Sunday, December 31, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Pontiac Button: Activate!" from Good or Suck! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The last RCY show - not the last ever, just the latest show we've played - was two years ago tonight. I thought about picking one of the three live versions* of "Pontiac Button: Activate!" I have in my library, including the version we played during that fabled show two years hence, but I desired to hear the clean album version. (Our live shows are charmingly rough affairs.) Plus, the album version has a clip from Patrick Stewart's one-man performance of A Christmas Carol!

*We only have two albums worth of songs, so a huge percentage of our catalog gets played every show. I have recordings of shows from June '02, New Year's Eve Eve '02, and New Year's Eve Eve '04. December 30, 2002 has been officially classified as "one of the best nights of my life."

Happy New Year!
Iron Fisticuffs
Marvel Comics has recently commenced publication of a new ongoing comic book titled The Immortal Iron Fist; Iron Fist (Danny Rand) is one of the premier martial artists in the Marvel Universe. The series is co-written by Ed Brubaker, one of my favorite comic book writers and also among the most consistent in terms of the quality of his work (spread over a broad range of genres), and features delightfully eccentric art by David Aja, with whose work I was previously unfamiliar. The first two issues have been paced quite slowly, but Brubaker is a writer on whom one can count to ultimately deliver the goods. I am enjoying The Immortal Iron Fist. And not to trivialize the efforts of Mr. Brubaker, his co-written Matt Fraction, Mr. Aja, or any of the numerous other creative talents behind the book, but far and away my favorite part of The Immortal Iron Fist is the title of the first story arc, "The Last Iron Fist Story." Sweet crack rock, I love a good title.

The Immortal Iron Fist No. 1, "The Last Iron Fist Story, Part 1," hee hee!

Friday, December 29, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Bank Job" from Barenaked Ladies Are Me (T.L.A.M.)
Coming Attractions
Originally, I intended to present these items as a paragraph laced with ellipses, but as you can see I opted for an ellipsis-packed list. I always opt for a list. Dear Bog, I love lists! But then, you knew that. To the list!

...the death of President Ford... I feel bad about the first thought that flittered through my mind upon hearing the terrible news, "Gerald Ford devoured by wolves... and I'm gay"...
...Ethiopia's intervention in Somalia...
...the UN Security Council's sanctions against our bosom buddies in the Islamic Republic of Iran... Blogger versus old Blogger...
...the people I met on the flights to and from my beloved Michigan...
...The L.A.W. and her beau, Father Time (I am considering changing his codename to the Maine Man)...
...The Mountain of Love and the love of his life, the Buckeye... mom and dad...
...Dad's racist friend...
...the shiny baubles that sated my Christmas greed... future...
...why I can never give up on the Detroit Lions, no matter how much I want to...
...the Rose Bowl...
...the dark bastard's comeuppance...
...the beauty and spectacle of the Christian faith...
...Hello, Kitty...
...the looming fifth anniversary of this bloggy blog's beginning...
...all this and much much more!

Also, I am considering writing the date of my journal entries with two zeroes - 11.11.007 as opposed to the current 11.11.06 - but only if I can convince myself that doing so won't make me a complete tool. Stay tuned to The Secret Base of the Rebel Black Dot Society for this and similar inanities.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Leaving On a Jet Plane" from Have a Ball (T.L.A.M.)

I hope to spend very little time online during my brief sojourn in the Great Lakes State; so, here is the next installment of "The Explorers Club" a day early.

The Explorers Club
Question No. 5: The Seventh and Eighth Crusades of Saint Louis, King Louis IX of France.

Friday, December 22, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Mu330, "Three Days 'til Christmas" from Winter Winderland! (Mt. Love)
The Stars My Destination
Home for Christmas: one! And here's a neat graphic representation of the Shuttle's reentry: two. Safe journey, Discovery, and Godspeed.

"When you have shot and killed a man you have in some measure clarified your attitude toward him. You have given a definite answer to a definite problem. For better or worse you have acted decisively.

"In a way, the next move is up to him."
--R.A. Lafferty

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Demon's Head
This evening, a story has begun to form in my mind, a tale of Ra's al Ghul, Vandal Savage, and the "infernal machine" of the 1584-1585 Siege of Antwerp by forces of the Spanish Crown. All week, I've been thinking about Ra's al Ghul; his daughter Talia; and his dread foe, the Detective, known to the rest of the world as the Batman. I've watched all the Ra's al Ghul episodes of Batman: The Animated Series: "Off Balance," "The Demon's Quest, Parts I and II," "Avatar," and "Showdown," and the Superman: The Animated Series episode "The Demon Reborn," and read most of the Ra's stories in my collection of comics, making a point of skipping Batman: Death and the Maidens. Of the comics stories, I'd have to say my favorite is the not-exactly-in-continuity story Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity, which paired the titular heroes against their opposites: Ra's al Ghul, Bizarro, and Artemis of the lost tribe of Amazons. (Wonder Woman's name is Diana, the Roman name for the Greek goddess Artemis; it's an obvious bit of symmetry, but one I've enjoyed just the same, throughout Artemis's in-continuity appearances.)

Despite my hostility to the character of Nyssa Raatko, al Ghul's estranged daughter and adversary, I do like the idea of exploring, beyond his darling Talia, the children the Demon's Head has surely sired in his six or seven centuries of life. I'd like to introduce his 19th century son, Arkady Duvall from "Showdown," into the appropriate time period of the DCU. (Harley Quinn and Livewire leapt from the small screen to the four-color world; so, there is precedent.) In contrast to the conflicted Talia, her loyalties always divided between her father and her beloved Detective, and the perfidious Nyssa, I'd like to feature a completely devoted and obedient daughter, Ivana al Ghul (named, of course, after Ms. Milicevic). Because she's the good daughter, of course she must die before her time, almost certainly at the hands of or due to the machinations of the remorseless Savage. (Am I indulging in the Women in Refridgerator's syndrome? No, I don't think so, because Ivana must be female and must die for her to properly parallel Talia; what happens to Ivana is meant to partially explain Ra's's indulgent behavior toward Talia.)

Anyway, the theoretical miniseries Ra's al Ghul/Vandal Savage: The Infernal Machine is very much in it's infancy. All I know right now is that since I don't want to use time travel to forge a connection to the main superheroes of the 20th/21st century DC Universe, I'll work in either or both Jason Blood and the Immortal Man for the requisite heroics. Hmmm, I don't object to time travel per se, so maybe I'll include Walker Gabriel, the second and less villainous Chronos.
I said a prayer before falling asleep last night, the first time I had said a bedtime prayer in far too long. As usual, I discovered a geniune sense of wellness and peace resulting from my entreaties to the Almighty. I shall never understand those without faith. I understand doubt all too well, I spent several of my teenaged years struggling with the concept of a just God creating such an unjust world, but He was the beginning and the end of those questions. What I've never understood is how someone can ask the same questions I asked and come up with different answers.

A simple truth, perhaps even laughably simple, but the truth nonetheless: God loves you.

BTW South Song of the Day
17 Years, "What's Your Name?" from Mailorder is Fun! (T.L.A.M.)

This is why I love the world, because you have no idea what crazy thing is going to happen next: truth is stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Duvall, "O Come All Ye Faithful" from O Holy Night (Mt. Love)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Yesterday, it was 70 F in Fort Worthless and after work I put on shorts. Today, it's twenty degrees cooler and rainy, which is better, but still not in the least Christmasy. Thank Bog for bowl season, the only clue that Christmas is actually near! A concerted effort on multiple fronts would be necessary for me to care less about TCU-Northern Illinois, but at least it's a bowl game. And when the loser bowls have started, Christmas is just around the corner! * * * Edited to conform to new anti-whining standards and protocols * * *; so, I am tremendously grateful for this concrete reminder that Christmas, home, hearth, family, and friends are tantalizingly near. Saturday! Saturday! Saturday!

Is it wrong that I want to write a story in which Ra's al Ghul wins? I don't want him to destroy the world or anything, but if he's to retain any credibility as Batman's deadliest foe, isn't he about due for a win? At this point even a Pyrrhic victory over "the Detective" would greatly improve his average. (Of course, "at this point" in the DCU Ra's al Ghul is dead, but death is even less of a barrier to the Demon's Head than it is to most of his oft-resurrected comic book brethren.)

Ra's al Ghul - the Demon's Head (death is but a temporary setback)
Talia al Ghul - the de facto Demon's Head
Nyssa Raatko - good riddance to bad rubbish
Ibn al Xu'ffasch "Damien Wayne" - the Son of the Bat (an idea I oppose but not an idea without real potential)

BTW South Song of the Day
Discount, "Soup" from Mailorder is Fun! (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Murky Transport Disaster, "Christmas Should Be Lasting All Year Long" from The Murky Transport Disaster Disaster Transport Transport Disaster (Mt. Love)

Awesome. Step one: defeat Inter Milan. Step two: reestablish the Papal States. Step three: rename the Mediterranean the Holy Sea.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Explorers Club
Question No. 4: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Astronaut Group 2, nicknamed "The New Nine."

I know the next feature is dreadfully predictable, but take heart, there are only two games left in the season and after this year, if massive changes are not made, I'm done with the Lions forever.

Fire Millen & Fire Marinelli
23-71, Mr. Millen, 2-12 on the year. Have you no decency? I did not wear my Honolulu Blue Lions T-shirt today and making a point of not wearing it most most satisfying. And I was so very, very happy when I saw the final score. Green Bay was the last theoretically winnable game of the season, and for reasons I cannot fully explain I was horrified by the prospect of a win in today's contest. Woot!

Congratulations on breaking Marino's record, Mr. Favre.

2-12, Mr. Marinelli, and goony Jon Kitna, in your opinion the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of professional football, threw two more interceptions and coughed up a fumble, on fourth down no less. That's twelve consecutive games in which Kitna has thrown at least one interception; Joey Harrington's longest such string was six games. Good move there, Rod. How does it feel to be Marty Mornhinweg?
Blast From the Past
I remember this story: squirrel. No wonder Saturday's anti-Putin rally in Moscow was so small: wee. In Russia, the squirrels will kill you and gut your corpse; so, you can only imagine what unspeakable horrors the remorseless killers of the FSB will devise and skillfully perpetrate. Yes, Comrade President Putin! Whatever you say, Comrade President Putin! Please, Comrade President Putin, not the squirrels! I want an open casket, Comrade President Putin, for my mother's sake!

And that's in today's friendly, democratic Russia. Imagine what they'd do to you in the bad old days of Soviet Russia.

BTW South Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "A Little Doubt Goes a Long Way" (live) from Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album, Disc 2: Move Fastly With the Fast Music (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, December 16
Duvall, "Angels We Have Heard on High" from O Holy Night (Mt. Love)

Commentary: And because I've selected the live version of "A Little Doubt Goes a Long Way," there are lots of Aaron Barrett's "funny, funny jokes" included in today's Song of the Day. My first real rock show was Reel Big Fish at Clutch Cargo's in February 1999. Our first introduction to Mu330 came on that same spectacular night, as they were one of the opening bands. My life was never the same after seeing Reel Big Fish live on stage and for that I owe them a great debt.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Science! of Spy vs. Spy
The plot thickens: spylink. Also, here's a nice article about the science! behind the "Spy vs. Spy" saga: polonium-210. There's quite the opportunity to scoff at Russian protestations of innocence if you read all the way to the bottom. Polonium may have been named by Madame Curie after her native Poland, but what the name brings to my mind is Polonius, the father of Ophelia and Laertes in Hamlet. The death of a man who worked for the KGB and thus, it could be argued, died the death he deserved; a pioneering, diminutive Polish-French scientist who defied the archaic social mores of her era; and the immortal works of William Shakespeare, one with which I am particularly familiar due to an excessive concentration on Tom Stoppard's not clever enough Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in 12th grade AP English. The world is a many splendored place if only one takes the time to forge awkward connections between unrelated topics and then ascribes indefensible significant to those false bonds.


This is how my mind works when it is nearly six o'clock in the morning and sleep has eluded me all night.

Friday, December 15, 2006

In 1999, aircraft of the German Luftwaffe bombed Serbian targets as part of the so-called Kosovo War (I think "war" is too strong a description of NATO's brief interdiction). During the Cold War, the West German Heer was the largest component of NATO's ground forces arrayed against the Soviets and their Warsaw Pact puppets. (The United States Army was larger, but not all of its forces were in Western Europe.) So, in light of these are other moves towards the normalization of Germany's defense policies, what is the big deal here?

The chief external opponents of the normalization of Japan's defense policies are North Korea, the last Stalinist state in the world, and China, which fought an aggressive war against Vietnam in 1979 and continues to position more and more missiles within firing range of Taiwan. And a reminder, the People's Liberation Army's budget continues to increase by double digit percentages year after year. (Merry Christmas!) Confronted with such inhospitable neighbors, is it any surprise the Japanese Diet voted to make the Japan Defense Agency a cabinet ministry? We're not talking about a massive new program to upgrade Japan's armaments and munitions, or even anything as "radical" as removing the self-defense label from the Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces, just elevated the Japan Defense Agency to a Ministry of Defense.

BTW South Song of the Day
John Linnell, "The Songs of the 50 States" from State Songs (T.L.A.M.)
Forget Tibet, Free Flanders!
This brought a huge grin to my mug: Belgium!

BTW South Song of the Day
Mu330, "Angels We Have Heard On High" from Winter Wonderland! (Mt. Love)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Spy vs. Spy
Check out the picture about halfway through the article: Batlink. Is it just me or is there a bat-like logo in the floor next to Comrade President Putin? Huh, all these years I thought FSB was an initialism for Federal'naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (Russian rendered in the Latin alphabet), translated into English as the Federal Security Service. Now I guess it stands for... what? Federal Service of Batmen? Fiery Syndicate of Batmaniacs?

Here's a bit of good news: Good riddance. The death of any member of Hamas is a reason to smile.

Pinochle with Pinochet
The fun in funeral. Captain Augusto Pinochet Molina is not a private citizen, he is an officer in the Chilean Army; ergo, he does not have the same freedom to criticize the government, specifically the Chilean justice system, as would a Chilean civilian. If his superiors deem to sanction him, that is right and just. My question is, where was President Bachelet's condemnation when those who opposed Pinochet's dictatorship were rioting in celebration of his death and frustration that he was never tried for what they believe were his crimes? She has harsh words for the intemperate words of the General's grieving grandson, but nothing to say when her own supporters are fighting against the police and setting Santiago ablaze? Not cool, Madame President.

BTW South Song of the Day
MxPx, "The Next Big Thing" from The Ever Passing Moment (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Spy vs. Spy
Have no fear, Interpol is here! Spylink.

Oh, and hey, while all of these fun and games are going on, the genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan continues unabated. Of course, Kofi Annan was too busy accusing the United States of having ceded the moral high ground to the late, unlamented Pol Pot to notice. We should bring back the League of Nations, because at least the League was honest about being impotent to stem the tide of human suffering.

BTW South Song of the Day
Mu330, "I Got This Neighbor" from Winder Wonderland! (Mt. Love)

Commentary: Not to be confused with Mu330's "Neighbor" from Crab Rangoon, which is another song altogether. Years ago at an Mu330 show in Evil Lansing, K. Steeze, the Mountain, and I shouted for the band to play "I Got This Neighbor." Sure, it was St. Paddy's Day, but we were in the mood for a Christmas ditty. So, the lead singer, Dan Potthast, a.k.a. Steve Roelle, the missing Roelle brother, said, "'Neighbor'? Sure!" And then they played "Neighbor." It's a great song; so, it was all good.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Spy vs. Spy
And the tangled web grows ever more tangled: spylink.

BTW South Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Pinch Me" from Maroon (T.L.A.M.)
The Victors
All hail Lloyd Carr, a man of honor and integrity, who said, "One of the great values of sports at any level is you have to learn to accept things when they don't go your way. You need to be able to handle things... in a way that honors the game."

And my thanks to Michigan alumna The Watergirl and Michigan alumnus The Bradman (formerly Neutral Man) for opening my eyes to MGoBlog. Here are some musings on the humble glory that is Lloyd: Go Blue!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Explorers Club
Question No. 3: A troika from the Vietnam War: the Battle of Ia Drang, the Siege of Khe Sanh, and the Son Tay raid.

Fire Millen & Marinelli
23-70, Mr. Millen, 2-11 on the year. Have you no decency? Also, Jon Kitna, whom Rod Marinelli regards as Dan Marino, Bob Griese, Dan Fouts, and Jim Kelly rolled into one man, threw three interceptions and extended his streak of having thrown at least one interception per game to eleven consecutive games. Fire Millen above all else, but Marinelli should also be fired.

Addendum: Rod Marinelli's essentially first act as head coach of the Lions was to get rid of Joey Harrington. Marinelli was convinced that the Lions could never win with Joey as the starting quarterback. After Harrington's replacement, the goonish Jon Kitna, threw three interceptions and gave up a fumble during last week's fall-from-ahead loss to the New England Patriots, Marinelli declared Kitna the starting QB for not just the rest of this season, but next year as well. Today, Kitna threw three interceptions and gave up a fumble; deja vu all over again. Harrington, coincidentally both the quarterback Marinelli was certain could never lead the Lions to victory and the quarterback who thoroughly outplayed Kitna on Thanksgiving Day, spent his afternoon engineering a three-touchdown victory over Tom Brady and the Patriots.

I want Matt Millen to be fired, but the reality is that he isn't going to be fired, not for years and years and years. But head coaches come and go. In the short term, the best way to improve the Lions is to fire Rod Marinelli and his man-crush Jon Kitna. Fire Marinelli!

BTW South Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "We, the Uninspired" from the Absolution for Idiots and Addicts EP (Mt. Love)
Pinochle with Pinochet
Captain General Augusto Pinochet is dead: hyperlink. May the Lord God grant him mercy.

Pinochet may have been a monster, but he was our monster. The West's victory in the Cold War, the defeat of the Soviet Union, and the collapse of global Communism were not foregone conclusions in 1973. And the regime of Salvador Allende was not as lily-white as his niece, the author Isabel Allende, would lead you to believe. General Pinochet was a friend to the United States, a valuable ally against Latin American Marxism-Leninism, and, though the "Miracle of Chile," the architect of his own people's brilliant future. The Cold War was won, the monolithic evil of Soviet Communism crushed, only because men like Augusto Pinochet were willing to put the long-term welfare of the free peoples of the world ahead of the sanctity of their own souls. I hope that the Almighty rewards them for their service to His Creation. Rest in peace, General.

And no, my use of the word "Creation" does not suggest any sympathy for Creationism or the cynical, specious Intelligent Design "hypothesis."

Saturday, December 9, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Luckie Strike, "Slightly Stoopid" from Mailorder is Fun!! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I thought about choosing Ben Folds's "Losing Lisa" in honor of The L.A.W.'s birthday, but we're not losing The L.A.W. I can form tenuous links between BNL's "Maybe Katie" and The Watergirl and FoW's "Hey Julie" and Skeeter, and there's nothing tenuous about the links between Zach and Sarah and "Zak and Sara," but I just don't "see" my wicked, darling sister in "Losing Lisa." So, I picked a completely random song that I love love love. "Slightly Stoopid" is one of those songs I can put on repeat for a solid hour and not lose affection.

Speaking of names and names and connections, I've been watching a lot of the James Bond films lately, both in the build-up to the superb Casino Royale and in the afterglow, and I am endlessly... muddled by Michael G. Wilson, producer of the films from 1979's Moonraker through the present day and writer of five films from For Your Eyes Only (1981) through License to Kill (1989). He's obviously quite a bit older than me and he's Michael G. to my Michael P., but he's Michael Wilson. It's weird. Oh, and there is a preternatural connection between the names Michael and David Wilson, which I will discuss again another time; so, of course Michael G. Wilson has a son named David.

Anyway, thanks for the Bond films, Mr. Wilson, they're great.
"As he was a bachelor and in nobody's debt, nobody troubled his head any more about him."
--Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Friday, December 8, 2006

I have never understood the "reasoning" of those who argue that science and religion are natural, inevitable enemies, like mammals and reptiles. Archaeology is a science, and right here archaeology has made an invaluable contribution to all of Christendom: St. Paul's tomb. Science is the tool by which we come to understand the workings of the world, religion is the path by which we come to understand the purpose behind those workings. Hand in hand for the greater glory of all Mankind, the Almighty's most favored children.

Perchance to Dream
I fell asleep last night at eleven o'clock. I never go to bed that early; so, even though I was dead on my feet, I assumed when I laid my head on my pillow that I would toss and turn for hours before falling alseep. Such was not the case, though I did make up momentarily just after one o'clock, falling back to sleep almost immediately.

Anyway, the dream from Thursday night/Friday morning: I was an insane serial killer in a maximum security prison. My partner in crime was there, too. We were both quite mad and so should have been not in prison but in the maximum security wing of an insane asylum. Our lawyers were on the cusp of arranging such a move and we were both as pleased as punch. We spared no effort in sharing our glee with our murderous fellow prisoners. At the end of the dream, a number of them had cornered me and were insering a large needle into my right shoulder, but I awoke before learning its purpose, though I can say for certain that they bore me considerable ill will.

And as if all that wasn't bad enough, I spied nary a trace of Ivana Milicevic!

BTW South Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "How's My Driving, Doug Hastings?" from Losing Streak (Mt. Love)

Thursday, December 7, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Mike Park, "Korea is So Far Away" from Mailorder is Still Fun!! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: K. Steeze declared several years ago that I was inevitably going to marry a Chinese girl. He didn't specify if she'd be Chinese-American, Chinese, Taiwanese, Chinese-Indonesian, Chinese-Singaporean (odd, I always thought the adjective form of Singapore was Singaporese), or what. Perhaps one tell she'll tell her parents, "I want to share my round-eyed devil with you, and he's not so different from you."

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Perchance to Dream
Tuesday night/Wednesday morning: A monstrous figure who bore a thematic resemblance to Lobo, the DC Comics character, though physically he was quite distinct, was stalking me and several others through my house in Grand Blanc, pursuing us in order to do harm to Sam, my dearly departed cat who was inexplicably very much alive and kicking. We hid in the basement and for some reason he could not locate us for the longest time, but I awoke before there was any resolution to the chase. While hiding in the basement, I had sex with Ivana Milicevic; so, it was a weird dream with a spectacular upside.
I've been listening to The Ataris quite a bit recently. These are heady days for the dark bastard.

Holy Niagara Falls, Batman! At least, maybe: aqualink.

BTW South Song of the Day
Save Ferris, "Mistaken" from Modified (Mt. Love)

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "The Kids Don't Like It" from Why Do They Rock So Hard? (T.L.A.M.)

Deep in the Heart of Darkness... er, Texas
I've finally figued out why we had to keep using the air conditioning so far into the fall: BTW South is about an insulated as a screen door. Conveniently, the temperature at night has been getting chilly (back home, I'd say this is early October weather, though with less rain). There would be no need to turn on the heat, except BTW South leaks warmth like a sieve; a constant draft seeps in through the seems around the front door. The real difficulty is that BTW South features dorm-style heating: the only furnace setting is full blast. So, I activate the heat for short periods, making the apartment too warm in a matter of moments, then I shut the heat off and watch the temperature slowly bleed back to comfortable and parts beyond over the course of a couple hours. And I have to use the thermostat to turn the heat on and off, since the "Auto" setting results in a BTW South warm enough to roast a turkey.

I can't wait until New Year's Day because I can't wait for 2007. 2007 is the year my own personal Babylonian Exile will end and I can return to Michigan. Almost every single one of my friends said moving out of my parents' house was a good idea, irrespective of to where I was moving. And every one of those people was wrong. The one and only good thing about this entire debacle has been these two realizations: a) You are never too old to make the biggest mistake of your life. b) You cannot depend upon your friends to know what's best for you, because they have no idea; they mean well, but we all know with what the road to Hell is paved.
The Magic of Shazam!
The route of the Morris Expedition - Billy Batson, Beautia Sivana, Whitey Murphy, and Avi Ducret - in "From Here to the Rock of Eternity":

Fawcett City, USA
Karnak, Egypt
Tyre, Lebanon
Venice, Italy
Samarkand, Uzbekistan
"somewhere in the Himalayan Mountains"

I am also debating whether our intrepid heroes should stop off in Istanbul (not Constantinople), Turkey inbetween Tyre and Venice. And I know Venice has been done to death in fiction, but a plot point involves the sacking of Constantinople by the knights of the Fourth Crusade in 1204; so, visiting the sinking city can't be avoided.
The Stars My Destination
Lunarlink. Say it with me, Moonbase. Moooooooonbase. Ye gods, Jasper was right, "What a time to be alive." Meanwhile, as square-jawed Americans prepare to laugh in the face of danger and spit in the face of death aboard the always spectacular Moonbase (How do you get to the Moonbase? Orion!), our haughty European friends are contemplating sending defenseless tulips to face the peril: tuliplink. For crying out loud, what kind of men hide behind tulips? So, while we act like space cowboys and man our mighty Moonbase, Europe will be sending delicate tulip bulbs, each bearing a daintily lettered ribbon, "I claim this land in the name of Spain."

A dated reference, I know, but all your Moonbase are belong to us. And the Moonbase is a gift that keeps on giving, because once NASA has it up and running, we can finally crown Al Gore's Head as the first Emperor of the Moon. "I have ridden the mighty Moon worm."

Monday, December 4, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
Mu330, "Christmas Merry Christmas" from Winter Wonderland! (Mt. Love)
The Cold War
Hyperlink. Great Stalin's ghost, I love this story! (With apologies to Mr. Litvinenko's family and a sincere hope that his murderers are caught and punished.)
The Explorers Club
Question No. 2: Felix Edmundovich "Iron Felix" Dzerzhinsky.

The Victors
I am on the record as being against a rematch between the valiant University of Michigan Wolverines and the hated Ohio State University Buckeyes, but let me say this: if the point of the BCS is to produce a national championship game between the two best teams, it has failed yet again. I largely agree with the sentiments container herein: hyperlink. As an opponent of a rematch, I am ecstatic that for the first time in years the Rose Bowl is being restored to its rightful glory. The Big Ten versus the Pac-10, the valiant Wolverines versus the weaselly University of Southern California Trojans, that's the way the Granddaddy of 'Em All is supposed to be! Woot! Go Blue!

What's great about the BCS is how easy it is to hate. Both the pesky University of Wisconsin Badgers and the downtrodden Auburn University Tigers have better BCS averages than the despicable University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, yet the despicable Irish alone received an at-large BCS invitation. It's a good thing Charlie Weiss single-handedly invented the game of football, because otherwise that kind of favoritism would be inexcusable.

Predictions: victory for the hated Buckeyes, Michigan, and the swampy Louisiana State University Tigers. You can never say it too often, Go Blue!

Fire Millen
23-69, Mr. Millen, 2-10 on the year. Have you no decency? And now I want each of you to reach inside yourself, tap into your inner 13-year-old, and giggle it with me, "Huh huh, huh huh, sixty-nine. Huh huh."

Lately, a great multitude has been making the case that though the Lions are almost certain to finish with a worse record this season, Rod Marinell's first as head coach, than in any of Steve Mariucci's three seasons (5-11, 6-10, 5-11), Marinelli is "a good coach" and the team is "moving in the right direction." It was Rod Marinelli, in cahoots with the offensive "genius" of Mike Martz, who longed to be rid of Joey Harrington and replace him with QBs Jon "Mr. Interception" Kitna and Josh "The Benchwarmer" McCown. You guys know that I'd blame Matt Millen for the fall of Constantinople if I could, but "upgrading" from Harrington to Kitna was more Marinelli and Martz's doing than it was Millen's. Kitna has now thrown for at least one interceptions in ten consecutive games, including three today. The Lions had three offensive drives in the fourth quarter; each met an ignominious end: Kitna threw an interception, Kitna fumbled, and Kitna threw an interception. And yet Marinelli insists that Kitna is the leader of this team and gives the Lions the best chance for success.

Personally, I'd say calling a man the leader of a 2-10 team is a condemnation, not an endorsement. But, it does appear that the preseason evaluations of Marinelli were spot on, he is just the kind of coach Millen wanted. Millen isn't man enough to take responsibility for the 23-69 record his decisions have wrought; Marinelli isn't man enough to take responsibility for the 2-10 disaster his decisions have wrought. Have the decency to resign, you hypocrites.

BTW South Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "One Week" from Stunt (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, December 2
They Might Be Giants, "Letterbox" from Flood (Mt. Love)

Thursday, November 30
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "The 'Weird Al' Show Theme" from Running With Scissors (Mt. Love)

Tuesday, November 28
Josie and the Pussycats, "3 Small Words" from Josie and the Pussycats - Music From the Motion Picture (Mt. Love)

Friday, December 1, 2006

BTW South Song of the Day
The Forces of Evil, "Independant" from Friend or Foe? (T.L.A.M.)

Guy: Would you please hold my hand?
Girl: I can't, I'm independant.
Guy: I want to be your man.
Girl: You can't, I'm independant.

Guy: I'll call you on the phone.
Girl: You can't, I'm independant.
Guy: Let me know when you're home.
Girl: I can't, I'm independant.
The Perfect Girl
I've had the wild notion that after graduation Scipio Winter will enlist in the French Foreign Legion. He is, after all, a ridiculously theatrical person, especially for someone who has never shown any interest in the theater; and he would agree with me, in part because he is a fictional character whose thoughts and opinions are all products of my imagination, that despite the many glaring flaws of the French people, France is important enough to be worth fighting for. Any resulting adventures could be chronicled under the title "L'Americain" or L'Americain.

I've been softening the opening of The Perfect Girl to make the whole enterprise more believable. Margaret Eastman is becoming, thankfully, less of a philosophically-driven backetcase and more of an overly enthusiastic embracer of circumstance. She may be crazy, and she probably is, a little bit, but all she's trying to do is make lemonade out of the lemons life has placed before her. Before, she decided to lose her virginity to Eddie Beck and made a beeline for his bedroom as soon as she arrived at the frat house; now, she is just as determined to surrender her virtue, but she takes the time to imbibe alongside the lad and rub herself against him on the dance floor and generally allow nature to take its course.

Also before, she choose to try lesbianism as a result of her bitterness at her cheating boyfriend Ben and the aforementioned fratboy Beck, and found Kari Putterman as the perfect recipient of her newly oriented advances. (What in the high holy hell was I thinking when I originally came up with this story?) Now, her motivation is something with which I can very closely identify: upon first seeing Kari at the Halloween party, Margaret is completely and unequivocally smitten. Kari is all Margaret can think about; that Kari is a girl and Margaret has always been utterly hetero is beside the point. If converting both Kari and herself to lesbianism is what it will take to claim Kari as her own, so be it; Margaret will not be denied.

Partial Dramatis Personae
Margaret Eastman
Pete Foster
Mary Peppard "Mary Cannibal"
Kari Putterman
Scipio Winter
Parker Peppard
Stacey Hiraki
Eddie Beck, "The Beckmeister"
Brandy McCown
Ben Roth
Tim & Sunil (go together like C-3PO & R2-D2)
Neal Cohen, "NYC"
Svetlana Kaminskaya (primarily in the tangental story "Armistice Day")
Ari Romanov (primarily in the tangental story "Armistice Day")

"The War of Assassins" and "Armistice Day" may be included as chapters of The Perfect Girl or excluded as discrete short stories taking place at the same time and featuring some of the same characters. I need to study the psychology of suicide in greater detail before attempting "Armistice Day." (I loved A Long Way Down, but it mostly explored why people choose not to commit suicide.)