Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXXIV - The Spinnaker Tower.

Objective FINNLAND
FINNLAND was in some ways not as difficult as I'd feared, but much more difficult in other ways. One such is the aftermath lasting far longer than I'd breezily, arrogantly predicted. But my recovery continues apace & I shall soon be restored to pre-Crim health.

The Secret Base has been kneecapped by not only the lingering effects of FINNLAND, but a confluence of events that are making this perhaps the most slothful week of the year. And as we well know, as odd as it sounds, the more time I have on my hands the less I manage to get done. But I'm endeavoring to reverse this trend and bring many much-delayed posts, including my review of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and all the Formula One action you can handle in "This Week in Motorsport," plus the continuing effort to get "The Explorers Club" all caught-up Stay tuned!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Nigel Godrich, "Hello Envy" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Alas, the title should be "Hello, Envy." The comma is not optional; the words hello envy, sans comma, mean that someone is envious of of someone else's hello. Uncle Leo used to experience hello envy when he would ask Jerry, "What, you can't say 'Hello' to your uncle?"

Hello, Envy (the nickname is derived from Miss Adams's initials, N.V.).

Montag, 30 August
Osymyso, "Prepare" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Prepare… prepare to face the wrath of the League of Evil Exes!"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Beck & Nigel Godrich, "Death to All Hipsters" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Within "Death to All Hipsters," Kim prefaces her count-off by screaming, "We are Sex Bob-omb and we are here to watch Scott Pilgrim kick your teeth in!" We are then treated to an ever faster yet rendition of "We Are Sex Bom-omb." Woot!

I've not unwittingly become a hipster, have I? You guys would tell me, right?

Samstag, 28 August
Beck & Nigel Godrich, "We Are Sex Bob-omb (Fast)" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "We Are Sex Bob-omb (Fast)" is prefaced in the preceding song, "Welcome to Chaos Theatre" with a snipped of dialogue from the motion picture featuring Alison Pill as Kim Pine & Jason Schwartzman as Gideon Graves.

Gideon: "Aww, I think this deserves a song. Kimberly!"

Kim: "We are Sex Bob-omb. We are here to make money and sell out and stuff."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Objective FINNLAND
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are playing at Saint Andrew's Hall tonight, in the heart of Detroit. One of my favorite bands, returned from, it was supposed, the great beyond, performing at my favorite venue, and I'm not there. Captain Malice had in mind, though never formally proposed, a plan for he, The Bradman, and me to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, tomorrow evening. I learned about this from The Bradman and presume that the scheme was unraveled by something on the Captain's end, but even had it not been, I would be unable to go. Because bright and early tomorrow morning I am to run (often jog, sometimes walk) in the Crim (the Grim?) ten-mile race through the streets of Flint, the crown jewel of the Crim Festival of Races. It's just bad timing, nothing more than that, but curse the bad timing.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Beck & Cornelius, "Katayanagi Twins vs. Sex Bob-omb" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Katayanagi Twins vs. Sex Bom-omb" contains the Sex Bob-omb song "Threshold." Beck & Cornelius are the composers, not necessarily the performers.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ugh, my HAL's monitor is in its death throes. Nothing deadly series, but a pain in the neck nonetheless.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Nigel Godrich, "The Grind" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Let it always be remembered that in single combat George Michael Bluth outwitted & ultimately defeated the Human Torch, Captain America, & Superman.

Mittwoch, 25 August
Nigel Godrich, "Fight!" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXXIII - The Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899.

I had lunch with Dr. Hee Haw today at Ypsilanti's fabulous Sidetrack Bar & Grill. Over the past few months, we've lunched at some of southeast Michigan's most distinctive restaurants, the absolute highlight being the Traffic Jam & Snug in the heart of the Motor City. I had no idea Detroit held such a treasure! The good doctor is moving to the State of Florida, to further his medical practice. We met on the staff of the Gargoyle, many moons ago, and we've not been the most constant friends, but I shall miss him and his unique sense of things sorely.

Bon voyage, my friend.

This Week in Motorsport
The finish to Sunday's American Le Mans Series race from Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, was unbelievably close. In a race lasting two hours forty-five minutes, the overall race win (which was also inevitably the Le Mans Prototype [L.M.P.] class win) was decided on the very last turn! The Judd-powered Lola chassis of Drayson Racing had started from the pole, but fallen behind due to a late-race refueling stop that took more time than it should have. Yet, because of that extra fuel, the Drayson was running flat out at the end, while the Honda of Highcroft Racing and Porsche of Team Cytosport were both having to conserve fuel, trying to cruise to the finish line. The Drayson was quickly gaining on the leading Cytosport, but there wasn't enough race left to allow the Drayson to catch up… until the Cytosport ran out of fuel with several turns to go! The white Porsche still managed to roll past the checkered flag in second, but the day belonged to the Lola/Judd, resplendent in British racing green. Almost three hours, and it all came down to the final corner. Astonishing!

The action in G.T. wasn't quite as close as in L.M.P., but the top-finishing Rahal Letterman B.M.W., second place Flying Lizard Porsche, and third & fourth place Team Corvette Chevrolets were all within a few car lengths of each other. The Ferraris of Risi Competizione were an unusual non-factor; for whatever reason, they just couldn't find the pace at Road America. Next up: the Grand Prix of Mosport. Onward to the Great White North!

Here is an interesting chart comparing the specifications between various forms of motorsport, highlighting an L.M.P., a Formula One car, an IndyCar car, and, playing the role of the court jester, a N.A.S.C.A.R. "stock car": Guidelink.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Nigel Godrich, Jason Falkner, & Justin Meldal-Johnsen, "Bass Battle" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sweet fancy Moses, great Caesar's ghost, and jumpin' Jack Pratt, tonight was such a complete and total waste of my time! Sometimes, going out is the worst possible idea, and tonight was such an instance. I'd have been better served by going out and renting the motion picture Magnolia, or listening to the comedy stylings of Dane Cook. Holy smoke, that was awful.

In brighter news, tomorrow I lunch with Doctor Hee Haw!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dan the Automator, "Slick (Patel's Song)" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Score by Nigel Godrich (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Featuring the voices of Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Satya Bhabha; lyrics by Bryan Lee O'Malley from Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life.

"You'll pay for this, Flowers!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Plumtree, "The Game's Over" from Predicts the Future (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I like you."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXXII - London Bridge: The "Old," the "New," the current, & the horror of Lake Havasu.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Plumtree, "Scott Pilgrim" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Plumtree are phenomenal! I can well understand why O'Malley would be inspired to his magnum opus by "Scott Pilgrim." The chorus of "Scott Pilgrim" is reminiscent of a round, with two distinct parts being sung simultaneously and repetitiously.

"I've liked you for a thousand years, a thousand years.
I've liked you for a thousand years, a thousand years.
I've liked you for a thousand years, a thousand years.
I've liked you for a thousand years, a thousand years."


"I can't wait 'til I see you, I can't wait until I see you.
I can't wait 'til I see you, I can't wait until I see you.
I can't wait 'til I see you, I can't wait until I see you.
I can't wait 'til I see you, I can't wait until I see you."

Mind you, there aren't any proper verses in "Scott Pilgrim." Aside from the overlapping choruses, the only other lyrics are contained in two sort-of bridges.

"You can't stand to see me that way,
No matter what I do,
No matter what I say.
You can't stand to see me that way,
(the "yeah yeahs" vary between the two occurrences)!"

It's a simple little song, but one that tugs at the heartstrings of anyone who's ever known unrequited love. I can't believe I waited this long to listen to Plumtree!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I didn't intend to take the summer off from MERCATOR, but I should have known from long experience that without an active effort toward socialization I'd follow my instincts back into isolation, or at least back toward isolation. And I have not been making the active effort that MERCATOR requires; last week, on the evening of my return from Los Angeles, I had an opportunity to hang out with The Most Dangerous Game, The Impossible Ingenue, and an uncodenamed friend of theirs just returned from France, but I cited lack of sleep from my recent travels as a reason to stay in. Still, I can say with honesty that a danger of burnout existed after the frenzy of last spring; so, I'll cut myself some slack as long as Project MERCATOR goes back into force in a fortnight's time, after the Labor Day holiday.

Last night, after speech & debate practice, Love/Hate, The Most Dangerous Game, Too Sly, Katie (a friend of Love/Hate's who might be a prospective team member), and I repaired to Love/Hate's apartment.

***Caution: Lewdness ahead.***

An evening of conversing and imbibing ensued, the conversation marred by the appalling lewdness of the distaff trio, e.g., there was talk of the proper spot to which to direct ejaculate summoned by a blow job. Apparently, it's poor form for the chap to ask the girl to swallow; the stomach, breasts, and neck were all cited as acceptable points of deposit. I could have been more uncomfortable, but only with a Herculean effort. For pity's sake, let us never speak of this again.

***All clear. Proceed without hesitation.***

Toward the end of the evening, after Katie had departed, the inebriated trio of Love/Hate, The Most Dangerous Game, and Too Sly decamped to Love/Hate's bed to fall asleep in each others arms. My presence was requested and desired, but as I was not inebriated the prospect of clinging to a sliver of Love/Hate's bed paled next to the promise of mine own pillows, sheets, and mattress. Over some slurred protest, I extricated myself, bade one and all a pleasant slumber, and motored home in Lumi.

This afternoon, Love/Hate sent to me what I am rapidly coming to regard as the most loathsome text message in the world, (sic) "Im bored." Bored? What is she, a five-year-old? There is one way to view that text, which I receive several times a week, so that it does not reflect extremely poorly on Love/Hate: it might be a ham-fisted way of saying, "I want to see you." But that explanation is rather far-fetched, no?

I owe you a proper Project PANDORA post.

This Week in Motorsport
As might reasonably be supposed from the name of the American Le Mans Series, the 24 Heures du Mans is a big part of the A.L.M.S. year, even though the 24 Hours doesn't count toward the A.L.M.S. championship. Accordingly, the biggest gap in the A.L.M.S. schedule is on either side of the Grand Prix of Endurance; so, just when my appetite for sports car racing was whetted by Le Mans, I had to wait another month before the American Le Mans Series resumed racing. Drat!

But since then there have been three A.L.M.S. races—all two hour forty-five minute "sprint" races, not longer endurance races of six hours or more—with another this coming weekend and another the following weekend. After the famine, a feast! After the lush countryside surrounding the Circuit de la Sarthe in northern France, the stark landscape of the Utah Grand Prix was startling. The G.T. competition was fierce, with a Ferrari from Risi Competizione claiming the victory, followed by a Rahal Letterman B.M.W. and a Team Corvette Corvette.

Fast forward a fortnight to the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock, Connecticut, providing an almost glowingly verdant contrast to the moonscape of Utah. Lime Rock Park is a madhouse. I kid you not, the track is only a mile-and-a-half long; the Prototypes were lapping at under fifty seconds! Here I'm exaggerating, but 'twas almost dizzying to watch from home, as time and again the cars whipped 'round the same tiny, tiny patch of real estate. (Compare Lime Rock wee distance to the eight-and-a-half-mile track around which the 24 Hours of Le Mans are run.) Lime Rock Park is bughouse, man, bughouse. I've long said that I like my politics just like I like my religion, just that little bit crazy; I've also said that part of what I like about the 24 Heures du Mans is how mad the whole exercise is. So, I like madness, but the jury's still out on whether I like bughouse, a subset of madness.

The next race, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, presented a radically different viewing experience. The race was run on Saturday, 7 August—when I was relatively near the Lexington, Ohio racetrack, being myself in Marysville, Ohio—but not broadcast on television until Sunday, 15 August. (There was live online streaming coverage of the race.) In addition to the broadcast delay, the race was carried on C.B.S. instead of Speed. And instead of covering the two-hour-forty-five-minute length of the race, C.B.S. edited it down into an hour-and-a-half-long quasi-documentary. I consider the documentary film Truth in 24 to be a perfect introduction to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and watching it is part of my annual preparations for Le Mans; so, I've no opposition to motorsport-based documentaries. But I wanted to watch a race, not the highlights of a race. However, here's hoping that the higher profile (?) of being on C.B.S. will help to increase interest in the A.L.M.S.

The last three races of 2010 American Le Mans Series season are this weekend, Sunday, 22 August from Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin); next weekend, 29 August, the Grand Prix of Mosport (Bowmanville, Ontario, in the Great White North, eh); and then Petit Le Mans from Road Atlanta (close enough to Atlanta, Georgia, back in the States).

Next time on "This Week in Motorsport": Formula Fun! There are ever so many Formula One grands prix on which I've yet to comment. Fortunately for me, over a week remains until the end of the four-week summer break; so, there's time to make up lost ground before I fall ever further behind. It's a race against time? No, that's awful.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Sex Bob-omb, "We Are Sex Bob-omb" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I tend to believe Stephen Stills when he says that the actual title of the song is not, as Scott Pilgrim claims, "Launchpad McQuack."

Donnerstag, 19 August
Brian LeBarton, "Threshold (8 Bit)" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXXI - Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (1909-2000) & the U.S. Navy Beach Jumpers.

K. Steeze & I have finished plotting the ten-issue comic book series that is Project PALINDROME and have moved on to the scripting phase (PALINDROME has not been divided into goal-specific tiers as has Project TROIKA). I've never written a script to a comic book before, but have been assigned three issues, while Steeze has taken four (and he'd already scripted the first three issues before he invited me aboard the project as his junior partner). My instinct is to write them as conventionally formatted prose, but the counterpoint to that view is that I've rarely ever finished a work of conventional prose; so, the change to the screenplay format that Steeze uses might light a fire under me. The deadline for my first script (regardless of format) is 1 December; wish me luck.

Grow or die.

The Queue
The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope should be moved from the "Currently" bin to the "Recently" bin. I have resumed Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew and was again immediately enthralled by the true tales of spies and spy-catchers.

Almost three weeks hence, Love/Hate invited me back to her apartment to spend the night. Lumi chose that moment, parked on South Saginaw Street in downtown Flint, not to start. When the wrecker dispatched by A.A.A. arrived and I described the problem to the driver, he immediately and confidently concluded that Lumi was ailed by a dead battery, despite my protests that there was plenty of electrical power (evidenced by the many interior lights still in operation); I said that I'd be thrilled to be wrong, thrilled if the problem was as simple as a defunct battery, but I admit that I experienced a vicious sort of joy when the fellow's attempts to jump-start Lumi met with utter failure. Subsequent evaluation by the fine fellows at Drago's revealed that, indeed, the problem was buried deep in the starter assembly; the battery had plenty of charge and was holding it just fine. Since then, Lumi's been a peach, though the rather worn tires will have to be replaced before the winter if I am not to perish. Lumi is fifteen years-old and has put in over 160,000 miles, recalling to mind Dr. Jones's sage pronouncement, "It's not the years, it's the mileage." These sorts of things happen with a fifteen-year-old motorcar.

Nonetheless, something changed that night. As I recorded in my journal, "A bond was broken, a trust was violated, a faith was breached." And no, I'm not talking about the lost opportunity to spend the night with Love/Hate; to excerpt further from my journal entry of 29 July, "It's not about [Love/Hate], because it's not like I would have made love to her, and if there's any real chance of anything happening between us then there will be other opportunities." Lumi's given me years of faithful service, and my mother many years of faithful service before those, and put in a lot of good miles for our family. But she left me stranded on the side of the road. Say what you will about The Mousemobile—and, brother, don't I know that she suffered more than her fair share of mechanical failures and inexplicable, inopportune breakdowns—but The Mousemobile never left me stranded on the side of the road. The Mousemobile always got me home. Even when she was older than Lumi is now, The Mousemobile never left me stranded on the side of the road.

Lumi's a good car, and I still love her and hope she will continue to provide me with safe, more-or-less reliable transportation for the foreseeable future, but things can never again be as they were before that night. I now find myself in the formative stages of the search for not just my next automobile, but the true and rightful heir of The Mousemobile… The Son of the Mousemobile!

31/29: The Loot
I received the rest of this year's loot over a week ago, when we sojourned to *shudder* Ohio for the presentation of my mother's sixtieth birthday to my father: a flight in a T-6 Texan, including time spent at the controls performing aerial maneuvers. (Wayback Machine.) By happy coincidence, my father's warbird flight took off from the small airport in Where's Teddy?'s hometown, allowing us the bonus of a visit with my now toddling nephew.

{4a} Team Zissou correspondence stock (for which I have been asking for years, in part because it didn't seem as if it would be as special if I just bought it for myself)
{4b} Team Zissou T-shirt (!)
{5} Airplane! on D.V.D.
{6} rubber stamp, "From the library of Michael Patrick Wilson"

The Team Zissou T-shirt and Airplane! were both brilliant off-list improvisations. Airplane! was chosen because Airplane II: The Sequel already sat in my motion picture library and the asymmetry was intolerable to the gift-giver, offensive to his sense of order. I've teased him that I should add Predator 2 & Die Hard 2: Die Harder to my collection as a cost-effective way of also acquiring Predator & Die Hard.

Photographs have now been taken of my Ferrari Truck Lego set and will be published as soon as they are developed.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Metric, "Black Sheep" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A fortnight ago, I'd never heard of Metric, and now they provide the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. for the second time in nine days. Coincidence that Steeze nominated their song "Stadium Love" as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. so soon before Metric provided the music performed by Envy Adams's band The Clash at Demonhead in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? In the words of "plain, simple Garak," "I believe in coincidences. Coincidences happen every day. But I don't trust coincidences."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

He's Dead, Jim
The most recent biopsy revealed that the tiny dark spot on my mom's latest scans is indeed the cancer, not yet eradicated as we'd hoped. The endlessly amusingly-named Tumor Board meets a week from tomorrow to decide on the plan of attack. At this stage, further excavation into Mom's nose to carve out the cancer seems not to be on the table, for reasons about which I shan't speculate, being neither a medical doctor nor an actor playing one on T.V.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Blood Red Shoes, "It's Getting Boring By the Sea" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 16 August
Broken Social Scene, "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The title should be "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl." I very much enjoy the repetitive lyrics of (sic) "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl," and used the technique in my own compositions "Olga's Song" (tentative title), written at the time of my failed wooing of From Russia With Love, and "The Astronaut Song" (titled in the same fashion as M.T.D.'s "The Viking Song"). I cannot write music; so, I submit lyrics and sometimes, just sometimes, K. Steeze turns them into R.C.Y. songs.

"Bleaching your teeth, smiling flash,
Talking trash under your breath.
Bleaching your teeth, smiling flash,
Talking trash under your breath.
Bleaching your teeth, smiling flash,
Talking trash under your breath.
Bleaching your teeth, smiling flash,
Talking trash under my window."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXX - Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (1883-1939) & the founding of United Artists.

Bonus: Fairbanks was born on Narwhal Day!

The week just past was a perilous one in motoring as I twice found involved in automotive collisions, neither time as driver & both times while sitting in the front passenger's seat. On Monday, The Professor's late model Ford Fusion was struck on Century Boulevard by a nearly identical vehicle that has just run a red light. The jolt was considerable, but to my surprise did not, and this I suppose because the primary impact was from the rear, trigger the airbags; we were, however, knocked into the rear of the mid-2000s Chevrolet Impala ahead. The Professor tried his best to avoid the secondary collision and was very nearly able to get away to the side, but the Fusion's front right corner struck the Impala's rear right. There was no doubt that I was in La-La-Land, because from the front passenger seat of the Impala emerged a comely young lady clutching to her chest a Chihuahua; not once did she set the wee dog down on the ground. Yesterday, my father's mid-'90s Chevrolet Caprice station wagon was struck on the entrance ramp to I-475 from I-69 by an early 2000s Buick Regal; I blame the crash on President Obama, for reasons discussed in the following section. The motorcars ahead of the wagon braked abruptly at the bottom of the entrance ramp. To avoid colliding with the car ahead, Dad slammed on the brakes. The woman driving the Regal was trailing a hair too closely or pressed her brake pedal just a hair too slowly, and her attempt to pass to our right side fell short by, again, a hair. Her front left clipped our rear right, mangling the corner of the Caprice's rear bumper and leaving no visible damage on the Regal. There was no doubt that I was in Flinttown, because the first post-crash call was to the police, but after exchanging insurance information and talking to both insurance companies and waiting quite a spell in addition to this and seeing neither hide nor hair of a prowler, paddy wagon, or any other police vehicle, both parties decided against filling a police report. We might well be waiting for the police yet had we not skedaddled.

Vote for Kodos
Traffic collisions happen. I agree with the film Hot Fuzz that they should not be called accidents, because an accident implies that no one is at fault. The Century Boulevard collision was completely and solely the fault of the dolt who drove straight through a red light and into The Professor & me. The I-475 collision was partially the fault of the Regal driver, partially the fault of the abrupt brakers ahead of us, and partially the fault of Mr. Barack Hussein Obama.

I acknowledge the reality of life in sacred Michigan, that there are, after a fashion, only two seasons of the year: winter and the construction season. Michigan has uniquely high semi-truck load allowances, one of several contributing factors to our notoriously crummy roads. Those high loads and the resultant road damage are the fair price we paid for decades of prosperity; I don't blame anyone for the state of our roads, not Governor Granholm, nor former Governors Engler nor Blanchard, nor the Genesee County Road Commission, nor the United States Department of Transportation. Our highways and byways need to be repaired from time to time, that's just life, and into every life a little rain must fall. But the recent tearing up and relaying of I-475 is qualitatively different for one reason: all along the length of the project are signs proclaiming that it is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a.k.a. President Obama's much vaunted $787,000,000,000 "stimulus" bill. Worse yet are smaller signs atop the larger signs, emblazoned with the indefensible line of propaganda, "Putting America to work." These signs are a cynical attempt by the Obama Administration to claim credit for any benefits that might be derived coincidentally from the project's costs. I do not blame anyone for construction, construction just happens. But the Obama Administration is trying to gain credit for this particular bit of construction; President Obama might not have, and almost certainly did not, personally approve the Ministry of Truth-style A.R.R.A. & "Putting America to work" signs, but as President Truman taught us, "The buck stops here," on the president's desk. So, if President Obama wants credit for the tearing up and recreating (almost precisely as it was before being torn up, rendering it a make-work project from beginning to end) of I-475, then he also deserves blame for the consequences of that construction.

The motorcars ahead of the Caprice braked abruptly because I-475 is still strewn with construction barrels, even though no visible work has been done for weeks. Where I-69 diverts traffic onto I-475, there are two lanes open to traffic. But the construction barrels are arrayed in such a slipshod fashion that there are really only one-and-a-half lanes open to traffic. Panicking at this unnecessary, illogical, and indefensible bottleneck, the drivers ahead of us chose to come to a sudden, complete stop at the bottom of the entrance ramp. President Obama wants the credit for employing the workers who blocked off traffic with those carelessly strewn barrels; so, he also deserves the blame for the collision caused by the carelessness with which those barrels were strewn all about the motorway. Yesterday's collision was President Obama's fault, but wouldn't be if he hadn't installed those odious pieces of Minitrue-style propaganda.

The Queue
I was reluctant to cease temporarily reading Defend the Realm in order to re-read Scott Pilgrim ahead of seeing Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on the silver screen, but I knew doing so was the proper course of action. Similarly, I've had a jones to read The Prisoner of Zenda and knew that if I didn't do so before resuming Defend the Realm then Ruritania would have to wait until after I'd finished The Authorized History of MI5. I didn't really want to take this sabbatical from the Security Service, but now that I have I might as well make the most of it.

Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Volumes 1-6:
Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness
Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe
Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour

Anthony Hope, The Prisoner of Zenda
Christopher Andrew, Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (paused)

Karen E. Olson, Pretty in Ink
Len Deighton, Berlin Game
Len Deighton, Mexico Set
Len Deighton, London Match
John Toland, The Great Dirigibles
Rudyard Kipling, Kim
Anthony Hope, Rupert of Hentzau
Anthony Hope, The Heart of Princess Osra
Saki, When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Sex Bob-omb, "Threshold" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Phantom Planet, "In Our Darkest Hour" from The Guest (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Schwartzman!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Guster, "Ramona" from Keep It Together (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Keep It Together isn't quite the same as Gets It Together, but I find it spooky that they share "Ramona," a rather uncommon name, in common.

"When I was younger and thought of myself
I never dreamed I'd become like this."

As you may have gleaned, the release of the motion picture Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a big deal to me. I should like to have counted down the evil ex-boyfriends over the last week, but 'twas a momentous and disrupted week for me. If you haven't read Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim saga, these posters might be considered spoilers; if that's the case, you've no one to blame but yourself for neglecting a classic of modern literature.

Anyone wishing to make amends is welcome to borrow my copies of Scott Pilgrim, Vols. 1-6.
Objective ZED ALPHA
Mum remains the word until after the week of 18 October. My sincerest thanks to all for your interest and cooperation; I think you'll enjoy the surprise, Croesus knows I did.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXIX - Battenburg markings (the triumph of function over form).

'Twas a chore, dear readers, to find good images that weren't already on the Wikipedia page on Battenburg markings.

The Queue
Len Deighton, Horse Under Water
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (re-read)
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 2: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (re-read)
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 3: Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness (re-read)
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (re-read)
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (re-read)
Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour

Christopher Andrew, Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5

Karen E. Olson, Pretty in Ink
Len Deighton, Berlin Game

Len Deighton, Mexico Set
Len Deighton, London Match
John Toland, The Great Dirigibles
Rudyard Kipling, Kim

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Huey Lewis and the News, "The Power of Love" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Remember what both Scott & Ramona had to learn: you must earn the Power of Love.

Mittwoch, 11 August
Fountains of Wayne, "Trains & Boats & Planes" from Out-of-State Plates, Disc One (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I am quickly running out of songs that describe or at least allude to air travel.

Dienstag, 10 August
The Aquabats!, "Awesome Forces!" from Charge!! (T.L.A.M.)


"So many years,
So many broken mirrors,
And yet the truth remains so clear:
If you do not like us
You might have to fight us,
We cannot die, no way!"

Montag, 9 August
Metric, "Stadium Love" via YouTube (K. Steeze)

Commentary: Ye be fairly warned, the music video to "Stadium Love" might trigger epileptic seizures.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXVIII - The Sillitoe Tartan.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Beirut, "The Flying Club Cup" from The Flying Club Cup (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "I Want to Go Back to Michigan" from A Saturday Tradition (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I've barely left, and already I cannot wait to get back.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Vampire Weekend, "Giving Up the Gun" from Contra (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXVII - Sir Percy Sillitoe (1888-1962), police reformer & spy-catcher.

He's Dead, Jim
A week ago, my mom went down to Ann Arbor for a check-up, eight weeks after the surgery to mine the cancer out of her nose. Her physician saw something he didn't like on her scans; he said that he was probably being paranoid, but in this matter we all believe that safe is better than sorry and so Mom underwent a biopsy yesterday. We probably won't get the results until early next week; so, we do not yet know if the cancer is still being held at bay or is once again on the move. When I know more, you'll know more.

This rots.

Vote For Kodos: Conscience & the 4th Commandment
In other parental news, my dad was defeated in his bid for the Republican nomination for the Michigan 5th District seat in the United States House of Representatives. In this heavily Democratic district, where Rep. Dal Kildee will be re-elected to his seat even though he looks & acts for all the world like an honest-to-American-God zombie, the corporate-welfare wing of the Republican Party proved stronger than the "tea party" wing by the count of 22,009 to 17,474.

I was out late Monday night installing campaign signs at polling places throughout southern Genesee County. I was out late Tuesday night retrieving campaign signs from polling places throughout southern Genesee County. I experienced significant diminishing marginal utility vis-à-vis repetitive broadcasts of the B.B.C. World News.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Vampire Weekend, "Mansard Roof" from Vampire Weekend (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: For the last couple days, I'd been listening to the wrong music. I couldn't say what it was I wanted to hear, but I knew it wasn't whatever I was hearing at that moment. Then it struck me like a bolt out of the clear blue sky: Vampire Weekend. Sweet satisfaction.

Mittwoch, 4 August
Discount, "Soup" from Mailorder is Fun! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Regarding the above commentary, no offense meant to Discount's "Soup," sweet respite amidst my futile seeking.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Proclaimers, "Wages of Sin" from Notes & Rhymes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I like both The Proclaimers and "Wages of Sin," but credits and debits aren't how salvation (the only afterlife worth living) works. Salvation is not a "T" account.

"I've lead an average life,
I've told the truth and I have lied,
But I need a few more years
To help build up the credit side."

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Queue
I'm torn. I know that I would profit from rereading the first five volumes of Scott PilgrimScott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, … vs. the World, … & the Infinite Sadness, … Gets It Together, & … vs. the Universe—before seeing the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but all I want to read is Defend the Realm. I'd thought that I'd want to take breaks, want to get away from that non-fiction behemoth every now and again, but I don't; I wish I had much more time to spend on recreational reading, because I want to spend more time on Defend the Realm. But Defend the Realm isn't going anywhere and Scott Pilgrim is time sensitive. I really should brush up on my O'Malley before seeing the film, for which I have high hopes. (Let's hope Edgar Wright doesn't turn out to be a huge disappointment like the wretched Simon Pegg.)

On Friday, 30 April, The Loose Ties played at their usual venue, Woobie's Bar & Nightlife; 'twas the farewell show before going on summer hiatus (most, if not all, of the members are college kids). I miss them and am eager for their return. The night was most notable, however, for its echo of what had happened two months hence. On 26 February, in that selfsame Woobie's seeing those selfsame Loose Ties, I'd become reacquainted with my old cohort Lord Luck & met his charming ladylove, Amy. In a feat of bravado that would have been impossible for the Mike of years gone by, I met, danced with, and requested the privilege of squiring about town Amy's sister, Stephanie. (Wayback Machine. It's a great post from top to bottom, but for our purposes the most important bits are the first mention of Stephanie in "Project MERCATOR" and then all of "Project PANDORA.") Back on 30 April, Amy threw her arms around me in a hug as soon as she saw me at the bar; too late, I tried to caution her that I was covered in sweat from skanking to The Loose Ties, but she paid me no mind. As soon as she released me, before I had the chance to say anything else, she launched into a tirade about how foolish her sister had been to pass up my offer. Amy said that she'd argued with Stephanie that I was a "great guy," that Stephanie was making a mistake in not going out with me. For all my naïveté, I have a nasty, suspicious mind, always questing for signs of treachery or deceit; so, I cannot vouch for the veracity of Amy's tale. She might have been feeding me a cock-and-bull story, trying to soothe my presumably bruised ego, but my sense is that that's not the case. My impression of Amy is that she's kind, but first and foremost a straight shooter, a believer that sometimes you've got to be cruel to be kind. I think she can be taken at her word. In which case, Project PANDORA has generated so much good will that's its encouraging volunteerism. Neat! An interesting post script to a night that was already marked down as a triumph for PANDORA.

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


"… I like those shorts,
I've never seen 'em before.
I'd like 'em even more
Lyin' on my bedroom floor."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXVI - Doctor John Snow (1813-1858) & love (read: epidemiology) in the time of cholera.

31/29: The Loot
Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, my Ferrari Truck is eye-poppingly awesome! It took the lion's share of Saturday afternoon to assemble all 500-plus parts of the multifaceted set, but 'twas worth every second. Thanks, mad geniuses at Lego!

Photographs soonest.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Catch 22, "Dear Sergio" from Keasbey Nights (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Inspired by and dedicated to GP2 series driver Sergio Pérez, currently no. 2 in the GP2 standings, who just could not manage to overtake the habitually slower Christian Vietoris in this weekend's GP2 "feature race" at the Hungaroring.

"Hey, Sergio, it's getting kinda hot in here!"