Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween's Revenge
Welcome back, Halloween, old friend, I had never truly appreciated how much I missed you. Never again shall I repeat the apathetic fiasco that was the last decade. You and me, we're going to go the distance.

But the nocturnal merrymaking of Halloween has a sober diurnal counterpart, All Saints' Day. Upon the morrow, I shall rise early and attend Mass in veneration of the saints.

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

Commentary: You know, I don't really have any Halloween music in my audio library. I have boatloads of Christmas tunes and plenty of bombastic songs for the Fourth of July, but naught for All Hallows' Eve. Odd, that. I thought about "Monsters Wedding!" (it had to be an Aquabats! song since my costume was my Captain Thumbs-Up uniform) but decided the cheery gruesomeness of "Chemical Bomb!" was more in keeping with the spirit of Halloween.

"Chemical bomb,
Chemical bomb,
Eyes melt, skin explodes,
Everybody dead.
It won't be long,
It won't be long,
People gonna run around
Losing their heads.
A river of blood,
Who's gonna live?
The earth is tired of humankind,
And I think this world
Is gonna wash up in Hell.

La la la la la,
La la la la la,
La la la la la la la.
La la la la la,
La la la la la,
La la la la la la la."
Happy Halloween, you grotesque ghouls! Woot!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween's Revenge
In my youth, which I thoroughly enjoyed, my Halloween costume specialty was the cardboard box. I used a rectangular cardboard box for at least three distinct costumes: a gas pump, a robot, and a block o' cheese. The robot was exactly what you would expect; I wrapped the box in aluminum foil, added a few pieces of construction paper sporting circuit-like designs, and poked my arms out through two holes cut in the front. I am more proud of the block o' cheese because even though it was the same essential set-up only with the box covered in yellow construction paper and bereft of any other labeling, what in the hell kind of a costume is a black o' cheese? I was quite proud of that little innovation, which I one day hope to revisit as a wedge of cheese. But the cardboard zenith was the gasoline pump. Honestly, what in Bog's name was going through my fifth grade mind? I covered a box in aluminum foil, posted three different octane values across the chest area (87,89, and 93, if I remember correctly), and attached a flexible old vacuum cleaner extension tube to the left side.

All day, as my elementary school made a big deal out of Halloween and marches each class around the whole school so that everyone saw everyone else's costume, I was asked, "Are you a robot?" to which I would proudly reply, "Nope, I'm a gas pump!" I beamed all day, even though more often than not people looked at me as if I was mad. That night, as my Cub Scout pack (though I may have been a Webelo by that point) gathered in the school cafeteria, my costume was honored with the "Most Unusual Costume" award. My best friend had used four or five enormous cardboard boxes to construct a crude tank costume, a lumbering wall of cardboard out of which we could hardly see and which he could hardly maneuver. As we plundered the neighborhood on Halloween night, he had a difficult time carrying his pillowcase full of candy, but the beauty of that tank costume made the sacrifice worthwhile. Back at the pack meeting, he garnered the "Most Creative Costume" award and he more than deserved the recognition. His tank costume was fantastic.

This turned out to be quite a formative experience for tow-headed little Mike (my hair did not degenerate from beautiful blonde to boring brown until verdammt puberty). I was quite proud of my Most Unusual Costume award, but why had my gasoline pump received Most Unusual while the magnificent tank was Most Creative? While certainly unusual, wasn't a gasoline pump also pretty darned creative? "Creative" is an almost universally positive word. When people call a kid "creative," they are praising him. Though at the time my thoughts on the matter were embryonic and it would be several more years until grew comfortable with the notion that I was strange and would simply never fit in with most of my peers, even then I recognized that while "unusual" did not have an inherently negative meaning, it was most often used with negative connotations. If a child is called "unusual," odds are he isn't being praised. A tank was certainly unusual, but it was the good kind of unusual; so, it was praised as "creative." A gasoline pump was, if I may toot my own horn, certainly creative, but is was the bad kind of creative; so, it was... not by any means condemned, but not exactly praised either, as "unusual."

I also found out that I really like winning awards. If you've never won an award, and no, universally distributed "Participant" ribbons do not count, I highly recommend the experience. Quite a boost to the ol' ego. Woot!

Other Halloween costume highlights: I was Superman, though I was too young to actually remember this and am aware of it only through my mother's photo albums. (Looking back, it is really hard to believe I didn't start reading comic books until I was twenty years-old.) Before the cardboard box mania, I was a Martian, replete with springs for antennae, silver overalls, and green face paint. This was the one and only time in my life I've painted my face. (I think I missed the boat in college; I wasn't a face paint guy, but I should have been! I'm temperamental, I'm a shameless showman, and I'm fat! Why oh why wasn't I shirtless at late November football games with half my torso painted blue and other half maize?) Years later, after the end of the box era, my best friend and I dressed as Bob & Doug MacKenzie and prowled the streets saying, "Trick or treat, eh!" Through our youths we hadn't worn matching costumes, but towards the end we knew that our trick-or-treating days were numbered and so resolved to make the most of the last couple go-'rounds. My senior year of high school (his freshman year), for our last-ever candy-amassing expedition, we dressed in our best suits and went door to door as pallbearers, carrying a shoebox made up as a coffin for a goldfish (no goldfish were harmed in the making of the coffin prop). Some of our neighbors were amused, but most looked at us as if we each had two heads. Bog, I love weirding out the squares. It would have been a little too high concept to have labeled the coffin as containing the mortal remains of two childhoods full of Halloweens; thus, a Christian burial for a goldfish. If there is one thing every truly great Halloween costume has in common, though, it is none-too-subtle philosophical subtext.

Tomorrow: Captain Thumbs-Up rides again!

The Stars My Destination
Solar panel? Solar panic! Riplink! I tell you, putting our faith in the Accursed Sun will be the death of us all. The Sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace! It pumps out lethal radiation! Without Earth's magnetosphere and our pleasantly thick atmosphere, the dastardly Sun's death rays would have destroyed us all years ago! (This argument is patently ridiculous, as without the magnetosphere and atmosphere to protect our lovely planet, the Sun would have prevented life as we know it from ever arising.) Don't trust the Sun! It would sell its own mother for a chance to destroy Mankind!

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

Monday, October 29, 2007

Examining a recent entry in my journal, I found that I was ruminating on what might have happened to William the Conqueror and his Norman hordes at the Battle of Hastings had Harold Godwinson and his Anglo-Saxon army not hurried to the south coast from having defeated the invading Viking Danes under Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. There is either something really, really wrong with me or something really, really right.

"In widest bay, in brackish bight..."


Dashing bloke David Cameron (M.P. for Witney), the official leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (the Conservative Party) in the House of Commons, is now my favorite British politician since Baroness Thatcher, the one and only Iron Lady. Why? Because during a press conference held last week (which I saw thanks to the fine folks at C-SPAN) he, in mid-sentence, without skipping a beat, properly pluralized "referendum." He said "referenda." Jumpin' Jack Pratt, he said referenda! Not "referendums," referenda! Sweet fancy Moses!

Is this a shabby way to pick one's favourite (as the case may be) politican? Most certainly, but I cannot vote in British elections anyway (not that Prime Minister Brown will ever call for an election); so, what does it matter?


Where have you gone, Joey Heisman?

Honolulu Blue Forever Nevermore
Go ahead and call me Pontius Pilate, because I wash my hands of this debacle, now and forever. There are complicated issues of loyalty yet to be parsed, but the long and short of it is that I find nothing in the Detroit Lions deserving of my affection and fidelity. Beyond that cold analysis, the plain truth is that I have watched several of this season's games and plumbed the depths of my heart, but can find not the merest shred of love for the Lions. Nor can I summon fondness enough to foster a burning hatred. The Lions are as inconsequential to me as Major League Soccer (*gasp*), which means it is time I show myself the door. To those of you who remain, I wish you all the best, and there is a part of me that envies your devotion. I hope your fealty, though given to an ignoble cause, will one day be rewarded richly.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dance Hall Crashers, "My Problem" from The Old Record (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Don't let it hurt your self-esteem / You'll be some girl's ever-lasting dream."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

An apropos subject given the proximity to Halloween....

The Explorers Club
No. XLIX – Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), “the Wickedest Man in the World”






Sweet merciful crap, I love Lazy Sunday!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "7 Ways to Sunday" from A Jackknife to a Swan (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I miss those Beantown bastards almost every damn day.

Samstag, 27 Oktober
The Vandals, "To All the Kids" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)
Kumar: "You're worthless."

Harold: "I'm not worthwhile."

Friday, October 26, 2007

"A short skirt.
A Gimmes shirt.
A Jones Soda.
Ain't life grand?"

The allure of a short skirt on a member of the fairer sex is self-evident. I still love both Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and the single Gimme Gimmes T-shirt I own. But Jones Soda has never tasted the same since high fructose corn syrup was kicked to the curb in favor of "pure cane sugar." The mirth and mesmerism of Jones has been overthrown. For all that and even so, is not life still grand? The grandest adventure in God's Creation, buckaroos, the grandest.

And the declaration still stands, should I ever spy a girl wearing a short skirt and a Gimmes shirt and drinking a Jones Soda I'll ask for her hand in marriage on the spot. And if she assents, I'll marry her, 'til death do us part.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Puppini Sisters, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön" from Betcha Bottom Dollar (T.L.A.M.)
Forty Years in the Blink of an Eye
Forty years ago today, on 26 October 1967, Lieutenant Commander John Sidney McCain III, U.S. Navy, was shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam. He would spend the next six years being tortured, abused, and systematically degraded by his Communist captors. I hesitate to say more because each time I have tried the result has been a political tirade rather than a patriotic tribute. You can't go wrong with this: God bless you, Senator McCain.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Christmas Countdown
This will be the last mention of Christmas until after Thanksgiving. My wish list was compiled and transmitted to the family on schedule. Next on the holiday roster: pumpkin carving. Woot!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Men Without Hats, "The Safety Dance" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Bad Religion, "Los Angeles is Burning" via iTunes (K. Steeze)

Commentary: "Even the stars are ill at ease."

Christmas Countdown
Christmas wish lists are due by the end of business (midnight) tomorrow!
Lucky 7
Go Gunners!

Honestly, I am not an Arsenal supporter because they happen to be Nick Hornby's team, that's just a way cool coincidence. The Guy picked Manchester United so I chose its antithesis, the great and glorious Gunners of North London, the one and only Arsenal!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Comeuppance*
Of late, the State of California has been running a series of annoying commercials seemingly intended to entice people to relocate to the Golden State. Every single person Almost everyone I know in California is a transplant, both my friends and my relatives (my cousins are natives, but the children of transplants). Does California really need to advertise? So, while the loss of human life is unfortunate, I think these fires are wonderful: firelink. I grin from ear to ear every time there is a news report. Those whom gods destroy they first make proud, you tanned, soy cheese-loving bastards!

Of course, it bears mentioning that I am jealous of California; I will never have the opportunity to vote for the Governator.

*Not the band, which was a precursor to Murky Transport Disaster, the precursor to Real Can of Yams.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Unwritten Law, "Armageddon Singalong" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)
Ayyub ibn Yunus

It's a mystery. Dare you solve it?
The Stars My Destination
Countdown to STS-120: clockworklink. Also, Eurolink Ein and Eurolink Deux.

Ad astra per aspera
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.A.S.A., United States)
Russian Federal Space Agency (R.K.A., Russia; inherited from the Soviet Union)
European Space Agency (E.S.A., European Union; member states also have own space agencies)
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (J.A.X.A., Japan)
Canadian Space Agency (C.S.A., Canada)
Brazilian Space Agency (A.E.B., Brazil))

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Ditty Bops, "There's a Girl" from The Ditty Bops (T.L.A.M.)
One day behind schedule...

The Explorers Club
No. XLVIII - The Soviet Union's Luna* program of robotic lunar probes, including both orbiters and landers.






*I chose to italicize Luna because that was the name of the program in the Russian language. So, even though Luna is an entirely valid English word and thus in no need of italics, in this instance I was using instead the Russian word Luna, thus warranting italicization.

Black Sheep
I have no specific knowledge about the Swiss People's Party; I do not know if its agenda is racist, nor is my aim to defend its policies. I have insufficient knowledge to either condemn or condone. But to condemn the black sheep ad (seen here) as inherently racist strikes me as bizarre and disingenuous. I cannot vouch for the German, French, and Italian languages that predominate in Switzerland, but certainly in English the term "black sheep" has no racist overtones. For instance, when it was revealed last week that Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator Barack Obama are distant cousins, a spokesman for Sen. Obama said, "Every family has a black sheep." A lighthearted political dig, but by no means a racist comment.

Of course, you all know my low opinion of the Swiss. "What makes a man turn neutral?"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

All-new, all-different!

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: The Wedding Album, Part 4
Friday, September 7, 2007 was one of the busiest, most jam-packed days of my life! Read now the all-new chronicle of what happened once our intrepid band of revelers left the warmth and comfort of The Restaurant and ventured into the savage wilds of darkest Ohio...

Here There Be Dragons
We had journeyed from Columbus to the vicinity of Anonymous, OH, on a freeway marked "North;" so, as The Professor (shotgun), K. Steeze (backseat), Brooklyn (ditto), and I plunged into the pitch night in the safe cocoon of Lumi, it seemed a safe bet that our path back to The Shire would require use of a reciprocal freeway known as "South." But, this is Ohio, where madness reigns and ignorance is a virtue, and upon encountering the freeway entrance ramps the choices were "East" or "West." Had I been driving in "Pilot" mode, the logical deduction would have been to take the eastbound ramp, as our trek from Columbus had been not due north but to the north and west. However, I was in "Chauffeur" mode, a mindless automaton utterly dependent on the passenger riding shotgun for all navigation. Here there is some dispute. Later, The Professor thought he had told me to take the east ramp, whereas at the time I sincerely believed he told me to head west, but neither of us was certain about what had actually been said. There were minimal recriminations later as we were all simply relieved to find ourselves still alive.

From the moment we transitioned from the on-ramp to the freeway proper, we knew something had gone terribly awry. Ahead of us and to either side was a great and unbroken blackness. A void. He the noontime Sun, the Moon, and all the stars been snuffed in a single instant by some dread celestial calamity, the resultant darkness would have been no more severe than that with which we were confronted. From time to time isolated lights stabbed throw the ink, but so absolute was the dark that even as the cars carrying those lights pulled alongside they could be made out only vaguely. Ahead, behind, and to neither side could any sign of habitation be found. No lights. No structures. No hope.

We may very well have unknowingly crossed from our world into the Twilight Zone, for though I always thought The Twilight Zone was naught more than the fruit of Rod Serling's peerless brilliance, the impenetrable pitch we faced was unlike anything else I had ever seen. And the Bard speaks true, "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." But all childish spookiness aside, this dark was in truth unlike anything else I had ever seen. I have done my fair share of cruising America's highways and bi-ways at night and I am actually quite fond of it. During the day all is plain and by and large serene, but at night on the freeway the trees have been cleared back sufficiently that there is precious little to reflect the beams generated by your car's headlights. I name damn near everything that is dear to me and thus have I named night freeway driving "Plunging into the Night." But on this night, that careless joy was in short supply. Onward we plunged, an ominous humor descending inexorably upon us all.

And as we began to marvel at the complete and total lack of off-ramps, I chill ran up my spine: Lumi's gasoline gage read very nearly empty. Thrice damn me, how had I not noticed this earlier? We were on a freeway with no exists, drawing ever farther from the relative familiarity of The Shire, and now we were on the very cusp of being left on the side of the road. I could feel my unease reluctantly scoot over to share its seat with a healthy dose of panic. Though I have come to love Lumi enough to have named her Lumi, I do not know her nearly as well as I knew the Mousemobile, my trusty steed for the vast majority of a whole decade. I knew exactly how far I could get on full tank in the Mousemobile, and exactly how far I could go once the needle read empty. True, I once ran out of fuel in the Mousemobile, but that was the first summer I had my driver's license and I was only a couple hundred yards short of my destination, a filling station. Lumi has yet to yield all of her secrets and subtleties, in part because I never went anywhere with less than a quarter of a tank during my Texile. Getting stranded on the side of the road is a hassle; getting stranded on the side of a verdammt Texan road was too horrifying to risk. How far could we get on what petrol fumes remained in Lumi's tank? To my terror, I did not know.

At length and at last, an exit presented itself and I steered for it like a drowning man grabs at driftwood. I should have known that in this kingdom of shadows there was no succor to be found by the weary traveler. Anonymous, OH is home to a large manufacturing facility belonging to one of the large Japanese firms. We appeared to have quit the freeway in the middle of their vast estate. We had no choice but to press forward in desperate search for a vendor of gasoline. All around us, we could make out inky shades of buildings and fences bearing all the falsely cheery trademarks of a large corporate site. But by this late hour on a Friday evening, the workers had all gone home, the gates had all been padlocked, the lights had been extinguished. We found ourselves in a desert devoid of any human presence save our own. To my left, I was taunted by the sight of the company's own gasoline pumps, by all appearances a fully functional station, probably to serves a test track hidden out of sight to casual passersby and industrial spies alike. These were high times for the Dark Bastard as I had given up any hope of avoiding making the call to summon The Bridegroom to drive out to this forsaken void and come to our rescue. Presuming, of course, that mobile telephones would function in this black pit of despair.

When all seemed lost, without in any way doubling back on our post-freeway path, we found ourselves at an on-ramp. Though we were forever and a day from the nearest civilization, this was the first concrete chance we'd had to better our circumstances. No mistake was made this time and soon we were rocketing eastward through that same sky of pure squid's ink. Long after I was certain Lumi would have stuttered into silence due to starvation, we at last came upon the exit for Anonymous, the place where our troubles had began. With rising excitement, as if we could simply will Lumi to continue without fuel, we exited and made our way toward "downtown" Anonymous.

The first filling station we encountered had closed for the evening. We pressed on. Thoroughly chagrined, I eased Lumi next to a pump at an open gas station directly across the street from The Restaurant. Exactly half an hour after after we had left (though it had felt much, much longer), we were back, unsure of where exactly we had been, but resolutely determined to never pass that way again. Brooklyn had drifted off the sleep and hardly stirred as I paid at the pump and Steeze, The Professor, and I collected ourselves after our unintended journey beyond the edge of the world. I had never intended to sail off the edge of the map, and had it been proposed to me that I might do so accidentally, I should most certainly wished not to have done so with a bone dry gas tank. Lumi performed magnificently, going above and beyond the call of duty.

Laden with petroleum, we retraced our initial departure from The Restaurant and when confronted with the choice of "East" or "West," we chose more in line with the wisdom of Indiana Jones than the arrogance of Walter Donovan. Not long into our journey back to The Shire, I received a call from The Bridegroom, inquiring as to our whereabouts. I gave him the Reader's Digest version of our adventure and shook my head at the all-encompassing and soul-crushing darkness with which we had once again been enveloped.

Lobster Bucket: Encore
Back at The Shire, home were the heroes and we who has shared such a perilous voyage in Lumi were joined by The Bridegroom, The Guy, and Bridesmaid X, who had missed the wedding rehearsal due to the vagaries of air travel and caught up with the rest of the company at The Restaurant. All were in good spirits after a hearty, and free, meal at The Restaurant and all were buoyed by the geniality and goodwill inherent to wedding festivities. Still, Lumi's journey into the abyss had taken a toll and I resolved to recuperate with the day's second foray into The Shire's hot tub.

After some little time, I was joined both within the hot tub and without on the surrounding deck. I do not remember which of my fellows joined me in the hot tub; I would like to claim that this is due to the passage of time, over five weeks now, but the truth is far more simple than the subtle tricks of memory. I do not remember because my attention was wholly consumed by the vision of Bridesmaid X in a bikini. She had the pretty face and dark, curly hair befitting her Mediterranean heritage, and though her curves were quite enticing, it was her open, vivacious manner that really caught my attention. It is with no shame but multiple mine trolleys full of regret that I tell you it had been years since I had found myself in the company in a bikini-clad member of the fairer sex, and it was with great fondness that I became reacquainted with just how intoxicating such a creature can be. Mercy. As would be borne out by later events, I was not the only one to be so intoxicated by her charms.

But our aquatic revels soon were ended and with hearts full of glee we set about the grim business of conquering the world.

Risky Business: The Revenge
Though it seemed as if a week had passed since The Guy and I had fetched K. Steeze and The Professor from the airport, it had only been the morning of that same day. Unlike the three-sided war of the morning, this time we faced a table full of competitors, each vying to conquer the world and reshape it in his, or hers, since Bridesmaid X joined us, own image. The Bridegroom departed for Anonymous to see The Bride, even though the plan had been for them to part after the rehearsal dinner and see each other again that evening. So, around the table were gathered, clockwise starting from my left, Steeze; The Guy; Brooklyn, partaking in his first game of Risk; The Professor; and Bridesmaid X, though she wasn't playing. (A girl who loves Risk like a Blue Tree Whacker? That would have been too good to be true.)

The game began inauspiciously enough, with the fundamentals and our peculiar and particular vernacular being explained to Brooklyn and Bridesmaid X. The Professor achieved the Australian Gambit after more blood than he would have liked, The Guy and K. Steeze vied for South America's Pinochle With Pinochet, and I soon found myself in the middle of my favorite strategy, Out of Africa.

I adopted my current highly successful "Who Dares Wins" (the motto of Her Majesty's Special Air Service) approach to Risk after my former timidity lead to naught by frustration and defeat. I had been playing not to lose; only be embracing the fierce aggressiveness of Who Dares Wins did I begin playing to win. And win I do. Not all the time by any means, but I carry the day in my fair share of games. One of the precepts of Who Dares Wins is the necessity of weakening your enemies, even at the cost of weakening yourself. You must attack the largest army within striking distance, because with the reinforcements at the core of Risk, that army will only get stronger over time. It will never be a better target than it is right now. Attack! Attack again! And after you've done that, attack yet again!

Bearing this in mind, The Professor's next move made perfect sense. With The Guy nursing an Asian Simmer and still contesting Steeze's Pinochle With Pinochet and Brooklyn hampered by his own inexperience (he did quite well for his first time, especially considering the mercilessness of his competition), my Out of Africa possession of a continental bonus made me the strongest player on the board. So, The Professor mustered his forces and launched an all-out assault to deprive me of my continent. It was a brilliant move, a bold strike at the heart of his most dangerous enemy and perfectly consistent with my own much ballyhooed Who Dares Wins philosophy, which makes my reaction all the more inexplicable. The Professor launched his offensive and I went mad.

Quite beyond reason, I roared, demanding to know just who he thought he was. How dare he, I raged. YOU think you can attack ME? YOU THREATEN ME? I turned to him, one of my dearest friends in all the world, and through gritted teeth, with all the venom and hate in my blackened soul, spat out the words, "I will destroy you." Had I been able to look upon myself from the other side of the room I should not have recognized myself, beholding instead a beast, a veritable avatar of spite. At that moment, I really and truly wished The Professor ill. The only small positive I can take away is that I did not resort to violence; I was pleased to learn that even in a moment of all-consuming fury I did not entirely shed the trappings of a civilized man. But my desire to destroy him was genuine, and so I did.

Every roll of the dice was a stab at his heart, and I entreated him to look upon the author of his demise, to pit his wasted strength against mine and thus hasten his own doom. After each roll, as he removed more and more of his men from the board, I shouted "Again!" simultaneously begging and taunting him to try me once more. And at last, in great frustration, he retreated, his attacking armies annihilated, his dreams of empire torn asunder. For the rest of the game, I devoted myself to his defeat above all else. I checked his advance, mustered my strength, forewent opportunities to strengthen my strategic position relative to Steeze and The Guy, and focused solely on The Professor's destruction. And in the end I was as good as my word. I destroyed him, relishing every moment of my revenge.

Revenge against an innocent man. Certainly, The Professor had been trying to bolster myself at my expense, but that's the very nature of Risk. That's why we play the game. As we repeatedly emphasized to Brooklyn, the single most important thing in Risk is to attack for Card on every single turn. Without cards, you're sunk before you begin (witness the earlier game, where I had been undone because The Guy had been able to turn in cards on three consecutive turns, an unheard of feat). The only way to get Card? Conquest! Bloody slaughter. Conquest is the essence of Risk, even moreso when one follows BTW house rules, which foster the marshaling of massive offensive armies through Infinite Colt Fortification. Later on, I apologized to The Professor and indeed all in attendance for my language. Yes, I had been angry, but that was no reason to employ such foul language (multiple F-bombs were dropped, and not in a friendly, casual way). I apologized for my language, but not for my wild pursuit of revenge to the exclusion of all else.

As the hour grew later and the defeated slowly drifted off to bed, my single-minded pursuit of spite proved my own undoing. I was poorly positioned to counter The Guy's strength once he had disposed of first Steeze and then Brooklyn, and I was slowly, inevitably overwhelmed by the hordes of The Guy. I might have been able to save myself had I been able to turn in cards at an opportune moment, but I was not so favored by Lady Luck. The Guy had won two games of Risk in a single day, the first of us to achieve such a feat, I believe. Good on you, my friend.

He departed for the hotel where his ladylove, The Gal, lay slumbering, and I too retired, twenty-three hours after I had woken up to complete the second half of the airport shuffle. Had all that had happened - the airport, Risk, breakfast, the tuxedos, the school girl outfit, the hot tub, the wedding rehearsal, "It's all about the bide!," the rehearsal dinner, the journey into the endless night, the hot tub again, and Risk again - really been one single day? Astoundingly enough, yes. One brilliant, manic, madcap twenty-three-hour joyride.

And in the morning, it would be the day of my brother's wedding. "What a time to be alive."

To be continued...

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Dare to be Stupid" from Dare to be Stupid (T.L.A.M.)
A baby was baptized during Mass today. Hooray, another Catholic to be raised to feel guilty about anything and everything she ever does! Sweet fancy Moses, I love being Catholic! And speaking of Moses, today's Old Testament reading was from Exodus, and chronicled the success of Joshua's fight against the Amalekites as long as Moses's hands were kept raised up in the air. Forget Sun Tzu, all we need to do is keep this old dude's hands in the air! That's probably why Napoleon failed at Waterloo, he neglected to keep Moses's hands raised in the air. And, you know, he wasn't fighting the Amalekites, about whom the Bible has only dreadful things to say. Lousy Amalekites.

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

And I shall be healed.

Christmas Countdown
Remember, boys and girls, Christmas wish lists are due by Thursday, October 25. That will give your kith and kin two full months to purchase those items necessary to express their affection for you through materials possessions. (I love material possessions.) It's just simple courtesy. The longer you wait to send out a wish list, the longer your family and friends will have to wait to buy your presents, meaning they will have either to fight the crowds at the stores or pay online merchants extra fees to cover express shipping. Let the Golden Rule be your watchword. You don't want to have to do your shopping for them at the eleventh hour; so, pay them the courtesy you'd want to be paid.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Halloween's Revenge
Last weekend, K. Steeze and I conversed on the topic of Halloween costumes and I reached the conclusion that I have neither the time nor the resources to assemble the costume I truly desire: the Golden Age Sandman (Wesley Dodds) as he appeared in Sandman Mystery Theatre.



Instead, I'll wear my back-up costume, which I already have on hand. I shall haunt the eve of All Saints' Day in the guise of Captain Thumbs-Up, Aqua-Cadet No. 0003432, and it shall be glorious.

Steeze was, and very possibly still is, scrambling to assemble a proper Han Solo costume, though he didn't specify if he intended to wear Solo's costume from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, or Return of the Jedi, since each is subtly but distinctly different. We both lamented that Halloween preparations almost always begin too late to do justice to one's original and most outlandish ideas; so, I have decided on a new policy. I shall begin each October to work on the following year's costume. With my Captain Thumbs-Up costume all squared away, I have begun preliminary preparations to gather a cracking good Sandman costume for Halloween '08. Steeze, the most forceful visionary I have ever had the privilege to claim as a friend, is determined to achieve his Han Solo costume for this coming Halloween, now less than two weeks distant. And he'll do it, too, I'd wager. He's Steeze, the absurdly unlikely is his specialty.

Perhaps in '09 I'll go as Donna Reed....

The Victors
What an absolutely perfect day of college football! The valiant Wolverines' victory over the craven Fighting Illini was more exciting than it needed to be, but that's been the story of this entire season; after you start 0-2, any win you can walk away with is a good one. You've got to have Hart, but it was nice to see the maize and blue prevail over a decent Illinois team without benefit of the greatest running back in Michigan's incomparably illustrious history. Woot!

I was mightily pleased by the manner in which the valiant Wolverines fought back from that early 14-3 deficit. It happened in flashes of brilliance and recurrences of imbecility, but the players and coaches improvised, adapted, and overcame. Good show, old bean! The more time that passes, the more respectable Oregon looks, leaving the shattering defeat to Appalachian State the only black mark against a team that has defeated decent opposition in Penn State, Purdue, and Illinois. Clearly, we never deserved to be the No. 5 team in the country, but this year's valiant Wolverines really aren't half bad. We aren't yet as good as we should be, but we aren't half bad.

Go Blue!

He Tasks Me
Wait, what is this, another shutout of Notre Dame? But Charlie Weis was singlehandedly responsible for the Super Bowl triumphs of the New England Patriots! Charlie Weis is the greatest offensive mind in the history of football! How on Earth could his vile Fighting Irish be shut out for the second time this season? BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Curiously, Notre Dame lost both shutouts by the score of 38-0. Not yet spooky, but it's getting there.

A 1-7 record for the greatest coach in the history of football, at any level, in any decade, in any century. I would relent, I would leave Notre Dame's supporters to suffer in peace, but "He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him."

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
As I exalted before, what an absolutely perfect day of college football! The dastardly Spartans lost. Sure, the hated Buckeyes won, but not by as large a margin as they might have, and the villain Tressel looked decidedly furious as his team quit the field. U.C.L.A. revealed Cal to have always been a paper tiger*, because U.C.L.A. is pathetic enough to have lost to *snicker* Notre Dame; so, how bad must Cal be? Hee hee. In the early afternoon, I split my time between Penn State-Indiana and Purdue-Iowa, and then in the late afternoon between Ohio State-Michigan State and U.S.C.-Notre Dame. And then Michigan-Illinois this evening. This was the first Saturday of the Fall that I was able to completely devote to the grandest game of all, college football. Hail and huzzah, what a grand day it was.

*Should I credit myself for resisting the urge to type "paper bears" or should I reproach myself for missing such a, pardon the pun, golden** opportunity?

**The nickname of the athletic teams of the University of California at Berkeley, or Cal, is the Golden Bears. The University of California at Los Angeles, or U.C.L.A., is the Bruins.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" from Love Their Country (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Only the Gimme Gimmes, the greatest cover band in the world, could make "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" a song of pure joy and exhilaration. You magnificent bastards!

And speaking of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, we should not forget that 'twas Codename: PANDORA, a.k.a. The Sardine, who served, in the summer of '03, as the inspiration for:

"A short skirt,
A Gimmes shirt,
A Jones soda,
Ain't life grand?"

Tomorrow: "The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: The Wedding Album, Part 4." I promise, come Hell or high water.
There is wall to wall televised college football awaiting me this afternoon, evening, and into the night. Barring Act of God, today promises to be the shining exemplar of a college football Saturday. A most auspicious day!

Polis
Also, I believe Snow is going to have a pet red panda named Augustus B. Woodward.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Endurance
Something is afoot. Cautious optimism would be more prudent, but to blazes with prudence: at this moment I feel like I could take on the whole Empire myself.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Gene Kelly, "I Like Myself" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: From the 1955 motion picture It's Always Fair Weather, one of the last of the M.G.M. big screen musicals.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fuck, Mu330 and Mustard Plug performed together at the Magic Stick in Detroit in September and I fucking missed the show! A year in fucking Texile without a single fucking rock show and then two of my favorite bands are fucking gift wrapped for me in beautiful and beloved downtown Detroit and I fucking missed the show! I didn't have a fucking clue until weeks after the fact. Fuck! Fuckity fucking fuck fuck! FUCK!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Feist, "I Feel It All" via iTunes (Skeeter)

The Victors
Damn damn damn the Big Ten Network (BTN). I received a mass email from U of M Athletic Director Bill Martin (with whom I once had, at his invitation, a face-to-face meeting in his office) explaining why Michigan and all the other Big Ten schools are perfectly justified in their greedy collaboration with the Big Ten Network. In short, he does not seem to give a good Bog damn that the people of Michigan do not receive the Big Ten Network, since the Athletic Department is making money boatloads of money from BTN viewership outside "the Big Ten footprint" of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Damn damn damn Bill Martin and the Big Ten Network.

My congratulations to the valiant Wolverines for their triumph on Saturday. I am greatly encouraged not just by the win, but by the margin of victory. Notre Dame is a colossal joke and Penn State is its own worst enemy; so, despite the tumble out of the AP poll Purdue was still our best opponent since Oregon. And the valiant Wolverines stomped 'em! Hooray! Mike Hart is hardly human, he's a competitive demigod. I've no doubt that he'll be in the line-up against Illinois barring his right leg falling off and being dragged away by coyotes. And even then he might still play.

He Tasks Me
One week after the chumps in the Pac-10 rained on everyone's parade, the vile Fighting Irish lost again, improving St. Charlie's record to 1-6. Bwa ha ha ha ha! I cannot bring myself to root for the horrid Trojans of USC next weekend, but I do hope that Charlie the Whale leads his team to yet another ignominious defeat. What I really want is for a comet to fall from the heavens, flattening the stadium and annihilating both teams and their partisans, but as that seems highly improbable (lousy, rat fink comets) a Notre Dame defeat, preferably by a humiliating score, will suffice quite nicely.

"He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two days behind schedule...

The Explorers Club
No. XLVII – The cataclysmic eruption of Krakatoa on August 26-27, 1883, which was distinctly and identifiably heard as far as 5,000 miles distant.








The two photographs are of the modern island of Anak Krakatau, volcanically built upon the remnants of Krakatoa.

Codename: CHAOS
I've retroactively changed the erstwhile Tuba Girl's codename to the Smoke Eater. She played the tuba a decade ago when we were comrades in the GBHS Marching Band. Today, she is a firefighter, a smoke eater; it's noble and honorable work, more a vocation than a profession.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Korea Girl, "Wile E." from Korea Girl (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 15 Oktober
Allister, "Miz" from Dead Ends and Girlfriends (T.L.A.M.)

Sonntag, 14 Oktober
A.F.I., "Hearts Frozen Soil Sod Once More by the Spring of Rage, Despair, and Hopelessness" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

S.N.A.F.U.
This morning, I used my HAL to harness the power of the internet; I experienced no ill effects and noticed nothing at all out of the ordinary. A little while later, my father fired up his laptop HAL, which he only uses downstairs while watching TV, and which operates via the same wireless network as my HAL; the laptop is the reason there's even a wireless network in this house. Oddly enough, since Dad used his laptop HAL my HAL has been entirely unable to access ye olde internet. Now, who besides my father honestly believes that this is purely coincidental? I'm not blaming him, I don't think he did anything nefarious, but clearly by using his laptop for the first time in weeks or possibly months, he somehow inadvertantly barred my HAL from utilizing the house wireless. Of course, he thinks the problem must lie in my HAL; so, tomorrow I get to call AppleCare and try to troubleshoot the problem from my end... without any access to the Internet. Only after I've wasted my time doing this may I reasonably prevail upon him to seriously examine his wireless thingamajig. Huzzah!

The Secret Base will go silent until wireless internet access in my room has been restored. "The Explorers Club," "The Victors," and the all-new "The Wedding Album, Part 4" will be postponed until such restoration. Know that no one is more irked by this fiasco than me. Please pardon our dust and all that rot.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Comedienne" from Out-of-State Plates, Disc 2 (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

In the Company of the Damned
I am fortunate to be counted as a friend of the married couple who own and operate Comic Relief (to be codenamed Mr. and Mrs. Comic Relief?), my comic book store. They are also friends with an old marching band comrade of mine, Lauren, codename: the Smoke Eater. One evening a couple weeks hence, the Comic Reliefs ran into the Smoke Eater at a horrific local bar and informed her that I, in all my resplendent glory, was back in Grand Blanc. The Smoke Eater composed a short note for me on the back of a receipt, informing me of her mobile phone number. Before I saw the Comic Reliefs and had a chance to receive from them her note, the Smoke Eater emailed me. I emailed back and gave her my mobile number. (Welcome to the future. I still say I'm owed a damn rocket pack.) The Smoke Eater called me the next day, we chatted briefly, and made vague plans to spend time together.

This Wednesday, a fortnight later, I ran into the Smoke Eater while picking up the week's new comics. She scolded me for not calling her and I gently reminded her that the telephone is a two-way device. She responded that she had previously called me; so, the obligation had been mine. Very well, if that's the level of maturity at which we're to operate, so be it. I then asked the Smoke Eater what she was doing the following evening, Thursday night. She froze like a deer caught in headlights. "You can't put me on the spot like that!" Ye gods, woman, you wanted me to call you! Now we have the chance to meet face-to-face. A plan was agreed for me to ring the Smoke Eater on Thursday evening, to be followed by indeterminate socializing.

I called as agreed and after some tiresome wrangling we rendezvoused in the parking lot of Kickers (or Kicker's, I do not know which), her favorite watering hole. Sweet mercy. It was, as are pretty much all the bars in the greater Flint area, a nightmare, a dank, dark pit with a low ceiling, a few insipid electronic gambling machines, a plethora of televisions so you have to neither face nor converse with your tablemates, and that unmistakable musk of men and women who have been well and truly defeated by life. I was in the company of the damned.

Over the course of the next hour and half, I met several of the Smoke Eater's fellow part-time firefighters; heard the phrase "dirty Sanchez" used more than in any other similar interval to which I have been a party; listened to the meandering tale of how a married couple had purchased a new refrigerator, a tale replete with protestations against the price of major appliances; and witnessed an escalating series of accusations about which member of the company was guilty of the most egregious inebriated idiocy. The "highlights" of the evening were the Smoke Eater's outrage at being judged by a friend who had caught her using chewing tobacco and a monstrous discussion about the cinema. Napoleon Dynamite was praised as a cinematic triumph (my words, theirs were more crude) while Shaun of the Dead was disparaged as two hours of her life that Tuba Girl could never recover. Hot Shots and Hot Shots: Part Deux, among the premiere comedies of ours or any age, were also counted among the worthless. I sipped my Guinness, did my level best to focus on the Florida State-Wake Forest football game, and waited for a sufficient window of time to pass for my exit not to be construed as rude.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the national suicide rate is not higher. How do those wretches muster the courage to face another day of... that... without succumbing to the sweet release of self-annihilation? I am uncertain of what to feel in this instance. Scorn? Contempt? Pity? I have fulfilled any obligation I might ever have had to the Smoke Eater, and all the arrayed legions of Hell could not force me to again set foot inside that vile place. I've already washed the clothes I wore last evening, but I must admit to some temptation to ritually burn them, to truly purge them of the taint. I like those jeans, though, making a bonfire unlikely. Going forward, I fondly hope that my memories of the evening fade with admirable rapidity.

For a more positive view of Mankind: Neat!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Five Iron Frenzy, "Pre-Ex-Girlfriend" from Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Every man wishes to win the heart and eventually the hand of a girl who is better than he deserves. Go for broke, lads, you've nothing to lose and everything - because she's everything - to gain.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Much to my dismay, I spent the evening in the company of the damned. I stared into the abyss and, Bog help me, it stared back.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Alcohol" from Stunt (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Alternative to feeling like yourself." And thus my scorn. "Oh, alcohol, I still drink to your health."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Killers, "Mr. Brightside" from Hot Fuss (T.L.A.M.)

Dienstag, 9 Oktober
Elvis Costello, "No Action" from This Year's Model (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 8 Oktober
Sarah McLachlan, "Adia" from Surfacing (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sweet fancy Moses, I love lists!

"Rose"
"The End of the World"
"The Unquiet Dead"
"Aliens of London" (Part 1)
"World War Three" (Part 2)
"Dalek"
"The Long Game"
"Father's Day"
"The Empty Child" (Part 1)
"The Doctor Dances" (Part 2)
"Boom Town"
"Bad Wolf" (Part 1)
"The Parting of the Ways" (Part 2)

"The Christmas Invasion"

"New Earth"
"Tooth and Claw"
"School Reunion"
"The Girl in the Fireplace"
"Rise of the Cybermen" (Part 1)
"The Age of Steel" (Part 2)
"The Idiot's Lantern"
"The Impossible Planet" (Part 1)
"The Satan Pit" (Part 2)
"Love & Monsters"
"Fear Her"
"Army of Ghosts" (Part 1)
"Doomsday" (Part 2)

"The Runaway Bride"

"Smith and Jones"*
"The Shakespeare Code"*
"Gridlock"*
"Daleks in Manhattan" (Part 1)
"Evolution of the Daleks" (Part 2)
"The Lazarus Experiment"
"42"
"Human Nature" (Part 1)
"The Family of Blood" (Part 2)
"Blink"
"Utopia" (Part 1)
"The Sound of Drums" (Part 2)
"Last of the Time Lords" (Part 3)

"Voyage of the Damned" (due on Christmas Day)

*Not yet seen. I missed them on the Sci Fi Channel and the series three DVDs aren't due out until November.
Codename: CHAOS
The Mountain of Oh, once the Bald Mountain, once the Mountain of Love, is no more. I have been asked by his wife to never again mention nor make reference to a single member of her family; as her husband, he clearly falls under this prohibition. The remainder of "The Wedding Album" excepted, I have decided to honor her request; for the rest of the series, he who was the Mountain shall be known as generically as possible as The Bridegroom/The Husband while his beloved will be The Bride/The Wife. After that - POOF! - they are off-limits, out of bounds. Never again to roam these shabby corridors and hidden passages.

How do I classify The Husband's buddy and groomsman Seth? I enjoy his company quite a bit, but I am uncertain whether our association rises to the level of true friendship. I cherish the English language, but in this area is it damnably imprecise. We have precious few words to bridge the gulf between acquaintances and friends. Bugger it, Seth - not to be confused with Dr. Hee Haw, whose Christian name is also Seth - is my friend. So, my friend Seth was given the opportunity to weigh in on his Secret Base codename, but he declined. Consequently, though he is from Queens, I am going to run with The Guy's excellent codename suggestion: Brooklyn. (The Guy is also the inventor of "Brother-in-L.A.W." I envy his skill.)

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: The Wedding Album, Part 3, Mark II
I am sorry that the resumption of this series has been so long in coming. With the exception of the hot tub section, all the events herein were covered in the regrettably deleted "Part 3, Mark I." Still, this is a brand-new post, written from scratch and chockablock with my trademark literary flourishes. Enjoy!

...or else.

Lobster Bucket
Rented raiment in our arms and visions of schoolgirl-clad lovelies dancing in our heads, The Bridegroom, The Guy, K. Steeze, The Professor, Brooklyn, and I caravaned back to The Shire with a couple hours to kill before we were due to depart to the church for the wedding rehearsal, with dinner to follow. The Guy marshaled his possessions and departed for the hotel where he and The Gal, due to depart later that afternoon via jetliner, were to spent the next two nights before journeying back to their beloved Soulard.

Retreating to my temporary room, I disrobed and clothed myself in naught but my newly acquired swimming trunks, intent upon availing myself of The Shire's greatest amenity: the hot tub. (This is what I had forgotten when I wrote the first "Wedding Album, Part 3.") It was, in a word, delightful. I entered with a can of pop in one hand and a stack of comic books in the other, but soon both distractions were set aside and I laid back and let the too-warm water and the hypnotic bubbles wash over me. My only complaint originated with my most persistent foe, the accursed Sun. The fiend is always trying to blind me! But, I moved to another of the four walls and soon found myself again in the soothing shadows. No one else joined me, but a couple of my fellows came out to chat. I emerged after perhaps twenty minutes, and we whiled away the rest of our free time with idleness and pleasant conversation.

Time waits for no man and soon enough we suited up, literally, and embarked upon a journey brimming with more adventure than any of us could have guessed.

Bum-Fucking Egypt
The church that was to house the wedding was located on the outskirts of Anonymous, OH, due east of the middle of nowhere, a twenty-to-twenty-five minute drive from The Shire. We trekked to the vicinity of Anonymous on a freeway marked "North," a fact that will increase in importance with the lateness of the hour on this most fateful evening. Once off the freeway we found ourselves on country roads that in the dark of night would be most unwelcoming, devoid as they were of signs, lighting, or landmarks. We drove and drove and drove, farther and farther from civilization (or whatever passes for civilization in Ohio). At length, we reached the outer environs of Anonymous and the church. The steeple was the first non-farm structure we'd seen since leaving behind the freeway. I turned into the first entrance that presented itself and made a right hand circle around the rear of the structure until arriving at the parking lot, where we disembarked from Lumi and met up with The Guy and The Gal.

The church was ornate, beautifully so, an aged structure first erected in the first half of the nineteenth century. I delighted in greeting The L.A.W. and The Maine Man and paid my respects to my mother and father. I was surprised to see Aunt Meg, The Goldbricker's younger and only sister, at the rehearsal, but her presence made sense on two counts: 1) she is the family historian and though this was only a rehearsal my siblings and I are the only children, her only niece and nephews, on the Wilson side; she would understandably want to make as big a deal as possible of the occasion. 2) What else was she supposed to do, sit in her hotel room in Anonymous until the rehearsal dinner? We who were lodged at The Shire remained in a loose conglomeration while meeting and greeting the arriving assembly.

Practice Makes Perfect
The Reverend arrived and herded us to the front so that the business of the rehearsal might begin. He was dressed in blue jeans and a golf shirt with some manner of embroidered cross on the left breast. From the first, every aspect of the man - his garb, his speech, his body language - screamed that he perfectly fulfilled my derisive expectations for a Protestant "man of the cloth." A Catholic priest is just a man, but he is a man charged with a sacred and terrible responsibility by God's Holy Church; a Protestant minister, Lutheran in this case, is too just a man, a man of good faith who has spent a large portion of his life studying the Scriptures so as to divine God's Will, but in the end just a man with no more ecclesiastical authority than you, me, or a ficus. The Reverend lavished attention, enunciation, concentration, and affection on an interminable series of staggeringly lame jokes, which could have been forgiven as a mere stylistic difference of opinion had be not mumbled and stumbled his way through the stage directions for the wedding party.

I understand that hundreds if not thousands of weddings are taking place all across America on any given day Saturday and most of them go off without a hitch; so, the stage directions could not be terribly complex. However, we had journeyed well past bum-fucking Egypt for a wedding rehearsal, not The Reverend's personal open mike night at the Improv! Was it unreasonable to expect to be told plainly where to stand, where to walk, and when to alternate between the two? As mentioned, the mechanics of the actual wedding ceremony are not terribly complicated and we got it all sorted out in very little time, but only after suffering through The Reverend's floor show, including the "It's all about the bride!" debacle.

It's All About the Bride!
The central thrust of The Reverend's presentation was summed up by the mantra, "It's all about the bride!" I am ashamed to tell you that I obeyed his admonitions and dutifully chanted "It's all about the bride." All that I can say in my defense is that in my capacity as best man my own judgment was subservient to the will of The Bridegroom. I was not my own master; so, defending the honor of my family, all of whom were in fact there for the groom, not the bride, was not within my prerogative. (It is shocking to me how poorly understood is the genuine meaning of the word prerogative.) So, there I sat and parroted The Reverend, he the organ grinder and I the monkey.

What is the meaning of "It's all about the bride!"? No interpretation I have been able to surmise reflects well on the bride. And please note, here I shall ruminate generically on brides; none of this is meant as aspersions against The Bride. "It's all about the bride!" could be the rallying call of the Princess Cult, the frankly misogynistic notion that every little girl dreams of a fairy tale wedding, that the wedding itself is more important that the groom, a happy marriage, or an independent sense of self-worth on the bride's part. Popular culture tells us that every woman, no matter how fierce and magnificent, harbors inside herself this terrible shrew, that all of her other accomplishments pale beside the wedding, The Most Important Day of Her Life. My many distaff friends have shown me that this is, most fortunately, not true, at least not in the case of any girl worth befriending or marrying. Or "It's all about the bride!" could be the rallying call of the Huge Rock Cult, the philosophy that a man may make manifest his love only through a string of luxury purchases, beginning with a preposterously titanic diamond on the engagement ring; continuing through the wedding, where the price of the floral arrangements is of greater concern than their beauty; and culminating in the purchase of an obscene mansion for a home. Whichever way you see it, "It's all about the bride!" speaks ill of the bride, reducing the wedding from a celebration of two families coming together to a profane ritual of the bride's apotheosis.

The mechanics of the wedding were all sorted and soon the entire company decamped to the finest restaurant in Anonymous, which for purposes of anonymity we shall call "The Restaurant."

The Eats
The sky had grown black by the time we exited the church, and the clouds that had in the light of day been gathering had begun to issue forth a drizzling rain. A caravan of cars made plain the route to The Restaurant. A gasoline station was directly across the street, but I neglected to check my instrument cluster for an assessment of Lumi's fuel status. As soon as I had parked behind The Restaurant and opened the driver's door, my nostrils were filled with the divine aroma of not just pizza, but pizza of astounding deliciousness. This, I thought to myself, augured well for the meal ahead. No sooner had this flitted across my mind than I was informed that the aroma arose not from The Restaurant, but from the pizzeria next door. Thusly vexed, we made our way to our designated eatery, my heart, nose, taste buds, and stomach longing for a pizza pie.

No architectural aficionado am I, but if pressed I would classify The Restaurant's edifice as late-Victorian in style, a grand old house with a lovely wooden staircase that we alighted to our second floor dining room. We were among the first to arrive and I lead my fellows to a half-booth, claiming the plush bench side for myself. K. Steeze sat down to my left, with Brooklyn and The Professor across. The Guy and The Gal chose the half-booth to my right, oddly choosing the chair side. Aunt Meg sat across from them, saying, "I'll sit next to this guy," meaning me. I turned to Steeze and said quietly, "I hate that woman." I do not hate my aunt; she is my favorite Wilson outside of my immediate family. But once you get past her charm and wit, she supports my father's bigoted and xenophobic political beliefs, she has ever treated me with the benign condescension reserved for children who ride the short bus, and her fervent love of her adopted homeland, Texas, is hypocritical in that she exults in the independence of the Republic of Texas but glosses over Texas's part in the slave-based Confederate States of America. This was a bone of considerable contention between us before I ever suffered through my Texile. But the true tenor of my remark to Steeze was that while enjoying the company of my dearest friends, I did not relish the prospect of diverting my attentions to my relatives. Still, I made what smalltalk was demanded by protocol and even managed to learn a few new items about my family's history under the British Raj.

Our meals were of course complimentary, as were two drinks per guest, our waitress informed us. I demurred at first, but eventually availed myself of a Guinness, the relentless march of time having left behind Labor Day, and with it my summer beer, Red Stripe. Oddly enough, I demurred by citing my status as a driver, but this utterly failed to phase our waitress. A man of my ponderous bulk can drink a single beer over the course of several hours, accompanied by a meal, without feeling any ill effect, 'tis true, but even so the "I'm driving" excuse if normally a silver bullet. Ohioans are apparently big fans of imbibing and driving, as she kept pushing the beer (and later a second, which I declined); as I say, my metabolism was more than up to the task, but still, that was strange.

The three dishes on offer were chicken, steak, and fish. I decided to take a flyer on the chicken and lived to regret my choice. Never in my life had I devoured such a flavorless bird. It was as if it wasn't there! I felt the tactical sensation of the chicken in my mouth, but there was no accompanying flavor. None! I could taste my Guinness, I could taste the vegetables, later I could taste the dessert; so, i am confident the fault lay not in my tongue. Later, I heard both the steak and the fish praised. My instinct is always, in the absence of bacon, to choose cow; as I should have foreseen, I suffered for defying that instinct. Never order the chicken at The Restaurant in Anonymous, OH!

After dinner but before dessert, I spent a few minutes in the company of Aunt Robin, the wife of the older of my mom's two brothers, and her daughter, my cousin Jamie. In yet another reminder of my advanced age, I remember distinctly both Jamie's birth and the period of my life before her birth; imagine my surprise at finding myself sitting next to a high school senior, and a maiden of some not inconsiderable beauty at that. There is no Latin phrase so cruel as tempus fugate. They, too, live in Texas, and I listened with some surprise their bitterness at being among an increasingly small number of "Anglos" in their border city. Mostly, though, we made fun of Jim, Robin's husband, Jamie's father, and my uncle. Jim has a love of puns that matches The Professor's and an unrivaled love of intentionally lame jokes. Once he joined us, it was fascinating to observe how stereotypical were he and Jamie's interactions, exactly as unproductive and antagonistic as you'd imagine from a teenage daughter and her middle-aged father. I don't mean to make fun of them, but, honest to Bog, they could have been reciting lines from the cinema. Fascinating. Also, Jamie gave me her dessert, which she found distasteful. Score!

The Loot
As things were winding down, The Bride presented her bridesmaids with some manner of jewelry at which I never got a clear look, and The Bridegroom presented his groomsmen with personalized flasks. He made the unusual but endlessly appealing choice of having the flasks carved not with our names, but with a series of nicknames. Steeze's was made out to "Steeze," The Guy's to "The Guy," Brooklyn to "Sethy," and mine to "The Last Angry Best Man." Perfection is such a rare and precious thing.

Stuffed with a thoroughly forgettable meal (I really would have preferred the pizza), the party broke up, the parking lot was emptied, and the guests made their separate ways to their lodgings. In the course of just this one day already we'd driven to the airport, played Risk, been fitted for tuxedos, driven to bum-fucking Egypt, attended the wedding rehearsal, endured the "It's all about the bride!" cult, and gotten exactly what we'd paid for at our free dinner. Little did we know that our adventures were just beginning; nothing did we suspect of the perils ahead.

To be continued...

Hilarity courtesy of The Watergirl. Again, this is not representative of The Bride's attitude, it is just damn funny. And the logical extension of "It's all about the bride!"

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. XLVI - Thor Heyerdahl, the voyage of the good ship Kon-Tiki, and Kon-Tiki, Heyerdahl's bestselling account of the voyage.






This week's episode is the result of a subject suggested by my dear friend and one of The Secret Base's strongest supporters, Codename: Alistair. I owe him my thanks.

I am sufficiently self-aware to know that "The Explorers Club" will tend toward my own particular interests, handicapping to some degree the project's very mission of revealing the manifold splendors of this wondrous world. If you have any suggestions for future episodes, I welcome their transmission through the usual channels.


The Victors
A trio of familiar remarks, in a presentation patterned after the First Triumvirate. Crassus says, "Damn the Big Ten Network!" Pompey the Great cautions, "Any win you can walk away from is a good one, but we gave up twenty-two points to Eastern fucking Michigan! Why in Jupiter's name does Ron English still have a job? And while I'm glad we're 4-2 instead of, say, 1-5, whom exactly of any quality have we beaten in those two pair of victories? The next two contests, against a revenge-minded Purdue and a surging Illinois, will reveal the true character of this year's valiant Wolverines. Quirinus (and Bo) help us all." Julius Caesar exults, "You've got to have Hart! I don't care if it was against EMU, three touchdowns and two hundred fifteen yards is a grand day's work in anyone's book! And the school record for rushing yards in a career! Thank you, Mr. Hart, for all honor you've brought to that magnificent winged helmet and the invaluable service you've rendered for the noblest of all causes, the greater glory of the University of Michigan. Go Blue!"

Pompey laments, "Next season, we're not going to have Mike Hart to compensate for Ron English's defensive ineptitude. Minerva bless Lloyd, but unless the coaching staff is almost entirely revamped things in Ann Arbor are going to get much, much worse before they get better. There are dark days ahead."

Go Blue!

He Tasks Me
Credit where and when it is due: my congratulations to the vile Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame on their first victory of the season. I long ago grew comfortable with the principle that if I am to revel in the misery of my adversaries to my wretched heart's delight, I must also pay them homage when such is their due. Not that I'm happy about it, mind you; leave it to those shiftless bums in the Pac-10 to ruin everyone's good time. Bog, I hate the Pac-10.

Still, "He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him." The victory over UCLA (I spit on the Pac-10) improves Notre Dame's record to 1-5, placing Charlie the Whale alongside, oh, let's say Bobby Williams in the pantheon of coaching. *snicker* Oh, come now, maybe I am enjoying this just a tad too much. Balderdash! In the immortal words of Hedonism-Bot, "I apologize for nothing!"

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
College football season is worth waiting nine months for.

The Good: Michigan State lost! Wisconsin lost! (I cannot say exactly why I hate Wisconsin, but I do hate them so very, very much.) USC lost! Florida lost!

The Bad: Ohio State won. Ohio State won in dominating fashion. Notre Dame failed to lose. YET AGAIN, a comet failed to annihilate all the fans of Texas and Oklahoma whilst they were obligingly gathered in one place. (Rat fink comets.)

The Ugly: We gave up twenty-two points to Eastern Michigan. Oy. And please don't misunderstand me, I mean no disrespect to the eager Eagles of Eastern Michigan University.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Blues Brothers, "She Caught the Katy" from The Blues Brothers Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Who's afraid of the Cybermen?



I am.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Letters to Cleo, "He's Got an Answer" from Wholesale Meats and Fish (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Always brings to mind trivia night at a pub and/or playing Trivial Pursuit with ridiculously bright folks like Skeeter or The Professor.

"So if you want to to know about
Landlocked countries in Asia
Under the strong-arm hold of Buddhists,
It's Nepal, it's Nepal, it's Nepal, Nepal,
It's Nepal, it's Nepal, it's Nepal, Nepal, Nepal."


Freitag, 5 Oktober
They Might Be Giants, "No!" from No! (T.L.A.M.)

Believe
How do we feel about Datsyuk's appointment as one of three rotating assistant captains? Draper and Zetterberg, sure, but Datsyuk? Not to cast aspersions, but there is something about him that bears a troubling resemblance to the fiend Federov.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I had a bad shave this morning and it feels exactly like I let my razor go on for one shave too many. I hate this bane all the more as it will almost certainly lead to me throwing away my new razor while it still has a few good shaves left, out of a paranoid fear that it too be left in place past its prime. Drat!

I can't wait until the next Banzai Beard Bonanza (when I'm thirty).

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Guster, "Jesus On the Radio" from Keep It Together (T.L.A.M.)
Sputnik Plus 50
Fifty years of spaceflight. What a time to be alive! To commemorate this most momentous occasion, and to illustrate how often outer space is on my mind, here is a tour of the space themed episodes of "The Explorers Club." Enjoy and be enlightened. Fifty years of artificial satellites! Amazing! Astounding! Astonishing!

No. XLV - Sputnik 1

No. XLI - The W. M. Keck Observatory

No. XXXVII - Project Apollo, Part III

No. XXXVI – Project Apollo, Part II

No. XXXV - Project Apollo, Part I

No. XIX - The Great Moon Hoax of 1835

No. IX: The crater Odysseus and the Ithaca Chasm on sundered Tethys

No. IV - NASA's Astronaut Group 2, nicknamed "The New Nine"

Halloween's Revenge
I have not celebrated Halloween by wearing a costume in several years, far, far too many years, since October 31, 2001 if memory serves. Yes, now I recall. I attended a Halloween party at The Cove with Mrs. Sacramento (then Never Girl) as my companion; as was often the case, we were the only two singles in a sea of couples, and so had been invited as an ad hoc couple. The couples The Thin Man & Emily and Uncle Jerry & the SSG had agreed to a costume "double date." The Thin Man and Uncle Jerry were to be "T-Birds" while Emily and the SSG were to be "Pink Ladies," from Grease, I believe, having never myself seen the film. The room was tense because we had two Pink Ladies, but only one T-Bird, The Thin Man. At the eleventh hour, Uncle Jerry had decided to cross-dress alongside The Plate; his reasons for this reversal were ill-explained. Despising the SSG, I was elated by her disappointment and anger. I believe The Bradman was wearing his tremendously authentic Indiana Jones costume, as well as an incredibly self-satisfied smirk. But I digress.

When I was a lad, I was the king of Halloween, the creativity of my costumes far outstripping my technical abilities (we shall be exploring this in greater depth through the month). My costumes invariably required use of a large cardboard box. I doubt I can ever recapture that ancient enthusiasm, but even at this early date I have been invited to a Halloween function and so shall be requiring a costume. I am requesting from you, my treasured audience, costume suggestions. Nothing is too grand or too plain. I already have a stand-by costume at the ready (my Aqua-cadet uniform, I'd go as Captain Thumbs-Up); so, be fearless in your suggestions.

"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope."
Believe
Forgive the profanity, but fuck the Ducks: victory!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Idiot Box
Another one bites the dust: Pushing Daisies was a debacle. The lone survivor among this Fall's crop of "promising" new shows? Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the game of Life.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Bracket, "Warren's Song Part 8" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)
Nemo me impune lacessit.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Bellum omnium contra omnes.


Words to live by.

Parker Posey Appreciation Day
I am deeply suspicious of the sitcom format, moreso now that the American bastardization of The Office appears to have, forgive the cliché, jumped the shark. However, I shall watch the doomed mid-season replacement series The Return of Jezebel James for two reasons. Reason the first, the titular Jezebel James is played by she whom we set aside this day to appreciate, the peerless Ms. Parker Posey. Reason the second, Jezebel James is a product of the fertile mind of Mrs. Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls. The new series is doomed, more doomed than Doc Hee Haw marooned on the surface of the Sun, but I hope to enjoy it for as long as it lasts.



Doomed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Team Bachelor vs. The Marrieds
Yesterday, my old chum Danny Boy's older sister came round the house with her little boy, Tristan. The lad was dressed in his Boy Scout uniform and held in his hand a popcorn order sheet, ready and eager (the sheet, not the boy) to accept copious orders. My mom dutifully ordered some popcorn and during the chit-chat mention was made of the recent wedding and The L.A.W.'s impending nuptials. Danny Boy's sister than looked at me and said that I should not worry, that time had not yet run out and I was certain to find the a wife before too much longer.

I smiled and nodded, but what in the flying fuck was she talking about? I am twenty-eight years old, you bulbous cow! I'm not yet the aged man-spinster about whom all the old biddies in town gossip! You may be pleased as punch to be thirty and have a ten-year-old son, but when I finally sire children I want more for them than to live with you in their grandparents' house, thank you very much. My thirty-one-year-old sister is months away from marrying a thirty-eight-year-old gentleman, and I'm supposed to be panicking about being matrimonially challenged? I'm torn between the knee-jerk reaction to spew invective at her porcine bulk and profound pity for the stymied potential of her younger self. Then again, I knew Kathleen all through the youth I shared with Danny Boy; she had no potential to stymie. It is poor Tristan who should be pitied. A mother like that, the poor kid never had a chance.

The Marrieds cannot help but be tyrannical. Join the resistance! Join Team Bachelor!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Weezer, "Buddy Holly" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Far and away my favorite Weezer song.
Nunlink. Sweet fancy Moses, I love being Catholic! Why? Because I like my religion just a wee bit crazy. Ninja nuns!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Polis - Mysterious Interlude




"Ausländer"
"False Flag"
"The Putsch"
"Sakura"
"The Intrepid Lieutenant Snow"
"Chasing the Dragon"
"Echo Base"
"Samurai"
"Going Downriver"
"The Leatherstocking Affair"
"Snow Day"
"The Floating World"
"The Empire State of Mind"

The preceding stories are in no discernible order with the exception that "The Putsch" does indeed follow "False Flag."

To be continued...

No. 2
No. 1

Ricky Fitness
During Thursday's run around the hamster wheel, I hit the wall. My legs wanted to fall out from under me, my heart wanted to burst, the thought, "That's it, I'm done. Give it up and try again tomorrow" flitted through my mind. And then I had a very SKP Machine moment. There weren't any words, no encouraging slogans thrown before the mind's eye, but I felt something rising up from the recesses of my mind, something ancient yet intimately familiar. My legs were strong again because they were commanded. Some hideous strength coursed through my whole body, something stronger than I am from I know not where. Something mysterious, but which I used to feel every day during swim practice in high school. I felt that SKP Machine strength a few times during Flounder polo, when I would suddenly become the absolutely strongest man in the pool, even though W.A.P. had a good six inches on me and a body like cords of wood. No match for whatever it is inside me that made me the SKP Machine. I don't know how to summon it, I didn't experience it during Friday's exercises, but my Bog it was grand to feel that again, if ever so fleetingly.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Nirvana, "Something in the Way" from Nevermind (c, sort of)