Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Middle Kingdom
Has the so-called Great Firewall of China finally gone too far? Green Damlink. This is the great question of the 21st century: will the Chinese continue to tolerate being controlled, allowing a corrupt and bullying government to make decisions for them, or will freedom be demanded and allowed to flourish in the P.R.C.? Is the contest between ancient Confucian order and modern Western liberty, or will China forge a third way? (Not, it is hoped, the corporatist and fascist "third ways" of the 20th century.) Sorry, guys, I'm all questions, I haven't reached any conclusions so I don't have even speculative answers.

It must be great to be President Obama: Iraqlink. He opposed the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of the Ba'athist dictatorship, but now says the Iraqis are "better off" without Saddam Hussein. He intoned gravely that "the surge" wouldn't work, but now that it has he gets to claim the glory for our hard-won victory. Note to self: let other people do the hard work and while they are distracted focus all your energy on grabbing the credit they so richly deserve. Sure, it seems cheap and sleazy, but if our sainted president, the world's hero, does it it must be above board.

Just like climbing in bed with Tony Rezko.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Michael Jackson, "The Way You Make Me Feel" from Bad (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Michael Jackson, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" from Off the Wall (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" comes this close (insert appropriate hand gesture) to justifying the horrors of disco. Throw in splendor of Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park and you might just have an unfortunate but ultimately worthwhile pop cultural fad. But probably not; these are just the few bright spots to be salvaged from a dark moment for Western civilization.

Sonntag, 28 Juni
Michael Jackson with Paul McCartney, "The Girl is Mine" from Thriller (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This is about the only imaginable circumstance in which a Sir Paul McCartney ditty might be chosen as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. Well, maybe "Live and Let Die" might sneak in one day, too.

Samstag, 27 Juni
Michael Jackson, "Man in the Mirror" from Bad (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I'm asking him to change his ways."

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Michael Jackson, "Smooth Criminal" from Bad (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Michael Jackson, "Thriller" from Thriller (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The King of Pop is dead, not merely a man—admittedly a profoundly strange man—but a huge part of the childhood of anyone who grew up in the 1980s.

"Darkness falls across the land,
The midnight hour is close at hand.
Creatures crawl in search of blood,
To terrorize your neighborhood.
And whomsoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down,
Must stand and face the hounds of Hell
And rot inside a corpse's shell.

The foulest stench is in the air,
The funk of forty thousand years,
And grisly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom.
And though you fight to stay alive,
Your body starts to shiver.
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the Thriller."

I will brook no mockery of the man, not here, not now. I turn thirty in a month, precisely one month, and 'tis no exaggeration to say Jackson towered like a colossus over the popular culture of the '80s, the decade that introduced my fellows and me to the world. We mourn not so much the man he was as the symbol, we mourn one more nail in the coffin at childhood's end. The King of Rock & Roll died before my peers and I were born and now the King of Pop is dead; I fear our culture has become so fragmented, so balkanized that we shall never see another King. It is nice, indeed so much more than nice, to have a pop cultural touchstone we all can share; even I, misanthropic, introverted I, can see we are all diminished by the lack of such a common touchstone. The King is dead. Long live the notion of the King.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This Week in Motorsport
Hip hip hooray, Formula One isn't going to fall apart just as I was beginning to love it: F1link. Also, thanks to the modern marvel of videotape, I was able to watch Sunday's British Grand Prix even though I was asleep at the actual time the race was being run on the Silverstone Circuit and in the air when it was (delayed) broadcast on American television. Woot! I knew the winner beforehand, but that's my own fault for waking up to the B.B.C. news on the radio.

The bad news is that the telecast of the British Grand Prix was on icky, icky Fox, but the good news is that N.A.S.C.A.R.-obsessed Fox is (and this is just a guess) too cheap to put together their own, almost certainly inferior broadcast crew; so, they use the same folks who call the F1 action on Speed. This includes audio promos for F1 practice and qualifying coverage on Speed, which raises the question of for whom those chaps formally work? There are seventeen races on the 2009 Formula One calendar, eight are now past, three I have watched, and only four—the Turkish, British, German, and Hungarian Grand Prixes*—are broadcast on Fox. I understand why it would not be worth their while to recruit their own individual broadcast crew, but that still means those men could be temporarily employed by Fox; they might be lent to Fox for a fee by Speed and so still technically in the employ of Speed; or they might be employed by the F.I.A., Formula One's governing body, for use on all Formula One broadcasts in these United States. I am speculating with little initiative to ferret out any answers. In any event, given the horror show that is Fox's B.C.S. coverage, I am glad they use outside contractors for F1.

Next up, the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, nicknamed by no less an authority than the irrepressible Jackie Stewart as "the Green Hell." I can't wait!

Before men from the Planet Earth again set foot upon the Moon, we dispatch our plucky robot scouts. Go forth, you magnificent mechanical minions, make your masters proud! L.R.O.link. Because these reconnaissance missions are a prelude to Project Constellation's manned moonshots, I thought about labeling this a "The Stars My Destination" post, but as you can see I chose to prize consistency above flourish. Plus, those feisty automatons really are marvels of science.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Murray Gold & the B.B.C. National Orchestra of Wales, "Doctor Who Theme" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

*Grand prix is of course French for "grand prize" and adopted into English as grand prix, denoting a motorsport race. The French for grand prizes is grands prix (or prix grands according to the Babelfish website of murky reliability), but how to render the plural of the English grand prix? It's easy enough aloud, "grahnd pree" becomes "grahnd preez," but how best to write that? Grand Prixs or Grand Prixes? A puzzlement. I wrote Grand Prixes, but I'm not really sold on the idea.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

L.A. Story 3: Rock Star Treatment
This past weekend, I was treated to an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to play my part, literally, in completing the follow up to Good or Suck!, the long-in-coming and highly-anticipated sophomore album by Real Can of Yams, CODENAME: Koala. The title was determined around the same time Good or Suck! was finished in 2001, but it's more appropriate to say work began on the album three years ago instead of eight, for 2006 was when K. Steeze began work in earnest. And though R.C.Y. is a five-member band, His Steeziness has put forth eighty to ninety percent of the work himself: writing most of the songs, performing both guitar and bass guitar, and producing and mixing the whole shebang. Blue Tree Whacking is a mutual admiration society, but in this case all the admiration is owed toward he of the blue and orange, our fearless leader, K. Steeze. Wherever you are, at home or at work, alone or in a crowd, give him a round of applause; he more than deserves the hand, it and so much more.

For only the second time in my experience, air travel proved bothersome. Many people have complained about Northwest Airlines over the years, but I always found the service to be highly satisfactory. However, the merger with Delta Air Lines has proven detrimental to service; three of my four flights ran significantly behind schedule, by an average of fifty minutes. I understand that the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry and I am not unsympathetic to the problems that must face such a major enterprise day-in and day-out, but I am also a judgmental cur who does not take kindly to being inconvenienced. My intention is never again to fly Northwest or Delta, and I have informed them of this intent in writing, or at least electronic writing.

The Dreadful Sick
My condition is much improved from yesterday, though I am not yet back up to snuff. I pretend to neither strength nor stoicism, I detest being sick and whine incessantly when suffering the slightest ailment. My attitude toward illness is a modification of a timeless line by Daffy Duck, "I'm not like other people. I can't stand pain, it hurts me." My throat began burning on Sunday, and I awoke Monday with a headache borne of clogged sinuses, a minor but persistent dizziness owing to the same cause, and an occasional but quite violent cough. I could feel that my lungs were not as they should have been. Most of all, I was seized by a profound lethargy. I turned in very early last night and slept fitfully. I awoke many times in the night and early this morning, which is most unusual for me as I normally sleep like the dead. Nevertheless, the fever of yesterday is significantly reduced if not totally subsided and I feel much more like myself, though still a version of myself with a stuffy nose that is yielding disquieting quantities of snot, and one still plagued by an occasional though far less violent cough. Oh, I hate being sick.

Teddy's baptism into the heretical Lutheran church is this weekend and I must appear to be the picture of good health if I'm to have any chance of holding my infant nephew. Heal, man, heal like the wind!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim" from Traffic and Weather (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As anyone who has ever witnessed my air travels can attest, my luggage is quite distinctive; I never experience the slightest difficulty in identifying my suitcases on the baggage carousel. Hoorah for customization.

Also, alas and alack, this Michael was traveling alone without the delightful accompaniment of a lovely and charming Heather.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Queue
Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express
David M. Friedman, The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever
William Strunk Jr. & E. B. White, The Elements of Style Fourth Edition

Nick Hornby, Shakespeare Wrote For Money

G. K. Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State
Agatha Christie, Three Act Tragedy
G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare
Agatha Christie, Cards on the Table
Francie Lin, The Foreigner
Agatha Christie, Murder at the Vicarage

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Callin' in Sick" from Bad Hair Day (T.L.A.M.)

Sonntag, 21 Juni
Fountains of Wayne, "Seatbacks and Traytables" from Traffic and Weather (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 20 Juni
The Hippos, "Los Angeles" from The Hippos (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 19 Juni
Less Than Jake, "Hell Looks a Lot Like L.A." from Borders & Boundaries (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 18 Juni
Bad Religion, "Los Angeles is Burning" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Love at first sight, in the parlance of MythBusters: Confirmed, Plausible, or Busted?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Trey Parker, "America, Fuck Yeah" from Team America: World Police - Music From the Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I suggested to Skeeter last week that after repaying all my debts I might use my as-yet-hypothetical Jeopardy! winnings, assuming they are of sufficient quantity, to purchase either a new Chevrolet Camaro or a Chevrolet Volt. She replied, "Camaro, ye gods, i'll make you a t-shirt that says 'douchebag' and save you $25,000." I laughed and laughed and laughed; man alive, Skeeter's awesome! Of course, though I cannot deny the raw, animal appeal of the Camaro, there is a very practical reason why I would not buy one, even were I flush with cash and willing to declare publicly my status as a douchebag: I do not know how to operate a manual transmission. It is farcical, if not abominable, for any performance vehicle (I've never been clear on the distinction between a muscle car and a pony car) such as the Camaro, the Chevrolet Corvette, the Ford Mustang, or the Dodge Challenger, et al., to be equipped with an automatic transmission; in this I am a purist and have been for as long as I can remember. There is also a quite formidable psychological barrier to my hypothetical purchase of a Camaro, but for now the simple fact that I would not acquire such a motor car without a manual transmission and yet would be unable to drive a motor car so equipped shall suffice as a disincentive.

Unfortunately, I've been researching the Volt and it seems my mind's eye image was of the '06 Volt concept car. The forthcoming production version of the Volt is substantially different in its appearance, and not at all for the better. I admit that Lumi, a '95 Chevrolet Lumina, is hardly the most distinctive of automobiles, but the Volt is the very definition of generic dullness. Petroleum is one of the world's great treasures, and it is indefensible of us to waste is as fuel for motor cars when there are alternatives within reach should we make use of our hard-won scientific acumen. Perhaps the self-satisfaction of no longer squandering precious petroleum as petrol would adequately compensate me for the Volt's blatant aesthetic shortcomings?

Of course, the success of Objective ZED ALPHA is yet an unknown; so, perhaps I should focus on training to accrue those "Jeopardy! winnings" before I mentally spend them?

Fusion confusion: I.T.E.R.link. A tokamak… to contain the very power of a sun! *insert maniacal laughter here*


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "AKA Driver" from John Henry (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "AKA Driver" a.k.a. "NyQuil Driver." I once fell asleep while driving. 'Twas a terrifying experience, one I have made determined efforts never to repeat.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Welcome to the summer sports doldrums. I actively despise baseball, I've only a casual interest in tennis, and though I like basketball I disdain the N.B.A. (and in any event their season's just wrapped up); so, from where I sit basketball's been through since the end of March Madness in, curiously, April. (Kind of like how very nearly all of Oktoberfest is in September. Lunacy!) The over-long hockey season is at an end, and what a dispiriting end 'twas, and there are yet several months before I can stomach any talk of football. What E.S.P.N. and the No Fun League seem not to grasp is that one of the major draws of football is its scarcity: games are played in only a fraction of the year, whetting the appetite during the lengthy off-season. N.F.L. Live is broadcast all the year 'round, a farce is ever there was one. So, even with my budding fandom of motorsport, specifically Formula One and the sacred 24 Hours of Le Mans, summer is still the least sporting time of the year, after a fashion. There nothing for it, and the annual ritual of complaining does nothing to remedy the shortage, but it is a tradition on its own right, and tradition is important. So, welcome to the summer sports doldrums. Pull up a chair and have a lemonade.

We can, however, still argue about politics, what with our charlatan president's plan to socialize the health care system and place an empathetic soft-racist on the Supreme Court. Plus, fun and games in exotic Persia. But not tonight, my sleep schedule is still screwed up from Le Mans and I'm tired (and whiny, he added with a wink) from mowing the lawn this late afternoon/evening. Plenty of time to mock our charlatan president later.

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


"Now I get it.
I'll tell the person next to me,
And then haul off and die."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

24 Heures du Mans - Afterglow
The B.B.C. Sport page is less easily navigable than B.B.C. News, but I found what I was looking for: storylink and photolink. Take the time to peruse the slideshow and you'll see Dr. McDreamy, a gorgeous Gulf Oil liveried Aston Martin, and the type of hardcore spectator I aspire to be.

I'm going to be an uncle. Again. The L.A.W., who in her teens and twenties vowed repeatedly never to bear any offspring, is preggers and she and Brother-in-L.A.W. are expecting little Nephew-in-L.A.W. or Niece-in-L.A.W. in December. Since The L.A.W.'s own birthday is in the month twixt November and January, I am really hoping the stork arrives on that very day to make it a two-for-one! Sweet Aunt Petunia, it's raining babies.

I spoke to Teddy's Dad after we heard the news and he asked my advice on being an uncle. I had precious little to share with him, because (a) Teddy's yet very wee and my interactions with him were by virtue of his extreme youth quite limited and (b) since Teddy's Mom was loathe to let me either hold the lad or even photograph him, though everyone else around was encouraged to hold him aplenty and take all the snapshots their hearts desired, I harbor serious doubts that I'll ever be allowed to have any manner of substantial relationship with my nephew.

Let the world be forewarned, the Wilsons are breeding.

Come Monday, let the recriminations begin. Hossa, Stuart, I'm looking in your directions. The 24 Hours of Le Mans was the perfect antidote to Friday's devastating humiliation, but the work to reclaim Lord Stanley's Cup begins tomorrow and the first step is identifying what went so terribly awry.

24 Heures du Mans - Finale
"The Lion has roared!" Peugeot wins. Really quite dominantly Peugeot finished both first and second, with Audi third and the gorgeous Gulf Oil Aston Martin car numbered 007 in fourth, just off the podium. The third Peugeot 908 finished in, I think, sixth place, which is impressive as this was the Peugeot that received the worst of the pit lane collision described in yesterday's first Le Mans post. I awoke at the same time I did the day before, and as that put me in a position to watch the half-hour leading up to the beginning o the 24 Hours, this afforded me the chance to watch only the last half-hour of the race. By that time, Peugeot had already bested Audi and could only have been undone by a dual disaster, yet this did curiously little to dampen my enjoyment of those last few precious moments. It was quite a sight as the three Peugeots got into formation to finish the "Grand Prix of Endurance" together, a fitting theatrical end to such a monumental undertaking.

Reflections on my first Le Mans: What an amazing spectacle, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is even more thrilling and entrancing than I'd hoped. Next year, with some experience under my belt, I will more effectively schedule my entire weekend around the race, sleeping more beforehand and less during the race so that I might see more of Sunday's racing. Also, during his summation/farewell one of the Speed announcers said simply, "You must come to Le Mans." I agree wholeheartedly, I must go to Le Mans.

Now, whilst I add Le Mans attendance to CADMUS, I must also figure out how I might entice my kith and kin to embrace motorsport as I have, or at least to open their eyes to the majesty of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. You'll be hearing more from me on this, and I suggest capitulation as the preferable alternate to resistance.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "24 Hours in Paramus" from Losers, Kings, and Things We Don't Understand (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Queue
I finished Murder on the Orient Express this afternoon in the bath, during a lull in the live television coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I read the first approximately forty pages of The Immortalists last year, but abandoned it so as to devote more fully my attention and mental energies to Project TROIKA. So, does my reading of the book now call into question my focus on Project TRITON? I don't think so, I can feel the ideas churned away and taking shape in the more unconscious part of my mind, but I shall remain watchful and if I seem not to be devoting the proper attention to TRITON, I'll suspend my leisure reading until after the Michaelmas deadline.

Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None a.k.a. Ten Little Indians a.k.a. Ten Little Niggers
Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

David M. Friedman, The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever

Nick Hornby, Shakespeare Wrote For Money
Agatha Christie, Three Act Tragedy
Francie Lin, The Foreigner
Agatha Christie, Cards on the Table
Agatha Christie, Murder at the Vicarage

Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Michael Giacchino, "Speed Racer" from Speed Racer: Original Motion Picture Score (T.L.A.M.)
24 Heures du Mans - 12:01:00
They've been racing since this morning and yet there is as much ahead as there is behind. This is the grandest type of madness, men and machines pushed to their breaking point and, in many cases, beyond. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is run at incredible velocities, but it is not at its heart a test of speed, it is a test of endurance. And once endurance is mentioned, it cannot help but call to mind the family motto of Sir Ernest Shackleton, "By endurance we conquer." How apropos to the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Also, this midpoint of the race occurs in the middle of the night on site. 'Tis three o'clock in the morning in France, the dead of night. They begin in the bright sunshine of Saturday afternoon, then plunge into the depths of darkness overnight, emerge into the dawn of Sunday, and finish in the mid-afternoon sunshine. This is so much like a drill we did back on the G.B.H.S. Boys' Swimming & Diving Team, "the descent into darkness." We saw 100s, one hundred yards at a go. 100 after 100 after 100, each on a set interval. And as we pounded away at the yards, Coach Day turned out the overhead lights, set by set. Eventually, all the ceiling lights were dimmed and we swam in an eerie twilight, the entire space aglow, lit aquamarine by the pool lights. I think we hit "bottom" about two-thirds of the way through, and after that the overheads were turned back on in sequence. A test of endurance, replete with a plunge into darkness, from the swim team that furnished so many of the most formative experiences of my life; given the similarities, how could I help but love the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
24 Heures du Mans - 15:09:00
It makes perfect sense that now that darkness the television coverage is focusing far more on the pits and far less on the course. It makes perfect sense, but it makes for less than perfect television viewing. Oy, I might have to try and rise at or near ye olde crack of dawn (in America) to catch tomorrow's early afternoon (in France) action. And this is what's so great about Le Mans: they've been racing for almost nine hours, since 9:00 a.m. this morning, and the race isn't even halfway over. So gloriously insane.
24 Heures du Mans - 20:59:00
So ends the first stint of Speed's live coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Woo hoo! I'm having a heck of a time, nervously watching as the Audis fail to gain any ground on the Peugeots and wondering if the trailing petrol-fueled Aston Martins (and a correction from earlier, there are at least two and possibly three Aston Martins sporting the wicked cool Gulf Oil livery) have a chance against the diesel-fueled French and German leaders.

There's a whole day of racing on offer, ladies and gentlemen, and still plenty of time to get caught up in the excitement. Live coverage resumes at 4:30 p.m. E.D.T., and will continue periodically through to the finish tomorrow morning (mid-afternoon in France). To paraphrase Futurama, "Le Mans Fever - Contract It!"
24 Heures du Mans - 22:53:00
The first hour was thrilling. Already, the super fast Peugeots have been plagued by the strategic ineptitude that cost them the '08 Le Mans. (My knowledge of the 2008 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans comes entirely from the documentary Truth in 24, a behind-the-scenes look at the winning Audi team.) Two Peugeots collided: one emerging from the pits was clipped by another entering, and the struck car then proceeded to disintegrate its left rear quarter, leaving debris strewn all over the course as it struggled to complete the eight and a half mile Circuit de la Sarthe and reenter the pit lane.

Also, one of the Aston Martins is sporting the classic pale blue and orange livery of Gulf Oil. Jumpin' Jack Pratt, it is so beautiful!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Believe: Penguins 2-1 Red Wings
Fifteen down, none to go. Best of seven: Pittsburgh 4-3 Detroit.

My congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2009 Stanley Cup Champions. The better team won, the teamed that wanted it more, the team that tried harder and fought smarter. They deserved the win and the glory it brings.

We have no one to blame but ourselves, our own indolence and apathy. But now is not the time for that. Tonight and tomorrow, we mourn. Sunday we honor God Almighty. Come Monday, let the recriminations begin.

Believe that hard work beats talent unless talent works hard.
2nd Intermission: Penguins 2-0 Red Wings.
Best of seven: Pittsburgh 3-3 Detroit.

Normally, I'd have typed "Best of seven: Detroit 3-3 Pittsburgh," but since we are doing our damnedest to hand those curs the Stanley Cup, I thought I'd go ahead and acknowledge their inevitable victory with "Best of seven: Pittsburgh 3-3 Detroit." Why is the Penguins' victory inevitable? Because we don't seem to give a damn. We've got no energy, we've got no speed, and we've got no skill. I don't care if this sounds unreasonably harsh, but we're playing like a Dave Lewis-coached team: a bunch of highly-skilled, well-paid nancy boys who don't care a single iota whether we win or lose.

Please pardon my language, but… fuck! Fuuuuuuuck! FUCK!



Believe: Game 7
Fifteen down, one to go. Best of seven: Detroit 3-3 Pittsburgh.

One game to decide Lord Stanley's Cup. I do not believe in destiny, but I do believe in the Detroit Red Wings. I believe in home ice. I believe in victory. Go Wings!


This Week in Motorsport
Tomorrow begins the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the language of the host country the 24 Heures du Mans! My budding love of motor car racing traces back to one wellspring of inspiration, Steve McQueen's film Le Mans, the perfect motion picture about racing. I missed the running of Le Mans last year, not thinking that perhaps I'd like to watch some of it until several weeks after it had been run, but not this year! The hour is nearly at hand.

I am going to see the start of the race live from France. The race begins promptly at 3:00 p.m. local time, which is 9:00 a.m. here in the Eastern Time Zone, a beastly hour to be awake on a Saturday, the one day of the week when one may freely sleep in, but the 24 Hours of Le Mans comes but once a year, and as I hope to make this an annual event, I want to get off on the right foot. Woot!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Jason Alexander, "Believe It or Not (George Isn't at Home)" from the Seinfeld episode "The Susie" (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 11 Juni
The Puppini Sisters, "It's Not Over (Death or the Toy Piano)" from The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 10 Juni
The Skatalites, "Trip to Mars" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Dienstag, 9 Juni
The Proclaimers, "My Old Friend the Blues" from Sunshine on Leith (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 8 Juni
The Wombats, "Little Miss Pipedream" from A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

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

I still believe. Go Wings!
I believe that tonight's the night. Let's go Red Wings!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The National Youth Jazz Orchestra, "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I am begging each of you not to see the new film The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. John Travolta stars in a roll originally played by the late Robert Shaw. Please, please do nothing to support this travesty. I will mail my D.V.D. of the 1974 film, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, starring Shaw as "Mr. Blue" and Walter Mathau as Lt. Garber, to anyone who wishes to see it; additionally, I own the novel upon which that film was based and am willing to loan it to anyone wishing to read the source material. Do not see The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, take a stand against Hollywood's parade of soulless remakes, the remorseless pillaging of our cinematic heritage. I thank you.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Believe: Red Wings 5-0 Penguins
Fifteen down, one to go! Best of seven: Detroit 3-2 Pittsburgh.

All class, Pittsburgh, all class.

Detroit Alternate Captain Pavel Datsyuk (the A is for alternate, kids, not assistant) is a finalist for the Hart Trophy as M.V.P. of the entire N.H.L.; you can't lack a player of that caliber and expect it not to make a difference. Had Datsyuk been healthy all the way through, this series might well be over. But let's not speculate. For tonight, let's rejoice that sanity has returned to the Stanley Cup Finals (I hate that the N.H.L. is calling it the "Stanley Cup Final." Final? There's more than one game, you twats, making this the Finals, plural!), and toast to the fact that our Russian is better than their Russian. Go Wings!


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Cyclops Rock" from Mink Car (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: When you think cyclops, please think of Polyphemus, not Scott Summers. I thank you.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Denis Leary, "Voices in My Head" from No Cure For Cancer (T.L.A.M.)


"Why? Why don't they drop the bomb
Right on top of everyone?"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Believe: Penguins 4-2 Red Wings
Fourteen down, two to go. Best of seven: Detroit 2-2 Pittsburgh.

It may very well take all seven games, but we are not going to lose this series. We threw away a tremendous opportunity this evening—and have no doubt that we threw away the opportunity, the Penguins did not take it from us—but we are far from bested. The Pens have skill and enthusiasm, but the Red Wings have the fire of champions. After our pathetic, lazy showings in Games 3 & 4 only a fool would insist that things don't looks bleak. They look bleak, they look very, very bleak, but appearances can be deceiving. Mark my words, when all is said and done the captain parading Lord Stanley's Cup around the arena, and that could be either The Joe or the Igloo, will be Nicklas Lidstrom not Sidney Crosby. This I believe.


Now to watch tonight's D.V.R.ed season premiere of Burn Notice. We Mike W.s have to stick together.
2nd Intermission: Penguins 4-2 Red Wings
Best of seven: Detroit 2-1 Pittsburgh

Scheiße! This is the moment to look within and ask yourself: Do I really believe or do I just say I believe?

Kramer: "Who wants to have some fun?"
Jerry: "I do."
George: "I do."
Kramer: "Now, are you just saying you want to have fun or do you really want to have fun?"
Jerry: "I really want to have fun."
George: "I'm just saying I want to have some fun."

Remember when.

Me? I believe.
1st Intermission: Red Wings 1-1 Penguins
Best of seven: Detroit 2-1 Pittsburgh

Bog, this is infuriatingly frustrating. Before the high stick to Stuart's face (*ouch*), I was certain the verdammt Penguins would score on their power play. What in the devil is wrong with us? Where is our sense of urgency? I'm not talking about panic, I'm not talking about desperation, but where's our energy? We're not playing as well as we could, as well as we should. We're better than the Penguins, and it's time they learned that. Go Wings!


Operation AXIOM
Twenty years ago to the day, 4 June 1989, months of peaceful demonstrations calling for economic and political reform within the People's Republic of China culminated in the Tiananmen Square massacre. The protests had been sparked by the death of the deposed reformer Hu Yaobang, and resulted in the deposition of his successor and ally Zhao Ziyang and a new ascendancy for Chairman Mao's maxim, "Political power flows from the barrel of a gun." I turned ten the summer of Tiananmen Square, and that horrifying bloodbath continues to be a central pillar of my thinking regarding the P.R.C. and the future of the Chinese.

Remember the Tank Man, a hero for all Mankind.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Potshot, "Freedom" from Rock 'n' Roll (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 3 Juni
The Ramones, "Chinese Rock" from Mania (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Pay attention, kids, "Chinese Rock" is a song about heroin, not Chinese mineralogy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yes, that's it! We'll convince the Islamic Republic of Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions by… being "more transparent"! Brilliant! Ruefully, no one seems to have told the president that the Iranians already can see right through his insipid charm offensive. Blunderlink. Boy howdy, President Obama's plan to put the whole government on ye olde internet is looking sounder and sounder by the minute. After all, nothing bad ever happens on the interweb! I suppose this childish optimism and ham-fisted buffoonery is supposed to be the change we could all believe in?

I've already staked out my spot to sit and watch the parade of horrors.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Next Generation
If I may make a suggestion to all of you who, like me, do not yet have children: when your kids are born, it might be advisable to wait a few weeks before inviting all your relatives to come see the baby. Taking care of a newborn is stressful enough without having to welcome guests into your home. Word to the wise.

My nephew Teddy is, well, a monkey. I met him on Saturday, his fourth day of life, and I had never before with my own two eyes seen a baby that young or that small. I've seen newborns on television, both in fictional portrayals and non-fictional documentaries, but never before in real life. He's ridiculously small, his eyes are closed most of the time, and he almost never straightens his limbs, though he moves them all quite regularly, writhing in a way that confirms he is none other than my brother's son, for even unto the present age my brother still loves to lie on the floor and writhe in precisely the same manner. So, between his diminutive size, scrunched posture, and penchant for huddling on his stomach on his reclined mother's chest, the impression Teddy conveys is for all the world simian. He looks like a pink little monkey.

But, being only four and later five days old, Teddy most certainly confirms my previous supposition that babies aren't really people yet. He's human, he's a grand addition to the lethal glory that is Home sapiens sapiens all right, but he's not yet a person. He doesn't yet laugh, he doesn't play, the only thing specifically human he does is explore his surroundings with his mouth; of course, at this stage that means he primarily ends up sucking on his own arm. It's exceedingly curious because I love that little monkey to pieces, but what exactly is it I love? His squished little face? His elongated head? His dark, wispy hair? He's yet to manifest a real personality, he's simply too young to have established any individuality; so, what it is I love about Teddy? I think most of all I love the idea of Teddy, with the details to be filled in as they develop.

I was allowed to hold him only once, and only very briefly, in part because his mother despises me. When her brother, sister, and brother-in-law-to-be arrived late on Sunday, she could not wait to have each of them hold Teddy in turn and at length. I suppose she thought I might infect Teddy with the Wilson cooties; she must live in mortal terror that he will be a Wilson in habit and temperament, not merely in name. Despite this, I was glad to meet Teddy, and however much it pains me to have anything to do with his parents it will be fascinating watching him grow up. I will next see him when he sojourns to Grand Blanc for the celebration of my thirtieth birthday, though we all know that my birthday will play third or fourth fiddle to his family's visit that weekend. Happy birthday, Mike, now get lost.

Objective ZED ALPHA
First things first, don't ask me how I did at the Jeopardy! audition because I do not know. I have an inkling, but objectively I do not know. There are three possible outcomes of this past Friday's audition: (a) I did not pass. (b) I passed and will be entered into the contestant pool, but I will not be invited to appear on the show. (c) I passed and will be invited to appear on the show. In the cases of both (a) and (b), I will hear nothing from the Jeopardy! contestant wranglers in the next eighteen months; in the case of (c), I will receive a telephone call several weeks before I am to report to Los Angeles "to test my intellect" in the immortal words of Alfred Yankovic.

In the case of (c), I will almost certainly impose upon the hospitality of K. Steeze and The Professor and board at B.T.WesTwo (pronounced "Bee-Tee-Double-U West 2"). In the cases of (a) and (b), I will suffer some degree of anxiety as to whether I failed (a) or passed and was simply conspired against by cruel fate (b), but in either event if eighteen months pass without word from the contestant wranglers, I will screw up my courage and watch for the next opportunity to take the online examination that would signal the beginning of Objective ZED BRAVO.

But for the nonce there is naught to do but keep my agile mind agile, hone my already sharpened skill for trivia to a razor's edge, and await the call. I could be summoned to Hollywood anytime in the next eighteen months. Filming resumes again in July and will continue through February; so, at the earliest I will not receive any word for at least several weeks yet. They are seeking four hundred contestants for the new series of episodes, and the good news, as the wranglers told us repeatedly, is that at this point no contestants have yet been selected; there are still four hundred slots available. And, I add editorially, one of them will be mine.

Next time: the curious adventure of Friday, 29 May 2009.

Believe: Penguins 4-2 Red Wings
Fourteen down, two to go. Best of seven: Detroit 2-1 Pittsburgh.

Our play was rubbish in the first period, our play was rubbish in the third period, and we were outhustled and outworked all night. Rest, refocus, and if we play at all like the Detroit Red Wings we'll prevail in Game 4 and put these little punks on the ropes. Prediction for Thursday: Marian Hossa will score two goals. Red Wings in five.


Believe: Red Wings 3-1 Penguins
Fourteen down, two to go. Best of seven: Detroit 2-0 Pittsburgh.

I left suburban Columbus far later than I'd intended, but drove within range of 97.1 in time to listen via Lumi's radio to the second half of the third period and a good deal of the post game interviews and analysis. Good times. Driving in excess of two hundred miles a day for four consecutive days takes a lot of you, but quite paradoxically I love, absolutely love, a long, solitary drive. I remember the first time I drove up to the Sleeping Bear Dunes for The Guy and The Gal's Memorial Day Camping Bonanza; it was going to be the farthest I'd even driven by myself and I was quite apprehensive about the journey, but once I hit the road all that fear evaporated, and I arrived in Traverse City all too soon. I'd love to have driven in the grand old days of 50,000 watt A.M. radio, when you could listen to the same station from coast to coast, including to the third coast of the Great Lakes.

But I digress.

Playing back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday was hogwash, a cheap and cynical move by the N.H.L. and N.B.C. to try and guarantee Sidney Crosby Lord Stanley's Cup, the theory being that the young, hungry Penguins would get the better of the old, tired Red Wings. Even for that scum-sucking shyster Gary Bettman this was a crooked move. Fortunately, craven knavish guile was no match for the determination of the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Take that, foul blackguards!

Believe: Red Wings 3-1 Penguins
Thirteen down, three to go. Best of seven: Detroit 1-0 Pittsburgh.

My dad asked me if I wanted to watch the game, but I told him that I didn't, that'd I'd be unsociable and prone to loud and very likely profane verbal ejaculations were I to watch the game, not at all suitable company for a guest in a house with a brand-new baby. Nevertheless, after Primeval he tuned the television to N.B.C. and I watched the third period in tense and strictly contained excitement. I thrust both fists into the air upon Abdelkader's goal, but I emitted no sound, and wee Teddy kept snoozing a few feet from me, nuzzled on his mother's chest.
The Queue
There is sure to be more Agatha Christie after Murder on the Orient Express, but next I am determined to read Hornby's columns, recommended ardently by Ki-El and endorsed previously by The Guy, and The Immortalists. Real life super science beyond anything dreamed up in a science fiction B-movie, and I've put it off too long already. Science!

Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None a.k.a. Ten Little Indians a.k.a. Ten Little Niggers
Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

Nick Hornby, Shakespeare Wrote For Money
David M. Friedman, The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and Their Daring Quest to Live Forever
Francie Lin, The Foreigner

Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

2nd Intermission: Red Wings 2-2 Penguins
Best of seven: Detroit 2-0 Pittsburgh

If our passes were crisp this evening, the game would be well in hand. Alas, our passes have been sloppy and the Penguins have been consistently faster in races for the puck; not significantly faster, just a step or two, but enough to deny us any advantage. The current goals notwithstanding, I think the on-ice action affirms my faith that the Red Wings are the superior team, a reality that will be eventually and inevitably reflected in the box score.

If only Rafalski hadn't half-fanned on that one-timer during our last power play. Rats and drat, but fear not, we'll get 'em next time.

1st Intermission: Red Wings 2-2 Penguins
Best of seven: Detroit 2-0 Pittsburgh

Fiddlesticks! My mothered arrived home from her grandmothering stint and I missed Pittsburgh's second goal in all the hubbub. A word, though, about the great Sidney Crosby: how in Bog's name can anyone who calls himself a hockey player leave a sniper of Henrik Zetterberg's caliber undefended that close to the goal? Chump. Go Wings!


The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
William Shatner & Brad Paisley, "Real" from Has Been (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 1 Juni
They Might Be Giants, "Lazyhead and Sleepybones" from No! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I did not bloggy blog yesterday because I was dead tired. I drove from Grand Blanc to (beyond) Chicago on Thursday, from beyond Chicago to Grand Blanc on Friday, from Grand Blanc to Columbus on Saturday, and from Columbus to Grand Blanc on Sunday. So, I hope you'll forgive the delay and rightly attribute it to exhaustion, not a lack of enthusiasm for The Secret Base or appreciation for you as a audience.

Sonntag, 31 Mai
R.F. Modulator, "Ashtray Romance" from The Pink Tape (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: R.F. Modulator is a new band in Chicago with guitars by Paul Doerr and vocals by the one and only Ki-El! Beyond that details are sketchy, but The Pink Tape is just what it says: not a compact disc, not an online release, it is a bright pink cassette tape. You can't put a price on that kind of style.

You can also hear their music through the marvel of the internets: R.F. Modulatorlink.

Samstag, 30 Mai
The Sandfleas, "My Baby's Got a Poopy Diaper" from Rice Capades (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Not my baby, mind you, my nephew.

Freitag, 29 Mai
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "I Lost on Jeopardy!" from In 3-D (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I didn't actually lose on Jeopardy!, this is just the only song I know about Jeopardy! Nothing else establishes nerd cred quite as well as a "Weird Al" song that directly addresses your life experience.

Donnerstag, 28 Mai
The Blues Brothers, "Sweet Home Chicago" from The Blues Brothers Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 27 Mai
The Puppini Sisters, "Walk Like An Egyptian" from The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo (T.L.A.M.)