Monday, June 30, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXXXIII - The Berlin Blockade, Part II: The audacity of the Airlift, the fun and goodwill of Operation Little Vittles, and the Soviet-approved loophole that made it all possible.

As a general rule, I avoid using the same images that appear as part of a given topic's Wikipedia entry (which I assume is the paramount resource for most of you who avail yourselves of The Explorers Club), but in this case the entry had the simply best representation of the Anglo-American air corridors into free West Berlin.

Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day
Though I have not yet compiled an official list of the ten worst films I have ever seen, I am confident The Happening is among them.

Lots of people seem to misunderstand the nature of Parker Posey Appreciation Day, Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day, and the fascination that prompts both commemorations. I have never sat down and had a conversation with anyone about these two occasions; so, whatever I say to describe the general attitude toward the Appreciation Days is based upon my own gleanings and interpretations of remarks made around, about, or seemingly in reference to those days in celebration of Parker Posey or Zooey Deschanel. Also, as I have, as previously mentioned, never elucidated the natures of P.P.A.D. and Z.D.A.D., I have only myself to blame for any confusion or misconceptions and write what is to follow with malice towards none.

I am not "in love" with Parker Posey, nor with Zooey Deschanel. However, I find both actresses* absolutely fascinating. Fascination can be a highly nebulous term; so, what is my meaning? Flat out, Parker Posey is the most interesting player (regardless of gender) in the American cinema. At any moment, she might very well do anything. Have you ever seen an interview with her? The lady is batshit crazy, a screwball, as loony as Daffy Duck's original personality. And at least from where I sit, no matter the character she is playing, that madcap frenzy is just beneath the surface, barely contained. And with the following I intent to impugn the acting ability of neither Sam Elliott nor Parker Posey: you don't hire Sam Elliott to act, you hire Sam Elliott to be Sam Elliott. You want to hear that voice, that glorious rumble with the pitch-perfect western twang. You want to see those stoic features, that face that greets both triumph and disaster as the impostors they are (thanks, Mr. Kipling!). Parker Posey is like Sam Elliott, you don't hire her to act, you hire her because you want her character to always be just that one half-step removed from gleeful madness. You want any actress who can go from sedate to stark-raving in a blink should it strike her fancy.

Each of Zooey Deschanel's characters, even the extroverted ones, seem to be on the verge of collapsing in upon herself in an implosion of shyness. She never, ever looks comfortable on screen. And again, I am not impugning her abilities as a thespian, because clearly as an actress and musician any shyness innate to her being must have been by this point beaten down as locked away in favor of either am ambition of that peculiar mania that forces some to act, some to sing, some to write, almost against their will. I find her ability to simultaneously project confidence and nervous terror enthralling.

In the spirit of frank discourse, I cannot deny being attracted to Parker Posey and Zooey Deschanel. And I say this with no shame. I mean, by Bog, have you seen them? They are stunning creatures, sylphs of surpassing beauty. And yet my appreciation for the loveliness of each is influenced by her individual charms. Even when perfectly still, Parker Posey seems poised for an explosion. No matter the photographer or style of image, Zooey Deschanel always looks slightly unsettled. They are ladies of supreme comeliness, but this is merely the beginning of their mesmerizing mystery.

By contrast, I am in lust with Hilary Duff. The tale: A month ago, I was riding in the Senator's Daughter on the return trip from Saint Louis (the "Matrimania" accounts, both D.C. and Saint Louis, are coming, as is the too-long delayed conclusion to "The Wedding Album," I give you my word) when my companion, the driver, manipulated his iPod and selected a very surprising string of songs, by the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Shakira, and Hilary Duff, among others. These songs were all present in his library as singles, not a one of them as part of an album; so, I understood possession of them, though of course we engaged in a great deal of good-natured taunting. When the maddeningly repetitive song "Beat of My Heart" began, I asked by whom it was sung as was told Hilary Duff, which prompted me to say, for no particular reason, "I've never found her attractive. I don't get it." He replied, "She's pretty cute in the video for this song."

Some hours later, after the Accursed Sun had ceased it pitiless bombardment and we were hurtling through the darkness in pursuit of the narrow beams of the Senator's daughter's headlights, something about his comment caught in my mind and I maneuvered through the menus to watch the video for "Beat of My Heart." And immediately I saw what he meant. Suddenly, Hilary Duff was no longer plain, she had become a vision. A month on and I cannot shake her. In truth, I've no desire to do so. Mock me if you wish. Were you in my place I'd be merciless and cruel, and as such, as a firm believer in the Golden Rule, I expect no better treatment. Do your worst.

For my part, I will be scheming for ways to parlay** Project TROIKA's eventual success into an encounter with Ms. Duff, whom I will then proceed to charm, woo, and win for mine own.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Hilary Duff, "Beat of My Heart" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In the words of Hedonism-bot, "I apologize for nothing!"

Sonntag, 29 Juni
R.E.M., "The Great Beyond" from Man On the Moon: Music from the Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Silly yet haunting. Their intention, I'm sure.

"I'm breaking through,
I'm bending spoons,
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom,
I'm look for answers
From the Great Beyond."

*Someday, I'll explain to you why "actress" is not, as some have ignorantly claimed, a sexist term, at least not in the negative sense.

**Remember, kids, best not to confuse parlay with parley.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Voyage of the Damned"

"Partners in Crime"
"The Fires of Pompeii"
"Planet of the Ood"
"The Sontaran Stratagem" Pt. 1
"The Poison Sky" Pt. 2
"The Doctor's Daughter"
"The Unicorn and the Wasp"
"Silence in the Library" Pt. 1
"Forest of the Dead" Pt. 2

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Lobster of Truth (Wanted Me for Him)" from Good or Suck! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Words by M. Wilson.

Freitag, 27 Juni
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "The Tracks of My Tears" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Ah, Smokey....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Special Request
I am to be proscribed from speaking my mind even in mine own house? I have racked my brain for any way to interpret these events to cast myself as the villain, without success. What could I have possibly done to be deserving of such disrespect? No matter. Nemo me inpune lacessit.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
We the Kings, "Check Yes Juliet" via iTunes, Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: By Jove, by the by-laws of the mother tongue, the title should be rendered as "Check Yes, Juliet"! And yet there is a startling lack of anger throughout the Anglosphere. Weep for our posterity.

Mittwoch, 25 Juni
They Might Be Giants, "Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal" from Then: The Earlier Years, Disc Two (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: One of Then's little known gems.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Stars My Destination
Here is a interestingly pro-Beijing piece about the Chinese space program: celestiallink. Mind that I've got nothing against the China National Space Administration beyond the fact that it is an arm of the People's Republic of China, a bloody-handed dictatorship that has ground the Chinese people under its heel for the last fifty-nine years. That said, I do most certainly wish all taikonauts a safe journey from the earth to the heavens and back.

The first American to "walk" in space, in 1965 (that's forty-three years ago for all you Red Chinese apologists out there), was Ed White (1930-67), a Michigan man, who tragically perished in the Apollo 1 disaster.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "The Big Bang Theory Theme" via iTunes (Dr. Hee Haw)

Commentary: My thanks to the good doctor for the nomination. And while I am not a regular viewer of The Big Bang Theory, I have enjoyed those episodes I've seen.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Stars My Destination
When We Left Earth: The N.A.S.A. Missions
In the Shadow of the Moon

Apollo 13
From the Earth to the Moon

I have been remiss, my friends, I missed STS-124 in its entirety: Stationlink. Though I sorely wish Apollos 18, 19, and 20 had gone to the Moon as originally planned, and that we had continued to push manned spaceflight beyond the boundaries of low Earth orbit, I will never hold with those naysayers who claim we have squandered the last three and a half decades to no purpose. The Space Shuttle is the wonder of the age, and even before it is completed the International Space Station is already a marvel.

And speaking of marvels and wonders of the age, next up is STS-125, the latest servicing mission to the most amazing scientific instrument known to Man, the august Hubble Space Telescope: Hubblelink.

Phoenix has joined our robotic Corps of Discovery! and And after the joy and celebration of a safe arrival, the work, the advancement of the frontiers of science, begins: icelink.

Elsewhere on the Red Planet, M2K4 has become M2K8 as Opportunity and Spirit roll on, years and years past their initially planned 90-day lifespans: roverlink. magnificent old warhorses, those two.

And lest you think our mechanical minions are merely on Mars, the groundwork is being laid for Project Constellation's return to the Moon: Lunarlink.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Nightgown of the Sullen Moon" from Then: The Earlier Years, Disc Two (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Tonight, an oblique reference to the Moon that has so entranced me over the last three Sundays of When We Left Earth and tonight's broadcast of In the Shadow of the Moon.

Between now and the morrow, I hope to dream of our return to the Moon.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXXXII - The Berlin Blockade, Part I: The genocidal Morgenthau Plan; the drift from alliance into the Cold War; and the sneaky, fully legal beginning to the blockade of West Berlin.

The ball got rolling with the closing of the Autobahn on 12 June 1948, sixty years ago this month.

Special Request
There are plans for a house guest and I to watch the new Futurama movie, The Beast With a Billion Backs Tuesday evening. He'll be staying from Tuesday until Thursday. It all will be wonderful, but expect me to be in a dark humor next week as I ruminate on the recent unpleasantness, about which I am damnably constrained from writing freely. Still, new Futurama! Woot!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Stacy's Mom" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I'll always remember attending a Fountains of Wayne show at The Shelter in Detroit mere months before the release of "Stacy's Mom" and Welcome Interstate Managers. The Shelter is literally the basement of St. Andrew's Hall (a former name for The Shelter was The Bassment) and accommodates a crowd numbering in the scores. Not hundreds or thousands of people, scores. And before "Stacy's Mom," that's the kind of crowd F.O.W. attracted.

Also of note: that remains one of the only shows I've ever attended in which I was one of the youngest members of the audience. I didn't start attending shows until I was 19, and by then I was already older than a lot of the kids in the pit. The folks at The Shelter, though, they were clearly old school Fountains of Wayne fans, some of them surely stretching all the way back to the debut album,
Fountains of Wayne, released in '96.

Plus, let us not forget, "Stacy's Mom" is a great song.

Samstag, 21 Juni
Reel Big Fish, "Cannibal" from Money's For Nothin' and the Chimp's For Free (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Upon first listen, I thought they were singing "Cannon ball." Not nearly as embarrassing as when I believed, for years, that the They Might Be Giants song "Don't Let's Start" contained the words "Donut star." Then again, with T.M.B.G., "Donut star" isn't all that far-fetched.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Voyage of the Damned"

"Partners in Crime"
"The Fires of Pompeii"
"Planet of the Ood"
"The Sontaran Stratagem" Pt. 1
"The Poison Sky" Pt. 2
"The Doctor's Daughter"
"The Unicorn and the Wasp"
"Silence in the Library" Pt. 1

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

Commentary: On this first official day of Summer, even though we all know that Summer really begins on Memorial Day, what better song than that which so thoroughly dominated and perfectly exemplified the summer of '98? It's been said before about many things and will surely be said again about many other things, but it's damned hard to believe that was ten years ago. Wow.

The live version of "One Week," from
Talk to the Hand: Live in Michigan, was previously the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. And yes, I mention that in large part simply for the opportunity to type R.B.D.S.O.T.D.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Elvis Costello, "Little Triggers" from This Year's Model (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I don't even really like "Little Triggers," it just played in my head over and over again this late afternoon and evening whilst I mowed the lawn. I suppose there's nothing in the unwritten Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day charter that requires the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. to be a well-loved song, just the song of - a tiny word and yet able to carry so very many potential meanings - the day. In all its lack of glory.

Mittwoch, 18 Juni
Cyd Charisse, "Baby You Knock Me Out" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: From the motion picture It's Always Fair Weather, the only Gene Kelly picture I've seen from beginning to end. And though this was my only exposure to the recently deceased Cyd Charisse, I have to agree with the opening lyrics from "Baby You Knock Me Out":

"What a dame, what a dame,
She belongs in the Hall of Fame!"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXXXI - The Montgolfier bros., Joseph-Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques-Étienne (1745-99), and their astounding flying balloons.

I have ever been fascinated by flight, but in the late couple of years most especially by the many and varied shapes and sizes of lighter-than-air craft.

Beginning next Sunday, 22 June, "The Explorers Club" will be back on its regular schedule. We've made up all the ground lost to the disruptions - most welcome and joyous disruptions - of Matrimania, and we've got some very special anniversary episodes coming up that I think we'll all enjoy immensely. Thank you all for your patience and continued interest.

Special Request: Escape Hatch
I did not tell my mother about The L.A.W. and Brother-in-L.A.W.'s offer of assistance should I elect to move to Washington, D.C. She heard about it in a conversation with The L.A.W. and came to me in a huff, demanding why I had not told her. Because, Mother dear, they have invited me to plunge into the political hurly-burly of our nation's capital; the last time I gave serious consideration to such a career was in the first years of my undergraduate education, when I regarded my political science major as an invaluable vocational tool. I was in the process of applying for varied summer internships when you, Mother dear, stated in your incredibly annoying way (it sounds like a hesitant question, but really its an edict) that such an internship was impractical, and I should get an anonymous summer job instead. Ever the dutiful son, I obeyed, and spent the summer as I spent so many others, lifeguarding.

Without the contacts I would have built during my internship, any internship, I had fallen off the proscribed path toward political minionship, and political science gradually morphed from serious vocational training to the subject in which I'd happened to accumulate a large number of credits. And yet, as I realized later, there was absolutely no good reason why I couldn't have gone to D.C. I didn't make that much money lifeguarding, and whatever expense went toward subsidizing my internship would have been far less than was spent a few summer's later on someone else's opera camp.

Why, then, did my mother not want me to spend a summer in Washington? I am not and will probably never be sure, but I have several theories. As this juncture, I am unwilling to undergo the emotional tumult necessary to enumerate and explore them all. Suffice it to say that I cannot think of embarking upon a career as an entry-level Republican operative without feeling considerable resentment toward my darling mother. So, when she asked me why I had not relayed to her The L.A.W. and Brother-in-L.A.W.'s offer, I told her this tale, to which she replied, "Well, we aren't talking about an unpaid internship now." Wow. Just, wow. She asked why I was reluctant to discuss this with her, and without any hesitation rejected out of hand my reasons. She demanded frankness, but refused to give it even a moment's consideration.

Honesty is a virtue, and virtue is its own reward.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia Michael Wilbon
I have gotten out of the habit of watching E.S.P.N.'s Pardon the Interruption after work because on Thursday, 5 June, the day after the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, P.T.I.'s only coverage of the victory was to express their disappointment that the series had not gone seven games. Serenity, now... serenity, now.... Today, more out of a desire to resume my habit (I do so enjoy habit and routine) than a yearning for the hosts' buffoonery, I sat down and watched the entirety of Pardon the Interruption. I got exactly what I deserved for cutting those curs any slack after their dread insult to the Red Wings: Wilbon said that anyone who does not love European soccer, especially the underway Euro 2008 tournament (?), is not a sports fan.

Thank you and goodnight. I feel no need to swear an oath against P.T.I. as I did against its fantasy football-loving subsidiary Around the Horn, but I cannot envision the circumstances under which I would again watch the program before the commencement of the college football season in the Fall. And even then the margin of error will be exceedingly slight; they teeter upon the edge of an abyss from which there is no return.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Where Do They Make Balloons?" from No! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Balloonistan?

Montag, 16 Juni
The Honor System, "Fool's Gold" from Plea For Peace (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

For the love of Bog, whatever you do, DO NOT see The Happening. More on Wednesday, when we mark the return of our occasional celebration/feature Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day, as well as probe the differences between Parker Posey and Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Days and the recent Duffmania.

Project TROIKA
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We are firing on all cylinders with, to borrow from the mad bastards behind The Venture Bros., super-cooperation!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the day
The Ataris, "So Long, Astoria" from So Long, Astoria (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Songs Inspired By The Goonies, Part II.

And on a personal note, I appreciate that The Ataris took the care to include the comma in both "So Long, Astoria" and
So Long, Astoria. By way of contrast, there should be but is not a comma in the title of Less Than Jake's seminal Hello Rockview. It's a great album, but the hypothetical Hello, Rockview would be just that little bit superior.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Voyage of the Damned"

"Partners in Crime"
"The Fires of Pompeii"
"Planet of the Ood"
"The Sontaran Stratagem" Pt. 1
"The Poison Sky" Pt. 2
"The Doctor's Daughter"
"The Unicorn and the Wasp"

Perchance to Dream
I had two dreams this morning, both of them unusually vivid. In the first, I had my choice of which girl to "get with," still using the parlance of Superbad, Maggie Gyllenhaal or Katie Holmes. (Think I have Batman Begins and The Dark Knight on my mind?) I chose Ms. Gyllenhaal without hesitation. The resulting encounter was far more graphic than is usual for my sex dreams. Honestly, I'm a little grossed out by it. Of course, given Secretary, it is no surprise that my subconscious is inclined to indulge its dirtier proclivities with this particular lovely, but still, ick.

The second was far more conventional, a family reunion... of both sides of my family. Every known Wilson, Little, and Carloni still living was in attendance at an enormous and fanciful house. I wondered from room to room, conversing with pretty much everyone. At every turn, my father followed behind and undermined me; this could be either the deep-seated resentment of mein Vater, or the random firing of synapses. I have never had interest enough to study dream interpretation and I confess to being largely ignorant of the field, but as a layman I have never been convinced that dreams have any significance. Clearly, they are influenced by our conscious minds, but this is not nearly the same thing as possessing any larger meaning for our waking lives.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Adventure Today!" from Myth, Legends, and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Songs Inspired By The Goonies, Part I.

Freitag, 13 Juni
They Might Be Giants, "Turn Around" from Apollo 18 (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXXX - The architecturally odd Citigroup Center on the island of Manhattan.

The Lego model below is not entirely accurate, but it is entirely amusing.

The Buddy System
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones
Marion Ravenwood

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones
Short Round
Willie Scott

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones
Henry Jones, Sr.
Marcus Brody

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Indiana Jones
Marion Williams
Mutt Jones*
Harold Oxley
Mac McHale

Logically, then, if there is a fifth Indiana Jones film, Indy and Mutt's company will be comprised of a membership of no fewer than six.

*As Marion, who presents naming issues herself, states, Mutt was born out of wedlock as Henry Jones III three months before she began dating future R.A.F. war hero Colin Williams; so, even though Mutt introduces himself to Indy as "Mutt Williams" in the malt shop, and clearly believes himself to be the late Colin's son, it is entirely possible that his surname was never legally changed to his stepfather's. His formal name may yet remain Henry Jones III, not Henry Williams.

And even though the minister calls her Marion Ravenwood during her wedding to Indiana, there is every reason to believe that Marion's name was changed to Marion Williams upon her marriage to Colin, and remained such long into her widowhood. Perhaps when a widow remarries it is customary to reference her again by her maiden name during the ceremony? By the end of the picture I think it safe to assume that her name is now Marion Jones. (Not to be confused with the disgraced athlete-cum-steroid junkie.)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Upside Down Frown" from The Else (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Not a song about the incredibly annoying phrase "turn that frown upside down," but the tale of a man whose smile and frown are both inverted, and the resulting social awkwardness.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Eye of the Tiger
The ridiculous humidity has returned and, being Wilsons, we are utilizing our air conditioner to the utmost. The house is cooled to that precise point where if you sit still for a half hour, you'll feel the most delightful little chill. Perfection. And then Tiger comes along, an ambitious little leg warmer. She is not a small cat, the orange blob, but she's still a cat, and thus ridiculously wee. Her heat fades in the same instant she moves, but while she remains she's so pleasantly endothermic.

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


"Shyness is nice, and
Shyness can stop you
From doing all things in life you'd like to.
Shyness is nice, and
Shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life you'd like to.
So if there's something you'd like to try,
Something you'd like to try,
Ask me, I won't say no,
How could I?

Coyness is nice, and
Coyness can stop you
From saying all the things in life you'd like to...."

How could I?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Glory be, the humidity broke, for at least one day.

Also, I dropped by printer off at Best Buy this morning, but the hour is later than it appears and I have an early day. There's not even really a story here, just a litany of frustrations. I know, I know, pinch yourself, you must be dreaming.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Reunion Show, "...Said I" from The Motion (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The best part of the song is the keyboard at the very beginning, but that's enough. Alas, Edna's Goldfish, we hardly knew ye.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Special Request
To deal with the dearth of television programming that typifies the summer (at least until Burn Notice and Mad Men begin their all-too-brief seasons), and not being in a humor to read, I elected to watch Superbad this evening. I received the D.V.D. for Christmas and had exhausted all the bonus features, but this was the first time I'd seen the movie since originally seeing in the theater. This was both an enormously good decision and a preposterously poor choice: enormously good in that Superbad is a hi-fucking-larious film and I laughed and laughed and laughed, even pausing the film so as not to miss the next joke or gag while laughing; preposterously poor as Superbad is, beneath all the funny funny jokes, about Evan and Seth's friendship. And I don't really have a best friend anymore, my best friend cut me out of his life in the cruelest terms possible and then had the audacity to accuse me, with a victim's pain in his voice, of shutting him out of my life. So, though I had a lovely day today except for the continuing Floridian heat and humidity, I've spent the last half hour wrangling with my pain and fury and getting those two bastards back into their corrals. Pain in my arse.

Really, though, I'm going to have to live with this betrayal for the next thirty-one years and change, and I don't want my parade continually rained upon. Perhaps a series of intentional and controlled exposures are just the ticket, exactly what I need to get a handle on things. You know, that actually sounds like a good idea. I will devise an experimental protocol at once!

The problem with a long term revenge scheme is that by nature that damn thing is years in the offing. The planning is done, the execution has been thought through to the last detail, now I just have to wait for the moment to be ripe. And you all know me, delaying gratification has never been my strong suit. But for this... I will teach myself patience. I hold in my heart the words of John Dryden:

"Beware the fury of a patient man."

Too melodramatic? All this maniacal cackling and villainous hand-rubbing has left little time for "The Stars My Destination." Standby, space cadets, the countdown is on a hold.

Project TROIKA
To this point, Steeze has been intensely focusing on one part of the overall tapestry while I've been plugging away at the remainder in a more general fashion. He has completed and transmitted to me the first draft of his labors, which I am reading closely and evaluating. After a suitable period for sober reflection, I will pass onto him my patented one-two punch of effuse praise and withering critique. Plot always follows character and several characters, until recently vague placeholders, have lately sprung to life before my mind's eye. So, as I enjoy saying (possibly just a bit too much), the work continues apace.

Grow or die.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Chinkees, "Trophy Winner" from Peace Through Music (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Because, really, what better way to celebrate the Red Wings' Stanley Cup triumph than with a fifty-eight-second instrumental song by a California-based, all-Asian band dedicated to combating racism, sexism, and discrimination of all types; fostering racial harmony; and advancing a vaguely socialist agenda?

I have no idea what this song is really about, as there are no lyrics. Even the album's liner notes, which detail the genesis of each individual song, read for "Trophy Winner" simply, "Instrumental." Way to help, Mike Park.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Scroll down for the latest installment of The Explorers Club!

"Voyage of the Damned"

"Partners in Crime"
"The Fires of Pompeii"
"Planet of the Ood"
"The Sontaran Stratagem"
"The Poison Sky"
"The Doctor's Daughter"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Look At Me, I'm a Winner!" from Charge!! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This one goes out to Chris Osgood, No. 30. We missed you when you were gone, buddy.

"Four radios blasting classic rock,
And they're pointing at you!
With your fist raised high and a hitch in your step,
You've got it all!
I've got no reason to lie!
Look at me, look at me, look at me,
I'm a winner!
(You're a winner!)
It's just as simple as that!
Don't you agree, don't you agree, don't you agree
That I'm a winner?
(You're a winner!)
You just can't argue with that!"

Even on T.V., I could tell that The Joe wasn't the same without the chants of "Oz-zie! Oz-zie! Oz-zie!"

The Stars My Destination
When We Left Earth reminded me that I've been remiss in my "The Stars My Destination" and "Science!" posts, and I aim to correct that tomorrow.

I placed on this year's birthday wish list, titled "The Summer of Indiana Jones," the following item in the category of Miscellany: "Gift certificates for or largess to purchase a fancy pants grown up watch." This morning, my mother spied in the paper an advertisement for a Father's Day promotion at J. C. Penney, placing on sale watches along with many other items. So, this afternoon, we decamped to Penney's to examine what was on offer. I narrowed down my preferences to a pair and left the final choice to her since this was, after all, her gift to me. She chose the less formal of the two, saying "It's more like [me]." And it really is. So, though I shan't be receiving a chronograph for my birthday, I am getting a new, supplemental watch!

On the one hand, I am grateful to her for the lovely gift, and for the opportunity to select it myself. On the other hand, I dislike knowing the nature of my presents in advance of my birthday. On the gripping hand, my new watch is of Swiss manufacture; it's chockablock with neutral precision!

Also, as we departed with our purchases, we ran into, in the act of entering, Alistair's elder brother. I could see the wheels turning behind his eyes as he struggled to recognize me, and not in vain. We traded the usual pleasantries and went our separate ways about our own business.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXXIX - The XF-85 Goblin.

My mother hails from Kettering, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton, home of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base which is in turn the home of the National Museum of the United States Air Force (called the United States Air Force Museum during my youth; so, I will forever think of it by that name). Grandma Little, my mother's mother and my sole surviving grandparent, has disliked my father for all thirty-eight years that she has known him. As a consequence, whenever we'd visit my grandparents in Kettering, the Wilson men would invariably pay a visit to the Air Force Museum; so, I've seen the Goblin at Wright-Pat in person more times than I can count. And it is ever cooler in person than in the above photographs. Wright-Pat is one of only two attractions in verdammt Ohio I am willing to endorse (the other is Cedar Point, which isn't even really in Ohio). If you get the chance to visit the Air Force Museum, I recommend it highly.

Also, I am greatly enamored of the entire concept of parasite aircraft; so, The Explorers Club has surely not seen the last of these aerial oddballs.

The Duke!
I've just finished watching the lion's share (pun fully intended) of Hatari!, starring none other than John Wayne. There didn't seem to be much in the way of plot, merely a string of phenomenally entertaining scenes, alternating between wild animal adventure and chummy camaraderie. If anything, it reminds me of The Life Aquatic, except without the melancholy endemic to all of Wes Anderson's pictures, and about not a sea cruise but a prolonged African safari. (Are there non-African safaris? If one went big game hunting in India during the Raj, would it be rightly called a safari?) 'Twas on A.M.C., so there were commercials, and I missed the first hour and a half (in the T.V. guide, not T.V. Guide, the running time with commercials is given as three and a half hours); so, one of these days I'll have to sit down and watch all of Hatari!

We really don't make enough films sporting an exclamation point in the title.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Denis Leary, "Asshole" from No Cure For Cancer (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I walk around in the summertime saying, 'How about this heat?'"

Is "@$$hole" an acceptably less offensive substitute fit for public display, or even more offensive due to the annoyance factor? Debate.

Freitag, 6 Juni
Queen, "We Are the Champions" from Greatest Hits I (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As I am certain the Red Wings have not for the last time in my lifetime claimed Lord Stanley's Cup, one of these years I'll be there in the heart of Detroit for the parade, by thunder! An estimated crowd of 1,400,000 lined the parade route: even though not all were from Michigan (the Wings' local fanbase extends southward into both Ohio and Ontario), that's more than one in ten people in the whole damn state! That's bloody ridiculous in the best possible sense!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Still basking in the afterglow, this evening I am wearing a T-shirt appropriate to the occasion: "Swedish Mafia: Efficient but deadly."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Nobody Does It Better" from Have A Ball (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Dedicated to Detroit Red Wings alternate captain Henrik Zetterberg, No. 40, winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the most dangerous man on the ice during a 5-on-3.

There is much about which to complain, but at this juncture I am, as you may have gathered, still soaring from last night and thus in no mood to ponder the abyss. Yet to sate those clamoring for more personal content, I bring you a confession both shocking and utterly bewildering, most of all to yours truly. An excerpt from an online chat with Skeeter, held exactly one week ago:
Skeeter: i'm in it for the voyeurism
so i thank you

Me: At this exact moment, I am experiencing the most bizarre crush on Hilary Duff.
Skeeter: ew, mike
she's not even pretty

Me: Bizarre in that I have seen none of her films and her music is horrific. I am at a complete loss, Julie.
Skeeter: go focus on blake lively
at least she's purdy

Me: I have no idea who that is, but I'll try. The internet shall yield the answers!
A week on, I remain entirely enchanted by the Duffmeister (and I do not mean my R.C.Y. bandmate, and damn dirty lefty, John). Plumb the depths of that oddity... if you dare! Sooner rather than later, we'll compare and contrast this disturbing infatuation with the oft misunderstood meaning of our occasional features "Parker Posey Appreciation Day" and "Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day." Is there a method to my madness or merely a series of misfiring synapses? Stay tuned.

But first, of course, more Stanley Cup celebrating. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Believe: Red Wings 3-2 Penguins
Sixteen wins for Lord Stanley's Cup. Best of seven: Detroit 4-2 Pittsburgh.

Oh my Bog. Oh my Bog. Oh my Bog. How I had missed this sensation! I cannot even hope to be minimally articulate. All is joy. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch. Thank you, Captain Lidstrom. My thanks to all the Red Wings. And a special nod to Steve Yzerman, former captain of the Red Wings and now in the front office, who refused to come down to the ice tonight and deflect any attention from this year's players' triumph. Nobody does it better, Captain Yzerman. Thank you all.

The Detroit Red Wings
2008 Stanley Cup Champions


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "She Believes In Me" from Love Their Country (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "And she believes in me, I'll never know just what she sees in me."
Believe: 2nd Intermission - Red Wings 2-1 Penguins
The lavish praise the C.B.C. commentators heap upon young Sidney Crosby (or should I say verbal fellatio?) is annoying, but who doesn't love that old sports standard, the "us against the world" narrative? I mean, the Red Wings have the biggest national fan base in the N.H.L.; so, it doesn't really work, but with the Penguins, the officials, and the N.H.L. itself arrayed against us, it is not entirely invalid either.

One period to glory. Let's go Red Wings. Believe.
Believe: 1st Intermission - Red Wings 1-0 Penguins
So, let me see if I understand this: the Penguins got a 5-on-3 for a minute and a half because Kris Draper delivered a perfectly legal check to a Penguin, but when a Penguin blatantly tripped a Red Wing - Kronwall, I think - while Detroit was on the power play, the official who was looking straight at the clearcut penalty sat on his hands. I mean, I know the N.H.L. front office desperately wants Sidney Crosby to win the Cup, but the obviousness of the corruption is getting ridiculous.

Whatever. If the Wings have to play against two different teams wearing white and black - the only difference being that the Penguins feature splashes of yellow while the officials have orange armbands - so be it. Go Red Wings!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

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

Commentary: Because, really, who among us can say that they've never wanted to see Dennis Franz murdered and consigned to an unmarked grave, unknown and unmourned?
Believe: Penguins 4-3 Red Wings (3 O.T.)
Fifteen down, one to go! Best of seven: Detroit 3-2 Pittsburgh.

Sadly, this is exactly what happens when you don't put a team down for good and instead let them hang around. Even though they were badly outplayed for long stretches of the game, the Penguins held on and held on, and eventually prevailed. But, take heart, Hockeytown faithful. You know who else won Game 5 in the Joe Louis Arena to stave off elimination and force a Game 6 back on their home ice? The Dallas Stars, and we all saw how that turned out for them.

And now I am for bed. I'm exhausted, mentally and emotionally more than physically. Go Red Wings!
Believe: End of Second Overtime - Red Wings 3-3 Penguins
Bog, this is interminable. No, no, must remain in high spirits.... Let's go, Red Wings, third time's the charm! For the Cup! For glory! For Detroit!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Believe: End of Regulation - Red Wings 3-3 Penguins
Well, crap. Serves us right, I suppose, for not scoring a fourth "insurance" goal. Bring on the O.T.!

Go Red Wings!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Paul Simon, "Kodachrome" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I got a Nikon camera, I love to take the photographs." The X-700, however, is a Minolta: X-700link. (My X-700, "The X-700," looks much like the featured "Black version," but with an entirely different strap.)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXXVIII - Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; its namesake, Admiral Sir Fairfax Moresby (1786-1877); and its namer, his son, Captain John Moresby (1830-1922).

There are also two completely separate islands in the Dominion of Canada named Moresby Island, again after the admiral.

Escape Hatch
On Thursday, out of the clear blue sky, The L.A.W. and Brother-in-L.A.W., utilizing the power of speaker phone, rang my mobile and asked if I had a few minutes to discuss a matter of some import. They wish me to move to Washington, D.C. and, after attaining an entry-level position on Capitol Hill, climb the ranks as a Republican operative. And as at first I will need to find a relatively crummy job to work on the weekends and at night to leave my days free to scour the halls of power for that first step on my new career, they have offered their townhouse as a short-term residence. I am sorely tempted by their generosity and I am giving the matter serious consideration. After the debacle of Texile, I will make no move without an interval of profound introspection and a lavish degree of planning and preparation.

Nice to know my future is a matter of concern and that people out there are scheming to help me find a better life.

Believe: Red Wings 2-1 Penguins
Fifteen down, one to go! Best of seven: Detroit 3-1 Pittsburgh.

Holy freakin' cow, the second period was one of the most frenetic intervals I'd seen in all my many years of following televised sports! Interesting factoid: the Penguins have never come back from behind, not in all the series. They didn't score at all in the first two games, and lead 2-0, 2-1, and 3-1 in Game 3. This time 'round, they drew first blood and still lost. Hard to say which is more disheartening, that failure or the futility of their ridiculously long 5-on-3 power play in the third.

Though the Penguins will be desperate tomorrow, playing on the edge of the abyss of elimination, I do not believe they have the fortitude, the strength of character to force a Game 6 back in Pittsburgh. Though villains, the Dallas Stars twice summoned the discipline and Herculean effort necessary to stave off elimination. Faced with adversity after the first two games, the Pens focused not on their own shortcomings, but instead lobed scurrilous accusations of underhanded play at the Red Wings. Presented with the opportunity to tie the series on Saturday, those selfsame self-pitiers looked confused, frustrated, and generally out of sorts through most of the contest. Given the chance to compete for glory, I believe the Penguins will lay down and beg for mercy. And I doubt the Red Wings will be in a merciful humor. At this point, I wouldn't bet the baby's milk money on my prediction of a six-game series.

Go Red Wings!

Game 3: Penguins 3-2 Red Wings
Fourteen down, two to go. Best of seven: Detroit 2-1 Pittsburgh.

The bad news? We lost. The good news? We lost as much because of our own poor play as because of anything the pouting Penguins did. We looked sluggish and discombobulated throughout; so, honestly, I don't know how we managed to score two goals and come so close to winning. More troubling, at the time, was that we had not managed to lose only one game thus far in the playoffs. On both previous occasions that we lost a game - against Nashville after leading 2-0 and up 3-0 against Dallas - we also lost a second consecutive game; so, both series took six games. However, the glorious hallmark of a Mike Babcock-coached Red Wings team is a complete and utter lack of panic. And regardless of the outcome of Game 4, I remained confident in the Red Wings' eventual triumph.

Game 2: Red Wings 3-0 Penguins
Fourteen down, two to go. Best of seven: Detroit 2-0 Pittsburgh.

Forgive me, I made the mistake of watching the first half of A&E's The Andromeda Strain instead of Game 2. Even had The Andromeda Strain not proven a rotting pile, this choice would have been a mistake; that the miniseries was atrocious added almost welcome insult to injury. (I like my mistakes to be painful so as to make them all the more educational.)

I had no opinion whatsoever of Sidney "Sid the Kid" Crosby's character before this series, but now I hate his whiny guts. Take your beating like a man, junior, don't bellyache about phantom obstruction penalties and non-existent dives. Clearly, it was a mistake making such a petulant child the captain of the Penguins. It would stand the crybaby in good stead to study the leadership styles of two men truly worthy of the honor of the captaincy, Steve Yzerman (or simply "The Captain") and Nick Lidstrom.

Meanwhile, the braying state media was right: for all the national media's talk of the Red Wings having not faced an offensive juggernaut like the Penguins, the more significant point was that the Penguins had not, even in their worst nightmares, imagined anything as chilling as the total-team defense of the Red Wings.

Game 1: Red Wings 4-0 Penguins
Thirteen down, three to go. Best of seven: Detroit 1-0 Pittsburgh.

I was kept updated on the progress of this game while at The Guy and The Gal's wedding reception through the marvel of modern technology. A fellow with whom I am vaguely acquainted from the Memorial Day camping bonanzas of yore gave me an unsolicited, but by no means unwelcome, report when the Red Wings lead two to nil. I presume his information came courtesy of a mobile, wireless device, though this is a pure supposition. He approached me at the bar when the score had grown to 4-0 and we had one of those delightfully male conversations about the glory and majesty of sport; it is much harder to see the grandeur or such moments when your team has the short end of the stick. He kept me from the dance floor, true, but as will be detailed later the dance floor was the one area in which The Guy and The Gal's wedding weekend was less than spectacular.

And though but one game and not at all the whole series, I absolutely relished Detroit's denial of the potent Pittsburgh offense.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Guster, "So Long" from Lost and Gone Forever (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "But in my defense, I'd do it again."

Samstag, 31 Mai
Steppenwolf, "Magic Carpet Ride" from 16 Greatest Hits (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I am a music snob, but a highly idiosyncratic music snob who has, for example, no problem with greatest hits collections. The greatest hits, as a sampler, can be a great introduction to your new favorite band; alternately, some bands have but one or two extraordinary songs on every album, mixed in with a lot of middling, forgettable tunes. R.E.M. is the premiere exemplar of this latter type. (No offense, Saturday Night.)