Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Earthling Scum, "Getta Bloomin' Move On (The Self Preservation Society)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: If you've seen only the '00s ("Aughts") American "remake" of The Italian Job, let me recommend to you the '60s "original" British film The Italian Job. I type "remake" & "original" because I do not agree that the newer film is really a remake of the original. The two motion pictures share in common a title & the plot elements of a heist targeting a large quantity of gold & a getaway involving artful motoring in contemporary-to-the-film Minis. But they differ completely in tone & underlying philosophy: the American film is a straightforward yarn about revenge & honor among thieves (which is not a criticism, I like it quite a bit); the British film is a rather more complicated tale of nationalism, while still being a fanciful romp. As such, I heartily recommend the '60s British The Italian Job to all & sundry, even those who have not seen the '00s American film of the same name.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Explorers Club
No. CCXXVII - Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), the "World's First Computer Programmer."

Twice, I have spied pairs of Fiat 500s motoring along, one pair on Saginaw Street heading south from "downtown" Grand Blanc & the other, over a week later, heading east on I-69 out beyond Belsay Road. I've not seen a lone 500, leading me to suspect I've seen witnessed road tests, either by automotive journalists or for some internal marketing purpose of Chrysler's. In both instances, the sun was at a very low, early-morning angle & I was motoring in the opposite direction, limiting my ability & time to gaze upon the wee Fiats, probably the first branded Fiats I've ever seen in person (I spotted a Maserati some months back, Maserati being a part of the Fiat conglomerate alongside Ferrari & Alfa Romeo). Welcome back to the American market, you men of Turin! Also, there has been a spat of Mini sightings this week. As petrol prices approach, & most likely exceed, $4/gallon this summer, will these tiny motorcars become so commonplace as to be unremarkable?
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Warren Zevon, "Werewolves of London" via iTunes (The Watergirl)

Commentary: A second digital copy of "Werewolves of London" has been added to my digital music library thanks to a recent gift from The Watergirl, possibly The Secret Base's most long-standing reader & the most generous & consistent supporter of the R.B.D.S.O.T.D., especially in the realm of nominations. That you have never given up on this consistently underwhelming bloggy blog means much to me, my friend; I thank you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "You Left Right?" from Pin Points and Gin Joints (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Musically, "You Left Right?" is energetic, peppy even. Lyrically, well, the lyrics contain the words "I search and seek, it's pretty bleak." So much of what I love about ska, especially third wave ska, is the juxtaposition of joy & despair; it's not just Reel Big Fish, all the bands are like that.

"Are you regretful? Are ya?
Are you remorseful? Are ya?
Are you successful? Or are ya
Just tryin' to make it through?
Did your whole world just shatter?
Are you happy or sadder?
Does it really matter?
Did I matter to you?

And did I ever matter to you?"

Sonntag, 27 März
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "The Route That I Took" from Pin Points and Gin Joints (T.L.A.M.)


"Without really knowing I took all the wrong routes,
A misguided monster in the Doc Marten boots,
In the wrong directions, against all of the grains,
Got off at all the wrong stops, back on to all the wrong trains…"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This weekend it all gets turned around, starting with finally cleaning the bathrooms as I promised to do weeks hence. Curse my expertise at delay & obfuscation.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "All Kinds of Time" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 25 März
David Gray, "Kathleen" courtesy of The Watergirl (The Watergirl)

Donnerstag, 24 März
King Apparatus, "Death Car on the Freeway" from King Apparatus (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Have I ever mentioned how much I love ska music?

Mittwoch, 23 März
Dean Martin, "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Dienstag, 22 März
Kim Carnes, "Bette David Eyes" from Take Me Home Tonight; Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Queue
It's not as if At Risk, Dead Line, & Secret Asset were anything but mindless diversions, but Illegal Action was such utter dreck that I doubt I'll ever be able to bring myself to read anything else by Dame Stella Rimington. Really, just awful, awful schlock. Mayhap I should excuse it as the sophomore slump, even though it was her third novel? Mayhap not. I wish Somerset Maugham had written more spy fiction than just Ashenden: or, The British Agent.

Stella Rimington, Secret Asset
Len Deighton, Spy Sinker
Stella Rimington, Illegal Action

Len Deighton, Faith

Len Deighton, Hope
Len Deighton, Charity

*Options include, but are not limited to: Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy by John le Carré, Driven to Ink by Karen E. Olson, Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds, & Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn, a gift from Ska Army.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Best Week Ever, "Unforgettable" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Bonne chance, Lacey.

Sonntag, 20 März
John Barry & Tom Jones, "Thunderball (Main Title)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I own the D.V.D. of the motion picture Thunderball. I have read Ian Fleming's novel Thunderball. K. Steeze & I use THUNDERBALL as a placeholder whenever we have not yet named a character. But after this weekend, the word "Thunderball" will forever have an altogether different meaning to me. Details to follow in the forthcoming, long overdue "Master Debating" post.

"He always runs, while others walk,
He acts, while other men just talk,
He looks at this world and wants it all,
So he strikes… like Thunderball!

He knows the meaning of success,
His needs are more; so, he gives less,
They call him the winner who takes all,
And he strikes… like Thunderball!

Any woman he wants he'll get,
He will break any heart without regret,
His days of asking are all gone,
His fight goes on and on and on,
But he thinks that the fight is worth it all,
So he strikes… like Thunderball!"

Samstag, 19 März
Marvin Gaye, "Let's Get It On" from Motown 1's (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 18 März
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "The Victors" from Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A thirty-point margin of victory. Conqu'ring heroes indeed.

Donnerstag, 17 März
Duran Duran, "Hungry Like the Wolf" from Take Me Home Tonight: Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Late, late, late, late, late, late, late… late. Just transmit the bloody thing, Mike. Come on already.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Cake, "Shirt Skirt, Long Jacket" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Dienstag, 15 März
Fountains of Wayne, "Little Red Light" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)


"And it's not right, it's not fair,
I'm still a mess and you still don't care,
I go to work, I come back home,
But you're still gone and I'm still alone."

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Graffiti Worth Reading" from Pin Points and Jin Points (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Explorers Club
No. CCXXVI - Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, never fully constructed, not even unto the present day.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Quincy Jones, "The Streetbeater (Theme from Sanford and Son)" via iTunes (Doctor Hee Haw)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Queue
Dame Stella's light, formulaic spy fiction has been enough of a break from the altogether more cynical & sinister world of Len Deighton; so, after Spy Sinker I'll dive right into the third Bernard Samson trilogy—also the trilogy with the least-cute titles—Faith, Hope, & Charity. The next Tattoo Shop Mystery, Driven to Ink, will keep until after Deighton has finished running Samson through the wringer. Somewhere on the horizon there is more of Kipling's prose & an experiment: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Stella Rimington, At Risk (№ 1 in the series)
Stella Rimington, Dead Line (№ 4)
Stella Rimington, Secret Asset (№ 2)

Stella Rimington, Illegal Action (№ 3)
Len Deighton, Spy Sinker (3 of 3, № 7 overall) ***postponed***

Len Deighton, Faith (1 of 3, № 8)
Len Deighton, Hope (2 of 3, № 9)
Len Deighton, Charity (3 of 3, № 10)

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Queen, "Flash" from Greatest Hits I (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I love Flash Gordon: not as dearly as I love The Shadow, but more than I love The Phantom. (Categorized together because of their origins in the 1930s & non-continuous endurance to the present day, unlike Superman & The Batman.) I enjoy the 1980 film Flash Gordon, even though it's campy dreck; I wanted to like the '00s television series Flash Gordon, but 'twas lifeless & mundane, devoid of the sense of grand adventure that is the very heart of Flash Gordon. No, gentle readers, if you want a good non-comic strip Flash Gordon story, go right to the master, to Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer Larry "Buster" Crabbe & the trio of out-of-this-world Flash Gordon serials released by Universal Pictures in '36, '38, & '40.

Freitag, 11 März
Fountains of Wayne, "The Girl I Can't Forget" from Welcome Interstate Managers (K. Steeze)

Commentary: Steeze didn't nominate "The Girl I Can't Forget" as a R.B.D.S.O.T.D., but he regaled me with a tale that brought the song to mind.

Donnerstag, 10 März
Elvis Costello & The Attractions, "Oliver's Army" from Armed Forces (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Urbi et Orbi & Operation AXIOM
I love Ash Wednesday, not just as the beginning of Lent but also as that rare occasion when we all walk around declaring publicly our Catholicism. At the same time, I've always found Matthew 6 to be an odd choice of Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday. The sixth chapter of the Gospel According to Matthew—part of the Sermon on the Mount—is chockablock with good stuff, about not making a public display of either almsgiving or prayer, of not letting your left hand know what the right is doing. The message is: do not try to win public praise & approval for your righteousness, for if you do it is not righteousness & that public praise & approval will be your only reward, whereas if you had kept your good deeds secret that would have been just the sort of righteousness the Lord rewards in the hereafter. We are told to keep our displays of the faith subtle & secret… moments before crosses of ash are placed on our foreheads for all to see. Byeh? Ash Wednesday is great & Matthew 6 is great, I'm just not sure they're two great tastes that taste great together.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Best Week Ever, "Suitcases" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Birthday!
Sincerest hopes that a non-reader of The Secret Base, my father, enjoyed his birthday. In their increasing years, my parents grow ever more lackadaisical about the birthday rituals; my father's cake didn't have even a token candle, much less the sixty-one it should have featured. I prize ritual, leaving me feeling as if the occasion had been incomplete. Happy birthday, Dad!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish & Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, "Don't You Want Me?" from Duet All Night Long (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Master Debating
I am returned from the strangest land to which I have ever journeyed, a land of mist & fog that recalled to mind the mythical Norse realm of Niflheim. I have been to a land where the sky itself holds the seeds of madness. I have been to an otherworldly place. I am returned, I am not yet restored.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Hippos, "Asleep at the Wheel" from Forget the World (T.L.A.M.)


"Well, I've got a lot on my mind,
I've been drivin' all night,
You can bet I'll be drivin'
When out comes the light.
Well, I been on the road so long that I'm gonna crack…."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Explorers Club
No. CCXXV - Charles Babbage's Difference Engine № 2, belatedly constructed by the London Science Museum.

And it works!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polka Your Eyes Out" from Off the Deep End (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Perhaps my favorite of all "Werid Al's" polkas, I adore the finale of "Polka Your Eyes Out's" extended focus on Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Polkas on 45" from In 3-D (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Hooked on Polkas" from Dare to be Stupid (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

He's Dead, Jim
My fever has been gone for a week. I was healthy enough last weekend to travel to Connecticut by way of New York, but I knew myself then still to be recovering; I abstained from booze & was in general a party-pooper, trying to accumulate as much rest as I could. Had I been any less well than I was, I would have begged off. I have yet a slight sniffle & every now & again a shallow cough, but I feel again myself. My vim is returned, my enthusiasm restored. I do so loathe being under the thumb of the dreadful sick. I am tremendously glad to be myself again.

Coming Attractions
'Twixt the dreadful sick & two consecutive weekends of master debating, I know that there have been slim pickings around here for the last fortnight; upon my return from Oregon, I aim to remedy that. I owe you Project PANDORA reports on The Princess & Farr Afield, all the latest with Project MERCATOR, "Autobahn," "This Week in Motorsport," "The Atlanticist," "Vote For Kodos" & "Obamboozled," & much, much more. The Secret Base would be meaningless without you, gentle readers, & as ever I thank you for your patience & patronage.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Jimmy Eat World, "The Middle" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In much the same fashion as Green Day's Dookie or No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom, the music of Jimmy Eat World summons powerful reminisces of a very specific time in my life. The aforementioned albums were the soundtrack to my high school years, Jimmy Eat World brings to mind the halcyon days in Ann Arbor at the house we called simply 1213. And even more specifically, my erstwhile friend & The Newsletter co-creator The Plate, an ardent fan of Jimmy Eat World, whose swift & thorough betrayal caught me entirely off my guard; perhaps I should have seen it coming, but he was my friend, meaning I trusted him implicitly. I know not why "The Middle" popped into my head today, bringing with it the unwelcome remembrance of that rat fink.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Never Going Back to New Jersey" from Losing Streak (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This weekend, at the Hat City Debates in Danbury, Connecticut, hosted by Western Conn. State University, my partner Too Sly & I were befriended by a most fetching lass from the massive Cornell team by the whimsically intoxicating name of Lacey. We'd faced her & her partner in Saturday's last round & while waiting out in the hallway for the judges to make their decision she'd mentioned that she's from New Jersey; at that point, rather by instinct, I began to sing the following, the state song of N.J. "I'm From New Jersey," excerpted by Less Than Jake in their song, "Never Going Back to New Jersey."

"I'm from New Jersey and I'm proud about it,
I love the Garden State!
I'm from New Jersey and I brag about it,
I think it's simply great!
All of the other states throughout the nation may mean a lot to some,
But I'll take New Jersey, 'cause New Jersey is like no other!
I'm glad that's where I'm from!"

Too Sly & I won the round, earning the 1, while Lacey & her partner had the misfortune of receiving the 4. Back in the central hall where all the room assignments & topic announcements were made, Lacey, now transformed with her spectacles removed, her hair pulled up, & sporting a bright red Cornell hooded sweatshirt, approached us & struck up a conversation. On Sunday, in the little time before Too Sly & I had to prepare for the quarterfinal round, Lacey passed us a scrap of paper bearing her surname & asked us to find her on the Farcebook. By & large, & even beyond Lacey, we found the Cornell debaters to be much more personable than their counterparts from St. John's, Vermont, the Claremont Colleges, & Portland State.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Travelin' Band" from Chronicle: 20 Greatest Hits (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I was in Connecticut for a debate tournament last weekend & I'll be in Oregon for a debate tournament this coming weekend. Whatever could have brought "Travelin' Band" to mind?

"737 comin' out of the sky!"