Monday, March 31, 2008

Play Who Used To Own It? Round Five! Learn the painful lesson of The Guy: He who hesitates is lost!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Wally Dogger, "Never Let the Good Times End" from I Surrender, When Do I Start? (T.L.A.M.)


"I had a shitty day at my job,
I can't switch lanes, when will this traffic stop?
Well, I raise my drink to all of my friends,
Never let the good times end."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXXI - The Great Rift Valley.

And as long as we're taking a closer look at Africa...

Who Used To Own It? - Round Five
Round Four Answers
1) Zimbabwe - Great Britain
2) Morocco - France
3) Togo - Germany
4) Rwanda - Germany
5) Ghana - Great Britain
6) The Congo - France
7) Benin - France

Round Four Scoring
Dr. Hee Haw 4/7 = 57%
Skeeter 3/7 = 43%
K. Steeze 1/7 = 14%

Round Four saw the first drop in the popularity of Who Used To Own It?, but I would be remiss if I did not welcome our newest player, and the first from the medical community, the prestigious Dr. Hee Haw. Welcome aboard, Doc! And I am all the more grateful to our returning contestants for their dogged loyalty. Skeeter has now tied The Guy as Who Used To Own It?'s most frequent participant. Woot!

And speaking of Skeeter, she remarked that Round Four was particularly difficult. One reason for this is almost certainly that I am quickly running the gamut of the African continent, and as I am subject to all the follies and foibles of any man those countries with which we are all most familiar were spotlighted first: Egypt, Algeria, and the D.R. Congo (formerly Zaire, formerly the Belgian Congo) were all queries way back in Round One. But at least from where I sit the difficulty of Who Used To Own It? is at least three-fifths of the fun. What most Americans know about European colonization of Africa in the decades before the unspeakable horror of the Great War wouldn't fill a complete sentence, much less five rounds of Who Used To Own It? You are among the elite, of that have no doubt.

Round Five
And with that, best of luck to you all in Round Five!

1) Western Sahara

2) Lesotho

3) Eritrea

4) Burundi

5) Djibouti

6) Central African Republic*

7) Liberia

*This has naught to do with Who Used To Own It?, but in the wacky 1970s the C.A.R. briefly was known as the Central African Empire. Jumpin' Jack Pratt, history is more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

The Wild Sea
The Arctic Ocean and the southern seas of the Antarctic should not be traveled lightly; so, though I generally favor freedom of navigation, I think some measure of regulation and/or restriction by the appropriate maritime authorities would be a capital idea: sealink. The waters at the top and bottom of the world pose challenges and dangers distinct from the usual rigors of the sea. It's common sense, people.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Hackensack" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Saturday night, out of the clear blue sky, I saw a whole slew of Grand Blanc people, at least one of whom I had not seen in, literally, a decade. I had a grand time, but am now understandably pensive, dwelling wistfully upon those halcyon days of yesteryear. And what better song for such a humor than "Hackensack," I ask you.

"But I will wait for you,
As long as I need to.
And if you ever get back to Hackensack,
I'll be here for you."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Stars My Destination
My friends, truly ours is an age of wonders: And I don't just mean the Jules Verne*. Scroll down to the bottom of the article and you can see a live track of either the A.T.V.'s or the I.S.S.'s position in orbit! Sweet fancy Moses!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Hall of Heads" from Apollo 18 (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 28 März
Slow Gherkin, "Pretty (In a Pretty Sort of Way)" from Run Screaming (T.L.A.M.)


"There's something odd about you,
What it is I couldn't say,
You're just pretty in a pretty sort of way."

If you could be one but not the other, which would you prefer, elegant or eloquent?

*The names of ships, both nautical and celestial, are italicized, e.g., the battleship Maine and the space shuttle Endeavour. The names of automobiles are left plain, e.g., the Batmobile or the General Lee. Unmanned pace probes are similarly unadorned, such as the Pathfinder probe and its auxiliary, the diminutive Sojourner rover. So, though Jules Verne is a fairly ornate name for what is rightly described as a "space truck," as the craft is unmanned proper protocol would seem to prefer Jules Verne to either "Jules Verne" or Jules Verne.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern before him, Richard Widmark is dead. R.I.P. This leaves a particularly bitter taste in my mouth as in a random snippet of conversation given voice a scant three months ago, just shy of the New Year, I ranted to The Sardine, and here I must paraphrase myself, "And what's wrong is that today's kids don't even know who Richard Widmark is."

"Who?" she asked innocently.

Why Richard Widmark? I cannot say, but instantly upon the conclusion of the utterance this example struck me as bizarre; and thus I marked it specifically for later recall. Adding an almost unsettling twist, The Sardine called yesterday, the very day the world learned for the death. This was out of the blue as we had not spoken in a fortnight and a half. Spooky. She and Richard Widmark, God rest his soul, tethered forever in my recollection.

Those seeking more information about the late Mr. Widmark's wide-ranging, decades-spanning, and laudable body of work may wish to consult the filmography available courtesy of the Internet Movie Datebase:

Loathe though I am to quote Shelley, "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" seems apropos to the moment.

Project TROIKA
The endeavour took another step forward today. After work, I stopped by the library and checked out a book specifically and solely to better acquaint myself with a proposed facet of the novel's plot. My interests are many of varied, but without the impetus of the project this particular tome would never have achieved the priority evidenced by today's borrowing. This is but the first of many such volumes, mark my words. I shall name neither the book nor the general field of inquiry, as this might well sunder the veil of secrecy so entwined in the very fabric of Project TROIKA, but I wished to share my excitement at the very notion of aspiring writer-specific research.

Project TROIKA: Grow or die.

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

Commentary: In honor of this evening's Xavier-West Virginia contest. Go to Hell, Bob Huggins.

Mittwoch, 26 März
Letters to Cleo, "Jennifer" from Wholesale Meats and Fish (T.L.A.M.)

Coming Attractions
Who Used To Own It? and Project OSPREY tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Drummer Hodge
by Thomas Hardy

They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined – just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around;
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.

Young Hodge the Drummer never knew –
Fresh from his Wessex home –
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
Strange stars amid the gloam.

Yet portion of that unknown plain
Will Hodge forever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellation reign
His stars eternally.

Every second line is meant to be indented, per Hardy's composition, but as of yet I know not how to accomplish this in Blogger.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Attention The Guy! Attention C.! Attention everybody! Round Four of Who Used To Own It? was posted on Friday. Scroll down to play!

The Explorers Club
No. LXX - The curious case of the H.M.A.S. Sydney and the German commerce raider Kormoran, from the fateful battle and mutual demise on 19 November 1941 to the very recent discovery of the hitherto lost wrecks on 16-17 March 2008.

The wreck of the Kormoran.

The wreck of the Sydney.

The mysterious disappearance of the Sydney and the Kormoran was already sitting in the queue for "The Explorers Club" when, to my astonishment, both wrecks were located just over a week ago. Wow! I was sorely tempted to be up-to-the-minute and run this story as last week's episode, but I was loathe to interrupt "Finland Imperiled," a subject near and dear to my heart. Still, by the standards of "The Explorers Club," this episode is breaking news.

Say a prayer for the brave souls who went to their eternal rest in the deep, so many years ago.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama" from Good or Suck! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Lyrics by M. Wilson.

"All I know is digging all day,
Digging this canal for the U.S.A.
All day long I dig, dig, dig,
This thing we're digging is really big!
We all have yellow fever, we're sick,
But we keep digging, our boss is a dick.
For some big jobs we use dynamite.
It's awful loud, but it's quite a sight!

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama,
I miss my home and my dear old ma.
I like my job, but I miss my bed.
I think a spider laid eggs in my head!
A man, a plan, a canal, Panama,
'I sure am proud of you, son,' wrote my ma.

There's no place to go, but my money's all spent,
Then we get a visit from the president.
Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill,
He was the man the Spaniards could not kill.
Now he tells us to dig this canal,
He always says 'Bully!' I wish he was my pal.
Golly, I'm so happy digging all day!
Digging this canal for the U.S.A.!

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama,
I miss my home and my dear old ma.
I like my job, but I miss my bed.
I think a spider laid eggs in my head!
A man, a plan, a canal, Panama,
'I sure am proud of you, son,' wrote my ma."

More joyful splendor from the Land of the Rising Sun: politelink. I really am so terribly fond of the Japanese. You wonderful, madcap lunatics!
The Stars My Destination
Gone a long, long time, the Endeavour is coming home: N.A.S.A. returnlink and B.B.C. returnlink. Godspeed, and welcome back.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I like my government like I like my religion: just that little bit crazy. Dog-monsterlink. And that, my friends, is why I am so fond of the Japanese, they are crazy in the best ways.

Project TROIKA
And that is also why I am so optimistic about Project TROIKA, because therein is to be found some wild and crazy stuff, in the finest traditions of literary adventure and B.T.Wackiness.

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth Nos. 1-3
B.P.R.D.: The Soul of Venice
B.P.R.D.: Dark Waters
B.P.R.D.: Night Train
B.P.R.D.: There's Something Under My Bed
B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs
Nos. 1-5
B.P.R.D.: The Dead Nos. 1-5
B.P.R.D.: The Black Flame Nos. 1-6
B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine Nos. 1-5
B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls Nos. 1-5
B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground Nos. 1-5
B.P.R.D.: 1946 Nos. 1-3 (of 5)
B.P.R.D.: The Ectoplasmic Man
(B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs
Nos. 1-4)

Abe Sapien: Drums of the Dead
Abe Sapien: The Drowning
Nos. 1-2 (of 5)

Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus Nos. 1-5

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Platters, "The Great Pretender" from The Very Best of The Platters (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "My need is such, I pretend too much, I'm lonely but no one can tell."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Scroll down for the latest round of Who Used To Own It?, it's a gas!

The Christ is risen. Holy holy holy.

Project OSPREY: The Last Angry Bracket
4-4 on the first day of the second round, 6-1-1 on the second. The "tie" is Western Kentucky-San Diego, because I did not predict either to advance past the first round. I did not correctly pick the winner, so I should count it as a loss, no? Except, neither did I predict the eventual loser to best the eventual winner. So, I felt the "tie" was the best option for games in which I picked neither participant. The totals then are 10-5-1 in the second round, 19-13 in the first, and 29-18-1 through the first forty-eight games. Woot!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Duvall, "Jesus Never Leaves Me" from Volume & Density (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Elvis Costello, "Living in Paradise" from This Year's Model (T.L.A.M.)

Project TROIKA
"Eureka!" is the declaration of a triumphant breakthrough, "By Lucifer's beard!" is the exclamation of frustration or stalemate. Both are apropos in this moment.

By Lucifer's beard, there is grim tumult ahead.

Eureka! Now I have the measure of the man!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Who Used To Own It? - Round Four
Round Three Answers
1) Uganda - Great Britain
2) Angola - Portugal
3) Madagascar - France
4) Sierra Leone - Great Britain
5) Tunisia - France
6) Tanzania - Germany
7) Zanzibar - Great Britain

Round Three Scoring
Skeeter 3/7 = 43%
The Guy 2/7 = 29%
C. 2/7 = 29%
K. Steeze 2/7 = 29%

C. went with the scattergun strategy, guessing Great Britain for the whole board, only to second guess herself and switch Sierra Leone, one of the three former British colonies in the round, to France. I think we can all smile at the humor inherent therein. The most contentious part of the round was, unsurprisingly, the "tricky" queries of Tanzania and Zanzibar. Skeeter's perplexed non-answer to No. 7 was correct, Zanzibar is a part of the modern nation-state of Tanzania (Zanzibar is the zan in Tanzania), but remember the Round Two example of Somalia, a composite of the colonies of Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland. The Kaiser's Germany controlled the continental landmass of today's Tanzania, while the islands of Zanzibar were part and parcel of the British Empire. In Who Used To Own It? we are always looking for the Scramble for Africa/pre-1914 suzerain.

And both Tanzania and Zanzibar were clearly labeled Tricky; so, some skulduggery should have been suspected.

Round Four
But first and foremost Who Used To Own It? is meant to be educational and entertaining. I am most grateful for the 33% increase in participation between Rounds Two and Three, and would be thrilled by a continued growth in popularity in Round Four. Have fun and good luck!

1) Zimbabwe

2) Morocco

3) Togo

4) Rwanda

5) Ghana

6) The Congo (Congo-Brazzaville, not D.R. Congo [Zaire])

7) Benin

No tricks, just honest historical curiosity.

Project OSPREY: The Last Angry Bracket
9-7 on the second day, 19-13 overall in the first round. Only one of my two twelve seed over five seed upsets materialized, but 'twas the more important of the pair: Villanova, my dark horse Final Four pick, 75-69 over Clemson*.

Go 'Nova!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "She's Gonna Break Soon" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Though I've owned Anthem since its release in 2003, only recently did I get around to downloading and watching the video for "She's Gonna Break Soon," starring none other than Alexis Bledel. Wow, a Less Than Jake song about disenchantment, "it really comes as no surprise."

*The Villanova-Clemson contest did not conclude until nearly half past midnight; so, clearly, this post was not published at 11:59 P.M. But, I have long rejected the arbitrary nature of "midnight" as the beginning of a day. The dawn, or an hour more or less in line with the average sunrise, seems a far more sensible time to commence a new day. I must resort to the falsehood of "11:59 P.M." to resist the midnight tyranny. Hmmm, there might be a potential science fiction novel in that phrase, The Midnight Tyranny. I wonder....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Join me, won't you, as we sail the seas of Titan: oceanlink. Reference to murder be damned, this is the perfect opportunity to mention "all great Neptune's ocean"! Science and Shakespeare, two great tastes that taste great together.


Fantastically busy day, including The Guy and The Gal and Holy Thursday Mass through a veritable fog of incense, but don't for a minute imagine that stopped me from watching today's Gilmore Girls. (V.C.R.s rule!) And I am ever so sorry to once again delay Round Four of Who Used To Own It? Tomorrow, I promise.

Project OSPREY: The Last Angry Bracket
10-6 on the first day, and most of those I got wrong I had losing in the second round, anyway; I might yet prove to be in good shape. Saturday and Sunday I'm going to watch basketball until my eyes bleed.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Sixpence None the Richer, "Easy to Ignore" from Sixpence None the Richer (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXIX – Finland Imperiled, Part III of III: The Lapland War (1944-45).

The Winter War (1939-40) - Finland alone against Soviet Russia.
The Continuation War (1941-44) - Finland in alliance with Nazi Germany against Soviet Russia.
The Lapland War (1944-45) - Finland in alliance with Soviet Russia against Nazi Germany.

Peril almost beyond comprehension.

Project OSPREY
At the eleventh hour, I have completed my N.C.A.A. Tournament bracket in indelible black ink. The actual results of play shall be duly recorded on the same sheet in blue ink. Neither fudging nor reconsideration will be tolerated. The die is cast.

My methods are intensely unscientific. Sport appeals to the heart at least as much if not more than the mind and 'twould be a base offense to ignore the heart's counsel. I have Temple triumphing over Michigan State in the first round for two reasons: a) Schadenfreude. I hate M.S.U. (or M.S.C. if you look at the smokestack near Spartan Stadium) and I truly desire to see them fail. b) Bog only knows which squad of dastardly Spartans are going to show up. The dastardly Spartans who scored over one hundred points against Indiana or the dastardly Spartans who blew a ten-point lead over Wisconsin? My wager is on the latter, and I believe they shall be overthrown by the Owls (who I then have promptly losing in the second round to Pitt).

Also, I opened an A.I.M. chat with Skeeter with this query, "Which dark horse should I put in my Final Four?" She replied, "dunno... villanova?" Good enough for me. Go 'Nova! Yeah, that's right, I have fully one half of the No. 5 seeds falling to their twelfth seeded opponents. The Last Angry Bracket is not for the faint of heart. Tourney time!

The Last Angry Bracket
Final Four:
West - Duke
East - Tennessee
South - Pitt
Midwest - Villanova

Championship Game:

2008 National Champions:

And this should not be misconstrued as what I want to happen, merely what I consider most likely to occur. Lousy Volunteers.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "Andrea" from Life in General (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Meeting you was just so unexpected. / I guess I was there to be rejected."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Bon Iver, "Skinny Love" via iTunes (Skeeter)

Commentary: "To be listened to," Skeeter instructed, "while walking through midtown Manhattan on a very gray morning surrounded by hollow-eyed financiers and the smell of Pakistani coffee carts."

Montag, 17 März
Dick Gaughan, "Song for Ireland" from Green Linnet Records: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: My disdain for the manner in which St. Patrick's Day is desecrated and Irish culture is mocked here in the United States should not be mistaken as disdain for Ireland or the Irish blood in my veins. My disdain for the Republic of Ireland is based on the nation's shameful and cowardly neutrality.

Sonntag, 16 März
Less Than Jake, "Bad Scene and a Basement Show" from Borders and Boundaries (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I have been to this show more times than I care to recount:

"Another band in a crowded basement,
With too much small talk
And lame inside jokes."

Plus, there's plenty in "Bad Scene and a Basement Show" for the Dark Bastard to enjoy in this brief season of his ascendancy.

Samstag, 15 März
The Aquabats!, "Anti-Matter!" from The Aquabats! vs. The Floating Eye of Death! and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 1 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The M.C. Bat Commander is a genius.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Excuses, Excuses
Excuses leave both the writer and the reader feeling dirty; better to say nothing at all. Especially as you all know I'll eventually post everything I'd scheduled for today and more besides. The Secret Base is a sickness and I wish never to be cured.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Speculation of a subsurface ocean on sundered Tethys rending the world to form the scar of the Ithaca Chasm: Chasmlink. Ooooo, neat! And you may vaguely remember speculation of a causal relationship between the Ithaca Chasm and the Odysseus crater in "The Explorers Club" No. IX.


Friday, March 14, 2008

"Just... don't change your mind before I get back, okay? Okay. Talk to you later."

I am perfectly willing to entertain the notion that my devotion to Gilmore Girls may be unhealthy, perhaps even the harbinger of a creeping madness.

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

Commentary: We conclude our series of alcohol-themed R.B.D.S.O.T.D. as we began, with the Reel Big Fish. And from near the end of the song, a soliloquy that well reflects my own relationship to the bottle:

"Uh, actually, I'm not drunk. At all. No, I've got to drive all these people home. Have a good time. Assholes."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Endurance
Henceforth, the honorific "Codename: PANDORA" shall nevermore be applied to The Sardine. Neglectful friendship is fine and dandy and shall persist, but all other avenues of thought are banished forthwith.

I shall for a time give the Dark Bastard free rein, and after a sufficient catharsis begin anew the search for the one true apple of my eye.

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: Matrimania - D.C.
In today's mail I received my invitation to my sister's impending nuptials. Huzzah! I am thrilled at the prospect of The Maine Man's elevation from mere boyfriend-cum-fiancé to Brother-in-L.A.W.

And now a pair of items pertaining to nomenclature. My sister, The L.A.W., and The Guy are getting married within a three-week interval, and as soon as their proximity was noted May 2008 was immediately christened "Matrimania." Yesterday, I floated the possibility of "Matri-May-nia," but upon further reflection I cannot stomach the idea. Matrimania conveys the perfect degree of hectic levity, Matri-May-nia is an abominable crime against the sacred mother tongue. One and all have my sincerest apologies.

And with two so delightfully proximal weddings, how ever to report coherently all I see, hear, and experience to The Secret Base? "Matrimania, Phase One" for The L.A.W. and "Phase Two" for The Guy and The Gal? With the reporting of each to surely require several posts (notice that I still have yet to conclude last Fall's highly controversial and multi-part "The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: The Wedding Album"), "Matrimania, Phase One, Part II" seemed frankly ridiculous. And identifying each wedding by date seemed not exactly cold, but uncomfortably distant. So, for the nonce each shall be identified by the location of the festivities, "Matrimania - D.C." for The L.A.W.'s wedding in the shadow of the Capitol and "Matrimania - St. Louis" for The Guy's nuptials in the shadow of the Gateway Arch. (And if you have never seen the Arch with your own eyes, my Bog, it is more breathtaking than you can possibly imagine.)

Critiques, compliments, and condemnations are most welcome; we all have a stake in improving the quality of The Secret Base of the Rebel Black Dot Society.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Topol, et al., "To Life" from Fiddler on the Roof (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: L'Chaim!

Or, as we say inside B.T.W., "To high chlorine."
Vote For Kodos/The Stars My Destination
A word of warning to my left-leaning friends, Senator Obama would pay for many of his education initiatives by gutting N.A.S.A.'s budget, specifically by placing on essentially permanent hiatus Project Constellation, including the Orion spacecraft, the Altair lunar lander, and the new Ares I and Ares V rockets: Constellation! A vote for Obama is a vote against N.A.S.A., a vote against the Moon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

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

Commentary: A silly little polka about an immigrant laborer pissing away his meager wages on rounds for the whole bar.

"Give-ed me a cocktail
When I am low and droopy.
And then I'll dance a polka,
And make-ed lots of hoopy.
I work-ed in a coal mine,'
Things are pretty black.
But tonight the treat's on me,
I cash-ed my paycheck!

"Everybody have a drink,
Let's have fun together.
I got plenty money,
Go catch a doubleheader.
Bartender, please take care my friends,
Drinks for ladies and gents,
I got all kinds money,
Thirty-two dollars and forty-five cents!

Have-ed anything you like,
Even rum-and-Coke it.
Just give me glass plain whiskey rum,
And don't-ed make me choke it.
Feel up you glass with vishnic,
We gon' have-ed great big picnic,
Everything she's in the pink!
Everybody have a drink!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Stars My Destination
Manned spaceflight: and Godspeed, Endeavour.

A robot in support of manned spaceflight: "Keep on truckin'!"

A robot alone in deep space: Cassinilink. Enceladus or bust!


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Tim Lyons, "Humours of Whiskey" from Green Linnet Records: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: My favorite verse, but really the whole of "Humours of Whiskey" is bloody brilliant. Erin Go Bragh!

"While a child in me cradle,
Me nurse with the ladle
Was filling her mouth with a notion of 'Pep'
When a drop from the bottle
Fell into me throttle.
I capered and scrambled clear out of her lap.
On the floor I lay crawling
And screaming and bawling
'Til Father and Mother soon came to the fore.
All weeping and sighing,
Conceived I was dying,
But then found I was only a-crying for more."

Adding to the song's colossal stature, "Humours of Whiskey" is the first time I heard mention of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, subject of "The Explorers Club" No. XXXI, and a major, if convoluted, influence upon Project TROIKA.

"And what helped Mr. Brunel
To dig the Thames Tunnel?
Wasn't it poitín, me boys,
From old Inishowen?"


Monday, March 10, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXVIII - Finland Imperiled, Part II of III: The Continuation War (1941-44).

It is vitally important to note that while Finland did both coordinate and cooperate with the Nazi Wehrmacht and Finnish planes bore a blue swastika as their principal insignia, Finnish planes had been emblazoned with the ancient symbol of the swastika since Finland's civil war near the end of the Great War, long before the adoption and perversion of the swastika by National Socialism.

Project OSPREY
Sunday, 9 March
Purdue 72-58 Michigan - A couple weeks back, when the valiant Wolverines had won four of five Big Ten games, I looked at the last three contests and picked Penn State and Northwestern as possible victories and Purdue as a near sure defeat. So then we went out and lost to P.S.U. and N.U. Drat. I never expected us to be even competitive with Purdue; so, this loss, which came after we lead at halftime and played the vastly superior Boilermakers even for three fourths of the game, hurt far in excess of my preparedness. Cursed false hope!

Go Blue!

Saturday, 8 March
North Carolina 76-68 Duke - Those who live by perimeter shooting die by perimeter shooting, and Duke made some very dubious shooting choices. When I fill out my bracket next week, I'm going to pick North Carolina to persevere through the N.C.A.A. Tournament at least until the Final Four, which of course means they'll probably be the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed. Of at least, here's hoping.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "No Better Place" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Though "No Better Place" could not possibly be mistaken as a song properly about alcohol, it does contain perhaps the greatest line ever written about the intersection of Man and booze, "And it may be the whiskey talking, but the whiskey says I miss you every day."

Sonntag, 9 März
Bob & Doug McKenzie, "The Beerhunter" from Great White North (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Not a song per se, but no alcohol-fueled frenzy would be complete without the participation of the titular stars of my very favorite cinematic interpretation of Hamlet, The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew. Take off, you hosers!

Samstag, 8 März
Less Than Jake, "Liquor Store" from Pezcore (T.L.A.M.)

The Endurance
This is foreshadowing. I leave it to better men than I to judge whether 'tis cryptic or no.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

As a direct result of Daylight Saving Time, which is a fraud and a sham, by the way, I have been tired and cranky all day. "The Explorers Club" and "Project OSPREY" have thus been delayed until I am in a more conducive frame of mind, most likely tomorrow. Be brave and try to muddle through until then, me buckoes.

View the extra time as an opportunity to play Who Used To Own It? Round Three!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Who Used To Own It? - Round Three
Round Two Answers
1) Senegal - France
2) The Gambia - Great Britain
3) Namibia - Germany
4) Somalia - Italy*
5) Malawi - Great Britain
6) Gabon - France
7) Ethiopia - Independent**

Wow! Scores for Round Two of Who Used To Own It? were astronomically improved over Round One! Returning contestant The Guy scored three out of seven for 43% correct! Newcomers C. and Skeeter scored, respectively, three and a half out of seven for 50% and five out of seven for a staggering 71%!

*The failed/failing nation-state of Somalia is composed principally of the former Italian Somaliland, but a portion was the former colony British Somaliland; thus, both The Guy and Skeeter were credited with a correct answer for Italy, while C. got half a point for her answer, Great Britain.

**Ethiopia is one of only two contemporary nation-states that were not colonized by the European powers during the Scramble for Africa. The other will almost certainly be featured in a later round.

Round Three
As always, Who Used To Own It? depends upon the honor system; so, go ahead and do your best, and only afterward consult the appropriate reference materials to check your score. Participation was up 200% in Round Two compared to Round One, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can see a similar increase here in Round Three.

Bear in mind the example of Somalia-Italian Somaliland/British Somaliland. Modern nation-states correspond roughly, but not precisely, to pre-Great War colonial holdings. Because our purpose here is educational, not competitive, deliberately tricky questions will be plainly flagged as such. Good luck!

1) Uganda

2) Angola

3) Madagascar

4) Sierra Leone

5) Tunisia

6) Tanzania

7) Zanzibar

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Chumbawamba, "Tubthumping" from Tubthumper (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Anarchists sure do love their hooch.

"He drinks the whiskey drink,
He drinks the vodka drink,
He drinks the lager drink,
He drinks the cider drink,
He sings the songs that remind him of the good times,
He sings the songs that remind him of the better times."

Donnerstag, 6 März
Great Big Sea, "Jakey's Gin" courtesy of The Watergirl (The Watergirl)

Commentary: Thanks, Katie!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"'Our Mars program is the envy of the world,' said Alan Stern, associate administrator of N.A.S.A.'s Science Mission Directorate." Marslink. And Dr. Stern believes that Pluto is a planet and that the I.A.U.'s definitions of "planet" and "dwarf planet" are scientific gibberish. I hold with Dr. Stern on both matters, Mars and Pluto.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Who Used To Own It? - Vive la France!
In Round One, I identified Great Britain as the former colonial suzerain of Guinea. I WAS WRONG. FRANCE WAS THE SUZERAIN OF GUINEA. My sincerest thanks are extended to Skeeter for catching the error, which was compounded in the scoring of Round One. As a result, The Guy's correct answers are reduced from four to three of twelve, or 25% However, The Guy got one more thing: he initially scored himself correctly, three of twelve, before I interceded with my idiotic declaration of "four of twelve for 33%." I am ashamed of myself for my brash arrogance.

Effective immediately, all rounds of Who Used To Own It? will be scored in consultation with reputable reference materials. No longer will I rely upon my clearly fallible memory. I am deeply sorry, one and all, and I hope this scandal will not deter anyone from partaking of the edifying fun of Who used To Own It?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Denis Leary, "Traditional Irish Folk Song" from No Cure For Cancer (T.L.A.M.)


"We drink and we sing
And we drink and we sing,
We drink and we drive
And we puke and we drink,
We drink and we fight
And we bleed and we cry,
We puke and we smoke
And we drink and we die,

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Project OSPREY
Ohio State 80-77 Purdue (OT) - Drat! Well, it was a good curse while it lasted, and 1-5 is none too shabby, if I do say so myself. Still, I hate to see the hated Buckeyes win anything, even were they to stand against the legions of Perdition; so, I'll have to content myself with their technological incompetence. A twenty minute delay of the second half because they couldn't get the shot clocks up and running? Bwa ha ha ha ha! The ineptitude! The bumbling! Delicious!

I wish Purdue Pete had used his hammer to crack open the nut of Brutus the Buckeye's head. Buckeyes aren't even animate, you idiots!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dropkick Murphys, "The Dirty Glass" via iTunes (The Watergirl)
I detest the charlatans who run Haloscan. Arseholes.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXVII - Finland Imperiled, Part I of III: The Winter War (1939-40)

Who Used To Own It? - Round Two
Round One Answers
1) Algeria - France
2) Libya - Italy
3) Egypt - Great Britain*
4) Kenya - Great Britain
5) The Sudan - Great Britain
6) D.R. Congo (Zaire) - Belgium*
7) Guinea - Great Britain France
8) Equatorial Guinea - Spain
9) Guinea-Bissau - Portugal
10) Cameroon - Germany
11) Mozambique - Portugal
12) Zambia - Great Britain

Only one among you had the courage to test his knowledge, scoring a laudable 33% with four of twelve correct answers. For his audacity, The Guy shall receive a prize, while the rest of you rabble will hold cheap your manhood (even the girls) and hang your heads in shame. But lo, redemption is at hand, for I give unto you Who Used To Own It?... Round Two!

Round Two
A clarification: following the Great War, Germany was stripped of her overseas possessions. We are looking for the original, pre-Versailles colonial suzerain. Also, the number of queries has been reduced in a bid to lessen the intimidation factor. Please don't be too embarrassed to play. This is an educational diversion, a mere whimsical trifle! Play, participate, and remember that in the sage words of Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate, the Globetrotter commander, "Nothing is at stake and there are no consequences." Good luck!

1) Senegal

2) The Gambia

3) Namibia

4) Somalia

5) Malawi

6) Gabon

7) Ethiopia

*Geopolitical complexity is not an invention of the 21st Century. The Khedive of Egypt was a unique proposition, even before the British Empire wrested is away from the Ottoman Empire. Also, for over two decades what we know as the Democratic Republic of Congo was the private property of King Leopold II, not a colony of the Kingdom of Belgium.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Let's Get Drunk and Clean the Room" from Good or Suck! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Good or Suck! is R.C.Y.'s first, but I guarantee you not last, studio album. Available only in the most exclusive of record shops, the kind of places about which if you have to ask you'll never know.
All the pretty snow is melting. Lousy Smarch weather. On the other hand...

Holy balls! Living in the future is so cool: Lifecarlink!

Also, to be unscientific for a moment, I love that when the Brits talk about cars, about cool, they kick metric to the curb and go with what feels right, English units. Love live the mile!

Alright, back to scientific rationalism, which does recognize the value of metric standardization. Science!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Project OSPREY
Michigan State 103-74 Indiana - Sweet fancy Moses, how on Earth is this the same team of dastardly Spartans I saw struggle so futilely against Wisconsin last Thursday? Alas and alack, there must have been much merry-making in Evil Lansing this evening. Never send Hoosiers to do a man's job.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, "You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3" (live) via iTunes (Ki-El)

Commentary: He picked the Song of the Day and his dastardly Spartans scored two games' worth of points in one afternoon? A banner day for Ki-El. My congratulations to you, buddy, though I hope your compatriots all choke on fish bones.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I hope you all have a grand Leap Day. Mine was largely squandered, but I feel the difference was in some measure made up by today's manifold glories.

Project OSPREY
Georgetown 70-68 Marquette (OT) - Marquette had every opportunity in the world to win this game, but every time they had a chance to put the Hoyas away they chose that exact moment to begin a minutes-long scoring drought. And if you let a team as talented as Georgetown stick around, they'll make good the comeback. Drat and double drat! Killer instinct, kids, its importance in sports can scarcely be overstated.

Minnesota 71-57 Ohio State - The hated Buckeyes are now a perfect 0-5* in games I have watched and their hopes of making the N.C.A.A. tournament are fading fast. Hey, neat, I'm a bad luck charm! The following quotation, ladies and gentlemen, from the fertile mind of the late Eric Hoffer, explains succinctly the entire State of Ohio: "Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life."

*Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana again, and now Minnesota. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Also, you can tell that I've been watching a lot of, mayhap too much, college basketball since The Barn's raised floor no longer strikes me as odd. 'Tis a lovely madness.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Spike Jones & His City Slickers, "Cocktails for Two" from The Spike Jones Anthology (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 29 Februar
Real Can of Yams, "Let's Get Drunk and Clean the Room" (live) performed and recorded on 21 Juni 2002 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: That does it for the live recordings of "Let's Get Drunk and Clean the Room." Now brace yourselves for the album version! (Not tomorrow, but, you know, soon... ish.)

Coming Attractions
A three-part epic in "The Explorers Club" and the second round of America's favorite obscure and obtuse quiz sensation, Who Used To Own It?