Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The State of Israel has a new Prime Minister: Bibilink. Let us hope Mr. Netanyahu's second government is more successful than his first (1996-99). Godspeed.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "Party II (Time To Go)" from The Renaissance E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This song goes out to the kid who noticed my MxPx T-shirt and commented, ruefully, how few of those one spies these days. Commiserating, I told him about the tall, red-headed Dead Kennedys girl from yesterday, but he'd never heard of The Suicide Machines, "only Suicidal Tendencies." Lousy metalheads. In any event, it appears to be Punk Rock Appreciation Week in downtown Flinttown.

"It's time to go,
I don't care who you are
Or who you know.
It's time to go,
I don't care who you are
Or who you know.
This night is spent,
You're out the door
If you're not payin' rent.
This night is spent,
You're out the door
If you're not payin' rent."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Man alive, we live in an age of wonders: fusionlink.


Which name creates the superior allusion to a hermit crab: Herman Crabbe or Kermit Crabbe?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Suicide Machines, "The Real You" from Destruction By Definition (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This song is dedicated to the tall, red-headed girl on the elevator, who complimented my Suicide Machines T-shirt and showed me the giant Dead Kennedys patch hidden on the inside flap of her satchel.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Proud Europa: The* Ukraine
My favorite part of this story is the following quote: "Locals will tell you about the typical 20th Century Lvivite, who was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, grew up in Poland, got married under the Nazis, had children in the Soviet Union, and retired in independent Ukraine... all having never left the city." We always think of America as such a remarkably young country, yet when measured in terms of stability we are one of the most ancient nations on Earth.

The Victors: Frozen Four Fiasco
In the immortal words of Fred Willard's character from A Mighty Wind, "Wha' happened?" I only make light of our shocking defeat at the hands of Air Force and early exit from the N.C.A.A. Men's Ice Hockey Championship because if I don't laugh, I just might cry. In this moment, I cannot even summon the perspective to tell myself, "there's always next year." In such dire straits, there's but one thing to do:

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Platters, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" from The Very Best of The Platters (T.L.A.M.)


"They asked me how I knew
My true love was true.
I of course replied,
'Something here inside
Cannot be denied.'

They said, 'Someday you'll find
All who love are blind.
When your heart's on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes.'

So I chaffed them and I gaily laughed
To think they could doubt my love.
Yet today, my love has flown away.
I am without my love.

Now laughing friends deride
Tears I cannot hide.
So I smile and say,
'When a lovely flame dies,
Smoke gets in your eyes.'
Smoke gets in your eyes.
Smoke gets in your eyes.

Never a trust a man in love, he couldn't see the truth even in he wanted to, he's got smoke in his eyes.

*I relish any opportunity to use the definite article: the Ukraine, the Sudan, all the Russias, Royal Tenenbaum pretended to have the cancer.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CXXII - The Battle of Peterloo, 16 August 1819.

The Stars My Destination
Home are the heroes: B.B.C.link and N.A.S.A.link. A warm welcome and a hearty "well done" to the brave astronauts of the Discovery. Next up, the Atlantis pays a final visit to one of the greatest scientific achievements of ours or any age, the Hubble Space Telescope: Hubblelink.

By the Great Bird of the Galaxy, I hope President Obama was just blowing smoke when he promised to put an end to American manned spaceflight.

I've finally acquired a new pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the previous pair having served me very well and having only at length gone to join the ranks of its predecessors in Valhalla. Skeeter has long said that my shoes are an affectation, but I've never been certain as to which meaning of affectation she intended. Are my Chuck Taylors an artifice? To what end? Or are they a cornerstone of my personal style, a style marked by an aversion to change? I have worn All-Stars since I was in the ninth grade. I have had the same haircut since the ninth grade (with the additional of sideburns in college). I have worn the same style of sunglasses since high school (though I can't pin down the exact year). Is all of this affect? Is there no Mike Wilson, merely a conglomeration of eccentricities that I have tried desperately to pass off as a personality? Am I a hollow man?

No, that's all hogwash. I just like the shoes, man, I like the way they fit and I love the way they look. I just wish I could wear them all the time like I used to, instead of only in my free time. And here I am torn: I wish, to a degree, to be a bespoke man, to dress as a man used to before our society took informality too far, but I never want to surrender my Chuck Taylors. In due time I shall figure out how to strike the proper balance.

Proud Europa: Italy
Silvio-a-go-go. I know shamefully little about Italian politics, but I do know that Berlusconi's governments have always favored the Messina Straits Bridge, whereas the left-wing Prodi government put the kibosh on the whole thing. And I don't care if the bridge will enrich the Mafia, I want to see that engineering marvel!

Also, even though the Northern League has not joined the Popolo della Liberta alliance and is thus not necessarily germane to this story, please note that the charges of racism and xenophobia lodged against the Northern League are mostly spurious, the kind of pap left-wing parties and their lackeys in the Fourth Estate typically hurl at right-wing parties rather than debate the issues.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Vampire Weekend, "A-Punk" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Every once in a while, such as today, I am in the mood for "A-Punk," but by and large I am pleased I bought it for a song with an iTunes gift card back around Christmas.

Freitag, 27 März
The Puppini Sisters, "Walk Like an Egyptian" from The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 26 März
Samiam, "Long Enough to Forget You" from Short Music For Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I used all the patience I had left for you when I wrote this down."
The Mandate of Heaven
No friend am I to the bloody-handed tyrants of the P.R.C., but let us be frank: the Tibet that existed prior to the Red Chinese reoccupation of 1950 was not the wonderland of prosperity and equality that the Dalai Lama, his clique, and their sycophantic admirers here in the West pretend. The office of Dalai Lama is not only that of an unelected despot, but the most irrationally selected despot on Earth. An infant, a helpless innocent, is kidnapped and spirited away from his parents to be raised by isolated fanatics who brainwash him into claiming he's the reincarnation of a heathen god. That madness, ladies and gentlemen, is no basis for a government, not even a powerless government-in-exile. And if I may be so bold, that all sounds like decidedly un-Buddhist behavior.

Also, I do admire the Chinese Communist Party's sense of humor. They call their government the People's Republic of China, though it is neither a republic nor a servant to the people of China. They call their legions the People's Liberation Army, though it exists for the exact opposite purpose of liberation the people. And what do they call the anniversary of their reassertion of Chinese suzerainty in Tibet? "Serfs' Liberation Day"! They may be butchers, but those guys have a wickedly hilarious sense of irony: liberationlink.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Royal Dutch Shell isn't especially evil or anything—and I'll brook no anti-Washington Consensus/anti-capitalist claptrap here—but Lumi was in need of fuel this afternoon and I sated her at a Shell filling station, and I have always found this graphic to be worth at least a smirk and usually also a chuckle.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Congress Assembled
At long last, at least one man rises to stand against the monstrous injustices being perpetrated in our name by the unspeakable abomination otherwise known as the 111th United States Congress: A.I.G.link. Good on you, Mr. DeSantis, jolly good.

I may well have to add Unimagined to The Queue: tourlink.

The Queue
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Edgar Allan Poe, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Tell-Tale Heart," and "The Gold-Bug" (from The Gold-Bug and Other Tales)
C. S. Harris, What Angels Fear

James Hilton, Lost Horizon
Jacques-Yves Cousteau, "Exploring a New World Undersea," Great Adventures with National Geographic

David M. Friedman, The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever
C. S. Harris, When Gods Die
C. S. Harris, Why Mermaids Sing
C. S. Harris, Where Serpents Sleep
Saki, When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns (from The Complete Saki)
Ernest Shackleton, South
John Toland, The Great Dirigibles: Their Triumphs and Disasters (catch as catch can)
Sloane Crosley, I Was Told There'd be Cake
John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise
Kim Newman, Dracula Cha Cha Cha
Francie Lin, The Foreigner

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Spandau Ballet, "True" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I believe this is the first R.B.D.S.O.T.D. to have been so directly inspired by a piece of news: reunionlink. Woot!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Holy smokes, it's a government of (sorta) national unity: Knessetlink. And all other concerns aside, with America's commitment to Israel's security shakier than it has been at any time since the disastrous Carter Administration, I think we will all rest more soundingly knowing that Ehud Barak remains in charge of Israel's defense; I don't always agree with his politics, but the man is a staggeringly brilliant general. And adding Labor to Lukid, Yisrael Beiteinu, & co. will only add stability and legitimacy to the incoming government. Bibi's back, baby!

Liquid water and the Red Planet: H2O? And read all the way through for a brief mention of the University of Michigan. The Phoenix may have gone the way of all flesh, but our ever-loyal mechanical minion continues to serve us well even from the great beyond, its data still yielding up tidbits for us to parse and analyze for years to come. Wow, there might—might—still be water on Mars; the universe is a wondrous spectacle.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dropkick Murphys, "Amazing Grace" from The Gang's All Here (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I vehemently disagree with their politics, but there's no denying that the Murphys rock your socks off.

Thank you for "Amazing Grace," John Newton, and thank you for your example of Christian humility and repentance. "That saved a wretch like me." That may yet save a wretch like me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CXXI - The hypothetical planets Vulcan and Phaeton.

There are certain difficulties, as one might imagine, in locating images of a purely hypothetical celestial body; the above planet is conjectural, an artistic flight of fancy.

Ending the civil war in Bosnia and punishing the Serbs for their campaign in Kosovo are, beyond any doubt, the greatest (and perhaps only) accomplishments of President Clinton's benighted tenure as leader of the free world: decenniallink. Of course, we cannot allow ourselves to forget that the war raged for three genocidal years while the Europeans stubbornly insisted that their toothless diplomacy was the only solution; a few weeks of American-led warfare in 1995 accomplished what years of empty talk could not. Four years later, in '99, months of diplomacy had failed to reign in the Serbs; once again, it was demonstrated that force is the only for of persuasion a bully understands. Ten years on, the Serbs still feel they were in the right; they may not have learned their lesson, but at least they are no longer in a position to slaughter their neighbors wholesale.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Nena, "99 Luftballons" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "99 Luftballons," not "99 Red Balloons." Luft means "air," rot means "red."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Project OSPREY: The Madness
N.C.A.A. Tournament, 2nd Round
(2) Oklahoma 73-63 Michigan (10)

Drat! We just didn't have an answer for the beastly Griffin. It would've been nice if we'd had an awesome outside shooting day, but in the end we lost because we had no answer for Griffin but to foul him like it was going out of style, and even then he still scored at will. Rats and double rats! Oh, well, from 10-22 in '07-'08 to 21-14 and having a halfway decent chance of making the Sweet Sixteen in '08-'09? I'll take it. Onward and upward, we turn our eyes to next year with raised expectations: a better than .500 record in conference play and a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. Making the Big Dance is no longer an achievement for the valiant Wolverines, it is a minimal hallmark of a satisfactory campaign; now we've got to learn how to keep dancing past the first round.

Go Blue!

Anybody else spy that there's a player for Missouri named Leo Lyons? That is a tremendous name, though I have to wonder why a guy named Leo Lyons is a Mizzou Tiger. Surely this kid should have gone to Penn State. Just imagine: Leo Lyons the Nittany Lion. That's almost as good as Northwestern playing Northeastern.

The Stars My Destination
Bit by bit, the International Space Station grows: constructionlink. The I.S.S. is impressive already, and will be even moreso once the TIE fighter-like Cupola window is installed and a full crew of six are regularly rotated, but it will always be missing an ingredient the old Skylab, for all its quaint primitiveness, was able to boast: Pete Conrad. I tell ya, boys and girls, there's nothing in the world that isn't better with Pete Conrad, may he rest in peace. Pete Conrad!

Wayback Machinelink.

Even though I predicted President Obama's policies would constitute a "parade of horrors," I am continually shocked by his almost suicidal disregard for our national security. What in Bog's name can he be thinking? First, he offered to shelve our purely defensive interceptor missile system in a naked attempt to placate the Russians; luckily, they declined the offer and have continued to be as belligerently hegemonic as ever. Now he has offered Bog only knows what as appeasement to the bloodthirsty dictatorship in Iran; once again, we have been saved only by the intransigence of our enemies: Ayatollahlink.

Please, I am begging one of you who voted for this man, who voted for President Obama, to explain to me what he could possibly be thinking. Please. Please! If the comments section does not afford a sufficient space for a defense of the president's policies, kindly email me and I will post your remarks, unedited, here at The Secret Base. This is an open-ended offer, made in the belief that disagreement and even argument do not have to be unfriendly.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
P!nk, "So What" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: My name is Mike Wilson and I apologize for nothing.

Samstag, 21 März
The Mr. T Experience, "Told You Once" from Short Music For Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: At eleven seconds, "Told You Once" isn't even the briefest song on Short Music For Short People.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Project OSPREY: The Madness
N.C.A.A. Tournament, 1st Round
(10) Michigan 62-59 Clemson (7)

Fielding Yost's ghost, that was far more exciting than it needed to be! Of course, that's the beauty of the Tourney: once the brackets are set, there are no points for—and please forgive the grammatical butchery, I feel this best expressed in the vernacular, no matter how vulgar—winning pretty or wining ugly. The valiant Wolverines found a way to win, and so live to fight another day. Huzzah! Thank you, Coach Beilein. Bring on the Sooners, whom I am confident will be going home sooner than they'd expected. OK is not OK!

Go Blue!

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!

The Explorers Club
No. CXX - John Wycliffe (c. 1325-84) and the Lollard heresy.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Josh Ritter, "The Temptation of Adam" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I am always vaguely reminded of "The Temptation of Adam" after watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, given the franchise's internal inevitability of nuclear Armageddon. And after tonight's episode, with John's mourning for Riley and Derek's heartbreak over Jesse, well, the song seems especially apropos.

"We passed the time with crosswords
That she thought to bring inside.
'What five letters spell apocalypse?'
She asked me.
I won her over singing, 'W-W-I-I-I,'
And we smiled and we both knew
That she'd misjudged me."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Project OSPREY: The Madness
Let's Go Blue! After far, far too long, the valiant Wolverines of the University of Michigan are returned to the N.C.A.A. Men's Basketball Tournament, March Madness, the Big Dance, the most equitable and definitive championship in sport. Whatever it takes, by hook or by crook get home in time to watch the game, don the maize and blue, and get ready to shout irrationally at your television set. We may go down in flames, we may triumph in fine style; the valiant Wolverines have been so inconsistent that no man can say which squad will show up this evening. But win, lose, or (not actually a possibility) draw, we've taken a big step back toward respectability, and that's something to celebrate. It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Madness, "Madness" from One Step Beyond… (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Pennywise, "30-Seconds Till the End of the World" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Why? Why would you title a song "30-Seconds Till to the End of the World"? "30-seconds" doesn't make the slightest bit of sense unless it is a bizarre way of describing the fraction 30/2, commonly known as fifteen. But the song is thirty seconds long, and the lyrics make clear reference to a thirty-second countdown to the end of the world, alluding in no way to a fractional quantity of anything. *grumble grumble* I have no issue with "till" except for its vast inferiority to 'til. If only 'twas "30 Seconds 'Til the End of the World."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Altanticism: Oui
The French flag is the world's most famous tricolor, so why not a third installment in our chronicle of France's return to N.A.T.O.? In all its dubious glory: froglink.

In Congress Assembled
In all sincerity, I do not understand all the hubbub over A.I.G. When you hand somebody a blank check, you don't really have any argument with how they spend the money. If Congress wanted the Department of the Treasury to exercise that kind of oversight, that should have been put into writing before A.I.G. received one red cent. Of course, that is the role of the Congress, is it not? To alternate between sitting on its thumbs or making things worse—like when it bullied Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into underwriting home loans for every Tom, Dick, and Harry off the street, no questions asked—and then when things do go wrong, to swoop in, fingers waging, scolding anyone and everyone in sight… and in its self-righteousness forget actually to fix the problem. The United States Congress, ladies and gentlemen, give 'em a hand!

And yet I firmly believe that in a free society such as our Great Republic we get exactly the government we deserve. I'm only half-joking when I say we should give serious thought to repealing Article I of the Constitution. We don't have to commit ourselves to anything, let's just see what arguments we can make pro and con. Dibs on con.

Erin Go Bragh
My name is Michael Patrick Wilson and I loathe St. Paddy's Day because green Budweiser and plastic bowlers have nothing in the world to do with Eire, the Irish, or Saint Patrick. Though I did see a comely lass wearing a delightful T-shirt featuring the Irish tricolor and emblazoned with "Irish Girls Kick Ass;" the sight was quite charming, but in truth I attribute that more to the lass than the shirt.

However, I did imbibe a Guinness as soon as I came to home this afternoon, the most I've done to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day in many a year. And yes, I always have Guinness in the house, at least between Labor Day and Memorial Day.

Project TRITON
I have set a deadline of Michaelmas for Project TRITON's completion (to a level equivalent to Tier 1 of Project TROIKA). Jumpin' Jack Pratt, to what have I committed myself? Alas and alack, there's naught for it but Onward!

Grow or die.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "I'm Cool" from Why Do They Rock So Hard? (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Stars My Destination
Better safe than sorry and better late than never: Discoverylink. We live in an age of wonders. Godspeed, Discovery.

Another perspective on the French Republic's relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization: the Gall of the Gauls.

I shall not again let the Ides of March pass by unnoticed and unremarked upon. All of history does not turn on the fulcrum of Caesar's death, but even unto the present day it remains a milestone on the West's long, groping path from despotism to democracy.

I need a project name for the remembrance of days. Candidates include but are not limited to: Project ACHILLES, Operation AXIOM, Project GLOWWORM, Operation ANTIPODE, Project MERCATOR.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Snmnmnm, "Zombie Girlfriend" from Snmnmnm (T.L.A.M.)


"Are you dumb in the head?
She walks with the living dead!
She'll use your brains as sandwich bread."

The Ides of March
Lederhosen Lucil, "Doin' the Ganglion" from Tales From the Pantry (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CXIX - The disappearance of Judge Joseph Force Crater, the "Missingest Man in New York."

Judge Crater, please call your office.

For the most part, I welcome France's full return to the fold: N.A.T.O.link. But, I must confess that a part of me wishes those blighters had never been permitted to partially reenter N.A.T.O. in '92, but instead had been full expelled once the Soviet sword of Damocles loomed no more above the West's head. Fortunately for all involved, my id does not make such delicate foreign policy decisions; so, I welcome the (Fifth) French Republic back into full membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a tremendous force for good in this woeful world.

A warm welcome for Sarko l'Américain.

The other day, I saw a man sporting an Anthony Eden hat. Neat! Alas, the remainder of his wardrobe was composed of a T-shirt, windbreaker, and jeans. My style of dress is itself habitually slovenly; so, no criticism of his outfit per se, I am simply puzzled as to why he would choose to wear his Anthony Eden atop that particular ensemble. I have a trilby of which I am quite fond, but would scarcely pair it with anything but an appropriately hued jacket and tie.

I dress like a typical American, but I have aspirations.

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Big Ten Tournament, 2nd Round
Illinois 60-50 Michigan
(20-13, 10-10 Big Ten)

Drat. Due to capricious Fortune's influence upon bad timing, I was unable to pay any attention to yesterday's contest. There's naught for it now but to wait for the N.C.A.A. brackets to be announced, to see if the long drought is ended. Hey, at the very least, 'tis another twenty-win season for Coach Beilein's impressive résumé, which is great since I believe in John Beilein. Keep your fingers crossed, but remember that no matter what happens, it's always great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Hell of a Hat" (live) from Live From the Middle East (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "That's a hell of a hat that you're wearing."

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Queue
I'm in the mood for mysteries, influenced undoubtedly by Project TRITON, a tale with mystery and detection at its heart, no matter what other alterations we make to it. So, The Immortalists shall have to wait a little while longer, and in the meantime I am even considering reading some Agatha Christie. I already know the ending of Murder on the Orient Express; so, I might start with Death on the Nile or even The Moustrap. With the exception of Shakespeare, I've never read a play outside of an assignment, making The Mousetrap, should I attempt it, twice over an experiment. Of course, there are plays in The Complete Saki; so, my experience will be expanded beyond the Bard of Avon one way or the other.

Should I enjoy What Angels Fear, I will most certainly tackle its two extant sequels, When Gods Die and Why Mermaids Sing.

David J. Brown, Bridges: Three Thousand Years of Defying Nature
Kim Newman, The Bloody Red Baron
Adriana Czupryn, Małgorzata Omilanowska, & Ulrich Schwendimann, Eyewitness Travel Guides: Switzerland
Rick Steves, Rick Steves' Switzerland 2007
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Edgar Allan Poe, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Tell-Tale Heart," and "The Gold-Bug" (from The Gold-Bug and Other Tales‡)

C. S. Harris, What Angels Fear
Jacques-Yves Cousteau, "Exploring a New World Undersea," Great Adventures with National Geographic

David M. Friedman, The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever
Saki, When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns (from The Complete Saki)
Ernest Shackleton, South
John Toland, The Great Dirigibles: Their Triumphs and Disasters (catch as catch can)
Sloane Crosley, I Was Told There'd be Cake
John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise
Kim Newman, Dracula Cha Cha Cha

†Containing the short stories, all of which I had previously read in this same volume:
"A Scandal in Bohemia"
"The Red-headed League"
"A Case of Identity"
"The Boscombe Valley Mystery"
"The Five Orange Pips"
"The Man With the Twisted Lip"
"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle"
"The Adventure of the Speckled Band"
"The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb"
"The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor"
"The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet"
"The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"

‡I have owned this thin volume for many years, one of the neat Dover Thrift Editions, but have never read all that it contains. I had previously read, all multiple times, in order of personal fondness:
"The Cask of Amontillado"
"The Masque of the Red Death"
"The Tell-Tale Heart"
"The Fall of the House of Usher"

To these can now be added:
"The Gold-Bug"
"The Murders in the Rue Morgue"

I have never yet read:
"The Pit and the Pendulum"
"The Black Cat"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Seven Thirty Seven/Shoe Glue" (live) from Live From the Middle East (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's Eating The Last Angry Man?
I opened up a Jones Cream Soda this evening and the fortune under the cap read, "Be an angel. Save a life." A laudable sentiment and one I applaud, but I am well beyond sick and tired of explicitly God-fearing locution being hi-jacked for entirely secular purposes. An angel is not a person who does right by another, an angel is an infinitesimal portion of the divine, a very real celestial being of singular purpose and unfathomable might. So, the good people at Jones have twice irked me, once for joining the broad-ranging to misappropriate religious words to the point that they lose all meaning, and twice for exercising poor diction.

Or course, Jones has never been the same since they turned their anti-scientific dissembling about high-fructose corn syrup, inverted cane sugar, and the "pure cane soda" nonsense.

On the plus side, this particular bottles sports a picture of Chris Chelios and a squiggle that I believe is meant to represent his signature.

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Michigan 73-45 Iowa
Big Ten Tournament, 1st Round

Boy howdy, I wish I'd been able to see the game between the valiant Wolverines and the tenacious Hawkeyes. Stupid real life always intruding upon the superior unreality of sport. Anywho (or anyhoo), here's the scoop: scooplink. Bring on the craven Fighting Illini!

Go Blue!

Project TRITON
The work continues apace, though there is currently a pause as I mull a wholesale reinvention of the high concept, proposed by my trusty partner K. Steeze. Mulling, mulling, mulling.

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

Commentary: Full-scale commencement of Project PANDORA is still contingent upon the further progress of Operation ÖSTERREICH, but I am flesh and blood and not immune from fleeting infatuations. I shall call her… The Dentist. (Not my dentist, mind you.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Big Ten Tournament, 1st Round
Michigan (19-12, 9-9 Big Ten) vs. Iowa (15-16, 5-13 Big Ten)
2:30 p.m. Thursday

I do not subscribe to the theory that the valiant Wolverines will definitely receive a spot in the N.C.A.A. Tournament with a win over the tenacious Hawkeyes, nor that a loss equally guarantees our exclusion. I prefer to wait and see, not out of cowardice, but as a reasonable reaction to the often capricious actions of the Tournament's selection committee. Wait and see, and meanwhile hope. And a victory over Iowa will certainly not hurt our case.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Cast Your Pod to the Wind" from Cast Your Pod to the Wind (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

If you honestly believe that President Obama will defy the Democratic leadership in Congress and his own supporters in the militantly anti-child teachers unions to push through genuine and efficacious educational reform, I have a special offer I would like to extend: I own a moderately famous bridge connecting the island of Manhattan to that part of Long Island known as Brooklyn, and for a limited time only I am willing to sell it to you well below market value. Educationlink.

Don't be absurd, I don't own the Brooklyn Bridge. Only a charlatan would claim that!

I own the Manhattan Bridge.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Attention, "Wish I Never Knew You" from Attention (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Years ago, my erstwhile chum The Plate and I saw Attention at The Shelter, the basement of Saint Andrew's Hall in sacred Detroit. After the show we were talking to the lead singer, complimenting the front man on the show and his music, when suddenly he brushed us off saying, and here I must paraphrase, "Hey, thanks, guys, but I'm going to go hit on those hot girls over there." I respect a forthright fellow, and in his shoes I'd have been far less patient to start the night's real work.
Not having a best friend, when you'd had a best friend your whole life, since before you could even remember, is the pits. The agony is lessening over time, the pain is rarely very sharp, and yet the cold, reptilian anger remains. And every once in a while I get a reminder of why my best friend is now my erstwhile best friend, and the senselessness of it begins to make a little bit of sense. And tucked away in a distant, dusty corner of my heart, there is the tiniest, slightest spark of gladness. Had you asked me a year ago, I should have thought that impossible. Common wisdom holds that time heals all wounds, and this may well prove true. And yet the cold, reptilian anger remains. Not a comfort, but a companion. A confederate and counsel. Not having a best fiend is the pits, but I've been worse, and things are looking up.

"A little more than kin, and less than kind."
--Wm. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene II

I thought about writing this post in second-person, but decided against it. If you're going to use second-person, you've got to thrown yourself into it, all or nothing. Another time, mark my words.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CXVIII - The Mayerling Incident, the scandal surrounding the mysterious, violent deaths of Archduke Rudolf, Crown Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Baroness Mary Vetsera, his paramour, on 30 January 1889.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1867-1918, is like a traffic collision: horrifying, but I cannot look away.

Numismatics or Coin Collecting?
Looking through my puny hoard of foreign coins yesterday, I found that I have a French franc from 1973, a 1/2 franc from '65, and a 20 centimes coin from '87. I also have an Irish 5 pence coin from '96. Useless! Useless! Curse the euro, I could have been rich! Rich as Croesus!

My British and Canadian coins (£1 36p and C$4.01, respectively) are still valid coins of the realm. The Canadian cent dates from 1946, bearing the likeness of King George VI and, since the Empire of India was still a constituent part of his dominion, the title "Georgivs VI D:G:Rex Et Ind:Imp," rather than Queen Elizabeth II's simpler "D.G.Regina."

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

Commentary: "Where's the shadow government when you need it?"
Looks like I've got a bad case of the Mondays (insert monosyllabic grunt of misery/fatigue/frustration here).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Michigan 67-64 Minnesota
19-12, 9-9 Big Ten

Thank you, Tubby Smith, for the worst-timed timeout since the Devil Webber took the timeout that wasn't in the '93 game against the North Carolina Tar Heels. The way the valiant Wolverines blew the offensive possession before Tubby's timeout, I have my doubts that the maize & blue would have prevailed had the game gone into overtime time. So, three cheers for being let off the hook: hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray!

Now on to the Big Ten Tournament and, with a little luck and a lot of attention lavished on the U.C.L.A. and Duke wins, the Big Dance. Keep your fingers crossed.

Go Blue!

The Stars My Destination
The skinny on S.T.S.-119: Launchlink and missionlink.

Enjoy these last few shuttle flights before President Obama fulfills his campaign pledge to gut Project Constellation's funding and ground the Orion before it ever flies, putting an end to nigh-fifty years of American manned spaceflight.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
James Darren, "That Old Black Magic" from This One's From the Heart (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 7 März
XTC, "Then She Appeared" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: That's always the way it is, isn't it? You were fine, okay, not great but cool… and then she appeared, and nothing was ever again the same, the very color of the world changed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Who watches (the) Watchmen? I did, and enjoyed it more than I'd anticipated. I've never read Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen and so cannot comment intelligently on the faithfulness to the comics of the motion picture, but I do continue to be impressed with Zack Snyder's films. Also, I am not a tremendous fan of those Alan Moore-authored comics I have read, and personally enjoy the cinematic adaptations of quite a number of novels and comic books, but I do hold a good deal of respect for Moore's consistent opposition to his comics being adapted into movies. I disagree with his position, but I applaud his refusal to abandon his personal and creative ethics.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Atomic Fireballs, "Hit By a Brick" from Torch This Place (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: To torch is one of our best and most underutilized verbs, alongside such gems as to brain and to weasel. I thought of "Hit By a Brick" yesterday when I railed on the B.T.W. Forums for someone to be hit in the face with a brick, the first time in far too long that I'd used that turn of phrase.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CXVII - Joseph Duveen (1869-1939), philanthropist, patron of the arts, the most influential art dealer of his age (and possibly any age), and, for defacing the priceless Elgin Marbles, one of the 20th century's great vandals and ne'er-do-wells.

There are available many fine photographs of Baron Duveen, but given the thread of art intertwined through every facet of his adult life, I thought it most appropriate to feature instead two of the many portraits capturing and interpreting his likeness.

According to the Psych nickname generator, I am Bigmoose Franklin. Don't cross me, suckers, of you'll meet a Bigmoosey fate.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Only the Good Die Young" from Have Another Ball (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I really hate "Only the Good Die Young," based on the lyrics, but it's just so verdammt catchy, especially as improved by the Gimme Gimmes.

And I'll say it again,

A short skirt,
A Gimmes shirt,
A Jones Soda,
Ain't life grand?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gnomes of Zürichlink. Three points:

Ein: I believe in the rule of law, and so I stand opposed to efforts to avoid, evade, or dodge paying one's taxes (unlike Secretary of the Treasury Geithner, who actually used incompetence as his defense against accusations of tax evasion).

Zwei: With President Obama's plan to finance his stealth nationalization of the economy and socialization of the health care system almost exclusively through massive increases in the taxes of the most successful Americans, in the years to come we will see more and more examples of people emulating Mr. Geithner in trying to avoid, evade, or dodge paying their taxes.

Drei: What is the world coming to when a Swiss banker can't be counted upon to aid you in hiding your millions in direct violation of your country's tax code? You're the Gnomes of Zürich, for plunder's sake, have the gumption to be the Gnomes of Zürich!

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

Commentary: "Let's be more than… this."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Less than a fortnight shy of the seventieth anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia, President Obama has shown how well he has taken the lessons of history by announcing a Chamberlain-esque bid to simultaneously appease both the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran: kowtowlink. Yes, Mr. President, because aggressive powers and perennial bad actors like Moscow and Tehran have such a long track record of backing down in the face of weakness. Across the world we are being challenged, and uniformly we are retreating. The guiding principle of our new foreign policy seems to be "defeat at any cost." Our charlatan president's reckless naïveté would be hilarious were it not guaranteed to lead to the deaths of so many innocent Americans and Israelis. I hope all of you who voted for Mr. Obama have plenty of soap handy to tackle all the blood you'll sooner or later have on your hands.

Enjoying the parade of horrors so far?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)" (live) from Severe Tire Damage (T.L.A.M.)


"The Sun is a mass
Of incandescent gas,
A gigantic nuclear furnace,
Where hydrogen is built
Into helium
At a temperature of
Millions of degrees!"

The days have been unusually sunny these past few weeks. I wonder if 'tis retribution for a day two or three weeks hence when I was seized by maniacal glee at the gray sky and icy, cutting wind and actually mocked the Sun. There I stood, my ears burning from the cold, and I raised a first toward the dull globe vaguely perceptible through the clouds and barked, "Ha! Not so big now, are ya? Ha ha ha ha ha!" I actually laughed at the Sun. Time has come to pay the piper, I fear, and yet I apologize for nothing. The Accursed Sun is my foe, and I shall take every chance to strike at it, by whatsoever means at my disposal.

Why does the Sun shine? Because I haven't figured out how to kill it yet.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I have never understood the insistence of so many that religion and science are incompatible. Science is the lens through which we come to more fully understand the splendor of God's Creation, a view echoed by Holy Mother Church: Darwinlink.


King Leopold's Soliloquy
And, hey, look, we still don't care: Lord's Resistance Armylink. Flippancy? You bet, because I am ashamed, absolutely ashamed, of my country's indifference to the murderous, multifaceted conflict some have called Africa's World War. Yes, that name is ridiculous on its face, but the scale of the bloodshed meant to be invoked by the name is entirely appropriate. Millions have died — MILLIONS! — and yet we in the West have sat on our hands and done nothing. We haven't even gone through the usual dog-and-pony show of tut-tutting the senseless slaughter, we've been all too happy to ignore almost entirely the Great War of Africa. I don't think we even bother to delude ourselves with a fairy tale about the war having ended in '03, we simply do not care about the plight of the hapless people in the land that was once King Leopold's charnel house. Our collective inaction is a shameful abrogation of our responsibility to our fellow Man.

Toward the D.R. Congo and the surrounding countries, we were shamefully passive under President Clinton, we were shamefully passive under President Bush, and we are shamefully passive under President Obama. That, I suppose, is bipartisanship we can all believe in? "I confess to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and what I have failed to do." What we have failed to do.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
No Doubt, "New" from Return of Saturn (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Before my birthday this summer, someone remind me to reflect on this, my twenty-ninth year, my own return of Saturn.

"Don't let it go away,
This feeling had got to stay,
Don't let it go away,
This feeling has got to stay,
And I can't believe I've had this chance now,
Don't let it go away."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Down Mexico Way
All congratulations to Mrs. Skeeter and Mr. Skeeter, formerly Skeeter and Jimmy From Queens, on the occasion of their marriage. Warmest wishes for a deliriously happy future, you crazy kids.

That I could not afford the travel necessary to attend will stand as a painful reminder of the very real costs of my mistakes, and why it so very important I get my act together now.

The Explorers Club
No. CXVI - The Isabella Stewart Garnder Museum, Part II: The Museum (established 1903) and the infamous, still unsolved robbery of 18 March 1990.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Josie and the Pussycats, "3 Small Words" from Josie and the Pussycats: Music From the Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As Steeze pointed out yesterday on the B.T.W. Forums, Project TROIKA began with "three simple words," the merest wisp of an idea that he asked me to help him turn into a novel, the first significant entrance of Blue Tree Whacking into the marketplace of ideas. We're still a long way from publication, but we all agree that we can't shake the sense that our lives have already changed forever. So, while not celebrating the same three small words intended by Josie and co., here's to the might of three small, simple words. Cheers.

Samstag, 28 Februar
Fountains of Wayne, "Hey Julie" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Here's hoping the newly minted Mr. Skeeter knows the stupendous good fortune he's had in hitting the jackpot.