Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Blue Tree Whacking Films
Smith and Winkler (short)
Smith and Winkler: The Final Hoe-Down
The Fantabulous Misadvantures of Skip Carmichael
Two Loser Cops
(series of shorts)
The Holy Grail (horrible short)
Smith and Winkler Save Christmas

Do K. Steeze's SCAD films count as BTW Films films? Also, there are more planned installments in the Smith and Winkler series, and we'd all like to see another season of Two Loser Cops. No, seriously.

Smith and Winkler in The French Poodle Caper (prequel)
Smith and Winkler vs. Smythe and Winkelman
Smith and Winkler Save the World

So that no two of the films have the same type of title (colon, save, in, versus), the title of the last film, the epic battle against the Gripping Hand - the chairman of the International Olympic Committee and Scavenger Face's big brother - is up in the air. Possible alternates include:

Smith and Winkler & the Gripping Hand
Smith and Winkler and the Grasp of the Gripping Hand
Smith and Winkler Destroy the Gripping Hand

Feh, but before all that we need to iron out the details of Smith and Winkler in The French Poodle Caper.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Bullshit
We had the first white Thanksgiving I can distinctly recall. There was enough snow on the ground on Thursday and Friday to have provided a suitably white Christmas. As is our custom, we decked the halls on the Sunday after Thanksgiving; we went crazy with the lights, ornaments, and garland. Mom has so many Santas that they've spread from the mantle to the downstairs bathroom and the staircase itself. I put Duvall's O Holy Night in my CD player and Mu330's Winter Wonderland in the pile of CDs by the HAL in the Mountain's room. On the way home from Mass on Sunday Mom and I heard "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," prompting me to reference Murky Transport Disaster's "Christmas Should Be Lasting All Year Long." Glorious, just glorious. It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Today's afternoon high was just above sixty degrees Fahrenheit. I have only two things to say about that, both of them Simpsons-related: Worst. Fall. Ever. and "Lousy Smarch weather."

Honolulu Blue Forever
Mariucci had to go. Does it make a difference that it happened now instead of at the end of the season? Not that I can see. So, like the ambassador from the Neutral Planet, I have no strong feelings either way. Of course, nothing really makes a difference as long as Millen remains in charge. Hooray for rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

My pal Daddy Dylweed and his lovely wife Kristy now have two sons, Jay and Zane. Meanwhile, I saw three movies between Wednesday and Saturday, The Legend of Zorro, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Shopgirl. And this is where I count my blessings that people aren't graded on life for fear that I'd end up riding the short bus.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Mountain has been back since Tuesday night; last night, we enjoyed an old-style cinematic romp, The Legend of Zorro. (Presently, he is making his daily phone call to his girlflesh.) Yes, the Lions got killed this afternoon, but even so, who doesn't enjoy Thanksgiving football? I ate way too much Thanksgiving dinner, which means I ate just enough. This is the first white Thanksgiving I distinctly remember. Fan of Winter though I am, I don't usually like snow this early in the year (the first snowfall should be on December 1); still, given the disgustingly warm and sunny "Fall" we had (it was a fiasco hardly worthy of the name), this seems a fitting recompense. And tomorrow? More turkey, more yams, more cranberry sauce, more mashed potatoes, more gravy, more stuffing, more green bean casarole, more rolls, and MORE PIE! As I reminded the Mountain when he thought maybe he had too much dinner and couldn't stomach dessert, "There's always room for pie!" He cowboyed up and, oh, such a glorious pie we ate. This year, I am thankful for another splendid Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Scavenger Face
For several years, a broken riding lawn mower has sat behind our garage. (Dad bought it when David went to college, i.e. when he would finally have to mow the lawn himself. We always had to use an often-clogged push mower.) Grand Blanc Township no longer has a special "anything two men can carry" disposal day and the replacement on-request service refused to cart off a heavy riding mower. Mom had the bright idea that perhaps if we placed it on the curb scavengers might claim it. What did we have to lose? If no one carried it off, I would just roll it back behind the garage to sit and rot for another couple of years. I took out the garbage and the recycling as soon as I got home this afternoon, rolling the mower to the curb at around 4:45pm. A few minutes ago, I took the recently full kitchen trash to the curb and found the mower gone, exactly as Mom had predicted. Holy wow! Actually, that was even faster than Mom had predicted; she thought the early-morning scavengers, they of the rusty pick-ups and authentic trucker hats, would claim it. Some time between 4:45 and 7:45pm, somebody felt the need to claim a broken down lawn mower off our curb; it didn't even last the night. The moral of the story? For fast, efficient service, you just can't beat scavengers.

The Aftermath of "The Hour of Europe"
Hyperlink. The Dayton Accords were never perfect, but Bosnia and Herzegovina has been at peace for ten years. The use of American military might to end the genocide in the former Yugoslavia came far, far too late, but it remains the best thing President Clinton did in his eight years in the Oval Office and one of the noblest things America has ever done.
Sometimes I really want to be a pirate, but the blasted Ten Commandments rule out pretty much all piratical behavior. Lousy salvation.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Vote For Kodos
I am not a card-carrying member of the Republican Party (to get the card you have to pony up with a monetary donation), but you all know that I consider myself a Republican. I have voted exlusively Republican in all federal- and state-level elections, with a 2-0 record for POTUS (though neither vote really counted, since Gore and Kerry carried Michigan in 2000 and '04, respectively). Having provided that caveat, I am trying to look at this issue objectively: on Thursday, Representative John Murtha (D, Pennsylvania) received nationwide attention as he held a press conference calling for the total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within the next six months (by May '06). On Friday, the House of Representatives, lead by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R, Illinois), voted on a resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within the next six months. The non-binding resolution was defeated 403-3.

Here's where I get confused: Representative Nancy Pelosi (D, California) called Friday's resolution "a disgrace" and went on to imply that it was a cheap piece of political theater. Let me see if I have this straight, when a Democract calls for the immediate withdrawal of our boys from Iraq, he is a courageous man of conscience, but when the Republican majority offers the House the opportunity to vote on immediately withdrawing our boys from Iraq, that is petty politics? How does that work? I understand that as Minority Leader Rep. Pelosi's job is to advance the Democratic Party's platform and demonize the Republican Party, but her statements in this incident strike me as being particularly vile. Rep. Murtha put forward a non-binding resolution calling for us to cut-and-run from Iraq; the House then voted on a similar, though not identical non-binding resolution. Excuse for being naive, but isn't that how it's supposed to work? The House is supposed to vote on resolutions put forward by the representatives of the several states, is it not?

Am I out of line here? Was Rep. Pelosi's anger justified? make no mistake, I am not saying that Friday's vote was not a piece of political theater. It absolutely was. But, so was Thursday's tear-filled press conference by Rep. Murtha. So, why is one kosher and one obscene?

Lies, Damned Lies, and the News*
In a related vote, during Thursday's broadcast of ABC World News Tonight, President Bush was quoted as saying that Murtha's resolution was "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic." During Friday's broadcast of the same program, a correction was issued, accompanied by video footage; President Bush did indeed repeatedly call Murtha's resolution, and similar defeatist (my word) sentiments, "irresponsible," but he never said such dissent was "unpatriotic." Holy wow, documented proof that the self-titled Fourth Estate reports both fact and fiction as if the two were one and the same. The staff at ABC invented a quote and reported it as if it was honest-to-God fact. Yes, in this instance ABC issued a prompt correction, but it makes you wonder how many other fictions go unnoticed in each night's broadcast, in each edition of The New York Times, in each week's Newsweek.

*Media criticism was formerly posted under the heading "I Don't Trust Clark Kent," but clearly that is not actually the case. Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and The Daily Planet itself stand for what journalism should be, an ideal that is very far removed from today's journalist/advocates. I believe in Clark Kent because his reports are the exact opposite of ABC's invented quotes and Dan Rather's forged Air National Guard records. It is because I believe in the ideals of journalism, in the value of a free press to our democracy, that I so loathe the biased media establishment. ABC literally invented a quote and attributed it to the President of the United States. Wow, that's incredible.
I can't fall asleep. "No, sir, I don't like it."

The Magic of Shazam!
Probably tied in with the villainous Erlkonig and Captain Marvel's various adventures in the land of Faerie ("Faerie Tale" and "The Faerie Queene"), I have decided to use the gnomes from Christopher Moeller's JLA: A League of One in a story titled "The Gnomes of Zurich." I'll have to make sure it involves both the actual gnomes and the notoriously secretive bankers of Zurich, unkindly nicknamed "the Gnomes of Zurich" by former British PM Harold Wilson (not to be confused with my uncle, Harold "Skeezie" Wilson). And I'm sure fun and games would result should Station WHIZ be beset by a gremlin. I want the book to be called The Magic of Shazam!; so, I think I have an obligation to include a fair amount of magic. The problem there is that I hate most comic book magic (swirling colors and incantations that make time run backwards or blink entire species out of existence). Instead, I think I'll include lots of magical/mythological creatures like the fae, gnomes, gremlins, and, if I can swing it, the Swedish trollfolk. And there is the villain Red Oni, powered by a frightful japanese oni, not to mention long time Marvel Family supporting character Mr. Tawky Tawny, a stuffed toy tiger brought to flesh-and-blood life by demonic magic (though Mr. Tawny is a sweetheart); so, we might be in fair shape onthe magic front. (And that's without mentioning the wicked sorceror Xia Timur, the Scion of Shazam.)

Also, I'm starting to get a handle on the vainglorious villain The Perfect. With Billy and Mary's foster parents Nick and Nora Bromfield already in Switzerland for medical treatment and now both the gnomes and the Gnomes of Zurich, I might as well also locate The Perfect in the stunningly beautiful land of those damn, dirty neutrals, the Swiss. Perhaps Captain Marvel will stumble upon Perfect's villainy through the bankers of Zurich. Yes....

And maybe at some point I'll have the Marvels travel back through time and tour the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, if for no other reason that I greatly enjoy writing, typing, saying, and viewing the word Halicarnassus. Ooooo, Halicarnassus.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hail to the Losers
I would like to thank the defense for giving Ohio State two effortless touchdowns in the fourth quarter; I mean, our boys didn't even offer token resistance to Smith, Holmes, and Ginn. I have seen doormats with more tenacity. Principle credit for the defensive collapse has to go to Jim Herrmann, who apparently labors under the belief it is against NCAA rules to defend a running quarterback.

I would also like to thank Terry Malone for the first few offensive drives. They were utter wastes of time as failed trick plays and ill-conceived end-arounds doomed drive after drive. It will be a farce if Malone has a job next year, as he most assuredly will.

But most of all, I would like to thank Lloyd Carr for coaching my beloved Wolverines to a four-loss regular season, including a 5-3 Big Ten record and a 1-4 lifetime record against Jim Tressel. I don't even remember that last time we had three conference losses. Who are we, Illinois? Three Big Ten losses is UNACCEPTABLE. Even more frustrating than today's loss is the manner in which it happened. We gave up in the fourth. The defense couldn't have stopped a pee-wee team; the offense got several lucky breaks to go up by nine point and then just shut down. This was the most embarrassing game we have played since the disgrace against Notre Dame.

Lloyd Carr is a damned good football coach who has brought a great deal of success to Michigan. But he is 1-4 against Jim Tressel and I am beginning to get the feeling that we are never again going to beat Ohio State. Coach Carr and his staff should be ashamed of themselves. Go Blue!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Superman Returns
The teaser trailer for Superman Returns is available online and, from what I have read, it is also running before the new Harry Potter movie; so, every kid in America is going to see it. I have see four movies directed by Bryan Singer - The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil, X-Men, and X2 - and greatly enjoyed each one. As recently discussed on this blog, I love me some Superman. Despite these two facts, I am not at all excited about Superman Returns. I have tried, but have found that I am incapable of making myself look forward to its theatrical debut. You guys know me, I love looking forward to these things almost as much as I enjoy their arrival. As soon as I heard that Christian Bale had been cast as Bruce Wayne, I knew Batman Begins was going to kick ass. (And boy howdy, did it ever.) When I first heard that Bryan Singer had abandoned X-Men 3 in order to direct the new Superman movie, I tingled with excitement. Bryan Singer's Superman couldn't help but be amazing, right?

Right? Now, I'm not so sure. I have no problem with this kid Brandon Routh who is playing Clark Kent/Superman. He's an unknown, which I think it the right way to go with Superman (it worked with both Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain), and Routh really, really looks like Clark Kent. No problem there. And I can buy Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. Spacey can play an inhuman monster when he wants to; so, the ghosts of Gene Hackman's hackery should be exorcised. Superman? Check. Luthor? Check.

So, what's bothering me? Three things, two of them having to do with Lois Lane. One, Kate Bosworth. Jumpin' Jack Pratt riding a hilariously tiny unicycle, Kate Bosworth? WHAT ON BOG'S GREEN EARTH ARE THOSE IDIOTS THINKING? Are they high? Is that it, is Bryan Singer a coke fiend like Aaron Sorkin? There is not a worse choice on either Earth or the doomed planet Krypton to play Lois Lane than Kate Bosworth. First of all, she doesn't really have a face, just two swollen cheeks and painted on eyebrows. Secondly, while Lois Lane is a brilliant reporter, Kate Bosworth gives the impression of having received an early childhood labotomy. (An actor's actual intelligence doesn't matter, only their ability to seem intelligent, an ability she lacks in spades.) Third, there is no third. What the hell were they thinking?! I knew Christian Bale was going to be a perfect Batman as soon as he was cast; similarly, I know in my bones that Kate Bosworth is going to be a colossally horrible Lois Lane.

The second thing about Lois Lane is that in the movie, she has a kid. I want to have faith in Bryan Singer, but between the casting of Bosworth and the reimaging of Lois Lane as a single mother, I have to conclude that he and his confederates have no idea who Lois Lane is supposed to be. Lois Lane has been a symbol of smart, capable working women for sixty-seven years; you can't just fundamentally alter her willy-nilly. And if Singer and his crew don't understand Lois Lane, who's to say they understand Clark Kent or Jimmy Olsen or The Daily-fucking-Planet?

My third problem with Superman Returns is the presence of Marlon Brando's narration as Jor-El, Superman's biological father. There are not words in the English language to describe how terrible Richard Donner's Superman was. That Singer has chosen to pay tribute to that horror... now it makes a good deal of sense to me why I am not at all excited about Superman Returns.

Superman deserves a grand movie adaptation, a spectacle for the ages, not whatever the hell Superman Returns is going to be. And just so you know, nothing would make me happier than to be completely wrong about all this. Please, Rao, let me be wrong.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Losing Lost
I hate the actor Michelle Rodriquez. I mean, I don't hate her as a person, I don't even know her. She might be really cool. As Captain Kirk said of the Romulan commander, maybe in another life I could have called her "friend." What I hate is looking at her; I hate hearing her voice. I have loathed every single moment she has been on-screen in every TV show and movie in which I have seen her. Hate. Hate. Hate. As a consequence, she has slowly been killing my love for the show Lost (she is among the new characters added in season two). I've loved every minute that she's off-screen and loathed the opposite. So, I was actually really happy when her character, Ana-Lucia, murdered Shannon (Maggie Grace) last week. Why? Because now Sayid (Naveen Andrews) is going to kill her! Too sweet! (For unfathomable reasons, Sayid loved Shannon. I never understood what he saw in her, beyond her physical appearance, but that doesn't really matter. He loved Shannon and Ana-Lucia murdered her. Sayid's going to fuck shit up!)

Sayid tortured Sawyer when he and Jack thought Sawyer was hording live-saving drugs; also, in the flashbacks to Sayid's former life in Iraq's Republican Guard, he killed a superior officer and helped his former lover escape from custody. So, we know Sayid is a hard man when pushed. Man, I can't wait until Sayid kills Ana. And if he doesn't, well, as much as I enjoy Lost I'll have no choice but to stop watching and hurl invective at those in charge of the enterprise. I'd hate to do it, but one must have and maintain certain standards.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The antimatter version of an electron is called a positron. Okay, makes sense; electrons are negatively charged; so, it stands to reason that the antiparticle version of the same thing would have a positive charge. Here's where it all falls apart, though: the antimater verion of a proton is called an antiproton. Antiproton? What, were the eggheads just too busy that day to try and come up with a good name? Way to go for the bronze, geniuses. Antiproton? For shit's sake, why don't we just rename black "antiwhite"? Red could be "antigreen." Ohio State could be renamed "Antimichigan University." Antiproton. You lazy scientists make me sick.

Oh, sorry, THE Antimichigan University. We wouldn't want to forget OSU's precious "The."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

So cool. Too bad she isn't actually one of Darwin's tortoises. Happy birthday, Harriet the Tortoise!

The Magic of Shazam!
Not that a single script has yet been written (I don't even know how to write a properly formatted comic book script), but I've got Nos. 1-28 all acoounted for, more or less. I say more or less because I'm still trying to figure out exactly how long some of the stories are between No. 12, the end of "Kristallnacht," and No. 22, the beginning of "Man of Science." I'm beginning to doubt I can fit in "Radioland Murders" in the teens; so, I'll have to move it to after No. 28, the done-in-one story "Heck in the Pacific." And things are getting busy between then and the previously described "No. 50 Extravaganza": Nos. 45-50 "The Red and the Black," Nos. 51-52 "The Revenge of Theo Adam," and Nos. 53-58 "From Here to the Rock of Eternity."

Anyway, I mention this to express my exasperation: I don't know how real comic book writers do it. I have so many Marvel Family stories I want to tell that I cannot fathom how writers deal with having only six- or twelve-issue runs on books. It must be maddening. Yes, you can tell a good few good yarns, but such short tenures leave precious little time for the characters to change and grow.

Lately, I've been rereading selected stories from my Superman collection (this was started by the first DVD boxset of Superman: The Animated Series, starting with the only quasi-Superman story It's a Bird..., Steven T. Seagle's semi-autobiographical ruminations on his own year on Superman, one of my favorite runs (in part because it was draw by my favorite penciller, Scott McDaniel, but also because Seagle's story was cool). Also included are two recent acquisitions, the original graphic novels Superman: End of the Century and Superman: Infinite City. So, now I'm retasking some mental resources from The Magic of Shazam! to what kind of stories I would tell should I ever be graced with the opportunity to work on the Man of Steel.

A hybrid idea I had was "The Metropolis Marvel" (which is also an old and minor nickname for Superman): Superman is seriously injured, maybe by my villain Xenophon, and Captain Marvel fills in as guardian of Metropolis for a little while. The most egomaniacal version of this idea is that it could mirror the recent "Sacrifice" storyline that ran through the three monthly Superman books - Action Comics, The Adventures of Superman, and Superman - and ended in Wonder Woman. "The Metropolis Marvel" could begin in The Magic of Shazam! and then continue through that month's Super-books. They gave the crummy character Mr. Majestic, the WildStorm Universe's cheap ripoff of Superman, the super-books for a month once; so, why not Cap? Or, it would still work as a MoS!-only story, too.

Batman has always been my favorite comic book character, but I'm beginning to suspect that Superman is becoming "my fav'rit." We shall see.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Newsletter Must Die
During the latter half of September and all of October, I had no desire to publish The Newsletter. As a result, my benighted but beloved little fortnightly got rather far off schedule. During that time, I thought about the policy of malign neglect I'd decided upon following the failure of this summer's "Summer Reading" issues. I thought about the phrasing I would use in an email to the staff, the same pikers who choice to sit-out "Summer Reading," informing them that Vol. X, No. 8 would be the last issue of The Newsletter. The very last. For all time. "Fine and good," I thought to myself, "let's kill the fucker. But, it would be best not to make any decisions about the future until the ravenous beastie is back on track." I thought that was an excellent point. Now that Vol. X, Nos. 2-5 have gone out with the post, I find that I no longer wish The Newsletter dead. Or that may not be quite right, maybe I do wish it dead, but I do not want Vol. X, No. 8 to be the ultimate issue. I am already thinking about the columns I'll write in Volume XI (January-April '06). I am no longer furious over "Summer Reading" as I was in August and September; now, I find the entire debacle to be profoundly sad. My faith in the staff, my dear, dear friends on the staff, has been sundered. The Newsletter will never be the shining marvel I dreamed, nor will it even be what it was before "Summer Reading." Much of this was surely hubris on my part; all this is my comeuppance. But, I still derive joy from writing "The Last Angry Man," from mocking up the issues and sealing the envelopes.

The Newsletter must die, but not today. And not tomorrow.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
One unexpected consequence of the Seven Wonders Triva Challenge is that I am once giving serious thought to removing the commenting feature. The Guy, usually a thoughtful and amusing commentator, was disqualified for listing his penis among the Seven Wonder of the Ancient World; similarly, my brother, the Mountain of Love, didn't even make a effort at listing the Seven Wonders, but felt at liberty to suggest the undeniably phallic "penis tower" on the EMU campus in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I just don't know how to react to that kind of immature idiocy.

Among those who gave serious answers, the winning is The Professor with 6 1/2 correct answers. Social studies teacher Neutral Man had five correct answers and Kiel, who has never been given a nickname (would you like one?), had three. Thank you all for your efforts and congratulations, Professor!

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The Great Pyramid at Giza
circa 2580 B.C.-present
No explanation is really necessary. The Great Pyramid is the oldest of the Seven Wonders and the only one still in existence.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
circa 600 B.C.-byeh?
Babylon has been lost to the sands of Iraq and along with it the Gardens, which didn't really hang (they weren't potted plants). Today, there is a movement in many urban areas to plant gardens on the roofs of skyscrapers and smaller multi-storied buildings. These could be seen as a modern resurrection of the Hanging Gardens.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
circa 550-353 B.C., 323 B.C.-A.D. 262
Ancient accounts go on at length about the Temple's beauty, but spend precious little time describing what it actually looked like. The original Temple was destroyed by arson on the same night Alexander the Great was born; the arsonist burned to the Temple to make himself famous. The Temple was later restored and stood for centuries until it was again burned by the barbarian Goths.

The Statue of Zeus at Olympus
circa 435 B.C.-some time after A.D. 394
The statue was really big and, apparently, really lifelike. Think Michelangelo's Pieta. It was lost in a fire after being relocated from Olympus to Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire (later the Byzantine Empire).

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
circa 350 B.C.-A.D. 1200s or 1300s
Much like a pharaoh's pyramid, nothing became King Maussollos in life so much as his death. He is remembered solely for his tomb, from which we get the word mausoleum. It was an enormous marble ediface build after his death by his grieving wife, Artemisia. It was gradually felled by a several earthquakes, being completely destroyed by 1404.

The Colossus of Rhodes
282-226 B.C.
The Colossus was a giant broze statue of the sun-god Helios, build to celebrate Rhodes victory over besieging forces. It was roughly the same size as the modern Statue of Liberty; it's legs did not, as some fancifully believe, straddle the entrance to a bay. The Colossus was toppled by an earthquake and not rebuild because of a local oracle. In our day, there has been much debate on Rhodes as to whether the Colossus should be recreated.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria
circa 300 B.C.-A.D. 1323
The lighthouse, also known as the Pharos after the island on which it sat, was an incredible 440 feet high. A massive furnace produced more light than any isolated fire, light that could be seen from as far as 35 miles away. The massive marble tower was adorned with statues in the Hellenic and Roman periods, obviously removed once Egypt became Islamic. Continuing a theme, the Lighthouse was felled by a pair of earthquakes.

The Professor listed all seven Wonders, but lost half a point because he could not describe the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus more specifically than as "a tomb of some sort." Still, a magnificent effort, sir. Well done. The Prize shall soon arrive at BTWest courtesy of the fine folks at the United States Postal Service.

Interestingly, both Neutral Man and Kiel listed the Great Wall of China. While the earliest sections of the Great Wall do indeed date the the third century B.C., the really impressive sections with which most of us are most familiar, the broad walls adorned with battlements and punctuated with splendid watchtowers, were not contructed until the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries A.D. Also, the list of the Seven Wonders of the World was complied in the second century B.C. by a Greek writer, Antipater of Sidon. China was unknown to the learned men of Hellenic world, who visited the Seven Wonders as tourists.

My thanks to those who seriously participated in the Seven Wonders Trivia Challenge.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Armistice Day
From one who never had the courage to serve, my sincerest thanks to all those who have hazarded life and limb in defense of the Great Republic, this last, best hope of Earth.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
I was going to list them, but then I thought a quiz might be better. So, WITHOUT LOOKING THEM UP, how many of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World can you name off the top of your head? Leave your answer in the comments section. We're using the honor system, kids. I mention this because the person or team (pool those resources!) to provide the most complete answer will get a prize. Not a famous No-Prize, but an actual prize, a physical object currently in my possession. I haven't picked the prize yet, but I'll select something appropriate to this test; think of this as a history lesson-cum-Good E. Bag Wednesday.
Of the forty-two* men who have been the President of the United States (and I mean under the Constitution; so, don't even bring up the presidency under the Articles of Confederation), four have had alliterative names. Interestingly, so fond are some people of alliterative names that two of those four men used their middle names as their first names in order to have an alliterative name. Also, two of those four men had Wilson somewhere in their name and were the only two presidents to be named Wilson in any form.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.
Herbert Clark Hoover
Ronald Wilson Reagan

*President Cleveland may be counted as both the twenty-second and twenty-fourth presidents, but he was still only one man.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

In the first of two New York-themed items, Skeeter has actually posted on her bloggy blog! In the words of The Onion from July 20, 1969, "HOLY SHIT Man Walks on Fucking Moon"! Only two and a half months until she posts again! Thanks, Skeeter!

Vote For Kodos
Hyperlink!* It's not that I'm particular to Mr. Bloomberg, I just love the perversity of a Republican running New York City. Plus, Bloomy is probably the most visible liberal Republican in the entire country, and Bog knows we need more of them if we are ever to take back the Grand Old Party from the crazy Evangelicals. By the end of his term, New York City, home to the late Pauline Kale who didn't know a single person who voted for Richard Nixon, will have been governed by Republicans for sixteen consecutive years. Hilarious.

Honolulu Blue Forever
Operating on the assumption that Steve "Mooch" Mariucci will go the way of the buffalo at the end of this season, who do you think, dear readers, should be hired as the new doomed head coach of the Detroit Lions? I have three candidates in mind:

Ein) Pete Carroll. Yeah, okay, so the Pac-10 is an incredibly weak conference, but that doesn't mean his USC teams haven't been frighteningly good. I'll even butcher the mother tongue by saying the Trojans are scary good. Plus, Carroll coached both the Jets and the Patriots; so, I'd wager he's got an eye toward returning to the NFL sooner or later. Pete, come to Detroit and the future can be now! Heck, we even have your star Mike Williams (maybe Carroll could return him to the decent player he once was, not the stonehanded slowpoke he is now).

Zwei) Jim Tressel. The worst that could happen is Tressel would be just as bad a coach as Marty Morningweig. (Once you've gone 2-14, you develop quite a high tolerance for risk.) And who knows, 2002 might not have been a fluke. Plus, as an added bonus Tressel would no longer be the football coach at Ohio State. Lloyd's 1-3 against that bastard and the only way I see Michigan ever getting back in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is to take Tressel out of the picture. I think Carroll would give the Lions a better chance of winning, but above all else I really want Tressel out of Columbus.

Drei) Last but certainly not least, the great Dan Dierdorf. He was the first person I ever heard say, "That play was ill-conceived and poorly executed." I've watched a lot of football in my twenty-six years on the earth and in all that time I've learned a number of things. Among them is that Dan Dierdorf knows a hell of a lot about football. He's incredible, doubly so when contrasted with that blithering idiot Madden. Dan Dierdorf (yes, I always say both his names. Can you blame me? Go ahead, say "Dan Dierdorf" out loud. It just rolls off the tongue) knows football, which would certainly be a nice change of pace from William Clay Ford, Jr.; Matt Millen; Steve Mariucci; and Marty Morningweig, who collectively know just enough to lead a pee-wee football team to a winless season. Dan Dierdorf is like Flash Gordon, as described by Queen, "He'll save every one of us!"

Dan Dierdorf, "King of the impossible!"

In a related story, Andy Reid is my new hero. Also, I have now set aside my animosity toward Donovan McNabb (born in Syracuse's 38-28 victory over Michigan in 1998). I respect how he dealt with Owens in last year's playoffs and how he has reacted to Owens's latest antics. I may not be a fan, but I am certainly an admirer of Donovan McNabb.

*I typed "Hyperlink!" instead of "Hyperlink." because the Secret Base is all about ACTION! Careful consideration and quiet contemplation are for others. Flying off the handle, leaping without looking, those are the things for which people turn to The Last Angry Man. Take the time to actually consider all sides of an issue? Humbug! I have harsh and arbitrary judgments to render! And thus, in keeping with this reactionary philosophy of ACTION!, the namby-panby hyperlinks have been "kicked up a notch" (quotting Elzar, not Emerill) from "Hyperlink."s to "Hyperlink!"s. ACTION!

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Rest in Peace
Dammit. Rest in peace, Mr. Piller, and thank you so much.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

My Time Among the Vampires
I gave blood today and now there's a little dark spot on my arm near the pinhole. My mother, a veteran blood donor, sez it's nothing to worry about, just a little blood trapped between layers of skin. Nevertheless, I remain concerned. I've never had a dark spot like this and, no, sir, I don't like it. I'm going to be really pissed if my arm falls off (and just my luck, they drew from my ever-so-useful dexter appendage rather than from his nigh-useless sinister brother). Curses!

The lesson is all this? Never help anyone. But, seriously, kids, how many of you have given blood in the interval since the last time I posted about donating? Huh? Huh? You've got plenty of blood, you won't miss a pint or three. Lousy bums.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Anything worth arguing about is worth hurting someone's feeling over. It is isn't that important, don't argue about it.

Also, on a whim I shaved my imperial on Sunday. I miss it already. I'm not saying I don't look like me, I just look like me without my imperial, which means I don't look quite right. I've worn the damned thing for like seven years now; I don't think it's an integral a part of my face as the mole in the middle of my forehead, but, wait, yes it is. My imperial is just as important as my freaky forehead mole. The Imperial Restoration has already begun.
Happy Halloween
Sorry I forgot to say this yesterday; so, hey, happy Halloween, everybody. My only real comment is that we need to get these kids some vocabulary builders. I say this because I asked one boy, "Are you a warlock?" He replied, "No, I'm an evil wizard." *sigh* Still, who doesn't love Halloween?