Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Birthday!
Happy birthday to my sainted mother, twice over a grandmother and deliriously happy at that happenstance. She's been gone since Boxing Day—helping The L.A.W. and Brother-in-L.A.W. cope with the still brand-new Natalie (Niece-in-L.A.W.? Daughter-of-L.A.W.?)—and I miss her terribly. Happy birthday, Mom!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of New Year's Eve
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Auld Lang Syne" from Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: All the best to you and yours in Anno Domini 2010, my friends.

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No rest for the wicked. I hosted the gang on Tuesday night for a Psych marathon and to make preparations for our New Year's Eve extravaganza. Worlds collided when Ki-El joined us, becoming the first of my old comrades to meet the new crowd. I am sorry that this Christmas break has not been more productive for The Secret Base, but I've found it to be devilishly brief and passing at a heart-stopping pace. On my honor, Twenty-ten will be a better bloggy blogging year than was Aught-nine.

Tomorrow, of course, belongs exclusively to the aforementioned New Year's Eve extravaganza, about which I will report in as much detail as discretion allows, provided I survive. On Saturday, I am scheduled to see The Sardine; yippee!

The Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 3: The itchiness has begun, and it will get much, much worse before it gets better. Good news, The Impossible Ingenue thinks this is a terrible idea. Oh, wait… crumbs!


The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Sufjan Stevens, "Holy, Holy, Holy" from Songs for Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "God in three Persons."

Dienstag, 29 Dezember
Duvall, "Joy to the World" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary-cum-Operation AXIOM: 29 December, the Feast Day of Saint Thomas Becket, martyred for his defense of the Church against the state's avarice.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Loot
Presented in the same format in which my Christmas wish list was presented to my kin.

Charles Brooks, ed., Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year—2010 Edition
Charles Brooks, ed., Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year—2008 Edition

{Motion Pictures on D.V.D.}
Slumdog Millionaire (curiously, on Blu-ray disc, even though I don't have a Blu-ray player)

{Television Series on D.V.D.}
Star Wars: The Clone Wars — The Complete Season One
Psych — The Complete First Season
Psych — The Complete Second Season
Psych — The Complete Third Season

Reel Big Fish, Fame, Fortune, and Fornication (on compact disc)
Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas (through the agency of an iTunes gift certificate)

Salami (which my mom refuses to make throughout the rest of the year)
Gift certificates to the Men's Wearhouse
Hallmark keepsake ornament — Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader's final duel aboard the Death Star II
Hallmark keepsake ornaments — Anakin Skywalker & Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars
Hallmark keepsake ornament - Iron Man (these are my dad's favorite things in the world to give)
Renewal of my subscription to National Review
AA batteries (even though I still have stockpiled AA's from many Christmases past)
candies of many stripes
cold, hard cash
* * * * *
a stocking full of coal (technically, charcoal) & a pair of panties from The Most Dangerous Game (she's an odd duck)
"something" from The Impossible Ingenue (she didn't have it at the gang's Christmas party on 22 Dezember, and I haven't seen her since, woe is me [text messaging every day isn't sufficient!])

The Bonzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 1: I shaved off my sideburns and imperial yesterday. I've trimmed my sideburns above the bottom of my ears before, but this is the first time I've been completely without them since I first grew them the summer after freshman year. I love my sideburns and I look bizarre without them; not dramatically different, but something small and nagging is clearly amiss. Pictures will be posted as soon as my dad emails them to me.

This second go-round of the Banzai Beard Bonanza is getting underway a month later than I intended. The main reason for suspending the start was Project PANDORA, the pursuit of The Impossible Ingenue and the brief, frustrating, and ultimately idiotic sideshow with The Other Woman. But you know what? The only way I'll ever win The Ingenue's heart is by being me, the best, truest version of me I can be. And I want to grow a beard; growing this beard has been five years in the making, since the first Banzai Beard Bonanza (and stand ready for some serious Wayback Machine action as we move forward). Hang on to your hats, this is going to suck. And this is going to be awesome. And then suck some more.


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

Commentary: Christmas music will continue throughout Christmastide.

Sonntag, 27 Dezember
Duvall, "Away in a Manger" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Seemed an apropos choice for the Feast of the Holy Family.

Samstag, 26 Dezember
Palooka-ville, "Triumph of the GoBots" from Falling Off the Doghouse (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Live on stage for one night only! The pride of the Grand Blanc music scene, together again after many moons! Ladies and gentlemen, the Aloha Lounge is proud to present the one, the only, the original, Palooka-ville!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Christmas Day
Kevin Stermer & the Brothers Mace, "Santa Baby" courtesy of K. Steeze (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Just horrible. Bog, I hope butchering a Yuletide classic becomes an annual tradition.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Sufjan Stevens, "I Saw Three Ships" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 23 Dezember
Billy Joel, "New York State of Mind" from Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Because Mr. Skeeter (ne Jimmy From Queens) thinks I'm a New Yorker at heart and cannot understand why I don't live there.

Dienstag, 22 Dezember
Brian d'Arcy James, "Michigan Christmas" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Because I woke up long before dawn broke to drive with my father to Cleveland so that he could purchase a "parts car," and having done so we then drove back to Michigan at a snail's pace because he didn't want to push his untested prize. And all the while I thought solely about getting back in time for my new friends' Christmas party, which turned out to be exactly as delightful as I'd hoped. All my joy on Tuesday was tied up in returning to sacred Michigan from baleful Ohio.

Montag, 21 Dezember
Catch 22, "Keasbey Nights" from Keasbey Nights (T.L.A.M)

Commentary: I saw The Loose Ties perform for the second time in four days, and, boy howdy, do they love playing their cover of "Keasbey Nights."

Sonntag, 20 Dezember
Susan Egan, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" from Winter Tracks (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I wasn't home, I was in Ohio celebrating an early Christmas with my nephew Teddy and his folks (with whom reconciliation seems increasingly likely). But, by thunder, I'll be home for Christmas!

Samstag, 19 Dezember
Weezer, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" via iTunes, (free) Holiday Sampler (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tonight, my friend's band, The Loose Ties, played at a local watering hole, Woobie's Bar & Nightlife. I last saw The Loose Ties, an honest-to-Bog ska band, three weeks hence, at that selfsame Woobie's; then, a girl I'd just met formed a crush on me, leading to a tale that will eventually be told as "Project PANDORA: The Other Woman." This evening, I was returning from solo skanking in front of the stage to my group's table when a girl left the bar and drew up close to me. She asked in a low voice, "Do you like girls or boys?" I had not quite heard her and asked her to repeat the question.

She did and I answered, "I like girls." She returned to the bar and a moment later I sidled up behind her and whispered in her ear, smiling as I did so, "If that disappoints anybody, I'm sorry." Visual evidence of her ensuing conversation indicates the chap seated to her right had taken a fancy to me. Later, as I stood next to our table after another skanking sortie, this chap stood up and started to approach me before he was bodily intercepted by another of his fellows, who steered him back to the bar and spoke for some time into the chap's ear. The chap had clearly been imbibing to the point of impairment, but this was still, to my knowledge, the first time I was the object of a homosexual advance. In all frankness, yes, it was mildly flattering.

A girl the first time I skanked to the music of The Loose Ties at Woobie's, a guy the second time. I've seen and skanked to the music of The Loose Ties on two other occasions without receiving any offers; so, clearly the operative variable is Woobie's. At Woobie's, I am a chick love magnet.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the day
The Loose Ties, "Awesomer Than You" from the The Loose Ties E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The L.A.W. and the as-yet-not-codenamed Natalie went home today, and both are reported by Brother-in-L.A.W., always a more open communicator than my sister, to be doing well. My mother, unsurprisingly, is pleased as punch, as are, it must be said, we all. Natalie's a Festivus miracle!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Stephen Colbert, "Another Christmas Song" via iTunes, (free) Holiday Sampler (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 16 Dezember
Susan Egan, "Little Colored Lights" from Winter Tracks (T.L.A.M.)


"It's kind of funny, they're only light bulbs,
Strung around a window or a doorway or a tree,
But those light bulbs, those little light bulbs
Shine with more than just the light we see."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Welcome to the world, Natalie, Uncle Mike already loves you! Also, remember, Uncle Mike is your favorite!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Killers, "Believe Me Natalie" from Hot Fuss (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The only "Natalie" song I have.

Montag, 14 Dezember
Jimmy Buffett, "Christmas in the Caribbean" courtesy of The Watergirl (The Watergirl)

Commentary: "Got everything but snow." Sounds hellish.

Monday, December 14, 2009

As I type these lines my pregnant sister, The L.A.W., is being induced into labor, five days before her baby, the still gender-unknown "Junior" was "due." I will report again as soon as I have news, God willing that mother and baby are in tip-top shape and resting comfortably.

Max, Benjamin, Paul, or Henry? Molly, Rachel, Natalie, or Sonia?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Meaghan Smith, "It Snowed" via iTunes, (free) Holiday Sampler (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: It didn't actually snow Saturday night, it was more of a murderous freezing rain, but I was able successfully to navigate my way home from The Impossible Ingenue & The Most Dangerous Game's house, where the usual suspects watched The Ugly Truth (ugly doesn't begin to describe it) and Pretty Woman (pretty fair).

"And when the Sun dips out of sight,
We'll cozy up together by the fireside.
And just before we close our eyes
Wish upon a star it snows again tonight."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Great Bird of the Galaxy, The Impossible Ingenue is a fan of Invader ZIM! Raise your glasses, here's to serendipity.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Great Big Sea, "Come and I Will Sing You" courtesy of The Watergirl (The Watergirl, for reals)

Freitag, 11 Dezember
Barenaked Ladies, "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah" from Barenaked For the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: On the occasion of the beginning of Hanukkah. Bit of a non sequitur: Hi, my name is Mike Wilson and I am proud to be a Zionist.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CLVIII - The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Part III: The Great Pyramid of Giza.

It is a farce that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but credit where credit is due, his acceptance speech—at least the parts I heard—was the finest I've ever heard our charlatan president deliver. Alas, pretty words do not wise and courageous policy make.

Welcome to the parade of horrors. Seen enough yet?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Tanya Donelly, "The Night You Saved My Life" via iTunes (Mrs. Skeeter)

Commentary: The title, "The Night You Saved My Life," reminds me so much of the last line of a short story, "Lifeguard," I wrote a decade back, in a creative writing class: "Come on, Happy, save my life."

Plus, back to Donelly, "Every day brings a new breed of jackass."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Sufjan Stevens, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" via YouTube (Daddy Dylweed)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Think you can't inadvertently spent a night out on the town? Guess again. You can fall into these things like a tiger trap. A pleasant tiger trap, mind you, but the simile was always meant to play up the ambush angle anyway.

Tonight was supposed to be a big bloggy blogging night, a night to get caught up and explain what's been on my mind lately. Tomorrow, I devoutly hope. The Secret Base was never meant to be a casualty of MERCATOR.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Laser Show" from Utopia Parkway (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Why? Because someone mentioned the laser show tonight at dessert. It's just that easy!

Montag, 7 Dezember
They Might Be Giants, "Bed Bed Bed" from No! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I fell asleep on Monday a little after ten o'clock, having gotten about forty-five minutes of restless sleep the previous night. 'Twas one part socialization and two parts schoolwork (and mine own sloth toward same) that kept me up so early.

Sonntag, 6 Dezember
American Hi-Fi, "Flavor of the Weak" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"Her boyfriend, he don't know,
Anything about her.
He's too stoned, Nintendo,
I wish that I could make her see."

Samstag, 5 Dezember
The Blues Brothers, "Expressway to Your Heart" from The Definitive Collection (T.L.A.M.)


"I been tryin' to get to you for a long time,
'Cause constantly you've been on my mind.
I was thinkin' about a short cut that I could take,
But I found I made a mistake.
I was wrong, it took too long.
I got caught in a rush hour,
Fellas started to shower
You with love and affection,
Now you won't look in my direction.

I need an expressway to your heart!
That expressway,
That's the best way."

I'm ready, I just can't seem to find the on ramp to the expressway to The Impossible Ingenue's heart.

Freitag, 4 Dezember
The Articles, "Blue Monk" from Flip F'real (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: On the occasion of the series finale of Monk, "Mr. Monk and the End, Part II." My thanks to all those who made Monk such a great show lo these many wonderful years.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm sorry for the sporadic posts and general lack of content, dear readers, these old bones are as weary as the day is long. I'm going to bed directly after publishing this.

So far past expectations has MERCATOR succeeded, so much the social butterfly have I become, that a night like tonight, with no phone calls or text messages, no high-jinks into the wee hours of the morning, fills me with a peculiar kind of dread. Like something great is happening and I'm missing it, or something awful is happening and I'm not there to stop it. Like this new life is so terribly fragile that one missed opportunity might plunge me back into my former solitude, never again to emerge. However did this happen to me, misanthropic, misfit me?

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "It's All Been Done" from Stunt (The Watergirl, sort of)

Mittwoch, 2 Dezember
Less Than Jake, "She's Gonna Break Soon" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)


"It's the boys in bars on Friday night
That replace the emptiness inside."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I have spent significant time with The Impossible Ingenue every day since Thanksgiving, with lunch scheduled for Wednesday and our second swing dance lesson for Friday. I am so taken with her it's ridiculous.

The Impossible Ingenue & The Last Angry Man at his second Thanksgiving dinner.

And, no, this isn't the out-of-left-field PANDORA news alluded to on Sunday. No time to detail that now.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "In the Car" from Stunt (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 30 November
They Might Be Giants, "Take Out the Trash" from The Else (T.L.A.M.)


"Girl, why not take out the trash?
And once you get him out,
Tell him not to come back again.
Girl, put that cat in the bin,
After what he said,
After everything he did.

You had him figured out a while ago,
And I know it's not exactly breaking news.
But it's all been a little like a trial for you
And a bunch more talking won't make him true."

A bunch more talking won't make him true.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CLVII - The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Part II: the Mausoleum of Mausolus at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, & the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Sunday, 29 November
Alabama 68-66 Michigan (15)
3-2, Big Ten 0-0

And just like that, we're 3-2 after a 1-2 performance at the Old Spice Classic. Call me fair weather is you wish, but I went to five o'clock Mass today, missing this game, and I just don't have the energy to dwell on bad news.

Next contest: at home v. Boston College, part of the annual drubbing known as the Big Ten/A.C.C. Challenge. Go Blue!

Friday, 27 November
Marquette 79-65 Michigan (15)
3-1, Big Ten 0-0

It's hard to win when you can't stop the other team's offense. At all. Early days, plenty of time to correct today's miscues before we enter the meaty part of the college basketball schedule. Still and all, perspective be buggered. Drat, I really though we might have actually deserved our No. 15 ranking!

Project OSPREY
Big Ten/A.C.C. Challenge, Tuesday night doubleheader: Purdue v. Wake Forest, Michigan State v. North Carolina. Woot! (Too bad I'll have too much studying to do to watch all of both games.)

He's Dead, Jim
I saw The Loose Ties last night at Woobie's, a pretty cool bar in Flint. I've now seen them thrice, every fortnight since Halloween. Woobie's really is a bar, not a bar-cum-nightclub; so, predictably, there was very little dancing. To blazes with critical mass, I skanked! I skanked alone, I skanked with the band, I skanked in an oval around the pool table, I skanked back and forth along the bar, shaking the whole place. I skanked like it was going out of style, which I suppose it is. And as before at the massive, seven-band ska show in Ann Arbor two weeks ago, all that reckless skanking tweaked a muscle in my left calf. Plus, it didn't do my malingering right ankle any favors. I've been hobbled all day, but it was totally worth it.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Dr. D" (the old way, live) from Live From the Middle East (T.L.A.M.)

Coming Attractions
An unexpected development in Project PANDORA, but I guarantee you it isn't what you're guessing it is.
Without really meaning for it to happen, this Thanksgiving and the subsequent weekend have turned into an orgy of socialization that dwarfs even the "Three Four Days of the Condor" of a fortnight hence. My parents are away visiting my grandmother in Ohio, yet there are four people sleeping in my house besides your humble narrator.

Yes, I'm typing this at five-something in the morning, and no, I haven't yet been to bed. L'chaim!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Samstag, 28 November
Reel Big Fish, "Beer" from Turn the Radio Off (T.L.A.M.)


"Maybe someday I'll think of what to say.
Maybe next time I'll remember what to do.
She looks like Heaven,
Maybe this is Hell."

Freitag, 27 November
Blink-182, "The Party Song" from Enema of the State (T.L.A.M.)


"So when you see her standing there
With green eyes and long blonde hair,
She won't be wearing underwear
And you'll discover
This girl's not the one,
And she'll never be fun,
You should just turn and run,
Because you'll find out that some girls try too hard.
(Da na na, da na na, da na na)
Some girls try too hard.
(Da na na, da na na, da na na)
And some girls try too hard to impress
With the way that they dress,
With those things on their chest,
And the things they suggest."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Operation AXIOM
I am truly blessed, there is so very much in my life for which to be thankful, and for which I am indeed thankful. I am possessed of a mind with which to reason and a body with which to ambulate, I have loving kin and the finest kith for which any man could ask, and, most of all, I am loved by the Creator and assured of undeserved salvation through the Christ. There is so much for which to be thankful!

I hope one and all are having a most splendid Thanksgiving!

The Victors: Project OSPREY
(15) Michigan 83-76 Creighton (O.T.)
3-0, Big Ten 0-0

Perhaps more exciting than the valiant Wolverines needed to make things, but I was quite pleased to see how they clawed their way back into the game in the waning minutes and then took Creighton to task in overtime time. Marquette or Xavier? Either way, bring 'em on! (Tomorrow at noon, don't miss it!)

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Thanksgiving Day
Green Day, "Macy's Day Parade" from Warning (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I'm as ardent a fan of commerce as the next fellow, but this "Black Friday" malarkey has gone too far.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "She's Got a Problem" from Fountains of Wayne (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Project MERCATOR is no longer solely about having fun. Or maybe it is, maybe "mission creep" should be avoided, but the friendships nurtured by MERCATOR are no longer solely about fun. The Most Dangerous Game is an extraordinary girl, or she has the potential to be, but troubled. Not troubled the way the girl in "She's Got a Problem" is troubled, but the lyrics work well enough.

"I know a girl who you've got to keep on eye on,
I know a girl who you've got to keep an eye on,
Every time she goes outside,
She barely gets home alive,
She's got a problem and she's gonna do something dumb."

Dienstag, 24 November
Less Than Jake, "The Science of Selling Yourself Short" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: My new friends apparently quite dislike my self-depreciating humor—or at least I've always intended it as humor—and have asked me to knock it off. I suppose they think it represents low self-esteem? Sure, I hate myself, but only to the extent that I rue how easy it would have been not to have completely fouled up my life. As with all my friends, I find their genuine affection for me somewhat puzzling, but because it seems to be genuine affection—at least I can discern no plausible outside motive—I've decided to accede to their request. So, for the first time in many, many years, I'm in need of a new shtick. But until then:

"I'm so overdosed on apathy,
And burnt out on sympathy.

Let the meaning slip away,
Lost my faith in another day,
Self-deprecation seems okay,
I never thought I'd make it anyway."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Project OSPREY
I caught the end of a game today, Pittsburgh 68-55 Wichita State. It has begun.

He's Dead, Jim
I saw Slapher Sally, one of the Flint City Derby Girls, in the White Building today, and she asked me about my ankle. Sally's not her real name, but within the world of derby everybody seems to go by their derby nickname rather than have to learn two complete sets of names. I'm going to forgo the Ace bandage tomorrow and see what happens; I've got full extension back, there's just some occasional pain and stiffness.

It's been four weeks (complicated by attending two ska shows within that span). I'm ready for this to be over and done with.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Beirut, "Nantes" via iTunes (Skeeter)

Commentary: I might as well present today's exchange with Skeeter in its entirety:

Skeeter: "'Nantes' by Beirut. Hated it at first, but now can't stop listening. Give it a chance before you give up on it."

Me: "Oddly enough, I find this a much more compelling endorsement than if you'd written simply, 'Love this song, give it a chance.' Will do."

Skeeter: "Odder still, I think I may still hate it, but it's gotten under my skin."

Me: "Now that's quite off putting, because there are few things in the whole world I hate more than the fact that I know all the lyrics to many songs I despise. Nevertheless, by this point I am curious, and shall give 'Nantes' a fair shake."

I've been listening to "Nantes" on repeat, and I don't hate it. But neither do I think it's getting under my skin. Time has yet to weigh in on that score, though.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CLVI - The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Part I: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, & the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fastball, "The Way" from All the Pain Money Can Buy (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: For whatever reason, I could not get this song out of my head this afternoon when I was finally, finally finishing with the leaves. We always have one tree, one holdout that refuses to drop its leaves until after the first snowfall. But this year the snow did not come abnormally early, thwarting the holdout. Woot!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Victors: Doom Doom Doom
Tuesday morning, one of my two Uncles Bob (my mother's brother, not my mother's sister's husband) offered me a pair of tickets to The Game. Holy wow, I haven't seen the Michigan-Ohio State game with my own eyes in years! I accepted his generosity right away, the potential price of the tickets being all that gave me pause, but by late Tuesday night circumstances compelled Uncle Bob to rescind the offer. He apologized profusely and I had no cause to bear him any ill will; easy come, easy go. Still and all, boy howdy, that would have been something!

For the record, I would have invited The Impossible Ingenue, but in the full knowledge that she'd be working and would thus almost certainly decline. My real plan, then, was to invite Doctor Hee Haw, whom I have not seen in far too long. It would have been classic, Doc!

Ohio State 21-10 Michigan
5-7, Big Ten 1-7

Wisconsin 45-24 Michigan
5-6, Big Ten 1-6

Purdue 38-36 Michigan
5-5, Big Ten 1-5

Illinois 38-13 Michigan
5-4, Big Ten 1-4

Penn State 35-10 Michigan
5-3, Big Ten 1-3

What can I say? I'm sorry I haven't blogged more about the football season. I'm sorry Project MERCATOR prevented me from watching several of this season's games. I'm sorry a year in which we all expected to make a great leap forward ended up resembling (and I'm sorry for the insensitiveness of this reference) the Great Leap Forward. I'm sorry we're terrible.

But I'm not sorry for believing in Rich Rodriguez. Lloyd Carr liked to use the words of Rudyard Kipling as instruments in his job, which he saw as not so much to coach football as it was to guide boys into honorable manhood. So, in defense of Coach Rodriguez, I submit some words of Rudyard Kipling's, from the poem "If—," the pattern after which I am attempting to lead my own life:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!

Go Blue!

I had mobile telephone conversations this afternoon with my erstwhile best friend, K. Steeze, and The Guy, seeking their counsel on how, or even if, I should pursue The Impossible Ingenue. Each handled the imposition with aplomb and I thank them for their sage words. I am tremendously fortunate to have such friends. Thank you, kind sirs.

I was out late Thursday night (more to follow) and out late Friday (the second consecutive Friday spent at The Impossible Ingenue's house), but mercifully The Anonymous Friend had to postpone the poker night scheduled for this evening. Instead, I washed up after some post-game leaf-raking (during which I had the confabs with the aforementioned trio of advisers), ate a delicious home-cooked meal, washed the dishes from same, and caught up on the Monk and White Collar episodes I taped during the last two Fridays spent with The Impossible Ingenue. There are tentative plans to see a movie tomorrow with The Most Dangerous Game, and I hope to corner her into a serious conversation about what's been bedeviling her, though she is by turns evasive and vague when the discussion turns to anything substantive.

World of woe, I'm even farther behind on entries in my journal than I am on posts to The Secret Base. Cursed twenty-four-hour day!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" from A Saturday Tradition (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Go Blue!

Freitag, 20 November
The Puppini Sisters, "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" from The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Swing dance lesson with The Impossible Ingenue: free. The opportunity to dance with The Impossible Ingenue: priceless.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Blink-182, "Dammit" from Dude Ranch (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Today began in a dark abyss. It ended on a high peak, under Orion's Belt. The baleful tone of this R.B.D.S.O.T.D. reflects the morning's suffering, as well as my continued concern for my friend, The Most Dangerous Game. Alas and alack, you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped.

"The steps that I retrace,
The sad look on your face,
The timing and structure,
Did you hear he fucked her?
A day late, a buck short,
I'm writing the report
On losing and failing.
When I move, I'm flailing now."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Project MERCATOR: Three Four Days of the Condor
I regret sincerely the lack of bloggy blogging, dear readers. This weekend's originally scheduled "Three Days of the Condor" left me as depleted as I'd anticipated and feared, only then to extend into a fourth post-midnight night on Monday. I didn't leave the house last night, but I still managed to get dragged into the middle of a lengthy, late-night squabble between The Most Dangerous Game and The Impossible Ingenue, one that robbed me of the rest on which I'd been counting. I truly did not want to go out tonight, but was compelled by a sense of obligation and duty (trouble a'brewin' about which I shan't elaborate tonight).

There is a long-scheduled dinner tomorrow evening, I have aspirations of taking The Impossible Ingenue out dancing on Friday, and The Anonymous Friend invited me to a "poker" (Texas Hold 'Em) night at his apartment on Saturday. No rest for the wicked, though I'm starting to feel profoundly unsettled by all of this socializing. It's gone too far too fast, MERCATOR has vastly exceeded expectations, and equilibrium must be reestablished.

"Too much too soon, too little too late."
—Less Than Jake, "The State of Florida" from GNV FLA

Thursday's my earliest morning of the week, and I shan't sleep well tonight; so, again, I haven't the time to tell the tale properly. The Reader's Digest version: since the Miracle Ball not quite a fortnight hence, I've been debating which sister to pursue, The Impossible Ingenue or The Most Dangerous Game? There are a million reasons why neither would date me, but that's neither here nor there, I was—I am—determined to do my very best to woo one of them. But which?

The Impossible Ingenue. I'm going to play the long game, I'm going to play all the angles, I'm not going to give her a fighting chance. I'm going to live by Sir Ernest Shackleton's family motto, "By endurance we conquer." I'm going to achieve the impossible.

I'm going to achieve the impossible.

The Stars My Destination
Godspeed, Atlantis! and

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Wombats, "Patricia the Stripper" from A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The crucial words are love, loss, & desperation.

Dienstag, 17 November
The Ataris, "So Long, Astoria" from So Long, Astoria (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 16 November
The Ninjas, "Robot Pirates" from Platypus (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Covered with gusto on Saturday by Gunday Monday, one of the seven ska bands!

Sonntag, 15 November
The Loose Ties, "Becca's Song" from the The Loose Ties E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Flint-based ska!

Samstag, 14 November
The Forces of Evil, "Fight" from Friend or Foe? (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: One night. Seven ska bands. Too much fun.

"How come nobody plays ska anymore?
I guess they all forgot what we were fighting for.
They're grown up now and they want to be respected,
And be a part of the business we rejected.
I liked things how they used to be
And now I'm doing what I can to save the scene.

You've got to fight for your right to skank,
You've got to fight for your right to skank,
We can't do it on our own
So pick up the telephone
And tell your friends they've got to fight to skank!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Project MERCATOR: Three Days of the Condor
I was up before the crack of dawn and on the road to Lansing for a daytrip with the U of M-Flint Historical Society (formerly the History Club, which was clearly a better name for the group). The Supreme Court Chamber at the Hall of Justice was impressive, most impressive, but clearly the highlight was the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum, now my favorite spot in sacred Michigan's capital.

Afterward, though I considered staying in and turning in as early as possible, I was lured out by the promise of cake, baked by The Impossible Ingenue. I joined her at her home for a pleasant confab, though both of us were clearly bushed and on our last legs. I had an invitation to join The Most Dangerous Game, the soon-to-be codenamed Vanessa, and a horde of others for a late night showing of The Boondock Saints II, but I'm confident I made the right call… even though The Most Dangerous Game just texted me, asking me to come out for a late night bite to eat.

Post actually composed at 1:13 A.M.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mustard Plug, "Brain on Ska" from Skapocalypse Now! (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

He's Dead, Jim
The damnedest thing happened this afternoon. For complex and convoluted reasons into which I've delve another time, I brought into a full run, a sprint. I knew as I did so that it was a bad idea on my ankle, still a bum ankle almost three weeks after it was first injured (Sunday, the 25th of October) and almost two weeks after it was reinjured/separately-but-relatedly injured (Saturday, the 31st of October). But I don't know everything. Something happened when I ran, and now my ankle feels better than it has in almost three weeks. Following Donna M.'s advice of consistently wrapping the ankle in an Ace bandage and putting myself on a regular regime of Extra Strength Bayer Aspirin had eliminated the swelling and most of the pain, leaving a lingering front and back tightness that I, in my eminent medical opinion, suspected was more the result of the Halloween reinjury than the original twisting. That tightness is not completely gone, but only just, the most significant leap in progress since the aspirin lowered the boom on the persistent swelling. How about that?

There will be plenty of skanking on Saturday, skanking in the company of The Impossible Ingenue & The Most Dangerous Game; so, fear not, there are going to be plenty of chances to go for the hat trick of injury and undo all of today's healing. But if this keeps up, I'll have to get back to Operation ÖSTERREICH—or at least the exercise half of ÖSTERREICH, the semi-dieting has continued—as soon as is feasible.

All things medical will henceforth fall under the "He's Dead, Jim" title, based of course upon the timeless words of Doctor Leonard H. "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley), the second greatest physician in the annals of the Federation Starfleet, second only to the eugenic superman Doctor Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig).

Much is afoot—though almost all of it solely in my head—and a lot is happening, but this has been a bear of a week and upon the morrow I'm to embark on a three-day Project MERCATOR smorgasbord that will leave me on the verge of exhaustion. So, though 'tis not my intention to tease, I must for the nonce leave you in ignorance.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Ska Robot Army!" from The Return of The Aquabats! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Two days until my next ska show, the second in a fortnight! Woot!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day
Ninety-one years ago today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Great War ended. As ever, by refusing to commemorate today as Veterans Day, my intention is neither to insult nor to fail to honor America's veterans, merely to preserve this day as the dire warning for all Mankind it is meant to be. Lest we forget, we live, each and all of us, every day in the shadow of the War to End All Wars, and as soon as we forget this we place ourselves on the march right back to the trenches, to the gas, to a world gone mad and drowning in blood. Today is Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, lest we forget.

"God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!"
—Rudyard Kipling, excerpt from "Recessional"

“Have you news of my boy Jack?
Not this tide.
When d’you think that he’ll come back?
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

Has any one else had word of him?
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!
—Rudyard Kipling, "My Boy Jack"

Lest we forget.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Armistice Day
Wilfred Owen, "The Parable of the Old Man and the Young" from The Pity of War: Songs and Poems of Wartime Suffering (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I have not time for the tale of last Friday's ball—the events leading up to it and the evening after—but continued withholding of the photographs from the evening would be a betrayal of the considerable patience you, my treasured readers, have always extended me. As ever, we make use of codenames here at The Secret Base not because I am any great fan of anonymity (note that all fare is posted under my name, Mike Wilson, though I do acknowledge that there is a certain anonymity in my name's commonality) but because in the past requests have been made to protect the identities of my kith & kin, the innocent, as it were. I have the freedom to be cavalier with myself and myself alone, hence the codenames (but not for all, bit players will be identified solely by Christian name). Plus, come on, codenames are awesome!

The Most Dangerous Game—she whom I pursued, fruitlessly, this past summer in "Prelude to Project PANDORA"
The Impossible Ingenue—my date for the evening, and The Most Dangerous Game's younger sister
The Last Angry Man—your humble narrator, the chump lucky enough to have The Impossible Ingenue on his arm

Enjoy! (click on photos to enlarge)

The Impossible Ingenue & The Last Angry Man

Believe it or not, The Impossible Ingenue is even more beautiful in person.

From left to right: Scott & Vanessa; The Most Dangerous Game & her platonic date, John; The Impossible Ingenue & her platonic date, The Last Angry Man.

How impossibly cool is The Impossible Ingenue? She's made this photo her Facebook portrait.

The Most Dangerous Game


Vanessa, The Most Dangerous Game, & The Last Angry Man

An unfortunate, transitional facial expression, frozen in time.

Vanessa & the always dignified, always poised Last Angry Man.

"I hate to see you leave, but I love watching you go." Mercifully, you can't really see that I'm lifting up the tail of my suit coat to give the camera a full view of my arse.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "That Boy Could Dance" from In 3-D (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: And now you see why I could not resist the selection of "The Lady in Red" as Friday's R.B.D.S.O.T.D.

"I'll never forget,
The way you look tonight."

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CLV - Daedalus, architect of the Labyrinth, & his son, Icarus.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Forces of Evil, "Dance the Night Away" from Friend or Foe? (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I am sorry, dear readers. I had such grand plans for The Secret Base this evening, such grand plans, but there are not hours enough in the day. And my Christmas list was already two weeks overdue; so, when it came time to subject the clock to triage, "The Explorers Club" and a recounting of the latest project MERCATOR news could not take priority. May the anticipation of what is to come brighten your Monday.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Avril Lavigne, "Girlfriend" from The Best Damn Thing (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I'm hatching a scheme. It's a bad idea, a bad, bad idea. I don't mean it's malevolent—though it is, sort of, yeah, no, it is—I mean this idea is all but certain to end in tears. Most especially mine own. And I'll almost surely go through with it. Scheme!

Samstag, 7 November
Edna's Goldfish, "Veronica Sawyer" from The Elements of Transition (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 6 November
Chris de Burgh, "The Lady in Red" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Cheesy, I know, but you'll understand how I couldn't resist once you see the photographs from Friday's ball.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shades of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, tonight I am going to escort a devastatingly beautiful girl to an honest-to-Bog charity ball. Further shades of Bruce Wayne, romance isn't on the evening's itinerary. Live by the analogy, die by the analogy.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Donnerstag, 5 November
The Black Kids, "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You" via iTunes, Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I knew this was going to happen, but that does precious little to soften the blow: even all these months later, being The Most Dangerous Game's friend is killing me.

I'm bitin' my tongue,
He's kissin' on you,
Oh, why can't you see?"

Mittwoch, 4 November
Reel Big Fish, "Take On Me" (live) from Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album, Disc 1: More Shtick Than You Can Shake a Stick At (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: To be played only at maximum volume.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Operation AXIOM & Project MERCATOR
Welcome back, Halloween! This year marked the first time I put on a costume and went out on All Hallow's Eve since '01 or '02, a costume party at "the Cove" with Mrs. Sacramento, then Never Girl, as my platonic date. I wore my Aqua-Cadet uniform (and it is a uniform, not a costume) on Halloween in '06 & '07, but only to pass out candy to all the wee trick-or-treaters. If I recall correctly, last year my newly busy schedule allowed this night of rollicking revelry to sneak up on me, and any desire to throw together a costume at the last minute was hamstrung by a lack of potential destinations. What, after all, is the point of getting all dressed up with nowhere to go?

This year, circumstance conspired in my favor. I was not favored with any invitations to Halloween parties, but that's just as well as I would have been forced to decline, for this year I was favored with a rare privilege. This year, I went to a show. And not just a show, a ska show! I went alone, yes, but am budding pals with a lad in the ska band, The Loose Ties. As if seeing a thriving local ska band wasn't treat enough, The Loose Ties were all wearing Star Wars costumes! Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo & Chewbacca, Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi (that was my pal, I asked which Obi-Wan he was, and he said original trilogy), a Jawa, a Jedi from Attack of the Clones (the only prequel trilogy costume), and the lamest Darth Vader I've ever seen. Star Wars and ska? Pinch me!

For myself, for my first non-Captain Thumbs-Up get-up, I went as the H1N1 swine flu. I wish I could take credit for such a fabulous idea, but I adapted/ripped off the idea from The All-American Boy, who thought to costume himself as S.A.R.S. when that was the looming apocalyptic plague du jour. I took a white T-shirt and wrote upon it, front and back and on both sleeves, in large red letters, "H1N1," and wore a name tag that read, "Hi! My Name Is SWiNE FLU." I wished to pair this with a pig snout, ears, and a squiggly tail, but, alas, I could not find one in any of the nightmare-inducing—though not for the reason they'd hope—local Halloween stores. I could have ordered all I needed from ye olde internets, but I left it for too late; there simply wasn't sufficient time. So, I substituted a cheap breathing mask and latex gloves to complete the ensemble. It wasn't ideal, but such a costume is always more about attitude than accoutrements.

The right kind of people thought it was a great costume, the wrong kind looked away nervously, and all in all I'd call the evening—the costume, the music, the camaraderie—a smashing success. Nevertheless, I am irked by the pig snout failure and am determined not to be caught flatfooted again next year. I've already three costumes in the works, at three different levels of required preparation: one I could throw together on the day-of if need be; one that hearkens back to the halcyon days of cardboard box costumes and would require a significant but reasonable amount of D.I.Y. prep; and one, The Sandman (Wesley Dodds, specifically from Sandman Mystery Theatre), that requires both bought costume pieces and D.I.Y. props. I have on hand the gas mask I'll need, and in the shower on Sunday I had a breakthrough on how I could manufacture the necessary gas gun. Perhaps not next year, but sooner rather than later I'll haunt the dreams of the guilty as… The Sandman!

In other Project MERCATOR news, I was invited out for sushi last night, only the second time I've ever had it. Sushi's fine, I've no objection to eating raw crab & eel & octopus, but I really fail to see what people love about it. If we hadn't been there specifically for the sushi, I'm sure I'd have enjoyed a cooked steak dish far more than the sushi. However, we had a grand time sharing off the big, communal plate, never quite sure what kind of sushi we were eating. 'Twas a balanced group, two guys and two dolls, but the girls were oft engaged in their own confab and for the life of me I could not get the other chap to utter more than a handful of words. So, I joined the girls and we largely ignored him. Things took a turn for the worse near the end, when both girls compared the sensation they experience after eating sushi to the afterglow of sexual congress. They kept at it and I squirmed prudishly all through the ride back to the parking structure in which I'd left Lumi, and though both girls wanted to keep the night going and I, for the most part, find them charming company, I bowed out and slunk home. *shudder*

Codename: CHAOS
By this point in time, The All-American Boy is a physician; mayhap his Secret Base codename, infrequently used as it is, should reflect this achievement? The All-American Doctor? Dr. All-American Boy? Yeah, probably Dr. All-American Boy. (Note: The All-American Boy should not be confused with The Boy, nor The Boy with The Guy.)

21st Century Bread & Circuses
I have finally taken advantage of my longstanding option to "upgrade" my mobile phone (also known as a cell phine). There are both pros and cons to my new phone compared to my old phone. PRO: My new mobile is equipped with a "qwerty" keyboard for quicker, easier text messaging. CON: Though I have no experience with crack cocaine and would not even know where to purchase crack cocaine were I so inclined, I'm comfortable positing that the qwerty keyboard is as addictive as crack cocaine. In Ohio, I was mocked for texting "like a teenager." PRO: Vibrate! My old mobile was a primitive little thing; it had the ability to vibrate, but had no vibrate mode. Vibrate could only be accessed in conjunction with setting the ringer to the highest volume, so that when the phone rang it seemed a little bit like the end of the world. (These are the settings to which my mother, who has the same model mobile as my old mobile, keeps her phone set.) CON: The alarm clock feature is deficient. Gone are my primitively rendered versions of classical music standards and in their place are horrific quasi-hip hop and electronica tunes. To this point, I'm still using my old mobile as an alarm clock, in conjunction with my two clock-radio alarms. (I sleep like a log. I kid you not, I was once kicked in the head while sleeping on the floor and continued to slumber peacefully as if nothing had happened.) PRO: The new mobile has slightly better reception than the old, though the universality of Verizon's service is greatly exaggerated in their advertisements. CON: The battery does not seem quite up to the job of the frequent text messaging. I'm not recharging the phone everyday, but I am doing so more often than with the old mobile.

PRO: My new mobile is, like the old, a flip phone, and with its larger size even more closely resembles an Original Series Star Trek Communicator. The more akin to Captain Kirk the better. CON: "Khaaaaan!"

Vote For Kodos
'Tis Election Day (woot!), but in an off-off-year (feh). That said, it will be most interesting to see if our charlatan president's parade of horrors will be sufficiently horrifying to enough of the body politic to cripple his agenda in next year's mid-terms before the Chicago mob is able to enact into law the full horror of the parade of horrors. For the sake of our nation, our children, and the world, let us hope the full horror of the parade of horrors never sees the light of day.

One year on, I wonder how many of you realize you were Obamboozled?

Coming Attractions
"The Victors" - doom doom doom
"This Week in Motorsport" - the Brazilian & Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, and the end of my first F1 season (F1 Y1?)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "The Thing on the Bass Amp!" from The Aquabats! vs. The Floating Eye of Death! and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 1 (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

The financial aspect of CADMUS will take a large step forward with tomorrow's outgoing mail; one of my major creditors will have been paid in full. Now on to the next.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Who Needs Sleep?" from Stunt (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This is me, raising my hand to signal that I need sleep.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CLIV - Theseus, Part II: Trouble with the ladies—Helen of Troy, Hippolyta of the Amazons, & Phaedra—and time imprisoned in Hades.

Operation AXIOM
Today 'twas the Feast of All Saints, the morrow bring the Feast of All Souls. Say a prayer for all your departed kith & kin, that the Lord God might have mercy on their souls, forgive them their sins, and allow them into His Presence.

Things took a most unexpected twist this past week. When I attended the Women's Flat Track Roller Derby Club basketball game on the Wednesday before last—recounted in this past Wednesday's Project MERCATOR update—a chap invited me to take a more active role in the club, which is one and the same with the Flint City Derby Girls, by becoming a referee. As I could not think of a good reason to decline his invitation, I accepted, though I cautioned him that as my family would be returning from out of state on the date of the next practice—last Sunday, 25 October—I very well might not be able to attend until the following Sunday—today. But when I called him from the road the confirm that I wouldn't be able to attend the 6:00 P.M. practice, he cheerfully informed me the session had been moved to 9:00; to my chagrin, I would be able to attend. I may recount the experience in fuller detail later, but for now suffice it to say that I made it out of the experience alive, though not whole, and I can't wait to give it another try!

In the course of one or more of my several falls, I twisted the high holy heck out of my right ankle. (I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on T.V.; so, I can't be more medically specific than that.) That it was the awkwardness of the falls, not the skating itself, that injured my ankle is evidenced by the perfect condition of my left ankle. I've limped around for the last week, though my not at all selfish and self-absorbed father didn't notice until today. My ankle is stiffest and most painful in the mornings, but improves throughout the day. My ankle improved steadily throughout the week, but Operation ÖSTERREICH has still been derailed all this time. But with my ankle on the mend life was returning to normal…

…Until last night. I went to the ska show telling myself that I was not going to skank. The crowd was sure to be small, the chances of attaining the critical mass necessary for dancing seemed slight. Plus, the layout of the KIVA room, a series of broad, carpeted steps, did not seem as if it would be conducive to dancing. I thought I'd stand and sway and clap and hoot and holler. But, then came the third song, "Becca's Song," and I felt compelled to skank. I got up from my seat on one of the broad, carpeted steps, shuffled off to the side where there would be no danger of accidentally kicking anyone in the head, and began to skank. Even as I danced, I felt the week's healing of my right ankle coming undone, yet I kept going. Even though my ankle surged with pain every time my right foot came down, it felt so great to be skanking again! (I had not skanked at a show in over two years, not since the Reel Big Fish-Less Than Jake-Blue Tree Whacking extravaganza of August '07: Wayback Machinelink. Too damn long.)

Last night and this morning, my ankle felt worse than it had last Sunday or last Monday morning, worse than it had at any earlier point in the injury. I mowed the lawn today, picking up leaves, which I expected to be sheer murder. Instead, I sit here feeling much improved. Make no mistake, I am still injured, and my ankle is clearly more injured than it was yesterday afternoon before the show & the skanking, but I am astonished by the progress since this morning; Mass was a particular chore, the Catholic ceremony being so full of elevation and orientation changes (sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel, stand, process, kneel, sit, stand). The morning, should it follow pattern, bring a regression into stiffness and tenderness, but more progress should be made throughout the day.

Science! & Operation AXIOM
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration gets into the spirit of Halloween: exoplanetarylink.


The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Shiver Me Timbers" from CODENAME: Koala (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I am so proud to have been a part of this madness.

"A bottle of run, a keg of ale,
Look out, boys, we're settin' sail!
Grab your sword and grab your gun,
A pirate's life is so much fun!"

Samstag, 21 Oktober
Michael Jackson, "Thriller" from Thriller (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In the year in which we lost the King of Pop and by that loss gained a new appreciation for why he'd been the King, really, what other song could have been Halloween's R.B.D.S.O.T.D.?

"And grisly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom.
And though you fight to stay alive,
You body starts to shiver.
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the Thriller."


Freitag, 30 Oktober
They Might Be Giants, "Why Must I Be Sad?" from John Henry (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Really, by Friday I had shaken Thursday's funk, but I'd already selected "Why Must I Be Sad?" as Friday's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. and saw no sufficient reason to make a change. Plus, "Why Must I be Sad?" isn't even really about sadness; so, weeeeee!

"So I'm writing everything down in a spiral notebook." Like my journal!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

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

Commentary: There's no getting around it, today I was a sad sack. There's naught for it but to pick myself up and try to do better tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Stars My Destination
The devil take Norm Augustine, today is a day to celebrate. Rejoice, gentle readers, for this day of days has seen… the flight of the Ares! The Ares I-X Development Flight Test: & To paraphrase Master Qui-Gon Jinn, we've taken our first step into a larger world. Yippee!

And let us not overlook the Spaceman's perspective.

One week ago—Wednesday, 21 October—I attended a most unusual event, a basketball game between two distaff athletic clubs, neither of which is dedicated to basketball: a roller derby team and a cheerleading squad. It was exactly as ridiculous as you'd imagine, the derby girls prevailing by a final score, after four eight-minutes quarters, of 11-10.

Last Friday—23 October—I fielded an invitation to make a grand tour of various haunted houses in Genesee & Oakland Counties, but declined on what I thought were solid grounds not inconsistent with Project MERCATOR's goals and precepts. Staying in that evening was a mistake, even if made for the best of reasons. My parents and I were due to depart for Ohio the next morning, and I do not find travel restful. It's fun, exciting, and even gratifying, but never restful. So, instead of staying out to all hours of the night, I thought I'd catch a quiet night of television. Alas, my father was in rare form, going well out of his way to be unpleasant and grating. So petulant was he that instead of watching either Stargate Universe or Dollhouse at nine o'clock, he preferred to wait and watch them on the D.V.R. starting at ten so as to be able to fast forward through the commercial breaks. Waiting to start the evening at ten o'clock? That's a criminal waste of the evening, and adding insult to injury I'm increasingly coming to the conclusion that not only do I not like Stargate Universe, I think I hate it.

Meanwhile, I received several text messages from my haunted house haunting pals, who were having a whale of a time. Around midnight they invited me to join them at a Coney Island, but by that time I was a miserable cuss and decided that turning in early was the only way to salvage any of the night's already squandered value. This two was a mistake, because swapping a few hours of sleep for some smiling faces probably would have been a good bargain. So, last Friday goes down as the second and so far greatest failure of Project MERCATOR. As ever, failure is more instructive than triumph.

"If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right."

This Monday—26 October—I was engaged in a frustrating, though ultimately successful, attempt to make a short video for a club to which I belong, essentially an elevator pitch for our club for entrance in a contest that could net us a few hundred clams to put toward various club purposes. This was not a MERCATOR project, but it was a bit like herding cats (an overused expression, I know, but so apt in this case). I had to be in charge or organizing several things at once, but without any authority to make decisions or boss people around; so, I had to cajole, and I find cajoling to be both excruciating and exhausting. At last we finished, and repaired to a local sports bar/buffalo wings chain, finally meeting the standards of Project MERCATOR. We laughed, the six of us shared two sampler plates, we made fun of the drunken douchebag businessmen at the next table, and I managed to make it home on the right side of midnight, given that this was a Monday night. I'm convinced I'm still feeling the ill-effects of Monday-Tuesday's lack of sleep, but after shooting the video a bit of frivolity was most certainly called for.

What will this coming weekend bring? I'm going to a ska show(!) on Halloween, in costume. I do not know what if any festivities Friday might bring, but I've learned the lesson of the previous Friday and stand ready to accept whatever invitations come my way. (So odd to have people around who actively want me to come out and socialize with them; it's been years since that was regularly the case, and it's taking a period of some readjustment.)

So cool: sea monsterlink. I am disappointed, however, that the B.B.C.'s headline writers chose this moment to exercise tasteful restraint; I think we all know that the headlines for this story should have included the phrase "colossal fossil."


Perchance to Dream
Yesterday morning, I dreamt of driving Lumi through an unfamiliar subdivision in the dead of winter. The road was a sheet of ice and all the houses were obscured by monstrous snowbanks. I lost control around a corner and Lumi ended up rather improbably on top of a snowbank, flipped over onto her roof. (I hadn't the velocity for such a leap; so, how did Lumi end up so far off the ground? Stupid dream non-logic.) More improbably still, I possessed the strength to lift Lumi off her snowbank perch, right her orientation, and set her on the ground. From there, though, a degree of reality set in and I had to face the fact that Lumi had sustained extensive damage. I awoke before anything so mundane as summoning a wrecker occurred. But, by Janus, that snow was beautiful! I cannot wait for the advent of winter.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Articles, "Ska's the Limit" from Flip F'real (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Because Joel Rash of the Flint Local 432 predicts we're a year and a half away from the next ska revival. I wonder what "fourth wave" ska will sound like, and from whence it will come….

Dienstag, 27 Oktober
Green Day, "Song of the Century" from 21st Century Breakdown (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I don't even necessarily like "Song of the Century," but all day long I kept repeating over and over again the incorrect lyrics, "It's the song of the century." Irksome, that.

Montag, 26 Oktober
The Rolling Stones, "Paint It, Black" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: We heard "Paint It, Black" during yesterday's drive home from Ohio. I remarked, "This is a great song," which elicited a nod of agreement from my pop. It would have been Sunday's R.B.D.S.O.T.D., but I needed to celebrate having once again eluded Ohio's necrotic grasp and returned to the sacred soul of Michigan.
The Stars My Destination
Godspeed, Ares I-X: test flightlink.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CLIII - Theseus, Part I: versus Medea & myriad monsters to claim his birthright, versus the Labyrinth & the Minotaur, the betrayal of Ariadne, and the black sails.

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

Commentary: "Don't hold us back, don't hold us back, we must eat Michigan's brain!"

Samstag, 24 Oktober
William Shatner, "You'll Have Time" from Has Been (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Why did I waste it? Why didn't I taste it?"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Holy Mother Church
In a week when the Church of Sweden, a branch of the insidious Lutheran heresy, decided that conformity to the constantly shifting standards of 21st century humanism is more important than devotion to the Christ, I am glad for a reminder that with Europe almost hopelessly fallen into godlessness and paganism, Africa is increasingly a beacon for all of Christendom: bishoplink. Let us hope the bishops' call helps to give the peoples of Africa the governments that they deserve.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Blues Brothers, "Going Back to Miami" from Made in America (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I carried a girl in my arms for, ballpark, about a hundred horizontal yards today, interrupted by an interlude in an elevator, still lifting her. Not piggy back, in my arms, like a bridegroom carrying his bride over the threshold of their new home. Sure, she's skinny, but also tall. In any event, it damn near killed me, but I did it, and had an S.K.P. Machine moment along the way. Almost to our destination, my conscious mind decided to set her down, just for a spell. But something within me refused. It didn't harangue, it didn't insult, it wasn't even angry; a voice chockablock with cold, steely determination simply said, "No." No, I wasn't going to set her down short of the finish line. So, I kept carrying her, over a hundred awkwardly-balanced pounds, cradled in my arms. Fortitudine vincimus.

Yeah, it was a weird day.

The Queue
I cannot say how long this book holiday will last, but it can't be more than some short span; the pull of the page is too potent to postpone in perpetuity. And it's not as if I won't be reading daily through titanic academic tomes during this time "away" from books. I'm not sick of books, I just need a chance to catch my breath. And all too often absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Karen E. Olson, The Missing Ink
Agatha Christie, Murder Is Easy
Agatha Christie, The Witness For the Prosecution and Other Stories

book holiday

Agatha Christie, Crooked House
P. G. Wodehouse, Mike at Wrykyn & Mike and Psmith
Agatha Christie, Passenger to Frankfurt

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Hackensack" (live) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Stars My Destination
Just under one week until the first flight of an Ares rocket, the Ares I-X (the next generationlink), and approximately four weeks until the next flight of the Atlantis (star treklink). "Go Ares I-X!"

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

Commentary: It doesn't matter how many scores or hundreds of times I've heard "Sick Day," I never, ever get sick of these lines:

"She's a hell of a girl,
She's alone in the world,
And she likes to say, 'Hey, good-lookin'.'"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pluto's astronomical symbol is a monogram of the capital letters P and L, both for the first two letters of Pluto and the initials of the influential astronomer Percival Lowell. Since the shame declassification of noble Pluto as a "dwarf planet" three years hence, those letters have taken on a new significance: Pluto Lives!

This has been a communication of the Pluto Restoration Front.

I received a text message tonight just after ten o'clock asking me if I'd like to join my new pals for, "A short interlude from studying…." Fortunately, I was able to decline with sufficient craft to merit a further text message, translated from text pidgin into standard English, "You are missed." Moderation is our watchword.

Operation AXIOM
There was no occasion of any particular significance today.

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

Commentary: "And no one's ever heard of our band."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Both Saturday night and tonight, I partook of outings that had no more than an hour's advance planning. At the risk of sounding like Roger Murtaugh, this spontaneous cack is going to be the death of me. Fear not, I have taken note that too much socialization can be just as corrosive as too little. Going forward, moderation must be Project MERCATOR's watchword.

It's a good news/bad news situation. My waistline is shrinking after the summer's bloat, and I am now between two holes on my belts. This is progress, but not without its cost. The hole I'm moving away from is now a tad too loose when I stand up, and the hole toward which I'm moving is a tad too tight when I sit for extended periods. Sure, I could use the hole punch on my Swiss Army Knife to bore the Goldilocks hole, but I prefer to keep my belts as they are, and let the existing holes function as benchmarks.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Soulutions, "Do Right" from Rice Capades (T.L.A.M.)


"Be good, do right,
Be kind to that beautiful girl.
Hold her close, tell her why
That you want to be a part of her world.
Don't be scared, do be fair,
Try to laugh about the worries and cares.
Give a laugh, give a smile,
Don't be cruel to that beautiful girl.

And if things aren't right
Don't hold on to her.
And if she loves some other guy,
Watch what you say to her.
Remember that you love her, and…

Be good, do right,
Be kind to that beautiful girl.
Be good, do right,
Be kind to that beautiful girl.
Be good, do right,
Be kind to that beautiful girl.
Be good, do right,
Be kind to the most beautiful girl in the world."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CLII - Perseus & the rescue of Andromeda.

Medusa, and by extension her slaying by Perseus, was the subject of a previous episode of "The Explorers Club," No. XLIV: Wayback Machinelink.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Toasters, "Thrill Me Up" (live) from Live in São Paulo, Brazil (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Because I watched today's thrilling Brazilian Grand Prix… live from São Paulo, Brazil!

Samstag, 17 Oktober
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "M Fanfare" from A Saturday Tradition (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Formula Fun!
Similar to the case in Suzuka a fortnight ago, during qualifying the the Japanese Grand Prix, rain washed out much of the qualifying session at Interlagos for the Brazilian Grand Prix. However abbreviated, though, qualifying did go ahead and the grid for tomorrow's start is set, with some big surprises and potential championship implications. To remain in contention for the World Drivers' Championship, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) needed to finish first or second in tomorrow's grand prix; while still technically possible, the chances of this are remote as Vettel had an absolutely miserable qualifying, failing to get out of the first round, and will start from 16th on the grid. Championship leader Jenson Button (Brawn) hardly did much better and will start 14th, but with a sixteen-point lead over Vettel, Button can weather a failure to score any points and still keep his Drivers' Championship alive. So, with Vettel essentially eliminated, Button's only real competition for the season title is his Brawn teammate, Rubens Barrichello. And the only Brazilian driver on this year's grid after the horrific shunt that ended Felipe Massa's season, how did he do in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix? Barrichello, fourteen points behind Button, is sitting on pole position, P1 for the start of tomorrow's race! A Brazilian on pole in Brazil, the crowd is going to go absolutely nuts tomorrow! The way the ten grands prix I've watched since May have gone, it is extremely unlikely that either Button or Vettel will score a single point (an eighth place finish). Barrichello is far from guaranteed a win and the ten points it would net him, but, should he prevail tomorrow, not only would be win his home grand prix, but he would enter the final race of the season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, only four points behind Button.

The 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix, live tomorrow at 12:00 P.M. noon on Speed (and Speed H.D.). Give Formula One a try, gang, you'll be glad you did. Tomorrow! Live! Tomorrow! Woo hoo!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Purdue 26-18 Ohio State

Thank you, Purdue! Ha ha ha ha ha, death to the hated Buckeyes! (Or at least defeat.) There's nothing in the world wrong with enjoying the suffering of your enemies, especially in light of next weekend, which I will spend in Ohio, much to my chagrin. So, thanks and congratulations go out to the ill-starred Boilermakers. What a win!

The Victors: Michigan 63-6 Delaware State
5-2, Big Ten 1-2

I'm glad Delaware State didn't get shut out, because when the score was 42-0 I just didn't like what was happening. I'd love to beat Ohio State 70-0, but heading in that direction against such an outmatched opponent didn't feel right. That's not the Michigan way. So, I was glad when Rich Rod sent in the devil Sheridan at quarterback, as guaranteed a way to stop the offense of the valiant Wolverines in its tracks as you could find. Okay, so now the valiant Wolverines have had what amounts to a high-stakes scrimmage before tackling the back half of the Big Ten schedule. If we can avoid the self-destructing mistakes we made against Iowa, we've got a halfway decent football team on our hands, a year or two ahead of schedule. Of course, that's a big if against the ferocious Nittany Lions, but I believe in the valiant Wolverines.

Go Blue!
On Saturdays, I wake up to the dulcet tones of Click & Clack on Car Talk. Alas, this week I woke up to the cacophony of harpies screeching for money. Man alive, I hate N.P.R. pledge drives.

Perchance to Dream
I awoke Friday morning to the realization that I'd been having a nightmare. It wasn't a nightmare in the televisual sense, wherein the hero encounters something that foreshadows the dramatic peril to come, nor in the sense of being an unrelentingly grim augury of real life peril, a nightmare in only that it was deeply unpleasant and gave me the willies. In the dream, I was doing combat with a giant, metallic purple beetle. It wasn't giant as in the size of a mastodon or a house, that would almost have been preferable, but giant in that it was the length of my fully extended hand. *shudder* The purple horror flew about me with a speed and agility that defied its size. I faced the dread beast armed with a rubber mallet from the garage; yes, in my dream, though I felt myself in the full grip of a mind-killing panic, I retreated to the garage not for safety, but to arm myself and to return to slay the monster. And slay it I did! The beetle flew around me almost too fast to track, and I swung the mallet blindly again and again. In time, purely by chance, I landed a solid blow, leaving the beetle immobile and gravely wounded hanging from the mallet. After some twitches indicated the fell beast was not yet slain, my father took the mallet, lowered it nearly to the ground, slid the beetle off the mallet with his foot, and stepped on the purple terror, crushing it with a satisfying crunch.

I remember precious few of my dreams, too few to waste my time on verdammt nightmares. You hear me, randomly firing synapses? Nein!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Formula Fun!
The penultimate Formula One race of the year is upon us, the Brazilian Grand Prix! Coming into this weekend, three men are still in contention for the World Drivers' Championship: Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello of Brawn Grand Prix, and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing. Button won six of the first seven grands prix of the year, but has finished no better than second in the eight races since; he leads his teammate Barrichello by fourteen points and Vettel by sixteen. Barrichello is, at thirty-seven, the oldest man in the F1 grid; winner of two grands prix so far in '09, he has never won the World Championship, nor won at Brazil, his home grand prix. Vettel, winner of three grands prix this season, is in only his second full Formula One season and, should he prevail, would become the youngest ever World Champion.

With only thirty-six possible points remaining in the World Constructors' Championship, Brawn leads Red Bull by thirty-five and one-half points. Brawn need only score a single point—eight place—to claim the title; to remain in mathematical contention, Red Bull needs Vettel and his teammate Mark Webber to finish in first and second places (in whichever order), and for Brawn not to score a single point. Really, Brawn have already won the Constructors' Championship, they just need to dot the I's and cross the T's and collect their trophy.

The last two World Drivers' Championships have been decided by the last grand prix on the calendar, and by only a single point: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) over Felipe Massa (Ferrari) in '08 and Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) over Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) in '07. In both seasons, the Brazilian Grand Prix was the finale to the F1 season. There is every chance that Brazil will once again determine the Drivers' Championship, but I am hoping against hope for the stars to align so that the '09 Champion won't be decided until this year's finale, the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in a fortnight's time.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Before Abu Dhabi comes the Brazilian Grand Prix that may decide everything. And before the Grande Premio comes tomorrow's all important qualifying sessions. The 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix! Button, Barrichello, Vettel, or any one of the seventeen other men who will be vying for the center spot on Sunday's podium? This is going to be great!

Brazil is a wonderful country, yes, a wonderful country full of wonderful people.

The Victors
It's time to put an end to this two-game slide, time to get back to putting checks in the win column. It's time to stop saying we lost and time to start saying the valiant Wolverines won. It's time to be victors.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Short Fuse Burning" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I forgot who I used to be."