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December 14th, 2017

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

- So the man commonly known as the douchebag's douchebag Ajit Pai, just rammed through the repeal of Net Neutrality, arguably the worst thing for the most people to come out of Orange45's administration. While that superlative is going to be quickly superceded by next week's tax scam*, let's take a moment to revel in what a piece of human filth this guy is. I mean, watch the video. He has to be the guy who most thinks he gets it yet clearly doesn't since Ted Cruz. 75% of Republicans are in favor of Net Neutrality! I suppose this is the price we pay under Sweet Potato Stalin for say keeping a pedophile out of the Senate. For Christmas, I suggest giving money to the ACLU to help fight this disastrous decision, and remind everyone you know that your love for them is contingent on voting in EVERY election and working to fight tyrannical bullshit.
*see also Neil Gorsuch

- Fortress Party was last weekend! If you don't remember what that is, someone we know turns their entire house into a blanket fort and then has themed rooms inside. I usually help out by building some silly thing or another. This year, it was a giant smoking caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland.

I will build weird shit for you for little to no money if it sounds like fun.

- It's Star Wars week! We played Star Wars trivia on Monday and missed out on the winnings by failing the final question (Name four of the six characters who utter "I have a bad feeling about this" in the eight Star Wars films). I know, I'm still embarrassed. But we are undeterred in our anticipation of the movie tomorrow. The force will be with us. Always.

- It's college football bowl season! That means it's time for the We Are So Good at Football Bowl Spectacular! As always, we appreciate the download and the iTunes reviews. You'll appreciate the on point analysis and the dick jokes. Also, lots of Roy Moore talk! Get nostalgic for your anger that we almost elected a pedophile to the US Senate.

- Finally, I know not all of the above things quite fit the "Making me happy" title of the post, but we are at the end of 2017, one of the worst years in my lifetime, so you'll forgive my mood. My family is making another exodus to Cananada for xmas, because we want to be around folks who actually believe in peace on earth and good will towards people. They'll make us come back unfortunately, so if y'all could tidy up a bit while we're gone, we'd appreciate it. Happy holidays.

Posted 4:27pm
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December 7th, 2017

Vision boards are the new hope chests.

Contractors are the worst. Plumbers, electricians, installers - I do my best to avoid these people at all costs. Because their cost sucks. Nothing against anyone making an honest living, but I personally hate when I can't do something myself. So calling a "professional" is always the last resort.

Of course life is full of last resorts. And despite whatever I think my home imporvement prowess may be, even I need help. Luckily I know people who know people and we've had more good luck than bad. But when we decided to renovate the house and get some much needed bathroom space in our house, I prepared for the deluge of people I am going to have to pay because pulling off the roof is definitely beyond my acapabilities.

We're not there yet of course. To start the process we needed an architect, and that decision was thankfully a no-brainer. I've known Angie Lane since college, and have also worked with her in a professional capacity for years. When she hang out her own shingle as an architect, it was a too-good-to-be-true bit of timing.

All of this is to say, if you need an architect, you should call Angie. Her style is impeccible and has the taste and know-how to give you want you want. Her website is https://www.alanearchitecturepllc.com. There you can see her "mood board" for our project:

Angie gets us. She'd get you too.

Posted 2:16pm
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December 4th, 2017

Revenge is dish best served cold.

I'm no Alex Jones. I know Sporcle is not actively conspiring against us to keep us from winning their trivia tournaments. But you can't blame me for feeling that way from time to time.

Fortunately we are indefatigable. This time they made us schlep to the notorious shit heap of East Lansing. They crammed way too many people into a way too crappy bar - to the point where we had to stand the entire time. No table service for standers, so while being sequestered to our spot during the game, no food or drink. Of course, we told them where to stick it.

There was no question controversy this time. We cruised to a large lead and aced the final question for a redemption win. So move the game to Columbus. Make us play hanging upside down and without alcohol. We are still going to take every one of these things down.

Of course we're the only ones without a giant check, which honestly feels like another insult. I'll bring my own next time. They'd only misspell our name on purpose.

Posted 3:03pm
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November 30th , 2017

I looked, and there before me was an orange horse...

Alright fuckers. I've heard too much talk for the last year about how yes, Trump is a racist, misogynist, incompetent asshole, but that last part, his incompetence, means that he other than our reputation and standing in the world, he hasn't really done anything.

Well it was of course a matter of time. Say hello and happy holidays to the end of the internet, higher taxes for everyone who is not a hedge fund manager and a generation of judges so biased and unqualified and tilted toward the wealthy that they make Orange 45 himself look like a socialist.

We've kept this evil at bay with diligence. People who have the capacity for empathy and believe in science are the majority and until now, we've mitigated the worst of this. Unfortunately what I've always feared and known in my gut to be true has finally come to fruition. The enemy wore down the resistance and coalesced around their only goal in life - taking money from the less privileged and giving it to their landed gentry.

This isn't just the fat old man screaming about brown people, it's literally the entire Republican party. That doesn't get said enough. Your GOP representative wants corporations to do whatever they want, and you can go fuck yourself. If you're adversely affected, you're a woman, minority, or just lazy.

So now what? Shit I don't know. Sorry if you were on medicare or wanted to go to grad school. Apologies if you're a small business who relies on the internet. God help you if you're a minority driving too nice a car in the wrong neighborhood. I'll fight for you where and when I can. Maybe Mueller will save us. Maybe the tax bill will fall apart. Most likely, it'll take years to dig out from under this and we never truly will. Half the country will forget that this is not just the Cheeto in Chief and go back to voting for people who raise their taxes for literally nothing in return.

Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government when it deserves it. I'm beginning to wonder about that first part.

 

Posted 3:03pm
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October 23rd , 2017

The spoils of trivia

As a rule, I don't talk to people. Bartenders yes, other people at the bar, not so much. Being out and around other people is usually enough for me. If I go to a place a lot, I'll usually have one person to quip with, but again, it's usually the bartender or trivia host.

Yet somehow, despite my reticence to engage, I'm somehow part of the local trivia "scene". It's probably a combination of being good and recognizable (the stupid hair does most of the work). Another guy who plays solo a lot befriended me about a year ago and now we play together quite a bit. A player he's friends with asked me to play with them at a tournament last Saturday. We won $2500.

 

The weirdest thing is, that write up isn't from the company, it's just some local trivia nerd. I suppose if I'm going to be known for something outside of my circle of friends, I'll take this. Especially if more people want me to come with them to sit around and drink beers for a few hours and then win a bunch of cash.

Posted 1:55pm
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October 19th , 2017

Irrational disdain

tbaggervance.com is known for its disdain. Of the modern GOP, of solipsism, of the band Pavement. Those first two are ideological differences. Today's Republican party suffers from a lack of empathy and uses tactics that I find to be dishonorable at best. And solipsistic assholery, well that's the scourge of our society. My well documented disdain for Pavement, well that's mostly just a symbol for a certain hipster ethos of groupthink and malaise. That and look at Stephen Malkmus. If his mere visage doesn't make you want to punch him in his stupid face, you should hear him opine about how little he cares about his self-importance.

While my hatred for Pavement may be outsized for myriad factors that I've laid out over the years, they are one of many bands whom I hold in a similar disregard. Any band that is self-styled as a lifestyle - The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffet - I shouldn't need heavy psychotics or to be dead drunk in bad cabana wear to enjoy your music. Bands that produce milquetoast, bland versions of popular radio hits by talented people - Coldplay, Nickelback - fuck you for playing to the lowest common denominator. On various levels, I dislike these musicians, their music and perhaps most of all, their fans.

Last night I was working my weekly volunteer shift at the Michigan Theater, when I found myself surrounded by a thousand fans of O.A.R. If you weren't in a midwestern fraternity between 1997 and 2002, you might not know who this is. Consider yourself lucky, don't google it. Imagine a supergroup of the least talented members of Rusted Root, Dave Mathews Band and moe. Now imagine a bunch of college frat guys get together to form a tribute band to that group who then convinces themselves to write their own songs. That's O.A.R. Oh, and before we move on, their name is an acronym for Of A Revolution and they went to school at Ohio State. So there's that.

ANYWAY, they were at the Michigan Theater last night and so was I, so were their fans. If I haven't painted you a word picture yet of who these people are, let's just say mostly they were people I didn't like in college. And some strung out hippies. And lots of suburban parents, many of whom inexplicably brought their under 10 year old children to the show, all of whom looked like they would have rather been in church.

After about an hour of selling people their temporary memberships so that they could drink the place out of Labbatts, I started to wonder why I had such disdain for these people. No matter the reason, I'm self-aware enough to know that it was an irrational amount. What's to hate about suburban thirtysomethings who want to hear the music they used to fuck to in college? I mean, I've answered that already. I didn't like those people then, I don't like them now, and it makes me a little angry that they're still the same people.

Hate's a strong word. The wrong word. I hate Trump. I hate the NRA. I hate homophobia, Islamophobia, racism and misogyny. These people I just wish were more aware of themselves and the world around them. I'm sure they don't care for intellectual snobs who pass judgment on people because of their taste in music. So eh, c'est la vie.

Posted 3:42pm
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September 20th , 2017

I don’t know how anyone survives working at Disneyland

I am two weeks into my solo hosting gig at Geeks Who Drink. I have yet to have anyone show up to play the quiz. For those of you who may still think it would be awesome to get paid to stand around and do nothing, let me open your world view.

Standing on your feet for 3 hours and smiling at people isn't as bad as I thought, to be honest. I mean, it sucks - especially for me personally, but it's not unbearable. I can look at my phone. I'm typing this on my laptop as I'm supposed to be administering a quiz. I still have to keep an eye on the room, but it's less boring than church.

What's frustrating is that unlike church, I'm supposed to be here doing this irreverent, fun thing that I think I'd be good at. Instead I'm politely smiling at people and trying to be a genial carnival barker on the mic - convincing people with pre-purchased movie tickets in their hands to abandon their plans and come play trivia instead.

The real bitch of it is that I'm in a movie theater lobby. Not even a bar off of a movie theater lobby, just the lobby. I'm literally standing next to a player piano. The worst part about that, other than feeling like I'm selling something to people who came here for a completely different reason, is that they play the same five commercials/trailers on a loop right over my head. I'm not even sure I want to see The Last Jedi at this point. I certainly don't want to stop at Target ever again, much less hear someone say "when we say STUDY you say HALL!" Kill me.

Maybe people will start showing up and it'll be fine. I'd need like 4 a week to make it work for the interim. Then maybe more would see how much fun we're having and join in. Or maybe some manager with the semblance of a brain will put this show out of my misery and I'll be a guest host for awhile until a new show pops up in A2. Those are both fine outcomes. If it's standing here for another month and a half wading in indifference, shit is going to be rough.

What I'm saying is please come to the show next week. You'll win stuff.

Posted 4:15pm
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August 30th, 2017

Hostus Mostus

Welcome back to my trivia blog! Or so it will probably seem. For those teeming with anticipation: no, Sporcle never admitted we were right, no I haven't quit participating in their quiz, and no, I'll never truly be over it. Like a poker player, you remember the bad beats way more than the quality wins.

I've loved trivia since I was a kid. I have distinct memories trying to participate in Trivial Pursuit as an 8 year old, crying in frustration over the fact that no one would listen to me, even though I had memorized about half the deck through osmosis. Ever since I've been obsessed with information. Knowing stuff is quite literally my favorite thing in the world. So far, the older I get the more information I have at my disposal. I've become quite good at the pub quiz (see previous post) to the point that I go out and play three nights a week and as such I haven't paid for a drink on those nights in over a year.

The other company I frequent is called Geeks Who Drink. Their pub quiz is harder, asks a lot more questions in a two hour span and is a bajillion times more sarcastic and pop culture oriented. I enjoy these nights so much I've decided to join their ranks and graduate for weekly pub quiz champion to Quiz Master. In two weeks I'll be hosting the weekly Geeks Who Drink Pub Quiz on Tuesday nights at the Emagine Cinema in Canton.

Why? Well as good as I am at playing, this pays more. Plus, unless I bring a partner, I'm usually doomed at GWD by the very important music round (this quiz is geared towards folks younger than I, and I can't tell Taylor Swift from Katy Perry.) More than anything though, I keep going back to what my friend who used to be a croupier in Vegas once told me about his job. He said it's like being the host of a very cool party every night.

So I'll be the only one with a mic. I get to decide what music gets played. I get to spend two hours a week drinking and being smug about information and telling people they're wrong, all while getting paid for it. Hopefully it'll even make me a better trivia player. It'll definitely be a good time. You should come and hang out. Assuming you aren't tired enough of my smug bullshit to the point that adding a microphone sounds unbearable.

Posted 3:26pm
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August 8h, 2017

The devil's in the details

I've spent the last 48 hours discussing intellectual property and copyright law, as well as, most importantly, the Ship of Theseus. All because I like to go to bars and play trivia. Let me explain.

Sunday night was the Sporcle trivia championships. Sporcle hosts weekly tirivia nights all over Michigan (and the country) and three times a year, the most successful teams (about 50 in our region) compete for a grand prize of $1500. It's a lot of fun. My team and I are very good at it. Unfortunately this time, we may have been better than the people writing the questions.

Cut to the chase: the final question works like Jeopardy. We were in first place by a couple points, but it was tight, so we bet the maxiumum points allowed, 30. It was for all intents and purposes, get the last question right, win the whole shebang.

I don't have the actual text of the question, but it was basically as follows: name one of the two primteime network scripted shows, currently in productioin, that has produced at least 220 episodes and has had original episodes appear on more than one network. There was some caveats about how scrpited isn't news or sports or reality tv, but that's the gist.

Now, spoiler alert, according to the question writers, the two correct answers are American Dad and Supernatural. That's not really the dispute. After much hemming and hawing, we answered One Day at a Time. It is a primteime scripted show that has had 222 episodes, is currently being produced and appeared on CBS and now Netflix. When we pointed this out, we were told to fuck off.

The crux of their argument seems to be that the current iteration of One Day at a Time isn't the same show that appeared on CBS from 1975-1984. Our argument, which we've dubbed the Doctor Who conundrum, is that if it has the same executive producer, the same premise, the same name and the same damn theme song, how is it not the same show?

The frustrating thing is that I think we are right on the facts, but our only arbitration involves making an argument to the people who fucked up and don't want to pay us and have really no incentive to do so. I get that the answers they provided are easier to see and had we thought of either we would have chucked our answer for one of those. However, I also think our argument is valid. It meets all the requirements of the question and there are countless examples to defend any counter arguments (Doctor Who invalidates most of the holes you could find, as everyone agrees that's the same show for 50 years even though it's a Ship of Theseus).

The worst part is perhaps that I'm stuck in an Amazon paradox. Yes, Amazon.com advertises on sites like Breitbart and I'd love to boycott them over that, but I've become too reliant on it. Sporcle has all but monopolized trivia in this town and I play it at least twice a week (and win a lot of money doing so). So what's a nerd to do? The only answer is: Up on your feet. Somewhere there's music playing. Don't you worry none, we'll just take it like it comes One Day at a Time.

Posted 11:13am
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August 4th, 2017

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

- I was right! When Orange 45 was elected, I decided to make monthly donations to the ACLU, the NAACP, Planned Parenthood and The Trevor Project, because while we are all under attack, those were the people I thought would need the most help. Guess what happens when our narcissist man baby POTUS decides to he needs to reassure other close minded bigots to feed his ego? Obviously this doesn't make me happy, but if you vacillate between sad and angry all the time like me, consider a donation to assuage your seething. Oh, and actually help some people that need it.

- Afterwards, watch this adorable Pixar-esque short to remember that love is love is love is love is love.

- Net Neutrality isn't dead yet, but raise your hand if you think we're going to win this one. As such, another consequence of electing the tiny hands oompah loompah was me purchasing a VPN for all my computers and internet connected devices. The good news is that folks over at CERN and MIT have created a free VPN! I haven't used it (since I already paid for one) but give it a whirl if you're an ounce of protection kind of person.

- Mueller is impaneling a grand jury! This is innocuous because it doesn't necessarily mean impeachment and it sure as shit doesn't mean anything for a long, long time. Still though, high fives all around.

- Finally, this is old(ish) but as the world burns, we could all use a little silliness. And Star Wars. There's four of 'em, so take 20 minutes to giggle like a middle schooler.

Posted 10:42am
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July 28th, 2017

#resist: A Republic, if you can keep it

My final thought last night, right before I fell asleep, was "We no longer live in a democracy." The BDGF assured me I was being both hyperbolic and dramatic, to which I said "Fine, then we're no longer a representative democracy."

I was of course expecting things to go the other way. It's been too long since I went to bed thinking the worst and not have it come to fruition. It's a nice feeling. I hope it stays. Of course as they might say in the Trump administration, let's not start sucking our own dicks just yet. While they are woefully incompetent, they will try to use public fatigue to eventually screw all of us over, you can count on that.

Because the biggest takeaway from all of this is that we did it. All the respect and love to Murkowski and Collins, but it's you that forced their hands. It's the calls and letters and constant pressure that kept the grand ol' party from trying to take healthcare away from millions so that billionaires can buy a ten foot longer yacht. McConnell is waiting for people to get tired, so we can't. I mean it sucks that I have to write "stay vigilent" amongst the high fives, but stay vigilent <high five>.

Posted 9:41am
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June 30th, 2017

#resist: Setting aside hysterics and indignation

When I was a high school senior the teachers in my district went on strike. It was ugly. They stood outside the school with picket signs, yelling at the substitute teachers that were brought in to continue our education. There was a comically ugly, publicly waged campaign filled with name calling, false equivalencies and misinformation. I, being me and the president of the senior class, was neck deep in all of it. I was on the radio and tv and in the newspaper doing by best to use my wit to point a finger at childish and boorish behavior.

It was easy to rail against the teachers I thought were assholes. Hell, it was fun. But there were those that I respected. My art teacher and I were "friends". I loved learning from her and I think she enjoyed teaching me. We shared a similar sense of humor and got along swimmingly. Until one day, after largely staying above the fray, she appeared on the front page of the Northwest Signal, holding a sign and yelling at a car leaving the high school parking lot. When I saw her the next day, she came in to the classroom, half smiling and saying "OK, let's hear it. I'm ready for you to make fun of me." I just looked at her straight faced and said "No. I'm just disappointed."

I couldn't believe the outrage over Orange 45's tweet yesterday about Mika Brzezinski. Not because it wasn't horrible and misogynist and a sad day for the dignity of the office of the president, but because who is surprised by his boorish behavior at this point? He bragged about sexual assault and got elected. It was a matter of time before his long storied history of misogyny reared its ugly head again.

At the end of my senior year, my art teacher told me how much my reaction to her newspaper photo op affected her. I don't want to take any sort of credit for trying to teach my teacher anything, or even having any sort of plan, but her honest reaction to mine stuck with me. As I write this anecdote down now and tenuously try to apply it to what's going on in our country, I don't even have a concrete throughline much less an action plan for you to follow.

There's a dopamine rush to yelling and screaming and trying to excoriate those you think are wrong on a moral and intellectual level. God knows that I didn't stop wearing my anti-strike pin to school or writing op-eds in the newspaper after the above incident. I think we'd all be better off however, to occasionally take a minute and quietly look at the opposition and say "I'm just disappointed." Maybe if that person gives two shits about you they'll take your disappointment to heart. When they don't, feel free to write that person off and go back to that sweet, sweet point-and-laugh excoriation, but anything is a worth a try at this point, right?

Posted 9:56am
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June 28th, 2017

#resist: This would be hilarious if we weren't imploding

Our Kremlin Kontrolled Karrot in chief is a cartoonish buffoon. He's dumber than Sarah Palin and less competent than your average fast food employee. He dresses like a child playing "businessman" and boasts about his physical prowess despite having an ass the size of the Taj Mahal. He's Kim Jong Il, Dr. Evil and Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper all rolled into one.

Yes, he's doing long term damage to this country. He will make life demonstrably worse for people you know because his only guiding principals are serving his ego and making rich people richer. It's a sad, infuriating situation that is omnipresent and unavoidable. But look how dumb! Look at this ridiculous sack of shit! You're telling me we can't bring down a septuagenarian who couldn't find his behemoth of an ass with both tiny hands and a flashlight?

We can do this. We can come out the other side with single payer healthcare, the end of gerrymandering and a progressive agenda that makes people's lives better. The only permanent damage done so far is goddamn Gorsuch, and if we all stay woke, there will come a day when we can all laugh at this, without simultaneously crying.

Posted 10:16am
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June 19th, 2017

I was a teenage shithead

I was an asshole to my mother when I was younger.We had differing opinions of how I should act as a teenager and I gave her no quarter for having a.) given me life and b.) 30+ years of life experience on me. I mean, my side wasn't without merit, but I was a class A dick to her.

I was a teenager, what do you want? All teenagers are assholes. It's part of the job description. You don't have to be a spectacular asshole like I was, but slack should be awarded, because we've all been there.

In my worst times, when I would defy my mother, come home late and lie to her face ("I'm not drunk, YOU'RE DRUNK") she would often say to me "Someday, I hope you have a kid just like you."

That's about as nasty as it got, but that's pretty heated for rural Ohio. Later I had a kid (at 19) and we buried the proverbial hatchet. She realized I was going to do what's right, and I realized she was just looking out for me and trying to prune by potentially destructive behavior. Detente reached.

She died before I hit 30. In her magnanimous way, her final words to me were "I know you're going to be OK. I know you're going to be a good dad." I always half assumed she was blowing smoke and telling me what she thought I needed to hear, because she was an amazing person and I was a jackass. but even acknowledging that, it was pretty awesome.

And for the next 15 years those words buoyed me and I thought that my mother's final thoughts would be my through line and the story of my admittedly stupid adulthood, all the while feeling pretty smug about her former wish that the sins of the father would be revisited upon me by my son. Of course, my mother always gets her way.

Six months ago I was doing my taxes and long story short, something wasn't right. Specifically, something wasn't right with my son's enrollment in the University he was supposedly attending. We had just spent a family vacation in Montreal, so I assumed major problems would have been copped to, so it was probably a mistake on my end. Or the University's end. There was a form that was incorrectly filed. Something.

I asked my only begotten son. He assured me everything was OK. So I dug. I asked him again "The University says you're not enrolled. What is going on?" This is what I received:

And that's the last I've heard from him.

So I have no idea what's going on. If you're a parent, you can probably imagine what it feels like. If you're not, you probably still get the idea. My mom won. At least that's what been going through my head for six months.

I have many people in my life that assure me that I was and am a good dad. They similarly say that this is a phase and that he will come back to me, embarrassed by his actions, penitent for being a teenage shithead.

I am completely unconvinced.

My kid owed me nothing until the point he lied and stole from me for six months. It's been six months since then, and I've received nary a text message. He now owes me approximately $3,000 and an apology. But after your kid, whom you struggled through long odds to raise for over 20 years, can't even electronically say happy father's day, I'm done holding my breath.

Posted 10:14am
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June 2nd, 2017

#resist: Ask what you can do for your country

I understand that not every one has the same priorities that I do. I get that people can interpret scientific data in different ways at times. What I'll never understand is how anyone can support a racist, misogynist, imbecile who completely eschews both popular and scientific opinion in order to get his ego stroked.

Just today (because the idiocracy tap is all the way open) our Oompa Loompa in chief pulled out of the Paris Accord and made it more difficult to get birth control. These are colossally stupid ideas based on popular opinion, scientific data and common sense. They were carried out merely so a gigantic baby can have a group of morons with the collective brain power of a nursery school whoop and holler when he comes to their town. Well, that and praise from the pundits at Fox News looking for trickle down off of his bib.

I lose sleep over this on the reg. Every day I continue to write a letter or donate money to the organizations fighting the good fight. I'll march in every protest I can get to and as much as it hurts, I will endeavor to remain informed about what is going on in this mess of a country. Because every day this bloated sac of dementia has the reigns, things get worse. If it hasn't hit you personally (outside of shame and embarrassment) yet, rest assured it will. So please, take time every day, once a week or whenever you can to try and save this republic. Every little bit helps, because otherwise this becomes normal, and at that point, we're all fucked.

Posted 9:18am
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May 12th, 2017

#resist: Living through a coup

We elected a demagogue. That was always clear. The slide to dictator has been quicker than even I imagined.

The fact that the President met with Russian operatives (behind the back of the American but not the Russian press) and Henry fucking Kissinger while firing the director of the FBI for investigating him, is treasonous. It's a cover up.

The fact that he simultaneously is on twitter constantly trying to disparage the media, signing an executive order to "study" voter fraud as a precursor to massive disenfranchisement and defunding the census in order ensure improper representation of American citizens is the beginning of a coup.

This was always clear. In the run up to the election he warned of not accepting the results of the vote. He's spent every day of his presidency lying and complaining about an outcome that he won. And most of the people who voted for him are still OK with all of this.

So I'm on the verge of done with the American experiment. It's finally failed. Too many people don't give two fucks about what happens to this country as long as abortion rights are rolled back. So many of us can't abide a woman in power, or still want vengeance for the fact that we had a black man in charge for eight years. That's paramount to them. Not the rule of law. Not our cherished institutions nor civility nor decorum.

In a sense, they're asking for a dictatorship. They think it's neat that they scammed the electoral college so minority viewpoints dominate our public policy. They elect officials who screw them over so that well healed donors can be just a little bit richer on the backs of the working poor. This isn't civilized. This isn't America. At least not one I want to be a part of. Fuck the GOP. Fuck their enablers.

Posted 9:33am
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May 5th, 2017

This Week in Indie Rock

- Returning Favorites!

- LCD Soundsystem un-retire
- Chris Bathgate, now hailing from California
- Matthew Sweet sounding more like it's 1992

- Video goodness!

- clipping. plays spaceman
- explore The White Stripes collaborating with Michel Gondry

- Explore new music!

- At my age, Sorority Noise sounds like something I call the authorities about. This is not that. This driving depression anthem rock. One of my favorites.
- Aging hipsters such as myself are probably familiar with Cayetana. The rest of you should get on board with their post pop-punk.
- I want to be friends with Trophy Dad, back when I was in my awkward 20s. I probably wasn't cool enough.

Finally, maybe for the first time, one of my children suggested I might like some music and they were dead on. It's naturally the littlest getting me to listen to the cast recording of Dear Evan Hansen, which hey! Alright. Also, speaking of musicals, Steve Bannon wrote a rap musical based on Coriolanus. Yup. Happy Friday.

Posted 10:06am
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April 26th, 2017

#resist: True North beckons

The question remains: how much do I love Montreal versus Canada in general? I could probably move to Canada tomorrow. Not literally, but I could find some University in Toronto or Vancouver to give me a job. It'd solve my Orange 45 problem, insulate me from the stupidity of the GOP in general and make me a member of a saner, more egalitarian society that understands the simple truth that we should take care of each other.

I mean, in the last few weeks Canada has announced its plans to legalize marijuana and just strengthened its net neutrality laws. You know, the common sense positions anyone takes when looking at these issues analytically. Remember Obama? Like that, but consistently better. I mean, speaking of analytically, why sit around waiting for one country to stop dragging its progressive feet when you can fast forward 20 years by traveling 30 minutes East?

The fact remains that we have someone who still lives with us and starts high school in the fall. She's not as eager. Plus there's the difficulty of immigration and pulling up stakes. Most of all, there's the fact that as great as Canada is, it's Montreal with which I'm really in love. I also enjoy having it as an oasis. Like falling in love with anything, it makes me smile just to think of it, and the anticipation of being together again gets me through a lot of days. Is it better to make that permanent and have returns to the States to look forward to?

Fortunately/unfortunately it's not really a choice at the moment. Working towards it is, and that's still an exciting prospect on a daily basis. Why settle for Toronto when I could shore up my French and go to the place I really love? Or why not find a job where I can just spend my summers in Quebec so I can fight to change things here and then escape to sanity when the weather's nice? Open to opportunities is probably the current state, which is where we should all be all of the time. Of course don't be surprised if you see me on the street gathering signatures for this initiative. Assuming we can leave out Ohio, naturally...

Posted 11:33am
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April 14th, 2017

#resist: beware the vermicious knid

The Tax March is tomorrow, and instead of fighting the good fight, I'll be eastering with the family. C'est la vie. I made a poster anyway.

Kudos to everyone out there protesting. He lies. He obfuscates. He cruelly ruins peoples lives for his own edification. As Dan Savage and my button say, impeach the motherfucker already.

Posted 9:01am
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March 29th, 2017

#resist: you're going to need a bigger padlock

Look, I know you can't be outraged 24-7 about every little perceived indignation that the Trump administration and the GOP led congress throw at us these days. And I know that it's been almost 20 years since the chairman on Sun Microsystems noted "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." in a speech to privacy advocates. But this is big. Not enough people are talking about it. It directly affects you.

Congress has passed a bill that allows your ISP to sell your entire online history to the highest bidder. Every thing you do online, laid bare for anyone with the cash to peruse without your consent or permission. No, your incognito tab won't help you. Yes, what porn you like is included in that.

Sound scary? You're goddman right. I get that you search for batteries on Amazon and every ad on facebook is now for batteries. That's the price of Facebook being free. While it's annoying that meta data aggregators can figure out that people who search for incontinence remedies also hate immigrants and can use that to influence those people's voting habits, that's a far cry from someone showing up on your doorstep knowing everything you've done on the internet ever.

What can we do? Well, Trump hasn't signed the bill yet, but don't get your hopes up there obviously. You can contribute to this guy who wants to buy lawmakers data and post it publicly online, but while fun, that solves...

Good news is there's a way to even keep Comcast or AT&T from knowing what you're up to online. It's called a VPN. You may have heard of them, probably for a work thing. Well thanks to all of you dipshits who voted for Republicans, we all need one. All the time and always. Here's an initial article that explains it all. Chances are there'll be companies that step up in the wake of your Congressperson failing to stand up for your privacy, but be prepared to pay to protect yourself from now on. Just remember that you have the freedom to tell these assholes it's none of their business, and hopefully in 18 months, tell them their services are no longer needed as well.

Posted 3:49pm
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March 22nd, 2017

My brain may be on the fritz. In a good way?

We got a new mattress recently. The BDGF finally convinced me that it was necessary, after my cheap ass whinged about the expense for six months. Of course, she was beyond right. I haven't slept so well in years. Turns out that it wasn't just that I'm getting older that was causing my body to constantly ache or that caused me to toss and turn all night long. Who would have guessed (see above for the correct answer)?

As mentioned previously here, the tossing and turning was a problem because once I woke up to any degree, I'd begin to perseverate on all of the shit going down, making falling back to sleep neigh on impossible. This made me cranky due to being overly tired and the whole thing was a snake eating its own tail.

Those days are gone. Mostly. Last night I groggily woke up enough to contemplate which is bigger: The world's largest dog or the world's smallest horse? How close are these two animals in size? Who would win in a fight? Turns out there are some tiny horses out there and some giant ass dogs. I suppose it's still interesting to contemplate a small horse fighting a giant dog, but it seemed like a much more interesting question of size at 4 am this morning.

Needless to say all of this is a welcome respite from bolting upright in the middle of the night seething over the fact that we are led by a racist, misogynist spray tan whose incompetence knows no bounds. I know that is still a fact, but for now if a new mattress is keeping me comfortable enough to dream instead of tiny ponies and giant puppies, well then it was worth every goddman penny I spent.

Posted 10:51am
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March 8th, 2017

Everyone needs a hobby. I need 42.

Do kids still take shop class? It's certainly not compulsory anymore. Not in Ann Arbor anyway. I'm from the middle of nowhere and a million years ago, so I did. I liked it. I learned a lot of skills I tend to use more frequently than I ever would have imagined back then.

I still have the nightstand I made in eighth grade. It's sat next to my bed for over 25 years. That's a lot better value than anything I've ever purchased from IKEA. Plus I made it. There's something to be said for that.

So when we were reconfiguring our bedroom, instead of embarking on the tedious process of visiting furniture showrooms and browsing online for an eternity, I decided to lean on my industrial arts training and build the pieces we needed.

I'm actually fairly pleased with how they came out. Which for someone with my artist's temperament, is saying something. I'm actually thinking about doing some bigger stuff for the rest of the house - getting back into an actual woodshop and seeing what I can do. Plus, when I'm sawing and hammering and sanding I'm not perseverating on how our country is going to hell in a hand basket. Everyone needs a hobby. Especially now.

Posted 10:22am
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March 1st, 2017

#resist: Now Hear This

Dan Savage spent the first few minutes of his podcast this week talking about representation. About Harvey Milk and the recent study showing how the legalization of gay marriage has reduced the rate of suicide attempts. What does it mean for kids to see people that look, act and feel like they do in popular culture? In the government? To be talked about on the news like anyone else? How excited do you get when you see a movie filmed in a place you've been, or hear it use an obscure song you like in its soundtrack?

I've been thinking about representation a lot lately. I haven't always. I didn't always see the importance of it. I do now. I know what it's like to care about people who don't see themselves represented all the time everywhere like I do, and how excited they can get and important it is to them. I think it's a beautiful thing, especially for kids, and even when it's not potentially life or death. It's an idea that we can learn something from, become more compassionate over, and use to make better communities. It's something that I think is too often seen as trite and simple, and anyone who wants to have that debate with me, should go listen to Dan Savage and Harvey Milk first.

- Also listen to Kurt Vonnegut give a sermon on nuclear annihilation. It's always a good idea to listen to Kurt.

Posted 11:05am
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February 24th, 2017

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

- I'm supposed to be in Montreal right now. Well, I would be in Montreal anyway, if Ann Arbor Public Schools still had a mid-Winter break. Alas, I'm still in the Mitten where it is scheduled to be 68 degrees today, so at least there's a mid-level consolation. Everyone loves moderate temperatures, but being a born and raised midwesterner, I also don't mind winter, and take pride in the fact that we live our lives in defiance of mother nature for several months a year. Take tomorrow, where I will go stand in a parking lot all day drinking delicious beers. And since this is Michigan, tomorrow's high is 32 with a 50% chance of snow. Small price to pay for the chance to sample New Holland's Dragon's Milk: Mexican Spice Cake. The only beer with a name longer than a Star Wars movie.

- Speaking of winter and Montreal, this video shows you exactly how the citizens of Quebecois tell Winter to go fuck itself. That's literally like just a random Tuesday in Montreal. That city is the best.

- I've been saying this for decades, and now I have the endorsement of the Papacy: I'm a better Christian than most Republicans*. That's the Pope guys. He's infallible.

- In music news: Ted Leo kickstarts a new album, Jeff Tweedy molts into Woody Guthrie, new New Pornographers, and the saddest Radiohead song. No offense to science, but for zero dollars you could have just asked the BDGF and she would have answered "all of them."

- Finally, I tried to see every movie nominated for an Oscar** this year in every category. I came up 7 short (4 foreign language films, 2 animated and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) Chances are that La La Land will win everything anyway, so I'll be watching for the best Trump disses and who will make me cry when giving an impassioned plea towards inclusion. Like the BDGF before me, the answer will be all of them.

*Certainly every elected GOP official in Washington.
**I never intended to watch the two Michael Bay movies that were nominated for technical awards, because I am a man of principle.

Posted 11:47am
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February 17th, 2017

#Resist: 5 2 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- Le Petite Trump!

- Two is all I got. Actually surprised I got that far. Enjoy the weekend.

Posted 4:11pm
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February 14th, 2017

#Resist: harnessing antiquated technology

So the free press of the United States forced the resignation of a highly placed American official colluding with a foreign government. The system is at least still capable of working! Sen. Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, refuses to investigate the scope of this scandal saying 'It's taking care of itself."

So...

1. Cut and paste this, or use your own words, into a google doc and create a pdf:

Dear Mr. Chaffetz,

       I find your lack of concern over Michael Flynn troubling and unconscionable. As an American citizen, I implore you to do your job as the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and launch a full, bipartisan investigation into this scandal. This is not a time to put party over country, and to act in such a manner is un-American and for you, a dereliction of duty.

2. Go to faxzero.com, attach the pdf, and send it to Sen. Chaffetz at 2022255629

3. You can also call him 202.225.7751

Victories are unfortunately not the time to celebrate anymore, they are a time to redouble efforts, because what we are doing is working.

Happy Valentine's Day! XOXO

Posted 2:30pm
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February 9th, 2017

#Resist: speak truth to power

Who knows exactly how much a call, a letter or showing up at a protest actually helps? Sometimes you show up with a sign and the community feels amazing, and the coverage in the media makes it fell like you're not alone for a few days. Then you make every call you're told to and retweet every plea for action you can find and you still end up with a racist as the Attorney General of the United States.

The former is nice, the latter utterly depressing. When nice is all you can hope for, you look for it where ever you can find it. That's why I wrote the following letters.

The first is to President Bannon, after declaring the press the enemy. The second was sent to Mitch McConnell. It's written on the back of the Coretta Scott King letter, because that's why.

My wildest fantasy doesn't include either of these thunderous assbags ever seeing what I wrote and I don't even imagine some Stepford Wife staffer doing anything other than cataloging it as a "letter of dissent". That doesn't mean it didn't feel good to write. It doesn't mean it wasn't worth it to send. I told the people ruining this country what I thought of them. We all should. Over and over again.

Posted 4:27pm
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February 8th, 2017

Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

I don't sleep well anymore. A large part of this is that I am rapidly fulfilling my destiny to become a dottering old man. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it's rare that I make it to 6am without having to get up to use the bathroom.

That's my body breaking down and being less efficient than it used to be. We all eventually succumb to the ravages of time. But these days, most days, once I'm awake from my biological imperative, I find it hard to go back to sleep.

I won't go as far as to say I have bad dreams, but the minute my brain is turned back on it begins to perseverate on the fact that we now live in a nightmarish hellscape that looms over every ounce of progress we've made as a society in the last 200 years. So I come out of my slumber to a waking nightmare.

I don't remember dreaming about Spiro Agnew (or William Safire) but around 5:30 this morning, I woke up to pee and then spent the next two hours thinking about the nattering nabobs of negativism. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, I'm trying to relate the Nixon White House to what we are currently embroiled in. To what end I have no idea.

I guess I'm just as incredulous as the rest of you and my "survival mode" is to try and put things in context, thus reassuring myself that there will be a morning after. There not being enough hours in the day, I'm apparently still crunching data in my sleep.

What ultimately keeps haunting me is election night. As things went from bad to worse, I kept my optimism that things were still going to be OK, that the fire wall was in place and sanity would rule the day. When that turned out to be woefully wrong, something snapped. I broke, and now my brain is working overtime to try and fix it.

The thing about being so woefully wrong is that it necessitates a shift in worldview, and I liked my previous worldview. These are painful truths about who we are and how things work, and they are so negative and so depressing that the options seem to be a.) never sleep again or b.) stop caring and welcome our new racist, misogynist, idiot overlords. Right now, it's the opening of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and I'm flipping that stupid coin over and over and over again.

Posted 9:31am
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February 3rd, 2017

G-G-G-Ghosts?!?

Just because your parents are dead doesn't mean they are out of your life. I mean, obviously? Obviously. Your parents will continue to hang over you long after they can make you feel guilty because you never call.

Hopefully you liked your parents and they were good people and their wisdom and examples continue to be a source of strength for you when you need it. Of course even if those things are true, there's times when you wish they were around to reassure you, like when an Orange Oligarch usurps your country and you feel like you are living in the end times.

That can't happen of course, except when it does? You don't expect to get new information from or about your parents after they're dead, but it can happen. I once found a note from my mother that I had never seen before ten years after she passed. (It was an admonishment of my behavior, so on point.)

This was even cooler. One of my siblings texted me recently to show me a picture of our Dad that's in a new Sports Illustrated coffee table book.

It's not wisdom from beyond the grave, but I can't accurately express how cool seeing this is. How had I never seen this photo before? How perfect is it? How happy will it make me having this book on my shelf? Incredibly. Incredibly happy. Thanks Dad. I really needed that.

Posted 10:20am
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January 31st, 2017

Resist

A lot of people are calling their Senators (or just ones that they think need a push) which is awesome. I'm doing that. You should do that. Here are even more ways to contact those in power, most importantly perhaps is the power of the Fax. Look up your Senator's fax number. Use Fax Zero to send them a fax for free. Everyone I've sent has gone through, so you can be immediate, you can be heard, you don't have to talk on the phone. Triple win.

- I posted this on facebook last weekend, because I'm certain it had a hand in my becoming a card carrying member of the ACLU back in 2005. I've always felt good about that membership, but never more so than last weekend. I now literally carry my card with me everywhere I go, because it reminds me that good people are fighting the good fight. It gives me strength, and I need it.

 

Posted 10:20am
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January 25th, 2017

Resist

- Marching was awesome. We'll march more. Taking five minutes to call a rep and tell them your wishes is an easy way to resist every day. Wanna be the boots on the ground? You can start here with swingleft.org. Or indivisibleguide.com.

- Wanna feel like you still have agency in this world? Remember that our Oompa Loompa Oligarch is a bee hive easily poked. Sign this petition demanding that he release his taxes. Follow @halfonioninabag. Get under his thin skin, fear not his tiny hands.

- I previously implored those that could afford it to make monthly donations to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, NAACP etc. Of course that's not in everyone's means, but what if you got something in return? Yes, you could stream this compilation from Barsuk records for free, but if you purchase it, the money goes to good people who need it. Same goes for this merch, because we are all on board to impeachthemotherfuckeralready.com.*

- Finally, laughter is the best medicine, and we all feel a little sick. So laugh at our pain and impending doom! Triumph hits the inauguration and Broad City provides survival tips.

* Want a button? Hit me up, I'll send you one...

Posted 11:15am
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January 23rd, 2017

Reprieve

Hey guys. I'm going through some shit. I know you are too, so I hope you understand that last post. I don't want to retract anything I said, because I don't do that here (except once because I was politely asked. That and banning former frequent commenter ljv for being a misogynist. That still feels good.) ANYWAY, it's rough out there. I sometimes feel helpless and hopeless.

I didn't Saturday. I marched with 10,000+ in A2 and millions more worldwide in protest of what is happening in this country (the whole being led by a misogynist who admits to sexual assault and restricts access to abortion his "first day" in office). ANYWAY it was awesome. It felt like we might be OK. I mean, we're gonna have to Shawshank this and crawl through a mile of shit to get there, but there is a light.

I was so buoyed, that I went on facebook for the first time in forever Sunday to catch what my friends did the previous day. I had seen 95% on other social media outlets, but I was looking for new tidbits, like an addict looking for a fix. Of course it took five minutes for me to be reminded why I left.

Some idiots who I went to high school with were complaining about how they were watching SNL the night before and were dismayed at how political it was. They "weren't racist or misogynist" of course, but why does everything have to be so political? Ignoring the fact that SNL has survived on politics for 40+ years, I really wanted to say "because ignorant fucks such as yourself have to have empathy and equality spoon fed to you by people who actually give a shit and use their voice for good."

I didn't do that. I removed him from my timeline, along with a few others who I could see as being potential problems down the road. That wasn't the takeaway from dipping my toe in the facebook cesspool though. What went through my mind was that these are almost exclusively people like me, trying to be the change they want to see, and I should probably keep avenues to these people as open as possible. Especially now. So maybe. We'll see. I'm officially ready to straight up defriend the ignorant and bigots, might be interesting.

Posted 10:41am
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January 19th, 2017

Thanks Obama

I mostly hate this stupid country. Eight years of inclusion. Eight years of relative prosperity. Eight years of being represented by someone thoughtful, erudite and steady. I have my own criticisms of the Obama administration, but the vitriol that accompanied his tenure as commander in chief is something I'll never understand.

That's not true. I could have titled this post "This is why we can't have nice things" and just written "racism" and been done with it. Obama's signature achievement (Obamacare) is being repealed to cheers among the right who think that the Affordable Care Act will save them.You fucking people.

Now we're being lead by a giant orange baby who is choosing people so woefully unqualified for their prospective jobs it would be too absurd for a Monty Python sketch. And did I mention they are overwhelmingly racist and misogynist? After listening to everyone on the right say "it's about limited government!" for years, turn out I was right all along. You solipsistic idiots.

Listen, I'm a straight, middle-aged white guy - I'll be fine. But that's not what this is about, except I think it speaks to the crux of this situation. This is about empathy. Some people have none. They are the GOP. Their fucks extend to themselves, or their family, or maybe the people that look and feel and act exactly like they do. You are toilet people. A pox on all your houses.

Maybe this isn't worth saving. I'll fight where I can for disenfranchised and deligitimized, but I think I'm done feeling like this is actually the land of the free and the home of the brave. Too many cowards are working too hard to take that freedom from ordinary people. That's not exceptionalism, it's a kleptocracy. You ignorant fucks can have it.

Posted 10:41am
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January 11th, 2017

All out of fucks to give

I got a text Monday afternoon inviting me to a meeting and asking for help "reforming the Democratic party." My initial reaction upon receiving it was "fuck you, you fucking piece of shit asshole" because I happen to know for a fact that the invitation came from someone who voted third party in the last election. For the foreseeable future, that's my response to anyone who voted for Cheeto Mussolini or Dems who didn't vote for Hillary when they ask me for so much as a stick of gum. For the next four years, setup a google alert and write a personal letter of apology to every woman and minority and LGBTQ person who is harassed or made to feel less safe by this regime's policies or in their name and then I will consider giving you the time of the day. I need your act of contrition before I so much as want to be in the same room as you.

Besides that, I understand that the Democrats need reforming. At least there are things about the Dems that I don't care for and would like to see changed. But despite the fucking colossal ass hats who voted for Jill Stein, Hillary won the popular vote by two and a half million votes. It's not like we need an overhaul here. The planks of the Democrat's platform have gotten more progressive over the years. I don't need to sit in a room with a bunch of Bernie bros for two hours, listening to a bunch of idyllic morons scream their version of "54°40' or fight!" because they've chosen the worst time in history to draw an arbitrary line in the sand and would rather burn this fucking place to the ground rather than work the system.

I'd rather spend my time and energy addressing the things that actually keep the will of the people from being voiced. Things like restoring the Voting Rights Act. Fighting against unconstitutional gerrymandering. Making sure Republican led voter suppression efforts are rolled back and abolished. Getting rid of the Electoral College. Supporting a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. I support everyone at that meeting who wants to make the Democratic Party more progressive. And believe me, I am with you in understanding that everyone needs to sit around whinging once in a while. I just happen to think that the positions of the Democrats aren't necessarily the issue, and a bunch of fucking juvenile imbeciles who didn't want to swallow a bitter pill to keep Orange Julius Caesar from power, well fuck you, you fucking piece of shit assholes.

Posted 10:41am
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January 6th, 2017

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

- On our now annual Xmas sojourn to Montreal, we listened to the audiobook of The Daily Show: An Oral History. Despite the distraction of having famous voices being read by voice actors, one thing was abundantly clear: I miss that goddamn show. As the BDGF put it, "Jon Stewart was what got me through the Bush years. Now what am I supposed to do?" I unfortunately don't have a concrete answer to that, but you can kick that question down the road a bit with this final Luther, Obama's anger translator sketch from last night's Daily Show.

- Rogue One is pretty great as both a Star Wars film and a war movie, but it fucking rules as a Hollywood blockbuster that isn't whiter than a Trump rally. I like to think I've always felt that representation matters, and I know that now more than ever we have to fight for it. If you feel like getting a little emotional (or just want some concrete proof) here's a story that'll make the room real dusty.

- Even with all of the great shizz on TV these days, I miss the show Happy Endings. There's nothing on right now that matches the joke density of that show. Luckily, the cast recently reunited to do a table read of a lost episode. It's a-maaz-ing.

- For true TV nostalgia, may I recommend this debut episode of The Price Is Right from 1972? Goes great with sick and snow days.

- Finally:

You solipsistic idiots and bigots who voted for that jackass-o'-lantern can continue to go fuck yourselves.

Posted 10:35am
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March 29th, 2017

#resist: you're going to need a bigger padlock

Look, I know you can't be outraged 24-7 about every little perceived indignation that the Trump administration and the GOP led congress throw at us these days. And I know that it's been almost 20 years since the chairman on Sun Microsystems noted "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." in a speech to privacy advocates. But this is big. Not enough people are talking about it. It directly affects you.

Congress has passed a bill that allows your ISP to sell your entire online history to the highest bidder. Every thing you do online, laid bare for anyone with the cash to peruse without your consent or permission. No, your incognito tab won't help you. Yes, what porn you like is included in that.

Sound scary? You're goddman right. I get that you search for batteries on Amazon and every ad on facebook is now for batteries. That's the price of Facebook being free. While it's annoying that meta data aggregators can figure out that people who search for incontinence remedies also hate immigrants and can use that to influence those people's voting habits, that's a far cry from someone showing up on your doorstep knowing everything you've done on the internet ever.

What can we do? Well, Trump hasn't signed the bill yet, but don't get your hopes up there obviously. You can contribute to this guy who wants to buy lawmakers data and post it publicly online, but while fun, that solves...

Good news is there's a way to even keep Comcast or AT&T from knowing what you're up to online. It's called a VPN. You may have heard of them, probably for a work thing. Well thanks to all of you dipshits who voted for Republicans, we all need one. All the time and always. Here's an initial article that explains it all. Chances are there'll be companies that step up in the wake of your Congressperson failing to stand up for your privacy, but be prepared to pay to protect yourself from now on. Just remember that you have the freedom to tell these assholes it's none of their business, and hopefully in 18 months, tell them their services are no longer needed as well.

Posted 3:49pm
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March 22nd, 2017

My brain may be on the fritz. In a good way?

We got a new mattress recently. The BDGF finally convinced me that it was necessary, after my cheap ass whinged about the expense for six months. Of course, she was beyond right. I haven't slept so well in years. Turns out that it wasn't just that I'm getting older that was causing my body to constantly ache or that caused me to toss and turn all night long. Who would have guessed (see above for the correct answer)?

As mentioned previously here, the tossing and turning was a problem because once I woke up to any degree, I'd begin to perseverate on all of the shit going down, making falling back to sleep neigh on impossible. This made me cranky due to being overly tired and the whole thing was a snake eating its own tail.

Those days are gone. Mostly. Last night I groggily woke up enough to contemplate which is bigger: The world's largest dog or the world's smallest horse? How close are these two animals in size? Who would win in a fight? Turns out there are some tiny horses out there and some giant ass dogs. I suppose it's still interesting to contemplate a small horse fighting a giant dog, but it seemed like a much more interesting question of size at 4 am this morning.

Needless to say all of this is a welcome respite from bolting upright in the middle of the night seething over the fact that we are led by a racist, misogynist spray tan whose incompetence knows no bounds. I know that is still a fact, but for now if a new mattress is keeping me comfortable enough to dream instead of tiny ponies and giant puppies, well then it was worth every goddman penny I spent.

Posted 10:51am
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March 8th, 2017

Everyone needs a hobby. I need 42.

Do kids still take shop class? It's certainly not compulsory anymore. Not in Ann Arbor anyway. I'm from the middle of nowhere and a million years ago, so I did. I liked it. I learned a lot of skills I tend to use more frequently than I ever would have imagined back then.

I still have the nightstand I made in eighth grade. It's sat next to my bed for over 25 years. That's a lot better value than anything I've ever purchased from IKEA. Plus I made it. There's something to be said for that.

So when we were reconfiguring our bedroom, instead of embarking on the tedious process of visiting furniture showrooms and browsing online for an eternity, I decided to lean on my industrial arts training and build the pieces we needed.

I'm actually fairly pleased with how they came out. Which for someone with my artist's temperament, is saying something. I'm actually thinking about doing some bigger stuff for the rest of the house - getting back into an actual woodshop and seeing what I can do. Plus, when I'm sawing and hammering and sanding I'm not perseverating on how our country is going to hell in a hand basket. Everyone needs a hobby. Especially now.

Posted 10:22am
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March 1st, 2017

#resist: Now Hear This

Dan Savage spent the first few minutes of his podcast this week talking about representation. About Harvey Milk and the recent study showing how the legalization of gay marriage has reduced the rate of suicide attempts. What does it mean for kids to see people that look, act and feel like they do in popular culture? In the government? To be talked about on the news like anyone else? How excited do you get when you see a movie filmed in a place you've been, or hear it use an obscure song you like in its soundtrack?

I've been thinking about representation a lot lately. I haven't always. I didn't always see the importance of it. I do now. I know what it's like to care about people who don't see themselves represented all the time everywhere like I do, and how excited they can get and important it is to them. I think it's a beautiful thing, especially for kids, and even when it's not potentially life or death. It's an idea that we can learn something from, become more compassionate over, and use to make better communities. It's something that I think is too often seen as trite and simple, and anyone who wants to have that debate with me, should go listen to Dan Savage and Harvey Milk first.

- Also listen to Kurt Vonnegut give a sermon on nuclear annihilation. It's always a good idea to listen to Kurt.

Posted 11:05am
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February 24th, 2017

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

- I'm supposed to be in Montreal right now. Well, I would be in Montreal anyway, if Ann Arbor Public Schools still had a mid-Winter break. Alas, I'm still in the Mitten where it is scheduled to be 68 degrees today, so at least there's a mid-level consolation. Everyone loves moderate temperatures, but being a born and raised midwesterner, I also don't mind winter, and take pride in the fact that we live our lives in defiance of mother nature for several months a year. Take tomorrow, where I will go stand in a parking lot all day drinking delicious beers. And since this is Michigan, tomorrow's high is 32 with a 50% chance of snow. Small price to pay for the chance to sample New Holland's Dragon's Milk: Mexican Spice Cake. The only beer with a name longer than a Star Wars movie.

- Speaking of winter and Montreal, this video shows you exactly how the citizens of Quebecois tell Winter to go fuck itself. That's literally like just a random Tuesday in Montreal. That city is the best.

- I've been saying this for decades, and now I have the endorsement of the Papacy: I'm a better Christian than most Republicans*. That's the Pope guys. He's infallible.

- In music news: Ted Leo kickstarts a new album, Jeff Tweedy molts into Woody Guthrie, new New Pornographers, and the saddest Radiohead song. No offense to science, but for zero dollars you could have just asked the BDGF and she would have answered "all of them."

- Finally, I tried to see every movie nominated for an Oscar** this year in every category. I came up 7 short (4 foreign language films, 2 animated and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) Chances are that La La Land will win everything anyway, so I'll be watching for the best Trump disses and who will make me cry when giving an impassioned plea towards inclusion. Like the BDGF before me, the answer will be all of them.

*Certainly every elected GOP official in Washington.
**I never intended to watch the two Michael Bay movies that were nominated for technical awards, because I am a man of principle.

Posted 11:47am
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February 17th, 2017

#Resist: 5 2 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- Le Petite Trump!

- Two is all I got. Actually surprised I got that far. Enjoy the weekend.

Posted 4:11pm
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February 14th, 2017

#Resist: harnessing antiquated technology

So the free press of the United States forced the resignation of a highly placed American official colluding with a foreign government. The system is at least still capable of working! Sen. Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, refuses to investigate the scope of this scandal saying 'It's taking care of itself."

So...

1. Cut and paste this, or use your own words, into a google doc and create a pdf:

Dear Mr. Chaffetz,

       I find your lack of concern over Michael Flynn troubling and unconscionable. As an American citizen, I implore you to do your job as the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and launch a full, bipartisan investigation into this scandal. This is not a time to put party over country, and to act in such a manner is un-American and for you, a dereliction of duty.

2. Go to faxzero.com, attach the pdf, and send it to Sen. Chaffetz at 2022255629

3. You can also call him 202.225.7751

Victories are unfortunately not the time to celebrate anymore, they are a time to redouble efforts, because what we are doing is working.

Happy Valentine's Day! XOXO

Posted 2:30pm
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February 9th, 2017

#Resist: speak truth to power

Who knows exactly how much a call, a letter or showing up at a protest actually helps? Sometimes you show up with a sign and the community feels amazing, and the coverage in the media makes it fell like you're not alone for a few days. Then you make every call you're told to and retweet every plea for action you can find and you still end up with a racist as the Attorney General of the United States.

The former is nice, the latter utterly depressing. When nice is all you can hope for, you look for it where ever you can find it. That's why I wrote the following letters.

The first is to President Bannon, after declaring the press the enemy. The second was sent to Mitch McConnell. It's written on the back of the Coretta Scott King letter, because that's why.

My wildest fantasy doesn't include either of these thunderous assbags ever seeing what I wrote and I don't even imagine some Stepford Wife staffer doing anything other than cataloging it as a "letter of dissent". That doesn't mean it didn't feel good to write. It doesn't mean it wasn't worth it to send. I told the people ruining this country what I thought of them. We all should. Over and over again.

Posted 4:27pm
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February 8th, 2017

Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

I don't sleep well anymore. A large part of this is that I am rapidly fulfilling my destiny to become a dottering old man. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it's rare that I make it to 6am without having to get up to use the bathroom.

That's my body breaking down and being less efficient than it used to be. We all eventually succumb to the ravages of time. But these days, most days, once I'm awake from my biological imperative, I find it hard to go back to sleep.

I won't go as far as to say I have bad dreams, but the minute my brain is turned back on it begins to perseverate on the fact that we now live in a nightmarish hellscape that looms over every ounce of progress we've made as a society in the last 200 years. So I come out of my slumber to a waking nightmare.

I don't remember dreaming about Spiro Agnew (or William Safire) but around 5:30 this morning, I woke up to pee and then spent the next two hours thinking about the nattering nabobs of negativism. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, I'm trying to relate the Nixon White House to what we are currently embroiled in. To what end I have no idea.

I guess I'm just as incredulous as the rest of you and my "survival mode" is to try and put things in context, thus reassuring myself that there will be a morning after. There not being enough hours in the day, I'm apparently still crunching data in my sleep.

What ultimately keeps haunting me is election night. As things went from bad to worse, I kept my optimism that things were still going to be OK, that the fire wall was in place and sanity would rule the day. When that turned out to be woefully wrong, something snapped. I broke, and now my brain is working overtime to try and fix it.

The thing about being so woefully wrong is that it necessitates a shift in worldview, and I liked my previous worldview. These are painful truths about who we are and how things work, and they are so negative and so depressing that the options seem to be a.) never sleep again or b.) stop caring and welcome our new racist, misogynist, idiot overlords. Right now, it's the opening of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and I'm flipping that stupid coin over and over and over again.

Posted 9:31am
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February 3rd, 2017

G-G-G-Ghosts?!?

Just because your parents are dead doesn't mean they are out of your life. I mean, obviously? Obviously. Your parents will continue to hang over you long after they can make you feel guilty because you never call.

Hopefully you liked your parents and they were good people and their wisdom and examples continue to be a source of strength for you when you need it. Of course even if those things are true, there's times when you wish they were around to reassure you, like when an Orange Oligarch usurps your country and you feel like you are living in the end times.

That can't happen of course, except when it does? You don't expect to get new information from or about your parents after they're dead, but it can happen. I once found a note from my mother that I had never seen before ten years after she passed. (It was an admonishment of my behavior, so on point.)

This was even cooler. One of my siblings texted me recently to show me a picture of our Dad that's in a new Sports Illustrated coffee table book.

It's not wisdom from beyond the grave, but I can't accurately express how cool seeing this is. How had I never seen this photo before? How perfect is it? How happy will it make me having this book on my shelf? Incredibly. Incredibly happy. Thanks Dad. I really needed that.

Posted 10:20am
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January 31st, 2017

Resist

A lot of people are calling their Senators (or just ones that they think need a push) which is awesome. I'm doing that. You should do that. Here are even more ways to contact those in power, most importantly perhaps is the power of the Fax. Look up your Senator's fax number. Use Fax Zero to send them a fax for free. Everyone I've sent has gone through, so you can be immediate, you can be heard, you don't have to talk on the phone. Triple win.

- I posted this on facebook last weekend, because I'm certain it had a hand in my becoming a card carrying member of the ACLU back in 2005. I've always felt good about that membership, but never more so than last weekend. I now literally carry my card with me everywhere I go, because it reminds me that good people are fighting the good fight. It gives me strength, and I need it.

 

Posted 10:20am
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January 25th, 2017

Resist

- Marching was awesome. We'll march more. Taking five minutes to call a rep and tell them your wishes is an easy way to resist every day. Wanna be the boots on the ground? You can start here with swingleft.org. Or indivisibleguide.com.

- Wanna feel like you still have agency in this world? Remember that our Oompa Loompa Oligarch is a bee hive easily poked. Sign this petition demanding that he release his taxes. Follow @halfonioninabag. Get under his thin skin, fear not his tiny hands.

- I previously implored those that could afford it to make monthly donations to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, NAACP etc. Of course that's not in everyone's means, but what if you got something in return? Yes, you could stream this compilation from Barsuk records for free, but if you purchase it, the money goes to good people who need it. Same goes for this merch, because we are all on board to impeachthemotherfuckeralready.com.*

- Finally, laughter is the best medicine, and we all feel a little sick. So laugh at our pain and impending doom! Triumph hits the inauguration and Broad City provides survival tips.

* Want a button? Hit me up, I'll send you one...

Posted 11:15am
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January 23rd, 2017

Reprieve

Hey guys. I'm going through some shit. I know you are too, so I hope you understand that last post. I don't want to retract anything I said, because I don't do that here (except once because I was politely asked. That and banning former frequent commenter ljv for being a misogynist. That still feels good.) ANYWAY, it's rough out there. I sometimes feel helpless and hopeless.

I didn't Saturday. I marched with 10,000+ in A2 and millions more worldwide in protest of what is happening in this country (the whole being led by a misogynist who admits to sexual assault and restricts access to abortion his "first day" in office). ANYWAY it was awesome. It felt like we might be OK. I mean, we're gonna have to Shawshank this and crawl through a mile of shit to get there, but there is a light.

I was so buoyed, that I went on facebook for the first time in forever Sunday to catch what my friends did the previous day. I had seen 95% on other social media outlets, but I was looking for new tidbits, like an addict looking for a fix. Of course it took five minutes for me to be reminded why I left.

Some idiots who I went to high school with were complaining about how they were watching SNL the night before and were dismayed at how political it was. They "weren't racist or misogynist" of course, but why does everything have to be so political? Ignoring the fact that SNL has survived on politics for 40+ years, I really wanted to say "because ignorant fucks such as yourself have to have empathy and equality spoon fed to you by people who actually give a shit and use their voice for good."

I didn't do that. I removed him from my timeline, along with a few others who I could see as being potential problems down the road. That wasn't the takeaway from dipping my toe in the facebook cesspool though. What went through my mind was that these are almost exclusively people like me, trying to be the change they want to see, and I should probably keep avenues to these people as open as possible. Especially now. So maybe. We'll see. I'm officially ready to straight up defriend the ignorant and bigots, might be interesting.

Posted 10:41am
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January 19th, 2017

Thanks Obama

I mostly hate this stupid country. Eight years of inclusion. Eight years of relative prosperity. Eight years of being represented by someone thoughtful, erudite and steady. I have my own criticisms of the Obama administration, but the vitriol that accompanied his tenure as commander in chief is something I'll never understand.

That's not true. I could have titled this post "This is why we can't have nice things" and just written "racism" and been done with it. Obama's signature achievement (Obamacare) is being repealed to cheers among the right who think that the Affordable Care Act will save them.You fucking people.

Now we're being lead by a giant orange baby who is choosing people so woefully unqualified for their prospective jobs it would be too absurd for a Monty Python sketch. And did I mention they are overwhelmingly racist and misogynist? After listening to everyone on the right say "it's about limited government!" for years, turn out I was right all along. You solipsistic idiots.

Listen, I'm a straight, middle-aged white guy - I'll be fine. But that's not what this is about, except I think it speaks to the crux of this situation. This is about empathy. Some people have none. They are the GOP. Their fucks extend to themselves, or their family, or maybe the people that look and feel and act exactly like they do. You are toilet people. A pox on all your houses.

Maybe this isn't worth saving. I'll fight where I can for disenfranchised and deligitimized, but I think I'm done feeling like this is actually the land of the free and the home of the brave. Too many cowards are working too hard to take that freedom from ordinary people. That's not exceptionalism, it's a kleptocracy. You ignorant fucks can have it.

Posted 10:41am
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January 11th, 2017

All out of fucks to give

I got a text Monday afternoon inviting me to a meeting and asking for help "reforming the Democratic party." My initial reaction upon receiving it was "fuck you, you fucking piece of shit asshole" because I happen to know for a fact that the invitation came from someone who voted third party in the last election. For the foreseeable future, that's my response to anyone who voted for Cheeto Mussolini or Dems who didn't vote for Hillary when they ask me for so much as a stick of gum. For the next four years, setup a google alert and write a personal letter of apology to every woman and minority and LGBTQ person who is harassed or made to feel less safe by this regime's policies or in their name and then I will consider giving you the time of the day. I need your act of contrition before I so much as want to be in the same room as you.

Besides that, I understand that the Democrats need reforming. At least there are things about the Dems that I don't care for and would like to see changed. But despite the fucking colossal ass hats who voted for Jill Stein, Hillary won the popular vote by two and a half million votes. It's not like we need an overhaul here. The planks of the Democrat's platform have gotten more progressive over the years. I don't need to sit in a room with a bunch of Bernie bros for two hours, listening to a bunch of idyllic morons scream their version of "54°40' or fight!" because they've chosen the worst time in history to draw an arbitrary line in the sand and would rather burn this fucking place to the ground rather than work the system.

I'd rather spend my time and energy addressing the things that actually keep the will of the people from being voiced. Things like restoring the Voting Rights Act. Fighting against unconstitutional gerrymandering. Making sure Republican led voter suppression efforts are rolled back and abolished. Getting rid of the Electoral College. Supporting a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. I support everyone at that meeting who wants to make the Democratic Party more progressive. And believe me, I am with you in understanding that everyone needs to sit around whinging once in a while. I just happen to think that the positions of the Democrats aren't necessarily the issue, and a bunch of fucking juvenile imbeciles who didn't want to swallow a bitter pill to keep Orange Julius Caesar from power, well fuck you, you fucking piece of shit assholes.

Posted 10:41am
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January 6th, 2017

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

- On our now annual Xmas sojourn to Montreal, we listened to the audiobook of The Daily Show: An Oral History. Despite the distraction of having famous voices being read by voice actors, one thing was abundantly clear: I miss that goddamn show. As the BDGF put it, "Jon Stewart was what got me through the Bush years. Now what am I supposed to do?" I unfortunately don't have a concrete answer to that, but you can kick that question down the road a bit with this final Luther, Obama's anger translator sketch from last night's Daily Show.

- Rogue One is pretty great as both a Star Wars film and a war movie, but it fucking rules as a Hollywood blockbuster that isn't whiter than a Trump rally. I like to think I've always felt that representation matters, and I know that now more than ever we have to fight for it. If you feel like getting a little emotional (or just want some concrete proof) here's a story that'll make the room real dusty.

- Even with all of the great shizz on TV these days, I miss the show Happy Endings. There's nothing on right now that matches the joke density of that show. Luckily, the cast recently reunited to do a table read of a lost episode. It's a-maaz-ing.

- For true TV nostalgia, may I recommend this debut episode of The Price Is Right from 1972? Goes great with sick and snow days.

- Finally:

You solipsistic idiots and bigots who voted for that jackass-o'-lantern can continue to go fuck yourselves.

Posted 10:35am
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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.