Thursday, January 31, 2008

Project OSPREY
I had hoped to watch tonight's Indiana-Wisconsin game (cursed Badgers!), but with my person ravaged and morale depleted by the dreadful sick, I could not muster the strength to endure a whole game of that prattling toad Musburger. Duke 92-72 North Carolina State proved to be a suitably entertaining replacement, especially given the thrilling second half. Woot!

Vote For Kodos
Who cares that Senators Clinton and Obama were debating this evening, I loves me some bread and circuses!
Super Week or Super Weak?
Sunday plays host to what is possibly the U.S.A.'s largest secular holiday, the Super Bowl. Tuesday will find patriotic Americans flocking to both Republican and Democratic primaries (and un-American caucuses) all across the country as part of "Super Tuesday." So, I am now soliciting suggestions for what we can do to make next Thursday, 7 February '08, "super." Fire away, and remember that no suggestion is too outlandish.

The Dreadful Sick
I am coughing less frequently, but still quite violently. I hope this is merely my body's attempt to expel the disease and not a sign of a worsening sickness.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dance Hall Crashers, "Whiskey & Gin" from Honey, I'm Homely! (T.L.A.M.)
The League of Nations
Another proud moment for the United Nations Organization: vandalismlink.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Dreadful Sick Kneecaps Ricky Fitness
Perhaps I overestimated my recuperative powers, for though my cough has lessened in severity vis-a-vis the now former splitting headaches, I am yet acutely aware that something is... not right in my lungs, which would seem to preclude a run on the treadmill tomorrow unless the morn finds my condition much improved. Rats!

Vote For Kodos
My man Rudy and Johnny Edwards the proverbial fair-haired boy have bitten the dust. More opinion and analysis in the following days; so, for now I leave you to ponder the following (alphabetical order seemed the most fair method):

President Hillary Clinton

President John McCain

President Barack Obama

President Mitt Romney

Democracy is a dizzying, thrilling, exacerbating, gratifying, mesmerizing, rewarding, and ever so terribly perilous a way to govern a nation, especially a martial, economic, and cultural colossus such our beloved America. Wheeeee!

Mercurylink. Oooo, neat!

Though it seems stupendously unlikely, the fanciful part of me hopes the MESSENGER probe finds some evidence of the hypothetical planet Vulcan. (Not to be confused with Star Trek's fictional planet Vulcan.)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Lagwagon, "Randal Gets Drunk" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Crescent
This is a tricky issue: Turkeylink. On the one hand, I am a strong supporter of the free expression of religion, meaning I believe women should be allowed to wear headscarves if they please. On the other hand, though, practical experience shows us that when Muslim populations are given greater freedom of public expression of religion, such as in Iraq, the rights of women are swiftly, substantially, and lamentably curtailed. So, if Turkish women are allowed to wear any type of headscarf they choose at universities, I do not feel it is inappropriate to wonder how much longer those same women will be allowed to attend universities altogether.

And so, despite its horrific record of human rights violations towards the Kurds and continued denial of the Armenian genocide, on this issue I place my faith in the Turkish military to be the guardians of not just secularism, but sanity.

As as aside, it took centuries for Christendom to learn to treat women with respect and dignity, and the Good Lord knows we still have much work to do. The task of dragging Islam kicking and screaming into the 21st Century will be the work of generations.


The Victors
This weekend was a bitter pill to swallow: Friday, a loss to the dastardly Spartans in hockey; Sunday, a loss to those same bastards in basketball; and the brightest ray of sunshine, though still pretty obscured by clouds, was Saturday's last-minute, miracle tie in hockey. Bog, I hate the Michigan Agricultural College, or whatever they are calling themselves this week.

Go Blue!
The Dreadful Sick & Perchance to Dream
I sleep with a rotating stand fan in operation at the foot of my bed. This is for both the soothing rhythm of the whirling blades and because I actually enjoy being slightly cold. However, due to my current cold, last night I forewent the fan. Because of last week's single digit temperatures, I had added a Michigan (Go Blue!) blanket on top of my usual combo of a sheet and a fleece comforter.

I did not sleep well and for what seemed like hours I found myself in the middle of a vast melee of late Medieval/early Modern combat (lots of swords and pikes, but also a vast array of primitive firearms). I tossed and turned and by the time my first alarm clock blared I felt as if I'd been awake for a dog's age.

And I was hot, a singularly unpleasant feeling first thing in the morning. Not the delightful winter's morning warmth that comes from huddling under a extra blanket or two, but something altogether different. I took a relatively cold shower, but not too cold so as not to exacerbate my periodic coughing and accompanying splitting headache. As is my habit, upon returning to my room after my shower I turned the fan to my desk and air-dried as I checked my email and the overnight headlines. To no avail. I was sweating as I shaved, sweating as I ate breakfast, and sweating as I set foot out into the cursedly spring-like morning air. Not sweating like a Wilson, mind you, but mildly and persistently perspiring. It really did not resolve itself for several hours, until well into the late morning.

So, that was a lovely bonus to go with my cough, headache, and inability to exercise. I feel that I am on the mend now, and hope to return to the gymnasium by Thursday, Bog willing.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "Drunk Again" from Cheer Up!

Commentary: Featuring lead vocals not by front man/guitarist/lead singer Aaron Barrett, but by trumpeter/back-up singer little Scotty Klopfenstein!

"'Cause now, I'm drunk again,
The means to my end,
And I'm scared of myself.
'Cause now, it's all the same,
The places and names,
And I'm scared of myself, again."

Monday, January 28, 2008

A day late, but never a dollar short.

The Explorers Club
No. LXII - The assassination of British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval by John Bellingham on 11 May 1812.

I had the house all to myself from Saturday morning to Sunday evening; so, as I ate my dinner of hamburgers and apple sauce and watched the Michigan-Michigan State hockey game on Saturday (Whew! I've rarely been so happy to come away with a tie.) I decided to forgo my habitual glass of milk for a Heineken. And then after that I had another. Should I be worried by this new penchant for drinking alone? Thus this week's alcohol themed Songs of the Day.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Smash Mouth, "Beer Goggles" from Fush Yu Mang (T.L.A.M.)

Sonntag, 27 Januar
Allister, "Boysenberry" from Dead Ends and Girlfriends (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I'm gonna drink 'til I don't know my name."

Samstag, 26 Januar
Reel Big Fish, "Beer" from Turn the Radio Off (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 25 Januar
Feist, "1234" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Ricky Fitness
I have one of those awful head colds that comes with perpetual headache so that every cough is a lightning bolt straight to the brain. Also, I am dizzy all the time, even when sitting down. These are not conditions conducive to challenging exercise.

Vote For Kodos
During President Bush's State of the Union address this evening, I said to my father, "I really hope that under his suit and shirt he's wearing a T-shirt that says, 'I'm the Decider.'" Bog, I'm going to miss W.
Happy Birthday!
Happy birthday to The Sardine, a.k.a. Codename PANDORA!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quantum Leap
The next James Bond film has been titled, Quantum of Solace: Quantumlink. Sure, sure, it doesn't have as much sex appeal as Casino Royale, but it is a better nonsensical title than A View to a Kill (which is, by the way, a disappointing waste of Christopher Walken as a Bond villain). For my money, though, there is no better titled Bond film than From Russia With Love. And as if the title wasn't enough, From Russia With Love also features Robert Shaw as the assassin Red Grant, agent of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.!

The idea has just occurred to me that Parker Peppard's band King of Prussia must have if not a full-length album than at least a signature song titled "From Prussia With Love."

In hoops, the dastardly Spartans comfortably bested the scholarly Wildcats, Michigan State 78-62 Northwestern. Drat! I hope the football brilliance of Northwestern versus Northeastern is repeated in basketball. Pure gold.

Martian Manhunter
I am the first to admit that I am very impressionable. Thus, due to the narration of the new story arc in J.L.A.: Classified, "That Was Now, This Is Then," by none other than "J'onn J'onzz, the justly famed Manhunter From Mars," for today at least I have largely set aside thoughts of Project TROIKA and indulged myself in my own fanciful plans for my favorite Martian.

I have given a codename to the self-christened Z'imm* J'onzz, the facet of J'onn who refuses to reincorporate with the whole at the conclusion of "Little Green Men" and goes on to menace the people of the earth. After giving serious consideration to the Mad Martian, the Green Doom, the Martian Menace, and the Green Meanie, I have settled on the Martian Master, both a reflection of Z'imm's Martian supremacist views and a tip o' the hat to The Doctor's (from Doctor Who) great rival, The Master.

Malefic (Ma'alefa'ak J'onzz) - "The Devil Made Flesh"
Martian Master (Z'imm J'onzz) - "John Carter of Mars, Pa."
A'monn A'mokk - "Return of Saturn"
V.U.L.T.U.R.E. - "Flight of the V.U.L.T.U.R.E.," "The Jungle"
~The Faceless (Ch'all Ch'andrum)
~The Buzzard (Rohit Rao)
~The Alienist (Fu Xiao-wei) - "Little Green Men"
~Scorch (Aubrey Sparks)
~Effigy (Martin Van Wyck)
~Firefist (Lyle Byrnes)
~Arson Fiend (George Tweedle)
~Kid Inferno (Jerry Harris)
~The Red Vulture
Cenotaph (Cay'an)
Mr. Mind - "Manhunters Are From Mars, Worms Are From Venus"
Clankers - "The Callistan Menace," "Clanking Doom"
Bastards of Mars - "The Vulcan Affair"

Wayback Machinelink.

*Codename CHAOS
The Martian Master, a.k.a. Z'imm J'onzz, a.k.a. John Carter of Mars, Pa., is in name, appearance, and temperament a loving homage to the star of Invader ZIM, ZIM (who has not in fact achieved the august rank of "Invader" in the Irken military), not a sidelong reference to Daddy Dylweed, who operates under the handle "Zimm." So, why call the Martian Master Z'imm with two M's and not simply "Z'im"? J'onn J'onzz, A'monn A'mokk, Ma'alefa'ak J'onzz, and even Jemm, Son of Saturn, that's why.

Gods of Mars, my Martian Manhunter will be staggering in its resplendent magnificence.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Robots One, Humans Zero" from B is for B-sides (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master;
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

Yesterday's short excerpt prompted a positive reaction, and I thought I'd present the full text as a token of my thanks. Last reprinted in full at The Secret Base on 25 June 2004.

The War of Civilization
To paraphrase Samuel Clemens, the reports of the imminent overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan by jihadist terrorists are an exaggeration: Wazirilink.

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

Commentary: "I'm in the business of misery." Though I disdain the band My Chemical Romance, credit where it is due, the power of the phrase to follow is undeniable, let's have three cheers for sweet revenge. Hip hip. Hooray. Hip hip. Hooray. Hip hip.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ricky Fitness
"If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!"

I've recited those lines, the conclusion to Kipling's "If," to myself over and over inside my head during the last two days' runs.

"If" is sheer brilliance from stem to stern and I fall short of nearly all the criteria therein, but in this one small way I am, in the words of a writer I admire greatly, a Man. Bully for me.

Project TROIKA
After a lull over the holidays and a bit of a creative hangover, progress has resumed apace. I constantly remind myself that collections of quirks and behaviors are no substitute for nurturing and revealing a character's personality, but thanks to a strict adherence to Chekhov's Gun, each quirk is not a personality-substitute, but a lens through which that facet is magnified and expressed.

The sensation of working with a partner is still new and unfamiliar, but I quite enjoy it, and for more than the novelty. 'Tis a tad early to exclaim, "Hip hip hurrah, let's have a parade, Steeze and I are on the same page!," but I am pleased with how we seem to be playing each to the other's strengths.

Project TROIKA: Grow or die.

The Victors
Wisconsin 64-61 Michigan. Moral victories rot, but we really did put up quite a fight tonight against the pesky Badgers, a nationally ranked club. By Fielding Yost's ghost, our valiant Wolverines are slowly but steadily improving under Coach Beilein's system; things are off to a rocky start, but I do believe the future is looking brighter than at any other time since the Fab Five were sophomores. For all that, though, moral victories still rot, especially to the pesky Badgers, whom I despise. (Well, I despise their football team, which kind of pollutes the whole university. Get bent, Wisconsin!)

Go Blue!

But, hey, the Kentucky-Tennessee game was a hoot! I will never forgive the University of Tennessee for daring to have a football stadium with a higher seating capacity than Michigan Stadium, even if only for a single season. Hubristic fiends! "You want to get nuts? Let's get nuts!" There are a good twenty or thirty yards between the western edge of the Big House and Main Street into which the stadium could expand. And believe you me, if we have to the University of Michigan will compel the City of Ann Arbor to reroute Main Street! The Big House is the biggest house, now and forever! A pox upon Tennessee! A plague upon the prideful Volunteers! Kentucky 72-66 Tennessee. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, you orange-clad buffoons.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
John Williams & the London Symphony Orchestra, "Airplane Fight" from Raiders of the Lost Ark - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: When I was a kid, I thought that wicked looking flying wing was an actual type of Nazi-era German warplane. Only later were my illusions shattered when my pouring over of my father's many books on the Luftwaffe produced zero evidence of such an aeroplane. Knowledge is a curse, a horrible, horrible curse.

Montag, 21 Januar
Dan Potthast, "Same Page" from Eyeballs (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Dan Potthast, Mu330 front man, a.k.a. Dan Posthaste, a.k.a. Steve Roelle, the long lost Roelle brother (at least within B.T.W.).

Sunday, January 20, 2008

'Twas a busy blogging weekend.

The Explorers Club
No. LXI - The fearsome A6M Zero.

The Victors
"Ready? One, two, three, four, FIVE! We want... moooooooooorrre GOALS! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! It's all your fault! It's all your fault! It's all you fault! It's all your fault!"

As I watched last night's college hockey game, Michigan 5-1 Notre Dame, I wracked my brain trying to remember if the vile Fighting Irish had worn those rather cool looking gold helmets back when I was a season ticket holder at Yost Ice Arena, and though I was leaning toward the negative, I could not summon a remembered image of any other Notre Dame hockey helmet and so had to admit that I was simply unsure. But then the helpful broadcast analysts chimed in that the golden helmets, modeled after those of the vile Fighting Irish football team had been introduced by the current head coach, who is only in his second season. Loathe though I am to credit Notre Dame in any circumstances, I have to applaud their choice of helmet designs. The vast majority of hockey teams treat their helmet design as an afterthought, if it is thought of at all. Kudos to the vile Fighting Irish for bucking that trend.

Michigan's ice hockey helmets are modeled after the famous and fabulous winged football helmet and have been for the past twenty-odd years.

Go Blue!

Honolulu Blue Nevermore
This has been a very odd N.F.L. season for me, as I haven't had a team of my own for whom I could root. I hope to adopt a new team before next season, but trying to do so this year, both mid-season and while I was still mourning my former love for the Detroit Lions, seemed fraught and ill-omened. That said, in today's games I hope to see the Green Bay Packers triumph over the New York football Giants and the New England Patriots prevail over the San Diego Chargers.

I want to see the Patriots reach perfection, 19-0, to add yet another feather to the cap of Michigan man Tom Brady, the golden boy, but at the same time I would not mind seeing Brett Favre, the old warhorse, capture another Vince Lombardi Trophy. Even at this late date there is still much to like about the No Fun League.

Vive la France
We must never forget the sorrow of the Great War, especially since there are so few living reminders left: au revoir et merci.

Lest we forget.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long" from Even Worse (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Curiously, despite the song's title, the repeated lyrics are clearly articulated as "This song is just six words long," a phrase of seven words' length.

"This song's got nothing to say,
But I'm recording it anyway.
I know if I put my mind to it,
I know I could find a good rhyme here."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I have decided to resurrect my interest in/fondness of college basketball this season, and to that end I have already watched the lion's share of two games, Purdue 74-67 Illinois and Maryland 82-80 North Carolina, and portions of several others, including Tennessee 74-69 Ohio State and Kansas State 75-54 Texas A&M. And in spite of my loyalty to the Big Ten, I confess I smiled while watching the final seconds of Ohio State's defeat. Buckeye scum.

As soon as I am done here, I shall return to Duke-Clemson, at least until I am, I hope, interrupted by the Michigan-Notre Dame hockey game at The Palace. My paternal grandmother, God rest her soul, was an alumna of Duke University; so, much to Mrs. Sacramento's (an alumna of U.N.C.) dismay I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Blue Devils.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "Secret Weapon" from Secret Weapon (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "You are your own secret weapon."
Perchance to Dream
Saturday is the one day of the week that I can really and truly sleep in. Sure, I don't climb out of bed until 10:00 A.M. on Sundays, but I have to pop out of bed and into action right at the stroke of ten if I am to shower, shave, dry off, eat brunch, wash the brunch dishes, and get properly dandied up before leaving in time to get to noon Mass. Waking up to a ticking clock is not "sleeping in." Sunday is the Lord's day, but Saturday, oh Saturday, belongs to me. Between the time my first alarm clock roaring to life at 9:50 this morning and I finally put my feet on the floor at 10:47, I had three dreams, or more properly snippets of three distinct dreams.

In dream the first, my house was infested with the Aliens from the Aliens films, though not nearly so deadly nor frightening as their cinematic counterparts. If you have Aliens in your house, who you gonna call? Ray Stantz, Dan Aykroyd's character from Ghostbusters, appeared and expertly dispatched the Aliens using his Proton Pack and Gun, which doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. Though I must say that it was undeniably cool to see his effortless feats of derring-do.

Dream the second is the least complete of the three, consisting of a single image, The Sardine, a.k.a. Codename PANDORA, in an itsy bitsy teenie weenie I-cannot-for-the-life-of-me-swear-with-any-degree-of-certainty-to-its-color polka dot bikini. This is the dream in which I would like to have longest dwelt; so, of course it was by far the briefest. Drat!

In dream the third, a group of British schoolchildren were on the beach of a Greek island, possibly Crete but I cannot be sure, under attack by German soldiers. And I cannot say if these were the Kaiser's men from the Great War or the Fuhrer's from the Second World War. There were lots of explosions, including many in the surf, sending jets of water high into the sky, casting a misty rain over the whole tableau as the water fall to earth. I honesty cannot say if the children and their headmaster were trying to flee into the sea or storm onto the beach, but they didn't seem to be making any progress toward either goal. At length, a heavy metal placard flew in from Bog knows where and struck the headmaster in the neck, gashing him deeply and knocking him unconscious. Remember, kids, the lesson of the story is that even in the midst of an assault by the German Heer, there is nothing more dangerous than flying signage.

If I had my druthers, there'd be for less Hellenic beach combat and more bikini beach frolicking, let me tell ya.

Cue the flung spray and blown spume, I feel a combined Sports Night/Star Trek reference in the offing.
The Victors
Brrrrring! "Hey, goalie! It's your mom! She says... you suck!" Yostlink. Sweet merciful crap, I hope tomorrow's game at The Palace is on television.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ricky Fitness
Yesterday, on a lark I swam in lieu of running on a treadmill. Though I pounded out fewer than a thousand yards before wearily hoisting my carcass out of the pool, I was so tired that I forwent lifting entirely. I crawled into bed last night before 11:30 P.M. and feel into a deep slumber as soon as my head hit the pillow. The water is a harsh mistress.

Possibly as a lingering effect of yesterday's swim, I slept in this morning; so, instead of exercising before work I had to go after. I found that the gents in the locker room are far more gregarious in the afternoon, and though there were certainly more people using the gym than during my normal sessions, my worst fears of overcrowding were not realized and I claimed a treadmill without any difficulty. And I had a really good run, too. Bully for me!

Also, I've added a fifth arm machine to my weight routine, bringing the totals to arms: five, legs: two, torso: two. I am pleased with the increasing size and solidity of my arms.

Vive la France
Compare the romantic conquests of Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, and Nicolas Sarkozy, current President of the French Republic. President Clinton cheated on his wife with Monica Lewinsky, a not terribly comely lass who at the time of their liaison was a government employee, making their affair not simply distasteful but blatantly unethical. By contrast, after lawfully divorcing his second wife, President Sarkozy has landed the gorgeous Carla Bruni, a former fashion model: Cozy with Sarkozy. Vive la France, indeed.

We could all learn from this man.

Vote For Kodos
Tomorrow, South Carolina holds a primary for the Republican Party and Nevada holds voter intimidation-friendly caucuses for the Democratic Party. Voting on a Saturday?! That's damned un-American! Just what I'd expect from South Carolina, a thoroughly contemptible place and the first state to secede from the Union, but as a fan of the decadence and conspicuous consumption of Las Vegas, that latter-day Babylon, I must admit some disappointment in Nevada. Voting on any day other than Tuesday, I am appalled.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish and Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, "Dress You Up" from Duet All Night Long (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Historically, I have treated "rock 'n' roll" as the preferred spelling. I think, however, that I shall henceforth adopt "rock & roll." Thanks, Zolof!

Donnerstag, 17 Januar
The Blues Brothers, "I Can't Turn You Loose" (opening) and "I Can't Turn You Loose" (closing) from Briefcase Full of Blues (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The true-life Rodents of Unusual Size? Mega-fauna is a constant source of delight and enchantment.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Ditty Bops, "Bye Bye Love" from Moon Over the Freeway (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Hello emptiness, I feel like I could die."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On Sports Night, Casey McCall's best friend and best girl are named, respectively, Dan Rydell and Dana Whitaker. Think there's anything Freudian to be made from the single letter's difference between the names Dan and Dana? Something along the lines of George's man-love for a She-Jerry on Seinfeld?

Vote For Kodos
Today is the 15th of January. The first balloting occurred on the 3rd of January, twelve days - shy of a fortnight - hence. The general election is not until the 4th of November, nearly ten months distant. I am glad Mitt Romney, former Governor of the detestable Commonwealth of Massachusetts, won today's Republican primary in the great State of Michigan for the simple reason that the triumph keeps Mr. Romney in the race. History tells us that whomever wins the Republican and Democratic nominations for the presidency, one of those two people is all but guaranteed* to be the forty-fourth President of the United States, arguably the single most influential and powerful person on Earth (which is to our knowledge the only inhabited spot in the universe, making the President an even bigger deal). And as I said, the first ballots were cast a scant twelve days ago. Choosing the major party nominees is a grave responsibility, and I for one favor almost anything that retards the process, allowing the staggeringly uninformed electorate to scrutinize more closely the prospective leaders of the free world. Who would argue against allowing cooler, more deliberate heads to carry the day? Governor Romney has now carried two states, Michigan and Wyoming; Senator McCain one, New Hampshire; and Governor Huckabee prevailed in Iowa. Mayor Giuliani and Senator Thompson have yet to truly contest any state. Let the politicking continue! And maybe, just maybe, we'll find the right man for the job.

*Death is an omnipresent possibility. If the President-elect perishes, the Vice President-elect is sworn in as President on Inauguration Day, the 20th of January.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the day
MxPx, "Chop Shop" from Secret Weapon (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: On first blush, I prefer Secret Weapon to the preceding album, Panic. Interestingly and perhaps/perhaps not coincidentally, I am none too fond of Mu330's Ultra Panic. Mayhap "panic" is a jinx? gift certificates: the gift that keeps on giving.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Messengerlink. We must unlock the mystery on Mercury's magnetic field and the tiny world's proportionally titanic internal dynamo! Kuiper's belt, I love N.A.S.A.! New Horizons is on its way to the PLANET Pluto, MESSENGER (properly, ME.S.S.EN.GE.R.) is spirally toward Mercury in perilous proximity to the Accursed Sun, and Opportunity and Spirit continue to trek across the Martian landscape. Thank you, faithful robots, you've made your human masters very happy.

In conclusion, Pluto is a planet. Science!

Vote For Kodos: Kang Plays the Race Card
Never mind those remarks I made the evening of the detestable Iowa caucuses (Wayback Machinelink), I won't be voting for Senator Obama, not even if Governor Huckabee (boo! hiss!) is the Republican nominee. This brouhaha over Senator Clinton's so called "racist" remarks, and Mr. Obama's refusal to rebuke his subordinates, has discredited utterly the Senator from Illinois's claims to be anything other than a cynical, craven conniver. For shame, sir.

Potentially voting for Senator Obama was only ever an emergency option. If, Bog forbid, Mr. Huckabee does capture the Republican nomination, I cannot in good conscience vote for a third party candidate; I may simply have to abstain. I'll be only too happy to vote for Senator McCain, Governor Romney, or Mayor Giuliani, though. My allegiance has always belonged to the G.O.P., the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Leon Redbone, "Winter Wonderland" from Elf: Music From the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The snow is back and by the end of the week afternoon temperatures are supposed to climb no higher than the teens! O happy day!

Fondly Fahrenheit, indeed.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LX - Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008) and Tenzing Norgay (1914-1986), the first men to summit Mount Everest, the top of the world, on 29 May 1953.

Rest in peace, gentlemen, and thank you.

Fun fact: The late Sir Edmund was born fifty years to the day before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to set foot on the Moon during Apollo 11.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Lederhosen Lucil, "Meine Augen" from Tales From the Pantry (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The German title translates into English as "My Eyes."

"He would be happier,
If I were unhappier,
But I am not,
And so he is."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Everything is better when prefixed by the word "space." Pope? Good. Space Pope? Crocodylus Pontifex! Fog? Pretty great, but "space fog"? Dazzlingly cataclysmic! Foglink. Also, even though Smith's Cloud won't properly collide with the Milky Way for millions upon millions of years, I'm glad the fireworks are going to occur ninety degrees distant around the galactic circumference. Star formation is a wonder of the heavens, but there is no safe way to be proximal to such titanic forces. Best to observe indirectly and from a mind-boggling distance.


As a side note, fog is one of those things that I find bizarrely fascinating. It's essentially a cloud, but hewing closely on the ground? Byeh? Plus, "fog" is one of the better words in the English language. Fog... monkey? Fog Monkey, Fogmonkey, Fog-Monkey, Fog-monkey? (Because "monkey fog" sounds like an obscure, equatorial disease.)

Beware the fury of the Fog-monkey!

Fear and Loathing in the Strait of Taiwan
Electionlink. What I find particularly interesting about this piece is the B.B.C.'s use of the "Kuomintang" spelling of the name of the K.M.T., commonly known here in the West as the Chinese Nationalist Party. The K.M.T. was the governing power in China until it lost the civil war to the Chinese Communist Party and quit the mainland in 1949. The Mandarin Chinese name for the Nationalist Party is transliterated into English as "Kuomintang" using the 19th Century Wade-Giles romanization scheme. However, Wade-Giles has been superseded by the pinyin romanization scheme virtually everywhere but in the Republic of China (Taiwan). Under pinyin, the name of the Nationalist Party is rendered slightly differently as "Guomindang," but still shortened to K.M.T.

Now, why use Kuomintang instead of the Guomindang? Yes, Guomindang is not as widely recognized, but only because Kuomintang has persisted as an anachronism. For example, which version to you recognize, the Wade-Giles Mao Tse-tung or the pinyin Mao Zedong? The Wade-Giles Pei-ching or the pinyin Beijing? During first the Falklands War and now the ongoing liberations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the B.B.C. refused to use "our troops" to describe Her Majesty's Armed Forces, instead using "British troops." This was done, it has been claimed, so as to maintain journalistic objectivity. While I disagree with this reasoning as pompous and indefensibly disloyal, I respect the B.B.C.'s moral stance, however misguided. They don't want to take sides? Fair enough. But then why Kuomintang over Guomindang? Yes, Guomindang is preferred by the bloody-handed dictatorship of People's Republic of China while the democratically-ruled Republic of China prefers Kuomintang, but Guomindang is also consistent with the accepted pinyin system, the accepted international standard.

So, what if any point is the British Broadcasting Corporation attempting to make? While I strongly sympathize with Taiwanese aspirations of formal independence, such favoritism would be unbecoming for such high-falootin' neutrals. Sentimental attachment to the begone era of the Empire represented by Wade-Giles? Disdain for the P.R.C.'s systematic repression of journalists? Or is it that Kuomintang and Guomindang are no more different than to-may-to and to-mah-to?

Well, you all know me, I long for the day that the Chinese people will, to use Mao's own words against him, "stand up" and throw off the shackles of the P.R.C. So, if Auntie Beeb is using "Kuomintang" to undermine Beijing, then she and I find ourselves in accord and in common cause.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dance Hall Crashers, "Setting Sun" from Purr (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: D.H.C., The Hippos, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Potshot, so many great ska/ska-core bands either officially gone or on interminable "hiatus." Thank Bog for the persistence of The Aquabats!, Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug, and a few, far too few scattered others.

Freitag, 11 Januar
The Dickies, "Howdy Doody in the Woodshed" from Short Music For Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I have thoughts and experiences that I wish to relate to you, but I can feel that my muse has left me; so, rather than inflict upon you monumentally poor writing, I shall now retreat back to my dryer-fresh laundry, which is ever so in need of a folding, and wish you and yours a good night.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Lederhosen Lucil, "Throwing Up Leaves" from Tales From the Pantry (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I really don't listen to Lucil nearly as often as I should.

Mittwoch, 9 Januar
Barenaked Ladies, "One Week" (live) from Talk to the Hand: Live In Michigan (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Two Canuck songs in as many days? And here I am without a passport. Whatever am I to do should the urge to sojourn to the Great White North come upon me?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Hubble Space Telescope may very well be the best idea ever: Hubble trouble.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "First Day of the Rest of Our Lives" from Before Everything & After (T.L.A.M.)
The Losers: Big Ten Shame & Infamy
Verdammt Buckeyes. And my thanks to Ohio State for giving those Cajun bottomfeeders plenty of impetus for their delightfully witty fourth quarter chant, "S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!" T.O.S.U. is the new Oklahoma; I don't care how good the hated Buckeyes look next year, they should be barred from the B.S. Bowl for at least the next five years, just to keep them from further embarrassing themselves, and by extension the rest of the conference. Those S.E.C. pukes will pay no mind to Michigan's triumph over Florida, they'll just point to Ohio State's twin failures as ironclad proof of the S.E.C.'s superiority, if not outright supremacy. O how I hate the Buckeyes!

Another spectacular bowl season for the Big Ten, 3-5 after Ohio State's nationally televised flogging. My congratulations to Michigan, Penn State, and Purdue; thanks for nothing Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and *scoff* Ohio State. There's always next season? There's always next season.

The Victors
Oh, well, at least we beat the unholy snot out of Appalachian State in wrestling this past weekend.

Go Blue!

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Victors: Big Ten Pride & Loyalty
Last year's B.C.S. "B.S. Bowl" was a paradox, simultaneously a no-win scenario and a win-win proposition. No-win: I hate both T.O.S.U. and the University of Florida and was sickened by the notion that one of them would be proclaimed the "national champion." Win-win: if Ohio State won, it would be both a laurel in the Big Ten's cap and a humiliation for the filthy Gators; if Florida won, at least the hated Buckeyes would go down to ignominious defeat. The latter proved that case, but my joy at T.O.S.U.'s degradation was tempered by the baleful apotheosis of the fiendish Urban Meyer. And before the game I was so torn between hatreds that though I made a public declaration of my cerebral preference, my heart was genuinely uncommitted: Wayback Machinelink.

This year's B.C.S. "B.S. Bowl" has helped me clarify my thinking. I harbor no ill-will toward Louisiana State University beyond a general disdain for the entire State of Louisiana, the Napoleonic Code-loving bastards. (English common law rules!) I do, however, loathe the Southeastern Conference (the S.E.C., not to be confused with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, also the S.E.C.), especially the national media's slavish devotion to the S.E.C.'s mythical "speed advantage" against the "slow" Big Ten. Odd that Florida's "speed advantage" didn't seem to keep the valiant Michigan Wolverines from making Tim Tebow eat his Heisman Trophy, no? But, I also hate the hated Buckeyes. So, from whence does the aforementioned clarify come?

I got sick of being a hypocrite. I have long boasted that when it comes to bowl season that Big Ten loyalty extends to every member of the conference expect the dastardly Spartans. A man is only as good as his word; so, I must either accept the consequences of my claims and root for an Ohio State victory tonight, however reluctantly, or stop making any claim to being a loyal son of the Big Ten. And that made the choice very clear. Texile was horrible and I am glad beyond all reasoning to be returned to my beloved Michigan. This is where I am from, this is where I always hope to live, and this is where my body will be laid to rest 'til kingdom come. Among the many facets of my home is the presence of the Big Ten Conference. I have been as wronged an anyone by the conference's greedy construct the Big Ten Network, but that abomination's advertisements do hit upon one essential truth. This is Big Ten country.

So, tonight I will be rooting for Big Ten, represented by those cretinous curs, the hated Buckeyes of THE Ohio State University, against the generic Tigers of Louisiana State University. Come on, Tressel, you monster, just pretend that Les Miles is Lloyd Carr and befuddle him with your evil genius. (Sorry, Lloyd, but it's true.)

Go Big Ten!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "Hate You" from Monkeys For Nothin' and the Chimps For Free (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: And I really do hate you scarlet-and-gray-clad goons. I just need you to do this one thing for me. Or do it for yourselves; for your illiterate, inbred parents; or for your whorish girlfriends, what do I care? Just get it done.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LIX - Zheng He (1371-1433), who might very well have changed the course of history beyond all recognition had his people only possessed the mettle to persist in voyaging into the unknown seas beyond the end of their knowledge.

Note: Take care not to confuse Zheng He with the Three Kingdoms-era general Zhang He.

On Christmas Eve, there are three Mass options at Holy Redeemer: a 4:00 P.M. children's Mass in the church, a 4:15 regular Mass in the adjacent H.R. Family Life Center, and the 12:00 A.M. midnight Mass. My personal preference is for midnight, but I'd rather go with my family at an undesirable time than by myself at a more favored time. My mom doesn't like going to Mass at the Family Life Center; so, every year we sit through the awful children's Mass. And note: I hated the children's Mass even when I was a child. Kids mumbling their way through the Scriptures? I hate that. A choir of screeching worm-children "singing" the glories of God Almighty? Endlessly annoying. This year took the cake, though, because the verdammt music teacher at the Holy Redeemer School accompanied the children on his *gasp* guitar.

During my freshman and sophomore years at Michigan, I occasionally attended Mass at Saint Mary Student Parish, very near to campus. The pastor at Saint Mary had for a time been assigned to Holy Redeemer and the church was a five-minute walk from West Quad, my dorm; so, the first time I walked through the doors I immediately thought I'd feel right at home. But then the other shoe dropped. The music during Mass consisted of a trio of yuppie-hippies with guitars and a tambourine. And the Host was not the thin wafers with which we are all familiar, but hand-torn pieces of a thick wheat bread. Disdain is as good a word as any for what I felt. Later, during the years at 1213, I would drive to Saint Francis of Assisi, a family-dominated parish for the townies of A2, on East Stadium rather than face the nearer horror of Saint Mary. I love guitar music, I am listening to a bitchin' electric guitar solo by Aaron Barrett of Reel Big Fish as I type this, but guitars have no place in a Catholic church. At all.

But before this post descends into inarticulate hatred of damn, dirty hippies, today's Mass, celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, redeemed the Christmas Eve guitar debacle. Accompanying the choir was *drum roll please* a violin! Nothing like a violin to class up the joint. Plus, today's Mass featured everything but the kitchen sink, including a odd but beautiful mimed dance routine by the eighth grade student group. They were dressed all in black and wore identical white masks over their eyes and noses and danced to a recorded rendition of "O Holy Night." Odd, but beautiful, which is itself a somewhat fitting description of Catholicism.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Steppenwolf, "Sookie, Sookie" from 16 Greatest Hits (Alistair)

Commentary: My congratulations to Alistair, whose New York (football) Giants today defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to advance to the divisional round of the N.F.L. playoffs. Though we exchange heated words during and regarding the football season, let there be no mistake that I consider myself most fortunate to count Alistair among my friends and to be counted among his.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Everything Old is New Again" from Maybe You Should Drive (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "All around the world, people going mad...."

Freitag, 4 Januar
They Might Be Giants, "Everything Right is Wrong Again" from Then: The Earlier Years, Disc One (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Stars My Destination
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the lunar voyaging companion of the Orion spacecraft, the Altair lander: Altairlink! Project Constellation, Orion, Altair. Names worthy of song and legend! The good old days are here again!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Vote For Kodos
This has nothing to do with tonight's zenith of anti-democratic fervor known as the "caucuses," I've been meaning to post this for a couple weeks now: I mean no undue offense to the families of The Guy and B. Howard, but I'm pretty sure I hate the people of Iowa. Lousy, imperious jerks.

Also, I might as well get this out of the way now, since it too has been festering for a few weeks now and if not expressed at this moment it may never see the light of day.

1) In Michigan's primary, I will be voting for Rudy Giuliani. When else in my life will I get the chance to vote for a pro-choice, pro-gun control, gay-friendly Republican? We liberal Republicans are an endangered breed, and we have to support our own.

Though it pains me these days to quote from The Simpsons, Sideshow Bob spoke the truth: "Your conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down you want a cold-hearted Republican to cut taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king!"

2) I detest Mike Huckabee. If he gets the Republican nomination, I will break with the Grand Old Party, at least this once. Governor Huckabee vs. Senator Clinton? I cannot in good conscience vote for that crone; so, I'll write-in a candidate, probably Lloyd Carr. (A dear friend whom I am proscribed from mentioning has been saying "Lloyd for President" at random intervals since immediately after the Capital One Bowl.) Governor Huckabee vs. Senator Obama? I would probably do the unthinkable and vote for a Democrat for national office. President Barack Hussein Obama? I'd complain bitterly, but I could live with that on my conscience.

In case of a Huckabee nomination, political posts will be under the title "Vote For Kodos Kang." Again, the current agony and the former ecstasy of The Simpsons: "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Billy Preston, "Nothing From Nothing" from Elf: Music From the major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

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

Commentary: Still giddy, and in all honesty I cannot tell you for whom I am happier, me or Lloyd. Again, sir, thank you for all of it, the ups and the downs, the triumphs and tragedies, and always, always, always walking the path of honor.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Victors: Michigan 41-35 Florida

This image is my new desktop.

"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!"

All is splendor and light, all is goodness and warmth, the valiant Wolverines prevailed! All the jealous, malignant souls who swore we stood not a chance in hell against the filthy Gators may feel free to slither back under their respective rocks. Sweet, sweet redemption.

More, much more to come, but for now the hour is late and life must slowly return to normal after the grandeur of the holidays, and I leave you with a hearty GO BLUE!

Thank you, Coach Carr, and Godspeed.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Holiday
Spike Jones & His City Slickers, "Happy New Year" from The Spike Jones Anthology (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Happy New Year!

The University of Michigan Marching Band, "The Victors" from A Saturday Tradition (T.L.A.M.)