Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

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

Commentary: Duo.

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

Grow or die.

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


Goldman Roh?

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

Monday, December 29, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*All are recent additions to my personal library.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

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

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

Saturday, December 27, 2008

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

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

Friday, December 26, 2008

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


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

Doug McKenzie: "Good day, eh."

Bob: "Yeah."

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

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

Doug: "Look out the window!"

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

Doug: "Snow."

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

Doug: "What?"

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

Doug: "I have my thinking tuque on."

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

Doug: "Um."

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

Doug: "Uh, the twenty-fifth."

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

Doug: "That's two."

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

Doug: "Um."

Bob: "Boxing Day."

Doug: "Uh, Wrestling Day."

Bob: "No. Get out."

Doug: "Boxing Day. Yeah, yeah."

Bob: "That's three."

Doug: "I knew it--"

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

Doug: "New Year's!"

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

Doug: "New Year's Eve!"

Bob: "Five."

Doug. "Okay."

Bob: "Where do you get twelve?"

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

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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* P *
* E *

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 22, 2008

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

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

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

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

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

Project TROIKA
Dezember ist die Zeit für Panik!

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

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

Grow or die.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 20, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

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

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

Grow or die.

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

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

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sunday, December 14, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Blue!

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

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

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

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

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

In Soviet Russia, name mispronounces you?

Friday, December 12, 2008

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

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

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

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

"King of the impossible!

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 8, 2008

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

Congratulations, you're a sap.

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


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


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

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

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

Sunday, December 7, 2008

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

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

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


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

Grow or die.

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

Saturday, December 6, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Blue!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 1, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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