Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011: Mr. Nerd's Wild Ride 

Best Junk from 2011:

This and This:
They are secretly superheroes whose powers are awesomeness and hilarity.

New(ish) Job: I changed roles at work this year.
In the words of Jim James from My Morning Jacket: "It matters to me/Took a long time to get here/If it would have been easy/I would not have cared"

Looney Tunes
I got borderline obsessive about collecting Looney Tunes episodes this year. I think it is important for Hank to see those original Merrie Melodies cartoons in their original form. Robin Hood Daffy, Duck Amuck, Transylvania 6-5000 ... Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson, Friz Freleng and Mel Blanc should all have their faces on Mount Rushmore.

PJ and got to hear Aretha Franklin sing the National Anthem at a Tigers playoff game this fall.
She fucking killed it. YouTubez here

I got to witness all of the Moving Pictures album performed at the Rush: Time Machine concert from a beery suite with a bunch of my pals at a Toledo hockey arena for Dave Below's 40th birthday.
It was everything I was hoping for. The universal dream.

This gif:
Outer Space Tallboy
Best joke from BrianSleeper:
"The joke’s on Luke. That can is empty. There’s no way Carrie Fisher ever gave a full beer away."

I went to a restaurant called China Poblano in the Cosmopolitan Casino in Las Vegas and it was likely the best meal I had all year.
It is a mix of Chinese and Mexican food where you can get little plates of all kinds of delicious crazy food taking the best of these two cuisines and jamming them together: Duck Tongue Taco with pork rinds! Chinese steamed bbq pork buns! Oaxacan Chocolate Terra Cotta Warriors! Kerpow! (that last one is an exclamation and not a Sino-Mex dish).

Also: They played a terrific soundtrack at the new Cosmopolitan Casino: All funky Motown, bossa nova, deep kitch-pop cuts and Black Keys b-sides. I felt like I was in a Soderberg version of a Tarantino soundtrack from a novel by Elmore Leonard.

Spent a magical night with the re-united Fluoride Program at the Lager House.
Their comeback show was 100% what they wanted it to be and it was amazing. Everything in its right place.

I feel like I spent more time Upstate Dreaming this year and I really locked into it.
A terrific trip with Mr. Eric Kelly to Raleigh Del Norte in the UP was everything I had hoped, and a family camping trip in the shadow of the Mighty Mac confirmed it: Call me Yooperman! Also I Saw an Eagle on the 4th of July! Pure Michigan.

I got an iPad
To paraphrase what Dan Trenz enthused when he got his: "It is the 2011 we were promised."

This photo of Ann Arbor by Dustin Williams:
More sizes available here:

Incredibly enough we were interviewed on NPR about Baby Blankets. Recording of the interview here:
The interviewer was doing research on those white blankets with blue and pink stripes that hospitals wrap babies in. She stumbled across this post that I wrote on BabyRoadies about those incredible blankets, and apparently this makes me a respected authority on the subject.

They opened a Five Guys Burgers & Fries in our town.
So long hippy bookstore! Helloooooo big greasy cheeseburgers!

Got to see My Morning Jacket in concert outdoors at Meadowbrook with Neko Case and Kelly Hogan opening up.
They did a cover of "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." Terrific company and a great time.

There are these great story CDs by Greathall that really got Hank introduced to King Arthur, Greek Myths, Famous Astronomers, Robin Hood and American Tall Tales.
A must for road trips.

Hank's first season of T-ball:
Wookiee Wizards FTW!!!

I had a blast playing the candy version of Russian Roulette (is that non-PC now?) with BeanBoozled Jelly Bellies.
Two participants each bite into identical-looking Jelly Belly candies. Is the black one Licorice or Skunk Spray? Is the blue one Berry or Toothpaste? Is the red one Strawberry Jam or Caterpillar Flavor? Silliness abounds!

We got a magical box called a Roku which streams Netflix, HuluPlus, Amazon, Crackle and other sources of "over the top" programming (as we say in the biz) right into your TV machine.
Simple enough for Hank to watch 754 episodes of The X-Men Animated Series all on his own.

A great little bar called Woodruff's opened up in Depot Town in Ypsi.
I've been closely following the activities of one Andy Garris since the summer of 2004 when he revitalized the Alley Bar on my street. He moved into the Elbow Room and did great things there until the man shut it down. Then he moved into The Savoy and did great things there until the man shut it down. Now he's whipped Woodruff's into a great little indie bar with the help of some area stalwarts. an of the year, in my liver's opinion.

I spent some time up North in a cabin in the woods for a lost weekend of beer in cans and loud music.
It was kinda like Weekend at Bernies except all of us were limp and unresponsive.
"Faaaack, Pal"
Mark's boss "Funkee"
"Cooter & the Bear in the morning"
The Doogie Howser theme
The piano coda to Layla
The fact that somebody bought a pineapple for some reason
Noodle jumping
Derek's terrific headlamp ("This was the best thing from the weekend! Everybody loved it!")
Covering that Band of Horses song with Steve Motrinc on lead lead vocals.
Brian's "West Virginia Whiskey Sour"
Cancer Dog.
Gravy 'Batin'
Sack Blabbath
"Knuckles & The Moose"
midget in vegas
air raid siren at 12:05 friday night
Brandon Inge's home run
"even when I win, I lose."

Spent a lot of energy and time and money having our front porch rebuilt this year.
Can't wait for next spring when we can use it.

Teh Intarwebs is a site that I know nothing about but taps into my hilarity bone consistently.
Lurk and Awe!

This video of a drunk baby:

"You don't know me..."

The concept of Kickstarter.
Particularly it's ability to get new albums by Timothy Monger and Jim Roll made (or underway). Micro-Patronage: Huzzah!

There is a well-represented local blog called Damn Arbor which does a great job of local issues, food reviews, insta-news, campus what-not and funny observations.
Their list of Bars That Don't Suck is a good place to start.

The 2011 TLC lineup:

Oddly, 'Little People, Tricky Fridge' and 'Uterus Cannon' keep conflicting on my DVR

Get Stoked: brought nuthin' but photos of the raddest dudes around.
Sista site is only worth looking at if you like 80s chicks aerobicizing in spandex, Wanda Jackson and David Lee Roth drinking with Material Girl-era Madonna.

This video went through my head during a very painful website launch this year:

Spotify became available to the US. It is like the faucet of music. I actually paid for a subscription.
Also this statement from their website: "To help us compile this information, we’ve called on the magnificent All Music Guide - the most comprehensive music reference source on the planet. They’re as nuts about music as we are."

More for the Klosterman than the Simmons, but it is all quality writing.

Bad Lipreads like this Herman Cain one

Hooo boy. "Women got extra-fatal lady shimmer of no maximum strength" = Larfs.

DamnYouAutoCorrect made me whiz myself with larfs.
The ones where the autocorrects just keep autocorrecting are the best ones. Extortion. No...Axe Murder. Dammit Exfoliate. NO! EXAMPLE!

The fact that a movie called Terror at Blood Fart Lake exists.
Sadly it was not directed by Bill Zebub who has some spectacularly-titled films like "Jesus Christ, Serial Rapist" and "Antfarm Dickhole" on his SAG card.

This gif:
It's in the puddin'


This Spotify Playlist has my best tunes from 2011.
Spotify is like a faucet of music that you just turn on

Nothing is Wrong by Dawes
This record spun around my turntable more than any other in 2011. Just really pure, honest songwriting and solid messages. Plus a harmony or three.

D by White Denim
Kind of a mix between Buffalo Springfield, Tortoise, and Yes. Rootsy but jammy but smart but spacey. Some people will think that sounds like a terrible idea. I would usually be one of them, but I dig it.

The New Britton Sound by Timothy Monger
Local hero writes great songs, records them and then puts them onto playable media. Film at 11.

The King is Dead by The Decemberists
Thank you Peter Buck for steering their ship into the heartland. More blather from me on this topic here

Circuital by My Morning Jacket
This hit me just right this year. So much to dig into. Jammy, rockin, soulful. Everything except Black Metal.

God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise by Ray LaMontagne
His VH1 Storytellers where he covered "Out on the Weekend" by Neil Young was inspired. More blather from me on this topic here

Andrew Leahey & the Homestead by Andrew Leahey
I have to be honest about this one...I work(ed) with Andrew this year and y'know how sometimes when you work with somebody and they say "Hey I just made an album" and you go "Oh great, now I gotta pretend to like this" but honest to Gram this record sounds really terrific. Great songs well recorded in a 1930s movie theater and some solid songwriting. This is the album I've been hoping for years that Ryan Adams would put out. Listen here:

Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes
Beardy beardy sing song beautiful.

Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2 by Beastie Boys
Another solid release. "Don't Play No Game that I Can't Win" was my Jam this summer.

The Harrow & the Harvest by Gillian Welch
Thrum thrum hollar twang. Glad to see Gillian and David Rawlings stripping it back down to basics.

Again, This Spotify Playlist has my fave picks from these albums plus a few more from Eisley, Laura Marling, Richard Buckner, Release the Sunbird and maybe more.


I really got into Louis CK this year, and his show is a brutal and hilarious and one of those shows that media historians will be talking about in 50 years. And anytime Ricky Gervais is on it is beyond gold: Example

Mad Men
I can't actually remember if there were any new episodes this year, but this show is still two of my faves.

30 Rock
Still the funny. Saw lots of reruns this year. Season 5 recap.

The Detroit Tigers played a lot of Baseball on my TV this year.
Bless You Boys.

The Cinema:

Roll Film
The Tree of Life
The front runner for my favorite movie of the year. While it didn't make a lot of sense as a direct narrative, the imagery was amazing and it really seemed to capture some of the internal struggle of being a father and being a son.

Roll Film
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Well done, everyone involved. One of the rare experiences where the films are close to as enjoyable as the books.

Roll Film
Tron Legacy
Zoom! Laser bikes! Overwrought dialog and fake Zen Buddhism. Exactly what I was hoping for.

Roll Film
The Trip
Worth it for the Michael Caine bit alone.

Roll Film
American: The Bill Hicks Story
A longtime Hicks fan, I was a bit nervous as to how this animatic-style documentary would work, but it was actually not as distracting as I thought it would be.

Roll Film
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
My nerdish obsession on the comedy kept going this year, and the Joan Rivers doc really showed me what an obsessive nutjob she is. Bravo.

Roll Film
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Artsy (but not so much with the fartsy)

All of the other junk I watched:
Cars 2
Gnomeo & Juliet
Midnight in Paris
Cedar Rapids

Book Learnin':

Book 'Em
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Man oh man, this was a fun read. Well-written, strategy-filled (although pretty dark for younger readers). I was tempted to list the trailer as one of my favorite movies of the year because I watched it about a hundred times.

Book 'Em
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
This continues to be a bit of a tough slog but very worthwhile. A billion great characters with wild-ass names and a million sub-plots to keep straight, but it's all starting to click together. I think one of the things that I really like is that Martin is not afraid to kill off one of his main characters in a heartbeat...

somebody posted this alternate title which I think is very appropriate:
Book 'Em

Book 'Em
The Real Animal House by Chris Miller
A blast to read. Music played such a big role in the book that I (of course) created a Spotify playlist of all of the songs mentioned favorably in there.

Book 'Em
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Despite the fact that this was a story of two sisters growing up in the 1930s/40s in a small Canadian town as told by a creaking octogenarian, Margaret Atwood's sentences are an incredible thing to behold and this kept my interest with its sheer lyrical beauty.

Book 'Em
Bossypants by Tina Fey
I'm sure the other people around me on the plane thought I was an insane person because I was laughing so loud.

Book 'Em
Life by Keith Richards
Good lord, how is this man still breathing?

Book 'Em
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Soul crushing and beautiful all crammed into 3,000 pages.

Book 'Em
The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke
This sci-fi yarn digs into how humanity could (will?) react when everything can be peeped upon through wormholes, etc. No crime, no espionage, rampant teenaged sex on park benches... this book has it all.

Book 'Em
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
A whip-smart sci-fi murder mystery from 1953. If you have watched Blade Runner as obsessively as I have, you will dig this book.

Book 'Em
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Another sci-fi classic. It is amazing that the concepts can remain so fresh even as we are chuckling at their ray guns and automated computational machines.

Bad Juju

Uncle Rolley
My Uncle Rolley pulled his RV to that great campground in the sky this year. Always quick with his toolbox and a bit of fatherly advice, he called every man in the family "Son" and really meant it. He is sorely missed.

City Flats hotel
My darling bride and I took a mini-vacation to the very hep City Flats Hotel here in Michigan. We had some great times and some fine dining until this cocksure assholish bartender overserved me on Gin Martinis which ended up for a very rough night (and not nearly as romantic as I had hoped) as well as a pretty ugly morning after. That is why I am never drinking again.

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!1!!" - Mark Zuckerberg

Missing a Mud Hens game
So here goes. For Hank's last week before he started Kindergarten, PJ and I planned a whole week of awesome activities. Waterparks, arcades, playdates, The Lego Store ...and it was to culminate in us seeing the last Toledo Mud Hens game of the season. So we roll into town at about 4:30 on Sunday to drop by Tony Packo's for a hot dog (with the boy dressed in his new birthday Mud Hens t-shirt, me in my new birthday Mud Hens hat) only to find Toledo to be a ghost town and PLENTY of seating at Tony Packo's.

We had opted for a Sunday game instead of our original Saturday plan, and as it turns out I got the time wrong: It was a 1PM game and I thought it was going to be a 6PM game.

I was beyond crushed. We had talked about the game for weeks -- the boy's last adventure before he was thrust into the public school system and I bungled it by not looking closely at the time on the ticket. AND IT WAS THE LAST GAME OF THE 2011 SEASON! No Do-Overs! How fucking poetic was that? Shee-it. What a heel.

My dog finally got sprayed by an Old West Side skunk which meant that I was awake at one in the morning using the dog and cans of tomato juice to re-create the final scene of Carrie. Her muzzle still stinks when she gets wet.

Bert Jansch and Charlie Louvin died.
A sad year for lonesome music.

Borders Books closed down
Book 'Em
Henry started crying when we told him Borders will be closing.
He kept asking "*ALL* of the books will be gone?"

In Hot Water
Our hot water heater crapped out and in the midst of replacing it, the "technician" broke off a pipe and water went everywhere. Guitars got wet, it was an unpleasant scene.

Spent some sad days in my funeral suit this year.
It doesn't get easier.

The music industry is not making anything better.
"I was driving a forklift in a warehouse for a while. Before that I was holding a road sign for Con Ed in while they were working on the power lines in the Upstate. January in the Catskills with snow banks and dead deer next to me. I worked for the census last year." - Richard Buckner, one of my favorite singer/songwriters.


Thanks Innernets and those involved with my life.

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