Friday, July 31, 2009

The Stars My Destination
Home are the heroes! Welcome back, Endeavour:, bloglink, and

How do you get to the Moon? Practice, practice, practice.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

American soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen are currently engaged in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq; American intelligence agents and law enforcement officers are everyday mired in cat-and-mouse games with terrorists and criminals; and the Congress is currently wrestling over whether to socialize this country's health care system. President Obama doesn't have any better use for his time than this: Beerlink? This is the change you voted for?

The War for Civilization
I don't understand the Spaniards. After the cowardly bombings of the Madrid train system on 11 March 2004, the Kingdom of Spain very quickly withdrew its token forces in Iraq, precisely the action demanded by the Madrid bombers; in effect, Spain put on display a banner proclaiming that it would accede to any terrorist demands if enough of its citizens were killed in spectacular enough fashion. Spain endorsed terrorism as an effective means of changing government policy; so, these latest barbaric attacks can hardly be considered a surprise: Burgoslink and Majorcalink. Yet the Spaniards act as if these outrageous attacks are anything other than the inevitable result of their post-Madrid capitulation. To borrow from Kipling, you paid the Danegeld, you treacherous Spanish slime, you can hardly now complain of having not gotten rid of the Dane.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CXXXIV - The first non-stop Transatlantic flight, by Sir John Alcock (1892-1919) and Sir Arthur Brown (1886-1948), 14-15 June 1919.

Note that The Daily Mirror's map features Blériot's air route and a photo of the famous aviator, a lovely example of the idea to which James Burke first opened my eyes: all the world is connected.

The Loot
Intangible gestures of familial love and devotion are all fine and good, but every schoolkid knows that true affection is best expressed through material possessions. As I exhort my kin every birthday and Christmas (and you kith are more than welcome to join in), "Give early and give often."

Francie Lin, The Foreigner* (Mom & Dad)
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (Teddy's mom & pop)

{Motion Pictures & Television Series}
Burn Notice Season 2 (The L.A.W. & Brother-in-L.A.W.)
Quantum of Solace (Mom & Dad)

{Music & Sundry Audio}
Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown (Teddy's mom & pop)
This American Life: Stories of Hope & Fear (Mom & Dad)

admission to Star Trek: The Exhibition at the Detroit Science Center (Teddy's mom & pop)
souvenir photograph of Teddy's pop & myself at Star Trek: The Exhibition (Teddy's mom & pop)
two collared shirts: one dress & one short-sleeved casual, both by Arrow† (Mom & Dad)
one CoolMax© Action Shirt: not just a collared shirt, an Action Shirt! (Mom & Dad)
three pairs pants: one khaki, one brown, one blue (Mom & Dad)

The only slight pall cast over the proceedings was that I did not receive the requested gift of this: Z.

It's astonishing how, at eight weeks old, my nephew Teddy appears simultaneously gigantic and minuscule; he's so much larger than he was just a month hence, so much plumper and longer, and yet he's still a tiny wisp of a thing. Perhaps this marks me as dimwitted, but there are certain ideas that I can wrap my mind around, but which my heart never quite accepts. I stare at aeroplanes as they pass overhead; I understand the principles of lift, drag, and thrust, and have trusted my life to the Wright bros. invention on multiple occasions, but I am still staggered by the reality of flight. By the same token, I have difficulty accepting that anything as small and fragile as a baby (and this continues well into childhood) is an entire human being. I've interacted with human beings almost every day of my life, and human being are much larger than that wriggling little thing. It's adorable, but it can't be human, there just isn't enough of it. "This is the whole being?" I wonder. "Part of it wasn't left behind someone for convenience's sake?" Wow, this is the whole Teddy. This, for the nonce, is all there is, and yet later there will be substantially more. Forget for a moment our collective genetic predisposition to love and protect every baby we encounter, babies are a wild, implausible idea. If you had never seen a baby and someone explained the idea to you, would you believe it? I think not. It's too strange to be true. And yet when I see Teddy my rational mind gets kicked to the curb and I am overcome by a sustained desire to hold him, to kiss gently the top of his head, to emit nonsensical cooing vocalizations. Babies, ladies and gents, babies are wild.

Star Trek: The Exhibition was great fun, though not nearly large enough (I was ruined for The Exhibition by the similar but more extensive Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas). My ticket was one of my birthday gifts, and my benefactor and I marveled at the splendor all around us. We had our photograph taken on a scaled-down replica of the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, him at Sulu's station and me at Chekov's. Replica or no, my friends, 'tis a powerful sensation to sit in Captain Kirk's chair, a heady, intoxicating brew, equal parts triumph and euphoria.

In addition, I received numerous birthday well-wishes through the Facebook and here in The Secret Base's commenting feature. Special recognition for originality is owed to Dr. Hee Haw for authoring and transmitting the only birthday email; well done, sir, I salute you. For the second year running, The Sardine was first to wish me a happy birthday, placing a call to my deactivated mobile at 12:01 A.M. and leaving a congratulatory voice message. My compliments to all involved for their good taste; 'tis your good fortune to know me for I am, indeed, quite a fellow.

*Not available through any library to which I have access, acquisition was thus the only option. Hooray for the largess of others.
†Despite this, I shan't soon be mistaken for the Arrow Collar Man, below.

This Week in Motorsport
Return of the Red Baron: Schumacherlink. Even before I became a fan of Formula One, I knew the name and I knew something of the achievements of Michael Schumacher. Upon his retirement several years ago, I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to see him race. I rue the accident that so nearly took the life of Felipe Massa and I wish for his speedy and full recovery, but Schumacher's return is certainly something of a silver lining to that dark cloud.

Mark your calendars, gang, the European Grand Prix on 23 August will be the perfect time to sample F1 and see if it strikes your fancy.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Gorillaz, "Clint Eastwood" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Dienstag, 28 Juli
Barenaked Ladies, "For You" from Everything to Everyone (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Such a beautiful song, and so hard to reconcile with "One Week." Hooray for eclecticism.

"I have set aside everything I loved,
I have saved everything else for you."
Operation AXIOM: Happy Birthday!
Happiest of birthday wishes to The Brad-Man! The Gargoyle, 1213, The Newsletter. Popular culture tells us that the friends we make in college are the friends we'll have for life; by and large, that's rubbish, but pop culture was curiously dead-on about The Brad-Man. The lad's true blue, and I consider myself fortunate to number him among my friends and truly privileged to be numbered amongst his.

Happy birthday, Brad, and many happy returns. Go Blue!

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm psyched. Are you?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
James Roday & Dulé Hill, "Ebony and Ivory" via YouTube (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The first time I saw this promo on U.S.A., I nearly fell out of my chair laughing: hyperlink. The new season of Psych begins Friday, 7 August at 10:00 P.M. on U.S.A., following the final season premiere of Monk.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CXXXIII - Louis Blériot (1872-1936), "the first man to fly the Channel," 25 July 1909, precisely one century ago yesterday.

I mean not to impugn M. Blériot's engineering acumen, but it must require bravery for a man to sit at the controls of a Blériot XI and take to the skies, even a modern recreation.


This Week in Motorsport
Thwarted again! Despite my best intentions, though far from my best effort, I learned that Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix before the tape-delayed U.S. broadcast of the race from the Hungaroring outside Budapest. However, it was an exceptional race, with more changes at the top of the running order and fiercer jockeying for position than in any other race I've seen. Hamilton won the day starting from the fourth position and Kimi Räikkönen moved up from seventh to claim second place; Mark Webber finished third having started in the pattern-busting third position. F1link.

I hope Felipe Massa makes a full recovery. I am most decidedly not among the ghouls who watch motorsport for the crashes; the inevitable collisions during the 24 Heures du Mans were positively nerve-racking. Only today did I learn of the tragic demise of young Henry Surtees last weekend during a Formula Two race; at the risk of being self-centered, I pray I will never be firsthand witness to a racing fatality. May the Lord have mercy on Surtees's soul, be a comfort to his grieving kith and kin, and watch over the injured Massa.

The next F1 race is not until Sunday, 23 August, the European Grand Prix in Valencia, perfidious Spain. What am I to do during the drought? I am thinking of giving the IndyCar Series a second chance; the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day was terrifically dull, but the Honda 200 in a fortnight's time is to be run on a road course. Ovals are the pits, but I can't fully gauge my potential affinity for IndyCar racing until I see them run on a street circuit or road course. I am not optimistic, but I'm willing to risk a couple of hours.

The Stars My Destination
Starting the countdown with "11 Days to Apollo 11" on 9 July of this year, our astral attention has for nearly three weeks been fixed on the triumphs of the past, but let us not forget the glorious present: baker's dozenlink. Holy smoke, there are thirteen astronauts and cosmonauts currently in orbit! Never before in forty-eight years of manned spaceflight have there been this many persons outside Earth's atmosphere. And, with the occupancy capacity of the International Space Station set at six and the forthcoming Orion Crew Vehicle's maximum crew of six (for a total of twelve, unless more are sent up on a Russian Soyuz or a second Orion), we may not again see this many sailors-among-the-stars and -cosmos simultaneously in space. Though I am increasingly loathe to quote The Simpsons, I can think of no words more apropos to the moment than, "What a time to be alive!"

By Jove, Jupiter's getting pummeled: and! I remember fondly the heady days of Shoemaker-Levy 9; Bog, I wish we'd had ye olde internet back then. (I know the internet existed in '94, but not in anything resembling its current ubiquity.) What do the Planet Jupiter, the telescopes necessary to view Jupiter in detail, and ye olde internet have in common?


Coming Attractions
"Prelude to Project PANDORA" - my response to your responses, risking all "on one turn of pitch-and-toss"
"M.P.W. at XXX" - I'm thirty, now what? Subsection: "The Loot"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Green Day, "21 Guns" from 21st Century Breakdown (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: So far, I have mostly not connected with 21st Century Breakdown, but the line "When it's time to live and let die" caught my ear. And the chorus of "21 Guns" certainty stands out amidst the rest of the album.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy birthday to me. "It's beer! Hooray, beer!"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of My Birthday
Reel Big Fish, "Beer" from Turn the Radio Off (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Stars My Destination Presents the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11
Forty years to the day, 24 July 1969, the Command Module Columbia screamed through the atmosphere, her heat shield all that prevented astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin from being grilled alive, and safely splashed down into the Pacific Ocean. Crew and capsule were recovered by the U.S.S. Hornet and the astronaut trio soon began their extended stay in quarantine. This was not the end of the Apollo Program, nor was the end of Apollo the end of Man's fascination with and exploration of the Moon, but this does mark the end of our celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 here at The Secret Base.

Now with more Nixon!

Remember always the words we left upon the surface of the Moon, "We came in peace for all Mankind."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Frank Sinatra, "Fly Me to the Moon" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Stars My Destination Presents the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11
I loathe The New York Times for a great many reasons, but so as to avoid a preposterously lengthy digression, let's just leave it at that. Yet, such is my love for the glory of Apollo that I have for years hung the poster below, a reproduction of the front page of The New York Times from 21 July 1969, the day after Armstrong and Aldrin's Moonwalk, on the wall or door of every place I've lived. I intend to continue doing so as far into the future as I can envision.

I daily marvel at and am reminded of the wonders of which we are capable if only we dare. Put a little more Apollo in your everyday life, don't just save it for anniversaries, and you'll be pleased with the results.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
She & Him, "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" from Volume One (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I very much want to see (500) Days of Summer, but it looks as if I'll most likely have to wait for D.V.D. Curses!

"Why don't you sit right down and stay awhile?
We like the same things and I like your style.
It's not a secret,
Why do you keep it?"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Explorers Club
No. CXXXII - Project Apollo, Part V: The Command/Service Module, Lunar Module, and Lunar Rover.

I know the stature of the Lunar Rover doesn't begin to compare to that of the iconic Command/Service Module and Lunar Module, but, come on, we put a car on the Moon. How spectacularly American of us!

Command Module & Lunar Module
Apollo 7 - C.S.M. only, unnamed
Apollo 8 - C.S.M. only, unnamed
Apollo 9 - Gumdrop & Spider
Apollo 10 - Charlie Brown & Snoopy
Apollo 11 - Columbia & Eagle
Apollo 12 - Yankee Clipper & Intrepid
Apollo 13 - Odyssey & Aquarius
Apollo 14 - Kitty Hawk & Antares
Apollo 15 - Endeavour & Falcon
Apollo 16 - Casper & Orion
Apollo 17 - America & Challenger

Prelude to Project PANDORA
I'm going to ask out on a date the fetching blonde girl in my Labor Econ class. Her name is Jessica (the third girl I've liked by that name, coincidence or cause?) and she's a lovely creature, plus nerdy, funny, and from all appearances warmly appreciative of my particular brand of hilarity. It's been literally years since I've been out on a date; so, I come to you, my treasured readers, hat in hand, to plumb your collective experience and wisdom for ideas. Ask her "to get coffee sometime"? I don't drink coffee and view coffee bars as ridiculous. Ask her to another meal, lunch seeming more casual than dinner? Just an activity? A meal and an activity? The last time I asked a girl out to dinner-and-a-movie the evening ended with us sitting in her car while I listened to a twenty-minute, unbelievably conceited lecture on why she and I couldn't date. (For Pete's sake, woman, just say you don't want to go out with me again!) A play? Bowling? Mini-golf? An evening of billiards and darts? A visit to a museum, subquestion: in general or to see a specific exhibit?

I've no fear of rejection, though it is a distinct possibility and she could clearly do better than me. I've no hesitancy in risking all on the asking, the squandered opportunity with A Girl Named Hell-ya having made all too clear the self-sabotaging folly of hesitation. The absolute worst case scenario is that she rejects me harshly and the remaining few weeks of our class together become awfully awkward, but even in that case I will have more recent data to examine when the time comes to begin Project PANDORA in earnest. I'm going to ask her out on one of the next two occasions I see her, that much is set in stone, the task now is to sculpt my approach, refine my proposal, and begin honing my very rusty technique.

Please leave your ideas and suggestions in the comments feature, they will all be greatly appreciated. I thank you.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Jessica" from the Why Does the Sun Shine? E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Stars My Destination Presents the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11
Man alive, Mike Collins cracks me up: Command Module Pilotlink. Mars, ho!

And now a pair of hyperlinks about the technology that got us there and will get us there again: Saturn resurrectionlink and Lunar Module/Altairlink.

Last but not least, let us hope that President Obama does not have the courage to fulfill his campaign promise to put an end to American manned spaceflight: Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrinlink.

"This was a Golden Age, a time of high adventure, rich living, and hard dying… but nobody thought so. This was a future of fortune and theft, pillage and rapine, culture and vice… but nobody admitted it. This was an age of extremes, a fascinating century of freaks… but nobody loved it."
—Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination

Will the Ares I rocket be allowed to carry us boldly into the future?

The Summer of Crime
Crime-themed motion pictures I've watched this summer:

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
The Thomas Crown Affair
The French Connection
Dirty Harry

All hail from the late 1960s/early '70s; coincidence? Two set in New York, two in San Francisco, and one in Boston.

Plus, I've watched all three seasons of Veronica Mars and have been reading Hercule Poirot mysteries since April. Though Dame Agatha's Belgian detective would disapprove, raise your glass and toast: To crime!

The Queue
I suppose the most disappointing thing I learned from reading Neptune Noir is that though Veronica Mars was a very smart show, it didn't necessarily attract smart viewers and admirers. To wit, one of the essayists proffered the dumbfounding contention that "Dirty Harry" Callahan from the eponymous series of films and Jack Bauer from the television series 24 are examples of vigilantism in television and the cinema. Wait, what?
vigilante, n., one who takes the law into one's own hands
Inspector Harry Callahan is a police officer, a bona fide member of the San Francisco Police Department (S.F.P.D.). Accusations of vigilantism may arise from the end of Dirty Harry, wherein Inspector Callahan defies the Mayor of San Francisco's orders and singlehandedly stops the Scorpio Killer, but only if one willfully ignores several important details both in those scenes and in the wider series. After Callahan kills the Scorpio, he throws his S.F.P.D. badge out over a pond and walks away; but in the sequel, Magnum Force, Dirty Harry is still an S.F.P.D. Inspector. And the plot of Magnum Force pits Callahan against a gang of actual vigilantes, who summarily execute criminals. Throwing away his badge clearly did not mean Harry was no longer a law enforcement officer.

Within the standoff with the Scorpio Killer (played by young Andy Robinson, later to be immortalized in the recurring role of "plain, simple" Elim Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Dirty Harry acts as a police officer, not a vigilante. If Callahan had taken the law into his own hands, he would simply have blown the Scorpio away with the famous .44 Magnum. Instead, through the iconic speech—"You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"—Harry baits the Scorpio into snatching up a pistol and aiming it at Callahan. Directly threatened, Harry uses justifiable deadly force against the Scorpio: within the rules as a police officer, not outside the law as a vigilante.

And I asked my father, exactly the sort of pudding-minded viewer 24 attracts, and he confirmed that Jack Bauer is, most of the time, an agent of the fictional U.S. intelligence agency the Counter Terrorist Unit*. And thus, as an armed agent of the United States Government, Jack Bauer is not taking the law into his own hands, not a vigilante. Neither S.F.P.D. Inspector "Dirty Harry" Callahan nor C.T.U. agent Jack Bauer is guilty of vigilantism. The definitions of words matter, people. One cannot simply decide that a word has whatever meaning one deigns, not if one wishes to write coherently or find one's writing greeted by anything other than derisive laughter.

Agatha Christie, Three Act Tragedy
Rob Thomas, editor, Neptune Noir: Unauthorized Investigations into Veronica Mars

Agatha Christie, Cards on the Table

Henry Chang, Chinatown Beat
Agatha Christie, Murder at the Vicarage
Agatha Christie, After the Funeral
Agatha Christie, Cat Among the Pigeons
Francie Lin, The Foreigner
Karen E. Olson, The Missing Ink
Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare
Saki, When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns
Sloane Crosley, I Was Told There'd be Cake
John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "Chick Magnet" from Life in General (T.L.A.M.)


"Knows how to make a girl smile,
How to drive a girl crazy."

*"Counter Terrorist Unit"? That doesn't even make any sense. "Counter," in the way it is clearly intended in the name Counter Terrorist Unit, is a prefix, "counter-," not a freestanding noun. Examples include the C.I.A.'s Counterterrorism Center, the F.B.I.'s counterintelligence function, the Catholic Counterreformation (also Counter-reformation), counterclockwise, counterpart, counterweight, Counter-Earth. Counterterrorist Unit or Counter-terrorist Unit would be acceptable, but Counter Terrorist Unit? Do they only investigate instances of terrorism against counters, or terrorism committed by counters? I have to tell you, it would break my heart to learn that our kitchen counter was involved in terrorism. Odd's blood, 24's popularity is baffling.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Giant Leap for Mankind

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might be Giants, "Space Suit" from Apollo 18 (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

1 Day to Apollo 11
Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Tomorrow!

The Explorers Club
No. CXXXI - Project Apollo, Part IV: The Saturn V rocket, the stuff dreams are made of.

The Explorers Club Presents the Wayback Machine:

No. XXXV: Project Apollo, Part I

No. XXXVI: Project Apollo, Part II

No. XXXVII: Project Apollo, Part III

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

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2 Days to Apollo 11
Like a Frisbee on a rooftop, we might not be able to get our stuff back, but it's nice to know where it is: lunarlink. And of course Apollo 12's Lunar Module, the Intrepid, hasn't been photographed yet; the late Pete Conrad never knew how to be like everyone else. Two days, guys, time to build up to a fever pitch. Apollo 11!

"We came in peace for all Mankind."

The Great War
Henry Allingham, 1896-2009, may the Lord have mercy on his soul. Headlinelink, Her Majestylink, and obitlink. Rest in peace, sir, and thank you for helping us to remember the glorious dead of the Great War.

Lest we forget.

The Endorsement
I missed the first two episodes of the new Syfy (formerly the Sci Fi Channel) comedy-drama Warehouse 13, but was able to see them thanks to my father's obsessive Let me recommend Warehouse 13 to you in this way: it is funny and fun, but most importantly startlingly intelligent for a Syfy program. Science fiction is a smart genre, but from the first Syfy (Sci Fi) has been a brainless broadcaster. I was agape at the underlying intelligence of Warehouse 13, a series I was prepared to dismiss as a lighthearted version of The X-Files. Give Warehouse 13 a shot; I'll wager you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Article III
My objection to Judge Sotomayor is not her now-infamous "wise Latina" comment. It is, on its face, undeniably racist, but it was clearly not meant to be, and who among us has not unwitting said something racist in our lives? The preponderance of the evidence indicates that she's not an overt racist. But, when she and her fellow judges on the appellate panel had a chance to add their wisdom to the Ricci case, Judge Sotomayor chose to stand silent. She passed the buck to the Supreme Court. She had a chance to make a profound statement on American law, but she chose to hide. She's a coward, she'd rather remain silent even when she has a public duty to speak, and there's no room for cowards on the high court.

Whomever President Obama nominated to succeed Justice Souter was clearly going to share the ludicrous Warren-era interpretation (dismissal, haphazard rewriting) of the Constitution, and I accept that as a natural consequence of his bamboozling of the voters last Election Day. But, what, he couldn't find an anti-Constitutional judge or scholar who had the guts to do her job? There isn't one brave jurist amidst the vast left-wing conspiracy?

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Curtis Mayfield, "Superfly" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As I type this post, I am listening to the radio show WireTap and show shan't listen to either R.B.D.S.O.T.D. until after the show, though my habit it to hear the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. whilst bloggy blogging about it. By Lucifer's beard, why does the show have to be called WireTap? Why couldn't it be either Wiretap or Wire Tap?

More on topic, I've never seen the film
Super Fly, but I have long loved the song "Superfly."

Freitag, 17 Juli
Bobby Womack, "Across 110th Street" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Why should you see the film Across 110th Street? Two words: Yaphet Kotto.

"I'm not saying what I did was all right,
Trying to break out of the ghetto was a day-to-day fight."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

4 Days to Apollo 11
Forty years ago today, on 16 July 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz (then Edwin) Aldrin, and Michael Collins; the Command Module Columbia; and the Lunar Module Eagle rent a hole through the atmosphere and rocketed toward the Moon aboard a mighty Saturn V, still the most powerful rocket ever launched. Three men against the merciless vacuum of outer space, millimeters of metal and insulation all that separated them from certain death, hurtling through the darkness at incredible speeds toward the mysterious, lifeless Moon. Forty years ago to the day; we are fortune to be present for this once-in-history celebration, my friends, let us make the most of the opportunity.

"We came in peace for all Mankind."

The Stars My Destination
Better late than never: and I missed posting about the launch yesterday, but I did watch it live on T.V. Wow, that never gets old. The shuttle fleet has been flying since I was a wee lad, but the power and majesty of a launch just never gets old. Fascinating is hardly a sufficient word, perhaps enthralling is more apropos. And once the Endeavour docks tomorrow, there will be thirteen astronauts/cosmonauts at the International Space Station.

Slowly, so frustratingly slowly and maddeningly haltingly, we are making real progress up there in the heavens. And once the Orion and Altair vehicles ride into orbit and beyond atop the next generation of mighty Ares rockets, we will once again resume Apollo's work and set sail among the stars, charting a course across the celestial sea for the strange new worlds that call to the inherent human need to explore, to test our courage and ingenuity against the unknown. To challenge the unknown. These are great days for Homo sapiens sapiens, my dear fellows, don't allow yourself to lose sight of the splendor that surrounds us here on the good Earth and that awaits us among the stars.

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

Mittwoch, 15 Juli
Earthling Scum, "Self Preservation Society" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Self Preservation Society," from the original British film The Italian Job, is properly known as "Getta Bloomin' Move On." Sadly, this is not an original soundtrack recording of the song, which features prominently in the film's spectacular finale.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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

Commentary: It's too soon to trigger Project PANDORA, I haven't done the proper prep work, but, Bog, I want so very badly to cut to the chase and I am so awfully tempted to jump the gun.

"But I will wait for you,
As long as I need to.
And if you ever get back
To Hackensack,
I'll be here for you."

Monday, July 13, 2009

7 Days to Apollo 11
One week, people, one week remaining until the fortieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon! And, sweet fancy Moses, he found out the blasted thing's not even made out of cheese! "We came in peace for all Mankind."

Eye of the Tiger
I will never never never get used to Tiger's occasional but insistent demands to be petted while she eats. She will whine and stare at me, looking terribly pathetic, until I stroll over to her bowls, kneel beside her, and pet her while she eats or drinks, running my hand from her head to the tip of her tail. The late, lamented Sam would shoot daggers out of his eyes if I so much as looked at him while he eat or drank. The odds between fight or flight were pretty much fifty-fifty if I approached him while he was eating: he'd hightail it out of there lickety-split or he's bear his teeth and swipe at me with a declawed paw. (Bless his malicious heart, he never figured out that his claws had been removed when he was wee.) But Tiger fairly begs us to pet her as she eats.

Dad came up with a pretty satisfactory theory to explain this behavior. Tiger is a secondhand kitty, we adopted her as an adult cat from my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Springboro, Ohio. They acquired her as a kitten, a pet for my cousin Meghan, the middle child of three and the only girl. Later, they acquired a dog, Pancake, a very yellow golden retriever, and later still a second dog of unknown (to me) breed, named, because they are Buckeyes one and all, Tressel. While I have not inquired as to the particulars, Pancake and Tressel loved to chase Tiger around the house and torment her mercilessly. I have no idea what Tiger's disposition was before the dogs got at her, but she has been a tremulous 'fraidy cat the whole time we've had her. Poor kitty. Dad's theory is that in Ohio Tiger was vulnerable to canine ambush at her food and water dishes, like animals on the Serengeti are vulnerable to predators at watering holes. So, having us pet her while she eats helps her to feel safe and secure. I've no superior alternate theory, and Dad's logic stands up to scrutiny and seems to be supported by anecdotal observation.

I've known only two cats from Ohio, both of whom were tormented by dogs while their owners stood by and did nothing. That's just how people are in Ohio, that's just the way they conduct themselves. Many, too many people I've known cling to this ludicrous notion that my disdain for the State of Ohio is rooted in my natural Wolverine animosity for the "University of Ohio State." Nonsense. I've hated Ohio and Ohioans from before I even knew of the existence of Ohio State, and I content that however horrific the allegations I level against them, the truth is darker still. Tiger, poor bedeviled Tiger, is proof of that.

The essential difference between cats and dogs: dogs wish to please, cats demand to be pleased. I appreciate the fact that cats think they are our betters, I respect the audacity of that laughable assumption. I don't mind being manipulated when the manipulation is obvious: purrlink.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dance Hall Crashers, "Make Her Purr" (live) from The Live Record: Witless Banter and 25 Mildly Antagonist Songs of Love (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Not really a song about cats, but today wasn't the day for D.H.C.'s "Cat Fight" (also not about cats) or "Cat With 2 Heads!" by The Aquabats!

"You like to think you know her,
Know what it takes to make her purr,
But she don't live here anymore."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

8 Days to Apollo 11
This occasion highlights the raison d'être of Operation AXIOM: the 20th of July marks the fortieth anniversary of the "giant leap for Mankind," our first steps on a heavenly body other than this trusty ol' orb of ours; this will be the only time in the whole of history that 'twill be such an anniversary. Seize the astonishing opportunity than has been set before you! Make the most of this anniversary, you'll be glad you did. "We came in peace for all Mankind."

The Stars My Destination
Well, the stars will be our destination eventually: and (Check out the photograph of the storm clouds on the N.A.S.A. page. No Go, indeed.)
This Week In Motorsport
Drat and double drat, I failed, my bid to embrace ignorance was thwarted. The B.B.C. News site is my homepage and I would have been okay because I was absolutely not going to scroll down to the B.B.C. Sport headlines, but the Limeys proved too crafty, placing Australian Mark Webber's victory in the German Grand Prix among the big, photo-accompanied second tier headlines, right beneath the main story. And once I saw it, I couldn't unsee it: F1link. Drat!

But I'm not beaten yet. Nine of the seventeen 2009 grands prix have been run, but of those nine I have watched only four on television. My intention is to watch all eight of the remains races; so, though the Formula One season is now halfway over, for me there remains twice as much racing as I have already seen. Score! And I shall refine my techniques, and, mark my words, I shall not know ahead of the the tape-delayed American broadcast the winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix, to be run in a fortnight. Ignorance will prevail!

Boy howdy, the more I see of F1, the more I like it. The dominant Brawn cars seem not-so-invincible anymore, and though the Red Bulls finished one-two again, there seems to be real life in Ferrari and the formerly moribund McLaren-Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton's disastrous day notwithstanding). And, holy cow, Force India might actually have gained points, and even had a shot at the podium, were it not for Adrian Sutil's heartbreaking accident coming out of the pit lane.

Formula One is wicked exciting, boys and girls, and I invite you to take a chance and watch the Hungarian Grand Prix on your local Fox affiliate at 3:00 P.M. E.D.T. on Sunday, 26 July 2009.

Jones Bottle Caps as Fortune Cookies
"Your life will be filled with sunshine." Most people would accept this as a bit of unreserved good fortune, but given the acrimony and scorn I oft direct at the Accursed Sun, I'm not much of a fan of the life filled with literal sunshine. However, in the vampire story I've got sitting in my mental files for after Project TRITON and, possibly, Project TRIANGLE, there is a character I'm thinking of nicknaming "Sunshine." Mayhap I should take this bottle cap as auguring success for Diurnal: Confessions of the World's Worst Vampire and the various sequels and spin-offs I'd like to publish as the "Vampires Suck" series.

"You will soon find something you lost long ago." My sense of invincibility? My libido? The crippling paralysis I used to feel around a girl I liked? (It took me a long time to shake that, so I'd rather not have it back, thanks.) Color me intrigued. Hey, you think there might be a chance I could find the long lost Michael Patrick Donut Shark from my youth?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "How's My Driving, Doug Hastings?" from Losing Streak (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I'm not going out like this."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

9 Days to Apollo 11 Super fun, and the perfect place to start celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first Moon landing. To borrow an exultant exhortation, get happy, people! "We came in peace for all Mankind."

The Stars My Destination
Lightning rods = awesome: and The photograph of Zeus's thunderbolt is impressive, most impressive, but wait, there's more. Scroll down to the second photo included in the B.B.C. article: what are those swimming in the foreground? Pigs? Please, please, please, somebody tell me N.A.S.A. is working on making tomorrow the time when pigs fly. Or, and here I'm fairly squealing with excitement, that within our lifetimes we might see pigs in space.

This Week in Motorsport
It's been three weeks since Silverstone, and I've been itching for some Formula One action. I am determined not to learn the results of tomorrow's race—the German Grand Prix at the fearsome Nürburgring—before the tape-delayed Fox broadcast in the afternoon, and so shall be very careful when perusing ye olde internet and will avoid B.B.C. radio broadcasts entirely. By Jove, I will be ignorant!

The Queue
At one point in Shakespeare Wrote for Money, Nick Hornby listed the general themes of a book he'd just finished and wrote, "and if you're not interested in any of that, then we at the Believer politely suggest you'd be happier with another magazine." And that's it right there. For all my bombastic assertion of the rectitude of my own opinions, I am essentially a big tent fellow, and I will not brook Hornby's small-minded, conformist mindset. His too-cool-for-school, in-the-know attitude is all too eerily reminiscent of that found in those faux-Hellenic houses of horror from which the F.R.A.T. Party derived its mocking name. Hornby was dead-on, though, I would have been happier reading a collection of columns from another magazine; I'll still read his fiction, but I'd rather watch the Beck episode of Futurama than suffering through any more of his infantile non-fiction.

An illustration of my rejection of the all-or-nothing, one-of-us exclusivity of Shakespeare Wrote For Money and the Believer is that my fondness for both Ki-El, who specifically recommended the book, and The Guy, who purchases the magazine and has several times endorsed Hornby's "Stuff I've Been Reading" column, remains undiminished. A man is more than the sum of his cultural interests, and if you're not interest in that attitude, we here at The Secret Base politely suggest there's plenty you'll still enjoy in this blog; we thank you for your readership and encourage you to make generous use of the commenting feature. Big tent.

Nick Hornby, Shakespeare Wrote For Money
G. K. Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State (abandoned)
Agatha Christie, Three Act Tragedy

Rob Thomas, editor, Neptune Noir: Unauthorized Investigations into Veronica Mars

Agatha Christie, Cards on the Table
Agatha Christie, Murder at the Vicarage
Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare
Francie Lin, The Foreigner
Saki, When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Andy Findon, "The Belgian Detective" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

10 Days to Apollo 11
Spread the word, mark the anniversary, revel in the triumph. "We came in peace for all Mankind."

"He makes Speedy Gonzalez look like Regular Gonzalez!" Cheetahlink. It would be nice to figure out just how cheetahs do that voodoo that they do so well. Also, it would be nice if we could figure out a way to stop the remaining cheetah populations from being too inbred to survive; these cats are one of the animal kingdom's true wonders, and I should very much like to boggle the minds of posterity with the cheetah's glorious oddness.


The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Lulu, "The Man with the Golden Gun" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Christopher Lee's Scaramanga is such a perfect foe for 007 that with just a few tweaks to remove the most ridiculous and stupid comedic beats, The Man with the Golden Gun would easily rank in the top five of the Bond films. Alas, it is still a solid entry, despite its shortcomings.

Donnerstag, 9 Juli
They Might Be Giants, "Your Own Worst Enemy" from Factory Showroom (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Precious and few are the moments that you and your own worst enemy share." Precious and few.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bitchin' Camaro*
I spied another fifth-generation/2010 model-year Camaro today, pure silver as in all the promotional photos, and I don't care if this earns me a "Douchebag" T-shirt: I wants one.

"I don't feel any shame, I won't apologize."

At age twenty, I displayed quite an exceptional command of American English. All for the good, even more than I suspected at the time? Nunlink. Alzheimer's disease is a fate worse than death, for it is the death of the soul. I mostly find health stories a dreadful bore, but I hope to keep an eye on this research to see if the results are repeated in larger, more scientific samples and what, if anything, those data would tell us about preventing mental deterioration. I wish to perish at sixty mostly to prevent my mind dying before my body; mayhap I shan't have to deprive the world of my magnificence so early?

My only objection to this article on the state of Babylon's ruins is to the fourth paragraph from the bottom: Babylonlink. 'Tis indefensibly ignorant and repugnantly hypocritical to write an article about preserving ancient sites and use the word "plunder" to describe 19th century archaeology. Our knowledge of the past was fragmentary before Europeans started poking around in the dirt in Egypt and the Middle East in the 19th century; the fragments those intrepid chaps "plundered" are the only reason we know what we do about the Egypt of the pharaohs, the whorish glory that was Babylon, and the not-so-mythical-after-all city of Troy. Had the Elgin Marbles not been removed from Athens to London, Bog only knows what damage might have been done to them during the Greek War of Independence and all the other wars that have raged across Thessaly, Attica, and the Peloponnese in the last two centuries. To call preservation "plunder" is to declare that you would have preferred these treasures destroyed rather than relocated, an attitude I can only describe as Philistine.


The Stars My Destination
Safety first… to the max! Maxlink.

*Yes, I am aware of the incongruity of quoting the Dead Milkmen when expressing genuine desire to own a Camaro.
11 Days to Apollo 11
On 20 July 1969, "men from the Planet Earth first set foot on the Moon." The fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11 is going to be a very big deal here at The Secret Base, and I invite each of you reading this to give your utmost to raise awareness of this anniversary among your kith and kin. Project Apollo, in addition to its phenomenal technological achievements, promoted the purposeful harnessing of our finest virtues: courage, resilience, resourcefulness, cooperation and coordination, and self-sacrifice. And these virtues found their finest avatar in the first man to set foot on the Moon, Neil Armstrong. Armstronglink.

It was our proudest hour, and reminds us still of what we can accomplish if we have but the intrepidity to pursue our aspirations. "We came in peace for all Mankind."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Paramore, "Ingorance" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: New!

Dienstag, 7 Juli
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "The Day He Didn't Die" from Pay Attention (T.L.A.M.)


"How could I forget
The day that he didn't die?
That day he knew what he was up to,
He had this look in his eye.
How could I forget?
There's no way I could forget him
Or ever forget the day.

The day after that
Just after the afternoon,
It was the day after Christmas,
In his living room.
He died on that day,
In his house, with his wife,
Still I won't forget the day
Before the last day of his life.

I really miss him,
He would have loved this,
I hope he can hear me.
I really miss him,
He would have loved this,
I hope he can hear me.

And how I loved how he lived,
How he was loved and admired,
A knack, a certain flair* for life,
And how he had it wired.
He'd never give up,
He wouldn't give in,
He had a wonderful way of living.

There's not been a day,
One hasn't gone by,
When I don't think about
The day he didn't die.

I really miss him,
He would have loved this,
I hope he can hear me.

*The liner notes for
Pay Attention read "a certain flare for life," but I assume that no one paid attention enough to catch the error, as the context clearly indicates an intended "certain flair for life."

Bog, this is a beautiful song, one I certainly intend to instruct to be played at my wake.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Project TRITON
I have made more progress in the last three days than in the preceding month. Is it Veronica Mars? Is it the mustaches of Hercule Poirot? The malaise of May and June has lifted and the ideas are once again flowing freely. My muse is back, and you can shove your sorries in a sack!

Grow or die, Michaelmas looms.

"Mr. Biden's visit was also an attempt to foster reconciliation between the various ethnic and religious groups in Iraq," groups that our illustrious Vice President said were constitutionally incapable of living together in peace, back when he was a mere United States Senator: Iraqlink. It is this insistence that Arab and Kurdish Iraqis are too tribal (read: primitive and savage) to live together in a pluralistic democracy that constitutes the bulk of "Regular Joe's" foreign policy "expertise," the very thing that earned him a spot on the '08 Democratic ticket, the very thing that placed him one heartbeat away from the presidency. Chance you can believe in: a return to the happy go lucky racism of colonialism, the assumption that non-Europeans are incapable of civilized behavior. My thanks to the people of Iraq for doing so much to prove Vice President Biden and President Obama wrong.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Fat" from Even Worse (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "And my shadow weighs forty-two pounds."

Sonntag, 5 Juli
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Eat It" from In 3-D (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Have some more pie." I tell you this, my friends, as timeless wisdom for the ages: there's always* room for pie.

*Almost always. This rule no longer applies once you've already had a half-dozen pieces of pie. I'm not normally that big a pig, it was a unique situation, a long story I'll tell you another time. But, please, under no circumstances eat that seventh piece of pie. It will only end badly.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Fourth of July
Two hundred thirty-three years ago today, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress, explaining with staggering eloquence the sundering of ties between the tyrannical British Empire and the Thirteen Colonies, now styling themselves as the United States of America. 4 July 1776 is an epoch comparable to the Greek victory in the Persian Wars, the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Norman Conquest of England, and the Protestant Reformation. The world we know is beset with woe and strife, but in the last two-and-a-third centuries more has been accomplished to break the ancient patterns of poverty and bondage than in the preceding whole of history, and doubt not that this is a direct result of the grand experiment in "government of the people, by the people, for the people" that we know and love as America.

Though I trust only in God Almighty, I have never liked our national motto, adopted in the hysterical 1950s, "In God we trust;" I prefer the traditional, ever unofficial motto, E pluribus unum, "out of many, one." We are the many, my fellow citizens, and together we form one body politic that is greater than the sum of its parts. One nation, indivisible, "the last, best hope of Earth." We argue and we curse and we say things that cannot be taken back over how best to govern this blessed land, but always (okay, usually) in a spirit of patriotism, because we all know the paramount importance of our republic to the freedom of all Mankind. I may mock President Obama as "our charlatan president" because I disagree with his policies, but he is still our president, my president. However much we argue, we remain one, E pluribus unum.

Happy birthday, America, and many happy returns.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Independence Day
The New American Brass Band, "Hail Columbia" from The Civil War: Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)

The Cadillac of Meats
I hold in my heart a profound, slightly puzzling hostility toward Spain and Spaniards, and partially as a consequence I have begun adopting Portugal and the Portuguese as a more palatable Iberian alternate. So far, I'm loving this decision: Henry the Navigator, the flag of Ceuta, King Sebastian and the disastrous Battle of Alcácer Quibir, Brazil, and now… Piglink!

"Hey, man, ever been to Mealhada?"
"Yup, and, boy howdy, I had a meal!"

Friday, July 3, 2009

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

Commentary: He was the greatest entertainer I've ever seen, and his like shall ne'er be seen again. May he rest in peace.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crumbs, I completely forgot what I was going to write.

Anyway, under the category of the extremely juvenile, I had White Castle for lunch today. I love White Castle, even though I know full well that eating there always leaves me, and here is the juvenile portion, malodorously flatulent. I know, I know, this blog is a constant delight that consistently raises the level of the discourse. Excelsior!

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
"Wallace and Rashard Go to White Castle," Veronica Mars Season 2

Ooo, I remembered what I was going to write: sour grapes or not, I say good riddance to Marian Hossa. The Chicago Blackhawks have signed a highly skilled player and an adroit goalscorer, but have they signed a winner? I think not. It is one of the great and enduring mysteries of sport, and one of its most enchanting charms, that there is all the difference in the world between a tremendously talented player and a winner. Sometimes tremendously talented players are winners, but quite often the winners are the role players, the journeymen, the guys with more grit and tenacity than dazzling skill. When the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat hang in the balance, dazzling skill can count for naught compared to the intangible superiority of the winner. And as I forewarned, it may just be sour grapes over his complete invisibility during the Stanley Cup Finals, but I don't see a single reason to believe that Marian Hossa is a winner. What the Red Wings both need and already have is winners.

Lord Stanley's Cup shall return home to Hockeytown, of that let there be no doubt.


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

Commentary: The R.B.D.S.O.T.D. commemoration of the King of Pop has nearly run its course, and we are now celebrating the three B's that are the best of the best of the best, "Beat It," "Bad," and tomorrow's finale. The man's been dead a week, yet the disposition of his heirs and estate continues to make news. Now that is the hallmark of a consummate entertainer: the show goes on even from beyond the grave.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Operation AXIOM
Happy Dominion Day to our friends in the Great White North, eh! Ooo, sorry, I mean happy Canada Day. One hundred forty-two years ago today, the Province of Canada (composed of the two Canadas, Upper and Lower, later known as Ontario and Quebec), the Province of New Brunswick, and the Province of Nova Scotia fused to form a confederation, the Dominion of Canada. I hold Canada in both high esteem and utter contempt, but for today we think only of the good and I offer them all congratulations. Way to go, eh!

The Queue
I cannot write the following without sounding terribly arrogant, even though such is not my intent, but I find in Chesterton's writing patterns of thought that remind me of mine own. However, I find also that he has embraced my unfortunate tendency to write myself into corners out of which only nonsensically complex sentences may be employed as a means of self-extrication; in short, the man writes in circles, approaches his subjects only obliquely, and seems to disdain ever coming directly to his point. Also, though eugenics is still an issue of great import to our society— tottering as it is on the edge of an abyssal age in which parents may harness the power of science to twist their yet unborn children into genetically "better" versions of what and how God Almighty intended those babies to be—Chesterton's arguments are firmly rooted in the immediately post-Great War epoch in which Eugenics and Other Evils was published, and thus, not being currently of a mind to fully tackle the implications of eugenics and out brave new world of genetic selection, I find the book of only minimal interest. Combine minimal interest with Chesterton's infuriatingly roundabout and noncommittal text and I feel no guilt over abandoning Eugenics and Other Evils.

I am hoping Chesterton's fiction is more straightforward that his essays, because I really do want to like the man, who was my very favorite kind of Christian: the adult convert to Catholicism.

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 (abandoned)

Agatha Christie, Three Act Tragedy

Agatha Christie, Cards on the Table
Agatha Christie, Murder at the Vicarage
Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare
Francie Lin, The Foreigner
Saki, When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns

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

Commentary: "You're playing with your life / This ain't no truth or dare."