Friday, January 29, 2010

Freaks and Geeks… and Greeks: A Prelude
I attended a free swing dance lesson this afternoon, as I did several times toward the tail end of '09. The lads remain in one position and the lasses periodically shift one bloke to the right (their left), until the girl at the end walks all the way back to the other end, like returning the register on an old typewriter. One particularly bright eyed lass informed me that she was in a sorority, and that several of the other distaff dancers were her sorority sisters. She asked me if I was in a fraternity and seemed genuinely surprised that I was not. Later, when the company was dispersing, she invited me to a party at a fraternity house with which her sorority is affiliated. I would have accepted, Project MERCATOR demands no less, but I was under obligation to my father, to attend and take photographs at the Prime Ribs and Politics dinner, organized by his pals—yes, his pals, not mine—in the U of M-Flint College Republicans. I prophecy that there shall be similar invitations in my future; I will report again when all this comes to its predictable, inevitable bad end.

Apropos of nothing else, poetry!

"The Story of Uriah"
by Rudyard Kipling

"Now there were two men in one city;
the one rich, and the other poor."

Jack Barrett went to Quetta
Because they told him to.
He left his wife at Simla
On three-fourths his monthly screw.
Jack Barrett died at Quetta
Ere the next month's pay he drew.

Jack Barrett went to Quetta.
He didn't understand
The reason of his transfer
From the pleasant mountain-land.
The season was September,
And it killed him out of hand.

Jack Barrett went to Quetta
And there gave up the ghost,
Attempting two men's duty
In that very healthy post;
And Mrs. Barrett mourned for him
Five lively months at most.

Jack Barrett's bones at Quetta
Enjoy profound repose;
But I shouldn't be astonished
If now his spirit knows
The reason of his transfer
From the Himalayan snows.

And, when the Last Great Bugle Call
Adown the Hurnai throbs,
And the last grim joke is entered
In the big black Book of Jobs.
And Quetta graveyards give again
Their victims to the air,
I shouldn't like to be the man
Who sent Jack Barrett there.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Comedienne" from Out-of-State Plates, Disco Two (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The R.B.D.S.O.T.D. is often chosen for whimsical reasons, but not today. I've felt like the titular comedienne all day, and then again when I watched in slightly horror-tinged resignation as my father turn what could have been a rousing campaign speech into another lunatic tirade, I had the same thought over and over again:

"Comedienne, please make up your mind.
Are you laughing or crying?
Are you killing or dying tonight?"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It might be a bad weekend for blogging, as I've a full social calendar, but I have hopes of getting home relatively early tomorrow evening, in which case I aspire to compose at least one of the following two posts, if not both: "Freaks and Geeks... and Greeks" & "The Topless Towers of Ilium." (That both have Hellenic-themed titles is a function of my bent of mind, not a relationship one to the other.)

I was waylaid tonight by three events: {ein} The Econ Club's monthly dinner, which I had no inkling was tonight until 'twas announced at this afternoon's meeting; I'm the bloody secretary, how had that managed to escape my attention? {zwei} Assisting The Cowgirl (Vanessa, formerly uncodenamed) with her accounting & marketing homework. {drei} Watching the evening's new episode of Burn Notice with my father. I rue his discovery of Burn Notice last season; I watch the new episodes with him only because it's easier than putting up with the whining that would follow if I insisted on watching them on my own. I know, I know, alas and alack, woe is me!

This weekend: Friday, a political event, a favor to my father; Saturday, movie night at the Wilson household; Sunday, roller derby (!), to be accompanied by some new pals from Lansing. Social mother-lovin' butterfly.

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

Commentary: No particular reason for a song of mourning today, the elegance and beauty of "Imperia" happened to ensnare me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 31: Finally! Day 28 in pictures; man alive, that was like pulling teeth. The thing I hate about this photographic documentation is that to my eyes, in the mirror, the beard looks fuller and thicker than the photos reveal it to be, and I'd really rather not have that particular bit of self-deception shattered so completely. Nevertheless, the regular photo documentation must and shall continue. The Bonanza is about nothing else if not truth.

Honest to Bog, I thought I'd have quite a prominent bald spot by age thirty. Three cheers for being wrong. Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray!


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Why Did You Grow a Beard?" from Cast Your Pod to the Wind (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Brother, did I get an earful of this sentiment yesterday during a webcam chat with Teddy's parents. Specifically from his father. So, now the Bonanza is being conducted at least in part, at Teddy's father's insistence, for spite. Spite!

"Why did you grow a beard?
Why did you grow a beard?
Is there no where in the world for a nogoodnik?
Is there no where in the freedom-loving,
Sister-hugging, screaming, yelling…"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Master Debating*
The Most Dangerous Game is gorgeous, smart, and fierce, utterly fearless in promoting and publicizing the Econ Club. Yet she is a shrinking violet when confronted with traditional public speaking, such as in front of a classroom. She is under the Svengali-like spell of her Communications (public speaking) professor, who enticed her to join the U of M-Flint Forensics Team as a debater last semester. Partnered with an unenthusiastic boob, she compiled an 0-4 record, and so dragooned me into service as her partner. In two tournaments over the last two weekends, at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, she and I have gone 2-2 twice, for a combined record of 4-4. Not bad for a pair of novices; my only training, not counting my unsuccessful debating career (but a different format of debate) way, way back in high school, was a forty-five minute briefing in the Svengali's office.

We've only faced one team twice, a pair from Bowling Green. They were our first opponents at Butler—my first collegiate debate—and then again at E.M.U. Both times, they were the Government (affirmative) and we the Opposition (negative); despite the burden of proof belonging to the Government, we were quite surprised to learn we'd prevailed against them in the rematch at E.M.U. They are much more technically proficient than we, possessed of a superior understanding of the strictures and customs of Parliamentary debating, or "Parli." We get by on my natural talent as a speaker (some false modesty to be as offensive as boastfulness) and The Most Dangerous Game's ability to relate any and all topics back to economics. During the debate at Eastern Michigan, I, as Leader of the Opposition (who delivers the first negative constructive speech as well as the first rebuttal), complimented them on their effective speaking styles. Blanket thanks to the other team, your partner, and the judge are, I've learned by watching others, part and parcel of Parli, and I was just following good form, though of course with my own inimitable flair. Later, in the hall, the bespectacled member of the B.G.S.U. duo asked me if I'd been serious in complimenting them; I could see written across his face his nervousness and desperate gratitude for my remarks. No, I don't think he and his partner are particularly effective speakers, just vastly more experienced than my partner and I, but what did it cost me to lie? Of course, I told him, mightily impressive. The Most Dangerous Game and I didn't find out we'd triumphed over them until the following afternoon, too late to find them and lord our victory over their heads (though that's probably for the best, as they eventually advanced to the Parli finals, whereas we didn't make it out of the round-robin round). Still and all, we beat them! Ha ha!

The theme of the weekend, a tournament featuring many other events besides Parli, was "Celebrity & Death." (These forensics kids, and by extension their gatherings, are weird enough without introducing a theme, but there you have it.) On the first day, the organizers acted like members of the paparazzi, snapping pictures and asking the competitors who they were wearing. Yes, there was a red carpet. On the second day, the organizers dressed up as deceased celebrities, e.g., Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Kurt Cobain. When someone asked who the girl costumed as Janis Joplin was supposed to be, I answered by breaking into "Mercedes Benz" in the scratchiest, most tortured voice I could manage; Janis joined me. When we concluded the first verse, Janis extended her hand and introduced herself by her given name; I replied with mine. After she'd gone, The Most Dangerous Game remarked, "Now that's how you meet girls." So, later, I gave Janis my mobile number and principal email address and asked her to allow me to buy her a drink sometime. I don't expect to hear from her, but I'm quite pleased that I took the chance.

"Who dares wins."

The other four members of the U of M-Flint Forensics Team were driven to Ypsilanti by Professor Svengali in a rental van. I motored behind them in Lumi, eager to have at my disposal the means of leaving E.M.U. independently. Am I really that antisocial? Nay, I was short on time if I was to make my way to Lansing in order to catch The Loose Ties at that wretched hive of scum and villainy, the Commie club; so, while my fellows stopped for dinner in Ann Arbor and then drove back to Flint, I put the pedal to the metal and made a beeline for our state capital. (And very nearly, as I found out, a beeline for our State Capitol.) I had invited the usual gang to accompany me, but four of them, including The Impossible Ingenue, were otherwise occupied at a wedding. The Most Dangerous Game doesn't really like ska and only goes to see The Loose Ties for the social aspect; she made the right call by riding with the others back to campus. Only one fellow, Jake, a fellow member of the Econ Club with whom I've been simply unable to form any kind of emotional bond, accepted the invitation, meeting me at the show, and arriving before I did. (I also invited the new acquaintances I'd made at the surprise party in Lansing about which I have not yet written; suffice it for now that none of them came, though there are plans for a couple to join me this weekend at the latest roller derby bout.) We stayed for two crummy bands before The Loose Ties, then helped our local heroes move their equipment off-stage and said our goodbyes. One of the Loose Ties said he almost didn't recognize me with the facial hair; I recalled that I had not seen them since their show a few days before Christmas, so, yes, they'd missed out on the Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge. I see it every day; so, the change is not dramatic, but I suppose it might well be if the last time you saw me I was sporting my beloved sideburns and soul patch.

Always the social butterfly, on Sunday I drove back to Ann Arbor (the hotel at which the Forensics Team stayed overnight Friday was in A2, not Ypsi) and had a delightful lunch with Dr. Hee Haw at Jerusalem Garden. I had not seen the good doctor in seven years! That's bloody ridiculous! We didn't know each other on the staff of the Gargoyle for more than two years, three at the absolute outside, though we also knew many of the same people from his hometown of Saline (the likes of Mrs. Sacramento, the Phantom Frantom, and many of my housemates at 1213, the Idiot Brigade), strengthening our bond. Our conversation was as if we'd seen each other only days before, hilarious and silly as our conversations always were, even when we discussed the very real and vexing problem of where in the high holy heck a fellow is supposed to meet available girls. I had no advice for him except to skirt the boundaries of good taste by pursuing undergraduates, as I am doing with The Impossible Ingenue. It was jolly good seeing ol' Doc Hee Haw, and we share a determination not to allow such a preposterous interval to pass before our next meeting; to that end, we are drawing up a list of eateries in Southeast Michigan which we might patronize. Is a meal necessary? Not strictly, but experience has taught me that even with the best of intentions far-flung friends need an activity around which to gather, a flag around which to rally, and everybody's got to eat.

You should be so lucky as to know Dr. Hee Haw.

*I will never ever ever be too mature to chuckle at that.
I am an A-1 jerk.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Be My Yoko Ono" from Gordon (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Do not mistake the selection of "Be My Yoko Ono" as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D., nor the quoted lyrics below, as a signal of a softening in my disdainful attitude toward The Beatles: they remain the most overrated band in the history of rock & roll. But the sentiment expressed in "Be My Yoko Ono" is beautiful.

"I would gladly give up musical genius
Just to have you as my very own personal Venus."

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 29: I am waiting on my father for the latest round of photographs, taken yesterday. The beard is beginning to take on the aspect of a proper beard, not just overgrown stubble. I did not properly recall from the first Bonanza just how coarse and curly my beard hair is, so different from the hair atop my head. My beard's first instinct is to go wild.

You're waiting on me and I'm waiting on my father; as soon as he gets the photos to me, I'll get them out to you. The process might actually be faster if I hadn't loaned the X-700 to The Impossible Ingenue for her photography class, but I'd have to be pretty creative with filling up the rest of those rolls, and of course there is the expense of developing to consider. That's naught but idle musing, venting my frustration with my father dragging his feet and bellyaching every time I ask him to photographically document the beard's progress. Really, Dad? You take a lengthy nap every afternoon, but these four or five photos put too much pressure on your jam packed schedule?


He's Dead, Jim
Three months to the day that I twisted the unholy hell out of my ankle, and I can tell that things still aren't quite as they were on the day before that fateful skate. I'm beginning to believe things may never again be exactly as they were before, a dreadful thought. Ah, well. I've got to try running on it soon, though increasingly I am thinking about hitting the pool as the way to restart Operation ÖSTERREICH.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Little Red Light" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Call me juvenile, denounce me as a fool, I don't care; I was ever-so-excited this morning when I received a text message from The Impossible Ingenue, "Hey. Where are you?" Thus was initiated our delightful afternoon together, during which she, an intensely secretive and reticent girl if ever there was one, was uncharacteristically forthcoming.

I was away from my mobile this evening and missed her call, and typically for her age group she didn't leave a voicemail. By the time I rang her back forty minutes later, she informed me that she and The Most Dangerous Game were halfway home. She'd been calling to see if I wanted to get some dessert. Drat and double drat!

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

The despairing tone of "Little Red Light" isn't at all appropriate, I'm quite thrilled with how today went. But I thought of "Little Red Light" last night on the drive back from Ann Arbor (which I'll tell you about in the next Project MERCATOR post), the dark bastard doing a number on me, taunting me with all the fun The Ingenue had surely had over the weekend without the merest thought of me flitting across her mind. It was in that context, my mouth still fouled by the aftertaste of that moment of doubt and self-loathing, that I was so overjoyed by her text this morning.

Sonntag, 24 Januar
Fountains of Wayne, "Denise" from Utopia Parkway (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "She makes me weak at the knees."

Samstag, 23 Januar
Less Than Jake, "Bad Scene and a Basement Show" from Borders & Boundaries (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I drove directly from the weekend's debate tournament at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti to a show in Lansing, to see Flint's own improbable ska band, The Loose Ties. I'd been forewarned that the "club" hosting the show was run by Communists, but I didn't quite believe it until I saw a sign on the wall:

"Environmentally Friendly
Planned Economy

Planned economy. "Honest to American God" (in the words of Conrad the Comrade), the sign actually called for a planned economy. There it was, staring me right in the face, the dark side of Amendment I of our nigh-sacred Constitution. Even those who explicitly wish to destroy American liberty are at liberty to say so. The place, called Basement 414, sits at 414 East Michigan Avenue, and the entrance would be within sight of the Michigan State Capitol were it not hidden in a back alley in the shadow of a large smokestack. Seems an appropriate hideaway for Communists plotting against American prosperity and freedom.

The bands besides The Loose Ties were just dreadful, that cacophonous mix of ill-conceived and poorly executed genres known as "screamo." It really was a bad scene and a basement show.

"With too much small talk and lame inside jokes."

Freitag, 22 Januar
Fountains of Wayne, "The Hotel Majestic" from Traffic and Weather (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Actually, it wasn't the Hotel Majestic; for the second consecutive weekend I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express on the University of Michigan-Flint's dime. Of course, as a partially-trained economist I know the University has few dimes of its own, almost all its operating expenses are covered by student tuition and the largess of Michigan's taxpaying citizenry. Thanks, taxpaying Michiganders, and please know that we spent your money frugally by putting three chaps in a room with only two beds. (The fellow I've nicknamed Too Sly voluntarily slept on the floor, which he claims helps his ailing back.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Operation AXIOM
Today was Jimmy Shaker Day.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Someone to Love" from Traffic and Weather (T.L.A.M.)


"When it's late (When it's late)
And it's hot (And it's hot)
And a date with
The Late Show is all that you've got
Don't give out (Don't give out)
Don't give up (Don't give up)
One of these nights you might find someone to love."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy anniversary, Mr. President. Cult of personalitylink & electionlink. Now go bugger yourself.

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Michigan 68-63 Connecticut (No. 15)
10-7, Big Ten 3-2

I had wanted to watch the game, but missed the start returning from a debate tournament at Butler University in Indianapolis. And, truth be told, I'm glad I didn't see the game, because I didn't deserve to see us win; I didn't deserve to see us win because prior to the game I didn't think we had a snowflake's chance in Hell of winning. Boy howdy, I love being wrong! Is there still an outside, outside chance of making the N.C.A.A. Tournament? Keep hope alive!

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "The Girl I Can't Forget" from Out-of-State Plates, Disc Two (T.L.A.M.)

Dienstag, 19 Januar
Fountains of Wayne, "Hackensack" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Pogues, "The Irish Rover" from The Best of The Pogues (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Impossible Ingenue & I saw Leap Year yesterday, and within the film a band, not The Pogues, performs "The Irish Rover."

Sonntag, 17 Januar
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "I'll Sue Ya" from Straight Outta Lynwood (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 16 Januar
They Might Be Giants, "The Shadow Government" from The Else (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I spent all day hearing my partner referred to as "the Prime Minister" or "the Leader of the Opposition," several rounds' judges referred to as "Speakers of the House," and other such lovely bits of British Parliamentary slang. If only 'twas really a song about the shadow government; I can't wait until David Cameron is prime minister!

"Where's the shadow government when you need it?"

Freitag, 15 Januar
Less Than Jake, "Five State Drive" from Hello Rockview (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: It was only a two-state drive, Michigan & Indiana, but it felt like more as I had grossly insufficient legroom in the back of our rented late-model Saturn S.U.V. I don't lament the end of Saturn, for never in my life have I sat comfortably in a Saturn vehicle.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 18: My father took a new batch of mug shots yesterday, but I'm still waiting for him to download them off his camera and email them my way. Reaction to the beard continues to pour in, mostly positive, though I still suspect some of that is mere politeness. (The dark bastard posits, and I smile because I find this genuinely funny, that the beard is a hit because I have a face that is well-suited to being obscured.)

Addition: Day 17 in photographs.

There is still itchiness, but at the risk of inviting disaster I believe the worst is behind me. Of larger concern now is that I need a haircut. I think I shall use level 2 rather than the shorter level 1; I prefer level 1, but it leaves my head looking gray, whereas at the level 2 length the brown of my hair is again readily apparent. I am not yet ready to adopt the Coach Oldham look of a shaved head with a full, bushy beard, and level 1 would be just a tad too close to that look. Bear of a weekend ahead, but I hope to use the M.L.K. Day day off for R&R, including cutting my hair.

The Quality of Mercy
It's not that I don't care about Haiti, it just strikes me as monstrously hypocritical to have ignored the plight of that woebegone land for all these years only to now pretend that it's the most important cause in the world. Most of the world, at least if journalistic accounts are to be believed, is thus behaving monstrously hypocritically. If asked, I suppose that, yes, I'd rather be perceived as callous than hypocritical, though of course we are all hypocrites at one time or another.

To wit: Pray for the blighted people of that benighted land.

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

Commentary: I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time today wearing a gorilla suit. I considered "Clint Eastwood" by Gorillaz for the R.B.D.S.O.T.D., but "The Man in the Santa Suit" is far more relevant to today's fantabulous adventure.

Mittwoch, 13 Januar
Paul Simon, "Kodachrome" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Impossible Ingenue has borrowed the X-700 for her photography class. Apparently, her professor was quite pleased to hear she had access to one, it's quite a spectacular camera, though normally hamstrung by being in the hands—mine own—of a complete amateur. The Ingenue has promised to teach me a thing or two about proper photography; so, in time I'll be an incomplete amateur.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sometimes, for no reason, at least none that is readily apparent, friends are jerks to one another. What makes them friends is that they'll forgive each other, no apologies necessary. Were I a betting man, I'd wager we'll prove to be friends come the morrow.

Besides, she started it.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Running Out of Ink" from Barenaked Ladies Are Men (T.L.A.M.)


"It's bleaker than you think,
I'm running out of ink.
Give a guy a break,
This is what it takes
To drive a man to drink."

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 15: Welcome to the third week of this second go-round of the Bonanza. So far, response has been positive, but a part of me suspects these people feel the need to say something and, because they are nice people, say something nice. (Of course, that thinking might just be another of the dark bastard's booby traps.) The Most Dangerous Game complimented the beard as did the professor which whom we were speaking, but the professor had never properly seen my as I normally appear, and they said so one right after the other. A chap nearby also complimented the beard, but he's known for wearing whiskers himself; in addition, he is always very complimentary of me, rightly thinking me the cat's pajamas.

Last night, when the gang gathered for an oddly late (for a Sunday) show of Sherlock Holmes, The Impossible Ingenue said the beard looked good, though in my inimitably doltish fashion I disagreed with her and said it did not yet look good, but that it would when longer. She had beaten me to the punch, complimenting the beard before I could properly appraise her newly dyed locks, no longer blonde but brunette, with charming hints of auburn.

I hope to post up-to-the-minute digital photographs tomorrow, but that depends upon the cooperation of my father. He does nothing all day, and it keeps him too busy to lend a hand to others. I perceive that the as-yet-unnamed beard is coming in more quickly than during the original Banzai Beard Bonanza, but I have no objective measurements with which to confirm or debunk that opinion. And still my cheeks remain woefully bare. Curses! The itchiness has not yet abated, nor have I decided how I shall shave/sculpt the beard once we reach that stage. I'll leave more neckbeard than is fashionable, because I believe the current fashion of confining beards to the jawline and above to be foolish and opposed to the spirit of true beardliness. (Not only have I just made up the word "beardliness," but apparently I've appointed myself Lord High Arbiter of the very concept. In egoism as in all other serious errors, go big or go home.)


This Week in Motorsport
There is a ticking clock at the Formula One website, counting down to the first practice session of the first grand prix of the 2010 World Championships, the Bahrain Grand Prix. 12-14 March, fifty-nine days and counting….

Other dates to note: 20 March, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the opening round of the American Le Mans Series and the main warm-up before the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.

12-13 June, the 24 Heures du Mans, the greatest motorcar race in all the world. With last year's experience under my belt, this year I'm going to do it right; bugger sleep, bugger the obligations of kith & kin, I'm going to see as much of Le Mans as is broadcast on television. To do list, between now and 12 Juin: watch Steve McQueen's phenomenal Le Mans and Truth in 24 (sure, the latter is Audi propaganda, but it's still a breathtakingly detailed look inside Le Mans).

The most amusing personalized license plate I've seen in a good while: MEIN VW. Sehr gut!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
King Apparatus, "Hold Me Down" from Marbles (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Inspired by The Most Dangerous Game's FaceSpace status update (and the following is a lyric, not her status): "Because better than you have tried and failed to hold me down."

Sonntag, 10 Januar
Sloan, "Chester the Molester" courtesy of The Watergirl (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Northwestern 68-62 Michigan
8-7, Big Ten 2-2

Drat. The worst part? I made a mental note yesterday to watch this afternoon's contest, only to have all thought of the game fly out of my head until about five o'clock this afternoon. By Lucifer's beard! No, wait, scratch that second sentence, the worst part is that we lost. Two games in a row is good, but it isn't a streak. We blew our chance at a winning streak, and we desperately need an impressive winning streak if we're to have any chance to make the Big Dance. Come on, lads, I want to see some streaking!*

Go Blue!

*Hee hee, you know what I mean, I simply refused to resist the chance for a cheap laugh.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Secrets of the Secret Base
Haloscan finally sold out. I received an email approximately a week before Christmas informing me that my use of Haloscan's free commenting feature was about to be revoked. I could pay ten bucks a year for their atrocious "Echo" commenting service, or be tossed out into the cold. I chose the cold. Yet when the fortnight deadline passed, naught changed. By now, however, all my old comments have been lost and, contrary to Haloscan's advice, I was unable to smoothly and easily transfer them into Blogger's own internal commenting service.

I've followed the instructions given to equip The Secret Base with Blogger commenting, but it's not working as advertised. No sign of any comments is visible on the main blog page. If you click on the time signature at the bottom, you'll be redirected to a that-post-only version of this blog, where comments are then visible. I'm at a loss what to do, but I'll keep cracking until I get this worked out. Your patience and tolerance are greatly appreciated, dear readers. Also, the Devil take everyone at Haloscan and may misfortune stalk them all the rest of their days.

The Queue
The Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year books take maybe half an hour to an hour to read through, depending on how long one dwells on each cartoon. They're still books; so, they go on the list, but no one should get an inflated view of how much I've been reading lately. Slam was a proper book, the other two took no time at all.

book holiday
Nick Hornby, Slam
Charles Brooks, editor, Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year—2010 Edition
Charles Brooks, editor, Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year—2008 Edition

Agatha Christie, Crooked House

P. G. Wodehouse, Mike at Wrykyn & Mike and Psmith
Agatha Christie, Passenger to Frankfurt
Agatha Christie, The Murder at the Vicarage

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

Freitag, 8 Januar
Apocalypse Hoboken, "Gummi" from Plea For Peace (T.L.A.M.)


"She dresses down to flatter,
She makes my everything, everything matter."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 11: Behold! Oddly enough, I was complimented on this debacle by three people today. Of course, they think I'm going to keep the beard short like it is now. The fools! I hate the close beard, that bane of modern men's grooming. Stubble is one thing, but if you're going to grow a beard, then grow a verdammt beard!

Ooo, should I name the beard? What do you think about "Chester"?


The Victors: Project OSPREY
Michigan 64-55 Penn State
8-6, Big Ten 2-1

I was only able to catching the last ten minutes of the second half, but that was certainly the right quarter of the game for the Michigan faithful! The valiant Wolverines were down by ten when first I glimpsed the contest with the ferocious Nittany Lions, but steadily our boys ate away at Penn State's lead. Woo hoo!

Is the season back on track, with a comeback win against Penn State on the heels of the upset of a plainly superior Ohio State squad? Let's all do everything in our power to jinx the rest of the season, like I just did!


Sunday, 3 January 2010
Michigan 73-65 Ohio State (No. 15)
7-6, Big Ten 1-1

Missed it completely. I meant to watch it, but Sunday didn't go at all to plan. That's not a complaint, just an observation.

Thursday, 31 December 2009
Indiana 71-65 Michigan
6-6, Big Ten 0-1

I'm no fair weather fan, dear friends. I watched the majority of New Year's Eve's loss to the wily Hoosiers of Indiana University, missing the last thirty seconds because I was already running late for the New Year's Eve extravaganza. We had them, or we could have had them, we just couldn't seal the deal. And that's the most frustrating kind of loss. By Lucifer's beard!

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Andy Partridge, "I Wonder Why the Wonderfalls" courtesy of The Watergirl (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The theme song to the late, lamented television series Wonderfalls. If you haven't seen the show, I insist you do so soonest. My D.V.D. boxset sits ready to loan. Any takers?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Queue
What did High Fidelity teach us? You don't need to love the same pop cultural stuff as the people you love. Extrapolate that principle and we arrive at the present situation: I hate hate hate Nick Hornby's book column from The Believer, specifically the collection titled Shakespeare Wrote For Money, but I still enjoy Nick Hornby's books. Or rather, I'm still interested in his books. (And his films. Sure, I'm madly in love with Carey Mulligan and desperately want Sally Sparrow to be a full-time companion on Doctor Who, but Hornby's the paramount reason I saw An Education.)


That said, I really disliked the time travel subplot of Slam. Are we meant to believe a poster of Tony Hawk was actually able to "whiz" the present-day mind of the protagonist, Sam, into his own future body, or are we meant to assume Sam is an unreliable narrator and made up his visits to the future from whole cloth at some later point to deceive the audience into learning some greater lesson? Sam left the matter deliberately unclear. I'm a huge fan of speculative fiction (because so much of modern "sci fi" has jack all to do with science fiction), but I'm not comfortable with how it played out amidst the otherwise strict realism of Slam.


book holiday
Nick Hornby, Slam
Charles Brooks, ed., Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year—2010 Edition

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

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

The Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 10: The itching! The itching! I am tempted to call this phase of the beard-growing process "The Itchening," after the Invader ZIM episode "The Wettening." I really need to get on top of the photographic documentation, but for now suffice it to say that the last five years have not brought the much sought after coverage to my cheeks. I can grow mighty and mightily impressive muttonchops and I've got neckbeard to spare, but the cheeks are still sporadic. I've shaved the small safety barrier between my nose and my mustache, the fire line that prevents mustache hairs from going up my nose, but I've yet to sculpt the neckbeard. For the nonce, I'm letting it all grow like ivy, and only later will I tame and shape it.

I'm not certain how long the Bonanza's going to last. Bonsai's Revenge was supposed to start directly after Thanksgiving and end no earlier than the Ides of March. But with the start pushed back a month, what does that do to the endgame? The Ides of April? May Day? The Drama Queen is vehement that I should grow my beard for an entire year, but I dismissed that out of hand. I'm not opposed to the idea in principle, but were I to follow that plan I'd want to have done so from the start, and I'd have shaved on New Year's Eve, not to shave again for over a year, until the next next New Year's Day; or shaved on my birthday, not to shave until until I was another year older. No, the year beard is not something to be attempted willy nilly. It requires planning and, above all, dedication. Perhaps I'll attempt the year beard for the Banzai Beard Bonanza III: Third Time's the Harm, but not here during Bonsai's Revenge.

Ooo, the beard of one hundred days? The original Banzai Beard Bonanza lasted eighty-eight days, from the New Year until almost the end of March. I am tempted to go for quite a bit longer, but given pause by remembering how desperately I wished to be rid of the beard by the end o' that first Bonanza. I shall ponder and report back on my decision. Gah, the cursed itching!


The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Sufjan Stevens, "We Three Kings" from Songs For Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary-cum-Operation AXIOM: And now the Christmastide is at an end. Next Sunday marks the resumption of Ordinary Time. Merry Christmas to all and sundry!

Dienstag, 5 Januar
Bob & Doug Mckenzie, "Twelve Days of Christmas" from Great White North (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary-cum-Operation AXIOM: A very merry Twelfth Night to one and all!

Montag, 4 Januar
Sufjan Stevens, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" from Songs For Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The instrumental piano version near the end of the album, as there are two distinct renditions of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" on Songs For Christmas, both splendid.


Sonntag, 3 Januar
Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" from Barenaked For the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary-cum-Operation AXIOM: The official celebration of the Epiphany, though of course tradition holds that Casper, Balthazar, and Melchior didn't visit the infant Christ until 6 January.

Bog, I love this song!

Samstag, 2 Januar
Mu330, "This Year More Than Ever" from Winter Wonderland (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Such a glorious melancholy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Operation AXIOM & Project MERCATOR present: The New Year
New Year's Eve was a wonderland of good friends and good fun, until shortly after midnight—no longer the Eve—when drama-rama broke out with a vengeance. I got to sleep around 8:00 A.M. this morning, and of course we had to check out of the hotel by noon. But instead of heading home, I spent the rest of the day with The Most Dangerous Game, The Impossible Ingenue, and their cousin-cum-sister, The Drama Queen, the center of all the drama. I'm barely alive, but boy howdy did I have a whale of a time!

Tomorrow, The Sardine!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of New Year's Day
Spike Jones and His City Slickers, "Happy New Year" from The Spike Jones Anthology (T.L.A.M.)