Sunday, May 30, 2010

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


"She's so important,
And I'm so retarded."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Teddy's First Night in the Drunk Tank" from CODENAME: Koala (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Queue
One thing is certain, the James Bond of the early novels is a different man from the James Bond of the later books, and it is the later Bond that is the basis for the James Bond of the silver screen. Okay, I guess that's two things that are certain. As we near the end of Ian Fleming's 007 books, I thought I'd expand the Presently category somewhat to let you know where I'll be going after Octopussy and The Living Daylights.

Ian Fleming, For Your Eyes Only
Ian Fleming, Thunderball
Ian Fleming, The Spy Who Loved Me

Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice
Ian Fleming, The Man with the Golden Gun
Ian Fleming, Octopussy and The Living Daylights
Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming, Devil May Care
Karen E. Olson, Pretty in Ink
W. Somerset Maugham, Ashenden or: The British Agent
P. G. Wodehouse, Mike and Psmith

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, "Secret Circuits" from Schematics (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 27 Mai
King Apparatus, "Michael & Anne" from Marbles (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I could listen (and have listened) to "Michael & Anne" on repeat for hours. It's just an amazingly fun song.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Birthday!
Best wishes for a smashing first birthday to my wee nephew, Where's Teddy?! I've yet to have a substantive conversation with Where's Teddy?, yet to suss out his thoughts and opinions on the world around him, and I largely attribute this to his youth; he's spent—to editorialize, misspent—the last year living quite high on the hog, lollygagging about without a care in the world aside from the occasional bother of teething. Where's Teddy? is a perpetual motion machine, a relentless crawler and shuffler; I pity those tasked with keeping him out of mischief once he learns how to walk. Happy birthday, Teddy!

(Remember, Teddy, Uncle Mike is your favorite.)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dan Potthast, "Where's Teddy?" from Eyeballs (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I also considered the R.C.Y. song "Teddy's First Night in the Drunk Tank," but decided to go with the song that gave my nephew his Secret Base codename.

"You should be by your friends."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Magnificent Moustache Malarkey
Day 21: Wax experimentation continues. I've discovered how much wax is too much; now, by trial and error, I'm diving how much is the minimum necessary. I've been playing with straight lines, but have on the experiment docket the gull wing (inverted), the right angle, and the closed loop, though it must be noted that the ends of the moustache curl pretty well on their own. (I know, and the B.B.B. II & M.M.M. have reconfirmed, that my facial hair is curly; I hope that my head hair is still curly, though I'm not curious enough to grow it out long enough to check.) I'll try to have a new round of photographs taken tomorrow, having made the decision to proceed photographically with the X-700 only. Now that I have my analog darling back, there's no reason to continue subjecting myself to the capriciousness of my father purely for the sake of his digital camera. I was happy to help The Impossible Ingenue, but if only I'd had the X-700 during Bonsai's Revenge! Curses! No good deed goes unpunished.

Moustache Hero
A new feature of The Secret Base's coverage of the Malarkey: Moustache Heroes, a series of brief tributes to magnificently moustachioed men that will span the remaining month of the M.M.M., one hero per week. Ladies and gentlemen, the moustache of M. Hercule Poirot. Behold!

David Suchet as Poirot

That Poirot is a fictional character is neither here nor there, for 'twas Dame Agatha's writing that convinced me of the superiority of the British/Commonwealth English moustache over our American English mustache. Interestingly, Poirot is never described as having a moustache, always moustaches, plural (?).

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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Objective ZED ALPHA
The Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions concluded on Friday, with the following bit of encouraging news: Tournament winner (who really should be styled the "Champion of Champions," like the old Shahenshah) Vijay Balse reported that he auditioned for Jeopardy! "six times over sixteen years" before being accepted as a contestant on the show. If true, this jives with what my fellow prospective contestants and I were told at our audition in Chicago in May '09, that many of Jeopardy!'s biggest winners over the years have tried out multiple times before being accepted as contestants. There are yet six months remaining before the expiration of ZED ALPHA and there is no reason to believe the telephone won't ring. (On that subject, Where's my phone call, Trebek?) But if ZED ALPHA fails and I must resort to Objective ZED BETA, Objective ZED GAMMA, et cetera, at least I'll be in good company.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, "Argh…I'm a Pirate" from the Popsicle E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I am absolutely going to use these lyrics as a line at the first opportunity.

"So let's turn this room into a pirate ship
And plunder each other."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Best wishes, dear readers, for a most sympathetic Narwhal Day! The 23rd of May is the day set aside to celebrate, contemplate, and commiserate with the narwhal, one of the true curiosities of our Class, Mammalia. The proper observance of Narwhal Day is tripartite: {a} wear at least one article of clothing that is gray in color, as is the narwhal itself; {b} listen to D.J. Seaghost's haunting ditty, "Sympathy for the Narwhal"; & {c} recite "The Oath of Narwhal Day," reproduced below. The fourth word in the last line of the Oath changes to reflect the passing years, Narwhal Day being first celebrated in, conveniently enough, Anno Domini 2001. But I caution you, gentle reader, not to affirm the Oath lightly. Narwhal Day is fun and lighthearted, but it is not a joke, and as the author of the Oath I take a dim view of oath-breakers, especially dugong collaborators.

The Threadless brand T-shirt, "Narwhal: The Unicorn of the Sea," from the author's wardrobe.

The Oath of Narwhal Day
The narwhal is a noble, pitiable creature,
A magnificent, monstrous visage.
An asymmetrical tooth for a horn,
Or sometimes two, or sometimes none,
Half again as long as the beast.

I swear my sympathy for the narwhal.
I will not lie and convince it all is well,
But I will be a friend to the narwhal.
The mocking dolphins and snobby manatees
Will get their well-earned comeuppance,
And the narwhal will frolic all day.

I dream this dream of the narwhal
And celebrate it in all its improbable, oddball glory
On this the tenth Narwhal Day.

The Threadless brand T-shirt, "The Friendly Narwhal," from the author's wardrobe.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Narwhal Day
D.J. Seaghost, "Sympathy for the Narwhal" from Rice Capades (Captain Thumbs-up)

Commentary: The Seaghost is not himself an Aquabat!, but he is a boon companion to and stalwart ally of The Aquabats!, and thus the R.B.D.S.O.N.D. was chosen not by The Last Angry Man, but by Captain Thumbs-up, Aqua-Cadet No. 0003432.


The Wayback Machine Tour of Narwhal Day
Narwhal Day predates The Secret Base, being first celebrated on 23 May 2001, whereas my first blog post was published on 21 February '02; unsurprisingly, then, there is no online record of that first Narwhal Day. The misfortune is that though I celebrated the second Narwhal Day on 23 May '02 by wearing gray, listening to "Sympathy for the Narwhal," and reciting "The Oath of Narwhal Day," I did not memorialize the festivities here. Alas and alack!

Narwhal Day '09

Narwhal Day '08

Narwhal Day '07, Part I & Narwhal Day '07, Part II

Narwhal Day '06

Narwhal Day '05

Narwhal Day '04

Narwhal Day '03

The Explorers Club
No. CLX - The narwhal (Monodon monoceros), also narwal or narwhale.

Bonus: The scientific name of the narwhal seems to have been given to the beast by no lesser an authority than Carolus Linnaeus himself.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Project PANDORA: The Other Woman Returns
Thursday night/Friday morning, I last remembered seeing my bedside alarm clock displaying the time 1:00 A.M. I must have fallen asleep, as I'd planned, because it seemed as if no time had passed before I awoke with a start to find the time displayed as 1:43. My mobile phone was buzzing and the exterior screen was illuminated, the heralds of the arrival of a text message. I rolled over and reached all the way to the far side of the nightstand where the mobile rests and recharges, clutched the now-darkened phone, and opened the variable geometry screen to the text messaging configuration. The text message was from the Other Woman, the last girl I kissed. (A refresher, which was to me a rueful reminder that, curse my bones, I'd never written and published the second and, 'twas thought, concluding episode of "Project PANDORA: The Other Woman": Wayback Machine.)

The ensuing discourse cast doubt on whether the Other Woman had sent the opening text; her mobile might well have been seized and used by one of her companions, as on Friday morning an inquiry to The Cowgirl, the Other Woman's hometown chum, revealed that quite a few of their old high school gang had gotten together on Thursday evening, with much imbibing. The Other Woman's much more fun older sister might well have had a hand in this, though that's pure supposition. (The more fun older sister is homosexual, rendering her useless for PANDORA's purposes, and desperately lusts after The Most Dangerous Game.) Nevertheless, the bulk of the ensuing exchange was clearly with the the timid, fragile personage of the Other Woman. The transcript, with every typographical error faithfully reproduced.


O.W.: "Im so horny and drunk"

T.L.A.M.: "Okay. How might I be of service?"

O.W.: "Serrvice for what?"

T.L.A.M.: "In whatever capacity was your intention when you sent your first text."

O.W.: "What was my first text? And remind me why you never callled me after our date?"

T.L.A.M.: "Your first text of the evening, (sic) 'Im so horny and drunk' I suppose I didn't call because it seemed at the time as if you didn't have any time for me."

"If I was mistaken in my judgment, I do apologize. Let me know if you ever wish to give it a second go."

O.W.: "Yeah the biggest competition in theatre will do that to ya. Anyway sooo what ya doin now?"

T.L.A.M.: "At the moment, I am lying in bed, but it seems as if I'm awake now. So, any interest in my calling you now that the biggest competition in theatre is past?"

O.W.: "Well yes its past but i am leaving for an internship in sd on the 10th. As usual you have perfict timing"

T.L.A.M.: "Well, you texted me tonight, Sam; so, I'd say we have bad timing together. It's not all me. =) South Dakota? I thought you'd disliked your previous time there."

O.W.: "(1/2) I did but the people were nice and i thought that it would help with my career. I have to admit you kinda scared me off at the torch, but i got bussy and"

"(2/2) you never called"

T.L.A.M.: "I'm sorry if I 'scared you off at The Torch,' I was rather left with the impression that you would prefer I not call you anymore after that. I was mistaken?"

O.W.: "Well at the time but you have to understand you are antimidating"

T.L.A.M.: "In the little time left before your internship, why don't we give ourselves a second chance? Sam, would you allow me to escort you for an evening?"

O.W.: "I woule but why so formal with the names?"

T.L.A.M.: "I like to affect a certain formality as one of the methods of keeping my diction idiosyncratic and amusing. And calling you Sam is hardly formal, Samantha. =)"

(fifteen minute interval)

T.L.A.M.: "Well, if we are squared away for the moment, I suppose I shall bid you goodnight. Sweet dreams, Sam, & I look forward to seeing you."

(thirty minute interval, during which I fall back asleep)

O.W.: "Man you are so homo"

"Not me. Ignore that. Call hme when your free"

T.L.A.M.: "Roger dodger. I shall call you when the sun is high in the sky. Good luck with the continued telephonic tomfoolery."

O.W.: "Thanks i will!!! Remember to call or text!"

Though the Other Woman seems to require a dose of liquid courage to summon up to the surface her buried interest in me (The Cowgirl reported that the O.W. was soused), I am going to call her with the intention of setting up a date before her departure for the Badlands on 10 June. Worst-case scenario: she tortures and murders me and disposes of the corpse without a Christian burial and in such a way that it is never found. That seems unlikely. The most probable worse-case scenario is that we have a beastly evening together, but as I am fully prepared for this I doubt I shall harbor any regret. The most probable better-case scenario (since the best-case scenario of discovering true love seems vanishingly improbable): we are reminded of the little things we liked about each other and make out at evening's end. I'd rate the odds of the worse-case scenario as better than those of the better-case, but there's only one way to be sure and the esprit of Project PANDORA demands that I throw the dice.

Stay tuned.

Project PANDORA to-do list: the missing second episode of "P.P.: The Other Woman," an oft-postponed appointment with a vicious trollop, Lord Luck's Amy & the tragic case of her sister Stephanie, the trouble with The Impossible Ingenue, and the curious coincidence of From Russia, with Love & Comrade Coquettish.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mustard Plug, "Sadie May" from Evildoers Beware! (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This "This Week in Motorsport" completely got away from me. I'd intended only a few remarks to highlight a hyperlink. I love it when a post takes on an unplanned life of its own.

This Week in Motorsport
One of the questions that I asked myself when picking "my" teams ahead of the 2010 Formula One World Championship was, For whom am I cheering, the driver or the constructor? To carry it further, What if I like a driver but not his team? What about a constructor I favor who seem to have hired a villain as their driver? In the three teams I back in 2010 (and intend to back until something radically changes, on-track performance of course not meeting that definition, as I am no fair weather fan), I have found a pleasing combination of drivers and constructors.

I liked Red Bull (Renault) from the first during the '09 World Championship; certainly it does not hurt that they were competitive—Sebastian Vettel eventually finished second on the World Drivers' Championship—but what I really liked were that they weren't taken very seriously. Red Bull? A team named after the blasted energy drink? Surely they couldn't dream of competing with the likes of legendary F1 names like Ferrari and McLaren, Williams, or even the upstart Brawn (really, the old Honda team, with long-time Ferrari mastermind Ross Brawn at the helm). I'd only had one or two cans of Red Bull in my life before the '09 Grand Prix de Monaco, and had detested every drop of the wretched elixir, but there was something about Red Bull Racing that caught my eye and won my affection. Though I didn't think I knew enough about the sport to back one particular team over another, I found myself cheering for the Red Bulls to best the dominant-in-the-early-grands-prix Brawns in the closing rounds of the World Championship last fall. For this season, knowing the likely competitiveness of the the new RB6 (though no one expected Red Bull to claim all six pole positions in the year's first six grands prix), I had a choice: like Red Bull at the risk of being seen as fair weather or drop them so as to avoid that appearance. I am deeply concerned about propriety, but could not give a dingo's kidneys about appearances ("Image is everything"? I will always hate Nikon.); the spiteful choice was to like Red Bull. The old stalwart Mark Webber and the young hotshot Vettel? Those are drivers I can get behind.

I feel in love with Lotus Racing as soon as they announced the return of the Lotus name for the first time since the 1994 demise of the original Team Lotus. And the classic green and yellow color scheme? Gorgeous. (Though of course the old Lotus famously sported the black and gold John Player Special livery for many a year, too.) In Lotus I can simultaneously cheer for an underdog and celebrate the heritage of Formula One, a sport to which I am still quite new. An additional advantage is my affection for one of Lotus's two drivers, Heikki Kovalainen. Last year, Kovalainen drove for McLaren, where he was clearly outclassed by his teammate Lewis Hamilton, '08 World Champion and runner-up in '07 by a single point. In the off-season, Kovalainen was replaced by reigning '09 World Champion Jenson Button (more about whom later); sorry, Heikki, but clearly a step up for McLaren. I can't even point to any reason, I just like Heikki Kovalainen. Maybe his silly Finnish names? I've no strong opinions about Kovalainen's counterpart, the veteran Jarno Trulli. But my feeling is that as we move forward I'm behind Lotus no matter whom is piloting their cars.

Regarding Williams, I chose them for two reasons: {a} I like veteran driver Rubens Barrichello, despite his driving for Brawn last year; it aids that he was dumped by those Kraut bastards as soon as Brawn G.P. became Mercedes G.P., but what I like best is that the man's thirty-seven years old—he'll turn thirty-eight on Narwhal Day—and has raced in almost three hundred grands prix—if all goes well, he'll reach three hundred grand prix starts in October (10.10.10) at the Japanese Grand Prix at mighty Suzuka. He is rather a living testament to Sir Ernest Shackleton's family motto, Fortitudine vincimus, "By endurance we conquer." I've no strong opinions about Barrichello's counterpart, rookie Nico Hülkenberg, '09 champion of the GP2 feeder series (like Triple-A baseball), though "I'm a well-wisher in that I wish [him] no specific harm." {b} I am, at my core, a student of history, first, last, and always. I am glad that the Lotus name has returned to F1, and I do not begrudge the Malaysian-owned Lotus Racing taking up the history and traditions of the erstwhile British-owned Team Lotus, but Lotus is a new team. (In fact the newest team, as they were granted entry into the 2010 World Championship only after B.M.W. announced its withdrawal from the sport, whereas Virgin Racing, Hispania Racing, and the failed US F1 Team were earlier granted 2010's three new spots on the grid.) Red Bull has been a sponsor since the mid-'90s, but only run their own team since '05. Williams is a team with a long, proud history, being one of only three teams (Ferrari, McLaren) in the sixty-one year history of Formula One to have won one hundred grands prix (one hundred thirteen and counting…). I like that Williams has been running cars in F1 longer than I've been alive.

Wow, okay, this has all been a very long way of saying that, for no reason I could put a finger on, I took a strong disliking to Jenson Button during his march to the '09 World Drivers' Championship. And I oppose McLaren—officially Vodafone McLaren Mercedes—because of the team's use of Mercedes engines. (McLaren is also minority-owned by Mercedes-Benz, though those Kraut bastards have been divesting themselves of McLaren since they bought Brawn and renamed it Mercedes.) Now it seems clear that McLaren is indeed a team of villains, and that my dislike of Button was based upon a proper, if subconscious, reading of his knavishness, on display in the following piece from B.B.C. Sport: Buttonlink. Button doesn't hope to beat the Red Bulls by his own or his team's skill, no, he wishes for mechanical trouble to do his job for him. Jenson Button may be a skill driver, but he's no racer. I'm heartened to know that my snap judgments are still as reliable as they always were; I knew I disliked Button, even if I couldn't say why.

As will be discussed at greater length another time, one of the things I most love about Formula One is that the sport is home to proper villains, 'tis a "wretch hive of scum and villainy" alongside all the glory and glamour.

Formula fun!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Sarah McLachlan, "Ice Cream" (live) from Mirrorball (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Impossible Ingenue asked me to join her for ice cream at Ziggy's this afternoon. Par for the course, I heeded the siren song of Superman ice cream. Distressingly, she eschewed the cone in favor of a cup; there is something deeply wrong with that girl.

Mittwoch, 19 Mai
Andy Partridge, "I Wonder Why the Wonderfalls" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)
Vote For Kodos: Fear and Loathing at a Tea Party Meeting
I have ever been wary of the mob mentality, most especially in the realm of public policy. When I was a senior in high school, a member of my class lead a protest against the school administration. This chap had been a relentless brown noser, ingratiating himself to every authority figure whom he thought could aid his ambitions to be class president and gain admission to the university of his choosing, but by the spring of our senior year those ambitions had been achieved and so the usefulness of his adult patrons had come to an end. So, in a bid to sate his ego be recasting himself as a righteous rebel instead of the toady he'd always been, he organized a sit-down strike in the hallways against some or another petty injustice visited upon the students by the administrators. He didn't give a tinker's damn about his fellow students or the perceived injustice, it was all for his own aggrandizement. I encountered a classmate on her way to join the protest, a clever, beautiful girl who asked me to come along. "Come on, Mike," she entreated, "don't you want to join?"

"With the mob?" I scoffed. "Never." So, I was one of the very few seniors who went to his classes during the several hours it took for the administration to give in to the egomaniac's demands. I had always shared Alexander Hamilton's suspicions of the mob, but this incident forever sharpened my view of large public protests as {a} mobs, mindlessly destructive mobs and {b} mobs orchestrated by shadow figures with self-serving agendas and hidden, almost invariably nefarious, motives.

Fast forward from 1997 to 2009 as we witness the "tea party" movement that arose to oppose ObamaCare, the quasi-nationalization of America's health care system, and "the banks." There is no excuse for the abuse that has been heaped upon the tea parties by the Left, the hypocrites who argued under President Bush that dissent was the highest form of patriotism, yet liken dissent directed against President Obama to treason. Nor for the proliferation of the "teabaggers" slur, which marks the first time anyone on the Left has ever said an unkind word about sexual deviancy. That said, there is no excuse for the idiocy with the tea parties, such as the protest signs that read, "No socialized medicine/Save my Medicare," as if Medicare was not itself the largest government-run component of our health care system. Or the hatred of "the banks" as the cause of all our economics woes, coupled with opposition to any and all government intervention in the economy; so, "the banks" are evil and the federal government, the most significant body with the ability to keep "the banks" on the straight and narrow, shouldn't play any role in the economy? Yeah, that makes sense.

But I did not fully grasp the full scope of the danger the posed to our great republic by the tea party mob until my father asked me to attend a meeting of the Genesee County Tea Party in his stead while he was in Delaware at the Ford Motor Company's annual shareholders meeting. The dregs of humanity were on display that night, dear readers. Those with sensitive natures should steel themselves. One knave, wearing Confederate battle flag suspenders, wished to ask a question of a candidate for Genesee County Treasurer, a Democrat. The son of the Confederacy asked the candidate, "Are you a conservative?"

The candidate replied, "No," his tone conveying the additional commentary, "No, of course not, have you recently suffered a blow to the head? I've never claimed to be a conservative; I'm running in the Democratic primary, for pity's sake. What's wrong with you?" Yet the man in the Confederate battle flag suspenders acted as if he's scored a great coup, as if he'd caught the candidate in a cunning trap.

There are two issues here, {a} racism and {b} stupidity. The tea party movement may not be inherently racist, but no one said a word about the man's Confederate battle flag suspenders, the organizers did not ask him to leave. To my way of thinking, that is itself a tacit endorsement of the man's publicly displayed racism. The man in the Confederate battle flag suspenders himself provided the segue to idiocy when he later argued, in a very loud side discussion, for the necessity of defending the Constitution. The Confederacy was a rebellion against the Constitution, you bloody moron! How can you argue that the Constitution must be defended while so proudly wearing the symbol, which I dearly love to call the "Confederate swastika," of the Constitution's deadliest enemy? The mind boggles at such existential contradictions.

But far be it from me to condemn a "movement" because of the foul racism and appalling stupidity of any one man. Let us not forget the chap who said that he didn't care who was elected to public office, as long as they didn't have any previous experience, had never before held an elected office. Oh, except they should be young, we should get some young people in office. And then there was the fellow who vociferously defended President Obama. After all, President Bush (sic) "hadn't done nothing in eight years" in the White House; so, we owed President Obama more of a chance to prove himself. Also, this fellow added, we should support President Obama because it was President Bush who "brought 80,000 Muslims to down there in Dearborn." The implication seemed to be twofold, that having a substantial population of adherents to the Muslim faith in Dearborn was somehow an inherently bad thing and that the only reason there are any Muslims in Dearborn is because President Bush "brought" them there.

I explained all that had happened to my father, registered my disgust at his proud association with such a repellent organization, and swore to him that I would never again return to the soul-blighting site of the Genesee County Tea Party's meetings for any reason. The T-shirts sold by the Genesee County Tea Party sport the Gadsden flag on the front and on the back the words, "Republicans, Democrats, Americans!" The man in the Confederate battle fag suspenders, the man who championed inexperience, and the man who insisted President Bush "brought" Dearborn's Muslim population to Michigan certainly stand outside both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, but surely we can find a more specific descriptor for all three than just their nationality, American. I would propose a new T-shirt for the racist, imbecilic, altogether loathsome Genesee County Tea Party: "Republicans, Democrats, Bloody Idiots!"

The tea parties are not "AstroTurf," they are legitimately grassroots organizations, but that doesn't make them any less poisonous to the American republic. A mob need not to orchestrated from the shadows to pose a grave threat to those things it ignorantly claims to defend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Were it within my power, at this moment I would burn the world, reducing everyone and everything I've ever known to ashes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Paramore, "Where the Lines Overlap" from Brand New Eyes (T.L.A.M.)


"Now I've a feeling if I sang this loud enough
You would sing it back to me."
Wilson: When Babies Collide
Where's Teddy? is soon to turn one year old and the clan is gathering to celebrate. On Memorial Day weekend, a few day's after the lad's actual birthday, Where's Teddy? and The Squeak are going to meet for the first time in their young lives. Can the fabric of space-time handle that much cuteness in such close proximity? Let us hope so, because it's happening either way. My mother is going to be so overwhelmed by joy and giddiness that she may well not retain any memory of the encounter, and it'll take days for the enormous smile to even begin fading from her face. There's nothing better than grandbabies! Or, from my perspective, nephews and nieces. Woot!

Perilous Peril
For quite some time, Lumi's exhaust system had been failing. Specifically, the mufflers on her dual exhausts had become holey and were no longer muffling much if any sound. My presence was announced by sound before I was ever seen and everyone who rode with me noted the noise even inside Lumi's cabin. On a cold night this past winter, I was pulled over by a Grand Blanc City police cruiser as I was motoring northbound on Saginaw Street toward Hill Road; the officer said he'd pulled me over because I had exhaust coming out of the side of Lumi, and indeed one of the largest holes in the driver's side muffler vented exhaust gases directly into the rear wheel well. (The bitter cold of the night made such escaping gases far more visible than they would otherwise have been.) Noting my clean driving record, he left me off with a warning, advising me to effect repairs sooner rather than later. Just over two weeks ago, as I motored along I-69 toward a History Club function in Lansing, a State Police trooper exited the freeway behind me at Bancroft, where my passenger, The Outlaw, and I intended to use the park-and-ride lot to park Lumi and ride the remaining distance to Lansing in a full-size van with our fellows from the Club. I eyed the trooper warily at the stop sign at the bottom of the freeway exit and sure enough he flashed his lights just after I turned into the park-and-ride lot; the trooper said he'd pulled me over because of Lumi's noisy exhausts. Noting my clean driving record, he let me off with a warning and a promise to effect repairs post haste.

After two such close escapes, I was finally prompted to pay the piper, making my way to the shop recommended by my dad, Dave's Muffler (owned by a Mike) in Durand, first thing in the morning on the Thursday that I drove down to *shudder* Ohio to visit Where's Teddy? at Xanadu. A pair of off road enthusiasts had arrived at Dave's well before the shop opened; so, despite arriving at the very moment the shop opened I had to wait my turn, spending over a hour reading Thunderball in the charmingly grimy waiting room while also repeating as a mantra the words from "If-" by Kipling, "If you can wait and not be tired by waiting." Once work began on Lumi, she was roadworthy again in twenty minutes. To my delight, the mechanic/clerk was capable of far livelier banter than most of his greasemonkey (which I do not intend derisively) brethren, and when we had concluded our transaction he pulled Lumi up to the shop's front door. Exiting, he told me that she was running, though as I couldn't hear a blessed thing I was dubious. But, by Jove, he's was right! Whereas before Lumi had roared loudly even at idle, now she was so silent as to be disconcerting. Piloting no longer Lumi but Lumi the Stealth Car, I went on my merry way in relative silence.

The most curious thing about both traffic stops was the bizarre courtesy displayed by both lawmen. I'm not attempting to exaggerate here, nor am I in the least complaining, but both seemed almost deferential as they explained why I'd been pulled over and what action I should pursue after the episode. It had been years since I'd last been pulled over and though the officers involved had, with one exception, always been courteous, they were also far more domineering in their behavior. Perhaps because the previous encounters were all stops for speeding (and once for going straight from a right turn-only lane) whereas these were stops for mechanical trouble? Perhaps because I'm now 30, no longer a young man, and was older, I suspect, than the Grand Blanc City constable, though probably not the State Police trooper? Perhaps because of the authority demanded and respect commanded by my astonishing beard?

Monday, May 17, 2010

This Week in Motorsport
First, a few remarks from one of this blog's most frequent commentators and one of your humble narrator's fellow Blue Tree Whackers, The Guy, on the occasion of his first Formula One grand prix, the glamorous Grand Prix de Monaco!
First the negative, then the positive. I wouldn't say that Monaco has totally sold me on F1 yet. It was interesting, and I watched the whole thing (sometimes while reading comics or playing video games), but at no point did I feel that I couldn't turn it off.

However, there are times that I'll feel the same way about watching the Tigers. I guess it depends on mood.

Now the positive. It is really exciting when a driver takes the briefest of opportunities to pass someone. As they pointed out at the beginning, the track is 14 paces wide. That is not very wide at all, and there are some very sick turns. And like you said, that Safety Car doesn't make it easy for the leader. It's like the blue shell, for anyone that catches that reference. That was also exciting.

I feel like I could nurture a fandom. Maybe I'll watch the next available race. Maybe I'll root for Mark Webber, because he was the first driver I watched win (Or dominated, as was the case.) I think Red Bull is disgusting, but all the crap they do besides making a shitty drink is pretty cool (flugtag, soapbox derby racing, etc.) It would have helped his case if he would have bothered to come from behind, because that always seems to work on me. But he was busy staying ahead of everyone the whole time, and I can't hold that against him.

I'll be traveling May 30th, so I probably won't watch Istanbul. We'll have to see about Montreal.

Thank you, Zulu November. If it helps Mark Webber's "come from behind" credibility any, he's been a Formula One driver since 2002 and started well over one hundred grands prix before scoring his first F1 victory in 2009 at the Nürburgring in Germany. And as has been mentioned by both the Speed commentators and me, in the early running it was Webber's younger Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who was considered the man to beat in 2010.

The Grand Prix du Canada at Montreal's Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve will be a new experience for me as the Canadian Grand Prix was not held in 2009 and I'm thrilled by the looming proximity of the Formula One circus. I am not so thrilled, however, by the timing. The Grand Prix du Canada will be run on Sunday, 13 June, with the lights going out on the grid (the start of the race) at noon Eastern Daylight Time. That's all fine and good, but the 24 Heures du Mans runs from noon (local time) on Saturday, 12 June to noon (again, local) on Sunday the 13th; that's 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M., leaving me precious little time to catch up on my sorely neglected sleep before switching gears from the ultimate test of automotive endurance to the daredevil sprinting of F1. Mind you, this is the sort of problem you want to have; far better to have too much racing on my plate than too little.

After Montreal (the first of four grands prix to be broadcast on Fox rather than Speed, though both are part of the News Corp. empire, making their relationship something akin to that of A.B.C. and E.S.P.N., i.e., the biggest college football games may be branded as "E.S.P.N. on A.B.C.," but they're still on A.B.C., not little brother E.S.P.N.), I would recommend particularly to The Guy the British Grand Prix and Grosser Preis von Deutschland, both in July, and the Belgian Grand Prix (back on Speed) at the end of August, after F1's late summer break. The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, site of the Belgian Grand Prix, is my favorite racing circuit in the world entire, even above the Circuit de Monaco and "mighty Suzuka," the Suzuka Circuit, home of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, yesterday…

The Grand Prix de Monaco was a banner day for Red Bull (Renault), one of my three teams in the 2010 Formula One World Championship, but how did the streets of the Principality treat the other two, the veteran squad from Williams (Cosworth) and the brand-new constructor that is a revival of one of the oldest, most august names in F1, Lotus (Cosworth)? In a word: miserably. Both of the Williamses crashed, rookie Nico Hulkenberg on lap 1 and veteran Rubens Barrichello (approaching 300 grands prix, an unprecedented feat) on lap 30. The good news is also the bad news: both crashes were caused not by driver error but by mechanical failure. The good news is that mechanical problems can be corrected; the bad news is that they were not identified earlier, leaving one to wonder what other gremlins might be hiding in the FW32. Lotus had been the class of the three news teams (alongside Virgin and Hispania, both Cosworth-powered), and had made incredible performance gains at the Gran Premio de Espana a week earlier, but took a few steps backwards in Monaco. Heikki Kovalainen was running well until lap 58, when mechanical problems with his T127 made it too dangerous to continue, forcing his retirement. Jarno Trulli was trailing the Hispania of Karun Chandhok on lap 70 when the Lotus made an overly aggressive attempt to overtake, resulting in a terrifying shunt that saw Trulli's car fly up and over Chandhok's, before crashing down atop the Hispania. Thank our lucky stars that both drivers emerged unscathed; Trulli later apologized to Chandhok, and the wreck occurred late enough in the grand prix that both drivers were classified as finishers. Williams are a highly professional, vastly experienced outfit and I fully expect them to have sorted out their problems and even improved their performance (Barrichello was running ninth when he crashed out of the race) by the time of the Turkish Grand Prix in just under a fortnight. Which Lotus will we see at Istanbul Park, the improved Lotus of Spain or the hapless Lotus of Monaco? My hope, earnestly and intensely, is for the former.

Next: Round 7 of the 2010 Formula One World Championship, the Turkish Grand Prix from Istanbul Park! How many times do you think I'll encounter the phrase "Turkish delight" in the post-race press coverage? Formula fun!

The Magnificent Moustache Malarkey
Day 13: The worst part of sporting the moustache? Finding hairs in my mouth. Eek! When I grow it back, I'll never again chew on my imperial (or "soul patch"), never ever.

In other news, yesterday, after only twelve days my feckless father finally gave me a C.D. containing the digital photographs of the ultimate triumph of the Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge, Day 128, and the various stages of transition to the Magnificent Moustache Malarkey on the even of ¡Cinco de Moustache! Why a C.D.? Less bother than transmitting them via email, he says. The medium of deliverance could not be less important to me, all I care about is that delivery has been made at long last. First, the beard—wild—at its peak; then, the lame tame beard for which others advocated; and finally, the initial aspect of the moustache. Behold!

This last image, of my bearded visage topped by the ushanka I inherited by the late Grandpa Wilson, has become something of a Facebook sensation.


The tame beard was as terrible as I know it would be, and that was an awfully high price to pay to prove a point. Had I another crack at the same decision, I'd opt instead to show you the Golden Age of Muttonchops. Alas and alack, what might have been!

World full of woe!

Two weeks later, my sideburns are looking spectacular! No wonder I've always been so terribly fond of them. Also, in the profile shots of just the moustache? I look like a Ralph, wouldn't you agree?


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dropkick Murphys, "The Dirty Glass" from Blackout (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I was in a mean mood today. Neither sad nor upset, mean. I was perfectly pleasant during a midday dessert with The Impossible Ingenue, at her invitation, because we're trying to have a civilization here and courtesy is the glue that holds society together. But I still felt mean, "The Dirty Glass" the perfect song for my black mood.

"Murphy, Murphy, darling dear,
I long for you now, night and day.
Your pain was my pleasure,
Your sorrow my joy,
I fear now I've lost you
To health and good cheer."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLIX - The Bugatti Veyron.

Bonus: Pur Sang, Sang Noir, & Sang Bleu.

This Week in Motorsport
Monaco! Eternal Monaco! The Grand Prix de Monaco! As was said a thousand times during today's broadcast on Speed, and yet still not said too often, "Monaco is the grandest grand prix of them all." Before I meet my demise, I will be in the Principality for the Grand Prix de Monaco and see it all the glamor and spectacle with my own eyes.

For the second consecutive round of the World Championship, Mark Webber of Red Bull was untouchable, invincible. At both Spain and Monaco, Webber finished first in qualifying to start the grand prix from the pole position and lead every lap on the way to two dominating victories. For whatever reason, Webber has been on fire since the beginning of the European part of the schedule; 'twas another story entirely during the first four flyaway races. Webber finished eighth and ninth at Bahrain and Australia, his home grand prix, while mechanical failures were all that kept his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel from two dominant start-to-finish victories. Webber finished second when Vettel finally won at Malaysia, but then when both Red Bulls struggled at China Webber finished eighth to Vettel's sixth. Mark Webber through six rounds of the 2010 World Championship: 8th, 9th, 2nd, 8th, 1st, 1st.

Making his win today all the more impressive were the multiple deployments of the safety car. Whenever there is a heavy shunt, the safety car is deployed to slow traffic down; it picks up the race leader and the field bunches up behind. Each time the safety car came out, Vettel (in second place) and Renault's Robert Kubica (third) would close up with Webber and be planted firmly on his tail when the track again "went green" (go, man, go). Yet each time Webber would fly out ahead, leaving Vettel and Kubica to eat his dust. Without the multiple safety car interludes, Webber might well have opening up a twenty-five or thirty second gap over his second-pace teammate Vettel, which is amazing considering that it only takes 1:15-1:20 to complete a circuit of the Circuit de Monaco.

In the end, it was a Red Bull one-two, the second of the year, Webber victorious and Vettel second after starting third and making a brilliant start to pass Renault's Kubica at the start (and spending the whole of the grand prix with the Pole nipping at his heels, looking for any opportunity to reclaim the lost spot). Kubica finished third, meaning that Renault-powered cars occupied all three places on the podium. Well, "podium," since at Monaco there isn't a traditional podium, instead the winner parks his racing car in front of the royal box and is handed his prize by His Serene Highness The Sovereign Prince of Monaco. And Felipa Massa of Ferrari finished fourth, leaving McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in fifth place as the highest-placing Mercedes-engined car. Take that, you Kraut bastards!

I cannot wait to hear from The Guy and the California Dreamer, to learn their impressions of their first (and, 'tis hoped, not last) Formula One grand prix. (If either of you would care to write up a few lines, please either leave them in the comments or email them to me & I'll be happy to post them on The Secret Base proper. Thank you.)

Formula fun!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Michael Giacchino, "Grand Ol' Prix" from Speed Racer: Original Motion Picture Score (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

An update on the creative endeavours by which I will make my name and my fortune.

Project TRITON, currently suspended, failed to ride Project TROIKA's coattails to success for two reasons: a) I was working alone, without having mastered the necessary self-discipline, whereas on TROIKA I had K. Steeze as both sounding board and collaborator to keep me on the straight and narrow. b) There was no next step ready to follow the completion of the first stage of TRITON. Project TROIKA is ongoing, currently in Tier 3. From November '07 to January '09 Steeze and I completed Tier 1, devising the novel's characters, plot, and background. We then turned the fruits of our labor over to The Professor, who spent the remainder of '09 producing the first draft of our novel, Tier 2 of Project TROIKA. Even now, The Professor labors on Tier 3, the all-important revisions of the manuscript. While Tier 2 got underway, Steeze set about finishing CODENAME: Koala, the long-awaited sophomore album from Real Can of Yams, and I sought to bring Project TRITON to a stage equivalent to Tier 1 of TROIKA. There was a deadline for TRITON's "Tier 1," but it was a line with no threat of death. On TROIKA, Steeze and I kept an eye on each other, and we knew that The Professor was waiting to commence Tier 2. What would be the consequences if TRITON's deadline slipped? Slip it did, first from a whimsically chosen date in September to a significant-within-the-story date in November to New Year's Eve, and now here we sit in May of the following year with the bypassed deadlines retaining all the usefulness of AutoWorld: after the fact warnings on the perils of hubris. There was no "Tier 2" resting on the fulcrum of my efforts; so, I allowed myself to be sidetracked by the runaway success of Project MERCATOR and let my creative energies be scattered among half a dozen nascent projects, producing concrete results in none of them. I fell back into the same old patterns of falling into diversion and distraction to which TROIKA had been such a potent remedy. The only consequence of my Project TRITON failure has been self-reproach, which as usual has proven insufficient to overcome inertia.

Meanwhile, CODENAME: Koala completed, Steeze turned his nearly boundless enthusiasm back to his white whale, a project on which he's been slowly, haltingly working for lo these many years, a project that just today was christened Project PALINDROME. As he said today, though I paraphrase, the difficulty he's been having with PALINDROME may well be that he's just spent too much time with the premise and lost all objectivity, and thus all orientation and sense of direction. A few weeks back, I, dissatisfied with myself over TRITON and wishing to recreate the circumstances that had borne such fruit during TROIKA, proposed that Steeze and I set a date to begin work on Tier 1 of Project TRIANGLE, a novel, the sequel to the Project TROIKA novel. His organizational genius on full display, Steeze made a far superior counterproposal, one that would given me the direction I wanted and give him the shot in the arm needed to rejuvenate PALINDROME. In short, we are now partners on Project PALINDROME, with a clear plan of how to proceed along a tiered structure very similar to the TROIKA model. Once PALINDROME is securely on Tier 3, we shall begin Tier 1 of Project TRIANGLE, always pushing TROIKA toward Tiers 4 and 5 (Tier 5 is publication!) and keeping a weather eye on new stories and new opportunities.

Due to curiously spotty mobile phone reception at B.T.WesTwo, Steeze and I have set up a regular Saturday iChat appointment to discuss PALINDROME via webcam. We've had two such appointments so far and our progress has been substantial. To pair lightning metaphors, the old TROIKA lightning has struck twice and we've managed to capture it in a bottle. PALINDROME was always Steeze's baby. I've enthusiastically watched its progress and I was always eager to give any feedback for which he asked, but stepping into the universe he's creating has been something else entirely; I'm simultaneously playing catch-up and driving the story in new directions. 2009's potential went largely unfulfilled, but we are well on the way to reversing that trend in 2010, with a blueprint for how not to repeat our missteps.

(Of course, the busier I am the more I get done; so, with a whole world to create for PALINDROME, several other ideas have resumed cooking on the back burners of my brain: the leading candidate for the Project TRIANGLE story and an additional installment in the TROIKA series, with just a dash of Project TRITON. We're back, "…with a vengeance!")

Grow or die.

Also, Caroline Dhavernas guest starred on last Tuesday's episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Woot! Not coincidentally, I am considering watching again the entire, all-too-brief run of Wonderfalls.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "I Palindrome I" from Apollo 18 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Mom leans down and says, 'My sentiments exactly, you son of a bitch.'"

Freitag, 14 Mai
Link 80, "Verbal Kint" from Mailorder is Still Fun!! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Chosen the moment Comrade Coquettish, an immigrant from Russia, told me she was about to watch The Usual Suspects, a film she's seen before, for the first time since she learned to speak English. "Verbal Kint" is replete with a sample of Kevin Spacey giving utterance to the film's most famous line, "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist," but, alas, the lyrics do not make any mention of the name Keyser Söze.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Winged Wheel
In 2008-09, without the monster Bertuzzi on the roster, the Detroit Red Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing in seven games to the perfidious Pittsburgh Penguins, in part because the N.H.L.'s grand poobahs had instructed the zebras to fix the series in favor of the League's weaselly poster boy, Sidney "Sid the Kid" Crosby. In 2009-10, with the monster Bertuzzi making a mockery of the glorious winged wheel, the Detroit Red Wings were knocked out of the playoffs in the second round, being utterly dominated in five games by the San Jose Sharks, without any noticeable crookedness from the zebras. May we end this farce? Not only is it an affront to decency that the Red Wings have debased themselves and their fans by giving sanctuary to the monster Bertuzzi, but they sold their souls for what, a second-round exit? That's the kind of blockbuster deal I'd expect from the Detroit Lions, not the Detroit Red Wings. May we rid ourselves of the monster Bertuzzi already? I want to be able to believe again (Wayback Machinelink, scroll down to the relevant passage).

In the meantime, my thanks and congratulations to the Montreal Canadiens for defeating the perfidious Penguins in seven games. Always nice to see the forces of good (in this case, any member of the Original Six will do) triumph over evil. Go party with Ben Roethlisberger, Crosby, you two deserve each other.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Magnificent Moustache Malarkey
Day 9: Behold! Compositional differences between these photographs and previous B.B.B. II sets have a twofold origin: ein) my mother is several inches shorter than my father & zwei) the switch from my father's digital camera to the charmingly analog X-700, 1981's "Camera of the Year"!

Note the skin irritation caused by shaving.

And now I wait for Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. to leave a hurtful comment.

But I'm buoyed by the fact that she's just trying to save me from what she sees as a life-defining mistake.

These photographs are from yesterday, M.M.M. Day 8. Turnaround from shutter snap to Secret Base publication?

Fancy pants digital camera: nine days and counting.
Old-fashioned film camera: twenty-four hours!

Because of my father's refusal to transmit to me via email the photographs from B.B.B. II Day 128, the eve of ¡Cinco de Moustache! (a.k.a. M.M.M. Day 1), I cannot show you the beard progressively coming off. However, since the decision was taken to illustrate the folly of the "tame" beard everyone else advocated compared to the triumph of the Bonanza's "wild" beard, it became impossible to reenact the "Golden Age of Muttonchops," which was itself the principal motivation for shaving the beard in stages. So, the main point of those photographs now is to see the beard at its height, a full fortnight after the previous batch of beard photos, and I hope to bring those images to you soon (and to that end will continue pestering my feckless father).

There is another matter on which I would beg your input: When the time comes, how shall I remove the moustache? I am debating between two approaches to shaving, inside-to-outside or outside-to-inside. Inside-to-outside who enable me to capture photographs of a Klingon-style dual moustache and a nascent Fu Manchu moustache. Outside-to-inside would let me attempt the chevron moustache and either—but not both—the pencil moustache or the toothbrush moustache. (I know that I lack the fortitude even to attempt the walrus moustache. I'm far too sensitive to/paranoid about the hairs getting into my mouth. Egad!) So, shall I shave inside-to-outside or outside-to-inside? And if outside-to-inside, the pencil or the toothbrush? Thanks, gang!

Program note: Moustache wax experimentation begins upon the morrow.


Holy Mother Church
Why are the heretics and heathens outside the Church always so surprised by the support Catholics show for the Holy Father? Fatimalink. The Catholic Church is the one true church and the Pope is her shepherd on Earth, elected by the College of Cardinals under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. The Bishop of Rome is the direct apostolic successor of Saint Peter, Catholics could no sooner turn our backs on the Papacy than on Saint Peter himself. Saint Peter thrice denied the Christ, but he remained the rock upon which Our Lord built His Church; likewise, we all doubt the Pope now and again—he is but a man, after all—yet in the end we recognize that he is the Pope, chosen by the Holy Ghost to guide His Church, and we love and support him as he loves and supports Holy Mother Church. Godspeed to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

The Queue
I have at present no plans to read the non-Fleming Bond novels once I've finished Octopussy and The Living Daylights, Fleming's last Bond book and the second to be published posthumously, with the exception of Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks, commissioned by Fleming's heirs for publication in 2008, the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth. Curiously, Devil May Care is credited as by "Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming." Writing as? I've read nothing by Faulks, but color me intrigued.

Ian Fleming, Goldfinger
Ian Fleming, For Your Eyes Only
Ian Fleming, Thunderball

Ian Fleming, The Spy Who Loved Me

Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice
Ian Fleming, The Man with the Golden Gun

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Nat King Cole, "Almost Like Being in Love" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)
Operation AXIOM: Countdown
Only ten days until Narwhal Day 2010! Are you ready? Consult this convenient checklist to see if you have the three ingredients necessary for your Narwhal Day celebration:

a) An item of gray clothing
b) The Oath of Narwhal Day
c) "Sympathy for the Narwhal" by D.J. Seaghost

Get excited, people! To wit: YouTubelink.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Magnificent Moustache Malarkey
Day 8: The deadline deadline has worked its magic ahead of schedule, the deadline for the end of the Malarkey has been set for 27 June, Day 54 of the M.M.M., six months from the beginning of the Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge. Go big or go home.


Even those of you who despise "This Week in Motorsport" posts might wish to read the first paragraph, which is a stiflingly elaborate joke in somewhat poor taste. The real discussion of F1 doesn't begin until the second.

This Week in Motorsport
The former President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (F.I.A.), Formula One's governing body, was Max Mosley, son of Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists in the years preceding the Second World War. I have strong personal motivations for arguing that a man should not, must not, be judged by the life and career of his father, not least because this is a fact of life over which a man has no control, but it is no small thing to be the son of a man who spent all of the Second World War either interned or under house arrest for sympathizing with bloody Nazi Germany. Max Mosley's successor as head of the F.I.A. is a chap named Jean Todt. Unfair though this most certainly is, given Mosley's family background and Todt's surname, should we now call the F.I.A. "Organisation Todt"? Poor tastelink.

I was in *shudder* Ohio last weekend visiting Where's Teddy? during the running of the Gran Premio de Espana. I've been catching up on all the excitement via the wonders of videotape and have so far watched the second Friday practice and Saturday's all-important qualifying, plus Speed's race-in-review program F1 Debrief recounting the last round of the World Championship, the frustrating and unsatisfactory Chinese Grand Prix, but have not yet watched the grand prix itself. The burr under my saddle is that this weekend is the Grand Prix de Monaco—eternal Monaco, the mere thought of it makes my heart soar—the very next weekend after Spain, following a three-week break since China. I love Formula One, but grands prix on consecutive weekends are a pain in the neck, all the more aggravating in light of August's four-week break between the Magyar Nagydij (Hungarian Grand Prix) and the Belgian Grand Prix*. I have so far managed to avoid learning the results of the race in perfidious Spain, but this has unfortunately necessitated a self-imposed blackout of all F1 news, taking some of the fun out of my usual online routine. I'm obligated to perform a bothersome favor for my verdammt vater tomorrow evening; so, in all likelihood I shan't have the chance to watch last Sunday's race before Friday morning's broadcast of practice from Monaco.

And I've a birthday party to attend on Friday night, sure-to-be-fun socializing that will seriously cut into my sitting-alone-like-a-loser-in-front-of-the-television time. Crumbs! Plus, I should mow the lawn post haste before this week's rains make doing so a misery. I don't know if I'll be able to get caught up before the Grand Prix de Monaco on Sunday. Schieße!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Offspring, "Hand Grenades" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The only song in my library to have the element manganese as a lyric.

*Why are some grands prix rendered in English and others in a variety of differing languages? I'm following the stylings (minus titular sponsorships) used by Formula One itself. English is the lingua franca of F1, and most grands prix are known as the Country X Grand Prix, with some place names rendered as adjectives (the British Grand Prix, the Belgian Grand Prix) and others as nouns (the Singapore Grand Prix, the Bahrain Grand Prix). I like to let the foreign stylings stand on their own whenever possible, and I think that most of us can figure out that the Gran Premio de Espana means the Grand Prix of Spain (or Spanish Grand Prix), but in the case of the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Magyar Nagydij, I felt some parenthetical explanation was appropriate. Magyar? Okay, a lot of us know that the Hungarians call themselves the Magyars, fair enough, but Nagydij? Oy.

Interesting, is it not, that the Monaco Grand Prix is the Grand Prix de Monaco while the restored Canadian Grand Prix is the Grand Prix du Canada? De versus du. Is this due to some difference between the words Monaco and Canada? For example, in French is Canada feminine and Monaco masculine? Or does the difference lie in the archaic French spoken in Quebec versus the contemporary French used in the Principality of Monaco? Or is Grand Prix de Monaco not French at all, but rather Monégasque, a local dialect of Italian? Not interesting enough to quest after an answer, not for more than a few minutes before giving up and accepting my continued ignorance, but interesting nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Magnificent Moustache Malarkey
Day 7: My sincerest apology for the lack of photographic documentation, my father is being more self-absorbed and less helpful than usual. I will have my mother take a few snapshots with the X-700 tomorrow, and then I'll find suitable subjects for the rest of the roll and take the film to the drugstore for developing, including a photo disc. I'll be snookered if my old-fashioned film photographs are not available sooner than my feckless father's digital pictures.

To date reaction to the moustache has been positive, though of course Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. will tell us that people are positive for form's sake and nothing more, that nothing genuine is behind any compliment ever paid to any aspect of anything any human being has ever done with his or her hair. (For my purposes, that people find the moustache amusing is not my aim but a bonus.) I was at first, as anticipated, horrified by my beardless visage, but with the passage of time so too has passed the shock. I am, as ever, terribly fond of my splendiferous sideburns, and find myself quite pleased with the moustache. It is far more labor intensive than was the far more extensive beard, with rogue, uncooperative hairs requiring daily attention above and beyond simply washing and combing. Keeping a trimmed moustache is a bear of a task; keeping a truly neatly trimmed moustache might be akin to the impossible. The Malarkey continues undaunted.

The end date is yet unknown, though as with the Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge I feel a definitive end date is a necessity. If the end of the Magnificent Moustache Malarkey is left open-ended, I might wake up one morning in a foul mood and make a rash choice. Or, worse, I might leave it too long, diminishing the magnificence. No, a deadline's the thing; one shall be set before the Malarkey is a fortnight old.

Pictures soonest. Magnificent!

Vote For Kodos: Old Blighty Edition
Tony Blair's New Labour was genuinely new Labour, not the old socialist Labour Party of Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson (neither my uncle nor my late great-grandfather, both also Harold Wilsons) that came within a whisker of destroying Great Britain. I am distrustful of all third parties and wish that the Conservative Party had a majority in their own right instead of being beholden to the Liberal Democrats, but of paramount importance is that the odious Gordon Brown had been removed from No. 10 Downing Street. Only a madman would envy David Cameron the job he has ahead of him as Prime Minister in Her Majesty's Government, and for that reason among many others I wish him all luck in the days ahead. Godspeed, sir.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Paramore, "Brick by Boring Brick" from Brand New Eyes (T.L.A.M.)


"Keep your feet on the ground
When your head's in the clouds."

Also, this is me rejecting the band's attempts to render their album's title as
brand new eyes. Capitalization is not fit to be made subject to stylistic whim. (Yes, I also write E. E. Cummings's name as E. E. Cummings, never "ee cummings.")

Monday, May 10, 2010

Project PANDORA: Out of the Past
The Sardine was double codenamed "Codename PANDORA" before I awoke to the madness of my pursuit of her. The division of CADMUS concerned with the search that will culminate in winning the heart of The Last Angry Bride and donning with her the irrevocable shackles of matrimony is codenamed Project PANDORA. This is coincidence, in that both were codenamed after the myth of Pandora & Epimetheus; Project PANDORA was not named after the erstwhile longing for The Sardine. I do not want The Sardine, beyond the purely physical level: she is cute and possesses "huge… tracks of land." She is maddeningly insecure and infuriatingly indecisive. As a friend, these traits drive me up the wall; as a paramour, they would be intolerable. Yet, a very curious sensation arose during my recent sojourn in Old New Amsterdam. Every time I saw her (thrice in total, two evenings meandering through the streets of lower Manhattan and breakfast on the day of my departure), I was almost overwhelmed by the desire to kiss her. I wanted to spin her to face me, stare at her for but a moment, and then roughly taste her lips. Only by the skin of my teeth did I summon the willpower not to do this when I bade her adieu and stepped into the taxicab that would whisk me to the aerodrome.

From whence in my mind or soul does this blast from the past come? Is this a rerun, a leftover from that long ago frustrating summer: I leaned in to kiss her when leaving her apartment after watching a movie (I'd been invited to come over after midnight) but was instead waved off into an awkward hug? Or is this something else, something other? Really and truly, I do not want to be with The Sardine, not in any part of my conscious mind. So, what the devil? Were I to (when I?) move to New York, which would invariably lead to seeing her far more frequently than I do now, would this curious near-compulsion persist? Would I be able to be her friend, or would it become too difficult? Would I eventually kiss her without the usual preamble and invitation? I really thought all of this with The Sardine was behind me, no more relevant to the wooing of The Impossible Ingenue or Comrade Coquettish than such erstwhile pursuits as Never Girl, From Russia with Love, or A Girl Named Hell-ya. Of course, might not be a recycled fancy after all, and it would be a mistake to fixate upon that possibility to the exclusion of all others. There might well be something altogether more contemporary and sinister afoot.

"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."
—L. P. Hartley

Ink Anniversary
Eight years ago to the day, Mrs. Sacramento (the then-Never Girl) & I walked into the tattoo parlor as ordinary citizens and left, unbeknownst to us, as members of the ubiquitous Inked Club. The most interesting thing about having a tattoo is having a tattoo, of having altered your body without altering its shape; my skull-and-crossbones is daily a source of delight and, inexplicably, surprise. The second most interesting thing about having a tattoo is the assumptions people make about both people who have tattoos in general and me as a person with a tattoo in specific, based upon nothing more than the presence of the ink on my arm. (See "Ink" below, from the end of April.) Was I a fundamentally different person on 11 May 2002 than I had been on 9 May 2002? The Mike of 9 May was dedicated to acquiring a tattoo on the following day and the Mike of 11 May was well pleased with the tattoo he's acquired on the preceding day. So, why is it that the Mike of 11 May and all the days unto the present has been treated by some, and these curs are by and large people who never knew the Mike of 9 May and before, very differently than was treated the Mike of 9 May? Of course, I'm not asking the question with any aspiration of arriving at an answer. Mayhap it reflects a weakness in my character, but I long ago resigned myself not to comprehending vast swaths of human behavior, and into this broad category have I placed the behavior of those who assume they know my mind and my tastes merely because they've noticed I have a tattoo.

I have not acquired a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth…) tattoo because I cannot justify the expense as long as I remain in debt; so, there shan't be any new ink anniversaries to celebrate until the successful completion of Project RADIANT. But once I am monetarily indebted to no one but the U.S. Department of Education and any private institutions from which I might take out a house and/or boat loan (boat loan!) a torrent shall be unleashed. Or, if you prefer, things are going to get a little bughouse around here. No fewer than, depending on how one counts, seven designs have been approved by the planning committee and have survived the requisite waiting period and review process. An tattooist or tattooists need to be selected, but aside from that all the public works department is waiting on is the funding.

A close-but-no-cigar match for my tattoo.
So sorry there was nothing yesterday. I returned from Ohio and all was well, but by the time we returned from taking my mother out to dinner for Mothers Day, the house's internet had failed and 'twas not restored until something this afternoon.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Heard during an IMAX presentation of the film Hubble on Saturday, and referenced in an I.M. chat this afternoon with the commentary by my conversational partner, "makes me cry."

Sonntag, 9 Mai
The Proclaimers, "Notes & Rhymes" from Notes & Rhymes (T.L.A.M.)


"I love rock & roll,
It took my hand and it touched my soul!
You do that as well,
You know, you know, you know yourself!
But you beat notes & rhymes
Any day, any time!"

Samstag, 8 Mai
Paramore, "The Only Exception" from Brand New Eyes (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 7 Mai
Mustard Plug, "Real Rat Bastard" from In Black and White (T.L.A.M.)


"We're both the same,
Except for you've got class and style.
To get you back
I'd walk at least a half a mile.
We're both the same,
Except for poise and charm and grace.
I'd slap the Pope
Just for the chance to see your face."

Donnerstag, 6 Mai
Reel Big Fish, "Beer" from Turn the Radio Off (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I drink what beer I do because I enjoy the taste, not because it will lead to inebriation. But, I do lament the failure of the various attempts, in my youth, to become intoxicated, because that strikes me as something everyone should experience at least once. Also, there have been times when I've been able to say "I need a drink," yet knew that I would not find the desired succor at the bottom on of my glass. But there is hope, my legendary tolerance, while still formidable, is not quite what it once was and so I may yet be drunk before I perish.

"But I can't live without her,
So I won't even try!

And if I get drunk,
Well, I'll pass out on the floor now, baby,
You won't bother me no more!
And if you're drinkin'
Well, you know that you're my friend,
And I'll say, 'I think I'll have myself a beer!'"

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A blasted disruptive week so far, lawn mowing yesterday, motor car maintenance today, the time has flown by faster than I've been able to react. Gone to *shudder* Ohio for the next few days, try to soldier on without me.

I've skipped over the Grolsch transition, and gone straight from Winter's Guinness to Summer's Red Stripe. (Fear not, I drink very little, this mostly refers to the six-pack I keep in the garage, with two bottles in the fridge, that half-dozen sometimes lasting for months. As a lush, I am an utter failure.)

"She looks like Heaven,
Maybe this is Hell."
—Reel Big Fish, "Beer" from Turn the Radio Off

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Magnificent Moustache Malarkey
Day 1: Happy ¡Cinco de Moustache!, everyone!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Richard Allen George… No, It's Just Cheez" from Hello Rockview (T.L.A.M.)


"Ay yi yi yi,
¡Cinco de Moustache!
The kids that are hip
They grow hair on their lip,
They throw down their razors
And don't give a shit!
Then grow and grow and grow,
So let your moustache show!
Oh yeah!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 128: The End.

(Per usual, photos will be posted as soon as they are received from my father.)

Objective ZED ALPHA
Daddy Dylweed asked me this evening if there had been any news on the Jeopardy! front, giving me the kick in the pants finally to bloggy blog what I've been meaning to post for a few weeks now: nothing to report. From time to time, I experience a surge of frustration and angrily shake my fist at the television, snarling through gritted teeth, "Where's my phone call, Trebek?" I auditioned in late May '09 and, if my audition was successful, I will remain in the contestant pool until December '10. If I do not hear from Jeopardy! by December, one of two things will have happened: a) I did not pass my audition. b) I passed, but was not randomly selected from the contestant pool to appear on the show. The worst part is that I will have no way of knowing which is the case. There will be naught to do but begin the process anew (Objective ZED BRAVO), taking the online test in order to earn an audition and another chance to play the waiting game. But note that ZED BRAVO is not a foregone conclusion; there is yet time for ZED ALPHA's potential to be realized.

Where's my phone call, Trebek?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Cake, "The Distance" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Now that I'm a fan of motorsport, I cannot help but picture the protagonist of "The Distance" driving a Triumph TR6 with its windscreen removed for racing. I know, that's rather missing the point of "The Distance."

"The arena is empty except for one man,
Still driving and striving as fast as he can.
The sun has gone down and the Moon has come up,
And long ago somebody left with the cup,
But he's driving and striving and hugging the turns
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns."

Monday, May 3, 2010

For no reason on which I can place a finger, I'm more The Last Angry Man than usual today. That may be grammatical nonsense, but you take my meaning. By way of example, I "defriended" Frankenstein's Monster on the Facebook because I am sick and tired of his Libertarian propaganda, with its half-truths and outright lies. Life is too short to settle for "good enough" friends and comrades; if I am to retain any respect for myself I must insist upon a higher caliber of boon companion.

Happy Birthday!
Wishes for the happiest of birthdays to The Gal! The Gal is an imposing figure, and by that I refer not to her height but to her razor sharp wit and cool refusal to be swayed by the ritual wackiness and habitual ridiculousness of B.T.W., the exclusive mutual admiration of which her husband, The Guy, is a founding member. The Gal's never exasperated disapproval is like a refreshing splash of water about the neck. Happy birthday, Sarah!

The Banzai Beard Bonanza II: Bonsai's Revenge
Day 127: Over the weekend, two distaff acquaintances, unknown to each other and separated by over two thousand miles of the North American continent, complimented me on the beard by saying that it made me appear more Irish. Jeanette, one of my fellow members of the History Club, remarked during the Club's year-end excursion to Lansing that the beard makes me seem like more of a Michael Patrick, high praise since she, our tour guide for the day, had selected a bar/restaurant called Dublin Square as the site of our "farewell and have a good summer" dinner. A charming new friend to whom you will shortly be introduced under the codename of Comrade Coquettish wrote more directly, (sic) "I like the irishdom of your facial hair." Whatever is it about the beard that fosters thoughts of the Emerald Isle?

I have adored not having to shave beyond my meager power to express. My razor has not lain entirely dormant, I've regularly shorn the few scraggly hairs on my cheeks and maintained a small boundary between the moustache and my nose, to prevent the annoyance of hairs tickling the inside of my nostrils; also, I have kept the unibrow in check by shaving between my eyebrows. But, all of this is as nothing compared to the crushing routine of lathering up cheeks, chins, and uppermost neck and scrapping across the skin with a razor that's always either too sharp, leading to nicks so thin you cannot see them until the blood emerges, or, more often, too dull, grating the skin and excavating the occasional divot just to see if you're paying attention. Oh, joy, I shall be so glad to welcome all that back into my mornings. *grumble, grumble*

The truly extraordinary thing has been how very much more I've enjoyed Bonsai's Revenge than I did the original Banzai Beard Bonanza in '04. Then, I was so eager to get out from under the beard that I aborted the Massive Mustache Mistake entirely. Today, I'm eager to start the Magnificent Moustache Malarkey, but also saddened by the prospect of the beard's demise. Then, it itched, even after eighty-plus days. Today, were I to choose one word for how the beard feels, that word would be luxuriant, and such has been the case since at least early March. This second iteration of the B.B.B. has surpassed my expectations in every possible way. I have been daily pleased by the aspect of the beard, in much the same way my mood is so often brightened by the chance glimpse of my tattoo. I have been thrilled by the intensity of reactions the beard has engendered, from Mrs. Skeeter, Esq.'s withering insults to the awe of drunken jackasses from Brooklyn to Denver to Comrade Coquettish asking if she could please twirl my moustache. The beard has been a conversation piece, a trophy, a talisman. The Banzai Beard Bonanza II has been an adventure, one I am honored to have been able to share with you.

Brace yourselves for ¡Cinco de Moustache! & the Magnificent Moustache Malarkey. The adventure is just beginning!

The Queue
Ian Fleming, Doctor No
Ian Fleming, Goldfinger
Ian Fleming, For Your Eyes Only
(containing the short stories "From a View to a Kill," "For Your Eyes Only," "Quantum of Solace," "Risico," & "The Hildebrand Rarity")

Ian Fleming, Thunderball

Ian Fleming, The Spy Who Loved Me
Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dropkick Murphys, "Bastards on Parade" from Blackout (T.L.A.M.)


"If can you look into this old face
And try to see the young man,
I swear I once was pretty,
Not the monster you now see."