Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the New Year's Eve
Barenaked Ladies, "Auld Lang Syne" from Barenaked For the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: All the best to you and yours in Anno Domini 2009, my friends.

"We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Duvall, "O Holy Night" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Duo.

Project TROIKA
Upon further reflection, the deadline isn't 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 4 January 2009, because two thirds of the eponymous troika live in California. The deadline is actually 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, 4 January 2009, affording me three additional hours! Thank Bog, because I may very well need them.

Grow or die.

I really like surnames with that begin with the "rho" sound.


Goldman Roh?

Future Titles
"Pharaoh of the Faroes"
"Certitude of Rectitude"

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "O Holy Night" from Barenaked For the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Project TROIKA
True and honest, I love the pressure of a deadline.

The Queue
Recently Finished
Richard Matheson, I Am Legend (and the short story "Witch War")
Caroline Alexander, The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

In Progress
Richard E. Crabbe, Suspension ***interrupted***
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale ***suspended***
various, Great Adventures with National Geographic ***piecemeal***

In the Wings
Ernest Shackleton, South
John Toland, The Great Dirigibles: Their Triumphs and Disasters (possibly piecemeal)
Sloane Crosley, I Was Told There'd Be Cake
John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise

Farther Afield*
Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books
Rudyard Kipling, The Man who would be King and Other Stories
Rudyard Kipling, Kim
Saki, The Complete Saki

Project TROIKA is just the first step. The turning over of all Project TROIKA data and materials to The Professor by the revised and much more logical deadline of 11:59 p.m. E.S.T. Sunday, 4 January 2009 completes the non-sequential Phase 2 of a much larger undertaking, the most ambitious enterprise of my life: codename CADMUS. (CADMUS is named after the mythological figure, he of the dragon's teeth, but in deference to the phenomenal Superman comics of the '90s and the work of Jack "King" Kirby from which they took inspiration, CADMUS shan't be called "Project Cadmus" or "the Cadmus Project." The leading contenders are "Operation CADMUS," "the CADMUS Endeavour," and "the CADMUS Initiative.") I need to read and I need to write. Several writing projects are already lined up for after TROIKA, and now I need to get back into prose in a serious way. There are no shortcuts here, there's nothing to do but read, read, and then read some more.

I defer to the title of a fantastically wild anime: Read or Die.

The Holidaze
The Loot
An Unfortunate Sojourn in Ohio
Eye of the Tiger

*All are recent additions to my personal library.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Duvall, "Joy to the World" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Instrumental fury, "Joy to the World" features some bitchin' guitar.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Nat King Cole, "Joy to the World" from Christmas with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Dean Martin (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "He rules the world with truth and grace."

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Bob & Doug McKenzie, "Twelve Days of Christmas" from Great White North (T.L.A.M.)


Bob McKenzie: "Okay, good day, this is our Christmas part of the album and you can play this at your Christmas parties, uh, or to yourself on Christmas Eve if there's nothin' else to do."

Doug McKenzie: "Good day, eh."

Bob: "Yeah."

Doug: "In case you thought, like, I wasn't on this part."

Bob: "Oh, I guarantee ya, you'd be on. Okay, so good day. This is the Christmas part, and we're gonna tell you what to get, uh, your true love for Christmas."

Doug: "Look out the window!"

Bob: "Where?... What are you doin'?"

Doug: "Snow."

Bob: "Wha, oh, it's the Great White North. And it's snowin', 'cause it's Christmas time. Hey, hoser."

Doug: "What?"

Bob: "Here's a quiz, quiz for Doug."

Doug: "I have my thinking tuque on."

Bob: "Yeah, right. What are the twelve days of Christmas?"

Doug: "Um."

Bob: "'Cause figure it out, right, Christmas is when?"

Doug: "Uh, the twenty-fifth."

Bob: "Right, and what's the twenty-fourth? Christmas Eve, right? So that's--"

Doug: "That's two."

Bob: "--two. And then, what's after that?"

Doug: "Um."

Bob: "Boxing Day."

Doug: "Uh, Wrestling Day."

Bob: "No. Get out."

Doug: "Boxing Day. Yeah, yeah."

Bob: "That's three."

Doug: "I knew it--"

Bob: "Then, what's after that? Nothin'!"

Doug: "New Year's!"

Bob: "Four, and what's--"

Doug: "New Year's Eve!"

Bob: "Five."

Doug. "Okay."

Bob: "Where do you get twelve?"

Doug: "Uh, there's two Saturdays and Sundays in there. That's four, that's... nine. And three other days which I believe are the mystery days."

Happy Saint Stephen's Day, everyone. Or, if "happy" doesn't quite fit the bill, whatever word would be more appropriate for the protomartyr's feast. Christmastide has just begun!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "I Saw Three Ships" from Barenaked For the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: No, I'm actually not taking a few moments out of my very merry Christmas Day to post the R.B.D.(C.)S.O.T.D., I am communicating with you from the past, via amazing time travel technology!

"I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning!

And all the bells on Earth shall ring
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,
And all the bells on Earth shall ring
On Christmas Day in the morning!

Let us all rejoice again
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,
Let us all rejoice again
On Christmas Day in the morning!

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning!"

Happy birthday, Lord Jesus.
Christ Mass
Just back from Midnight Mass. The L.A.W. and Brother-in-L.A.W. flew in this evening and, boy, are their arms tired; Mom and Dad picked them up from Detroit Metro while I finally finished wrapping everyone's presents. We enjoyed a late, late, late dinner of clam chowder and beer bread before departing for Mass. There are so few things in this world that are more beautiful than Midnight Mass.

Merry Christmas, everyone. If you've a moment, please say a prayer for peace on earth. And take what steps you may to ensure you maintain purity of essence.

* P *
* E *

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Sarah Brightman, "Silent Night" via iTunes, Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Christ the Savior is born.
Merry Christmas!
The "Arctic cold" of the past week is gone, and the mercury now sits a few degrees above the freezing point of water. The snow is as heavy as damp towels fresh out of the washing machine and on their way to the dryer. In a gentle, mocking rain, I shoveled the driveway alone, the quiet solitude that is one of the few boons of shoveling snow obliterated by our neighbors across the street and their use of what is seemingly the world's loudest snowblower.

It was a misery until a chance glance across the way brought eye contact with my neighbor, or rather, since I didn't recognize the gentleman, my neighbors' guest (and presumed relative). I gave the stranger a thumbs up, my universal signal for "Howdy," "I mean you no harm," and, in this particular case, a sarcastic "Are we having fun yet?" I gave absolutely no indication of a request for help of assistance, honest and truly. But the man was seized by the Christmas Spirit. Unbidden, he crossed the lane and bore into the crusty wall of plow-compacted snow with the world's loudest snowblower. And, with all apologies to John Henry, I protested not a wit, glad to vicariously harness the machine's power. I said, "Thank you, I sure do appreciate it."

He replied, "Merry Christmas! The spirit of giving and blah blah blah." He actually said, "blah blah blah." He pushed the snowblower (English doesn't seem to have a specific verb for this activity; perhaps "to snowblow," past tense "snowblew"?) and I shoveled and together we (most he) made short work of the last little, but difficult bit of the driveway. I thank him again, he again wished me a merry Christmas, we shook hands, and he disappeared back across the street and I tidied up the jolly havoc wreaked by the snowblower. Now that, my friends, is Christmas.

Merry Christmas! Joy to the world, the Lord is come.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Auspicious Advent
I partook of the Sacrament of Reconciliation this evening, the second time in exactly a fortnight. Father Tim was ordained in 2000 and one can tell that he strongly subscribes to the late Pope John Paul II's particularly Marian stripe of Catholicism - and that description should not be viewed as a criticism, for if I attributed my survival of an assassination attempt to Our Lady of Fátima, I'd most certainly have practiced an especially Marian form of Catholicism, too - because the penances he assigns are always heavy on the Hail Marys.

Eye of the Tiger
To combat the cold, Tiger has taken to sleeping not just near one of the living room heat registers, but with her head and front paws actually placed on the register. Odd, perhaps, but let us remember that the poor thing is, what, eleven or twelve inches tall at the shoulder? Heat rises, and she's down there with all the cold air.

Weep not for the kitty, however, lately she's shown a preference for her register over our laps, the little ingrate. I demand my feline lap furnace, by thunder!

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Santa's Beard" from Then: The Earlier Years, Disc Two (T.L.A.M.)


"Once a year my friend puts on a red suit
And hangs around with me and my wife,
Now I can't help but feeling jealous
Each time she climbs on his knee.

And she stands beneath the mistletoe screaming
For him to stand beneath the mistletoe screaming.
Now I can't help but feeling jealous
Each time she climbs on his knee.
Why must she climb on his knee?

I saw my baby wearing Santa's beard,
She kissed him once and whispered in his ear.
I saw my baby wearing Santa's beard.
I wish he would go,
He's breaking up my home!

She always had this twisted side to her,
But she'd never drag my name around town.
But lately she's been humming cheating songs
And I don't like that fat guy around.
No, I don't like that fat guy around.

I saw my baby wearing Santa's beard,
She kissed him once and whispered in his ear.
I saw my baby wearing Santa's beard,
I wish he would go,
He's breaking up my home!

I saw my baby wearing Santa's beard.
Thrilling (thrilling) Christmas (Christmas), trembling fear.
I saw my baby wearing Santa's beard,
I wish he would go,
He's breaking up my home!"

Monday, December 22, 2008

Return of The Queue?
In the abstract, I wish I knew much more about poetry. I suspect the whole of Robert Frost is pap, but I have neither the experience nor the jargon for a proper evisceration. I'd like to speak eloquently of the profundity of Longfellow. Back in the all-too-concrete world, however, I've neither the time nor the inclination to delve seriously into poetry. I have problems enough with prose. I've recently, after a layoff of nearly a year, finished Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, leaving me all the more frustrated and flustered by the trio of horrible, fatally flawed film adaptations, The Last Man on Earth (Vincent Price, 1964), The Omega Man ("The Actor" Charlton Heston, 1971), and I Am Legend (Will Smith, 2007). What is the point of an "adaptation" in which the central point of the original work is changed utterly or discarded entirely? Just make up a brand new story, you parasites! But I disgress. I'm reading the non-fiction The Endurance by Caroline Alexander, with vague notions of resuming Suspension by Richard E. Crabbe (which serves as a great inspiration for Project TROIKA, as throughout the first half I rolled by eyes at the naked clichés and thought Surely I can do better than this!) and reading John Toland's The Great Dirigibles.

Books are back, baby, though for the foreseeable future poetry will continue to take a distant backseat to prose.

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "The Man in the Santa Suit" from Out-of-State Plates, Disc Two (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "He knows, he knows, he knows, life can be funny."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. CVIII - The tughras of the Ottoman sultans.

The tughra of Suleiman the Magnificent (reigned 1520-66), who presided over the Ottoman zenith.

The tughra of Mahmud II (reigned 1808-39), who broke the corrupt power of the Janissaries.

A modern tughra, not depicting the name of a sultan.

Project TROIKA
Dezember ist die Zeit für Panik!

"December is the time for panic!," in German. Why German? Because German is a great language for panicky shrieking, and a Zeit für Panik is hardly the time for a reasonable tone of voice. Also of aid in this dire hour:

My feeling is that we're actually in pretty good shape, we're mostly just compiling all the plot mechanics and character sketches we've already devised, but those few little things left to puzzle out are the devilishly perplexing details our selves of days gone by left for Future Kevin and Future Mike. And not the bill has come due. Lousy Past Mike, always leaving all the hard stuff for Present Mike, who no longer has the luxury of pawning it off on Future Mike, thanks to a self-imposed deadline. By Lucifer's beard, if only I could get my hands on my lazy (lazier, at any rate) former self, I'd give him what for! There is much to do and not much time.

Grow or die.

You Can't Have Adventure Without Advent
Unlike the stern, righteous Father Tim, the folksy, earnest Father George always begins his homily with at least one and usually a series of lame jokes. Today, there was but one. "An honest politician, a generous lawyer, and Santa Claus are in an elevator. They spot a twenty dollar bill on the floor. Which one of them picks it up?"

I leaned over and whispered to my mother, "Santa Claus, because the other two don't exist."

Smiling like the Cheshire Cat, Father George delivered the punchline, "Santa Claus, because the other two aren't real!"

The L.A.W. and Brother-in-L.A.W., both Esq., are scheduled to arrive on Christmas Eve, weather permitting.

The Rebel Black Dot Hanukkah Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah" from Barenaked For the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Special Request
I do so love acquiring knowledge. Last evening, I happened to be curious about the etymology of the expression "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Ye olde internet obligingly yielded up an answer, and I was introduced to the brilliance of William Congreve. Unsurprisingly given the frequency of such mistakes, "Hell hath no fury..." is a slight misquotation of the following line, from the play The Mourning Bride, though for our purposes my interest lies paramountly in the front half:
Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned.
And there it is, exactly what I have been thinking and feeling since the day I was cut to the quick and kicked to the curb by my best friend in all the world, rendered with all the grace and beauty of the mother tongue at its utmost. Thus is built the towering monstrosity of my revenge, brick by brick, from only the finest lines of the glorious past.

Casus belli: "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned."
--Wm. Congreve, The Mourning Bride

Modus operandi: "That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain."
--Wm. Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
The Pogues, "Fairytale of New York" from The Best of The Pogues (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank...."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Man vs. Nature: The Road to Victory
I shoveled the driveway two days ago, and I'll shovel it again upon the morrow. I dislike shoveling, but 'tis such a small price to pay for the blanket of beauty in which the world is wrapped.

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Songs of the Day
Lena Horne, "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" from Elf: Music From the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 18 Dezember
Tony Bennett, "Winter Wonderland" via iTunes, Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day
Excerpt from an instant messaging conversation with K. Steeze, held yesterday:

Steeze: guess what i get to do on sunday
it's about a million times better than anything you're thinking
Me: Kiss Zooey Deschanel?
Go to Skywalker Ranch?

Steeze: that is a pretty good guess
okay, so maybe not that good
Me: Kiss Zooey Deschanel at Skywalker Ranch?
Steeze: hahaha
Me: If it's a million times better than that, surely this will be the greatest moment of your life.
Steeze: it's about a thousand times worse than that

The earth is heating to a boil! You, me, and everyone you have every loved is doomed! Doomed, I say! Doomed. Doomed! Doooooooooomed! Wait, this year was demonstrably colder? Um.... Brrrlink. My favorite line from the whole piece: "Computer models suggest that natural cycles may cool the Earth's surface in the next few years, masking the warming impact of rising greenhouse gas levels." (Emphasis mine.) An excellent example of cognitive dissonance: yes, yes, the hard data may clearly show falling temperatures, but the "scientific consensus" proves that temperatures are in fact rising, no matter what nonsense the thermometers are trying to sell you.

I salute all science with an enthusiastic, almost maniacal cry of "Science!," but the entire issue of human-induced climate change is so fraught with bad pop science and polemical diatribes that I have to greet the whole affair (and the claims of both sides) with a far more dubious "Science?"


The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone, "Baby, It's Cold Out There" from Elf: Music From the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Not just because of who sings this particular rendition, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is one of the best songs ever written.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Project TROIKA
"Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound by victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures."
--Wm. Shakespeare, Richard III, Act I, Scene I

We have come so far and we are so close, yet there remains so much work to be done. Now is the winter of our labors, to be made glorious summer by the New Year, and every man a sun of York.

Grow or die.

Christ Mass
With a gaggle of nascent chums and acquaintances, numbering slightly more than a baker's dozen, I journeyed to Crossroads Village last Friday. We wandered the historic buildings, ate a sumptuous buffet dinner, and road the rails for a tour of the holiday lights. 'Twas a lovely evening, made all the more so by the bitter, bitter cold; as I shivered in my parka, tartan scarf, and knit hat (bearing Otis, the mascot of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and the letters "MMB"), I dearly wished I'd remembered my Finnish ushanka, inherited from Grandpa Wilson, God rest his soul. Rare enough are the chances I have to sport it, and here I squandered a golden and easily foreseen opportunity. Drat! The carousel was a delight, and the first I'd ridden since I visited Syracuse several summers hence for Alistair's wedding. I adore a carousel.

Most pleasantly of all, everywhere my fellows and I went the Crossroads staff (paid minions, volunteer docents, or a mix of both I cannot say) greeted us warming with cheers of "Merry Christmas!" Not the insipid "happy holidays" that has so undermined the glory and majesty of the season, but hardy declarations of "Merry Christmas!" As the train rumbled along and a voice from the front car (and I cannot say if it was a locomotive or a motor coach) narrated the lights we passed, he spoke "And here's a Lutheran church with a sign that reminds of us of the real reason for the season." Sitting several cars back, the narration was thirty to forty-five seconds ahead of what I was able to see, but soon enough I spied a nativity scene bathed in the light of bright bulbs spelling out "JESUS IS THE REASON." Glorious. So, my friends, enough of the incoherent, ashamed mutterings of "happy holidays." Celebrate the birth of the Christ! Rejoice that God came before men wrapped not in His Power and Terrible Majesty, but wrapped in swaddling clothes and bearing the humblest form of all. Have a happy, happy holiday, but forget not the holy day at the heart of all these holidays, Christ's Mass.

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!

Vote For Kodos: The Kennedy Curse*
It was famously remarked in the 1962 Massachusetts race for the United States Senate that had Edward Moore Kennedy's name been Edward Moore, with the qualifications experience (or profound lack thereof) he had at the time, he would not have been considered a serious candidate for such a high office, and certainly would not have sat like a cancer in the Senate for all the many decades since. Ask yourself this: if Caroline Kennedy was simply Mrs. Edwin Schlossberg and not the last surviving child of a slain president, would not her demand to be gifted Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's seat be greeted with jeers and laughter instead of the substantive discussion it merited today? Kennedylink.

Is not electing a man to the Senate principally on the grounds that one of his brothers happens to be president and another the Attorney General antithetical to the American ethos of judging a man by his own worth and achievements? Is it not patently ridiculous to contemplate seriously appointing a late-middle aged woman to the Senate principally on the grounds that when she was a very small child her father happened to be the president and her uncle happens to be a sitting Senator? Does not all this come perilously close to violating the spirit, if not the letter, of Article I, Section 9 of our nigh-sacred Constitution?

*I mean not that the House of Kennedy has been especially cursed by misfortune, but that those people have been a curse upon America since the day Hitler's biggest fan old Joe Kennedy bought his way into F.D.R.'s good graces. Ask the shade of Mary Jo Kopechne whom is cursed, the Kennedys or the innocents caught in their destructive, conscienceless wake.

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Songs of the Day
The Brian Setzer Orchestra, "The Nutcracker Suite" from Elf: Music From the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A 7:31 medley by the ol' Stray Cat and his band of merry musicians.

Montag, 15 Dezember
Dance Hall Crashers, "North Pole" from The Old Record (T.L.A.M.)


"Sitting in the North Pole,
It is really cold,
But I'm still waiting for you.
Sitting in the North Pole,
Feels like I'm getting old,
But I'm still waiting for you.
Waiting for you."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Explorers Club
No CVII - The life and revolutionary color photography of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944).

This episode of "The Explorers Club" was suggested by Alistair, personal friend of yours truly and longtime reader of The Secret Base, without whose suggestion I might very well have remained sadly ignorant of Mr. Prokudin-Gorsky and his astonishing work. Just the latest in a long line of examples of how my life would be poorer if I did not know Alistair.

And as long as we're thinking about all the Russias...

Vote For Kodos: Obamboozled
Barring an extraordinary happenstance, Senator Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.) will be the next Secretary of State, America's principal ambassador to the rest of the world, despite her clear and undeniable Constitutional ineligibility for the office (Article I, Section 6 of the pesky U.S. Constitution). A few months hence, during the protracted and bitter fight for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Senator Clinton butchered the pronunciation of the surname of the duly elected President of the Russian Federation, Dmitri Medvedev (pictured below). She said, "Mev... Med... uh... Mevedevuh... whatever." And then she smiled. I am loathe to criticize Mrs. Clinton for stumbling over President Medvedev's name. Pronouncing Russian names, both first and last, can be a bear, pun fully intended. To this day I cannot correctly pronounce the name of my old college chum Olga, Secret Base codename: From Russia With Love. (You think you know how to pronounce "Olga," just as I did, but you don't, not "properly" anyway.)

However, there is one important aspect of Secretary-designate Clinton's behavior that gives me pause: she was defeated by Medvedev's name, fair enough, but then she added a dismissive "whatever" and smiled. Broadly. "Whatever." It is one thing to muddle through a Russian surname, and it is another thing altogether to enjoy doing so and then stop to be impressed at your own wit, especially when said wit consists of that old standard middle school comeback, "whatever." I am not troubled that the woman can't pronounce President Medvedev's name, I am troubled that she thinks pronouncing his name is a trivial matter, a source of amusement. This is the manner in which President-elect Obama intends to present America's case to the world, with a Secretary of State who says "whatever" to unfamiliar and difficult-to-pronounce surnames? Yes, yes, this will no doubt "win back" America's prestige and standing around the globe.

Addendum, 12:19 A.M.: Wait, I just got it, we're fighting fire with fire! If people are going to believe the Ugly American stereotype, then, by thunder, we're going to give them the Ugly American. It's just crazy enough to work?

The Russian Federation's pocket-sized president sez, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

I am gravely concerned about Senator Clinton's basic lack on competence on the international stage, and that's without even mentioning her baffling inability to discern whether she and her then-teenaged daughter were or were not taking direct fire from Bosnian Serb snipers. Oh yeah, I'm just bursting with confidence, Mr. President-elect.

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Michigan 91-60 Eastern Michigan.
7-2, 0-0 Big Ten

I admit to having not watched the game, but that doesn't make me a faithless cur. We've entered the weird doldrums of the college basketball season, after the tournaments that pit quality non-conferences foes against one another and before conference play begins in earnest. I am tremendously glad for Coach Beilein's comments that the valiant Wolverines, for all the impressiveness of the victories over U.C.L.A. and Duke, do not deserve to be ranked (which we are not). Three more games against opponents we dare not take lightly, and then Wisconsin on New Year's Eve to open the Big Ten schedule. I believe in the valiant Wolverines, I believe in John Beilein, and, most encouragingly, I believe our boys believe in the Beilein way.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Songs of the Day
The Ninjas, "Codename: Christmas" from Platypus (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 13 Dezember
Mu330, "I've Got This Neighbor" from Winter Wonderland (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Almost two years ago to the day, my roommate at B.T.W. South selected "I've Got This Neighbor" as the then-B.T.W. South Song of the Day. Funny story: Wayback Machinelink. Also, checkout that wayback post's comments. Bog, I miss The Guy's whimsical wit and wisdom.

Freitag, 12 Dezember
Andy Williams, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 11 Dezember
Barenaked Ladies, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" from Barenaked For the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

In Soviet Russia, name mispronounces you?

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Goggles and gloves, Ellie, a man with goggles and gloves is ready to face anything the world can throw at him."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I am contemplating a deeply philosophical post titled "Aquaman," which will have precious little to do with the comic book character.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Queen, "Flash" from Greatest Hits I (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I'm having a very Flash Gordon day and am entirely enamored of the genius of Alex Raymond. This is the last non-Yuletide R.B.D.S.O.T.D. for a while and from tomorrow 'til Epiphany 'tis all Christmas all the time. Prepare thyself to make merry!

"King of the impossible!

He's for ev'ry one of us!
Stand for ev'ry one of us!
He'll save with a mighty hand
Ev'ry man, ev'ry woman, ev'ry child
(and for the life of me I cannot decipher this last line)!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Vote For Kodos: Sweet Home Chicago
The former Republican Governor of Illinois, George Ryan, is currently in the pokey for corruption (and according to the scuttlebutt I overheard on 60 Minutes while washing the dishes on Sunday - which I mention to reinforce that I was not voluntarily watching that insult to the First Amendment - may be petitioning President Bush for a pardon). The current Democratic governor, Rod Blagojevich, has just been arrested for secular simony: Land o' Lincolnlink. (And here I should remind one and all that arrest, indictment, and conviction are all separate phenomena, not by any means one and the same.) Corruption and influence-peddling appear endemic to the I-55 corridor between Chicago and Springfield, but certainly that can't have any bearing beyond the Indiana line. Surely it is pure coincidence that Mr. Obama, the President-elect, and Mr. Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff-designate, both emerged out of the hurly-burly of Illinois politics, and that before she was a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, before she was from Arkansas, Mrs. Clinton, the Secretary of State-designate, was born and raised in Chicagoland. I for one feel immensely reassured.

Oh, and in more good news, Governor Blagojevich was an erstwhile pal of the always colorful Tony Rezko, Mr. Obama's next door neighbor in Chicago, the principal fundraiser behind Mr. Obama's fledging political career in the '90s, and currently both a jailbird and a stool pigeon. I've got a sneaking suspicion that the promised "new kind of politics" may well prove to be the Chicago machine writ large.

Note to self: the Teapot Dome Scandal would make for an excellent episode of "The Explorers Club."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
John Linnell, "Illinois" from State Songs (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Vote For Kodos: Obamboozled
President-elect Obama campaigned on "a new kind of politics," embraced by pudding-minded voters and the disingenuous tribunes of the Fourth Estate alike as "post-partisan," as if partisanship is somehow dirty and un-American. Mr. Obama wants us all to work together. So, I must ask, why was his first hire after the election Representative Rahm Emanuel to act as White House Chief of Staff? Since being elected to the House of Representatives, Congressman Emanuel's political raison d'être has been nothing less than the eradication of the Republican Party as a viable electoral force. Now, that is a reasonable goal and I don't begrudge him it. What fun, after all, is politics if it is not akin to a bloodsport? (And I freely admit, or at least sincerely hope, we have full-time staffers dedicated solely to permanently kneecapping the Democrats. Karl Rove came tantalizing close before we were, as Macmillan warned, overtaken by events.) But, the Chief of Staff is central to the operation of the White House and Mr. Emanuel will be at the center of the Obama Administration. How exactly are we supposed to enter a new "post-partisan" era with a consummate hatchet man at the center of said effort? At your peril do you underestimate the viciousness of Rahm Emanuel. Need some perspective? Imagine if Senator McCain had won the election and then selected as his Chief of Staff former Congressman Tom "The Hammer" DeLay. Emanual and DeLay are two sides of the same coin, the Chief of Staff-designate has a better reputation simply because our sycophantic press corps regards Republican ruthlessness as underhanded and Democratic ruthlessness as the height of virtue. The brave new world of post-partisanship is shaping up to look like good old-fashioned partisanship at it's most petty and malicious.

Congratulations, you're a sap.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Rogue Traders, "Voodoo Child" from the Doctor Who episode "The Sound of Drums" (T.L.A.M.)


Commentary: which The Master reveals the Toclafane invasion of Earth with a cry of "Here! Come! The drums!" followed by the chorus from "Voodoo Child." The Toclafane then proceed to decimate Mankind, in the true meaning of the word, murdering one-tenth of the human population. (Hoorah for time-traveling do-overs.)


Coming Attractions
(a) "Vote For Kodos: An Appeal to Reason, Second Half by Special Request" which will not be a thorough presentation of why Senator McCain was the superior choice to be the 44th President, but a mirror of the quick and dirty arguments of "Vote For Kodos: An Appeal to Reason."

(b) An as yet untitled explanation of why I kind of hate John McCain and want to punch him in the nose.

(c) Mumbai, possibly sporting the grossly insensitive, massively inappropriate title "Bombs & Bombay."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yes, I'm still on cloud nine about yesterday's triumph over Duke. Bog, I've missed the thrill of victory. Go Blue!

The Explorers Club
No. CVI - The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by "naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan" that made 7 December 1941 "a date which will live in infamy."

Spermlink. One would hope this means that in the long run Man will become, in the aggregate, altogether brighter and more intelligent, belying massive anecdotal evidence to the contrary. In the immortal words of George Costanza, "My boys can swim!" Seinfeldlink.


Project TROIKA
During the time of my scheduled confab with Steeze, my family was decking the halls, even though we usually do this the Sunday following Thanksgiving. (I long ago gave up trying to figure out why my mother does what she does.) I alerted Steeze of this on Saturday and we agreed I'd ring him after the house was properly ornamented for the Yuletide. I did so, but he was at a restaurant (around the time of a late lunch) and declared he'd call me once his business there was concluded. He did, but mere minutes later I was called to dinner. After the meal and disposing of the dishes, I called him and at last we had a proper conversation. 'Twas a marathon session and I am exhausted. We have covered all the broad strokes, but we are finding that the Devil does inside reside in the details. It is an entirely worthwhile slog, but a slog all the same. Three scant weeks remain until we turn the Bible, the fruit of our efforts for more than a year, over to our heretofore uninvolved partner, The Professor, for "novelization." (And I know this is not a strictly accurate use of novelization, but it's fun all the same.)

Grow or die.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Blues Brothers, "Expressway to Your Heart" from The Definitive Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Victors: Project OSPREY - Michigan 81-73 Duke (No. 4)
I can say it no better than Mr. Louis Elbel:

Hail! to the victors valiant!
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes!
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The leaders and best!

Hail! to the victors valiant!
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes!
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The champions of the West!

That was incredible! That was amazing! That was so flippin' cool!

My thanks to John Beilein for the first victory of the valiant Wolverines over the mighty Blue Devils since I was a freshman in college, exactly one week shy of eleven years ago. And, just that little bit spooky, that victory was Michigan 81-73 Duke, too.

Go Blue!
The Victors: Project OSPREY - Halftime: Michigan 32-30 Duke
Holy moley, did you see that half? That was awesome! Forty minutes, boys, make sure you play all forty minutes. Go Blue! Beat Duke! Defend the House that Cazzie Built! (Bog, I love Project OSPREY.)

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Steve Martin, "King Tut" (live) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: There's no two ways about it, Steve Martin is a genius.

Freitag, 5 Dezember
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Detroit Rock City" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I hate KISS, but I love and miss the Bosstones. Hiatus rots.

Donnerstag, 4 Dezember
Fountains of Wayne, "Little Red Light" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: My thanks to The Sardine, who innocently used the words "little red light" in an I.M. confab, immediately bringing to mind "Little Red Light." However, the following quotation should not be misread as a reference to the end of "The Endurance," my erstwhile romantic pursuit of The Sardine. "Little Red Light" is a great and universal song.

"It's not right, it's not fair,
I'm still a mess and you still don't care.
I go to work, I come back home,
But you're still gone and I'm still alone.
And the little red light's not blinking.
No, no, the little red light's not blinking.
No, no, the little red light's not blinking
On my big, black, plastic, Japanese cordless phone."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A full month since the great exercise of our democracy and still I have not adequately responded. Mumbai, the sparkling jewel of India, has been struck by a startlingly ruthless and effective terror assault, yet I have said nothing. The shuttle Endeavour challenged the heavens and returned her crew safely to Earth, with an fortnight spent in the merciless vacuum of space, but you'd never know it from all I wrote, curse my bones. Please know that I wish to comment, to opine, perhaps even to pontificate, fully and at length, but 'tis no exaggeration to say the demands on my time are presently more severe than they have been in years, and I have yet to develop a successful coping strategy. The problem was compounded in the last week by the disruptive influence and lingering bitterness of the holiday weekend. But again I rededicate myself to gifting you with The Secret Base you deserve, and extend my sincerest thanks for your treasured readership.

Bear ever in mind the following as both promise and threat: as long as I draw breath, my friends, you will never be rid of me.

This episode of "The Explorers Club" is dedicated to The Guy, with jeers and hisses.

The Explorers Club
No. CV - Vasco da Gama (1460-1524), who at long last fulfilled Henry the Navigator's ambition to reach India by sea and thus thwart the Venetian trade monopoly.

When I was a lad, a social studies project introduced me to Vasco da Gama, and I became a life-long admirer of Portugal's methodical approach to exploration as opposed to far-famed, blundering exploits of the Spanish. (That said, I still revere, though I know it to be out of fashion and politically incorrect, the Italian-born Admiral of the Seas as a giant of Western Civilization.) Between my old appreciation for da Gama; a pair of Portuguese references during the final rounds of "Who Used To Own It?" - The Guy claimed never to have known of the voyages of the man of the hour, Vasco da Gama, while Skeeter was puzzled over Taiwan's alternate and poetic Portuguese name of Formosa and yet having never been a Portuguese possession - ; an obsession with the beauteous flag of Ceuta (below), which is based on the flag of Lisbon; the enchantingly exotic and seemingly fanciful Empire of Brazil, about which I know almost nothing; and the surprising longevity of the Portuguese Empire, ending only in the last half century with the return of Goa to India and Macau to China, I find myself in the midst of a jones to cure my general ignorance of Portugal's history, both internally and globally. Were I you, I'd anticipate in the not too distant future an "Explorers Club" series about Portuguese exploration, innovation, colonization, and conquest.


Project TROIKA
"No one who speaks German could be an evil man." Dezember ist die Zeit für Panik!

Grow or die. (I don't want to die!)

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

Commentary: This past summer's "Duffmania," a bizarre and inexplicable infatuation with the actress/singer Hilary Duff, is long since past, but today indifference was molded into passionate hatred. A musical atrocity has been perpetrated with Miss Duff's new single, "Reach Out," which pillages and defiles samples from Depeche Mode's immortal "Personal Jesus." Instead of "Reach out and touch faith," the lyrics have been bastardized as "Reach out and touch me." Not for all the tea in China, you chord-rustling trollop. This usurpation I cannot abide.

Smug beggar that I am, I enjoy no other sensation in quite the same way as indignation.

Dienstag, 2 Dezember
The Ataris, "The Radio Still Sucks" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Two years hence, when I was a blue-collar hero at Delphi, a dues-paying member of the U.A.W., the only F.M. station that came in clearly was 105.5, the local "top forty" (I have no idea if that's even a valid phrase anymore) station. And yet, as contemptible as I found then-current popular music to be, it was preferable to laboring in silence (save for the sound of the machines, of course). 'Twas the first time in years that I'd heard more than fleeting snatches of the music then at the top of the charts. It was horrifying. Nevertheless, perhaps out of some morbid curiosity, since that time I have periodically checked in with top forty radio to discover what dreck the kids are putting on their iPods. I had heard the name Taylor Swift, but until yesterday I'd never heard, at least not to my knowledge, any of her music. Music, sadly, is a charitable description of what I heard. Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, the girl simply cannot sing! Not in the slightest! I've heard some incredibly lame "singing" over the years, but this set a new standard for sheer lack of ability. Wow! (And not the good kind of "wow.")

The entirety of the lyrics to "The Radio Still Sucks," which, true to form for
Short Music for Short People, clocks in at twenty-eight seconds:

"I'm really fucking sick
Of Beck and 311,
And Marilyn Manson.
I wish someone would break his fucking neck.

And what about Bush?
And lame-ass Oasis?
And talk about pretentious,
Why don't they just blow England off the map?

Every now and then
I turn it on again,
But it's plain to see that
The radio still sucks!

Every now and then
I turn it again,
But it's plain to see that
The radio still sucks!"

The bands may have changed, but the radio still sucks.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Elvis Costello, "Veronica" from Spike (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: There are times when I think Spike might be my favorite of Costello's albums.

Sonntag, 30 November
Barenaked Ladies, "Carol of the Bells" from Barenaked For the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I am debating Christmas music policy. Should I feature yuletide tunes throughout December? (An idea blown to hell by the above R.B.D.S.O.T.D.) Only during the Twelve Days of Christmas, though they fall after Christmas Day, as a nod to tradition? Only religious music during the Twelve Days, with the Santa songs and such beforehand? I need protocol to which to hew!

Samstag, 29 November
Sarah McLachlan, "Building a Mystery" (live) from Mirrorball (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I am ever so much more fond of the live version of "Building a Mystery" than the studio version. Sarah doesn't exactly rock, but she rocks moreso live.

Freitag, 28 November
John Barry (probably not Monty Norman), "The James Bond Theme From Dr. No" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: After a fortnight's delay, I finally saw Quantum of Solace! Proper analysis to follow.

Donnerstag, 27 November
Ben Folds, "You to Thank" from Songs For Silverman (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: For the second year in a row, I was sorely tempted by Green Day's "Macy's Day Parade," but elected to select a song with "thanks" in the title, though a tune not nearly as earnest as last year's. Wayback Machinelink.

Mittwoch, 26 November
Reel Big Fish, "I'm Her Man" from Monkeys For Nothin' and the Chimps For Free (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I don't have a girl. I don't have a girl to defend zealously and jealously, I don't have other guys trying to horn in a my girl because I don't have girl. Yet from the moment I woke up last Wednesday there was never any question that "I'm Her Man" would be the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. Life's a funny old thing, isn't it?

"I can see you looking down her shirt.
I can see you looking up her skirt.
Only gonna tell you once,
Only gonna tell you once to just get back!

You better stay away from my girlfriend,
You better stay away from her.
I'm just giving warning
So you get no broken bones.
You better leave my girl alone.


I can see you looking down her shirt.
I can see you looking up her skirt.
I'm only gonna tell you twice,
And ask you really, really nice.

You better stay away from my girlfriend,
You better stay away from her.
I'm just giving warning
So you get no broken bones.
You better leave my girl alone."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. CIV - The life and voyages of Matthew Flinders (1774-1814), popularizer of the proper noun "Australia."

Am I alone in thinking the above portrait of Captain Flinders bears a resemblance to the actor Rufus Sewell?

Also, I assure you this episode of "The Explorers Club" is in no way related to or inspired by the upcoming motion picture
Australia. The last several episodes have all highlighted the careers of underappreciated explorers, to serve as a drum roll to an important event in the history of "The Explorers Club," coming your way very soon. Just say "no" to Baz Luhrmann, and open your mind to the splendor of exploration!

Project OSPREY
Halftime at the Kansas-Syracuse game, Jayhawks 41-30 Orange(men). One day, I really would love to hear Dick Vitale read the telephone book. Hoorah, the second edition of Project OSPREY is in full swing!

Update, 12:51 A.M.: Holy cow, Syracuse won in overtime. Crumbs, I should have watched the second half.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mu330, "Dropping the Ball" from Ultra Panic (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Dropping the ball is the one thing I do best."

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Victors: Gloomy November
Melodrama is not my aim, but "grieving" would be the best word for my humor and attitude in the wake of this year's football season. I am grieving for the calamity just endured, grieving for the joy and fun now absent that for so long was assumed to be a natural part of this time of year, grieving, I am not ashamed to admit, for myself and all that I have invested in the triumphs and travails of the valiant Wolverines. The agony of defeat is not a blow or a laceration. It is an ache, a tightness and a soreness and a melancholy that stays and stays and gloats that it will never go away. (The gloating rites include a mocking little dance that must be seen to be believed.) Gods above and below, what a price I would pay never again to have occasion for this dismal mood.

Special Request
In the midst of this gloom, I could really use my best friend. But then, to his great glee, the Dark Bastard reminds me that I don't have a best friend anymore. Bog, I miss having a best friend; I don't so much miss my erstwhile best friend, my fury precludes my missing that Judas, but I miss the notion of a best friend, that inimitable source of comfort and replenishment. I wonder if I shall ever have another best friend. I'm not musing about my emotional accessibility or any such namby-pamby tripe, I'm honestly wondering if such a bond is even possible between people who meet and forge a friendship as adults. I certainly hope and choose to believe that it is.

So, to my gloom add a goodly portion of doom, and not Dr. Hee Haw's patented "I'm doomed!" brand of smile-inducing, joyful doom. Dire, doomy doom, like meeting a moosey fate. Doom and gloom, boys and girls, and never before have I been able to muster so little enthusiasm for Thanksgiving. Our guests from Ohio are set to arrive Wednesday evening; their departure cannot come too swiftly. Family has rarely seemed such a burden. Tomorrow should be jolly, but the days thereafter will be abysmal.

"If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,"
--Kipling, "If-"

I'm working on it, boss, I am striving so mightily.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Josie and the Pussycats, "I Wish You Well" from Josie and the Pussycats: Music From the Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Soundtrack of a satirical movie about a fake band notwithstanding, Josie and the Pussycats is hands down one of the best rock albums I own.

Sonntag, 23 November
The Misfits, "Mars Attacks" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Mention The Misfits to me and I don't actually think of the band, not at first. No, I think of the ubiquitous black hooded sweatshirts (paraphernalia of the band, yes, but the black hoodies are far more widespread than the music, at least in my experience, and thus have taken on a life all their own) and the storyline from Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Nos. 7-9, "The Misfits"), to which I was introduced by my pal and fellow Blue Tree Whacker Ki-El. I've even got an idea for a parallel Superman story, titled "Supernumeraries."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Victors: Ohio State 42-7 Michigan
3-9, 2-6 Big Ten

Remember well the words of Bo Schembechler, the words printed inside our football jerseys now that all uniforms are supplied by Adidas, "Those who stay will be champions." This is not a promise of clear skies ahead, not a prediction of rich rewards and easy pleasures. It is instead a nearly Churchillian declaration and quite akin to "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." Those who stay will be champions. Not today, perhaps not even tomorrow, but in the fullness of time those who stay the course through adversity, who do all they are asked, who give all they have to give, will triumph. They will conquer. They will prevail. They will be champions.

Those who stay will be champions. And I believe in Rich Rodriguez.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "Little Brown Jug" from Hurrah For the Yellow and Blue (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily." Cheers!
The Victors
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height.
The game's afoot:"
--Wm. Shakespeare, Henry V, Act III, Scene I

Go Blue!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Victors: To the Bitter End
The Agony of Defeat
Purdue 48-42 Michigan
2-7, 1-4 Big Ten
After the debacle against Toledo, I looked at the schedule and concluded Purdue was our single best chance to win another game before the end of the season. And, hey, at least the offense showed up in surprising and thrilling new ways. The hardest part to swallow was the official end of the bowl streak, as the lose eliminated us from potential bowl eligibility. I called an old marching band comrade and told her I wouldn't be attending the first party I'd been invited to in I don't know how long. My mood for the rest of the day made me fit company for neither man nor beast.

The Thrill of Victory
Michigan 29-6 Minnesota
3-7, 2-4 Big Ten
Fielding Yost's ghost, 29-6 is a respectable score over Minnesota even in a normal year! How in the blue blazes did Nick Sheridan manage to forget that he's Nick Sheridan and play like a real quarterback? Old Douglas "I Shall Return" MacArthur was right, in sports as in war, "there is no substitute for victory." We've lost an awful lot this year, and I am referring to much more than just our win-loss ratio (Wayback Machinelink), but, by Jove, we've held to the Little Brown Jug!

The Agony of Defeat
Northwestern 21-14 Michigan
3-8, 2-5 Big Ten
Crumbs, Nick Sheridan remembered who he is. And as has happened so very often this season, we played fairly well for much of the game, but a clutch of mistakes withing a few fleeting moments rendered moot the entire effort. If only the scholarly Wildcats hadn't scored those two touchdowns in such quick succession.... (If only I had The Shadow's power to cloud the minds of men....) I was not additionally stressed by the ballyhooed affliction of our first-ever eight-loss season; to me, 'twas captious hogwash. Losing to a M.A.C. team? Bloody awful. A losing season? Disastrous. No bowl game? Bog's honest truth, I nearly wept. Losing eight games for the first time ever? Who cares, that's just meaningless mathematics. The '58 and '62 squads won only a single game apiece. The 1881 Wolverines were winless, an unblemished 0-3. There is a distinction between scores and numbers, and verdammt numbers do not matter in sports.

The Thrill of Victory
In the looming contest between the valiant University of Michigan Wolverines and the hated "University of Ohio State" Buckeyes, I don't give a tinker's damn about their obvious superiorities and our glaring inferiorities. We are Michigan and we stand ready to do battle with the ancient foe, the champions of ignorance and arrogance, they who believe might makes right. We may be defeated, we may very well be beaten soundly and pitilessly, but we shall remain unbowed. Now and forever, it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Hail! to the victors valiant!
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes!
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The leaders and best!

Hail! to the victors valiant!
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes!
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The champions of the West!

Go Blue!

Project OSPREY: The Victors
(No. 10) Duke 71-56 Michigan
Drat! Ospreylink. I watched the first two-thirds of the game before the beginning of Stargate Atlantis, and at times we looked pretty good. Unfortunately, they looked like Duke pretty much the whole time, and our "pretty good" isn't going to cut the mustard against the Blue Devils. Still and all, a lovely stint in the Big Apple, the valiant Wolverines bested one top ten team and put in a solid effort against a second in as may nights. It shall be interesting to see how both teams have progressed when Coach Beilein and company host Duke in the dank of Crisler Arena in a fortnight's time.

My paternal grandmother, God rest her soul, was an alumna of Duke University; so, I feel both a certain affection for the Blue Devils and an irrational disdain for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. However, there is no question that my paramount loyal is first and always to the University of Michigan.

Go Blue!

Why "Project OSPREY"? It's a codename, it's not supposed to have any real meaning. (And in that regard the codename "Project TROIKA" is flawed, as it will after the New Year be a collaboration of the trio of K. Steeze, the Professor, and yours truly, The Last Angry Man. What can I say? Cedar Point instilled in me a love of the word troika.)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Catch 22, "Supernothing" from Keasbey Nights (T.L.A.M.)
Project OSPREY: The Victors
Michigan 55-52 U.C.L.A. (No. 4)

Holy cow: Madison Square Gardenlink. I know that this sort of upset is exactly why the games are played, because any given team can beat any other given team on any given night. And I know that throughout his career John Beilein has fared mysteriously well against the Bruins. But still, holy moley! By all indications, U.C.L.A. should be a pretty good club this year, while we're... well, you all know the state of Michigan basketball over the last decade, we're cellar dwellers. So, hip hip hooray! Can't be sure about tomorrow, be happy today!

Go Blue!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. CIII - Robert Peary and Matthew Henson, the first men to reach the North Pole, 6 April 1909.

Bugger the mewling of the naysayers.

Ricky Fitness
Some rat fink was using my regular locker this afternoon. And when I got back to the locker room after running and lifting, he'd left the locker door wide open. Just swingin' in the (entirely proverbial) breeze! He's not only a rat fink, he's a slob! And there I was, using some other, clearly inferior locker like a schlub. Bog, I detest that lousy rat fink slob.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Escape From the A-Bomb House" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "If you could see inside my head / Maybe you'd understand."

Mittwoch, 19 November
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Superstar" (live) from Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Matt Skiba, "In Your Wake" from Mailorder for the Masses (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Matt Skiba is one-third of the Alkaline Trio, or as my erstwhile pal The Plate used to say, in a clever play on the band's connections to the Motor City, the "Al Kaline Trio."

Hell's bells, when was the State Theatre renamed "The Fillmore"? How sad. In the musical sphere, San Fran should ape Detroit, never the other way around. I'm only mildly irked by this travesty, as the State has never been as high in my affection as Saint Andrew's Hall or the Majestic Theatre. (Differences in scale render meaningless any comparisons to the Magic Stick, The Shelter, or Alvin's.)

Montag, 17 November
Jonathan Winters, "In Harm's Way" from Crank Calls (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I suggest you make the call. Otherwise, you're in harm's way. In harm's way. H-A-R-M-apostrophe, harm's way. Get it? Uh huh huh." Begin John Wayne impression. "You'll get it, or else. The Duke'll crush ya."

Sonntag, 16 November
Tally Hall, "The Whole World and You" from Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "No one's better than you."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Bruce Lee Band, "Superman" from The Bruce Lee Band (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Superman, can you save me from my own insecurities?"
Lies, Damned Lies, & the News
First and foremost, my congratulations to General Dunwoody: Four-starlink. My bone to pick, as signaled by the title, is with the B.B.C. Plain, simple General (four stars) is a higher rank than Lieutenant General (three), Major General (two), and Brigadier General (one star), but it is neither the "US army's (sic) top rank" nor the "US army's (sic) highest rank." Above General there exists the five-star General of the Army, a rank available only during a declared state of war, contingent on an Act of Congress, and not seen since the demise of General of the Army Omar Bradley in 1981, but yet persisting as a higher rank than four-star General. Yet even General of the Army is not the highest rank in the U.S. Army. Though he only ever wore four stars, John J. "Black Jack" Pershing was in 1919 awarded the rank of General of the Armies and later declared officially senior to the Second World War-era Generals of the Army: George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, "Hap" Arnold, and the aforementioned Omar Bradley. Finally, in 1976, George Washington was retroactively promoted to General of the Armies, senior to General of the Armies Pershing and indeed every Army officer part, present, and future. So, there are two ranks higher than General Dunwoody's, General of the Army and General of the Armies. Plainly demonstrated, the self-appointed tribunes of the Fourth Estate cannot be counted upon to properly fact-check an article; due more to complacency or arrogance I cannot say. Just something to bear in mind as we move forward.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Stars My Destination
Godspeed, Endeavour: Countdownlink.

Special Request
I entreat you each and all to head out to your local cinema forthwith and see Quantum of Solace, the latest motion picture adventure of James Bond, 007. Sadly, despite being a more ardent Bond fan than any of my kith and kin, I shan't be seeing the twenty-second official Bond film for at least a fortnight. Some relatives of mine who dwell in Ohio are coming to Grand Blanc for Thanksgiving and they requested that we all see Quantum of Solace together over the holiday weekend. My mother agreed on our behalf and only informed my father and me after the fact; certainly, I could have fought against this fait accompli, but I did not adjudge the victory worth the cost. And I am bound by honor not to see the film on the sly. So, here I sit and stew, deprived of the most anticipated film of the Fall for the sake of people I despise. Ah, well, more fuel for the engine of my revenge, an appropriate segue back to Quantum of Solace.

"If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,"
--Kipling, "If-"

It's a work in progress.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the day
Tally Hall, "Be Born" from Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. CII - The life and travels of Leo Africanus, the name by which Hasan ibn Muhammed al-Wazzen al-Fasi (c. 1488-c. 1554) is best known in the West.

This image is included last because there seems to be some debate as to whether this is a depiction of Leo Africanus or one of his contemporaries, but this compares favorably to the other, purely fictional visages yielded up in the course of my internet image search.

Ricky Fitness
I had to use the second crummiest treadmill today. If my elephantine bulk is running more swiftly than you, you are wasting everyone's time on that treadmill; so, stop tying it up and give someone more deserving the chance to use it. Greedy fiends!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Littlest Man Band, "Sunshine" from Better Book Ends (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "And it's about time I tried."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

For my most recent birthday, I received a very nice watch of Swiss manufacture, a watch entirely more suitable to dressy and semi-dressy occasions than my heretofore standard kit plain-as-can-be Timex, though not quite as fancy as I'd have preferred. Of late, though, my latest Timex has developed an irksome fog problem. The underside of crystal fogs up under unpredictable conditions, sometimes when it is cold, other times not; sometimes when the air is dry, other times more moist. This is plainly unacceptable, but what am I do do for a wristwatch during the period required to pry justice from the miserly hands of Timex? Enter the birthday Wenger. I have now begun to wear it regularly, which for me entails every waking hour in which I am not showering, cooking, washing the dishes, or exercising.

I've taken quite a shine to my birthday gift, and I believe it signals a new era in wrist fashion. First, though not anytime soon, I must acquire a watch with a metal bracelet, instead of a leather strap. Then, a chronograph, before I finally acquire a certified chronometer. Shoes have never interested me terribly, but mayhap I shall become a man with a watch for every occasion, the perfect timepiece to complement any ensemble. Yes... yes, I think I quite like that. And it certainly seems a better use of my time and future resources (once I have cleared my many debts) than joining Jeremy Piven's crusade to restore to fashion the ascot.

To the shock and horror of my fanboy brethren, I've never yet read Watchmen, but I may yet become known as the Watch Man. (And though I have grown rather fond of my Wenger watch, there is no chance I would forsake Victorinox and switch to Wenger for my Swiss Army knife needs: Victorninox acquired Wenger in 2005, though it continues to market knives and other products under both names. Don't be fooled and think the Swiss never takes sides, being neutral just means they are only ever on their own side. The Swiss are nothing if not cunning, except maybe conniving.)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Strapped For Cash" from Traffic and Weather (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I heard "Strapped For Cash" as the background music to a promo for Marketplace, a radio show - airing on, but not produced by, N.P.R. - that has recently adopted the pandering and infuriating slogan, "Financial news for the rest of us." And here I thought N.P.R.'s job was to raise the level of the discourse, silly me. Anyway, after that no other song had a chance. Hoo-rah for the proliferation of Fountains of Wayne.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day
The Great War ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month Anno Domini 1918. All who know me know that by my preference for Armistice Day over Veterans Day no disrespect is meant to the brave men and women who have served under the Star-Spangled Banner in the defense of liberty. John McCain or John Kerry, Bob Kerrey or Bob Dole, Oliver Stone or Oliver Wendell Holmes, those who survived and returned home to make sure the sacrifice of their comrades-in-arms was not in vain (and we pay tribute to our honored dead on Memorial Day) deserve a Veterans Day, but we do ourselves a grave disservice if we allow it, as we have, to overshadow and obscure Armistice Day. At our great peril do we let flit out of mind the unfathomable tragedy of the War to End All Wars. Steel yourself and stare square in the eye the horror of the Great War - the trenches, the gas, the tanks, the moonscape of no man's land - lest we forget.

Living Memory.

"In Flanders Fields"
by John McCrae

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.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Charles Ives, "He Is There!" from The Pity of War: Songs and Poems of Wartime Suffering (T.L.A.M.)

Lest we forget.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Phoenix is dead, though hope remains that it may arise in imitation of its mythological namesake: Phoenixlink. Please read beyond the "Fiery plunge" headline for a nice recounting of the probe's contributions to our knowledge of the Red Planet. Farewell, Phoenix, and know that a place is reserved for you in the Machine Valhalla, the reward that awaits all good robots who serve faithfully and well their human masters.

Also, holy cow, alkaline soil on acidic Mars? Snow? Perchlorate? The Phoenix has been a revelation! Wayback Machinelink. Boy howdy, am I looking forward to the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory after the New Year.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Semisonic, "Surprise" from All About Chemistry (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Nominations of the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. are being accepted, now and always. The Secret Base might as well be called the Mike Wilson Ego Experience, but that doesn't mean I don't want you, the readers, to feel involved and invested, too. Open my ears to something new.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. CI - James Holman (1786-1857), the Blind Traveler.

I include this last image not as an endorsement of Jason Roberts's book, which I have not read, but because I quite like the cover illustration. (And because there is not a surfeit of Holman images.) Don't judge a book by its cover, but feel free to judge the cover on its own merits. Looking mighty fine, I'd say.

Bonus topic: echolocation by humans.

The Victors: Michigan 29-6 Minnesota
3-7, 2-4 Big Ten

This is a year in which we've lost darn near everything: a forty-year coaching lineage, the nation's longest streak of consecutive bowl appearances, a four-decade streak of non-losing seasons, and suffered our first defeat at the hands of a Mid-American Conference opponent. It's still great to be a Michigan Wolverines, but it cannot be denied we've lost a measure of our pride. But, by Fielding Yost's ghost, the valiant Wolverines have held on to the Little Brown Jug! Little! Brown! Jug!

Say what you will about the luckless Golden Gophers, a win is a win, and beggars can't be choosers. I've had my fill of the agony of defeat, thank you, I much prefer the thrill of victory.

Go Blue!

Project TROIKA
Steeze phoned yesterday to say he was going camping this weekend and would be incommunicado during today's scheduled confab. As we're in the compiling phase (creation is still occurring, but as a secondary activity), this should not prove an obstacle to the Project's completion. We did notice that on a plot point over which we'd disagreed a week hence we'd switched positions; I'd been convinced by his argument and he by mine. We'll try again next week and hope the third time's the charm.

Grow or die.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
John Williams, "Theme From Jurassic Park" from Jurassic Park: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 8 November
Cab Calloway, "Minnie the Moocher" from The Blues Brothers Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 7 November
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Taco Grande" from Off the Deep End (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A winning combination of puns and Spanglish, made all the more impressive as the song upon with "Taco Grande" is based is well-nigh unlistenable.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Ninjas, "Snow Day" from Platypus (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 5 November
The Chinkees, "Human Race" from The Chinkees... Are Coming! (T.L.A.M.)


"We are the human race,
We are so bright,
We are much stronger.
Making changes everyday
For people all around us."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Kodos
You fools will rue this day.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Abyssinian Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" from The Civil War: Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)
Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Kodos
I entered the line outside my polling place at 7:08 A.M. and walked out the doors of my old elementary school at 8:02 A.M., both Eastern Standard Time (a pox be upon Daylight Saving Time). That was the longest I've ever spent at the polls, but let me also stress that this was the very first time I ever voted so soon after the opening of the polls, 7:00 A.M. sharp here in Michigan. Thus, I cannot say with any accuracy whether the lines were longer or shorter than is typical for so early in the day in a presidential election year.

Though a firm believer in the secret ballot, I also proudly call myself a Republican and am entirely comfortable telling you I voted for Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin. In a similar vein, below is a funny funny picture I found on The Bradman's Facebook (a.k.a. "FaceSpace" or "MyFace") page:

Don't be bamboozled by Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Don't be Obamboozled!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote For Kodos: An Appeal to Reason
I have said too little, I have allowed myself to be too distracted by and too involved in the petty concerns of my daily affairs, and thus I have neglected my duty to you, my treasured readers. This has not been all in vain, as for the first time in the better part of a decade I know I am acting in the right, and I know this because the knot in my stomach that for so long I assumed was just a natural affliction of living has all but dissipated, but still; you lot have stood by The Secret Base for six, now closer to seven years, and your loyalty deserves my best effort.

At the eleventh hour, then, let me implore you not to make a dreadful mistake. Let me beseech you not to allow your good judgment to be bamboozled by a witch's brew of indefensible pessimism about the present and irrational optimism in some intentionally vague notion of "change" and societal transformation. Let me beg you not to vote for Senator Barack Obama. I make my argument in two parts, one of them taken directly from Senator Obama himself and the other divined by mine own reason.

The Question of Experience
Senator Obama is an impressive man who meets every Constitutional qualification to execute the Presidency of the United States. But being a natural born citizen of thirty-five years of age and residing inside the United States for fourteen years are the minimum qualifications for the office, distinct from being the least we should expect from a major party candidate. He has no executive experience to speak of and extremely scant legislative experience; during his three terms in the Illinois Senate, he voted "present" almost one hundred thirty times, and he has served less than one term in the United States Senate.

Spencer Abraham served a single term in the United States Senate representing Michigan. Does this mean Abraham has the experience and judgment to be the leader of the free world? Senator Obama's defenders explain that the majority of the "present" votes were examples of crafty political scheming; I salute his cunning, then, but that is hardly an explanation why he refused to stand up and be counted on issues important to the people of the State of Illinois. You may refute that the senator was reelected by his constituents, indicating that they felt well-served by him. Former Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick was reelected by his constituents; did this mean they were well-served by him? In 2004 President Bush became the first president since 1988 to be win a popular majority (not just the plurality he won in 2000 or that President Clinton won in both 1992 and '96). He was reelected by his constituents: does that mean you feel you've been well-served by him during the last four years? Voters more often than not reelect incumbent politicians, seemingly regardless of performance in office.

And why go on at length about Senator Obama's experience in the Illinois State Capitol? Because he has almost no record in the United States Senate. In late 2004, Senator-elect Obama declared that he would not seek national office and provided a clear and sober explanation.

You know, I am a believer in knowing what you're doing when you apply for a job. And I think that if I were to seriously consider running on a national ticket I would essentially have to start now, before having served a day in the Senate. Now, there are some people who might be comfortable doing that, but I am not one of those people.

The Senator's logic is unassailable. Were he to seek national office in 2008, he would have to start campaigning in 2004, without having any experience in the U.S. Senate. And, because he would not have any experience in the U.S. Senate, he would then be applying for a job without "knowing what [he's] doing." He would not run for national office in '08 because to do so he'd have to forego accruing experience in the Senate to be out on the campaign trail. Yet here we sit in 2008, without Senator Obama having foregone accruing the necessary experience in the United State Senate in favor of spending his days and nights out on the campaign trail. Unless you are able to identify a flaw in then Senator-elect Obama's argument, I submit that Mr. Obama would, as President, not know what he's doing. Before you wager the integrity of your conscience on this man, ask yourself what he has done in the last four years that have readied him to be the most powerful human being on the planet.

Michigan Economics 101
The people of the State of Michigan believe Senator Obama would be a good steward of the American economy. This fact in isolation should be accepted as proof he would not. Consider: the people of Michigan supported the structuring of the state's economy around heavy manufacturing. The people of Michigan supported significant unionization of the manufacturing workforce. The people of Michigan opposed for the last twenty-odd years any effort to mandate an increase in the fuel efficiency of American-made motor cars. Michigan has been in a one-state recession, and arguably a one-state economic depression, for most of the last two decades. This is largely because manufacturing jobs have fled the state. Manufacturing jobs have fled the state because even considering transportation expenditures and the capital required to construct new factories overseas, unionized Michigander workers were expensive to the point of inviability compared to foreign labor. And even within the domestic market American motor cars have continued to lose market share to foreign competitors in part because of their markedly inferior gasoline mileage.

At every step along the way, the people of Michigan supported this economic strategy wholeheartedly. The people of Michigan supported putting all of the state's economic eggs in the single basket of heavy manufacturing, supported pricing themselves out of the labor market with extravagant labor union-coerced compensation and benefits, and opposed efforts to raise the fuel efficiency of U.S. automobiles. The people of Michigan were the authors and stalwart supporters of our own economic demise. And now the judgment of these same people steadfastly supports Senators Obama and Biden's economic program. If that does not give you pause, I cannot imagine what would.

The Long and Short of It
Even at this late stage, Senator Obama remains a largely unknown and completely untested quantity. The only significant policy decision he has made outside the realm of rhetoric is to choose as his running mate Senator Joe Biden, the most blatantly racist candidate for president or vice president since Governor George Wallace in 1968; few seem to have noticed since apparently it is acceptable in the 21st century American context to be racist against South Asians. What little we do know about Senator Obama suggests that he would be the most ideologically left-wing chief executive since President Carter's disastrous administration of 1977-81, a period which saw our ally Iran converted into our most persistent foe, among numerous other debacles. If you think a President Obama would "unify" the country and administrate in a bipartisan fashion, you are fooling yourself and ignoring the man's own history.

Do not vote for Senator Obama because you oppose the policies of President Bush. Mr. Obama's suggestion that Senator McCain is running for President "Bush's third term" is pure propaganda. Do not vote for Senator Obama because of the past eight years, consider only the next eight years. Barack Obama is a well-intentioned man, and with such intentions is paved to road to ruin. Mr. Obama is a gamble the United States of America can ill afford.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Vote For Kodos: Lies, Damned Lies, & the News
I am so very weary of the implication that there are no good reasons to oppose Senator Obama's election, and that racism is the sole remaining, albeit indefensible, reason to vote against him. So very weary, yet I remain defiant. I oppose Senator Obama not because of the color of his skin, but because of the content of his character (as expressed through his politics). If you want to suggest otherwise, have the decency at least to look me in the eye when you accuse me of racism.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Last One Out of Liberty City" from Hello Rockview (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The opening line, "Last one out of Liberty City, burn it to the ground," inspired the curse that was screamed - screamed at the top of our lungs - during my return from Texile, as the paramount reason for a stop along the side of the road as soon as the border into Arkansas was crossed, "Last one out of Texas, burn it to the ground!"

Sonntag, 2 November
No Doubt, "Sunday Morning" from Tragic Kingdom (T.L.A.M.)