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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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