Thursday, November 29, 2007

"What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you born with a heart full of neutrality?"

Project TROIKA
Three weeks ago tomorrow, K. Steeze I.M.ed me and proposed a partnership: he and I would develop characters and a story based upon a title given him by the Muses and an idea he'd had for a painting. Once satisfied with the fruits of our labor, The Professor would take our framework and author from it a novel. Without a moment's hesitation, I pledged myself to the endeavour to the bitter end. Was this because I recognized a golden opportunity to make a beginning in fulfilling my recent decision to give my all in a sincere attempt to become a professional writer? Nay, though I have since come to regard this effort as such. The truth of it is that my friend asked me and I said yes. Unless I have a substantial reason to decline, I will accede to almost any request made of me by a friend. Is that not one of the pillars of friendship, unconditional aid? Please do not think I am attempting to paint myself as a paragon. I am a wretched tangle of contradictions, but to this simple principle I am a zealot: the reason for friendship is affection, but the foundation of friendship is loyalty. And loyalty requires doing whatever your friends ask of you as long as it is within reason, but most importantly when it is beyond the pale. The old saw, "Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies."

So now I find myself in the familiar but mildly uncomfortable position of collaborating on a creative venture, one that we both intend to see to a successful conclusion. Most likely the Professor, too, making it "all three of us," but he and I have not yet spoken of this and I would not want to put words in his mouth, even though I know how he'd answer.

As aforementioned, working with a partner never been my preference. The reason for this is simplicity itself: I have a massive but prickly ego that bristles at the merest hint of critique. There is a voice within me, residing in the same neighborhood as the dark bastard, that screams, "These are gold-standard ideas! How dare you even question them?!" But I wish to one day write comic books, and yet I cannot draw. It follows, then, that I shall be required to collaborate with artists, to use their amazing talents to breath life into my words. So, I must tame the prickly bastard, and what better opportunity to bring him to heel than in collaboration with my dear friend, an artist whom I deeply admire?

Because of the future copyrighting of "Project TROIKA" material, Steeze has counseled that I refrain from exposing our work to the vagaries and depredations of such a public forum. The Secret Base has ever been and ever shall be an open bloggy blog; I view this as a strength, but it also leaves all that transpires here easy fodder for whatever foul lurkers and skulkers may be abroad. Yet The Secret Base is a source of tremendous catharsis, release quite necessary given the dual stresses of creation and collaborative compromise. I will be blogging about the adventures and misadventures of the coming effort, but never directly, thus the Project TROIKA codename, and I shan't be discussing the work itself, only its geneses, triumphs, and travails. In the parlance of our times, I shall be venting and celebrating, largely without context. How fun for you.

And in closing, an idea of which I was ashamed the very moment it coalesced in my mind: the forerunner of Project Mayhem was Fight Club. What was the forerunner of Project TROIKA, "Write Club"? And speaking of bad ideas, remind me sometime to regale you with the story of The Gargoyle's "Drunk Page." Or ask The Bradman, he lived to tell the tale.

Welcome to Project TROIKA. Grow or die.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "The Bad Guy" from We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy (T.L.A.M.)
My father presumes to know the shape of the world in A.D. 2107 and he despairs. I say instead, look to 1907 and the world of the emperors. A century before the present day, Germany had an emperor. There was an emperor of "all the Russias." The British King was also the Emperor. The "Austro-Hungarians" - the Austrians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Slovenians, Romanians, Roma, Czechs, Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks, Albanians, and some Italians - had an emperor. Ethiopia had an emperor. China had an emperor. Scarcely thirty-seven years earlier, the French had had their second emperor. (Around the same time, Mexico had an emperor, briefly.) The Japanese had an emperor, a station that persists yet, but I'm the sure attendance of the annual Emperors Club Labor Day Picnic has gotten spotty. If you and I had lived then and I'd told you by 2007 all the emperors but the Japanese would be gone, and that his role would be purely symbolic, you'd have rightly called me a liar.

We must try to make for our posterity a future superior to our present, and this involves an inevitable degree of prognostication, but to say with any presumption of certainly that you know the shape of the world of tomorrow is unforgivably arrogant. It requires, one might be tempted to say, the arrogance of an emperor.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Johnny Cash, "Sam Hall" from American IV: The Man Comes Around (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A couple Saturdays back, either in between football games or during a commercial break (I am an inveterate and unashamed channel surfer), I caught the preamble to a N.A.S.C.A.R. Busch Series race. As absolutely soon as I'd inadvertently tuned in, the track announcer introduced a gentleman to give, of all things, the invocation. I have forgotten the gentleman's name, which is a shame as his invocation was staggering. He was incredibly charismatic and spoke openly of both the primacy of Christianity and the bloody necessity of the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. It was refreshing beyond words to hear a man sound so proud of his faith as a Christian without coming off as an Evangelical nutjob. (And he was Latino; so, I'm going to assume he's Catholic. Is that racist? I hope not.) So, color me stupefied, I've actually found something about N.A.S.C.A.R. not to hate.

And don't give me that look. I'm no turncoat.

In other news, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is a loon: twaddlelink. And this isn't even a particularly egregious example of his lunacy. Small wonder that huge swaths of the "Anglican Communion" are jumping ship to less radically liberal bishops, bishops less ashamed of their own faith and religious heritage.

Protestantism is anarchy, may they all fall upon each other in ceaseless infighting.

Yes, I know I really have to work on my spirit of Christian brotherhood. Maybe that'll be my next Lenten sacrifice; it would be a most exquisite torture to endure six weeks without breathing a word against our Protestant brethren. Ooo, intriguing....

Vive la France
You can judge quite a bit about a man's character based upon those who count themselves among his enemies. By that standard, Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, must be a fine fellow indeed: strikelink et riotlink.

And of general interest, here is what the ever-helpful C.I.A. World Factbook has to say about our Gallic friends: spooklink.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Plastic Cup Politics" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. LIII - Excalibur, Durendal, Kusanagi (the "Grasscutter"), Gram, and the pan-cultural, oddly ubiquitous phenomenon of mystical mythical swords.

My deepest thanks to Codename: PANDORA for intorducing me to XKCD, specifically No. 162: Angular Momentum.

The Victors: The Undiscovered Country
If the scuttlebutt is more than just scuttlebutt, if the rumors are true that Kirk Ferentz has been offered the job of head coach of the valiant Wolverines, then I am here to tell you that we are doomed. Doomed to never again defeat Ohio State, not the the foreseeable future. Doomed to never again win a bowl game, not for the foreseeable future. Doomed to never again lose fewer than four games a season, not for the foreseeable future. Doomed. If Ferentz is hired, than any faith I ever expressed in Bill Martin's decision-making was horrifically misplaced, and for that I am so, so sorry. Hiring Kirk Ferentz would be the same as holding a press conference and announcing our intention to never again credibly vie for the Big Ten championship. DOOOOOOOOOOMED.

Sweet fancy Fielding Yost, please let the scuttlebutt be nothing more than scuttlebutt. Doomed.

Project TROIKA
I don't play well with others, but I am endeavouring to learn.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "King of Suede" from In 3-D (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So many aborted sentences.... A pity.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Maroon 5, "Sunday Mornings" from Songs About Jane (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Fear not, this silly theme of Sunday-titled songs has nearly run its course. Of course, if you know of any other decent Sunday songs, I will continue the theme for the sake of you, my treasured audience.

Samstag, 24 November
Potshot, "To Hell With Potshot" from Dance to the Potshot Record (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I have recently learned that Potshot broke up in 2005; another ska band bites the dust. I blame the delay in notification on Potshot being a Japanese band. We'll miss you, you manic J-ska bastards.

Friday, November 23, 2007

When I left the house this morning, I had to scrap the snow off Lumi. And Wednesday's snowfall was particularly damp; so, the bottom layer of could snow could not be merely brushed off. I hadn't had to scrap the snow off a car in more than a year. Bog, it's good to be home.

Also, today felt like more of a Saturday than a Friday. Double the Saturdays? Score!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "Late Again" from Panic (T.L.A.M.)
Perchance to Dream
Sickeningly, I awoke this morning five minutes before my first alarm rang. I seemed to do this of my own volition, without benefit of mysterious, thunderous noise or feline insistence. Once asleep again, I dreamt of strolling through a strange city that seemed halfway between grimy New York and antiseptic Toronto. I was in the company of my B.T.W. comrades and we appeared to be on our way to a rock show, though I have no idea what band were were meant to be seeing. On the way to the show, after an odd adventure in an urban mall/galleria, we found ourselves wandering through a residential neighborhood and eventually fell into conversation with a mother and daughter who were sitting on their porch. We must have persuaded the daughter (a punk rock girl approximately my age) to accompany us to the show, because the next thing I know I was walking down the street holding her hand. The venue looked for all the world like a whirlpool, with the crowd being funneled through a series of spiral pathways, first to buy tickets and then later on to have them again inspected. Somehow in this maelstrom I was separated from both the girl and the Blue Tree Whackers; I caught fleeting glimpses, but I could never progress toward them. I awoke for the day before entering the actual concert space, but based upon what else I had seen I would not venture a guess as to its aspect.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I am thankful for the first snowfall of the year. Yes, M!ch!gan!

Vive la France
I give thanks to the French populace for their seeming unwillingness to be bullied by their labor movement: strikelink. I have said before that it is not too late to save France; that faith appears to be paying dividends.

I am also thankful for...

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mike Park, "Thankful All the Same" from For the Love of Music (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I considered Green Day's "Macy's Day Parade," but decided against it because, by Jove, Thanksgiving is about earnest gratitude and good will, not wickedly amusing cynicism.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I hope you all have a most wonderful Thanksgiving.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "Beer" from Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album, Disc 1: More Shtick Than You Can Shake a Stick At (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "She looks like Heaven, / Maybe this is Hell."
Eye of the Tiger
Last night, as I knelt beside my bed and performed the Sign of the Cross at the conclusion of my prayers, "In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost," I opened my eyes and beheld Tiger lounging on my bed, somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. I gently ran a hand along her spin and asked, "And the Holy Kitty?" So, if the Lord God deigns to smite me today, it's been a genuine pleasure knowing you all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ricky Fitness
There was an individual of indeterminate gender in the weight room yesterday. And not due to baggy gym clothes, he or she was dressed in shorts and a sleeveless shirt. This was the most androgynous person I'd ever seen. I could have taken the deeply inappropriate step of following her or him back to her or his locker room, but that would have been unconscionable. We are trying to conduct a civilization here, and that kind of lurking simply cannot be tolerated. Besides, I think I like the mystery, it makes life just that little bit more thrilling.

The Victors: Lamentations
There has been much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes. I am quite alright, my usual dementedly chipper self, unless and until I actively think about Saturday, at which point reason fails and I feel myself torn between the twin temptations of rage and despondency. I damn the Stoics for their inhumanity, but at this moment I find myself deeply envious of their self-mastery.

I must remember Keith Primeau, and the inner monologue of the Batman in so very many comic book tales: pain is a teacher. Disappointment can be invaluable. Learn from this. And as Jim Kirk said, "I need my pain!" Who am I to argue with Bruce Wayne and James T.?

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "The Set Up (You Need This)" from Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album, Disc 1: More Shtick Than You Can Shake a Stick At (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Interestingly, on Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album's back cover the song is identified simply as "The Set Up." However, on the original album Why Do They Rock So Hard?, the title is given as "The Set Up (You Need This);" I shall defer to the original album and treat the live record's title as lazy shorthand.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "One Hit Wonderful" from We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Sweet merciful crap, I love the Reel Big Fish!
There is something in the content of my character that finds me sympathetic to my fellow man most acutely when I am myself in the doldrums. If this speaks well or ill of me 'tis not mine to say. If you would be so kind, please say a prayer for the soul of Joi Smith: R.I.P.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls"
by John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. LII – The wreck of the White Ship on 25 November 1120 and its deleterious aftermath, culminating in the Anarchy.

The Victors: Misery Misery Misery
At moments like this, I always call to mind something Keith Primeau said after the Red Wings were swept by the fiendish New Jersey Devils in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals. The Red Wings slunk away to their locker room while their foes reveled in the triumph and each Devil hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup over his head, basking in the glory of the moment, but Primeau had wanted to stay out on the ice and watch the Devils. He had wanted to suffer, to make the pain of that defeat as exquisite as possible. He had wanted to take that devastation and use it as fuel for later achievement. And though Primeau himself was traded by the Red Wings before the 1996-97 season, the first of Detroit's three contemporary Stanley Cup victories, I have always believed in the veracity of his argument. I believe the failure of '95 was necessary in teaching the Wings how to win in '97, '98, and '02.

I wish I could just put my head in my hands and weep, but to do so would be unforgivably self-indulgent. The agony of defeat is the price we pay for the thrill of victory. 'Tis a bitter pill, but the only alternative is fair-weather fandom, the way of bandwagon hoppers and other moral degenerates. Honor demands constancy; I am as devoted a supporter of the University of Michigan today, in the aftermath of abject failure, as I was on November 22, 1997, when I joined a crowd of my fellows on the lawn of the President's House in celebration of the valiant Wolverines' triumph over the hated Buckeyes, completing an 11-0 regular season and setting the stage for the national championship-winning Rose Bowl victory on January 1, 1998. I'm a far grumpier and gloomier fan than I was on that cloudy November afternoon, but every bit as steadfast and stalwart. I danced on top of an S.U.V. that foolishly tried to make its way throw the jubilant throng that afternoon, before some drunken idiot fell out of a tree and gave us all a fright. Bog, that was a magnificent day. If your college has never won a national championship in your lifetime, I highly recommend the experience. It is every bit as grand as you'd imagine.

I want to make something clear. I do not want Lloyd Carr to retire, but it is necessary for the greater glory of Michigan. If he had his druthers, Lloyd wouldn't even field an offense, he'd only play defense. And I love that about him. Lloyd cares more about crafting his players into fine young men than winning the Big Ten championship, and that is as it should be; these are, after all, student-athletes. And given the low regard in which I hold the holier-than-thou bottomfeeders of the self-proclaimed Fourth Estate, you can guess how much I love Lloyd's gruff but hilarious dismissals of those jackals. I would love to see Lloyd stick around for a dog's age, but we haven't won a bowl game since January 1, 2003. We haven't beaten Ohio State since November 22, 2003. What exactly is the point of even having a football program if we are going to lose the last two games of every season? Winning isn't the only thing, but it must be something. If not, why even play the games?

There is so much more I want to say, but right now it is all jumbled up with my grief over yesterday's lost opportunities, of once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. If the aforementioned jackals are to be believed, Lloyd will announce his retirement tomorrow; so, I'll wind up opining on why I believe we need a new coach even after the decision has been taken to seek one. Of course, finer men than I have been overtaken by events; so, I shall at least be in esteemed company in fruitlessly speculating after the fact. But the jackals have been wrong before and they will be wrong again and there's naught for it but to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
No Doubt, "Sunday Morning" from Tragic Kingdom (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Victors: 1968
It is a simple as this: we have to start again from scratch. Lloyd Carr must retire and not a single member of his coaching staff should be retained. I love Chad Henne's grit and Mike Hart's heart, but the fact is that they never defeated Ohio State, I am confident they will never win a bowl game, and that above all else will be their legacy. I thank Lloyd Carr for his many years are good and faithful service to the good old cause, but this will be his second five-loss season in three campaigns and clearly loyalty to his assistants has become more important to him than winning; he must be put out to pasture before he further tarnishes an overall laudable career. And he is clearly not the man to lead us into a new golden age.

This is 1968 all over again. A tall order, but what we need is nothing less than this age's Bo Schembechler. From whence shall our salvation come? Certainly not from within. So, just as we did with Bo, we must look outside ourselves to find a man who truly embodies Michigan football. There are dire times ahead unless we have the courage to act. If not, ashes, it will all fall to ashes.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "Grieg Medley" from Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 16 November
The Aquabats!, "Demolition Rickshaw!" from Charge!! Special One Year Anniversary Edition (T.L.A.M.)
The Victors: The Eleventh Hour
Today's the day! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome to the latest installment of the greatest rivalry in all of sports! A scant hour from now, the valiant University of Michigan Wolverines will host the hated THE Ohio State University Buckeyes in a contest that will determine the championship of the Big Ten Conference. All this is right and proper. The Big Ten may not have a de jure championship game, but Michigan-Ohio State has long served in a de facto capacity.

And now we pause in remembrance of a great Michigan man, Bo Schembechler, who died a year ago to the day. I miss you terribly, sir, but I am grateful for the timing that will evermore see you remembered in conjunction with The Game. 'Tis a fitting memento that will ensure you are not soon forgotten in the headlong rush to all our future yesterdays. Glenn "Bo" Schembechler (1929-2006), a Michigan man, who in his last act of service admonished the valiant Wolverines to remember, "the team, the team, the team!"

And now, to the business at hand, the dispatching of the ancient enemy. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...!"

Go Blue!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Victors: Wistful Before the War
This was supposed to be our year. Henne & Hart were going to be seniors at the height of their prowess, Ohio State was going to be mired in a rebuilding year. I'm reminded of the opening of the Holy Redeemer youth group's annual Passion Play, "What a week it was to be for Jesus." What a charmed year this was supposed to be. But the majesty of sport is that any given team can beat any other given team on any given day and our years of slow starts and wasted spring and summer practices finally caught up with us in the historic lose to Appalachian State. The loss to Oregon is not the black mark it once was, now that they may well be headed to the B.S. B.C.S. championship game. We got healthy against Notre Dame, but it is entirely possible that a girls' middle school volleyball team might be able to beat Notre Dame this season. And then we entered the fray of Big Ten play and acquitted ourselves well at times, but very poorly at others. Still, an eight-game win streak was just what the doctor ordered after the opening fortnight's trauma, and all was again well. Perhaps too well, as we then shamed ourselves with an somnambulant lose to boorish Wisconsin. This year's has been a heartbreaking campaign and given recent history we face the very real possibility of our second five-loss season in three years. What finer time to muster our strength and pit it against that of the ancient enemy, the hated Buckeyes? And what greater stakes than redemption itself?

For all our staggering ineptitude (Mr. DeBord, I'm looking in your direction), the hated Buckeyes may be had. They are all too mortal. All we need do is keep our wits and remember that there is not a single day on God's green earth when it is not great to be a Michigan Wolverine. Let us show them why we are the stuff of their very nightmares, the bane of seemingly the entire State of Ohio. Let us be their terror made flesh.

Go Blue!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

You cannot wait to read the adventures of Job Snow and Scheherazade "Sadie" Khalid.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Paramore, "Fences" from Riot! (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In the immediate past, I caught the last few minutes of Charlie Rose, an interview with General William "Kip" Ward, U.S. Army, the commander of the brand-new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Mr. Rose asked General Ward why the United States was taking such an unilateral approach to Africa, rather than trying to work in a more internationally cooperative capacity; I do not believe Charlie was trying to make any political point, he was merely asking a very legitimate question. General Ward replied that the purpose of AFRICOM is to provide a unified command structure that will enable the U.S., both alone and in cooperation with the international community, to better serve both our own national interests and humanitarian concerns on the continent; the Africa Command is a tool, not a policy.

In contrast, here is an example of the dubious success of collective decision making, the U.N.-A.U. mission to the Darfur region of the Sudan: farcelink. Working with the Sudanese government is like coordinating with the Imperial Japanese Army to stop the Rape of Nanking (today Nanjing). Where is Chinese Gordon when we need him?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Flaming Lips, "The W.A.N.D." via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)
The Victors: The Game is Near!
I have been remiss in my college football boosterism! The Game is Saturday! The Game is Saturday! We are going to beat the living snot out of the hated Buckeyes! Go Blue!

Vive la France!
It is nice to see that even as Presidents Nicolas "L'Américain" Sarkozy and George W. "Dubya" Bush become bestest friends forever, the French have not forgotten that which makes them quintessentially French: strikelink. Good show, old bean!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Skepticlink. Belief is the enemy of science. Evidence, objectively and dispassionately interpreted, is the heart of science. When skeptics are mocked for ideological impurity, true scientific analysis becomes impossible. Evidential science must trump "scientific" belief or all is lost.


Also, that is one bitchin' mustache.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Puppini Sisters, "Sway" from Betcha Bottom Dollar (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Body of a Journalist
I finished the latest volume of my journal this evening. I sleep soundly knowing I have in place arrangements to have them destroyed, one and all, unread by any eyes but mine, in the event of my demise. I'm counting on you, my friend (you know who you are), and I know you won't let me down.

Volume Zero: 8 October 1991 - 9 June 1992

This volume was an assignment for Mrs. Horvath's seventh grade English class, in which I sat next to Dylweed for most of the year. (Score!) We were required to write in our journals, so they were inspected, but were were allowed to mark our entries as unfit for prying eyes, "Do not read!" I hope that this requested was respected, and that the inspections were simply to confirm that we were writing, because I wrote my most private thoughts in that journal. I was in middle school, so those thoughts were mostly about a girl named Heidi Plumb, for whom I felt an unrequited "love." Ah, the folly of youth.

Volume I: 5 March 1994 - 2 June 1995

Jumpin' Jack Pratt, my handwriting was HUGE back then!

Volume II: 3 June 1995 - 23 April 1996

A ninety- instead of two hundred-page notebook.

Volume III: 25 April 1996 - 9 September 1998 (Wednesday)

Began recording the day of the week on 26 April 1997, a Saturday.

Volume IV: 10 September 1998 (Thursday) - 21 December 2001 (Friday)

Volume V: 22 December 2001 (Saturday) - 4 July 2004 (Sunday)

Volume VI: 4 July 2004 (Sunday, cont'd) - 12 November 2007 (Monday)

Volume VII: 13 November 2007 (Tuesday, probably) - ????

There are periodic flights of fancy in which I wish that my journal was preserved in exquisite red leather-bound tomes, but the notion is ridiculously impractical. Instead, the splendor of my madness is laid bare in unassuming Mead spiral-bound notebooks, with the pen-of-the-moment clipped inside the spiral.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
No Doubt, "Ex-Girlfriend" from Return of Saturn (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I try not to allow the monster Gwen Stefani has become to taint all that No Doubt once was. Return of Saturn is just an album, and an uneven one at that, but Tragic Kingdom was one-half of the soundtrack of my high school years.

Samstag, 10 November
Palooka-ville, "She Gave Me Pudding Cups" from Falling Off the Doghouse (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Ki-El is a rock star!

Freitag, 9 November
The Lawrence Arms, "Chicago is Burning" from Plea For Peace (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Years hence, my erstwhile friend The Plate and I attended a show at The Shelter, the basement of Saint Andrew's Hall in blessed Detroit. We were there for The Anniversary, who turned out to be a crummy live band, but first we had to survive the opening acts. The first, Har Mar Superstar, was bar-none the worst live act I have ever seen (I can endure anything, because I've endured that); The Lawrence Arms is nothing to write home about, but after the opening horror they seemed, as we remarked at the time, like the second coming of the damned Clash. I will forever be grateful to The Lawrence Arms for saving us from Har Mar Superstar. "The horror, the horror...."

I once remarked that the true measure of my wickedness is that even after all I have done I sleep the sleep of the just.

And as I end every journal entry, Until tomorrow, my friend.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Armistice Day

The Explorers Club
No. LI - The poetry of the Great War (1914-1918), specifically but not exclusively "In Flanders Fields" and "Dulce Et Decorum Est."

"In Flanders Fields"
by John McCrae (1872-1918)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

"Dulce Et Decorum Est"
by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, chocking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

I am a monoglot. I studied both Spanish and German, but failed to pursue diligently those studies and accordingly mastered neither tongue. My predilection, then, by both nationality and education, is to English-language poets, exemplified here by Lieutenant Colonel Dr. McCrae, a Canadian, and the British Leftenant Owen. But the Great War was truly a worldwide war and I am certain that those dark years are the subject of brilliant poetry in the French, German, Italian, Russian, Flemish, Hungarian, Turkish, and Arabic, et al., languages.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
June Tabor, "No Man's Land/Flowers of the Forest" from Green Linnet Records: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Paul Anka, "Mr. Brightside" via ye olde internet (Captain Malice)

I hate to offer excuses, but I really have been fantastically busy of late. Still, I have a responsibility to you, my public, and I have not been holding up my end of the bargain.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mustard Plug, "Thigh High Nylons" from Skapocalypse Now! (T.L.A.M.)
Good morning, lads and lasses, and welcome to another glorious day in the war of all against all. Bellvm omnium contra omnes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How could I possibly justify not picking up this comic when it comes out next week?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Pain, "Bottle Rocket War" from Pounded: The Official Comic Book Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Bottle Rocket War" was previously a B.T.W. South Song of the Day and has now joined the ranks of the Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day. There was a strict rule limiting any given song to one appearance as the B.T.W.S.S.O.T.D. Thus far, Rebel Black Dot songs had adhered to this rule, also, though I now view it as more of a guideline than a blanket prohibition. On the one hand, some songs are of far greater emotional import than others; it is only right and fitting that they be chosen whensoever they capture the Zeitgeist. On the other hand, I have a propensity to fixate, and it is not outside the realm of possibility that a single song might be selected as many as a dozen times per annum, unnaturally excluding other worthy choices. On the gripping hand, I have ever been a contrarian; so, best not to make a rule until it becomes necessary lest I violate it immediately just to spite myself. Spite!

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Gunpowder Plot
'Tis Guy Fawkes Night in merry old England! Penny for the guy? I'm glad we fought the Revolutionary War and I am fiercely proud of being American, but there are times I wish we had even closer cultural links with the mother country. Perhaps we could start by burning in effigy The Guy....

"Remember, remember,
The 5th of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot.
I know of no reason
The Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot."

What is the secret behind this reversal in my attitude toward Guy Fawkes Night? I'd tell you, but I am attempting to cultivate an air of mystery. And by "air of mystery" I mean that I have writer's block, thus explaining the absence of the football posts I mentioned yesterday. I know that will break C's heart, not getting to skip over my thoughts on the Michigan State game, Navy's triumph over Notre Dame, and Arizona State getting screwed in the AP poll.

For now, here's a rock 'n' roll song to which almost none of you will be able to listen!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Girls Are Better Than Electronics... Most of the Time (Temp Track v7)" from the forthcoming CODENAME: Koala (K. Steeze)

Sunday, November 4, 2007


The Explorers Club

No. L - The last will and testament of Cecil Rhodes and the Secret Society for the advancement and preservation of the British Empire proscribed therein.

The life (1853-1902) and times of Rhodes himself shall be saved for another occasion.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Sunday Morning Coming Down" from Love Their Country (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 3 November
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "I Can't Turn You Loose" from A Saturday Tradition (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I Can't Turn You Loose" by the M.M.B. was the B.T.W. South Song of the Day exactly fifty-one weeks hence, on Saturday, 11 November 2006, Armistice Day. Michigan football and the Blues Brothers, two great tastes that taste great together.

Go Blue!

The troika of "The Victors," "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and "He Tasks Me" will be posted tomorrow. Tempus fugate.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Oh, hey, a word of caution about Confetti, and I am sorry it slipped my mind yesterday, some of the characters are naturists (more commonly known as nudists here in the States) and in that context the film does feature some N.M.P., that is to say, naked man penis. All in the service of comedy, but I wouldn't want anyone to be caught off guard. All clear? Grand. Enjoy!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Nirvana, "Breed" from Nevermind (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Breed" must be heard only at full volume. So, you know, be mindful of the neighbors and/or the younglings, but this is a hard and fast rule. "Breed." Full volume. Go.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony at the Movies
Run, don't walk, to your Netflix queue or neighborhood video rental shoppe and make arrangements to screen the film Confetti, a British mockumentary about that most worthy of subjects: weddings and the madness they engender. Confetti is time well spent.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Monsters Wedding!" from The Aquabats! vs. The Floating Eye of Death! and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 1 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Serendipity!

I missed the sole Mass at Holy Redeemer; so, I celebrated the Feast of All Saints at Holy Family. Boy howdy, they really love their incense over there; they were burning it like it's going out of style. Holy Family is smack dab in the middle of Grand Blanc, and I dearly love Grand Blanc, but I was baptized, received First Communion, gave first confession, and was confirmed at Holy Redeemer; consequently, everything at Holy Family will always appear just a tad askew. Catholicism WOW!

And now for something completely different.

Vigilance is the surest defense against the Dark Bastard. Like most monsters, he is nary so frightening once he is plainly seen. But credit where it is due: he is a crafty, dogged bugger, tirelessly probing for new avenues of attack, ever refining his methods of undermining.