Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Nuge and Volkswagen?

While watching the NFL conference championships over the weekend I saw this commercial a few times. This ad caught my attention for a couple of reasons: 

1) As a new-ish dad I am also worried about car safety. I put the cruise control on 70mph now when riding on the freeway, and check my son’s car seat restraints a few times before leaving the driveway. For some reason I still let him play and run with sticks though…oh well. 

and

2) Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” is the accompanying music. 

Why would a 36 year-old song from an aging, somewhat irrelevant rocker raise my eyebrows? Is it because of the terrible, terrible misogynistic lyrics, or because I have an issue with musicians “selling out.” No. In fact, with the current state of the music industry I believe that artists should try any avenue to get their music heard. Also, you pretty much just hear the guitar riff throughout, and I have to admit that riff is sweet. 

The reason this seems strange to me is that it is Ted Nugent and Volkswagen. Mr. Crazy American Great White Buffalo Hunter and a German car maker. I am not sure if there is a bigger conservative celebrity in the United States. The man has a shirt on his website that says, “You Can’t Do This In France,” with a buckpole on it. Do they not have deer in France?  And why are we always picking on France? 

Also, Nugent is known as “The Motor City Madman.” He’s from Detroit! I have no problems with The Nuge making a buck (or killing a buck), but it just seems odd to me. My brother and I were at a Red Wings game last season, and Volkswagen was sponsoring something during an intermission and the crowd booed. Loudly. Detroit area residents do not like foreign car makers getting face-time even if that company paid for it. I wonder what they think of their beloved Ted Nugent taking some money from the Germans? 

And Nugent is beloved in Detroit. Not as much as when he was still living in the state, but if you listen to the two major rock stations in the area, WRIF and WCSX, you are bound to hear a Nugent song. Every now and again they even play the complete version of “Stranglehold.” All eight minutes and 22 seconds of it.

On a side note, Nugent is currently a columnist for the conservative newspaper The Washington Times. If you have some free time I suggest reading a column or two. Seriously. I really enjoyed his Thanksgiving column. 

 

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A Geek Of All Trades…Master of None

Over the holidays my brother and I finished cleaning out our old closets at my parents house. We found some fun stuff his pogs, our caps from high school graduation, yearbooks, baseball cards, comic books and a picture of me sitting with all of my Star Wars toys when I was about 6 or 7. I look pretty proud of my collection.

I had two obsessions when I was that age: Star Wars and baseball. As I grew older other hobbies entered and left the mix: comic books, music, The X-Files, Jerry Lewis, sketch comedy, pretty much any sport, stand-up comedy, the history of all these things and dozens of other hobbies.

So as I near the age of 34 I am beginning to realize that I am a geek of all trades, but not really a master of any of them. Even baseball the one thing that I am probably more geeky about than anything else I am not really a master of. Sure I have a basement full of baseball stuff, but I am terrible with statistics, players names and history. I just really enjoy the game. Probably more than the average person, but my geekiness reaches a certain level and stops. It is almost like my brain is telling me to hold off before I cross into master geek status.

This is the same with almost everything else I am interested in. I know that Norrin Radd is the Silver Surfer, but I could not tell my wife who Cyclone was the other day. My defense is that outside of Batman I know very little about the DC Comics Universe. A couple of weeks ago Bob Anderson passed away. Who was Bob Anderson? He was the man inside the Darth Vader suit during the fight scenes. Anderson was an Olympic fencer, and I had no idea who he was until he I read his obituary.

I stopped watching The X-Files when David Duchovny left. I love sketch comedy, but do not like Monty Python. I have zero interest in Dungeons & Dragons or LARPing. My love of music is pretty much contained to music popular on blogs and that my friends introduce to me.

One of the running jokes between my wife and I is that I always screw up the quote. When I try to quote a show (sometimes a show we just watched) I tend to botch it. In fact, the only show that I can quote correctly on a consistent basis is The Simpsons. But I stopped watching The Simpsons about 10 years ago, so all of my quotes are from the first 10 years of the show’s run. Even then I am probably just paraphrasing.

Maybe this is not an issue with my geekiness, but an issue with my attention span and memory. Maybe I just do not care anymore. Maybe I would rather know bits of information about a variety of subjects instead of being the go-to guy about one. Or maybe I am just not all that big of a geek.

Of course I am a geek.  As I write this in my office I can see a Batman button on my bulletin board, a Star Wars magnet on the filing cabinet, a My Morning Jacket tote bag, a book about the rise of comic books called Men of Tomorrow, an ESPN sports trivia page-a-day calendar and a Pink Floyd Animals mug.

I am just the James Franco of geeks. I like a lot of geeky things like he likes jobs. Now I need to ask my wife if that is what he said on Saturday Night Live.

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My First Meat-Free Year

My New Year’s resolution for 2011 was to become a vegetarian. This is the first New Year’s resolution that I actually succeeded in completing.

I had a strange scare in late 2008. I thought I was having a heart attack. My chest felt like it was getting crushed, my left arm felt like I was being electrocuted and my breathing was all over the place. My wife and I went to the hospital and almost 12 hours later they released me. A hot dog gave me extreme heartburn and acid-reflux.

A week later I went for a follow-up and was given a list of items I should probably cut out of my diet. The list was not all that extensive, and contained some of  the usual suspects: coffee, pop and red meat. Those three were the ones I focused my attention on.

I tried coffee first, and failed miserably. I think I switched to tea for about two months before coffee re-entered my life. Working in a bookstore with a cafe probably made cutting coffee a bad choice, and I still drink about two cups of coffee a day.

I did not even try pop. Pop (or soda for those not in Michigan) is like crack to me. I have tried numerous times to stop drinking it, but every time I come crawling back. I have cut back the amount of pop I drink, and I now drink more coffee than pop.

Which leaves us with red meat. This one worked. By the time 2010 rolled around I was not eating much red meat at all, and when I did I felt terrible, and the beginnings of vegetarianism crept in.

In August of 2010, my son was born, and I really began thinking about my health and future. I was still having issues with my stomach, and started to really believe that meat was the issue. I am sure that coffee and pop were culprits as well, but meat was the one that really had the stomach issues flaring up. A co-worker suggested I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, and everything just kind of clicked.

Foer had just become a father, and was questioning the decisions he was making for his child’s diet. So Foer explores the inhumane treatment of our food before it hits out plate, and our cultural connections to our food. It was a great book, and had me convinced that not eating meat was going to be the best way to make myself feel mentally and physically better. Watching Food Inc. around the same time drove it home. It was like a one-two punch.

So I decided to become a vegetarian starting in 2011. I was doing it for my health, my child’s future with me and as a mini-protest against the food industry. The first thing I thought about was my parents.

My parents are meat and potatoes kind of people. I was actually worried about telling them, and had no idea how to do it. They have always been supportive of anything that I wanted to do, but this was changing something that I had been doing for 32 years. I likened it to coming out of the closet, and asked my wife what to do. I am pretty sure she said something like, “Just tell them. You didn’t murder anyone.”

And I did. I just told them. I was heading out to their house for dinner, and my mom asked what I wanted and I told her I wasn’t eating meat anymore. I told her about the health issues, about wanting to be healthy for her grandson, and she bought it. She asked about protein, but she bought it. My dad was worried I would become vegan. I like cheese too much for that to happen.

I have this feeling that they both thought it was not going to last, but they have been supportive. My mom has added things to the freezer and fridge that I can eat if I visit. She has been trying new non-meat recipes when we come out for dinner, and best of all she has only asked about protein a few more times. I am sure my dad did not care about eating vegetarian lasagna as long as I brought his grandson with me.

As for myself I feel better. I honestly do. My stomach has had ZERO issues since I made the switch, and I find myself trying new things whenever I can. To counter the protein question I have added greek yogurt and quinoa. I have found replacements for most of the meat items I enjoyed with the exception of bacon (somebody please tell me about a good non-meat bacon). I am happy, I feel great and I do not miss meat at all.

The resolution worked, and it has me thinking about my 2012 resolution. I said I wanted to do an open mic stand-up routine, but my wife is scared for me. With good reason because it looks scary as hell, but I figure if I can stop eating hamburgers, chicken and bacon I can stand in front of a handful of people and tell jokes about my beard.

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Oh Canada…Please Stop

I have lived my whole life about an hour from the Canadian border between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. Growing up we got the CBC (which always came in handy during the Olympics and for The Kids in the Hall), and the radio stations out of Windsor (a.k.a South Detroit). These stations always were, in my opinion, slightly better than anything pumping out of the Detroit area. Over the years as my tastes changed so did this opinion, but I still have them as presets on the car radio.

The only problem is that they play a ton of Canadian music.

At first I just thought this was some patriotic, you need to listen to Avril Lavigne crap, but a few years ago I found out the real reason. Canadian regulations require their stations to play a certain percentage (20%-40%) of music from the great white north.

Which means we hear a lot of Nickelback, Barenaked Ladies, Alanis Morrisette, and Our Lady Peace to fill the quota. We do also get to hear Arcade Fire, Feist, and Sam Roberts Band more regularly than we would otherwise. 

I wondered how much Canadian music I would actually hear if I spent a day listening to two Windsor stations (93.9 The River and 89X), and after a few hours I was not sure I would complete the task

10am until 1pm – 93.9 The River

The River was never a station I listened to until I had reach my 30’s. It bills itself as “Real Rock Variety,” but a better description might be “Adult Alternative All the Time” because they do not play anything even close to offensive to anyone other than a nun…maybe. Hell, nuns probably listen to The River.

10:06am – Nickelback
It only took six minutes to hear a Nickelback song. I am surprised it took six minutes. I am pretty sure you could listen to hours of Nickelback, and not know the difference between any of the songs. They sure are damn popular though, but that does not mean they are any good.

10:36am – Tal Bachman – She’s So High (The only song title I remember)
The only way this song gets airplay is because of the regulations. Bachman is the son of Randy Bachman from Bachman Turner Overdrive, and this song was hugely popular in 1999. He is a former Mormon who left the church after realizing that Joseph Smith’s stories were “made-up.” Bachman just went up a few notches in my book.

11:12am – Thornley
How Canadian are these guys? They are signed to Nickelback lead singer Chad Kroeger’s record label, 604 Records. 

11:19am – Theory of a Deadman  
When this song started playing I initially thought it was Nickelback again, but they would not be playing Nickelback every hour, would they? Having a line-up of bands who sound like Nickelback probably helps keep Chad and Company off the air.

11:42am Arcade Fire 
Arcade Fire is a band I really enjoy, and the only Canadian song that I actually noticed. Based out of Montreal these guys actually won a Grammy in 2011 which is the American equivalent to the Juno. 

From Noon to 1pm The River plays Retro Lunch. It was actually only about 45 minutes long since I heard Coldplay and a couple other newer groups during the final 15 minutes of the hour. Also, Retro Lunch almost entirely consists of 80’s English New Wave acts. 

1pm to 4pm – 89X

As I write this I am still blown away by how much 89X blows. Twenty years ago 89X was the alternative station in the Metro Detroit area. It is where I first heard Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Beck and Rage Against the Machine. In 1997, I went to the 89X Birthday Bash and saw this line-up: Sloan, Soul Coughing, Pavement and Beck. Even at concerts they need to be at least 20% Canadian. Now 89X still plays 90’s alternative music, but it plays mostly post-grunge sludge in between. Pretty sad for “The Only New Rock Alternative.”

1:34pm – The Veer Union
1:49pm – Hail the Villian
2:03pm – Theory of A Deadman 
I had to look up the first two bands to make sure they were Canucks. The Veer Union is from Vancouver and Hail the Villian from Oshawa. Two more Nickelback proteges. One hour in, and 89X sounds like one long grungy song. If they didn’t throw in Alice in Chains and Smashing Pumpkins I might have turned the radio off.

2:12pm – Sum 41
Here’s something a little different. Sum 41 always felt like the Canadian Blink-182. They have a bunch of fun, make music, marry Avril Lavigne, divorce Avril Lavigne and are still plugging away. Just replace Lavigne with the Miss USA runner-up that Travis Barker married. 

2:18pm – Evans Blue
2:44pm – My Darkest Days
3:09pm – Nickelback
3:35pm – Art of Dying
I am sure someone out there enjoys the post-grunge sound, but I am not one of those people. I just don’t get it. It might have something to do with growing up during the grunge era, and it might have something to do with Chad Kroeger. The Canadian groups were split up by The Offspring (!), Stone Temple Pilots and Weezer. Seriously a grunge loving dad, and his twenty-something son probably bond over 89X everyday. 

3:37pm – City and Colour
The group name has the “u,” so they must be Canadian. This group is actually one guy, Dallas Green. Not the former Philadelphia Phillies manager, but someone named after him…seriously. Damn! I just realized City and Colour equals Dallas Green…smarty pants. This is another curveball. An acoustic slow, melodic, nice song. I can picture a bunch of kids singing along to this one. 89X promptly follows this song up with Puddle of Mudd. Thanks 89X. 

3:53pm – Three Days Grace
I figured it would be either Our Lady Peace, Three Days Grace or Finger Eleven that I would hear and recognize from the late 90’s. Three Days Grace wins…I guess.

I did not keep track, but I am pretty sure these stations fulfilled their obligations to Canadian music. 89X definitely fulfilled their grunge quota for the next couple of years, and The River fulfilled its boring quota. These two will be removed from the car pre-sets sometime in the near future. 

 

 

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Typical ‘Squatch Behavior

January 1st was the beginning of a new year, and the beginning of the second season of Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet. The show follows four current and former members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization as they investigate sightings of bigfoot in North America.

The team consists of three believers (Matt Moneymaker, Cliff Barackman and James “Bobo” Fay), and one skeptic (Ranae Holland). The believers are always convinced they have found bigfoot and the skeptic remains the skeptic. Holland is the lone scientist of the group which makes the show a reality The X-Files.

The one constant throughout the show is how the believers can make any evidence into “typical ‘squatch behavior.” Here is a list of habits I did not realize was “typical ‘squatch behavior”

– The leading cause of death for bigfoots is bigfoot on bigfoot crime.

– If lost a bigfoot will scream. If a fellow bigfoot is nearby they will respond with catcalls and Arsenio “woofs.” Many cryptozoologists believe this is due to a plane dropping a VHS copy of Coming to America into the Oregon forest in 1990.

– Juvenile bigfoots love Blue’s Clues, and can be found near homes with Nickelodeon.

– To scare a bigfoot do an impression of Jerry Lewis. If you cannot do a Jerry Lewis impression try Rodney Dangerfield or Fran Drescher.

– In 1943, Fred Saperstein (brother of Harlem Globetrotters founder Abe) put together a barnstorming basketball team of bigfoots. From 1943-1954 the team went 123-2 with its only losses coming from the Bill Russell led University of San Francisco Dons. 

– Female bigfoots get manicures, but not pedicures.

– Bigfoots really hate it when humans imitate them. 

– The comedian of choice for most bigfoots is Gallagher. Carrot Top is a close second. Bigfoots enjoy prop comedy, and have been witnessed performing prop comedy routines in the wild. Bigfoots hate Gallagher II.

– Bigfoots are afraid of Arcade Fire.

– Do not play reggae music at your campsite. Bigfoots are known rastafarians.

and

– Bigfoots by nature are staunch conservatives. 

Finding Bigfoot airs Sunday nights at 10pm on Animal Planet. This week the group heads to the wilds of Rhode Island. 

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