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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 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 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


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'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 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


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.

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.

-'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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This page is written and maintained by Tyler Brubaker. All content is spewed forth from the author's brain, unless otherwise credited. He views his opinion as much more valid than yours, but welcomes all thoughts and comments.