Monday, February 28, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "The Alternative Polka" from Bad Hair Day (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Explorers Club
No. CCXXIV - Mars-500, an ongoing series of spaceflight/isolation simulations.

In the future, even outer space will be wood-paneled!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Bohemian Polka" from Alapalooza (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Angry White Boy Polka" from Poodle Hat (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polkarama" from Straight Outta Lynwood (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polka Power!" from Running with Scissors (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Queue
I interest would not have been piqued by At Risk—wretchedly dull title, for what it's worth—were it not for my profound & lingering affection for Christopher Andrew's Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5. (Before embarking on her second career as a novelist, Dame Stella was the first distaff Director General of the Security Service.) Thus far, it's mass-market boilerplate, a far departure from the deceptively low-key, workaday world of espionage & counterespionage portrayed in Len Deighton's fiction, but that's not to say At Risk is bereft of entertainment value. There is yet a ways to go, & I am completely undecided about tackling the Other novels in Dame Stella's Liz Carlyle series. But after this brief sidetrip I'll be back to Spy Sinker, the concluding volume of Deighton's second Bernard Samson trilogy.

Len Deighton, Spy Hook
Len Deighton, Spy Line
various writers & artists, Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter, Volume Two

Stella Rimington, At Risk
Len Deighton, Spy Sinker ***postponed***

Karen E. Olson, Driven to Ink
Len Deighton, Faith
Len Deighton, Hope

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

Commentary: I wish.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Warning: Eww!

He's Dead, Jim
Day 7: I'm feeling better, meaning a still feel pretty bad, but I know longer feel wretched. I no longer ache for the sweet repose of the Elysian fields. I am trying hard not to think about the sheer volume of snot & pus that has to have drained out of skull over the last week. I know, I know:

Except I'm not British, I'm American. I'm American & we panic. Panicking is one of our best traits. We panicked after Pearl Harbor & didn't stop panicking until Germany lay in smoldering ruins & Japan had been blasted to atomic smithereens. "Keep Calm and Carry On." The poster should have read, "Keep Calm and Carry On and Would You Yanks Be So Kind As To Save Us From Starvation? This U-boat Blockade Really Is a Spot of Bother." Disregard that last bit. I'm a huge fan of the stiff-upper-lip attitude enshrined in "Keep Calm and Carry On," I'm just sick, & thus even more surly than usual.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dance Hall Crashers, "Don't Wanna Behave" (live) from The Live Record: Witless Banter and 25 Mildly Antagonistic Songs of Love (The Guy)

Commentary: Why, when choosing the Dance Hall Crashers as providers of the R.B.D.S.O.T.D., do I so often choose a rendition from their live record, The Live Record? Do I hate their studio albums? Not at all. I suspect two reasons: {a} preference for the faster tempo that usually accompanies live performance & {b} love of The Live Record's subtitle. I've seen a great many bands live—alas, not including D.H.C.—& the on-stage banter is invariably witless, prompting the four-syllable response, "Shut up and play!" And mildly antagonistic is the way I prefer my songs of love, as well as love itself.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Explorers Club
No. CCXXIII - Biosphere 2: Fiasco or Boondoggle?

Bonus: I've never see the motion picture Bio-Dome, starring Pauly Shore & one or another of the Baldwin bros. (I can't tell which because I don't have my Wheel of Baldwins handy.)

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Saturday, 19 February
Michigan 75-72 Iowa (O.T.)
17-11, Big Ten 7-8

Overtime time, baby! Not as much fun to watch as the valiant Wolverines' earlier fourteen-point romp over the tenacious Hawkeyes (Wayback Machine.), but it was heartening to see the Maize & Blue struggle back from a substantial halftime deficit to first force overtime time & then triumph therein. There are no easy wins in the Big Ten, especially not on the road. These valiant Wolverines have come a very long way considering their collective youth & inexperience; they will be a force with which to be reckoned come this time next year.

Wednesday, 16 February
Illinois 54-52 Michigan
16-11, Big Ten 6-8

I did not watch the game because I was then first in the throes of the dreadful sick, & in no condition for such an entertainment. Ugh, what a misery.

Go Blue!

Project OSPREY
Sunday, 20 February
(№ 11) Purdue 76-63 Ohio State (№ 2)

A really good basketball week for my father, a week that also saw his ill-starred Boilermakers defeat the pesky badgers of (№ 10) Wisconsin. My father loves to regale me with his very limited number of Mackey Arena stories from his student days at Purdue; I listen attentively & smile because the old boy means well & Purdue's victories bring him ever so much joy.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Crash and the Boys, "I Am Sad, So Very, Very Sad" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I'd planned to follow the post-Valentine's Day week of anti-love songs with a week dedicated to the many-splendored thing that is love, but inside the iron lung of the dreadful sick as I am, I simply haven't the vim.

Sonntag, 20 Februar
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "The Tracks of My Tears" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Nobody does it better than Smokey. Nobody. Words so familiar & yet words so biting & so true.

"So take a good look at my face,
You'll see my smile looks out of place,
If you look closer it's easy to trace
The tracks of my my tears."

Samstag, 19 Februar
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "The Tears of a Clown" from Motown 1's (T.L.A.M.)


"Now if there's a smile on my face
It's only there trying to fool the public,
But when it comes down to fooling you,
Now, honey, that's quite a different subject.
Don't let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression,
Really I'm sad
(Sad sad sad)
Oh, sadder than sadder
(I hurt so bad)
You're gone and I'm hurtin' so bad
(I pretend to be glad)
Like a clown I pretend to be glad
(Sad sad sad sad)"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Birthday!
Best wishes for a phenomenally jolly birthday to The Guy! The Guy is unshakable, a bastion of reason & calm in a sea of chaotic excitement, yet simultaneously I've never known anyone else who was more at his ease in the furious maw of the mosh pit. The Guy is a man of many splendid facets, which seem to be contradictions but are in reality complements. In his wooing, winning, & in due time wedding of The Gal he is the poster boy for getting better than you deserve, an exemplar of the glory to which we should all aspire. He has been my teammate, he is my fellow Blue Tree Whacker, & it is my supreme joy to brag that he is my friend. Happy birthday, Zach!

He's Dead, Jim
Day 3: I'm still ailing, but at the risk of inviting disaster I think a corner has been turned: my fever is lessening & one of my nostrils is clear enough to permit breathing. I did not repeatedly awake during the night of Thursday-Friday as I did during the night of Wednesday-Thursday, allowing my eleven hours of sleep to be the blessed rest I needed. This bout with the dreadful sick cannot pass too swiftly for my liking.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Christina Perri, "Jar of Hearts" via iTunes (Farr Afield)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I can't be the only one who thinks the band name Lady Antebellum sounds a little pro-slavery.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Loose Ties, "Becca's Song" from the The Loose Ties E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Before The Loose Ties were The Lose Ties, most of the members were together for four years in a ska band called Another Misprint. During this period, Farr Afield (alto saxophone & secondary vocals, primary on "Becca's Song") dated front man Phil (code name pending; primary vocals & guitar). She penned "Becca's Song" about their break-up, which Phil told me makes it super fun for him to play… at almost every show. Yikes!

"So, you think there might be something out there better than me
And you'd be missing out if you just didn't look-see,
And if you find it's not true you hope there's still you and me,
But don't count on it, 'cause I won't wait.
And you realize you love me, but you just can't get past yourself,
And you can't give it all up and put me before everything else.
Well, at least you've been honest, but still all I hear is:
'I don't love you enough.'"
Happy (Belated) Birthday!
Happiest of birthday wishes to yesterday's birthday boy, Daddy Dylweed! Dylweed & the beautiful Mrs. Dylweed have not one, not two, but four wee bairns, & finer parents I cannot imagine. I have had the privilege to call myself Dylweed's friend for more than half my life, & it warms my heart to know that after all these years he's finally recovering, ever so slowly & haltingly, from his misguided devotion to the band Pearl Jam. Here's hoping that all of Dylweed's birthday wishes came true, with my apologies for being slightly out of my head with illness yesterday. Happy birthday, Dylan!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day
It's been too long since the last occasion of our occasional series, "Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day," a day of appreciation of the enthralling work of the actress & musician Zooey Deschanel. Time was that such was my mania that I'd see any picture featuring Miss Deschanel, even in a relatively bit part. I hope that age has brought a modicum of wisdom, for now I am more discerning. For example: I'm dead-set against seeing the forthcoming motion picture Your Highness, due to my disdain for the unfunny comedic actor Danny McBride. Do I dislike McBride more than I like Deschanel? Not necessarily, but it is a question of proportions: the film promises massive screen time for McBride & probably quite limited time for Deschanel. That's a shame, because I haven't seen a new film starring Zooey Deschanel since '09's excellent (500) Days of Summer. At least She & Him has released a second album, Volume Two, in the intervening time.

The Queue
Reading the Large Print edition of Spy Line was a bizarre, disorienting experience. The pages flew by with such celerity that even using the thickness of the book as a guide I had no sense of where I was in the story. Stopping in the middle of reading Spy Line to read a text message on my mobile, the text of the text looked like the fine print at the bottom of an advertisement. I shall continue to thank the Lord Almighty for my fairly good vision & leave the Large Print books to those who truly need them. After , without really intending to, I took my first foray into comics in an age, reading a volume of Showcase Presents, D.C.'s cheap paperback reprints of Silver Age comics, in this case the second collection of the adventures of one of my favorite, J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter.

Len Deighton, Spy Hook
Len Deighton, Spy Line
various writers & artists, Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter, Volume Two

Len Deighton, Spy Sinker

Karen E. Olson, Driven to Ink
Len Deighton, Faith
Len Deighton, Hope

He's Dead, Jim & Coming Attractions
I'm a wee bit lightheaded from a powerfully stuffed/runny nose that sprang up overnight. The pressure in my sinus cavities has resulted in a strength-sapping headache; so, for tonight I'm pulling the plug on "Project MERCATOR" & "Perchance to Dream." I have been having some weird dreams the last few mornings. I hope to be on the mend soon so as to be able to bring you those posts.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
She & Him, "Sentimental Heart" from Volume One (T.L.A.M.)


"Cried all night 'til there was nothin' more,
What use am I as a heap on the floor?
Heaving devotion, but it's just no good,
Takin' it hard just like you knew I would."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Explorers Club
No. CCXXII - The Eden Project.

Bonus: I'd have included a picture of "The Bee," but I've seen Them! too many times to condone giant insects in any circumstance.

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Saturday, 12 February
Michigan 73-69 Indiana
16-10, Big Ten 6-7

I suppose I've been spoilt by the valiant Wolverines' improved play of late &, really, given the extreme youth of this team we should be grateful for any win, but Saturday's win was a highly unsatisfactory experience. But I also suppose that I deserved it: when Michigan's lead grew to twenty-two points late in the second half I thought to myself that this was a suitable revenge for the nineteen-point thrashing the wily Hoosiers handed the valiant Wolverines a month earlier in Bloomington, the nadir of January's six-game losing streak. What followed were five of the most painful minutes of basketball I've ever seen as Michigan's advantage dwindled from more than a score to a measly three points, a single possession. Of course, that "five minutes" was five minutes of game-time, in excess of twenty minutes in the real world as the wily Hoosiers extended the game, stopping the clock over & over again by fouling the valiant Wolverines. This unsporting strategy would have, should have sealed their fate, had we only been able to hit our free throws at anything approaching our normal consistency. But this was a proper nightmare, & so Michigan free throw after free thrown clunked off the rim with a clumsiness that would have embarrassed even the infamously inept free-throw shooter Shaquille O'Neal. The valiant Wolverines pulled together just enough points to escape, but even then would likely have failed had Indiana had just one minute more. The Maize & Blue won, but was Michigan really victorious? Let us hope for a similar result, but a much different course to that result, against the feisty Fighting Illini on Wednesday.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Maureen" from Out-of-State Plates, Disc One (The Guy)

Commentary: It's going to be a mean week for the R.B.D.S.O.T.D., day after day of songs of loss, longing, & frustrated lust, all inspired by the horror show that is America's celebration of Valentine's Day & kicked off by yesterday's "Lover Lies." Fix yourself a stiff drink & enjoy.

You don't know what you do to me,
I know you won't be true to me,
The least that you can do for me
Is keep it to yourself.
I'm so sorry, I don't mean to shout,
But really I can do without
The details of your days and nights
And your thoughts and dreams,
Maureen! Maureen! Maureen! Maureen!

I know you think I'm just a friend,
But can we please just put an end
To all the graphic imagery that you insist on feeding me?
I can accept I'm not the one
Who's getting to have all the fun,
And maybe that's what friends are for,
But I just can't take it anymore!"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Operation AXIOM
'Tis not the celebration of romantic love to which I object. 'Tis not the naked commercialism to which I object. I'm not anti-love, nor am I anti-expensive baubles & candle-lit meals. I am against the unholy idea that expensive baubles necessary to the expression of love. Romantic love is a beautiful thing; Valentine's Day is a very ugly thing.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Valentine's Day, et al.
The Atomic Fireballs, "Lover Lies" from Torch This Place (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A sorrowful song about lust, jealousy, betrayal, & violence—all the sordid business that is romantic love.

Sonntag, 13 Februar
Sheryl Crow, "Real Gone" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The song played during the race at the beginning of Cars, which I watched on Sunday. Yes, the trailer for Cars 2 looks worrisome, but Pixar has more than earned a little faith, wouldn't you say? Eleven films, with Ratatouille hands down the worst of the bunch. Quite the record of quality & consistency. In the words of Darth Vader, "Impressive! Most impressive!"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "All My Best Friends Are Metalheads" from Hello Rockview (The Guy)

Commentary: The Guy recommends that I sing "All My Best Friends Are Metalheads" at karaoke when next I am in Saint Louis, his Mighty City by the Mighty Mississippi. I'm game, even though he's dead-on that any song sung by Roger will be quite challenging; I'm such a sorry singer that I doubt the Roger factor will make any difference: I foul up even easily-sung songs.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
New Found Glory, "Dressed to Kill" from New Found Glory (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: New Found Glory should never have changed their name from the superior A New Found Glory: one simple letter, one simple article, made a world of difference.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I absolutely adore the "Imported From Detroit" ad campaign for the new Chrysler 200. The slogan contains more than a wee bit of tongue-in-cheek humor given that Fiat is now calling the shots at Chrysler, though to be fair the 200 is manufactured in Sterling Heights. I'm not vouching for the 200 as a motorcar, I'm just tremendously fond of the "Imported From Detroit" adverts.

Autobahn: Polizei
I was motoring behind a black & white of the Grand Blanc Township Police Department when I noticed that it was patrol car № 34. Thirty-four? The Township can't possibly have thirty-four prowlers, can it? No. No, the very idea's ridiculous… isn't it? I suppose the squad car numbers don't count up from one so as to make the force appears more numerous & thus more formidable. Or maybe № 34 is the thirty-fourth black & white in the entire history of the Township P.D.

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Wednesday, 9 February
Michigan 75-66 Northwestern
15-10, Big Ten 5-7

I wanted to watch Wednesday's game, but the 6:30 P.M. tip-off was incompatible with 7:00 P.M. debate practice. In particular, I'd have liked to have seen Jordan Morgan's huge day in the paint. I've read that the valiant Wolverines had a double-digit lead & endured a late-game run that pulled the plucky Wildcats to within one point before scoring the last eight points of the game to produce the nine-point margin of victory. Wow! Yeah, that definitely would have sent me into a conniption fit. At least I should be able to watch Saturday's game against the wily Hoosiers of Indiana University.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Eminem, "Lose Yourself" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I considered "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Coach Potato," but as you can see eventually selected the original over the parody.

Mittwoch, 9 Februar
The Hold Steady, "Chill Out Tent" from Boys and Girls in America (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: When asked my opinion of the motion picture Closer I replied, "I didn't like any of the characters in Closer or any of the actions they took, but I did like Closer." I feel much the same way about The Hold Steady. Nearly all of their songs are about carefree drug abuse & emotionless fornication, pillars of immorality to which I am implacably & utterly opposed. Nevertheless, I quite like the music of The Hold Steady. What can I say? I'm a multifaceted (read: self-contradictory) bloke.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy Birthday!
Best wishes for the happiest of birthdays to The Ace (formerly code named "The Professor")! The Ace is bar-none the smartest person I know, & that's saying quite a bit considering I know such massive brainiacs as The L.A.W.; Mrs. Skeeter, Esq.; Brother-in-L.A.W.; Comrade Coquettish; & Doctor Hee-Haw. (No offense is intended to anyone on the list, nor to anyone left off; I'm attempting a dispassionate estimation of raw mental prowess & consider, even with my bloated ego, myself outpaced by each of the above.) The Ace remains in many ways a mystery, but I also know him to be one of my best & truest chums; he is not just my friend, he isa fellow Blue Tree Whacker. Even now, as a triumvir of Project TROIKA alongside K. Steeze & yours truly, The Ace is hard at work on Tier 3 of that amazing endeavour, the second draft of the TROIKA novel, the title of which remains a B.T.W. secret. The Ace is my collaborator, my erstwhile bandmate in Murky Transport Disaster, & most dearly, my friend. Happy birthday, Jonathan!

There isn't really an extant category for this kind of hyperlink; so, I'll just say: Yikes! Late 19th & early 20th century anarchists played a vital, if underplayed in the conventional wisdom, rôle in fomenting the Great War. We would do well to fear, & thus act to prevent, what horrors 21st century anarchists might visit upon us in pursuit of their twisted, immoral philosophy. (Mayhap I should have categorized this under our occasional feature "The War for Civilization.")

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Sunday, 6 February
Michigan 65-62 Penn State
14-10, Big Ten 4-7

Yes, the ferocious Nittany Lions were the valiant Wolverines' last victory (76-69 on Sunday, 2 January) before the painful six-game losing streak, but that was in the friendly confines of Ann Arbor's Crisler Arena. In their own Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State had been giant-killers, posting four consecutive victories, including over ranked opponents Illinois (then-№ 16, 57-55) & Wisconsin (then-№ 15, 56-52). The valiant Wolverines displayed a lot of grit & maturity against Penn State, coming back from double-digit deficits in both halves when it would have been all-too-easy for such a young squad to panic, leading assuredly to ignominious defeat.

Next up is a two-game homestand against the plucky Wildcats & the wily Hoosiers, a pair of arguably lesser opponents to whom the valiant Wolverines lost on the road during the six-game winless nightmare, by far the two most gruesome & embarrassing losses of that baleful streak. Michigan doesn't have much to play for at this point other than pride & next year; in that light, the next two games are must-win.

Thursday, 3 February
(№ 1) Ohio State 62-53 Michigan
13-10, Big Ten 3-7

The valiant Wolverines had to face two opponents last Thursday night in the Value City Arena: the hated Buckeyes & the lousy Zebras. The lousy Zebras are a special team, the only team that gets to play in every single game, but do not mistake that broad perspective for impartiality; the lousy Zebras have an agenda, & when they put their minds to it they are almost impossible to beat. Michigan took a three-point lead into halftime against the № 1 team in country. On the road. The valiant Wolverines were going toe-to-toe with the hated Buckeyes. But Ohio State's coach had a very visible discussion with the lousy Zebras, a discussion upon which the E.S.P.N. commentators remarked, & after that everything changed. Prior to this game, I'd believed the hype about the hated Buckeye's freshman sensation, Jared Sullinger, but now I know that he's a very talented young man who wouldn't impress anybody if opposing players were allowed to guard him. Whenever a valiant Wolverine would step near Sullinger, the lousy Zebras would blow a whistle; Michigan's fouls were adding up more quickly than could be counted, & soon the hated Buckeyes were shooting free throws in the bonus & then in the double-bonus. At one point, Michigan's Darius Morris was thrown to the court, physically thrown to the ground by a trio of Ohio State players; no whistle was blown, no foul was assigned. Seconds later, a Michigan defender (Smotrycz, I think, but I'm not sure) approached Sullinger; before the hated Buckeye even made a move toward the basket, a foul was called on the valiant Wolverine. The hated Buckeyes are a good team: nine times out of ten, they'd beat the valiant Wolverines. But this was possibly that tenth game, possibly one Michigan could have stolen, until the lousy Zebras took their orders from Thad Matta & threw the game to the Scarlet & Gray. I can stand losing to superior opposition, but I cannot countenance losing to the verdammt referees.

Go Blue!

Project OSPREY
This upcoming weekend, I must make a effort to watch some non-Big Ten games in preparation for the looming N.C.A.A. Tournament.

Sunday, 6 February
(№ 18) Wisconsin 82-56 Michigan State

On the previous meeting between the dastardly Spartans & the pesky Badgers, in Michigan State's Breslin Center, Wisconsin dominated the game for thirty-nine minutes, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a monumental - & literally last-minute - meltdown. But the pesky Badgers minded their P's & Q's & took care of business on Sunday in their own Kohl Center, where they enjoy perhaps the most ridiculous home-court advantage in all of college basketball. I wish I'd watched this more recent shellacking, but there were carpets to be hoovered & water closets to be scrubbed. Beyond the never-dulling joy of seeing Michigan State lose, a bonus of this latest loss is that the dastardly Spartans now have a record barely better than the valiant Wolverines': 13-10, Big Ten 5-6. Welcome to the neighborhood, you jerks.

Wednesdayday, 2 February
Iowa 72-52 Michigan State

Bwa ha ha ha! Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Bwa ha ha ha! Man alive, that was almost as much fun as Michigan's 87-73 win over Iowa on 30 January. I could scarcely believe the score when I tuned into the game at the beginning of the second half, & for the next twenty minutes of game time the fun just did not stop. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha! My thanks to the tenacious Hawkeyes for a gay old time.

Tuesday, 1 February
(№ 18) Wisconsin 66-59 Purdue (№ 10)

I tried to console my father (Purdue '72) with an explanation of the pesky Badgers' advantageously lop-sided home record, but he's hear none of it. In his mind, the ill-starred Boilermakers have a natural & inherent right to win every game they play, & failure to do so is due solely to some foul up on their part.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Dandy Warhols, "We Used to Be Friends" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I know not wherefore, but this morning I thought about the exquisite television series Veronica Mars for the first time in too long. The R.B.D.S.O.T.D. is thus "We Used to Be Friends," used for all three seasons as the Veronica Mars theme song. Kristen Bell's performance in the titular rôle was a revelation, & she herself remains a vision.

Holy moley, this story is within a whisker of that classic hypothetical headline "man bites dog": Man Loses Cockfight. I have to say, I'm glad this Mr. Ochoa is dead; his well-earned demise helps to make up for the disappointment over Michael Vick having not been fed to his own dogs.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Explorers Club
No. CCXXI - The Tropical Islands Resort, built to be a latter-day airship hanger.

Oh, those wacky Germans.

The Stars My Destination
I can only imagine the anguish with which Captain Kelly has had to grapple, but I must agree that he's taken the right decision:STS-134. The man is an astronaut—a calling, not a job—& the final flight of the Endeavour may well be the last flight of an American spacecraft for years, perhaps decades, to come. Godspeed to the last crew of the Endeavour; Godspeed to Representative Giffords for a swift & full recovery.

The "cosmonauts" of the Mars-500 project are soon to make planetfall on "Mars": Red Planet. On the one hand, simulations like this make me sad, because with President Obama's relentless, remorseless campaign to bring to an end manned spaceflight these are the closest Mankind's going to get to visiting other celestial bodies for decades to come. On the other hand, they buoy my spirits, because they remind me that resistance exists to our charlatan president's war against manned spaceflight. And on the gripping hand, regardless of how I feel, why not? And who better to conduct this research than the Russians? With their long experience with the Mir space station, nobody understands the ins & outs of space madness better than those wily Muscovites.

Elsewhere in news about the Red Planet…

I've read only one tale by Arthur C. Clarke & it was tripe (the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey). Nevertheless, I cannot resist the Clarke reference: The Sands of Mars. Whyever do people suppose that Mars is a static, "dead" planet? Sure, the Red Planet is neither Burroughs's Barsoom nor Lewis's Malacandra, but what is the basis of the notion that if Mars is not teeming with sapient life it much also be devoid of geological & atmospheric processes? Keep on poking holes in ignorant, arrogant assumptions, Mars; hope to see you soon.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)" (live) from Severe Tire Damage (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

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

Freitag, 4 Februar
Fountains of Wayne, "The Girl I Can't Forget" from Out-of-State Plates, Disc Two (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Operation AXIOM
I hope all & sundry enjoyed Groundhog Day. The groundhog predicts an early spring, but let us hope that baleful state does not come to pass. You might think I'd be sick of winter, my father & I having spent three solid hours shoveling Wilson Field on Wednesday, but you'd be very much mistaken. The backbreaking labor might not be fun in the moment, but it is an honorable & necessary ritual of the winter, & rituals add richness & solemnity to our lives. And I do so love both winter & snow: glorious, gorgeous snow. So, three cheers for Punxsutawney Phil (Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray!), but let's hope he's dead wrong about Anno Domini 2011 having an early spring.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Science Fiction Double Feature" from Are a Drag (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Oddly enough, the proper title of the original song is "Science Fiction/Double Feature." The slash is superfluous, making this a rare case in which I'm pointing out a bit of punctuation that should have been removed—& was by the Gimme Gimmes.

Mittwoch, 2 Februar
John Linnell, "Pennsylvania" from State Songs (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In commemoration of Groundhog Day & Punxsutawney Phil, not the upcoming Super Bowl & Pittsburgh's wholly loathsome quarterback.

Dienstag, 1 Februar
Lou Bega, "Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of…)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)