDGF to see my most-anticipated movie of the summer, Guardians of the Galaxy. I think relaying her this review might have clinched it:

George Lucas learned that lesson the hard way when he failed to supply his Star Wars prequels with a Han Solo equivalent... Guardians boasts not one, but two Han Solo proxies—not to mention an ass-kicking Princess Leia surrogate, a villain with a very Sithian fashion sense, and the flora answer to Chewbacca. Also, one of the Han Solo types is a talking raccoon.

The only thing better than a Han Solo type is two Han Solo types. Hans Solos.

Posted 11:31am
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July 31st, 2014

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Well, Louie Gohmert has taken the Billy Preston Maru to disprove atheism. Checkmate?

- I, for one, prefer Tom Petty's take on organized religion.

- Ken Hamm (best known for being bitch slapped by Bill Nye) wants to end NASA because Martians are going to hell. You have to read this to believe it, but it's something about how there's not aliens, but if there were, they're not related to Adam and Eve so they're damned to eternal hell fire. Or something like that. In any event, I'd challenge this guy to a duel for merely suggesting that NASA is a waste of time.

- Iowa governor tears down the wall that separates church and state. About that...

- Finally, Gov. Chris Christie explains something to conservatives that they often forget and desperately need to hear: You have to be pro-life when they get out of the womb. Amen brother.

Posted 11:41am
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July 30th, 2014

The Sharing Economy.

Sometime during Jack White's encore, the sky finally opened up and fulfilled the promise it had been threatening to fulfill for hours. Question: ever tried to get a cab in the rain as 5,000 other water logged concert goers were also seeking shelter and trying to get home? We've all had the nightmare even if we've never found ourselves in that specific hellish scenario.

Luckily, as Jack White exited stage left I requested a pickup from Uber, and by the time we were outside the venue we were frantically looking for a Toyota Camry through the raindrops. When we located it 30 seconds later, there were already four bros in it, arguing with the driver. When the driver saw us standing next to his ride and asked "Are you Tyler?" a great calm came over me. Five minutes later we were safe and warm in our house for the price of $6.

Our house, by the way, was procured through AirBnB. With some soccer thing going on downtown, there wasn't a hotel room to be found in all of Pittsburgh. The ever resourceful BDGF found an artist's loft a mile and a half from downtown for $150 a night. It was more eclectic and fun than any Sheraton you've ever had the pleasure of staying in, I assure you that. Most of those places don't have full kitchens and movie screens with projectors in them.

I know there are horror stories out there about both of these services. I can't imagine that they will end up being any more prevalent than those you hear about hotels or cabs - if anything, with their system of checks and balances and review systems, I'm guessing less. I can tell you without a doubt that I'm done with cabs, and I wouldn't book a hotel room for a vacation again without checking AirBnB. Sharing is caring people, even if you are paying people a nominal fee to encourage such pleasantries.

- Anyone thinking about trying uber, enter the code tylerb273 when you sign up. Remember, sharing is good karma!

- Jack White's show, by the way, was amazing. Thankfully we didn't wait for the Detroit show. And Jack, I say this because I love you, why you keep going to baseball games if they make you so sad?

Posted 10:41am
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July 24th, 2014

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

- Last Sunday the BDGF and I took a day trip to Kalamazoo, the specific impetus being to attend a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. All I can say is holy shit you guys, it was better than I could have possibly imagined. The Drafthouse has no concession stands, because they have ninja-trained servers to bring you bottomless sodas and popcorn. Oh, and anything you want from their full bar or even baked to order cookies. With the advent of giant home theaters, this should be the model to get people out of their houses to go to the movies, because it's a game changer of an experience. They also have a strict no cell phone/talking policy that they take very seriously. Just ask Richard Linklater. If the Alamo Drafthouse wants to open one of these in Ann Arbor, please get in touch with me about running it.

- Congratulations America, you have correctly ranked the Star Wars movies in order of their inherent goodness. Minus one star though, for ranking Luke Skywalker as more favorable than Han Solo. Come on vox populi, you're better than that.

- Once someone completes their compulsory education (and arguably even before then) you can't force Shakespeare on them. The sad and somewhat ironic reason I imagine would be most cited is the language. Ironic because the language is the reason to read Shakespeare. Every aspect of his writing borders on perfect, but Christ on a bike the words! This article articulates that quite well. I mean if you can confidently deliver the following, people should swoon:

What a piece of work is a man,
how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties,
in form and moving how express and admirable;
in action how like an angel,
in apprehension how like a god:
the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals...

- Clearing out the link box: The Hold Steady played Conan (and by the plethora of white pants, clearly just after a stroll on the boardwalk), prep for football season with this heartwarming feature from ESPN about making a cancer patient's dream come true and see every state ranked by its food and drink. Sorry Kadotas, but it's not like you didn't already know.

- Finally, it's the BDGF and I's dream weekend starting tomorrow. Friday marks our triumphant return the Michigan Brewer's Guild Summer Beerfest, where we will sample up to 800 of Michigan's finest craft beers (although probably not all of them, try as we might.) Then we are off to Pittsburgh, PA to see America's sweetheart Jack White III. You may know Mr. White from his latest internet meme: resting bitchface (see also: default Cubs' fan visage). Here's hoping he's in a better mood come Sunday.

Posted 1:34pm
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July 22nd, 2014

Ready... Set... Go!

Ready... Set... Go! is tbaggervance.com's new weekly trivia game. Sometimes it might be a discreet set of answers, but we aspire to open ended questions that could go on forever, at least theoretically. Our opening salvo in the series demonstrates the principle pretty well, even though it wasn't my idea. - ed.

Yesterday the BDGF and I got the following text from Lifetime tbaggervance.com Security Council Member Stov:

Followed by the incentive "I bet we can get to at least 50!"

Here's the first fifty we came up with:

Barry Manilow - Mandy
The Rolling Stones - Angie
Elvis Costello - Allison
Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon
The Beatles - Michelle
Kiss- Beth
Starship - Sara
Steve Winwood - Valerie
Boston - Amanda
Toto - Roseanna
Prarie League - Amy
The Police - Roxanne
The Beatles - Julia
Elvis Costello - Veronica
Dolly Parton - Jolene
Hamilton Leithauser - Alexandra
Suzanne Vega - Luka
The Kinks - Lola
Paul Simon - Cecilia
Weird Al - Yoda
Pearl Jam - Jeremy
Europe - Carrie
Keey Rogers - Lucille
Little Richard - Lucille
The Pixies - Allison
The Who - Athena
Michael Jackson - Ben
The Doors - Gloria
The Allman Bros - Melissa
Laura Brannigan - Gloria
Josh Ritter - Kathleen
Van Morrison - Gloria
Death Cab For Cutie - Cath
Bruce Springsteen - Rosalita
The Dropkick Murphys - Tessie
Nirvana - Polly
The Grateful Dead - Cassidy
Grouplove - Chloe
Concrete Blonde - Joey
Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
Eminem - Kim
Weezer - Suzanne
The Insomniacs - Amelia
Beck - Ramona
Beck - Debra
Barenaked Ladies - Jane
Jefferson Airplane - Jane
Ben Folds Five - Jane
Ben Folds Five - Emaline
The Grateful Dead - Althea

We fell off a bit after that. For the record (and for those playing along at home or in the comments section), no "Oh Sherry"s nor "Billie Jean"s (although the latter was hotly debated and I was in the minority). I also think songs from musicals should be excluded (unless an artist not from the original cast recording had a hit with it, like Johnny Mathis doing "Maria") but that's me. I like narrow parameters and am a stickler for rules on this sort of thing. So... Ready... Set... Go!

Posted 9:23am
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July 21st, 2014

Birthright.

I'm always ready for a fight. I don't mean this in a boy scout sort of way, where I've practiced martial arts or carry weapons "just in case." I certainly don't mean it in an "I'm always looking for a fight" sort of way, where I get my crew together and we go out looking for trouble. The former are generally creepy and paranoid and the latter are, well they're asshats.

My constant state of readiness revolves around the fact that I'm always right, and no one else is going to see that, so I'm going to have to be ready to convince them. Whether by rational argument or ad hominem attack, my superior intellect will carry the day. Now I know that this is both arrogant and patently ridiculous. It's a terrible, pessimistic way to go through life and one I've struggled with for most of mine. I've learned to mitigate it outwardly (just trust me on this if you’ve only known me for 10 years or so) and inwardly, I've learned to deal. Somewhat. OK it's still a problem.

When my dad passed earlier this year, there was only really one piece of fallout I was worried about. Yes, funerals and grief and all of that rational, human stuff of course, but given the fire and my father being penniless, there was only really one thing to fight over in my mind, and in that mind that thing was my birthright. Something that I had earned and tacitly belonged to me even before Moe Man shuffled off his mortal coil.

In the late 1970s, legendary Michigan football coach Glen E. "Bo" Schembechler gave my dad a football helmet. The specifics of how this came to pass or if it's even true are lost to history, but there's enough family lore and people who knew my dad and went to Michigan football practices with him who have shared their stories that we will call it fact. My dad knew the most storied person in the history of Michigan athletics and one day he gave him a football helmet. Now that the king is dead, long live the king.

For it is only I among the Brubaker offspring that toiled to become a Wolverine. I worked my way through school paying exorbitant tuition. I stayed in Ann Arbor to work at the University and raise my family here so that they too would someday become Wolverines. I did these things to earn my father's love and respect and to give him a feather in his cap. I have earned that helmet. Someday soon when I join Moe Man in the ether, Sid will have earned it and fingers crossed, so on down the proverbial line.

In my fucked up, misanthropic, alcohol addled brain I of course expected push back. Someone in my family or at Moe's work would try to lay claim to my birthright and I would have to fight them for it. I'd have to present my case to the world, even though it should be painfully obvious to anyone that it now belonged to me. This polar vortex of a storm brewed in my head long before dad even passed, and since he did it has frozen my brain with fear and put me in a fighting stance at the ready.

As you probably already guessed, I'm a giant paranoid idiot, no better than some hilljacker in the middle of Oklahoma who thinks Obama is coming to take his guns and impose Sharia law on the nation. To my knowledge, neither of my brothers are remotely interested in the heirloom, and while I still imagine it wasn't easy for my sister to part with it, I asked and she gave it to me. In short, my family is the best and I am the literal worst. Except now, my birthright has returned to Ann Arbor from whence it came, and whatever tiny, infinitesimal part of my dad's legacy that I’m a part of, I now have tangible proof of it. So I am also clearly the best. Saying that, I suppose, is evidence that my brain is still irrevocably broken, but who cares, I have Moe's and Bo's helmet.

P.S.
I miss you terribly dad. If they have the internet in heaven and you are reading this, it's the advice and example you set that really matter. Don't think I forgot that. I really do love the helmet though, even if it will probably always make me want to cry a little. Go Blue Moe. Say Hail to Bo for me.

Posted 10:01am
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July 18th, 2014

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

- Your TWiIR notes: a new Sloan song, a new Hamilton Leithauser video, and a new song and video from The New Pornographers. You can also tour the Twin Cities with The Hold Steady, who are close personal friends of the BDGF and I.

- Remember when reality TV was called game shows? Remember when panel games made celebrities out of people? The BDGF often accuses me of liking all things "old", to which my general response is yes, it was a simpler, classier time. I mean, I like Billy Eichner but I love Charles Nelson Reilly.

- The DOTA finals are this weekend! Don't feel bad if you have no idea what that is, you're probably just over 30. I'm only in the know because Siddhartha has been talking about nothing but for two weeks. DOTA is a video game and their $10 million ($10 million!) tournament concludes this Sunday. Watching someone play video games may seem dumb to you and I, but Sid literally couldn't be more excited. But first place is $5 million, and if you want evidence of cultural permeation, it's being broadcast on ESPN. I'm super happy for my nerdy offspring that his kind is inheriting the earth. Now please, get off my lawn.

- tbaggervance.com's favorite author and erstwhile tbaggervance doppelganger Chuck Klosterman gets interviewed about villains, ethics, and wrangling subjectivity. You shouldn't waste a second of your time reading anything I've ever written until you read everything he has. I am terrible at self-promotion.

- Finally, the BDGF and I have two (two!) trivia wins in the last week. With the littlest on the left coast, we are free to roam the bars of SE Michigan in search of treasure and so far, so good. My only lament is that said treasure isn't enough to live on, so I can't quite my job to become a professional trivia player. I really wish that was a thing. It wouldn't have to sustain me for very long, because let's be honest, my liver wouldn't make it more than a year. Still, what a way to go...

Posted 9:52am
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July 16th, 2014

Happy Birthday to you...

My only begotten son turns 19 today. Nineteen isn't much of a milestone year in terms of rights or responsibilities for most people in the US of A, but for some countries, and specifically the one Siddhartha is heading to in six weeks, 19 confers upon you all the rights and responsibilities of adulthood - which basically means you can drink legally. So cheers and bottoms up and all that Sid. Oh, and for your birthday I fulfilled a promise and made you this shirt:

I wish I could see a half-Filipino get off the plane in Seoul wearing a shirt making fun of Korea with a Vietnamese epitaph. Classic.

- If you aren't a Weird Al fan, why are you even here? He's releasing a video a day from his new album, and the first two are pretty great. Check out "Tacky" and "Word Crimes". The latter is super clever, even if I probably offended it 5 times in this very post.

Posted 9:32am
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July 11th, 2014

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

- Blogging has been spartan to say the least the last few weeks, because it is summah, the season of drinking outside, watching movies outside, being poolside or at the beach, and generally just being out of doors. I don't have a whole lot to report from recent travels outside of deciding that this is a universal truth: it's not vacation if you have to set an alarm to wake up in the morning.

- Clearing out the TWiIR mailbag: New Spoon, new Jetpacks, new King Tuff, new band to watch Adult Jazz, Sleeper Agent on Letterman and Neko Case has a video for her song "These aren't the Droids..." Holla.

- A few weeks back we were at a memorial service and the officiant said something very lovely about the couple "building their own little world together." To which the BDGF's eldest said to me "That's you and my mom!" We do have a zip line in our backyard and a jukebox in our living room, so point taken. I say if we are going to go down this rabbit hole a tad further, we definitely need one of these. amiright?

- It was Moe Man's birthday on Wednesday. We were off seeing The Violent Femmes so I waited until Thursday to try and process it. I'm not even sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it's what I was doing. I wanted to watch something in his honor last night, and in lieu of watching a Duke western, we ended up watching Goldfinger. I reasonable tribute, but this would have been more appropriate. Go Blue, Moe-sy Woe-sy.

- Finally, austerity is the name of the game on Chandler Rd as we are six scant weeks away from Sid heading to Koreatown and the BDGF's eldest beginning her matriculation. Lucky for us, we have our own outdoor movie theater and a steady flow of alcohol to make evenings at home almost as fun as gallivanting around the midwest to concerts and breweries. Plus, A2 is full of free entertainment, like on Sunday when you can have a ball just by __________-ing.

Posted 10:36am
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July 2nd, 2014

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- One could argue that we are treading dangerous ground when it comes to living in a theocracy. That's alarmist for sure, but what would it look like if the hard-liners got their way? Let's take a look at the most religious states in America and see how they are faring. Maybe it is end times?

- I'm going to guess that the majority of these signs are from those states, but in a nod to fairness and not overstating my case, I am only guessing.

- To put the above in the parlance of Dick Cheney, tis far better to kill people than to feed them. I almost wish there was a hell just so I'd know that he'd end up there.

- As any kid in Beaverton, OR will tell you, the only interesting parts of the Bible are the gory bits.

- For my money, this is the best fucking part of the Bible.

- Finally, as any reading of the current incarnation of the far-right GOP will tell you, the Bible is full of horrible 'wisdom' when it comes to women. SCOTUS is apparently taking its cues from these passages instead of say, the equal protection clause of the constitution. We should all note, however, that there is plenty of good in the good book. At the end of the day, even the dogmatists are picking and choosing.

Posted 10:01am
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July 1st, 2014

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

- Dolly Parton is sometimes an unfortunate punchline because of her down home folksiness and boobs. The truth is that she's unbelievably talented and a national treasure. If for no other reason, she wrote "Jolene". That's really enough, but if you want the pleasure center of your brain to explode, watch her perform a cover of "Yakity Sax". You're welcome.

- #sixseasonsandamovie!

- Yesterday's SCOTUS ruling cements my intuition that I should never, under any circumstances, vote for a Republican until the tenor of the party shifts dramatically - something not likely to happen soon if in my lifetime. I'm pretty sure you can check through the archives and find me on record saying something to the effect of the ruin of George W. Bush's presidency would not be his incompetence nor his legacy of hawkishness, but his stacking of the Court with ideologues of the most hideous bent. Unfortunately being right about that doesn't soften the blow, but for me posting on-the-nose commentary like this somehow does. America!

- Mosquitoes generally don't bother me. Perhaps my BAC is so consistently high that word gets out among the herd and they stay away from my tainted blood. Or maybe it's that I also have some many antihistamines in my system that I don't even notice the bites. Whether it's a real or imagined pseudo-immunity, it's a nice one to have. My progeny isn't so lucky. The bloodsuckers flock to him, and when they do, they leave welts the size of quarters. I feel a little bad about it, but it's probably his mother's DNA that's the problem. Here's some info on that and other general tips for prevention and treatment. Bring on the night!

- Finally, speaking of Siddhartha, we are go for launch of Project: Koreatown 2014. We are calling embassies, getting chest x-rays and providing bank statements. It's going to be an interesting trip down the international rabbit hole before he even sets foot on foreign soil. There are those who assume I have some sort of trepidation or fear about letting my kid go globetrotting at 19, but most see it as an unbelievable opportunity. To the former I say that I trust him, and him successfully navigating this is a validation of me doing something right by preparing him. If anyone can handle this, it's Sid. To the latter, I say you're right. I'm incredibly proud that he's taking the opportunity and happy that his mother and I are in a position to help him take it. I guess what I'm saying is good for me.

Posted 10:49am
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June 25h , 2014

Wormer.. .dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Eli Wallach...

Last night I went and saw Edge of Tomorrow, the new Tom Cruise movie. I feel like I needed to add that Cruise quantifier, because the movie all but tanked at the box office (as of now it's grossed $75mil against a $175mil budget.) I walked out of the theater and all I could think was "This is why we can't have nice things." Edge of Tomorrow wasn't really on my radar prior to its release, despite being directed by Doug Liman and written by Chris McQuarrie, because basically Tom Cruise. But then the reviews started to come in, and it seemed like I should check it out. It's a "duh" moment that we need to be reminded of constantly - we have to pay for the good shit because otherwise they won't make more of it. Summer blockbusters are bland pieces of claptrap designed to sell 'splosions to foreigners, and I want them to be more than that. Edge of Tomorrow is so much more. It's so smart and stylish and ultimately fun, that the fact that no one went to go see it is utterly depressing.It's rare that things live up to their hype. I don't want to go see Tom Cruise fight a bunch of aliens again, until people I consider smart tell me I probably should, and then as it so often happens, smart people are right. I similarly didn't want to watch a Clint Eastwood western from the 1960s the first time I saw The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, but smart people said it was awesome, so I did, and they were right. Again.

Eli Wallach was the titular "Ugly" in that film, and that and his turn in The Magnificent Seven alone make him a national treasure. He was great in a million other roles as well, and now his fire has gone out of the universe. Now watching The Good, The Bad and the Ugly or The Magnificent Seven isn't going to spur Hollywood to make more westerns in Italy, but if you've never seen them, it will remind you that everybody loves certain things for a reason. Not because a test audience helped shaped something to ensure that it will play overseas, but because they are well crafted pieces of art, made with great care and designed to tell you something as well as entertain you. Things like that stand the test of time whether anyone involved gave their legacy a second thought. Kind of like Eli Wallach himself.

Posted 11:26am
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June 24h , 2014

Middle Aged Man

Recently the condenser line on our air conditioning unit got blocked and dumped a couple of gallons of water into our basement. Good times. If you've never had to deal with such a thing, consider yourself lucky. If you have a landlord or a pile of excess cash that makes such problems go away, god bless you. If you're relatively young and still deciding on what your "adult" life should look like, may I humbly suggest living in a condo and not having children?I know more about electrical work, carpentry, plumbing, landscaping and household appliance maintenance than I ever dreamt possible, much less what would be commiserate with my level of interest. A lot of this is a me problem, as it is a well documented fact that I refuse to call someone to fix anything before giving it the ol' college try. I am ultimately too proud, stubborn and cheap to give my hard earned money to someone who ultimately learned to do something by trial and error themselves.Perhaps this has all been inevitable. As a veritable know-it-all, I'm finally getting to the point where my skill set matches my hubris (which is a statement, I realize, that shows how far I still have to go. Shut up.) I guess while I absolutely don't enjoy replacing the water pump on a dishwasher, I like knowing how to do it. Even moreso, I like seeing that dishwasher running in the kitchen and having a smug sense of satisfaction over the fact that I did it myself.

Maybe my life could have played out differently and I would have been the type of person who just calls a guy when something breaks. I could have had a landscaper and plumber and other general handymen to make things look pretty and be functional. I think that would have meant spending a lot more of my free time working to make money to afford such things, and the rest of it unwinding from the toll that would take on my psyche. Or that could just be a justification that amounts to 'Rich people have problems too.' In my parlance, I somehow ended up "Middle Aged Man" when I wanted to be drinking buddy. I guess at least I know how escrow works.

Posted 1:30pm
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June 20th , 2014

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

- Let me be the last person to recommend the new OK Go video to you. Yes, it's worth it. - It's a common complaint that there are no new ideas in Hollywood; they just trot out some old property with a built in audience, blandify it and then count the money as it rolls in. It's a common complaint because that does happen. A lot. But as a kid who grew up loving Marvel comics and Legos, I've gotten to see the things I adored as a kid take up a permanence in the pop culture zeitgeist that would heretofore have been unimaginable. I mean, my dad never got The Lincoln Log Movie (although I suppose he got say The Lone Ranger, so that's something.) Anyway, we also have the internet, so we get to see people take that Lego permeation and do things like this. And then there's this. It's good to be alive. - I'm going to show you a picture now. You can thank my new corporate overlords for this embarrassment:

They say that people with symmetrical faces are the ones we find most attractive. I always knew I wasn't photogenic, but now I feel like I should take up residence under a bridge. - To cleanse your palette, I'll now show you this:

My neighbor Melissa's parents both recently passed away, and her father was quite the artist. She was giving away some of his work and said she thought of me when she came across this one. It hangs in a place of honor above our jukebox.

- Finally, The Chandler Drive-In is in full swing. This summer we will be studying the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, as well as "B-movie Sundays" where we watch and laugh at the worst films imaginable. The Room, Birdemic, Plan 9 From Outer Space - these are just a few of craptastic movies that I will undoubtedly be watching by myself in the backyard this summer. You're tearing me apart, Lisa!

Posted 10:29am
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June 19th , 2014

Sitcom cliche avoidance strategies

I attended both my five and fifteen year class reunions. They were both nightmarish on certain levels for different reasons. I was president of my senior class, so there is a minimal level of responsibility in my brain to attend these things. Plus there are people there I don't mind catching up with, so there's that too.Then I remember that nobody gives a shit that 20 years ago a bunch of 18 year olds elected me to a position of zero responsibility with no defined mandate. Plus, the internet exists, taking care of "catching up" without having to travel to NWOhio. The compelling reasons to go drink bad beer at the American Legion and listen to people say "Remember the time..." for four hours begin to dwindle quickly.

Of course something inside me still feels like I should go. Even as the con list dwarfs the pro, there's a pull there. Maybe it's a connection to the past or where I came from, or that I like these people more than I am sometimes willing to admit to myself. So as I contemplate duty and nostalgia vs. listening to people drone on about their kids and Jesus, I'd like to profusely thank the steering committee for scheduling our 20 year reunion this year on September 6, the exact same time I will be in South Bend watching the last Michigan/Notre Dame game. My official press release states "Tyler Brubaker regretfully will not be able to make this year's reunion due to prior commitments. He will greatly miss the opportunity to commune with old friends and catch up with where everyone is and what they are doing. Looking forward to 2019!"

Posted 3:54pm
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June 18th , 2014

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

- I honestly don't know what it takes in this country anymore for us to collectively decide to stop listening to those who should have no credibility whatsoever. Pundits and politicians who have been so incredibly wrong about so many things seem to face little or no reprisal for their stupidity. I mean, what kind of world do we live in when Dick Cheney has the hubris and the titanium clad balls to pen an op-ed that says "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many." I mean, I suppose he should have our sympathy? Clearly 9/11 broke his brain? I'm just kidding, Dick Cheney deserves nothing outside of being tried for war crimes and then burning for eternity in the lowest concentric circle of Dante's inferno. - Speaking of not getting it, the head of the FCC is supremely butt hurt that people are blaming him for trying to destroy net neutrality after he worked so hard to destroy net neutrality. Maybe he should have seen that coming?

- Thankfully, appropriate analogies still exist in this world and there are people at the ready to deploy them. Like when our president compares climate change deniers to people who would have told JFK that the moon was made of cheese. Science eventually wins out. We have to remind ourselves of that from time to time.

Posted 10:42am
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June 13th , 2014

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

- There are only 78 days until Michigan Football! I just put the 2014 schedule into my calendar which made me utterly depressed. Thanks to Dave Brandon, we open with a complete embarrassment of a game, and go the entire season without a home game that anyone will care about. Awesome. Couple that with a flurry of conflicts between home games and my concert going schedule, and I'm looking less forward to this season than any one since the RichRod era. Hopefully that means we'll have a great year, because that's how sports work sometimes. - I suppose not many people consider what label an artist is associated with, unless they are giant snobs like myself (I own more than one t-shirt devoted to record labels, which makes me some kind of uber dork.) Back in the 90's, midwest emo/punk/indie rock label Jade Tree was a personal favorite of mine, if for no other reason than The Promise Ring was attached. Now you can stream all of those 90's punk classics online via Bandcamp. Let's all grab a case of Natural Light and party like it's 1997. We can act irresponsible and save our Analphabetapolothologys for the morning. - Everyone knows and loves The Price is Right. It's what you watched as a kid when you were home sick from school and what you watch now to keep up on the latest mobility scooter technology and diabeetus mail order drug offers. Ever wonder what TPiR looks like behind the scenes? Watch this hour long video for a peek at how the magic is made. When you're done, you are that much closer to a Wilfred Brimely mustache. - I stopped playing video games five or six years ago. Partly because they got complicated, partly because I wanted to spend time on other things, mostly because I'm an adult. There was a time however when it was something Sid and I actively shared. Finding those things is hard, so the ones we played together will always hold a special place in my heart. Especially Ratchet and Clank, because it was right down the center of what we both loved about gaming AND it spoke to our collective sense of humor. So yes, I am excited about an animated movie based on a video game. Mostly because Sid used to call me Captain Quark.

- Finally, Ann Arbor public schools finally finish the 2013-14 school year today. That means summer is here in earnest, starting with tomorrow's crawfish broil at Dark Horse! Apologies to my employer for showing up even later than normal the next 10 weeks. And apologies to my liver, because obviously.

Posted 1:29pm
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June 11th , 2014

This Week in Indie Rock

- New Spoon!- New Jeff Tweedy!- New New Pornographers! Holy shit I want it to be August right now. - Weezer may be a dad-rock shell of their former selves, but that burned-out husk can still catch a frisbee without missing a beat. - Rush albums ranked, from best to worst. I know there is a Rush backlash because they're not "cool" or whatever, but I for one love Rush, and I challenge all of you to look me in the eye and tell me that Moving Pictures is not fan-fucking-tastic. - From Platinum Circle Level friend o' the blog© MJ, here's a list of what it costs to get your favorite band to come play in your backyard. Just a warning though, it's going to make you hate the free market. I mean, Foster the People charges more than the Flaming Lips? What the fuck is wrong with you people?

- Finally, I give Jack White a hard time for being a huckster because a.) he's my BDGF's other boyfriend and b.) he deserves it. But watch him on Fallon and try not to fall for him. That kids, is rock and roll.

Posted 10:08am
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June 10th , 2014

Your filmatic comfort zone

Last weekend I volunteered at Cinetopia, Ann Arbor's own international film festival. I mostly stood around smiling and pointing people in the right direction, like a nerdy spokesmodel. I got to meet some actors and directors (no one actually "famous") but more importantly, I got to be around the hustle and bustle of a festival atmosphere, which is like being around a bunch of kindergartners who've just mainlined a dozen pixie sticks, who then decide to debate the virtues of Gordon Willis versus Vilmos Zsigmond. These are my people. With grad party prep, I didn't get to see as many movies as I would have liked. Amazingly, this was my first "film festival", and I was more excited to just be in the atmosphere than I was to see any of the films. But what I realized in a very "duh" moment, is that film festivals are just like music festivals. The fun isn't just seeing something that you knew you would probably like, but in getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Or even just taking a chance on something you otherwise might not go out of your way to take in. It's kind of the point.That's a great reminder. Our horizons never expand by surrounding ourselves with what we already know. It's a difficult and often frustrating ethos to live by - lord knows that I can't bring myself to watch Fox News - but stepping a few feet from whatever your center is is how we find the new things we love. I know that's a cheesy idea, but in my heart I'm a sap. Loving things and being excited about them - what else really is there?- Nerd film graphics! Minimalist move posters and a celebration of Ghostbusters.

- Everyone relax, Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn't hate movies.

Posted 11:10am
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June 5th , 2014

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

- We've got another graduate at 1712 Chandler. The BDGF's eldest is off to be a Wolverine and as we are fond of saying, it only cost us $100,000 to get rid of her. Seriously, couldn't be prouder of her. I'm looking forward to her getting her M.D. with all expediency, so I never have to visit a doctor's office again. - On a serious Jack White note, here's some erudite analysis of Huckster Jack's Meg problem. You can't go home again, it turns out.- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has been killing it in their first month. No moreso than when their advocacy crashed the FCC's comment site on net neutrality. I encourage you to go there and leave a comment. Here's mine:

The internet and its integration into our daily lives has grown organically for precisely one reason: its egalitarian nature. One person's ideas are as equally accessible as the next. We are not beholden to one person's version of the truth over another because the playing field is level. This ideal is unfortunately hard to find anywhere else in society anymore, which is precisely why the internet is so powerful and it is so important to keep it "neutral". Please, do not bow to the pressure of giant conglomerates trying to filch a few more shekels from the people that depend on this service. Access to the internet is slower and more expensive in this country than so many other places. Let's not make the situation worse by letting the gatekeepers prioritize their agenda over that of the common man with something to say.

- For your listening pleasure: a new Dr. Dog album that is quite pleasant and the history of video game music, in heavy metal. - Finally, Cinetopia* is this weekend! I'm volunteering in various capacities around the festival, which means I will likely be rubbing elbows with John Sayles and Spike Lee all weekend, both of whom are in town talkin' movies. Given the graduation festivities that are simultaneously taking place, I don't know what I'll actually get to see, but fingers crossed I'll get a peek at Obvious Child, To Be Takei, OJ: The Musical, or Jingle Bell Rocks. That's assuming I'm not partying in the back of a limo with Spike.

*Thanks to Sid, anytime I hear the word Cinetopia, I want to put on my serious voice and say "A new Utopia in Cinema".

Posted 10:18am
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June 3rd , 2014

Happy Robocop Day!

Today, the near future, Robocop finally comes to Detroit. Is this the Motor City's acknowledgement that they have finally become the dystopian future that Reagan's America prognosticated? Assuredly. Could it also be that the citizens of Motown acknowledge not only that fact but that they can be the savior they deserve, using Alex Murphy as the symbol of their counter-insurgency? We can hope. Dead or alive, you're coming with us, Detroit.- Listen to Jack White's Lazaretto right now! It drops next Tuesday. - If there was even a shred of doubt that Neko Case is the literal best, here's her new song "These Aren't the Droids". Neko, you never fail to make me swoon.

Posted 1:34pm
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June 2nd , 2014

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Ann B. Davis...

The Brady Bunch. Full House. Saved by the Bell. These shows on the surface are inexplicably popular given their terribleness. On the surface, it seems that they've perhaps persevered by sheer brut force. The powers that be inundated us with these programs to the point that they've become ubiquitous. No matter your age, you have a passing familiarity with these shows and their characters. If you happened to be between 8 and 18 when you could scroll through your television stations and without fail happen to catch an episode, your passing familiarity becomes an intimate knowledge. Mike Brady, DJ Tanner and Zack Morris are part of the fabric of our lives.

Ann B. Davis was America's maid. She was comfort food. She was a cultural touchstone and icon. She was also a Wolverine. Ann has gone to that great meat locker in the sky, but her time on this Earth left us all with a warm feeling in the cockles of our collective heart. Here's hoping all of the flags on campus today are flying at half mast, because we just lost one of the greats.

Posted 10:41am
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May 30th , 2014

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

-There's a great line in this Edgar Wright appreciation video that says most comedies these days aren't "movie" comedies, they're lightly edited improv. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as long as people like Edgar Wright exist. - It's common knowledge at this point that Carl Sagan was a closet stoner, but it's now 2014. Weed is legal in places and coming soon to a state near you. So once we reach stoner ubiquity, will we get a new version of Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos? - Quick hit TWiIR: Jeff Tweedy preps a solo offshoot, The Both play TV themes, Parquet Courts stream their latest opus, 90s soundtracks ranked and the greatest vocal ranges. - Elon Musk is pretty cool. He made a fortune with Paypal, and then parlayed that into a sexy electric car company and the even sexier SpaceX. Yesterday he revealed his new 7 man, can land on terra firma without parachutes space capsule. More importantly however, is that I just realized how much he looks like TV's Hannibal Lecter. Scary.

- Finally, it is my intention this weekend to fill a major hole (heh) in my cinematic repertoire. How have I never seen Battle Beyond the Stars? I always knew (or at least assumed) that Roger Corman made a Star Wars rip off, but one with George Peppard and Robert Vaughn? That's based on Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven? Shame on me for not having this on a loop in my basement. I can't imagine being disappointed in its terribleness.

Posted 10:41am
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May 28th , 2014

The tbaggervance.com 2014 Guide to Summer

A few years ago we started to aggregate a list of all the free (or almost so) festivals and events within a driving distance of our home base here in Ann Arbor. Things aren't as free as they were five years ago, but there's still lots of fun to be had out of doors in the summertime. With that in mind, here's your 2014 Guide to Summer:Edward G. Money
May 23
Missed it again. Eddie will always be the starter pistol to the summer, even if I only got to go that one, beautiful time. Do-Division Street Fest
May 30 - June 1
Chicago keeps hope alive with their menagerie of food an music street festivals. Do-Division is a little light on music I care for again this year, but you could do worse than J. Mascis, J.D. McPherson and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Sonic Lunch
June 5 - Aug 28
A2's FREE downtown lunchtime concert series. Much like Mr. Money, this is always something I mean to attend but rarely do. I'm the worst. Chicago Ribfest
June 6-8
Come for the pork, stay for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.. A2 Restaurant Week
June 22-27
Downtown A2 reminds you that they are relevant the week before everyone abandons it for Top of the Park. Get your reservations early. Top of the Park
June 13 - July 6
The A2 staple. A $3 lightly suggested donation means you can bring in your own cooler that no one will ever question the contents of. I do love this town. Plus, this year Cake! The band, not the stuff that makes you fat. Taste of Randolph Street
June 13-15
Another Chicago neighborhood fest? Yes. Kaiser Chiefs! Cayucas! Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!! Best free music lineup of the year. Green Music Fest
June 21-22
I've never had the pleasure of attending this, but who doesn't like Guided by Voices?Fourth of July
Duh
Here's a listing of all the fireworks displays in Michigan on and around our nation's birthday.Toronto Urban Roots Festival
July 4-6
This lineup is insane for the second year in a row. Neutral Milk Hotel, Jeff Tweedy, The Violent Femmes, Jenny Lewis, Gogl Bordello and more. Take off, eh. Common Ground Fest
July 8-13
With The Hold Steady and Dr. Dog on the bill, I may finally suck it up and head to Lansing for this one. Elvis Fest
July 11-12
One day I will be forced to go this just so I can say I went. But I will kick that ball down the road as long as possible...Bunbury Music Fest
July 11-13
The Flaming Lips, Young the Giant, Cage the Elephant, and Veruca Salt. Cincinnati can't fight the seether. Pig & Whiskey
July 18-20th
No info on this year's festivities yet, but it's been a staple for the BDGF and I the last few years. I mean, Pig & Whiskey, right? Pitchfork
July 18-20
Chicago's hippest fest features Beck, Perfect Pussy, and a bunch of other artists you're no longer cool enough to have heard of.Forecastle
July 18-20
Kentucky takes on Pitchfork with a lineup of Jack White, Outkast, Spoon and The Replacements. That might do it. Art Fair
July 16-19
Where the temps will soar into the high 90's and at least one storm will rip through Ann Arbor causing mass hysteria. Also a good week to leave town. Wicker Park Fest
July 26-27
Nick Waterhouse plus a band called Dr. Manhattan. I'm listening... Beer Fest
July 25-26
The best thing to ever happen to Ypsilanti and my favorite non-Michigan football Saturday of the year. If I get to go, which I don't anymore. Damn I'm old. Lolla
Aug 1-3
Eminem, Outkast and the Arctic Monkeys. Meh. Dream Cruise
Aug 16
FOR AVOIDANCE PURPOSES ONLYArts, Beats & Eats
Labor Day Weekend
Nobody knows what this lineup will entail, but don't forget to check back in August. It's right down the street from the Vodka Bar, so worth the trip!

Riot Fest
Sept 12-15
A great summer capper, with bands playing full albums: Weezer does the Blue Album, The Get Up Kids doing Something to Write Home About, Slayer doing Reign in Blood and more. Don't let summer die!

Posted 10:28am
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May 23rd , 2014

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

- Stop the press! Hamilton Leithauser's highly anticipated solo debut (and pre-qualified album of the summer) Black Hours is streaming over at NPR. Yes, a 45 of "Alexandra" is in the juke box and yes, its grooves are quickly being worn down to nubs. - 2014's best commencement speech so far goes to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Charlie Day. - Thrillist is back with the 33 Best Cocktail Bars and the 33 Best College Bars in America. I've been to several bars on both lists, with probably equal probability of knocking out more from each. - I remember someone specifically asking me with bated breath whether or not I was going to rush out and get an iPad when they were first announced back in 2010. I answered with a "Meh, I have a smartphone and a laptop, seems like a hugely unnecessary luxury." My inquisitor responded with a "Phew," as she viewed the item as some sort of gimmick to fleece people of their money. Now that my corporate overlords have furnished me with one, I take back the "Meh." It's still an unnecessary luxury as far as I'm concerned and I would probably never purchase one for personal use, but it is pretty awesome. This concludes today's opinion on four year old technology. - Finally, spring building season also included creating a 1/100th scale model of a Saturn V rocket:

I don't know, I just did.

Posted 11:50am
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May 22nd , 2014

Volunteers of America!

Kurt Vonnegut claimed to have figured out the problem between men and women. He said that when couples fight, what they are really saying to their partner is "You are not enough people." That's why, in lieu of going back to a time when giant extended families all lived together, he advocated for having loads of friends and joining organizations and being a part of the community. I tend to agree, seeing as I met my BDGF and many of my bestest friends through volunteering at 826. When people ask me how to meet people, I inevitably tell them to join some organization or other of like minded people. It'll make your life better.Unfortunately, I am getting a little long in the tooth for 826. It's an organization I still give time and money to, but the social functions trend toward twenty somethings. I decided it was time to expand my volunteering palette in hopes of finding more like minded individuals that were a little closer to my age. I may have overshot a bit with choosing the Michigan Theater, as my fellow volunteers last night at my first gig were all in their sixties. But the people there actually getting paid were in their twenties, so I split the difference. Question mark?

The good news is I also chose the Michigan because I just love the place. I love being there. Last night, I stood at the door for two hours tearing tickets as anticipating patrons entered the old movie palace. It was exciting to be around. It may not be making people's lives better the way 826 does, but it's still a community. One of like minded people who want to celebrate the same things. It's one I'm eager to be a part of. Given the average age of the volunteers, it's one I can hopefully be a part of for a long time.

Posted 2:45pm
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May 19th , 2014

Jukebox Hero

When I moved in with the BDGF and her brood, the littlest was a mere 7 years old and her toys and other various sundries littered our living room. I kind of understood, but not really. To me, living rooms are spaces where everyone should feel comfortable, and at the end of every day, everyone should take their garbage and put it back in their private space. The BDGF wanted to make the littlest as comfortable as possible, and thus let her stack her toys where we hung out the most. When I would express my displeasure, she'd note "She's not going to be little forever." For years I engaged in a crusade to purge our communal living space of tiny pieces of plastic crap against a tide of desire to keep the littlest little for as long as possible. Eventually I hit upon an idea - I told the BDGF that I would buy her a jukebox once the toys were permanently ostracized from the living room. I figured I could leverage her love of vinyl against wanting to keep the littlest in elementary school into the 2020s. Maybe it was the older daughter heading off to college, or the fact that the littlest will be taller than her mother by the end of the summer, but as it often does, rock and roll saved my soul.Now instead of mountains of un-played board games and playmobile houses that stretched out like a sprawling subdivision, we have a 1965 Wurlitzer Jukebox. Did it come with copies of "Black Betty" and "ABC"? Of course it did. Did we immediately fill a third of it with Jack White 45s that we've been accumulating for five years? Naturally. Did we run out to the local record store and purchase a copy of the theme to The Greatest American Hero? Perhaps. Did all of that lead to a near constant dance party in our living room for two straight days? You're god damn right it did.

And of course the littlest loves it too. It's rare that everyone wins, so when it happens, we should celebrate. Who wants to come to a dance party?

Posted 3:04pm
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May 16th , 2014

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

- Huckster Jack news! The BDGF's "unholy alliance" appeared on Conan this week, instantly pressing a vinyl record on the program. The undead king of garage rock also got a shout out from a cruise liner, which I imagine also conjures mixed feeling in the brain of my beloved. And so I don't get a letter about being comprehensive from Third Man, here's another track from Jack's latest Opus. It's a boot stomper. - More music news: Carrie Browenstein interviews Hamilton Leithauser, featuring more choice snippets from this summer's most anticipated album. For those of you without taste, here's a female electronic dance music group from the Netherlands, performing a song while fighting off orgasms. I can't tell if I like the song outside of the execution, but I feel like I do. Question mark? - Where grammar nerds and action film fans meet. Also, to keep a thread, here's the 20 greatest acting performances by musicians (featuring Huckster Jack!) - Social media update: I sometimes dabble in twitter and instagram, but even I know that you only need so much tbaggervance in your life, so in an attempt to keep this little corner of the internet as the be-all end-all repository, here are some things you may have missed: Sign this petition to voice your objection to the latest net neutrality hub bub, and I got expensive new toys. I, for one, now tolerate our new corporate overlords. Don't get comfortable.

- Finally, I am loving the new AVClub film offshoot The Dissolve. Especially the podcast. But it begs the question: should I go see the new Godzilla? It's getting great reviews, and despite not really being on my radar before today, who doesn't want to go see the best action movie since Jaws? I kind of want to see it to call bullshit at this point, because Jaws isn't even the greatest action movie since Jaws.

Posted 11:58am
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May 14th , 2014

Not with a bang, but with a whimper

I owe all of you an apology. I've been blogging less, concentrating on other endeavors and subsequently not necessarily been on top of things. This set of circumstances has caused me to completely ignore the Ypsi Pooper story, and that is nothing less than dereliction of duty.Now someone pooping in public in Ypsilanti may not seem like a story worthy of national media attention, to be honest that's just a Tuesday in Ypsi, but the mystery pooper's serial defecation caught on and inspired songs, hashtags, and even a parody twitter account. That's craptastic.

Unfortunately the manhunt has come to an anticlimactic conclusion. No more shit puns, no more folk songs, no more free publicity for Ann Arbor's notorious neighbor. You'll be missed Ypsi Pooper, we hardly knew ye. Crap.

Posted 10:43am
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May 13th , 2014

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- I don't know that it matters one measly iota what Shakespeare's religious beliefs were, but it is an interesting discussion point. At the end of the day, the play's the thing, right?- Having traveled through probably over half of the United States via automobile in the past 10 years, I'm no stranger to crazy religious billboards. They do make the miles fly by.- Congratulations Baby J: The Bible is America's favorite book. Although let's be honest, it's a little like a high school senior telling everyone what their major is going to be: they'll spout whatever seems acceptable to end the conversation.- Finally, it has been an utter delight to watch the far right lose their holy shit over each episode of Cosmos. It was similarly a breath of fresh air to see John Oliver and Bill Nye even the playing field on climate change. Seriously, just thinking about the ice sheet in Antarctica makes me feel literally ill. It makes me want to throw my hands up when I read people like Thomas Edison call us stupid from decades beyond the grave:

We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. ... I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.

Seriously guys. Let's get our shit together. I'm pretty sure someone said something once about being good stewards of the Earth.

Posted 11:53am
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May 7th , 2014

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Jack White is cranking up the hucksterism to 11 for his latest solo album, and it starts with some unimaginable bells and whistles for the vinyl release. I guess some of it is cool (question mark?) but not being able to put the thing on my turntable and just press play is tres annoying Jack. - The latest Black Keys opus is streaming online. I'm frightened from what I've heard so far, so if someone would check it out and reassure me it isn't a departure along the lines of the last Strokes album, I'd appreciate it. - Tonight! Indie rock stalwarts (and performers that are older than I am) Ted Leo and Aimee Mann play the Blind Pig tonight as The Both. For those of you not fortunate enough to attend, here they are on Fallon. I hope I'm that cool when I'm their age.

- Finally, speaking of late night talk show performances, here's Hamilton Leithauser on Conan doing the impossibly awesome "Alexandra". Seriously, I want to curl up inside this song and and just bask in its glory. It makes me sway and swoon.

Posted 10:20am
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May 6th , 2014

Beeeeee Gooooooooooooooood...

Sunday was Star Wars Day. Yesterday, Cinco de Mayo. Today dwarfs those annual celebrations with two ways (in A2 anyway) to actually do something worthwhile: - It's Give Local Day, a call to support local non-profits and have your donations matched by well endowed foundations. tbaggervance.com's favorite local charity 826 Michigan gets their donations tripled today:

Tuesday, May 6 is Give Local Day, a very important day nationwide and especially in Southeast Michigan where the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation is matching gifts made to 50 nonprofits--including 826michigan--at 1:1 with the hope of generating $1 million in local donations in one grand 24-hour period. At 826michigan, we're fortunate that a second foundation has also pledged to match gifts up to $10,000. This means that when you contribute to 826michigan through givelocalannarborarea.org on May 6, your gift will effectively be tripled.

That's a lot of bang for one's buck. Stay home and watch Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 instead of the crappy one currently infecting your local multiplex, and give that money to someone who could actually do some good with it.

- It's also time to go to the polls, as the AAATA is holding a ballot initiative to raise funds for public transportation. We actually make pretty good use of our transport dollars, despite some smear campaigns claiming otherwise. There's probably a call to give more money to public transportation that I wouldn't answer, but I can't reasonably imagine such a scenario. It makes too much sense and hits too many of the things I care about: the environment, population density, social mobility and not being in a stupid fucking automobile. I'm voting yes.

Posted 10:21am
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May 5th , 2014

Are you my mother?

Today I am "guest blogging" over at a site called "Mom and Not Mom". It's a place where my dear friend Amy has conversations with people who aren't moms about parenthood and various other sundries. I got to be one of the few if not the first Y chromosomes to participate, for which I am humbly honored. Head on over to hear me ramble on about being an orphan and the proper etiquette for funerals and sympathizing with people who recently lost loved ones. I know, right?

- I hope everyone had a good Star Wars day yesterday. I watched Episodes IV and V while rebuilding my LEGO Millennium Falcon, because that's exactly how nerdy I am. Here's some more upcoming Star Wars news, as they are casting a new cantina band. Please save us from more Special Edition Max Rebo.

Posted 10:33am
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May 2nd , 2014

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

- I've had an age inappropriate crush on Emma Stone since Superbad. This isn't helping. At least she was born in the 80s. Question mark?- I've always maintained that the "midwest" of the United States is all of the states with original Big Ten teams, and the south is every state that made up the Confederacy. Nate Silver's 538.com takes other people's temperature on the matter. - I'm obv. all for sex education because science. But watching these, well let's just say that I am more sympathetic to people's objections. - In larger budget movie news, may I humbly suggest you make a bookmark of the website The Dissolve, as well as adding Filmspotting to your podcast regimen. If you're going to keep up with the conversation at the bar when I open my place, you're going to want to be on top of this shit. - Finally, the second worst thing about smartphones (after making everything more impersonal) is that no one ever calls or texts me for the answers to atria questions or to settle a pop cultural dispute anymore. That's why exchanges like this make me immeasurably happy:

Posted 11:59am
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May 1st , 2014

The prodigal son returns.

Last night I moved Siddhartha out of his dorm room and back home. It's a distance of less than two physical miles, but he might as well have been coming back from the other side of the world.OK, that's overly dramatic. Sid's college experience so far has been drastically different from my own, and all signs point to it continuing to be so. All of which is very good, since I was and continue to be not much of a role model. He's back a little wiser, a little more educated, but more or less the same.That's what I find comforting and why it feels like he's back from so far away. He's home now to get my jokes and placate me by participating in them. He's there to help me brainstorm racist T-shirts that I can make him wear to Koreatown to embarrass him*. He's just around, which feels right and good. Until of course he moves to the other side of the world for four months, but nothing truly great lasts forever. Still getting used to that...

* Last night's winner: "Me Love Koreatown Long Time."

Posted 9:59am
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April 29th, 2014

Be not afraid/Be very, very afraid.

Fear is a healthy thing. It provides excitement and necessary restraint. The key is knowing when to be afraid, or rather, when to be afraid and push on anyway. Or something like that.- Months of Star Wars rumors just got serious. Despite my recent state of mind I remain an optimist about the things I love, and will always choose to be excited about Star Wars and Michigan Football and new Wilco albums. Otherwise, what's the point? I'll never understand why the internet lives almost completely under a bridge, other than maybe people need to get out more and find attention in being positive outside instead of trolling online. It's mostly OK if you stay away from comment sections , but I digress. In the still rumored department, Harrison Ford supposedly has a huge role in the next film, and if that doesn't buoy your spirits, you are dead inside. - In the post-Jaws world we all live in, I understand the fear of sharks, but we need to be honest about what creatures we should really fear. Although the list could easily be titled "Why not to live in the undeveloped parts of the world." It's why I like to do my traveling to metropolitan areas.- When Paul Ryan and other boot-strapy assholes start to pontificate about their world view, know that this is their bible. Note both that they're usually the ones crying "class warfare!" and that their version of the world is ugly, disgusting and ultimately untenable. Also, Ayn Rand was on Social Security and Medicare when she died, so fuck you.

- Finally, Sarah Palin may equate waterboarding with baptism, but there are many, if not an overwhelming majority of, Christians who get it (HT MJ). Start looking over your shoulder guys, it's not just huge bleeding heart liberal atheists coming for you, it's pretty much everybody.

Posted 2:49pm
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April 25th, 2014

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

- I'm not sure how I ended up subscribed to something called Thrillest, but it's actually been quite useful. Take for instances these articles: 11 things you didn't know about Faygo, 7 ways to spot fake BBQ, Detroit's best beer bars and a Detroit Tigers drinking guide. I get a Detroit-centric version, but I think they are other places if you have the misfortune to be located somewhere else.- Movie news! I am over the moon about going to see this documentary tonight about an unmade version of Dune from the 1970s (I mean RIGHT!?!). Also, if you can't make it to a super cool theater showing a documentary about crazy Chileans trying to make movies with Salvador Dali and Orson Wells, watch this new Joss Whedon penned movie from the comfort of your basement. - What fictional pop culture figure would you like to go drinking with? Assuming you don't say Han Solo or Indiana Jones (because that's like saying The Beatles are your favorite band, too obvious) it's a pretty good list. I'll propose Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man - but the super drunk Iron Man from the comic books. Because if you're gonna do it, let's do it right. - There a significant chance (as evidenced by most of this post) that this blog is about to come much more movie-centric as I dive down the rabbit hole of deciding how to make a living loving movies. I don't know if I'll start doing awesome stuff like this Kill Bill timeline, but I will certainly tell you about it. I am of course making... - Finally, I made an off hand joke earlier about making Star Wars themed furniture. Turning that into a business is (I hope) obv. a joke, but actually producing it has been a reality for some time. It started with the R2-DStool I made for 826 years ago, and now I'm making low to the ground drink tables for our backyard movie theater (which has gone by the Chandler Drive-In since inception, but is apparently undergoing rebranding as some people don't care for the name.) Here you can see an early stage prototype of one of them, which is in a holding pattern until I buy a jigsaw. Punch it Chewy.

Posted 12:06pm
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April 24th, 2014

Darkness, imprisoning me.

So, an apology. Browsing my twitter feed this morning as I tweeted "Why don't they just get it over with and kill me?" and subsequently looking over the contents of the ol' bloggy blog, I realized that I've been a little emo lately. If we're being honest, lately extends back a tad farther than even I'm comfortable with. If we are being brutally honest, it goes all the way back. I've long been fond of saying "Brubaker's aren't happy unless they have something to bitch about" and while I fancy myself insulated from that proclivity, I'm decidedly not immune. I still believe that I have a valid complaint. My 9 to 5 has become soul sucking and so far beneath my capabilities that I might as well be digging a ditch. It's infected my being and causes me to seethe about every single aspect of my life that I have to "endure". That's no way to live. I know that. If I want to fancy myself anything I can't sit around and be a mope. I'll always be angry - I can only mitigate that and direct it appropriately - but I don't have to be a whiney, milquetoast-y teenager about everything. So I'm sorry. Let's go back to being a happy-go-lucky drunk who's indignant about the right things.

We now resume your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

Posted 10:30am
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April 23rd, 2014

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Prepare thyself for an avalanche of Jack White hucksterism as he gets ready to drop his new album. First he cameos on the MTV awards with his buddy Conan, then he went out and released the "World's Fastest Record" for record store day. You can hear the studio version of that track here, and its B-side here. And if you want some extra juice, here's Jack as Elvis in Walk Hard, which I had forgotten about. Nice turn, sir. - Speaking of Huckster Jack, we visited his storefront as we strolled through Nashville on vacation recently, and we just missed Weezer performing in the very "Make Your Own Record Both" where the BDGF's littlest recorded a song mere hours earlier. Had it been 1993, we probably would have hung out and waited to meet Rivers, but I'm still a little shell shocked from "Beverly Hills". - Ted Leo and Aimee Mann's collaboration The Both is out in stores as I type, and you get a taste here with their tiny desk concert. - Brooklyn Vegan declares this your new favorite band, and I'd say watch at least the first 90 seconds, and then giggle and shake your head at how funny the turn of the century was. - Jimmy Fallon as Tom Petty, with actual Stevie Nicks.

- Tonight we schlep all the way to Pontiac to see The Hold Steady, one of the few bands we would actually drive to that part of the world on a Wednesday to see. Here are they are with tourmates Deer Tick covering each other's songs. Lord to be seventeen forever...

Posted 10:25am
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April 17th, 2014

My daddy said reading pamphlets never made anybody give up anything.

Today I spent two hours being forced to play a board game that was supposed to teach me... ah hell I don't know, pick your corporate buzzword: bottlenecks, streamlining, workflow, synergy, dynamic integration. One of those things middle management forces upon you because you are an idiot and need to be inspired so you can see the big picture. Or some other equally bullshitty rhetoric. Now look, I know I'm not special in the sense that everyone everywhere has to endure this. Equally, this shit is easy. Can you follow directions and repeat back the things they said to you at the beginning at the end? Hooray, you are their new favorite. It should be a small price to pay to be gainfully employed. Hell, if you like the people you work with these things could ostensibly be goof around time followed by free pizza. In that scenario, I for one welcome our new corporate bullshit overlords.Here's my thing though: I'm 38 and I know everything they are going to say. I'm too fucking old and infinitely too smart to be condescended to about things like the benefits of "cross-training." I was the king of my own little corner of the world for too long. When problems occur while I'm at "training" because no one else knows what the fuck is going on, I want to laugh it off, but it really just fuels my anger and hatred and urge to say "See you fucking obtuse hierarchical idiots? This is what happens when we do it your way."

That gets me in trouble and the next thing you know I have to sit down and talk about my feelings. So I decide to keep my head down, shut up, and do what I'm told until the next problem arises, which I have to get indignant about and fix again, running my mouth in the process because being right all of the time is utterly exhausting. Ugh. I guess what I'm saying is that I might not be a team player.

Posted 2:46pm
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April 16th, 2014

Holiday Road

We never really went on vacation growing up. Especially if you maintain that vacation requires leaving the state - which if you live in Ohio, it absolutely does. The times we did travel revolved around taking everyone to see my older brother, who spent many years in Minnesota and Arkansas. Ten hours in the car with anyone - much less your family - can be a real measure of your patience and fortitude. My dad mitigated it by making everyone get up at 3am to get an early start, knowing that everyone would immediately go to sleep for 6 hours, allowing him to drive and listen to AM radio in peace for a while.I've tried this trick with my family to no avail. Everytime I say "We don't need a hotel room, I'll just drive through the night and everyone can sleep!" I get looked at like I'm the devil. I know they know how to fall asleep in a moving vehicle, so I don't get what their problem is. As I have long suspected, I'm guessing it's because they all hate me and enjoy my suffering.This year the BDGF decided we all needed to attend Space Camp. This was of course inevitable and moreover predictable in its timing, as this was the last chance to force the eldest to attend before heading off to college. So a six day trip: 24 hours and 1,500 miles in the car to sleep on a bunk bed with a paper thin mattress, go boot shopping in Nashville, do some quick spelunking and then horseback riding. Call me Griswold.The things is, everyone had a blast. I learned the dad mantra of "It's not about me" a long time ago, and once you wrap your head around that ideal, traipsing around the country becomes bearable*. You even get to do fun things that old curmudgeons like me would never otherwise partake in. All of the pictures are of Astronaut training and not of riding in the car for an eternity, so let's pray my rapidly approaching senility will only remember the good times, and not sleeping in a teepee.

*with copious amounts of alcohol

Posted 1:12pm
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April 14th, 2014

Wanted

To whom it may concern,I am a 38 year old IT professional looking for a career change. For the past 15 years I've served as a Systems Administrator for The University of Michigan. Due to institutional changes, I no longer feel that my specific skill set is wanted nor needed at my current post.Ideally I'd like to start along a new path. If 25 or so of you own small businesses and could employ me in an IT related capacity for even an hour a week at my current rate that'd be great too, but I'm a little spent when it comes to teaching people how to change their default printer. I mean I'm great at it - I can fix anything, but I think I have more in me to give.My strengths are ultimately in problem solving, which means I could probably be of various uses in myriad fields. I also maintain an above average wit, can think quickly and have an expertise in doling out an avalanche of snark at a moments notice. If you can find a way to monetize this, I'm your man. Some day I dream of owning and operating a movie theater/bar, where people could come to drink great craft beer and watch old movies. If what you want to pay me to do could incorporate that end goal, all the better. But those are utopian ideals. Honestly, if you can pay me remotely what I make now to make widgets, I'll jump at the chance. If you leave me alone to do my job, I'll scrub toilets - and I will clean them with uncanny aplomb. Would you be interested in buying my Star Wars themed furniture on Etsy? How about hiring me to promote your company on twitter with my trademark brand of sarcasm, profanity and condescension? The point is I really just want to do something else somewhere else. Please help.

I look forward to hearing from you,
tbaggervance

Posted 2:56pm
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April 3rd, 2014

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

- New Jack White - even an instrumental - will always lead off a list of the innocuously happy. New Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! will always be an addendum to that.- Watch! Wolverine: The Musical, the Flaming Lips sell out and a lightsaber documentary! Seriously, Star Wars and The Beatles - two things that I need a two second taste of before I just want to fall down a rabbit hole into their canon for an entire day. - In Michigan news, Obama wuz here, The Michigan Daily adroitly sums up the basketball season (it was fun!) and most importantly for my adult children, yous about to get paid, bro. - I was in Chicago about 10 years ago and I got dragged to a "club" where the giant 6'4" 250 pound bouncer told me as I walked in "I'm gonna let you in, but next time wear better shoes." My friend who dragged me there figuratively literally dragged me inside before I told that bloated meat sack to fuck off and I ended up getting the ever living shit beat out of me. Several years later I was nattily clad in a swanky Vegas bar, and when I gave the bartender $20 for two watered down vodka sodas, he looked at me like I had just had a conjugal visit with his sister because I "only" tipped $2 on $18 worth of drinks. I wanted to tell him to fuck off for charging $9 for a well vodka and soda. I don't do well in these types of places. They are not my scene. That's why you could audibly hear my eyes rolling at this sign I found in a bar in Ferndale a couple weeks back. I guess I like knowing my place in the world.

- Finally, in six hours I'll be driving ten hours* with the ladies of Chandler to Alabama for Space Camp. That means the blog goes quiet and your tbaggervance fix gets relegated to twitter and instagram. Wish us luck. If you never hear from me again, it's because NASA has identified my untapped potential and I'm probably in some advanced astronaut training program. See you from space, bitches.

*with a stopover in Bowling Green, KY, because how can you not?!?

Posted 10:55am
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April 1st, 2014

It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense

I understand what it means to be a tortured artist. At least I think I do. Does it mean you hate everything you create and nothing's ever good enough? If so, then I'm a tortured artist. Maybe I'm just depressed or suffer from low self esteem. They might all be the same thing. I've had a complicated relationship with being creative my entire life. On some level it's all I want to do always and forever. Unfortunately when I do it, I inevitably hate the results. It never turns out like my intentions. I can't decide if I have any discernable talent whatsoever or I'm just compelled to do it and when I throw it out into the world people say quasi-nice things to placate me. I've tried music, art, writing and a million different dalliances into one thing or another that combines those things and dabbles in others. I usually enjoy the process, I rarely enjoy the results. I don't know what that says about me or what I produce, but it's leaving me feeling a little hollow at the moment.Perhaps it's just that I've been somewhat rudderless for the past year. Maybe I just want something to come slap me on the face and say "THIS you idiot." Probably I'm just a whiny emo brat who needs to constantly feel sorry for himself. I know that it all feels like a lot of simple tricks and nonsense and ultimately inconsequential.

I'm sure this'll pass. Historically the feeling abates, or at least gets covered up with faux arrogance and bravado. The real fear is that at some point you can't cover up the feeling of being exposed with a fake swagger, because then I'm really fucked.

Posted 11:46am
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March 31th , 2014

Madness

There was a brief moment yesterday where I was leading in all three brackets I had filled out and Michigan was up double digits on their way to consecutive final fours. It was an "all is right with the world" moment, which I am old enough to know are fleeting and don't last, but also enough of a romantic that I'm still somehow surprised when they end. Watching and caring about sports is ultimately about community. It's why I care about college sports infinitely more than the pros. I'm a Wolverine - just like my dad, just like my son, just like everyone I went to college with. It's why I think it's OK to say "We" when referring to Michigan. I don't watch college basketball (March Madness aside) at all unless Michigan is playing, because then it's my family on the TV. I want to see them do well. When they don't, I take it personally.My dad used to claim a zen like mastery over his Michigan fandom. Before the game, he'd talk about how much of a chance they had to win. Afterwards (unless they were playing Ohio) he'd say "Eh, what goes around, comes around" whether they won or lost. He was that way my entire life, and he'd chide me for getting so worked up. He'd seen it all, and that wisdom made the ethos of "You win some, you lose some" inevitable. But if you ever actually got to watch a game with Moeman, he'd scream and yell and curse with the best of them. He let it all go when the clock ran out, but even the zen master got caught up in the emotion of his team while they were on the field.I'm not there yet. I'm so much more emotional than my dad, I probably will never get to his level of enlightenment. But I'm light years better than I was in my twenties (despite what the people I live with may think.) I missed my dad a lot this weekend. I missed being able to share Friday's win with him. I really missed him yesterday, when I needed him to remind me how lucky we were to even be where we were, and that yes, what goes around, comes around. We got close dad, and we'll get 'em next time.

- It's also opening day for Major League Baseball today. Speaking of Moeman, he used to sit on our back porch every night in the summer, smoking his pipe, reading several newspapers and listening to Ernie Harwell call Tigers games. That seems an impossibly ancient ritual now, and it makes me impossibly happy just thinking about it. Here's every major league team's unofficial beer, in honor of America's pastime.

Posted 10:59am
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March 28th , 2014

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

- One week! Can I just say that a week from right now, we will be at Space Camp. I'm giddy beyond belief, and currently fantasizing about how I'm going to sneak out of the Saturday night bonfire (or whatever) to go watch Michigan play in the Final Four. Even if (God forbid) that doesn't come to fruition, it's still a bucket list level trip, and I can't thank the BDGF enough for dragging us all along.  - Friday video time wasters: Jimmy Kimmel gets kids to curse, Billy on the Street yells with NPH, a hype video for Michigan's Sweet 16 game tonight and every pop culture reference from The Office. That last person has too much time on their hands /Styxreference. - For the more intellectually inclined, here's Friday thought pieces: getting rid of cash reduces crime and how twitter reconfigures satire. I'm all for ditching cash, even though it would probably just line the coffers of Visa and whomever figures out how to pay for shit with your phone. As for Colbert's joke, I still got it out of context (because I know the 'context' of Colbert) and I always err on the side of "Just because people find your satirical 'racist' joke funny because they're racist, doesn't mean you shouldn't make it." - Here's an interesting interview with THS's Craig Finn, in which he discusses Catholicism, booze and the universal truth of "there's never been a good rock record with a song about your new baby."

- Finally, the University of Michigan got another pre-frosh (and another $100,000 of our money) yesterday, as the BDGF's eldest decided to become a Wolverine. I couldn't be prouder nor happier. I do feel a little bad for the BDGF's littlest though, as our house is now 4 for 5 and the heat is on. Luckily, I have nothing but confidence in that one too.

Posted 10:44am
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March 26th , 2014

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Let's start out with the fun! Fundamentalists are aghast that Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos doesn't give "equal time" to the science of the Bible. My favorite iteration of this is this guy, who argues that the Bible is scientific and evolution isn't. You guys, he doesn't even understand the definition of the word science, and then can't shoehorn his beliefs into his misplaced definition! Hilarious. Dr. Tyson's response: "If you don’t know science in the 21st century, just move back to the cave, because that’s where we’re going to leave you as we move forward." Nailed it. - Unfortunately he's not getting through to these people. - Save the blacks from the gays! - I understand the counterargument that there's no reason to settle for "half measures" at this point when we know time, momentum and history are on our side, but Pope Francis is still pretty cool. - You are entitled to your own opinion sir, but not your own facts. - Fox News thinks Noah's Ark is real. And that we found it. Huh.

- Finally, Michigan got very, very gay early last weekend, before being told to shut the closet door again. I'm fairly confident that we'll get the win soon, and nothing could make me happier. Those upset or disturbed by the development: you lost. You are a dinosaur and are being left behind on an evolutionary level. Lay down and return to the loam so that you may nurture new life - this is your penance and your final opportunity to atone.

Posted 10:37am
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March 25th , 2014

This Week in Indie Rock

- New albums from The Hold Steady, Tokyo Police Club and Sleeper Agent are all out today. They range from great to maybe great to hopefully not a complete loss. It's kind of moot because the first transcendent album of the year is now streaming, Cloud Nothing's Here and Nowhere Else. Seriously guys, it's the cat's pajamas. - Here's 15 of the most hated bands of the last 30 years. Too light on hippy claptrap for my personal taste.- You can also stream the new Black Keys and Afghan Whigs songs, which are both resplendent in weird influences and references.

- Finally, those who remember the Rich Retyi Musical Advisory Board from late last year can finally read the response of our benevolent benefactor. Let me first start my saying the obligatory "I had a lot of un doing this and it was a really cool exercise" yadda yadda. I also listened to Rich's reverse recommendations and I found them almost comically exactly what I would expect him to send back to me (I enjoyed them all in their way, especially Boney M). But here's the thing - and this is probably a personal flaw and a "me" problem - you lose all credibility with me when you spend a paragraph (much less a sentence) extolling your hatred for Elvis Costello. Especially when you start it off with "musical genius and whatever". Musical genius is not a "whatever". The man is inarguably one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. You can not like his voice. You can not like his songs, but that is a "you" problem. Listen, I don't get The Grateful Dead. I can call it noodly bullshit and hippy claptrap, but I still respect them for what they are. I never have nor never will get the urge to put on any Billy Joel album, but when people malign his oeuvre my only thought is "Glass Houses is a fucking revelation." So when people make fake vomit noises when they hear Dylan or Neil Young of Elvis and go "I can sing better than that!" I dismiss you out of hand, because you're trolling and haven't thought this through. That being said, Stephen Malkmus has no redeeming value. Thank you.

Posted 10:27am
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March 24th , 2014

Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up.

1. We got the cat. She is the prettiest kitty in kitty city and if you say one derogatory thing about her ears or lack thereof I will end you.

2. Oberon is here! They gave me this hat because they could tell.

3. We went and bet the ponies Saturday and hit THREE exactas. I don't know how that place stays in business.

4. Buttercup is marrying Humperdink in little less than half an hour.

Posted 10:42am
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March 21st , 2014

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

- Things have been busy around here and in our harriedness we find ourselves in dereliction of duty. Yesterday was the first day of spring, but more importantly, Sunday spring officially arrives as Oberon returns! Here are 23 beers you need to try before you die, of which Oberon is one. I've only had 9 of the 23, so I've got work to do. - In local news: Howell is still racist (duh) and you can now get booze delivered to your door in A2. I'm like a boy scout when it comes to liquor so I don't imagine ever needing this, but still, nice to know it's there. Also, in honor of Michigan winning in the big dance and Ohio losing yesterday, here's a guy that started a new social media app and banned Ohio students (my hero) and use this to find out just how much more influential U of M is compared to that place down south (spoiler alert: 2.67 times more influential.) - Missed from This Week in Indie Rock earlier this week: The Hold Steady's new album is streaming (and it's awesome), here's some popular bands done up in Lego and the official list for Record Store Day has been finalized. - You guys know about Chromecast? Plug it into your TV and you can stream video from your phone or tablet - and it's only $35! It's been brilliant for generating laughs late at night by watching things like Brian Williams doing "Rapper's Delight". - Finally, today is the BDGF's birthday. If you can't be here to celebrate with us, now you too can celebrate at home, with the official tbaggervance.com "Which Jack White are you?" Cootie Catcher©. Just print out this file, fold like you're a 10 year old girl and off you go! Happy birthday sweet.

Posted 10:04am
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March 20th , 2014

Beware the Ides of March

I'm not an animal person. My parents bred golden retrievers growing up, at some point we had cats, but I was never emotionally attached nor enamored by any of them. I don't click on cute animal videos, I don't ask to pet other people's dogs. Don't get me wrong, animals are fine I guess, I am just ultimately unmoved by them. And I sure as shit have no interest in taking care of one.Then there's this thing:

The BDGF's littlest is an animal fiend. Nary a week goes by where she doesn't ask for a kitten. Given that her big sister is getting ready to head of to college and today is her birthday, she smells blood in the water: an opening to prey on the compassion of the adults in the house and leverage our sympathies to get what she wants. So she found the cutest, most pathetic little creature in the world. This thing has clearly had a hard life (she has no ears!) and her name is Amelie. Listen, I'm not dead inside. I don't know how you look at that fuzzball and not want to make its life better.So I promised the littlest that I would take her to the humane society today for her birthday so she could play with the kittens. The task falls on me because anyone else would come home with Amelie in tow, and the mean old man has been determined to be our best shot at keeping our home cat free. I guess what I'm saying is send me your strength, because I just know some volunteer is going to smell my empathy and come whisper in my ear later today "You know it's too bad, if no one takes Amelie home by tomorrow, we'll have to put her down." At which point, I am royally fucked. - Speaking of the littlest's birthday, we mocked her a bit this morning by creating her own shelter profile as a birthday card:

Posted 11:00am
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March 18th , 2014

This Week in Indie Rock

- Now streaming! The brand spanking new albums from Tokyo Police Club and Sleeper Agent (via Spotify). - You can also peep a new song from The Hold Steady and read Stereogum's list of their 10 best songs. - You may, like everyone else on the internet, be suffering from listicle fatigue, but here's two interesting ones from the AV Club: 26 artists best known for cover songs and 13 bands that could reunite but won't. - Spoon is coming back, and here's a teaser to prove it.

- Finally, Neil Young created a new version of the mp3, and every artist of the last 35 years is convinced it's going to save us all from the treachery of itunes. I'd like to hear it against a 320kb mp3 file and then judge for myself. As someone who buys things on vinyl, I'm a bit of an audiophile, but do I really need to buy Harvest for the fourth time Neil? Do I?

Posted 11:02am
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March 17th , 2014

Erin Go Bragh!

I had a pretty good run of St. Patrick's Days. I've walked the length of Chicago on day long pub crawls. I've spent the day in Las Vegas, watching the NCAA tournament and U2 cover bands in a fake New York City. As impossible as it seems this year, I've wandered Ann Arbor in nothing but jeans and a T-shirt, grabbing a Guinness from here on my way to having a green beer and a shot of Jameson over there. Taking the day off was mandatory.Not so much anymore. I'm thinking about getting a Shamrock Shake from McDonalds and putting some booze in it, but that will likely be the extent of my celebration. It seems like more trouble than it's worth anymore. That or everyone I know has kids and responsibilities and are too busy with life to go drinking all day just because it's slightly more acceptable than normal to do so.

I'm not even that sad about it - although, ironically, my lack of emotion over it makes me a little sad. I'm still wearing green. I still have a giant orange head that everyone assumes is Irish. I'll still drink tonight, maybe enough to break into "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral" before all is said and done. But I'm officially old enough to rather sit home and watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People than fight my way through 20 year olds who haven't really figured out how to drink yet. Unless you're going out? Then twist my arm.

Posted 10:53am
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March 14th , 2014

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

- Happy Pi day! Wherein we celebrate science by listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson laugh at climate change deniers and Canadian doctors scoff at Republican Senators who don't understand single payer outside of Fox News talking points. I don't have a link about how raising the minimum wage is good for everybody, but I doubt anyone reading this doesn't understand that, because you are all intelligent and beautiful people.- Oh! And I buried the lead. Here's autotuned Carl Sagan. Trust me, it's even better than you're right now imagining. - You've heard about it, but have you watched it? Obama on Between Two Ferns is totally worth it. - In the most innocuous of innocuous things, I am over the moon about Vince Gilligan and Mitch Hurwitz being on Community the last two weeks. It's the kind of rabbit hole nerdery that really revs my engine. Plus spoofing Logan's Run and 90's VCR based games? I can't even be jealous of how clever it is, because I won't let that hinder my enjoyment.

- Finally, I feel like I should apologize for my existential crisis related to my employment. My level of anger and frustration infects everything else, and that feels juvenile and stupid and beneath me. But it nevertheless exists and I'm actively working to get past it. The good news is I'm beginning to wrap my head around starting a new chapter of my life and career and trying to find something that generates income that I'm passionate about. That is so cliche and stupid I want to vomit, but it's nevertheless sincere, so here we go...

Posted 11:44am
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March 10th , 2014

From Alliance to Empire

My first thought was Rich Rodriguez. Then Lando Calrissian. I eventually settled on the GOP, although I hope I'm not being overly nice by settling there.I'm a loyal person. Often to a fault. When Lloyd Carr retired from Michigan I was ready to throw my support to whomever followed him. My first wince of the Rich Rodriguez era came about five minutes in, but it wasn't until three years later that I finally found myself saying out loud "Yeah, maybe not." I wanted it to work so bad and I loved Michigan so much, that I was going to give it every opportunity to work before denouncing it. Hindsight shows the inevitability of hiring a hillbilly to coach a team in Ann Arbor being a fool's errand and oh the time we wasted! But I was going to do everything but go down with the ship, even though I was technically never on it nor had any say into what was happening. But you know...I feel the same way now about my employment. In an attempt to put it succinctly, I've undergone a process of marginalization. Responsibilities and rights have been eroded and my fate is now controlled by a corporate oligarchy instead of the warm fuzzy University paradigm I signed up for 15 years ago. It's like signing up for the Academy and realizing at some point you're working for the Empire. I've been slowly busted down to a help desk drone that will kindly follow the script they've written for me or get the fuck out. This isn't personal (although it feels that way) it's just the corporatization of everything. I have a problem with this, and if you'll pardon the cliche, I'll not go gentle into that good night.It has to be what it feels like to be a Republican over the last decade and a half. There's been a slow erosion of a once venerable institution - one you still believe in and are a proud member of, but one that clearly looks less and less like the one you remember from your youth - the one you proudly joined. You don't want to abandon it, because if nothing else you can still feel the good in it. Simultaneously, how do you tacitly condone the shenanigans going on by not jumping ship? At some point your affiliation becomes a black mark on your soul.

So I don't know how much longer I can stick around. I hope it's long enough to find another position at this beloved institution, one that still adheres to the ideals that I signed up for all those years ago. No matter what happens, I will be as subversive as possible from within while I am still here, and everyone will know my opinion about their descent into mediocrity before I go. I suppose there's still a chance that they leave me alone and let me run my little corner of the world the way I want to run it, but that possibility is looking less likely by the day. I just hope they didn't think I was gonna sit back and take it.

Posted 10:33am
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March 7th , 2014

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

- Just a reminder that the new Cosmos, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, premiers Sunday on Fox. Watch it to learn, to support the dissemination of science, or just because Neil Tyson is a badass. - Speaking of science, here's a list of the "most hipster" bands, as determined by science. I for one am SHOCKED that Boards of Canada isn't hipster-y anymore, because a few years ago they were my default example of a stupid hipster band that nobody has ever heard of or actually liked. Shit, maybe it's my fault? - The Hold Steady played the new Seth Meyer's Late Show and Craig didn't even bring his guitar! I don't actually know anyone in The Hold Steady, and I don't know how many people actually watch the very last thing on a show that starts at 12:30am, but watching it still feels like my friends hit the big time. - Anyone looking to buy me a gift that will make me swoon, Elmore Leonard's estate sale is today and tomorrow. I'd be happy with the top sheet of blank paper from his notepad.

- Finally, we welcome back the ladies of Chandler Road today, as they return bearing their third straight state championship in Academic Games. I couldn't be prouder of all of them, even after they get home and fling their shit everywhere. Congratulations.

Posted 11:34am
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March 5th , 2014

Bachelor Fest 2014

It's back! The girls are off to win their third straight state championship at Academic Games, leaving me home alone for 48 hours to fight off Joe Pesci and try aftershave for the first time. Also to leave the toilet seat up* and eat frozen pizza while watching obscure Phillip Seymour Hoffman movies and listening to Radiohead. It's two days for me to indulge in all the things that annoy the double X chromosomes with which I live. I call it real vacation.Of course me being who I am, I also plan on doing copious amounts of cleaning and organizing around the house. I generally spend day one giving the place a thorough once over, putting everything in its proper place and removing the filth and grime that only I notice so that during day two I can enjoy my fantasy house, where no one leaves things lying around and the sticky children haven't dropped an entire ice cream cone behind the couch and then never bothered to tell anyone or do anything about it.I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm old. Instead of using my lack of responsibility for extra bar time I'm using it to clean and spend time at home watching movies. And there's such a backlog of cleaning and organizing and movies to watch, 48 hours isn't nearly enough time. Of course I'll also be getting updates from the girls at State, and by Friday morning I'll be more than ready for them to come home, even if they don't understand how to neatly stack the magazines or understand the tortured genius of Thom Yorke.

* If the BDGF is reading this I am totally kidding. I would never do that.

Posted 10:53am
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March 3rd , 2014

Little from column A, little from column B.

As much as I don't want it to be, almost everything is subjective. Even things that are completely objective, like say the immutable laws of physics, are things that people can choose whether or not to care about. Outside of a vacuum, where you have to deal with other human beings, you are subject to what other people think about things. Having impeccable taste and a voracious appetite for knowledge, I spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince people what the right things to care about are, and which things that are inherently subjective are objectively good or bad. The reasons I choose to champion this or that or the other thing are myriad and varied. I love watching The Oscars every year because I care about movies. A lot. I watch the Oscars in part for validation and to also root for the underdog. Gravity was one of my favorite movies last year and I was glad it won a bunch of awards, but I was less disappointed by it losing best picture than I was buoyed by Her winning best screenplay. That made me feel good. The underdog that I championed came out on top. Awesome. The BDGF doesn't care for Her because movies to her are pure escapism. I get that aesthetic because it's one of the reasons I love sports. I can't convince anyone that Michigan is better than team X, because that can be objectively calculated. But even when my team isn't the best, I still enjoy watching them. I still get to turn everything off and (hopefully) enjoy myself for three hours. I'll take the losses along with the wins because I can find tiny victories even in a loss. I can try and convince like minded fellows that these subjective events are objectively good, and that's fun, but at the end of the day, it's about community and good times.

All of these things come to a head when a show like the new Cosmos comes around. It's a show about largely objective things. Important things that I think are important for people to care deeply about. When a lot of people do, that feels like a win - not for the frivolous but for the important. It's different from politics because with that who knows? But if we are all more science literate and consuming something like Cosmos makes us more analytical people, well that's the Oscars and March Madness and election night all rolled into one in service for a better tomorrow. So I guess I'm saying you should watch it.

Posted 3:19pm
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February 28th , 2014

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

- Oscar!, Oscar, Oscar! I'm woefully behind on my nominated film watching this year, which seems to happen with more frequent regularity as I get older, which is ironic? I think maybe. Anyway, you can't throw a rock on the internet without hitting a post about Oscar predictions, so here's one that's as good as any. I wish Her would win best picture, but I'll settle for Gravity. - The ol' bloggity blog is often if not always an extension of conversations I have with people around me, so usually the BDGF. The last couple of nights we bandied about this article featuring the 10 best White Stripes songs, laughed uproariously at the Paul Rudd/Jimmy Fallon lip sync contest, and sighed at losing a loved one to the cult of Fox News. I may whip out this list of the 50 most visited tourist attractions. It's more erudite than it sounds. Probably. - Speaking of, here's a fun game you can play after your next vacation: have one person look up on Yelp the places you loved or hated on your trip, and the other can guess how many reviews and how many stars it has! I suppose if you find a place to go to via Yelp, you'll have a distinct advantage playing the game afterwards. - For platinum level, inner circle friend o' the blog Stov: here's 10 great Match Game episodes and the hilarious 80's TV show credits recreation project: The Greatest Event in Television History. Show me that smile again...

- Finally, hold your head high Michiganders! You're doin' it and doin' it and doin' it well. Also, single ladies should consider moving to New Mexico.

Posted 10:12am
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February 26th , 2014

This Week in Indie Rock.

- Now available for your aural pleasure: Another sun drenched Beck gem, heavy Tokyo Police Club, blistering Cloud Nothings and the solo debut from The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser. I may be looking forward to that one most of all at this point.- Here's an interview with The Hold Steady's Tad Kubler. I've seen THS once this year already, and have tix to see them twice more. Hooray 2014!- When I wrote for the paper in college, people always wanted to write "second spin" reviews of old albums. I decried this as illogical and unnecessary. It was an exercise in vanity, because who needed 1,000 words about how Paul's Boutique was awesome? Maybe I was wrong, or maybe the internet is just a more apropo place for this kind superfluousness, because I loved these articles about Queen's The Game and The New Pornographers' Challengers.

- Finally, here's a map of what artist is hot in every state. I now never need to visit New Hampshire nor Vermont.

Posted 10:47am
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February 25th , 2014

Wormer... dead. Niedermeyer... dead. Ramis...

My 'becoming famous' fantasies generally aren't to be a movie star or even to be a fixture of some talk show or lecture circuit, but merely to create something that people like, even once. One thing that even a small group of people think "I love that!" I suppose that may not seem like a lofty goal, but think about it, how many people get to say that?Harold Ramis could, over and over again. He co-wrote Animal House in 1978 and if he'd never done anything else, he'd still be a titan. Of course he went on to co-write and direct Vacation, Groundhog Day and fucking Caddyshack, as well as co-write and star in Stripes and fucking Ghostbusters. Over a fifteen year span, that's five of the funniest movies ever. Who else has ever had that level of success as writer, director and star?

Why was Ramis so transcendent? I think this gets to the crux of it. The "snobs vs. slobs" ethos of Caddyshack, Animal House and Meatballs resonated with everyone. He gave voice to our frustrations and got even with our oppressors on behalf of all of us. Bill Murray and John Belushi may be who we all wanted to be, but Harold Ramis was who we were. Of course he was just as much the witty superhero as the guys he wrote for, just a more unassuming, behind the scenes version most of the time. How great would it be to do that even once?

Posted 10:56am
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February 24th , 2014

Travelogue.

I think I'm finally learning how to travel.Not logistically mind you. I pride myself on being cognizant of my surroundings and I generally keep my shit in a pile. I don't knock people in the noggin with my carry-on when I board a plane, and I never forget to empty my pockets before I go through a body scanner, holding up the line at TSA. Those people should die a slow, painful death, brought on by me kicking them in the junk repeatedly. These are common courtesies if not common sense, and should be so cursory that they need not be mentioned. Of course if you've been to the Orlando airport that last statement is laughable, but that's a different post.My growth comes from learning about how to let go. This is best illustrated by the following facts: I didn't check my bank account or answer one work email for an entire week. This is down from doing both of those things a minimum of 6 times a day on every other previous vacation I've ever taken in my life. Yes, I still kept a mental account of what I was spending and I still checked my email, because baby steps people, baby steps.Perhaps I'm the same old anxious curmudgeon and I just got a particularly good tax return this year. Or maybe the weather was just so amazing I could help but not care. Those things are demonstrably true. It was at least 75 degrees every day. We were on the water. We were poolside. We were in shorts and sandals. Coming from the frigid hell that is Michigan in 2014, it was hard not to bask in the comfort of an unfamiliar sun. Drinking outside with no danger of maxing out your last credit card are the first necessary ingredients of letting go and enjoying yourself completely.The rest of the necessary accoutrements took care of themselves as they always do when the BDGF and I go on vacation. We spent a few days with recent Florida immigrant Markie C on the Gulf side of the state, headed across to the Cape for two days at NASA, while stopping for a day of ziplining in the middle of the state along the way. It was a small dose of paradise. Much like a first timer in Vegas who hits it big during his inaugural blackjack outing, it was easy to see why people flocked there. I remain objective enough not to want to immediately quit my job and move down there, but I get it.I could go on and on about how great it is to run away with my BDGF. About how great it was to hang out with Markie C, about how great the food was, how cool NASA was, the launch we saw, etc. All of those things are true but probably a tad rote and boring for those reading this. I think my real takeaway from the last week is that I'd go back. To Florida. If that isn't growth and figuring all of this shit out, I don't know what is*.

*I'll still probably be a curmudgeon.

Posted 10:53am
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February 14th , 2014

Happy Valentimes!

Yes, it's a crass commercial holiday that mostly feels like an opportunity to screw things up or to feel bad about your station in life. Yes, this is where I remind you that there's something or someone out there that you love and even if you feel forced to celebrate it, there are worse things. That's not just solace, that's a cause for great joy and you should feel lucky that we live in a world where we not only get to roll around in such beauty, but are encouraged to do so. Happy Valentimes kiddos. I love ya all.- Here's the very first song Tokyo Police Club wrote, re-recorded as a Valentimes present for you: "Happy Valentines Day."- And here's the Valentimes Day cards I made for the lovelys in my house, because I'm a big old softy. Don't tell anyone.

Posted 2:54pm
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February 13th , 2014

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

- One of the fun things about going to animated movies in the last 20 years is playing the "Whose voice is that?" game. I'm usually pretty good, but I won't beat myself up about missing the fact that the super catchy "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie was written by Tegan and Sera and The Lonely Island. If you haven't seen the movie yet, careful with the link: the song will get stuck in your brain. - For your listening pleasure: The Arctic Monkeys paid tribute to The Beatles over the weekend by covering "All My Loving," more new Hold Steady, here's Nick Kroll's earworm "L.A. Deli" and of course, Ben Folds sings about the "Ass Crack Bandit" on Community. - When the BDGF and I talk religion, we inevitably come upon the notion that all of the mythologies of all of these ancient belief systems are intertwined, and how is that not a major indictment against adhering blindly to one over another? I mean, the judeo-christians weren't remotely the first to talk about the great flood. Where's your messiah now, Ken Ham? - There's still good in you net neutrality, I can feel it.

- Finally, this week's light posting schedule will look like an avalanche next week as the BDGF head to sunny Florida on vacation. My disdain for the sunshine state is well documented: too many people live there. It's environmentally unsustainable. The people that emigrate there tend to be speculators, charlatans, opportunists and people who don't have what it takes to survive actual seasons. The whole state is a study in weakness of character. It's also the home of Cape Canaveral and innercircle gold star friend of the blog Markie C, so I'm putting aside my differences for a week to enjoy NASA, friends and 70 degree temperatures like the rest of the tourons. Don't feel too bad for me, I have a feeling I'll get over my indignation once I hit the tarmac.

Posted 10:05am
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February 10th , 2014

The darndest things.

The other weekend the BDGF and I saw a comedian tell a joke which he referred to as "The funniest thing ever said by a 10 year old. Ever." He described a trip to the movies where the man in front of him was noisily eating M&Ms one by one out of a small hole he made at the end of the bag. After minutes of the man making noise with his snacking, his ten year old daughter leaned forward and asked him 'Whattaya doing up there, wrapping a present?"Pretty good. His delivery was better (obv.) and his view colored by the fact that it was his kid. It made me think of a time about a decade ago when I was casually watching the Ben Affleck movie Paycheck on cable. I was barely paying attention during an elaborate chase scene when Sid cam in and asked "What are you watching?" I said "Paycheck" and he immediately responded - with a shit eating ironic grin - "So that guy's all pissed off because they won't give him his paycheck?" I still laugh to this day thinking about it.Yesterday the BDGF and I took the littlest to see this year's Oscar nominated animated short films. We laughed our way through one of the features coming up with our own title for the film, so when the next title card came up like this:Feral
Daniel Sousa
14 minutes (U.S.A.)

I leaned over to the littlest and sarcastically said "This one's called Feral." To which she immediately replied "Yeah, it's from usa," pronouncing it as a single word. I sat back in my seat, confident that she'll never be intimated around a quick wit ever in her life. I laughed really hard at the joke, but I smiled bigger at the speed and inventiveness of her mind.

Posted 2:39pm
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February 7th , 2014

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

- Beatlemania returns! In honor of their 50th anniversary in America, Letterman had some famous folks stop by the Ed Sullivan Theater to perform some fab four classics. They were, in descending order of importance: The Flaming Lips and (and Sean Lennon) tripping on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", Broken Bells (with Digital Ringo) doing "And I Love Her", Lenny Kravitz 90's rocking "Get Back", and Sting whining "Drive My Car". C'mon Sting. At least set the tune to a polyrhythmic reggae beat. - You may have heard about the great Bill Nye vs. Some idiot Creation-y pseudo-scientist debate from earlier this week, which was super long but fairly interesting. The takeaway? Ken Ham is trying to shoehorn a scientific construct into morality. Otherwise, we'd all be masturbating on public buses? I think that was his point. Bad news for believers: even evangelicals thought the Science guy won. - In Neko Case news, this week she played Conan AND appeared on @Midnight, proving her indefatigable enjoyableness and versatility. /swoon. - Valentimes is one week away, so heads up and gird your loins and all that. Here's some hilarious PornHub comments transcribed onto candy hearts (obv. NSFW, words wise) and if you're a liberal, booze makes a perfect gift. You're welcome.

- Finally, I don't mean to get into a whole nature v. nurture debate, much less to imply in anyway I am responsible nor should get credit for anything. So with all caveats aside, the BDGF's littlest came home yesterday after seeing a performance of The Sound of Music, belting every word she managed to commit to memory from the performance. I relished joining in with her and filling in all the blanks in her transcription, just like I used to do with Sid and my mother used to do with me when I was a kid. Often when adults without children come to our house, they note on the sheer volume of noise and activity there is, bewildered that sanity is even possible in such an environment. Honestly, I often commiserate with the idea, but sometimes, it's the most glorious and wonderful thing imaginable. I'd appreciate if everyone would not hold this sentiment against my curmudgeon credibility. Thanks.

Posted 3:38pm
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February 4th , 2014

Same, same, but different.

A decade ago my friend and I sat in a college bar arguing whether or not all of the college age kids that were also there drinking assumed we mere massively older than they were. My argument was that a random 22 year old wouldn't even consider that the person next to them was pushing 30, mostly because they were at a college bar at midnight on a Thursday, where the demographic was homogeneous. My friend said "We don't look 22 anymore."Saturday the BDGF and I traveled to Cleveland to see a pair of shows in a single night. We ended the evening at a bar near the hostel that was entirely populated by people in their early 20s. Girls had orthadonture. Guys wore pants that they will be embarrassed by as early as next week. Every table's cohort had at least one person who was so drunk that they struggled to maintain consciousness. The BDGF and I found it utterly adorable and amusing, because nostalgia.At the rock show that Saturday we mostly hung around the back of the venue because the BDGF has crowd issues. The back - where parents who brought their kids to the show hang out because they can't be trusted at a seedy rock club by themselves. Tonight we're going to another show where the lead singer was in high school at the same time as our kids. We will definitely raise the average age of the crowd by 5+ years when we walk in the room. I have no delusions that people will look at us and think 'old.'

Getting older isn't so bad. My body still mostly works like it always has and more importantly, I can afford to go to multiple shows in one night and not have to drink whatever is the cheapest thing behind the bar. And while tonight I'll be old enough to (technically) be the father of the kids on stage, I don't feel like I'll be in danger of some teenager coming up to me and asking if I'm just there to see my kids perform. I don't know how much longer that'll be true (and please don't tell me if I'm already wrong) but I do know that in my brain, wanting to still go to a show on a Tuesday makes me theoretically young. I hope that's always true.

Posted 11:47am
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January 31st, 2014

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

- Saturday double feature! The BDGF and I are headed to Cleveland tomorrow for an evening of comedy (Greg Proops) and rock 'n' roll (The Hold Steady). In honor of getting to see two of my favorites in their respective fields, here's Cleveland's own Cloud Nothings' new single. OK, I can't resist. Cleveland rocks.- Bill Hader puts my Chewbacca impression to shame, but hey, he's a professional. - I am happy to announce that I am getting a lot of bang for my buck when it comes to tuition dollars (part two). Of course it's a bargain at twice the price as far as I'm concerned. - The first rumination here about what it means to blog pretty well sums up why I do this. That and dick jokes. You know what, it's mostly about creative cursing.

- Finally, last night Michigan basketball continued their phenomenal run, albeit merely by winning at home against a team they were 12 point favorites against. It still really made me want to call my dad and talk about it. Here's the thing: I don't like basketball. I don't think I've ever watched an entire basketball game on TV where one of the teams wasn't Michigan. I could say the same thing about my dad. I didn't know we cared about basketball at all until 1989 when Michigan was suddenly really good and it became something to take pride in. At the end of the day, that's my relationship with sports. Michigan sportsings anyway. It's not so much the ins and outs of the game, but the sense of community and pride associated with the ups and downs of your team's fortunes. That's something I'm really going to miss sharing with my dad. But when I forget that he's gone and get an urge to pick up the phone and say "How about them Wolverines?!?", my return to reality, while punctuated with sadness, is accompanied with a sense of gratitude for having that to share with him, and for him instilling that in me so I can share it with my son. So thanks dad. I miss ya and Go Blue.

Posted 11:44am
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January 30th, 2014

I, for one, welcome our new corporate overlords

Yesterday I spent my morning at my first "all staff" meeting with the group I am now beholden to at work. It was the amalgam you'd expect of "Here's the exciting things we did in the last year! (not actually exciting.) Here's where we are financially! (try and stay awake for that at 7:30 am.) Now how do we do everything better?!? (also known as the airing of the grievances.) Terms like "vertical integration", "lines of communication" and "organizational alignment" were thrown around like actually mean something.It actually wasn't as bad as I anticipated. It wasn't soul crushing, just soul deadening. There were parts that actually could serve a purpose, even if it's still 90% bullshit and people trying to justify their existence to one another. My takeaway was that yes, I can probably survive this for at least the time being and maybe find my niche. Given that I assumed I would have to run out of the building screaming like my hair was on fire, better than expected.But we are here to bury Caesar, not to praise him. Corporate world strictures dictate that they give a lot of lip service to individuality and diversity while oppressing that and turning the proletariat into interchangeable cogs. This is what I have a problem with. I have spent 15 years in the University system because I abhor that mentality, and it seems as if that's no longer a safe place to hide.The best iteration of that mentality yesterday was this form we were asked to fill out and sign:

Never more in my life have I felt like Randal "Pink" Floyd. Not that it needs to be said, but for my own edification: I am a 38 year old man, who has been professionally working in my field for over 15 years. I have evaluations for every year of that time stating that I outperform the expectations of my position. What sense does it make to belittle that by asking me to fill out a "good behavior" contract like I am petulant schoolboy?

I am immune to neither praise nor criticism. You want me to be better? Incentivize me. Preferably with stacks of cash. Asking me to fill out a contract will myself like I'm part of some rabble to be subdued is just insulting. But it's obvious that despite your big talk about how much you value all of our little eccentricities, your actions say otherwise.

Posted 10:55am
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January 28th, 2014

What's making Baby Jesus cry this week?

- Here's an interesting article about religious monuments on public property. I remember seeing a copy of the ten commandments at the Texas capitol building and thinking "Only in Texas." Apparently not.- Here's where science and religion meet: Jesus riding a dinosaur. - Here's where the last two links meet: see where public tax money is teaching children that the Earth is 6,000 years old. God help you, Tennessee.- Never bring a knife to a gun fight. Also, I hate even mentioning the name Glenn Beck, but when you use an analogy where Bill Nye is the Catholic church and creationism is Galileo, you clearly don't understand any of the posits of your analogy and must be served notice. - Trolling twitter during the Grammys is a sure fire way to feel old. Hell, just watching the Grammys makes me feel old (and I'm not going to lie, it makes me feel superior as well, but not enough to actually watch the thing.) Anyway, this year you can also feel at one with the lord, as you vent your feelings about their disgusting gay marriage ceremony. Whatsoever you do to the least of my people...

- Finally, here are the most and least religious cities in America. I am suddenly more in favor of the BDGF's oldest going to Brown, and similarly impressed with Iowa. Way to go, Cedar Rapids. Also, Toledo at 88? Go figure. I suppose we should be worried about a hurricane wiping these places off the map? Duck and cover people.

Posted 1:48pm
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January 24th, 2014

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

- Happy Anniversary! 5 innocuous things celebrates 7 years of being tbaggervance.com's most enduring feature. We're up to 1,190 things that have made us innocuously happy. Yowza. Yes, most of it is crap about how Ann Arbor is awesome or Stephen Malkmus is stupid, but it's something that I genuinely enjoy writing (almost) every week. I hope you continue to enjoy reading it.- So right after I posted this week's indie rock recap, The Hold Steady put out a new song and Ted Leo announced he's coming to Ann Arbor (with Aimee Mann!) and they released a new song as well. And after I talked about weed, Rick Perry hinted at legalizing pot in Texas and Eric Holder softened the fed's stance on weed payment (or something like that). Plus, more science loves weed! And now I'm out of breath what with all the trying to keep up. - This is an awesome story about what it used to be like on Saturdays at The Big House. I really would have loved the 70s. - I love charts like this. I can really get lost in analyzing the data and the implications therein. Also, when I typed charts in that last sentence, it originally came out "sharts", which is a portmanteau for shit farts, which is a funny idea but something I do not love in practice.- Finally, I'm thinking about getting older a lot lately, what with the dead parents and turning 40 next year and all. I'd say I'm concentrating on not getting older, but not in a creepy "I want to be 25 forever" way. Twenty five year olds are the worst. I don't mind being almost 40, but I'm not going to stop going to shows or start dressing a certain way and ten years from now, I still want to be super engaged in the world. So I came across this Douglas Adams quote:

I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this: 1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal; 2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it; 3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.

The thing is I know he's right. Douglas Adams usually is. And while I'm not going to start wearing skinny jeans and becoming a Brony or whatever the kids do these days, but I will rage against the dying of the light - to use a really hackneyed phrase. Fuck, I suppose that shows I'm already super old. At least I will always understand technology, so there's that.

Posted 11:43am
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January 23rd, 2014

Man, I have no idea what's going on right now

You may have heard that the President came out for pot this week. Sort of. Ultimately he stated a scientific fact that stands in opposition to the federal government's official position, one that puts pot in the same category as heroin. I mean things are remarkably better even from that perspective, but even an uncontroversial statement that almost every level headed person agrees with carries weight when it's said by the leader of the free world. Look at what it's done for the gays. Not that those two things are linked. Or are they?!?

Point is, we've already won. We should celebrate victories. We also have to continue to convince people and fight the good fight. It's not just presidents that can make a difference. I suppose with the tenor of this blog I could have just wrote "Weed: Keep calm and carry on" but that doesn't qualify as a post, now does it?

Posted 1:17pm
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January 22nd, 2014

This Week in Indie Rock

- New tunes! Beck drops a swirling aural soundscape, The Dead Weather leak another rocker, and Modern Baseball makes a case for a return to confessional noise pop. Just don't call it emo. - New tunes, entire album edition: Hospitality streams at NPR and Cloud Nothings live leak their new album. It'll curl your toes. - Paul McCartney is on twitter. Read what his publicist types into his smartphone! - My BDGF and I tend to agree on most things (even though we still tend to enjoy arguing about them) but Neil Young is not one of them. I'm not a huge Neil Young fan, but I certainly respect the man as an artist. The BDGF on the other hand, was somehow emotionally scarred by his collaboration with Pearl Jam in the 90s, particularly the song "Downtown", a fact which she is keen on letting the world know anytime his name is mentioned. That puts Mr. Young in the Voldermort or the Michigan quarterback that came after Tom Brady category- we no longer say his name. That makes this unholy alliance the bane of my existence. Which is too bad, because I'm kind of excited about it. Let's just hope Jack doesn't decide to team up with Radiohead or Bob Dylan, because there's not enough plastic surgery in the world to cover up that potential emotional scarring.

- Finally, here's Stereogum's list of the 10 best Grateful Dead songs. As a comparison, here's my list. I worked all day on it.

Posted 10:57am
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January 21st, 2014

Stop the press*

I've had some run-ins with the press before. In high school when the teacher's union went on strike and I was senior class president, I (mostly by default) ended up giving a lot of interviews. Since then there's been times when I've been upset by something someone wrote or more likely, the way it was written, and I shot my mouth off, only to find myself in a personal argument with the person who wrote it. These type of things happened more frequently before the ubiquity of internet comment threads - back when newspapers were made of actual paper.These 'altercations' usually found me lying in wait, for my combatant to say something along the lines of "You probably don't understand the way this works but..." so I could pounce with "Really? Because my Dad's been a newspaperman for 50 years and I wrote for a paper for four, so I ain't some rube that just fell off the turnip truck, sister." Or something like that.My father would probably have been horrified by my behavior, but that was one of the differences between us. However, my outrage was always 100% a product of his values and what he taught me about how things are done. So who's fault really was it? The point is I have specific ideas about how these things are done. I know what good reporting is. I know how good writing reads.So you can imagine my outrage when this article in my old newspaper (The Michigan Daily) about a video game competition at the U fails to mention who won the thing. I mean, I know who won because Siddhartha was on the winning team, but what about the rest of the world, hungry for that knowledge? Get it together Daily! I'd write a strongly worded letter, but even more instilled in me by my dad is don't be that parent. I'll just be a proud papa - with his own distribution network and sparkling prose to shine alight on his son's accomplishments. Nice work Sid.

*Vicky Vale... I like Batman.

Posted 10:36am
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January 17th, 2014

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

- Siddhartha, why would you want to leave all this? We have one of America's best main streets and most iconic campus quads. I suppose those are American listings, but come and get some Koreatown! - In major nerd news, here's a bunch of candid Star Wars photos taken by Chewbacca, here's a list of words created by Shakespeare and an in-depth interview with Archer creatorAdam Reed. Danger Zone! - My latest iPhone obsession (outside of the M3 chip that turns my phone into a pedometer) is Quiz Up. Finally, the trivia game I've been waiting for! You should totally download the app and challenge me to some trivia. I hope to have all of the achievement badges by the time we get back from vacation. - Speaking of vacation, I'm breaking one of my cardinal rules and returning to the state of Florida for two very good reasons: one, it's where Markie C has emigrated and I miss him and two, it's where NASA launches spacecraft from. Plus the BDGF has never been to Ybor City, so three birds with one stone. Anyone with tips for things to do that don't involve cartoon mice and the like are appreciated.

- Finally, there was a major blow to the free wheelin', wild wild west internet that we all know and love this week. The BDGF asked me to explain how this would effect her in real world terms, and had I known about it at the time, I would have shown her this chart. The freemarket is a wonderful thing, but it is the government's job to protect it's citizens from all enemies foreign and domestic, and mostly that tends to be people who sell us shit. Please save us from ourselves.

Posted 10:56am
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January 16th, 2014

Koreatown*

Siddhartha is moving to Korea.A few months back Sid came home and announced his intentions to study abroad. After a flurry of questions, both logistical and ideological, it became clear that this is happening next fall - Sid is moving to Korea.Since that initial salvo, his resolve has only deepened. His fervor is unlike anything I've seen out of him in some time. He's on top of things. He has answers to my every question. I can't find a chink** in his reasoning. Not that I necessarily want to.Going on vacation during spring break was out of the question when I was in college, nevermind heading halfway around the world for a semester. I had too few resources and too much responsibility. So I am thrilled that he can do this, and thrilled that I can help make it happen. You want better for your kids than you had, so I can't help but feel good about the mere prospect.Of course I don't relish the idea of not seeing my kid for four months. I am deathly afraid that he'll be there for two weeks and be so overwhelmingly homesick that he'll beg to come home. Or perhaps even worse, he'll never want to leave. Last night we had dinner and talked about deadlines and logistics and all those things one must take care of to temporarily emigrate for a season. On the way home, I made him promise that no matter what happens next fall, he come back and finish his degree in the States. After that he can move to all the Koreas he wants***. He promised, saying "That's my plan." So I apparently need to find him a girl when he gets back that will insist he stay in Ann Arbor forever. Now accepting applications...

* This is a shoe horned Simpsons reference, from the episode where they go to Japan and eat at a restaurant called America Town. No, I don't know why my brain works like that.
**unintentional racial slur.
***except for the North one.

Posted 1:38pm
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January 15th, 2014

Wednesdays are for politickin'

- Congress hath become a modern day little league team where everyone thinks they should get a trophy for showing up. Or if you like, a bunch of post 9/11, neo-con, chicken hawks who need to posture like they've got 18 inches of swinging death between their legs lest their constituents call them "fag" on the playground during recess. How else can you explain a completely unnecessary bill that undermines the president's foreign policy that only reads like a run up to war? Forget repeating Vietnam, we're repeating the same mistakes from 12 years ago. But hey, don't get left out in the cold you "keeping my job is my job" fuckholes.- Want to know the status of global warming research? Here it is in one handy chart. Or, here's something a little more colorful to rebut every idiot who says "Global warming? It's freezing outside!" I'm starting to wonder who will be seen as the bigger antiquainted dolts in 20 years, climate change deniers or anti-gay marriage advocates. I mean, science you guys.- Speaking of, guess who is going BACKWARDS on "believing" in evolution? Come on!

- Finally, let us remember that it's impossible to get elected in this country if you are an atheist. It unfortunately explains a lot and should depress the shit out of all of you.

Posted 11:37am
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January 14th, 2014

This Week in Indie Rock

- New streaming tunes: Tokyo Police Club drops another song from their upcoming opus Forcefield, it's a crappy dance pop number that I'm none too happy about. Nick Waterhouse redeems them with the first track off of Holly. The Pixies continue to cash in and Beck covers John Lennon. - In Jack White news, he appeared on Charlie Rose because why not, and joined his fellow Raconteur Brendan Benson for a special xmas concert in Nashville. - Videos! Paul McCartney with Jimmy Fallon and Neko Case on Austin City Limits. On a less serious note, sometimes the internet is stupendously stupid in the most brilliant way. This made me giggle uncontrollably and I'm not 100% sure why, but thanks AJ (of The Jesuses fame) for that. - Here's something fun for you to do: guess these lo-fi renditions of album art in Legos. LEGOS!

- Finally, this Saturday what I assume is my new favorite Detroit band is playing in Fashionable Ferndale. I assume they will grab that mantle based on this four song EP, but talk to me Sunday. I bet I'm right.

Posted 10:52am
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January 13th, 2014

Permission to assume the fetal position?

I finally lost it this weekend. After being occupied with logistics and then returning to your regularly scheduled fray for the better part of two weeks, I think I finally gave myself permission to collapse a bit. It was an ugly necessity and while I shouldn't feel guilty about it, I still do.It's OK to be sad about your dad dying. I've been sad since I found out, but some trigger on Friday sent me down the rabbit hole. I went from being slightly flippant and dickish to just shutting down. I didn't feel like doing anything. I didn't want to be around anyone. I just wanted to sit in the dark and feel sorry for myself.So I did that. I sat around and felt put upon. I thought about how I get stepped on and taken advantage of; about how underappreciated I am yet will never accomplish anything worthy of actual appreciation like my dad did. Did I mention it was a convoluted sadness spiral? They tend to work like that.While I used my dad to feel sorry for myself, it was naturally Moe Man who also brought me out of it. My old man would have chewed me a new one to see me sitting around like that. Life goes on and there are people who need you and that shit. In the parlance of the Moe Man, I finally heard "Get up and run you son of a bitch." So I can still be sad. There's no shame nor anything to feel guilty about in that. But I can be sad without letting it effect everyone around me or using it as impetus to be a whiny emo asshole. So I'm gonna get up and keep running. Thanks Moe.

- In sunnier news, Archer returns tonight. I had something for this... oh, here's some nude pics of the cast. Get ready for the Danger Zone...

Posted 11:44am
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January 10th, 2014

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

- For those of you who don't regularly dig around the nooks an crannies of the site, there's new content here and there, including by 2014 Elite Badge on Yelp and actual art in the Musée d'tbaggervance. The BDGF inspired me to actually paint a few months back, so now you can see pictures that sort of look like my family. Viewing the page counts as two continuing education credits for those of you with MFAs.- 2014 is shaping up to be an exciting year for pop culture. I'm most excited about new albums from The Hold Steady, Tokyo Police Club, Cloud Nothings, Sleeper Agent, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Solids, Modern Baseball, Nick Waterhouse and all of the opportunities those new albums bring to see live shows. You can get a gist of a wider range of pending pop culture happenings from the AV Club. - Weed is now legal in two - count 'em TWO - states. Shockingly, it doesn't appear to be the end of the world. Anyone who knows their history realizes that a major reason weed has been illegal is the people that provide you alcohol are worried about their market share of things that make you numb. Science says they have cause for concern. I say little from column A, little from column B is usually a good idea, assuming you are at least a moderately successful adult. - Speaking of legality, one of the main talking points I had for Sid as he left home to go off to college is how to deal with the po po. I've certainly been screwed in the past by people who assume they have to do everything the cops say without question. Here's a handy guide for you and your teenagers when it comes to respectful handling of people designed to give you a hard time. I have to say, I love being older and off the radar of the law. - Finally, my meltdown yesterday led to me run out and get a new car to feel better about myself and the world. Childish and emotionally stunted, maybe - but it worked. I had about two weeks before I had to do it anyway (as my lease was expiring) so it wasn't really an impulsive spending binge, but rather an accelerated timeline towards an endorphin rush. While it's not bright yellow like My Taxi, it is Italian and more esoteric than the old Honda Fit, so you can look for me around town in this. It'll probably mostly be parked outside of Grizzly Peak.

 

Posted 11:27am
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January 9th, 2014

Negligence, incompetence, and dereliction of duty

My new position at work as part of a more vertically integrated, corporate style hierarchy of service got its first real test today. It went over like a lead zeppelin*.It seems to me that middle managers, LEAN training, corporate speak, Six Sigma, AGILE thinking and all the other big business bullshit that is overtaking all areas of our society is all about chicken shit risk mitigation. Instead of trying to find one person who's really good at their job and can do things correctly, let's find three people who are ok and will do the job as cookie cutter as we can make it. That way, we're not fucked if one of them leaves and we can treat them all like shit because who gives a swollen testicle, they're cogs! Sure we won't be nearly as good as we could be with talent, but fuck it, this way we gently sway in the middle instead of swinging back and forth with highs and lows. Of course all these middling fuck holes don't give a rat's ass about anything because they've almost been told not to be invested in their job. If your corporation tacitly tells you "You can easily be replaced" by the way they set up their infrastructure, then what would you do other than the bare minimum, keeping your head down so as not to be noticed?Today we had a server migration at work. It's a complicated and tricky thing, but I've done it three times before by myself. 300+ users, 14TB of data moving from one place to another. If you're good, it's seamless to your users. Today's migration involved no less than 10 people, my part being marginalized to hand holding. 18 hours into the switchover, the thing is still broke. Somebody screwed the pooch, and here I am left holding the bag, because despite the higher ups insistence, I'm still the face of this shithole outfit. Hooray for scapegoats!The real insult to injury was as Rome burned around me this morning, I had an overwhelming instinct to call the Moe Man, just to talk about Michigan's new offensive coordinator as a distraction. It's funny the things you miss. He would have had my back too, while telling me to suck it up - which is probably exactly what I needed.

*Not a Led Zeppelin

Posted 2:16pm
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January 8th, 2014

Thanks to the rest of you

Holy crap did a lot of people come here in the last few days. I'm trying hard to humbly remember that this is a testament to my dad and the way the internet works and not my stunning prose - a fact that will be reiterated by the end of the week when the numbers go back to normal. Anyway, thanks everybody. It means a lot.I mean it, for the record. Everyone who took even two seconds to write something on facebook means a lot to me. It doesn't matter what they said or how they said it, rote cliches work just fine. Everyone is awkward in these situations (except for maybe funeral directors, who seem to be creepily good at this, but hey, it's their job) but the mere effort is comforting.I also owe a huge thanks to my siblings for their ability to come to decisions and not fight over petty shit. I'd like to think that everybody would be capable of that, but I know it's not always true. And to my family, well from the BDGF on down they were amazing. I don't always respond well to being taken care of, and they somehow managed to do it without making me angry about it, which is something.

I'll probably continue to mention Moe Man on the blog, just as I always have, because of course. He managed to give us one last great story before he left us, also because of course. They weren't his last words per se, but at least I will think of them that way. The whole family was at his house for Christmas, and we were all milling around, making conversation when he came into the room and announced "Now nobody get so drunk tonight that they go home and get pregnant." Good advice Moe. I promise not to forget it.

Posted 11:23am
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January 5th, 2014

Thanks Moe Man

I got a call from my sister last Monday at 6am. I knew what had happened before I picked up, because what else could it be at that time of day? My first thought once it sank in was about my parents' phone number.For what I assume was over 50 years (at least for the 38 I was around) you could call 419-599-9726 and someone would answer "Brubaker's". Not anymore. At the end of the day it's a trifle. It's insignificant, but it's where my brain went I heard my dad past away. I suppose it's the type of thing that your mind goes to when you've lost both of your parents.My oldest brother has a son, and with all likelihood he's the only conduit to carry on the Brubaker last name from our family. I've got a special beef with that fact yes, and it also has the distinction of having been true from some time, but it's the kind of thing that occupies your brain as you're sitting in a funeral home making arrangements. Well, my brain anyway.So there's no such thing as a "fitting tribute" to my dad. He was too big. Too big to the community he lived in, too large in influence over who I am. My mannerisms, my demeanor, my writing, my parenting - all of it and so much more was inspired or directly co-opted from the Moe Man. Oh yeah, and it'll be a while before I can drive past the Big House without tearing up. I drive past the Big House a lot.As Sting once sang, there's a hole in my life. It's gonna be there forever and I have to live with it. You're suppose to find solace in the life he lived and the things he taught you and stood for, so my siblings and I are very fortunate to have an avalanche of solace. But there's still always going to be a piece missing, and you can't fix that.You probably met my dad at least once. Chances are he gave you a story to remember. My dad was a talented man in a lot of ways, but leaving an impression may have been his real singular achievement. It was my favorite anyway. It also removes me from the responsibility of appropriately eulogizing him. You remember the Moe Man. How could you not? Just keep doing it. Of course my father would call that a cop out. So my siblings and I wrote a last edition of his column, The Town Crier, as a thank you to the community and to everyone who has come out to remember him in the last week. It'll run in tomorrow's Northwest Signal, but as I'm not under contract, I get to run it here first:

Mourning is a difficult process; one that usually involves sitting around and telling stories of those we have lost. When your dad was the Moe Man, those stories would fill several Saturday editions of the Northwest Signal while you're still getting a head of steam.We've told a lot of those stories to each other in the past week. Most of them we know my heart, but we tell them anyway because they still make us laugh and provide comfort. Most everyone reading this right now probably has a Moe Man story or two. Chances are, remembering them brings a smile to your face. During times such as these, we hope they bring a little solace too.The four of us siblings, Tad, Tandy, Tyler and Taggart, wanted to share something with the loyal readers of the Town Crier as a final goodbye to the Moe Man. It would come as no surprise to our father that we couldn't immediately agree on what that was or how to do it. Some of us thought we should write a sincere and loving tribute to our dad that would bring tears to the eyes of everyone who knew him. Others thought that since we had to share Moe Man with Henry County for the last fifty plus years, we should just say "You're welcome" and be done with it.Luckily, amongst the many things Moe taught us was the ability to compromise. Given his penchant for dolling out wisdom where ever he went, we figured what a better send off than to highlight some of his "Moe-isms" and how they related to us, his children.- Moe didn't believe in giving up, even when times were tough. Mistakes were merely teaching tools, and the measure of a person was not in their successes, but how they handled the not-so-perfect times. Or as he told Tad when he fell down in the middle of high school cross country race "Get up and run you son of a <gun>."- Our father was an old fashioned guy. He loved John Wayne, AM radio and the way they played college football when Bo and Woody roamed the sidelines. When Tandy was trying for her first child, his recommendation instead of a fertility specialist was "an $8 bottle of Jack Daniels."- Dad always believed in moderation and in pushing yourself a little further than you thought you were capable of going. "Always leave the dinner table a little hungry, the bar a little thirsty and the bed a little sleepy." Or as he always signed his letters to Tyler when he was in college "Study hard, Play hard, Go Blue."- The Moe Man believed in hard work perhaps above everything else. If you weren't up by 7am to tackle the day, well then you got branded a 'lollygagger.' As he told Taggart once when he complained that his football coach made them run the same play twenty times in a row at practice one day, "When you have to run that play in a game, you'll understand why."At the end of the day, perhaps Moe's best piece of advice and the one that he believed in most deeply was not something he put into a funny quip or anecdote, but the one ideal he lived every second of every day, and that was the ethos of giving back. We shared our Dad with Henry County because there wasn't a board he didn't serve on or a foundation he didn't give his time to. He was the kind of person who rarely did anything for himself and never said no to a group that came looking for a little help. He may not have said it explicitly the way he'd note "What goes around comes around," but man did he live it.Given the time of year and our dad's love of movies, it's hard not to think of Moe Man as George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life." When we were kids we didn't know that not everyone's parents got stopped by every person on the street to say hello. We figured all adults ran from one community organization meeting to another, trying to make the place they lived a little better.Frank Capra ends the story of George Bailey by reminding us "No man is a failure who has friends" and so we all believed Moe was the richest man in town. We've had no shortage of people reminding us of who Moe was and the things stood for, and your kind words make us all feel very lucky. For that, we owe all of you a debt of thanks.

And one more thing dad, we all know that you're finally reunited with the ol' redhead now, but we may still need a bit of advice now and then. If you could keep an ear out while you're on your endless Hawaiian vacation, we'd appreciate it.

So thanks to everyone for all of the kind words and stories. It really does mean the world to all of us. And most of all thanks to Moe Man. You always made me feel that I had your trust and respect, and that I earned it. I really hope so because I was trying really hard.- In other places around the internet and in print, people are saying nice things about the Moe Man. I should start with the Rodenberger Funeral Home site. I was very fortunate to have a very dear friend take care of us over the last week, and I'll never be able to tell Brooke exactly how much his efforts meant to me and my family in the last week. My dad's paper, The Northwest Signal, is behind a paywall, but you can see some good stuff at their facebook site (with some nice comments) here, here and here. The Crecent-News is also paywalled, but The Blade will let you read for free.

 

Posted 10:46am
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