Monday, April 30, 2007

Believe: 2nd Intermission, Detroit 1-1 San Jose
Gee, how unexpected, the monster Bertuzzi commiting a flagrant, pointless, and unsportsmanlike penalty to put the Red Wings down a man at the very end of the second period. Come on, Saturday Night and Alistair, you who argued that the monster Bertuzzi was not so monstrous, that he'd changed his ways since he crippled Steve Moore, defend your boy now. Defend a malicious elbow to the head, in Detroit's end, when the Wings are already back on their heels and the Sharks are pressing relentlessly. Defend him!

The monster Bertuzzi, by his very nature, will always hurt the Red Wings more then he will ever help.
Super Wilson Bros.

The Mountain of Love, an R2-D2 mailbox, and The Last Angry Man.

Why is a U.S. Postal Service mailbox dressed up to resemble R2-D2? 25 May 1977, my friend, it's all to do with 25 May 1977.
This was a busy blogging weekend. The farther you scroll down the more treasures you'll discover.

The Explorers Club
No. XXIII - The French and Indian Wars, Part III: Fort Ticonderoga and Fort William Henry.

The forts are pieces of living history I had the good fortune to visit during those years when my brother spent his summers in upstate New York. Fort Ticonderoga is a restoration of the genuine article. Fort William Henry was razed by, who else, the French and the Indians; the extant fort is an exquisite recreation of the original.

To Be or Not To Be: Honolulu Blue... Forever?
The moment of crisis is upon us. Shall I be a stalwart for the Detroit Lions, subjecting myself to all the frustration and inevitable heartache that entails, or shall I seek more pleasant pastures as a partisan for another club, forsaking a bond forged in childhood and strengthened by thoughts of home?

My love for the Detroit Lions is a complicated thing, quite unlike my love for the University of Michigan and Michigan football. Change is the essense of college football; players have four years at most to make their mark, so fan loyalty is to the institution not the players or even the coaches. The late, great Bo Schembechler was the coach of my childhood; like President Reagan, he'd been in his office as long as I'd been self-aware and to my pre-pubescent mind this was the natural and unchangable order of things. But things change, the order of things changes, and I learned that Michigan is not about Bo Schembechler, Michigan is bigger than any one man. From Bo to Mo to Lloyd and beyond, I am a Michigan man. I could no more quit Michigan than I could forsake Holy Mother Church.

It's always been different with the Detroit Lions. I have been a fan of the Lions for as long as I have been a fan of football. I was afforded the privilege of watching Barry Sanders during the whole of his amazing and all-too-brief career. I was watching when Mike Utley was paralyzed, when Ty Detmer threw seven interceptions in a single game. I marveled at how good a quarterback Scott Mitchell was during his brief and sporatic moments of brilliance, then mourned every time he returned to his usual form. It's a crime that more NFL fans don't know just how great a receiver Herman Moore was. Even during the roller coaster years of the now-fondly missed Wayne Fontes, I never thought I would feel anything but affection for the Lions. Sure, we'd never get beyond the first round of the playoffs, but that was alright. They were the Lions, after all, one can only expect so much. And there was always next year.

But then came Matt Millen. I see no reason to delve into the sorry history of the last six seasons beyond commenting that the Dark Bastard would like the Lions to finish 2-14 in this season since it would form a lovely bit of symmetry: 2-14, 3-13, 5-11, 6-10, 5-11, 3-13, (2-14). The Lions have a long and indistiguished history of mediocrity, yet I feel safe in the assertion that there is something fundamentally different about the Matt Millen era. Something is different, something has changed. And if the Lions are not as they were, should I root for this new entity as I did the old?

There are four reasons to cheer for a professional sports team: geographic loyalty, arbitrary loyalty, mercenary support for a likely contender and/or returning champion, and spite (I cheer for the New York Mets whenever they play against the New York Yankees, but during the remainder of the year the Mets could drop dead for all I care). A good example of mercenary support would be the jerkholes across the nation who wore Dallas Cowboys merchandise in the mid '90s; this is a low and unworthy reason to support a team and no one worth knowing would engage in such behavior. My support for North London's Arsenal Football Club is a combination of arbitrary loyalty and spite. Years ago, The Guy decided that BTW should take an interest in English soccer; it sounded like a lark and I was game (arbitrary). Since The Guy had thrown his lot in with a bunch of wankers, David Beckham's Manchester United, I chose the only team with a more august record, Arsenal (spite). Happily, I later learned that Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity and About a Boy, et al., was a lifelong Arsenal supporter (read his book Fever Pitch, it's not about soccer as much as it is about the glorious irrationality of being a fan). So, I have Nick Hornby as a peer while Man U's precious Becks is a washed up has-been who can't hack it in the Europe anymore and is trying to hide in the hinterland of American soccer. Ha!

My loyalty to the Lions, then, was always geographic in nature: I love Michigan, the Lions are the only NFL team in Michigan, even when they played in Pontiac the team's name was "Detroit" and rightly or wrongly Detroit is the face of Michigan to many Ausländer. Therefore, a cheer for the Lions was a cheer for Detroit and all of the Great Lakes State. Roar, Lions, roar! This devotion, then, was inherently uncritical. Sure, the Lions weren't any good, but I'd originally embraced them as lovable losers. With the lovability came the losing, I couldn't gladly accept the one and complain about the other. I would have loved nothing more than to cheer Barry Sanders to Super Bowl glory, but I was perfectly content to cheer my team through both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Those were good days.

I had thought those days gone forever and the bonds of geographic fealty sundered by the immensity of Millen's hubris, but in this my recent experience with the Red Wings and the monster Bertuzzi is enlightening. The Red Wings are my team. If I wish to reap the joy of the good (three Stanley Cups in six seasons), I must be willing to bear the sorrow of the bad (the dishonor of allying with a villain such as the monster Bertuzzi). In the same way, the Lions are my team. I know, you've read this far and you expected something for more dramatic. Has all this sound and fury really signified nothing. Sorry, but yeah, kinds. It's as simple and stupid and relentlessly sentimental as that, the Lions are my team. The Lions will never win a Super Bowl in my lifetime, but I was convinced of that ten years ago. They will never rival the glory and commitment to excellence of the Red Wings, but Vince Lombardi was wrong: winning isn't the only thing.

The only difference now is that spite has partnered with geographic loyalty; I may quit the Lions the day after Matt Millen is finally canned, I may go to my grave wearing Honolulu blue and silver, but I will still be a Lions fan on the day Matt Millen is run out of town on a rail. And that'll be all the victory I need.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

BTW South Song of the Day
Dan Potthast, "My Favorite Song" from Eyeballs (Mt. Love)

Saturday, April 28
Superchunk, "Detroit Has a Skyline" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Dan Potthast's "My Favorite Song" should not be confused with Mu330's "Favorite Show," though Mr. Potthast, a.k.a. Steve Roelle the missing Roelle brother, is the singer and lead songwriter for Mu330.

"Detroit Has a Skyline" was chosen in celebration of the Detroit Red Wings' never say die victory over the super smug Sharks of San Jose, Kalifornia.
Turkey (Not Asia Minor)
Of course, the best way to defend the Republic of Turkey's secularism would be for a secularist party or coalition to triumph in the next election, whenever it comes. Istanbulink (not Constantinoplink). Martial intervention should be the last resort.

And this poster for the Orient Express has nothing to do with anything, but it's neat.

I know that ANZAC Day is celebrated on April 25, this year the Wednesday just past, but only today did I have the opportunity watch Gallipoli. We are a scant seven years distant from the centennial of the outbreak of the Great War, the summer the world went mad. Seven years shall pass in a flash (2000 was only seven years ago); consequently, I believe it is incumbent upon us all to educate ourselves about and familiarize ourselves with the Great War, to stare squarely into the horror, tragedy, and, yes, nobility of the years 1914 through 1918.

There is a paradox about the Great War which must be faced and mastered before any deeper study is possible: The world before the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was not an idyllic, innocent haven. The Gallic Wars, the siege and massacre of Antioch, the Mongol hordes, the Black Death, the Thirty Years' War, the Black Hole of Calcutta, the Reign of Terror, Jack the Ripper, these and a thousand thousand further outrages form a sad, blood-soaked parade through history. Yet in all that long, pathetic catalogue there was nothing to prepare the world for the shock and obscenity of the Great War. The world before the Great War was not innocent, but such was the Great War that it robbed the world of its innocence.

ANZAC Day also provides an excellent introduction to one of my favorite topics: the fallen nature of Man. Winston Churchill is one of my personal heroes, a great and admirable man who did as much if not more than any other man to safeguard the future of liberal democracy against the twin evils of fascism and Communism. Yet, he was a chief proponent of the fundamentally flawed Dardanelles Campaign, which never advanced beyond the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli. We are none of us perfect.

But lest we (I) lose ourselves (myself) in high-falutin' rhetoric, please take a few moments to remember the bravery and selflessness with which the ANZACs faced their doom. May they rest in peace.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Believe: Game 2, Detroit 3-2 San Jose
As I wrote on Thursday, "Victory!" The Sharks are a skillful and formidable opponent, but we should not forget that the Red Wings, too, are skillful and formidable. And there is not an ounce of quit in this year's squad. Prevailing in the remainder of the series will be a severe trial, and San Jose deserves a good deal of credit for stealing a game, the most any road team can ask in a best of seven series, but I remain confident the Red Wings will rise to the occasion and emerge a stronger, more fearsome team. Why so confident? Three unanswered goals and the first win in the 2007 playoffs by a team down 2-0 at any point in a game. In the famous words of John Paul Jones, the Red Wings "have not yet begun to fight!"
Believe: 1st Intermission, San Jose 2-1 Detroit
I admit that I missed the very start of the game; I was watching last night's videotaped episodes of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. But, I flipped to the game before five minutes had elapsed in the first period. And we were already trailing by two goals. By Lucifer's beard, this is madness!

But then in quick succession the boys scored for the first time in the series and killed a San Jose power play. The worm is starting to turn! Ha ha! We'll best those smug bastards yet!
BTW South Song of the Day
Bloodhound Gang, "I Hope You Die" from Hooray for Boobies (Mt. Love)

People Power Revolution - The Phillipines, 1986
Velvet Revolution - former Czechoslovakia, 1989
Bulldozer Revolution - former Yugoslavia, 2000
Rose Revolution - Georgia, 2003
Orange Revolution - The Ukraine, 2004-05
Tulip Revolution - Kyrgyzstan, 2005
Cedar Revolution - Lebanon, 2005

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Fünfzehn
All quiet on the Western front.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Turkey (Not Asia Minor)
I believe in democracy not because of any pie-in-the-sky faith in the wisdom of the people, but because democracy as proven itself to be, in the borrowed words of President Lincoln, "the last, best hope of Mankind." Democracy is the government of last resort, because everything else has been tried and has failed. That includes military dictatorship, in innumerable distinct forms it has taken throughout the centuries, from the Thirty Tyrants to feudalism to Napoleonic France to Chile under Pinochet.

A democracy's elected civilian leaders must have ultimate power over the nation's armed forces. That is why American soldier who refuse to serve in Iraq and Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the West Bank must face the harshest penalties allowed under military justice. There are reasonable arguments to be made against the American mission in Iraq and the Israeli mission in the West Bank, but it is not the position of the military to choose which lawful orders it will and will not obey; to grant the armed forces permission to refuse orders it to abandon civilian control of the military, and that puts us about half a step away for the latter days of the Roman Republic, when armies were loyal to their generals, not the Senate. No democracy can long survive under such conditions, as indeed Rome's Republic gave way to the mad reign of the Emperors.

Yet for all its many virtues, democracy is a extremely fragile form of government, one that requires constant vigilance, or, as President Jefferson said when he wasn't busy schtupping his slaves, "eternal vigilance." Democracies are vulnerable to panic and intimidation. That's what Churchill meant when he called it, "the worst form of governemnt imaginable, except for all the others." Before they rose to power the Nazis used violence to intimidate their critics into silence and once in power they used the Reichstag fire to foment the panic necessary to push through the Enabling Act that undermined the last of the democratic Weimar institutions and began the process of elevating Hitler from Kanzler to Führer. The most dangerous element in a democratic society is one that seeks to gain power through electoral means and then suspend further elections, e.g., the National Socialists in Weimer Germany, the Ayatollah Khomenei's faction in post-Shah Iran, or the Communists in post-World War II Czechoslovakia. Each gained power through (more or less) democratic means and each then put an end to democratic governance.

The United States and Israel have proven themselves to be countries with rock solid democratic credentials; thus, though military obedience to civilian command must be strictly enforced and soldiers who refuse lawful orders must be severely and punitively sanctioned, there is no real threat of a military coup against civilian leadership. In the Republic of Turkey, however, the situation is much less certain. I do not like the idea of the Turkish military seizing control of the government, but I like the idea of an Islamist government even less. Istanbulink (not Constantinoplink). The Turkish military is not a warm and fuzzy group of humanitarians, their cruelty toward even non-rebellious Kurds testifies to that, but over the last eighty-odd years the Turkish military has proven itself fanatically loyal to the preservation of a secular Turkish government. I hope that someday the Turkish democracy will be mature enough to not require a martial chaparone, but until then I feel better knowing that the military will make sure a victorious election for an Islamist party will not be Turkey's last election.
In a world populated by international ne'er-do-wells and fiends known exclusively by such colorful epithets as The Egyptologist, The Leper, The Doktor, The Dreadnaught, The Conquistador, The Croatian, and The Albino (actually, he's a good guy), what would you call a time traveler intent upon forestalling the rise of the Third Reich by helping the Central Powers - the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, et al. - prevail in the Great War?

The sole halfway decent idea I have at present is The Futurist, but I'd like to devise some other options, something that seems more of a piece with the Edwardian era.
BTW South Song of the Day
The Eyeliners, "Finished With You" from Sealed With a Kiss (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Three sisters from Albuquerque, hotties all, playing bare-bones but not too angry punk rock, The Eyeliners really hit the spot.

Unlike the '03, '04, and '06 squads, which I honestly believe simply rolled over and played dead at the first sign of adversity, I think this year's Red Wings have that greatest and truest of all sports cliches, heart.

I was misinformed as to the game's starting time; so, by the time I tuned in to Versus the Red Wings were already trailing 2-0. Curses! And then of course the usual Thursday night ritual of Hat Day, scrambled eggs for dinner, and The Office, 30 Rock, and Scrubs, followed by the Mountain making his nightly phonecall to The Buckeye and me watching Ugly Betty on videotape. But, I am confident the Wings will put the verdammt Sharks in their place on Saturday. Victory!

*I was test driving a proposed title, "Red Wingtips," and contemplating several others, including "The Red Menace" and "The Octopus," and was finding them all rather unsatisfactory. I then looked over at the replica sweater (jersey) hanging in my closet and saw "VK&SM." I bought my sweater in the spring of 1998, during the second quest for Lord Stanley's Cup, and gladly paid an additional premium for a "Believe" patch. Who can say what tomorrow and capricious fortune shall bring, but for this moment at least, I can think of nothing more fitting or beautiful.

Hat Day!
The Mountain of Love wore his smallish black ushanka and I wore my AC Spark Plugs cap-cum-horned Viking hat, specially modified for a live performance of Murky Transport Disaster's "The Viking Song." I love Hat Day!

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Vierzehn
I read something... horrific today, something truly appalling. My brutish personality and vicious pettiness are, respectively, the armor and camouflage intended to protect and disguise the ridiculously intense sentimentality at my core. I have always believed in romantic love, I have cherished the notion of romantic love. I will always believe in the power and purity of romantic love. But, the baleful passage I read this day has, albeit temporarily, rendered the mere thought romantic love not simply distasteful but outright repugnant. This shall pass in time; until then, though, I am bereft of any faith in romantic love and left with nothing upon which to fall back except lust. Of course, thanks to "Mission: Unpossible Zwei," I don't even have access to lust anymore! Lousy self-imposed second go at a Lenten sacrifice!

I know I shouldn't complain, and I am sorry for doing so, but this rots.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

BTW South Song of the Day
Relativity, "There Was a Lady" from Green Linnet Records: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection (Mt. Love)

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Dreizehn
You know who's dangerous? Jaime Murray of the BBC series Hustle (seen in America on AMC under the title Hu$tle). I'm a sucker for the accent, it transforms even the plainest British girl into a creature of nearly irresistable charm. And those dulcet tones combined with the supreme pulchritude of Ms. Murray? Wars should be fought over such a prize. That's her in the picture above, with her castmates from the first three series of Hustle, including the always lovely Robert Vaughn.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Mandate of Heaven
As I've said before, the People's Republic of China, the government that still reveres Mao Zedong, numerically the worst mass murderer of the 20th Century, is a murderous abomination: Chinalink. What really caught my eye about this article is that the BBC grouped it under their ongoing, multi-year "Changing China" series. How is the oppression of minorities by the Han majority a change? If it is a change, it reinforces the old axiom: the more things change, the more they stay the same. The country we know as China covers a landmass as large as the continent of Europe; with linguisitic diversity in Europe ranging from English to Italian to Slovakian to Finnish (which isn't even in the vast Indo-European family of languages, for Pete's sake), how do you think such huge swaths of massive China came to speak one tongue, Mandarin? I'll put it this way, the Mandarin speakers didn't just ask nicely. The last imperial dynasty to rule China was the Qing Dynasty, otherwise known as the Manchus, since they originated in Manchuria, in the extreme north of contemporary China. What does Beijing mean in Mandarin? "Northern Capital." Conformity to a social order dictated from the Northern Capital has been the PRC's policy since Mao proclaimed the People's Republic, a proclamation made in Beijing, fifty-eight years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Stars My Destination
First, the Orions of Project Constellation will take us back to the Moon, and then men from the earth will brave the long journey to the distant Red Planet. And then we must set our sights on this "super-Earth": Earthlink. A year in less than a fortnight? Swanky!
BTW South Song of the Day
Nicotine, "Amnesia" from Mailorder is Still Fun!! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Is "Amnesia" the equal of "Scott Farcas Takes It On the Chin"? Of course not, but "Scott Farcas" is of a quality nearly without rival. "Scott Farcas" is like Christmas dinner; it's the best meal of the year, but you don't always want Christmas dinner. Sometimes you want a bratwurst; "Amnesia" is a char-grilled bratwurst, with mustard and sauerkraut. Hmmmm, brat with kraut....

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Zwölf
All quiet on the Western front.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Brady Quinn was on SportsCenter this evening and when asked about his lack of so-called signature victories in college he cited Notre Dame's victories over Michigan State as proof that he is capable of winning big games. The Mountain was so shocked he nearly fell off the treadmill. Michigan State. Big games. Big games against Michigan State. The most innovatively losing team in America, the team most capable of snatching improbable defeat from the jaws of certain victory. Ho-lee cow.

Were Michigan State somehow to face themselves in an NCAA-sanctioned football game, I am certain that both squads of dastardly Spartans would find a way to overcome the universal laws of impossibility and jointly lose the game. And this is the dread foe Brady Quinn boasts of having overcome. Wow. Just... wow.

I'm convinced, my mind is made up, the Lions must draft Brady Quinn. He and Matt Millen might as well be the same person. And that person is an incredible douchebag.
The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony
The Guy and The Gal are going to get married! Fear not, this is not yet another case of The Marrieds claiming two innocent members of Team Bachelor as unwitting victims, The Guy and The Gal have been de facto married for years and years. They've been dating excluviely since the twentieth century, far longer than the duration of a great many marriages. They will simply be married de jure, thus officially solidifying their already sworn allegiance to The Marrieds. Congratulations, kids, on a purely symbolic but unimpeachably significant modification to the status quo. Kudos!

BTW South Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Scott Farcas Takes It On the Chin" from Hello Rockview (Mt. Love)

Commentary: The name of the bully in A Christmas Story is actually Scut Farkus, not Scott Farcas, but I only know that because of the Internet Movie Database. Growing up, I always thought it was Scott Farkus/Scott Farcas (either spelling seems fine to me). Of course, the title doesn't even really have any bearing on the lyrics. "Scott Farcas" is one of the world's finest songs and if you've never heard it you have my pity. And contempt. More pity, but still plenty o' contempt.

Monday, April 23, 2007

We returned to BTW South from having seen Hot Fuzz just in time to catch the demise of the Dallas (should be Minnesota North) Stars at the hands of the oddly-garbed Vancouver Canucks. Yippee! Hey, does anybody know what was up with the Canucks' uniforms?

Hot Fuzz was precisely as magnificent as I'd hoped. By Jove, it was perfect. Perfect! We laughed and laughed and laughed, and 'twas not just the Mountain and me. Scarcely ever have I experienced a theater filled with such public and uproarious laughter, muffled after a fleeting moment of unrestrained glee by hands obedient to ears and a mind afraid of laughing through the next joke, missing the next bit of comedic genius. I am filled with such a profound sense of contented satisfaction and warm and fuzzy well-being. Glorious! Glorious!

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Elf
All quiet on the Western front.

The Endurance
I've never been so happy to not have a voicemail waiting for me upon emerging from a cinema. She didn't ring, it seems like I'm always the one to initiate calls, she didn't ring and that hurts. That hurts! Joyous day, that hurts! Bog, it's been too long since I've felt that pinprick of agony. I feel like Peter Frampton, I've come alive! So, okay, yes, I admit that I've confessed to the emotional mode of cutting oneself. But I am emerging from a long and terrible night of emotional hibernation; I'm entitled to a few liberties. Or, bugger to what I am or am not entitled, I'll take a few liberties if I damn well please.

And to blazes with the rustiness of hibernation, I've the affections of a girl half a continent away to win!
Ah, the Red Wings finally put away the bastard Flames and then I caught the last half of "Roswell That Ends Well," mayhap the single greatest episode of Futurama. Now that, friends, is a great way to cap off a weekend. Woot!
BTW South Song of the Day
Colossal, "Table Setting" from Mailorder for the Masses (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. XXII - The French and Indian Wars, Part II: The French and Indian War (1754-1763).

The French and Indian War was the North American theater of the broader Seven Years' War, cited by some as the first genuinely world war, with major battles fought in Europe, North America, the Indian subcontinent, the islands of the Caribbean Sea, and on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Of special interest to Americans is the influence the removal of the French menace had on the fomentation of rebellion throughout the Thirteen Colonies.

Gulo gulo
And what particularly fierce and vicious creature was featured, albeit in a bit part, this evening on Planet Earth? None other than the wolverine (Gulo gulo). No ancient Greek warrior fanatics, no pugnacious sons of Hibernia, no poisonous nuts, just the ravenous wolverine. Wolverines are all natural, you know, no artificial flavors or preservatives. Go Blue!

Have you guys ben watching Planet Earth? It's breathtaking, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Thanks, British Broadcasting Company and the Discovery Channel! Planet Earth rules!

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Sonntag
All quiet on the Western front.

And now back to our regularly scheduled hockey game, already in progess.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

All class, Calgary, all class. The monster Bertuzzi's playoff curse has been broken, but I still say his presence on the team is an affront to the very notions of sportsmanship and fair play. He'd fit in very well with the thuggish Flames.

The Detroit Red Wings sans the monster Bertuzzi: 2-0
The Detroit Red Wings avec the monster Bertuzzi: 1-2

Also, a three day layoff between Games 1 and 2, both in Detroit, but Games 5 and 6 on consecutive days, despite Game 5 being in Detroit and Game 6 in Calgary? Who's the genius who devised the playoff schedule, the dimtwit who lead the players' union to ignominious defeat in the lockout?

I admire those who can write eloquently about sports. My own writing on the subject is coarse and vulgar, my higher brain functions having taken a backseat to the primitive instinct to kill and win. I love the emotional rollar coaster of sports, but it is not conducive to waxing poetically.

*I adore the logo of the Detroit Red Wings, and I enjoying saying, "the winged wheel," pronouncing winged as "wing-ed." But, there is a certain unidentifiable something about the aspect of "The Winged Wheel" that I find most displeasing. So, for the nonce, Red Wings posts shall be titled "Hockeytown." Suggestions for a better name would be most welcome and may be left in the comments section.

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tage Neun (Freitag) und Zehn
The Watergirl rang this afternoon seeking my aid in killing some time before the departure of her flight to the Great Lakes State. She asked me how "Mission: Unpossible Zwei" was going and I told her, "It sucks. It really, really sucks." That said, it is not as if this second attempt at this year's Lenten sacrifice is the predominant fact of my days and nights.
BTW South Song of the Day
The Tourettes Ponies, "Picture Frame" from Picture Frame (Mt. Love)

Friday, April 20
They Might Be Giants, "Spider" from Apollo 18 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: And now for a quick peak into the Song of the Day selection process. "Spider" was chosen for two reasons. a) It's fifty-second length serves as a nice counterpoint to "Rapper's Delight"'s fourteen minutes. So, why not go for one of the even shorter "Fingertips," also from Apollo 18? That brings us to the second consideration. b) We'd set aside Friday as the day to watch Spider-Man 2, thus completing our preparations for the release of Spider-Man 3. That topicality gave "Spider" the leg up over the "Fingertips." And that's how we (sometimes) select the Song of the Day here at BTW South.

*cue "Now You Know" PSA graphic*

And coming soon... "ANTÆUS" (which I prefer æsthetically to "ANTAEUS," just as I prefer "æsthetically" to "aesthetically")

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Anniversary Party
Every now and again, I think about establishing a stealth blog, but then I remind myself that for the stealth blog to be effective I'd have to take great pains to preserve both my own anonymity and the anonymity of the dramatis personae. Why go to all that hassle when I can cut out the middleman and devote that time instead to writing lengthier, more detailed entries in my journal? The stealth blog would offer the thrill of potential discovery, but that feels like an indulgence. Better to confine my thoughts to my journal, which none but I shall ever peruse, not even the hypothetical The Last Angry Wife and The Last Angry Brats. The flirtations with a stealth blog, and my dedication to my journal, do not mean that I do not treasure The Secret Base and cherish the forum it provides. The Secret Base is an excellent vehicle both for propagating my pontifications and for maintain the bonds of fellowship with my far-flung friends.

The only problem with the codename "The Last Angry Wife" is the temptation to abbreviate it as "TLAW," which is a little too close to "The L.A.W." for comfort. But I definitely like The Last Angry Brats. The first son could be The Last Angry Boy and the second The Last Angry Lad.

Or maybe I'll borrow a page from George Foreman and codename all my kids Michael Patrick Doughnut Shark.
Hat Day!
Where in the Sam Hill was my head last night? I can't believe I neglected to include this in the late night post! The Mountain of Love wore my Pith helmet and I wore Grandpa Little's, may he rest in peace, Lebanon Raceway ballcap. I love Hat Day!
BTW South Song of the Day
Thursday, April 19
Sugar Hill Gang, "Rapper's Delight" from The Best of Sugar Hill Gang (Mt. Love)

Commentary: All fourteen glorious minutes of it!

Most Songs of the Day are between two and four minutes long, your standard rock 'n' roll song. There seems little danger of a telephonic interruption (even were the phone not answered, the ring would still be disruptive) in such a limited window. For the odyssey of "Rapper's Delight," however, both the Mountain and I set our ringers to silent. Upon restoring the operational settings to normal what should I find but a missed call and accompanying message from Codename: PANDORA, which I promptly reciprocated.

The Endurance
In an illustration of yet another deficiency of mobile telphones compared to traditional telephones, moments ago, for the second time in as many conversations, a lovely discourse with Codename: PANDORA had to be curtailed because my mobile's battery was teetering on the brink of exhaustion. And with my well-documented distaste for the telphone, you lads and lasses know I don't use my mobile for much other business. Remember the resplendent past, when a man could talk on the phone for hours on end without the threat of an abrupt, yet not unexpected, end? Resplendent, I say!

On the other hand, we spoke until very nearly two o'clock her time, and that can't be bad. Unless she's tired and cranky at work tomorrow. And blames me. Curses!

The Winged Wheel: Res Ipsa Loquitur
The Detroit Red Wings sans the monster Bertuzzi: 2-0
The Detroit Red Wings avec the monster Bertuzzi: 0-2

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Acht (Donnerstag)
When virtue fails, spite prevails. When virtue fails, spite prevails. When virtue fails, spite prevails....

Ghost Yacht.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Question*
I have observed a dangerous trend: when questions are asked, the questionee suddenly turns on the questioner and launches a barrage of counter-questions aimed at impugning the questioner's motive, completing ignoring the original question, regardless of its validity or relevance.

Questioner: "So, what do you think about Jack Johnson's 3¢ titanium tax?"
Quentionee: 'What's your game? Trying to trip me up so you can report me to your little friends? I know all about you and your sad little clique of whisperers. Afraid to do anything yourselves so you try to tear down people with ambition. People with vision! Well, I'm not going to fall for it, you rat! I know what you're up to; so, just back off!"

It does not follow that just because someone asks you a question they are assailing your entire value system, yet that is precisely how so very many people react. So, please, go ahead, ask me anything. Anyone who tells you there are no stupid questions is an imbecile, but I will answer any and all questions, no matter how stupid or indelicate. Fire away. Ask me anything.

*I personally quite enjoy that DC has within its stable of superheroes both The Question and "Genius" Jones, who prefers the name Answer Man. Answer Man and The Question, it's a team-up made in heaven!
Perchance to Dream
I was at a shopping mall-cum-political rally holding what for all the world appeared to be Alistair's infant son, A. Alistairling. My maternal instincts kicking in? Am I going to cross state lines to seize the pre-ambulatory child for myself? I was talking to two sharply dressed young politicos, fellow Republicans, but of the more evil variety, who were laughing at me for my inability to decide whom I should support, Senator McCain or former Mayor Giuliani. Before they could tell me which candidate they thought I should support, and I suspected they were going to say former Govenor Romney or Senator Brownback, we were set to flight by a fusillade of lasers. Lasers? Lasers. I know. I was running through the resultant chaos when my first alarm clock broke the spell. Crazy, wild stuff.
BTW South Song of the Day
Lederhosen Lucil, "Doin' the Ganglion" from Tales From the Pantry (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Sweet fancy Moses, there is no more fitting an opening act for The Aquabats! than Lederhosen Lucil, the wacky, whimsical German alter ego of a slender wisp of a girl from Montreal named Krista Muir. I am a card-carrying Aqua-Cadet; my Cadet codename is Captain Thumbs-Up. I've had the privilige of seeing The Aquabats! live on stage on at least four separate occasions. I've seen the wild live show of They Might Be Giants when an entire auditorium of people enthusiastically chanted "Apes! Apes! Apes!" for minutes on end. I've seen the band Snmnmnm, who use a tuba in place of a bass guitar. All this and more I've seen with my own two eyes, but, without question, Lederhosen Lucil was the most gloriously bizarre thing I've ever seen and heard on stage: a tiny girl in lederhosen and a pigtailed blond wig standing behind an enormous Yamaha electronic organ and singing with a voice that ranged three octives. And the lyrics were spiced with just enough German to confuse the hell out of the audience. Jumpin' Jack Pratt, it was ludicrous and grand beyond imagining!

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Sieben
Matthew 18:9, "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire." The Bible that rests on my bookshelf is The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, bought when I took Professor Ralph Williams's (!) Bible class back in Ann Arbor. As a kid, I'd had The Children's Bible (long on watercolors, short on Scripture), but, not counting a clutch of miniature New Testaments from the Gideons, I didn't personally own a real Bible until college when on a lark I bought myself a King James. I gave that to the Mountain when scholarship compelled me to buy The New Oxford. I like owning a scholarly Bible, it makes me feel as if I'm striking a blow against the blight of the literalist, Creationist Evangelicals and Left Behind addicts. (Hey, dumb-dumbs, this "Rapture" of yours? It's nonsensical heresy. You know that, right?) And it reminds me that Christianity has a long and glorious tradition of learning and critical thinking that long predates the narrow-minded Bible-thumpers and Jesus freaks.

But that's not the point. Getting back to the Gospel According of Matthew: so, you see, the desire to hold a girl in my arms, to delight in her warmth and touch her naughty bits (or, lacking the girl, to masturbate to the thought of same) isn't my fault, the blame lies with my lousy, turncoat eyes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Winged Wheel
Say what you like about the disparity between the home and away records of the Calgary Flames, all I know is that the Detroit Red Wings played without the monster Bertuzzi in Games 1 and 2, triumphs both, and with the monster Bertuzzi in Game 3's defeat. Of the Munich capitulation, Winston Churchill said, "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war." The Red Wings though they were given the choice between dishonor and defeat. They chose dishonor and were defeated.

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Sechs
All quiet on the Western front. It seems as if my libido is on a daily on-again/off-again schedule. Interesting. Since today was a cake walk, it follows that if the theory is correct tomorrow we'll have to man the ramparts. To arms! To arms! "God for Harry, England, and St. George!"

BTW South Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "They'll Need a Crane" from Lincoln courtesy of Then: The Earlier Years (Mt. Love)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Exhibit A: Kilimanjaro. So, this doomed Earth is still doomed, but maybe not as quickly as we'd previous believed. Then again, I remember being back in middle school in the early '90s, when Earth Day was first resurgent, and we were told that by these early years of the 21st centuries the oceans would have risen and submerged all the great coastal metropolises. Last time I was in New York, everything looked fine; the same goes for Los Angeles. The greater point is that we of course need to be far more resposible stewards of the natural splendor around us, but when making predictions we should always bear in mind that the planet's ecology is an indescribably complex system, and one that we would be unforgivably arrogant to assume we fully understand.

Exhibit B: Einstein. Theory and mathematics are essential, but once again we are reminded that science, true science, is dependent upon experimental observations. Debate is all fine and good, but I demand real data! The fruit of experiments, more experiments, and yet more experiments! And since there seems to be a predilection among advocates of strong theory to dismiss Einstein as an irrelevent artifact of an dark age long past, it is nice to see experimentation bear our the old boy's theories. Take that, you experimentless bastards!


The Irrevocable Shackles of Holy Matrimony
Neato mosquito, I just composed and memorized the speech I will deliver as best man at the reception following the Mountain and the Buckeye's wedding. It came to me as I was taking my post-workout shower. The muses are inscrutable, but generous. Bully for me!
"To a crowd that doesn't want to listen,
I want to thank you for being so bold.
Do not apologize for being so cold."
--Colossal, "Table Setting" from Mailorder for the Masses
Scroll down for another illuminating episode of "The Explorers Club."

The Anniversary Party presents The Why
We all know that 42 is the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything, but the bother is that none of us knows the precise question. We are left with middling substitutes, and here comes a herd now. What is the purpose of The Secret Base of the Rebel Black Dot Society? Why do I persist? What, if anything, do I hope to achieve by all this bluster and bombast? Before today, I had never considered such questions. Had they been posed, I would likely have scoffed, dismissed them as metaphysical claptrap. Purpose? Meaning? Feh. Spite and bitterness serve no "higher" purpose, they are ends unto themselves. As I said, before today. I once was blind, but now I see. The five extant years of The Secret Base and any and all the unknown years to come are justified in their entirety by eleven luminous words. I am, we are all, indebted to Her Majesty Skeeter:

Q: For Freud, what comes between fear and sex?

A: Fünf.

And just like that all is right with the world.

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Fünf
The dark bastard is nothing if not persistent. Plotting, scheming, undermining, he is relentless. Fortunately, his words are as the Archfiend's, honeyed but hollow. The dark bastard serves no master, he has no high purpose. He is opposition for opposition's sake, and I shall not be bested by such a foe. When virtue flags, as it inevitably must, spite shall carry the day. I might have folded had the dark bastard not embraced lust's cause, but spite prevails. Virtue and reason fail, but spite prevails.

BTW South Song of the Day
Don Potthast, "I've Set Sail" from Eyeballs (T.L.A.M.)

"Hippogroff, n. An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half griffin. The griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and half eagle. The hippogriff was actually, therefore, only one-quarter eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold. The stufy of zoology is full of surprises."
--Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. XXI - The French and Indian Wars, Part I: King William's War (1689-1697), Queen Anne's War (1702-1713), and King George's War (1739-1748).

Though critical to the colonial history of North America and the eventual founding of these United States of America, which would itself have a massive influence on the course of human events, each of the French and Indian Wars was an adjunct to a broader European war. Interested readers may wish to research those principle wars, respectively the War of the League of Augsburg (1688-1697), the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), and the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). Our attention for the nonce shall remain with the colonial wars in the New World, but rest assured that the continental conflicts shall be addressed in future episodes of "The Explorers Club."

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Sonntag
All quiet on the Western front. Yesterday was on oddly hectic day; thus, I had the opportunity to blog about neither "The Explorers Club" nor "Mission: Unpossible Zewi" in a timely fashion.

The Winged Wheel
Cicero and the Senate are moral absolutism, the certainty that propriety demands the Red Wings be forsaken for so long as they debase themselves through the presence of the monster Bertuzzi amongst their ranks. Catiline and his conspirators are loyalty, the yearning to stand behind the Red Wings through the darkest hour. Catiline has the more complicated position. On the one hand, I have consciously chosen loyalty as among my most treasured virtues; perhaps because of a nearly subconscious sense of having been betrayed and grievously wounded once upon a time, perhaps not, but nevertheless the fanatical devotion to the concept of loyalty remains. On the other hand, Catiline shares Cicero's abhorrence of both the monster Bertuzzi and the Red Wings' collaboration with same. On the gripping hand, Cicero taunts that the Red Wings have betrayed themselves, the clear implication that Catiline's loyalty is in fact disloyalty to the high moral standard the Wings are supposed to represent; and catiline cannot deny that he agrees with Cicero, to a degree.

Cicero: We cannot brook any embracement of the monster Bertuzzi. An old adversary is one thing, the great Chelios was himself once a dread foe, but Bertuzzi is the enemy of sportsmanship itself. To embrace him is to embrace victory at all costs, honor be damned!

Calitine: We have revelled in three achievements of Lord Stanley's Cup. We cannot throw our lot in with the Red Wings when it suits us and withdraw our support at the first sign of displeasure. The monster Bertuzzi lives up to his epithet, but our loyalty to the Red Wings has always been about more than one man, bigger than any one man, bigger even that the Captain. The Red Wings are the first step on a ladder: loyalty to the team, to Detroit, to Michigan, to the very ideas and ideals of home and hearth. Detroiters never failed to elect Coleman Young, the embodiment of corruption and ineptitude, but still we remained loyal to Detroit. The monster Bertuzzi is the Red Wings' Coleman Young.

I knew that Catiline had won when Filppula scored his goal in the third period. My arms raised from my sides in exultation without any intercession by my brain. Loyalty to home and hearth, and revulsion at the idea of indulging in the depravity of the fair-weather fan, however slightly, trumped loyalty to moral absolutism. I have never failed to fail the cause of moral absolutism and yet another bird has been added to that chain of albatrosses. Still, how could I do other? Loyalty demands that once I declared before all the world the Detroit Red Wings to be "my team," I was lashed to them as Ahab to his white whale. In for a penny, in for a pound.

And both Cicero and Catiline delight in the victories in Games 1 and 2 against Calgary, victories achieved without the participation of the monster Bertuzzi.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

BTW South Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Fire in the Canyon" from Traffic and Weather (Mt. Love)

Saturday, April 14
Mike Park, "From Korea" from For the Love of Music (T.L.A.M.)
Loose Seal
Sea Lion, See Lyin'. I sincerely hope the little girl makes a full recovery and that this attack does not presage some kind of global aquatic mammalian uprising, but I could not resist; after all, how many times do you actually get to say, "Loose seal! Loose seal!"
Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Vier
I daresay it's not a coincidence that the German word vier is pronounced almost exactly the same as the English word fear. Today was the polar opposite of yesterday, I was... agitated and restless all the live-long day. My hope is that the morrow, Sunday, shall bring greater piety and with it greater tranquility.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ricky Fitness
We worked out early and have already returned to BTW South. Bad times, man. The frustrations presented in Tuesday's "Ricky Fitness" persisted all week. I'm running at the same speed and inclination as last week, but with much greater difficulty. I know, I know, shut my yap and stop whining. At least I'm not slowing down. "Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!"

The Queue
Interestingly, while The Legacy of Heorot is still a dynamite yarn, I've discovered a dislike for virtually all of the characters (most science fiction is more plot- than character-driven). The protagonist, Colonel Cadmann Weyland, spends the entire novel grousing about the mistakes and blunders made by his fellow interstellar colonists, but towards the end of the book a great miscalculation on his part is revealed, a mistakes that nearly allows the grendels to overwhelm the colonists' final redoubt at Cadmann's Bluff (a name I've always assumed was meant to invoke Rourke's Drift). Yet, he is still treated by both the characters and, more unforgivably, the authors, as being infallible. This is the sort of thing you don't realize when you're thirteen and are so fascinated by the unique biology of the dread grendels that you're blind to any and all failings of the text.

Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Peace
Natan Sharansky, The Case for Democracy
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, & Steven Barnes, The Legacy of Heorot

William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp ***in progress***
Simon Hawke, The Merchant of Vengeance
Jung Chang, Mao: The Unknown Story
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Harrison E. Salisbury, The 900 Days
Dieu Et Mon Droit
Gossip about the House of Windsor: Royalink. Kate Middleton's back on the market? Forget Codename: PANDORA, Albion here I come!
There was a quite emotional paragraph here, but it was, in the timeless words of Dan Dierdorf, "Ill-conceived and poorly executed." That it was shown the door was, I assure you, for the best.

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Drei
All quiet on the Western front. Today, I might as well have been a eunuch.

BTW South Song of the Day
The Refreshments, "Suckerpunch" courtesy of ye olde internet (Mt. Love)

Thursday, April 12
They Might Be Giants, "Ana Ng" (live) from Severe Tire Damage (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Stars My Destination
I want the blithering idiot responsible for this travesty - hyperlink - found and dispatched with all possible haste and all due prejudice. As long as so many of NASA's facilities are located in accursed Florida, why not take advantage of the nearly limitless ability of swamps and alligators to obscure totally any and all trace of a corpse?
Hat Day!
The Mountain of Love wore Sidekick's hat (of Sidekick and The Psychotic Mouseketeer fame) and I wore his smallish black ushanka. I love Hat Day!

The Winged Wheel
Attack of the Clones was mocked on 30 Rock and I have no patience with such tripe. Searching the channels for something to watch until Scrubs started, I found the Red Wings leading the Calgary Flames 4-0 late in the third period. Moments later, the Flames scored, foiling the shutout, but ultimately Detroit prevailed.

My thoughts on this are very complicated and my feelings very convoluted, and at present I have no faith in my ability to articulate those thoughts and emotions in a manner that is even minimally satisfactory, much less riveting. This should suffice: one camp of my mind is Cicero, another is Catiline, and they regard each other with all the suspicion and loathing befitting the metaphor.

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Zwei
Mildly ill at ease, but I suspect that's more psychological than physical. A nascent faction within my mind, no doubt in league with the dark bastard, is attempting to launch a whisper campaign.

The Endurance
Codename: PANDORA rang at the eleventh hour and the Mountain was eager to retire; so, the Song of the Day shall have to keep until tomorrow. She called after midnight in the sacred Eastern Time Zone, despite a looming early morning. Yes, excellent. Excellent.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Day Late
Happy birthday (yesterday) to K. Steeze! I'm sorry I'm late, buddy, and I hope your birthday earned the prestigious O.K. Steeze Seal of Approval!

The Queue
Tuesday evening, I was overcome by a queer sensation. I know not the catalyst, but I was seized by a mighty desire to read the first few pages of The Legacy of Heorot, a science fiction novel I first read in middle school, when my literary selections were dominated by my father's library of sci fi paperbacks. The Legacy of Heorot is superb and eventually I added it to my own far more modest science fiction library. And it is a fast paced, engaging read; so, it is no surprise that once I let it get its hooks in me I plunged wholeheartedly, but the question remains as to why I felt such a need to set aside The Arms of Krupp, however temporarily. I adore reading The Arms of Krupp! The rise and fall of the House of Krupp is a sublimely fascinating subject and William Manchester is a superlative craftsman of the English language. His prose is a joy. Hmmm, perhaps I am attempting to draw out the time required for The Arms of Krupp, to savor its splendors all the longer. I shall in all likelihood finish The Legacy of Heorot before the weekend is out and while I cannot say that its sequel, Beowulf's Children, an admirable tale on its own merits but ultimately inferior to the progenitor, won't jump the queue, I am determined to suffer no further interruptions to The Arms of Krupp. Boy howdy, I love books.

Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Peace
Natan Sharanksy, The Case for Democracy

Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, & Steven Barnes, The Legacy of Heorot ***in progress***
William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp ***standby***
Simon Hawke, The Merchant of Vengeance
??? Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, & Steven Barnes, Beowulf's Children ???
Jung Chang, Mao: The Unknown Story
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Harrison E. Salisbury, The 900 Days
The Endurance
Codename: PANDORA called this evening, but we Super Wilson Bros. had set that time aside to watch Spider-Man, kicking off the countdown to *woot* Spider-Man 3. She left a message. I called her back as soon as the movie was over and left a message. Phone tag rots.

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible Zwei - Tag Einer
All quiet on the Western front. That said, come on, you'd have to be a sexual deviant of James Spader's caliber to not be able to go a single day without, well, you know. I have no evidence whatsoever that James Spader is a sexual deviant, but the Mountain and I have joked for years that he seems like he would be, and the movie Secretary, though obviously a work of fiction, "confirmed" our theory. Oddly, no such stigma has been attached to Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Also, why German? Two reasons. Reason the first, I am reading The Arms of Krupp by William Manchester and have enjoyed the opportunity to use the little German I retain from my first two years of college on the frequent German phrases and quotations interspersed throughout the text. Reason the second, the German language is not sexy. Not one little bit.

BTW South Song of the Day
Mu330, "Johnny Dumbjokes" from Chumps On Parade (Mt. Love)

Commentary: Seriously, at the end of the song does Dan say "Johnny no friends" or "Johnny, no offense"?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

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

Caution: Vulgarity ahead.

Mission: Unpossible
Simply put, the task was unpossible, at least for this wretched sinner. In the words of Zapp Brannigan, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongy and bruised." Or something. My shame is immense, but I have a curious relationship with shame, which will now take us on a meandering digression:

I love my mother, but she did a lackluster job of raising The L.A.W., the Mountain of Love, and me in the Church. Sure, she took us to Mass and made us attend C.C.D. (more on that later), later called L.I.F.T. (Living In Faith Together), but at the time of my Confirmation I knew jack and squat about Catholicism outside of my rote memorization of the Mass. Everything I know about the Church I learned through my own initiative. I asked her once what C.C.D. stood for and she promptly answered, "Confraternity of Christian Doctrine." She knew this because as a girl she'd attended elementary school and junior high in Catholic schools. In 1950s and '60s Ohio, she was taught by actual nuns. The C.C.D. she attended was the C.C.D. of the pre-Vatican II Church. I'm not saying that the Vatican II reforms were not necessary, but one area in which the Princes of the Church went too far was in the "Protestantization" of the Church. Post-Vatican II youths like me were not taught to be proud of being Catholic. We were not taught about the illustrious history of the Church. We were not taught about the crucial doctrinal differences between Holy Mother Church and our rebellious Protestant and schismatic Orthodox brethren. In my C.C.D. classes, I was never even taught what C.C.D. stood for; my mother took no time to teach us about the mysteries of the Church, assuming C.C.D. would pick up the slack. The name change to L.I.F.T. should have been a red flag. ("Living In Faith Together"? What in the hey does that even mean if we don't know anything about the faith?)

When I was confirmed by His Excellency Bishop Kenneth Povish, may he rest in peace, my heart was touched by the Holy Ghost; I have never again doubted the existence, benevolence, or glory of Almighty God, common feelings during my early teen years. So, by the grace of God I was a confirmed in the sacred Catholic Church, the one true faith and the instrument of His Will on Earth. Neat, but what exactly did that mean? Beyond the Eucharist and really quite un-Christian protests outside abortion clinics, what did it mean to be Catholic? So, I began a leisurely, periodic study of the tenets and doctrines of the Christian faith's most pure expression, the Catholic Church.

The guilt about everything? The constant shame over the many sins, mortal and venial, we each of us commit every day? Yeah, I embraced all that on my own. I was predisposed toward Catholicism by my childhood, but that alone is not a sufficient cause; The L.A.W. and the Mountian were brought up before and after me and they have vehemently rejected both Christ and the Church. The Mountain was never confirmed; on at least three occasions during his militant atheist phase he told me I was too smart to possibly believe in God. (Ayn Rand once said much the same thing to William F. Buckley, Jr. I would be a merciless Objectivist had the Holy Ghost not blessed me on the day of my confirmation.) Simple habit does not adequately explain my devotion to the Church. I have imperiled my immortal soul by disagreeing with Holy Mother Church on several important doctrinal issues, but in each of those instances I acknowledge the primacy of the Church's opinion and pray that the Lord forgives the rebellion my conscience demands.

Long story short, I fail in my Christian duty virtually every second of every day. And for that I feel ashamed. When I don't fele ashamed, I am surely indulging in Pride, the deadliest of the seven cardinal sins. And then I am ashamed of that. Like I said, curious relationship with shame. Without shame, I feel naked. So, to fulfill this year's Lenten sacrifice, to prove my mettle, and because masturbation is a sin from which one should always refrain - but let's start with a more achievable goal first, shall we? - on the morrow I shall begin... MISSION: UNPOSSIBLE ZWEI!

This time, it's personal.
Ricky Fitness*
I feel fat, slow, and tremendously bloated, but I am a pound lighter than when I weighed myself last Friday. What the frell? Remember, Mike, it doesn't matter how you feel. Forget how you feel or how you think you look. All that matters is how your clothes fit. Perception is the soul of unreliability, but the notches of the belt, the T-shirt that used to be too tight, those measurements don't lie.

*To answer a question that was never asked, this feature is titled "Ricky Fitness" after the current drummer of The Aquabats!, Ricky Fitness. Though everyone's favorite refugees from Aquabania don't hold a candle to Spinal Tap, England's loudest band, quite a few people have manned the drumset for The Aquabats!, including Ricky Fitness, Doctor Rock, the Baron von Tito, and Roddy B. That The Goldbricker's name is Rick and "Ricky" was his childhood nickname, which his siblings still use, is simply a dreadful coincidence. (My dad's name is Rick, he's had a mustache his whole adult life, and he owns, and used to drive, a Camero. How many questions does that answer?) I nearly called this feature "Fat Man Running," a glorious phrase that has fallen out of common usage since the jolly Bald Mountain shed so much of the fat and became the svelte Mountain of Love, but as I detest the running portion of the regimen I thought "Ricky Fitness" a more apt title.

And while the Mountain of Love is certainly far less mountainous than the Bald Mountain, a name that was spot-on accurate on both counts, by this point my brother's mountainness is thoroughly ingrained and shall endure all the way to his wedding and beyond. At present, the scheme is to nickname his and the future Mrs. Mountain's progeny the Foothills.
BTW South Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "Everything Sucks" (live) from Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album, Disc 1: More Shtick Than You Can Shack a Stick At (Mt. Love)

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Mandate of Heaven
The People's Republic of China is a murderous obscenity, a blight on the face of the earth. That said, the last thing China needs is a return to the stiffling Confucian values of times past. Chinalink. Of course, in this instance a part of the problem may simply lie in the phrasing of the article, specifically "For thousands of years, being a good son or daughter has been an important part of Chinese culture." That would certainly be in the running for the most vacuous statement I've ever read. Being a "good" son or daughter is an "important" part of every culture, at least every culture in which children are not actively encrouaged to devour their parents. Foot-binding was part of being a good daughter. Disposing of unwanted baby girls is an extension of Confucian filial piety, since in the long run a son will better serve his parents than a daughter. Most of the history of the world is a nightmare; ergo, most of the long and grand history of China is a nightmare. Confucianism was the paramount reason China was so powerless before European aggression in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th.

The Chinese must be so very, very careful about borrowing from their past to forge their future, at least if there is to be any hope of breaking the long cycle of tyranny and poverty. The PRC is an obscenity, but China has the potential to be a wonder.
Happy Easter, everybody. I hope each of you had the opportunity to be surrounded by your family.

BTW South Song of the Day
Duvall, "Jesus Never Leaves Me" from Volume & Density (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, April 7
The Aquabats!, "Worms Make Dirt!" from Myths, Legends, and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2 (Mt. Love)

Friday, April 6
Save Ferris, "The World is New" from It Means Everything (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, April 5
Mu330, "Baby Rats" from Mu330 (Mt. Love)

Wednesday, April 4
The Cardigans, "Lovefool" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. XX - The Mountain Meadows Massacre, September 11, 1857, the darkest episode in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, i.e., the Mormons.

Frozen Four Fiasco
Boston is full of bums. That's all I have to say about this evening's disaster, other than that I am sure a lot more couches would be burning in Evil Lansing were tonight not the eve of Easter Sunday. Curses!

Speaking of ice, of late I have been thinking quite a bit about the Arctic and the Antarctic, and specifically about the late 19th century and early 20th century efforts to solve the mystery of Terra Australis and the mad, vainglorious scramble to achieve the North and South Poles. I do not know of which I am more enamored, the magnificent desolation of the ice itself or the brave souls who, quite simply, went boldly where no man had gone before. Perhaps I am yearning for a world that never existed, a myth of heroism and innocence that died in the trenches of the Great War, but as long as I remember that it is a myth, that the world was never so innocent, it is a fine thing to let my mind reside for a time in such an idyll.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Frozen Four
Go BC! I shudder at the thought of the dastardly Michigan State College Spartans winning the national championship in college hockey. May the elitist Boston College Eagles play with the determination of their school's most distinguished alumnus, Doug Flutie! Defeat the dastardly Spartans!
Yes, M!ch!gan!
Tuesday: Sam's Store - Ann Arbor
Wednesday: Flounders - 75th anniversary, 1926-2001
Thursday: Tony's I-75 - "I Survived the Rush Hour at..."
Friday: Michigan (maize block letters on a blue shirt)

Now I just need to get a "WORST STATE EVER" T-shirt from the MGoBlog store: Ohiolink. (It should be noted that just as the site of the United Nations complex in New York City is not part of the territory of the United States of America, I do not consider Cedar Point to be located in the blighted State of Ohio. After all, it is "America's Roller Coast" not "Ohio's Roller Coast.")

Ricky Fitness
I've been pretty much on my own this week and have come to an unsurprising conclusion: exercising is not fun. Exercising with someone to converse with is not fun, even if the conversation is entertaining. Exercising without anyone to converse with is not fun. It's weird, because I always loved swim practice. I was nicknamed The SKP Machine after a popular warm-up routine, the 500 SKP (swim 500 yards, kick 500 yards, pull 500 yards). I was, at best, so-so during meets, but I excelled at practice. I loved practice. I've always said that I love the water, and when considering that remark you should know that the majority of the time I've spend in the water has been at swim practice. So when I say I love the water, and I do love the water, I'm really saying that I love swim practice.

I hate the treadmill. This week, I increased the speed at which I run during both the flat and angled stages of my daily run. I want to run faster and at a steeper angle, but I feel no affection for the ritual. The whole enterprise reeks of masochism, not amelioration. That small, stuffy room is a prison. All gymnasia are prisons. And they stink like prisons, though, of course, by sweating like a Wilson I contribute more than my fair share to that horrible gym funk. I'll own up to that much. The chlorine-tinged scent of a natatorium, though? That's the fragrance of Paradise, the essence of joy. (And yes, it is natatorium, not "nautatorium.") When my sentence here in the Purgatory of the Lone Star State is done, I shall go home, meaning not Grand Blanc but a pool. I do not know where, but I shall find a pool and I will be home.

You know what I should have listened to yesterday when I was in such a foul mood? "Rape Me" by Nirvana. Let's remedy that unfortunate oversight, shall we?
I just finished writing a full page of pure, unrepentant hate in my journal. Glorious, glorious. The things I cannot post here on the all too public Secret Base, etched in ink for a thousand future Mikes to read and reread, endlessly indulging in the superlative enmity of this evening's humor. It is ever good to be The Last Angry Man, moreso in this magnificent moment of communion with my basest self.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Crank "Islands" to 11, put iTunes on repeat, hate hate hate.
The Endurance
I delight in speaking with Codename: PANDORA directly before she retires for the evening. The extra hour afforded me by the time difference may be the sole benefit of the accursed Central Time Zone. Our discourse remains as light and frivolous as ever, but there must be some import in the lateness of the hour at which we converse, surely.

Yes, M!chi!gan!
Yesterday, I wore my Sam's Store (subtitle: Ann Arbor) T-shirt; today, my Flounders 75th anniversary T-shirt. Let the parade of Great Lakes State T-shirts persist!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Hat Day Ambush!
The Mountain of Love will be engaged at his church job the next three nights (ironic that Holy Week should so dominate the calendar of an agnostic who was for years an atheist); so, after careful deliberations we granted ourselves dispensation to celebrate Hat Day this evening. The Mountain wore his City of Grand Blanc trucker cap, The Buckeye wore his green transpart Las Vegas visor, and I wore his black quasi-Mushmouth hat which, incidentally, makes eating a tad more difficult. I may yet wear a hat during The Office on Thursday, if for no other reason than hats add a certain festive air to an evening, an observation which was the genesis of Hat Day. I love Hat Day and hope you do, too!

BTW South Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Someone to Love" from Traffic and Weather (Mt. Love)

Monday, April 2
The Aquabats!, "Lovers of Loving Love!" (bad demo) from Rice Capades (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The original album version of "Lovers of Loving Love!" was the Song of the Day for February 14, Valentine's Day, at which time I called it the second most romantic song ever written, after TMBG's "New York City."

Ricky Fitness
At the appointed hour, I had changed into my exercise clothes and was ready (or as ready as I'd ever be) to begin the day's session. The Mountain's phone was recharging on his desk and the Wheel of Baldwins on his door had been set to Daniel, "Knock Only If It's An Emergency." No emergency was this and his laptop HAL was sitting next to his mobile, ruling out email; I had no way to contact him. So, I departed for the ol' torture chamber alone and began the ritual.

Fifty minutes later, I had completed my (sic) run and had commenced my leg lifts when I heard someone using the keypad to the door. A blonde girl I had not seen before stepped in and asked if I was going to use the treadmill. I told her I was done with the machine and she remarked that she'd seen me in the "fitness center" quite regularly. I attempted to grunt a response between lifts and she misunderstod me to have asked her to repeat what she had said; so, again she said she'd often seen me during the daily grind.

It was at this point I made one of my classic mistakes: I attempted to make a joke at my own expense, patting my belly and saying I had a lot of revelry to make up for (through diligent adherence to a exercise regime). As ever, it fell flat. That kind of jest never works, not in a first conversation. Why in Eros's name do I persist in using them? Because I'm dim. I made up much of the lost ground by claiming I really only exercised as an excuse to watch Seinfeld every day. That got a solid laugh out of her, but I should never have had to make up that ground in the first place. I'd blame the lapse on the exertion, except that I've been that boneheaded quite frequently throughout the past decade.

However, considering I was already sweating like a Wilson, I doubt I did myself any great service or disservice either way. I hope to see her again, because I need all the practice for flirting with Pandora that I can get. What's with me lately? Is the monkishness of the three years in Grand Blanc finally wearing off? Is it simply that it is spring, the time when a young man's fancy naturally turns to love? Bollocks the cause, it feels grand to be back in the game.

No, your eyes do not deceive you: Wheel of Baldwins.
Hail Nike
I am at heart a braggart. Yet in this case braggadocio might undo the very triumph I wish to proclaim. 'Tis a baleful circumstance that I must settle for one when I would so love to have both. Still, the foe has suffered a reversal; the satisfaction of it shall suffice as my reward. All thanks to Nike for the favor she has bestowed.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Hoop Dreams - The Victors
In the Fall of 1997, I was a freshman at the University of Michigan and the valiant Wolverines were truly the leaders and best, winning the national championships in Division I-A football and, the following spring, men's Division I hockey. It was the hockey team's second national title in three seasons. Why am I starting a post titled "Hoop Dreams" by talking about the football and hockey teams? For two reasons. {a} The hockey team plays its home games in the magnificent barn that is Yost Ice Arena. The basketball team, such as it is, plays in Crisler Arena (not Chrysler Arena as many assume). At Michigan, football is so prominent that even the hockey and basketball teams play in facilities named after football coaches, legendary Michigan men Fielding Yost and Fritz Crisler.

{b} The point can be argued that the University might have fielded a better basketball team by picking the best intramural team from the general student population and giving them uniforms than by the pathetic sad sacks we had on scholarship. The dastardly Spartans had a seemingly endless supply of "Flintstones." Did we even have a team in those years?

I know very little about this John Beilein fellow, at present the head men's basketball coach for the craggy West Virginia University Mountaineers and rumored to the the new head mean's basketball coach for the valiant University of Michigan Wolverines. All I do know is that in a place where the hockey and basketball arenas are named after football coaches, nobody really seemed to mind that our basketball team was an embarrassment. (And I'd like to smack Mike Wilbon across the face the next time he blames Tomy Amaker's ediocre coaching on Michigan's "facilities.") For the first time in too long, people are once again talking about basketball and the University of Michigan in the same sentence without snickering. That can't be a bad thing. Curses, if only Tubby Smith hadn't just entered the Big Ten....

Go Blue!

Hoop Dreams - BCS Redux
Sadly, I do not believe the hated Ohio State University Buckeyes have a snowball's chance in hell against the filthy University of Florida Gators. As I told The Buckeye yesterday, I will be rooting for the filthy Gators to lose, the hated Buckeyes winning is a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless. Alas, I cannot see how that could happen. The overrated Georgetown University Hoyas live up to their epithet, and having watched Saturday's game against the hated Buckeyes I do not understand how the final score ended up being so close.

I have only seen two Ohio State basketball games this year, the tournament victories over the overrated Hoyas and the chumpish Xavier University Musketeers. Praytell, why is Greg "The World's Oldest Man" Oden high regarded? In both contests I have seen, the hated Buckeyes have only had success when the World's Oldest Man has been on the bench. What is all the fuss about? The "kid" cannot play basketball at all well. In the parlance of the 1990s, he has no game.

However, I am firm believer in the axiom that any team can be any other team on any given day. That, after all, is the beauty and majesty of sport and the very reason we play the games. I will not cheer for the hated Buckeyes, but I will certainly and venomously cheer against the filthy Gators. Go to hell, Gators!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

BTW South Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "Trendy" from Turn the Radio Off (Mt. Love)

My plan was not to set outside BTW South all day, but the Mountain asked me to ferry The Buckeye to Target while he was at work; so, my pretend agoraphobia could not be indulged. The Watergirl rang earlier, in part to seek my advise about a boy who is making unwanted advances. Fortunately, she had the better ideas on what tack to pursue and I was prevailed upon merely to act as a sounding board. Credit for helping without any of that pesky mental heavy lifting: score!

The Endurance
Now I am off to return Pandora's call from last evening and charm her with my masculine wiles.
The Explorers Club
No. XIX - The Great Moon Hoax of 1835.

Quite propitious, was it not, that April Fools Day fell on a Sunday, the residence of "The Explorers Club." I thought the Great Moon Hoax an apropos choice for such a grandly absurd holiday.