Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Explorers Club
№ CCXXXVII - Lorenzo Bandini (1935-1967), winner of the 1963 24 Heures du Mans & the only man ever to die from a crash during the Grand Prix de Monaco.

Bonus: The Lorenzo Bandini Trophy.

The Circuit de Monaco is almost unchanged from the first running of the grand prix in 1929 & during this year's Thursday practice, as a car passed the spot of Bandini's death, Speed commentator & former racing driver David Hobbs remarked upon the death of "poor old Bandini."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Denis Leary, "Asshole" from No Cure for Cancer (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I walk around in the summertime sayin', 'How about this heat?'" 90˚, man, & humidity to beat the band. How about this heat?

Monday, May 30, 2011

I mowed the lawn this afternoon & between the heat & the death rays of the Accursed Sun they experience damn near killed me. I mowed as much of the lawn as I could, but significant portions of the farthest reaches of the backyard were too swampy to be tamed.

The Queue
I'll finish Heat Wave because it is less than two hundred pages long & I'm already past page one hundred, but if it was longer I'd abandon the effort, condemning it as the tripe it is. Based on the wit & brains I've seen evidenced by the fictional character Richard Castle, I'd wager he'd be a better novelist than Heat Wave's ghost writer, "Richard Castle." The book's paramount failing? Though the characters in Heat Wave are by design thinly veiled versions of the main cast of the television show Castle, those characters & their world just don't work absent the on-screen chemistry twixt actor Nathan Fillion (playing Rick Castle) & actress Stana Katic (playing Kate Beckett). Exceptional care must be taken in adapting a work of fiction from one medium to another. Books to not always work as films & films do not always work as books.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Rob Carriker, "Marching Through Georgia" from Over There!: Songs from America's Wars (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Though not strictly a song of the glorious dead, I thought "Marching Through Georgia" an appropriate selection for this Memorial Day since the holiday began as Decoration Day, at the urging of the Grand Army of the Republic. Decoration Day honored those who died to save the Union, pointedly excluding the Confederate traitors who had fought for slavery & lawlessness.

"Treason fled before us, for resistance was in vain,
While we were marching through Georgia!"

Sonntag, 29 Mai
Charles Coburn, "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Grand Prix de Monaco was thrilling, more tense & dramatic than I'd have believed possible!

Samstag, 28 Mai
Mu330, "Rocket Fuel" from Mu330 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: My present to Where's Teddy? on the occasion of his second birthday was a toy rocket with lots of lights & buttons, branded as an "Activity Rocket," an educational tool. Encourage his cognitive development & encourage in him a love of rockets, & thus by extension both aerospace & science fiction. Win-win. A rocket themed R.B.D.S.O.T.D. was thus the order of the day, but which? "Rocketship" by Guster & "the cover of "Rocket Man" by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes were both strong contenders, but in the end I went with Mu330's "Rocket Fuel" because it is about a wee baby, much as Where's Teddy? was not so long ago.

"That kid is rocket fuel!"

Freitag, 27 Mai
Ben Folds, "Annie Waits" from Rockin' the Suburbs (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Annie waits… but not for me."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today Where's Teddy? is two years old. When he's thinking he wears the exact same look of utter concentration as his father. Two years old, a toddler, still a baby & yet so much a little kid compared to how he was just twenty-four months earlier. Happy birthday, Teddy! Uncle Mike is your favorite! (Even if that's true now it won't be forever; the poor lad was doomed from birth to be a hated Buckeye, just like both his parents, & sooner or later will look upon his Uncle Mike's allegiance to the Maize & Blue with scorn & ill-informed contempt. Where's Teddy? is doomed to root for remorseless cheaters & pyromaniacal hatemongers. But enough of that.) Happy birthday, Teddy!

This Week in Motorsport
Formula Fun!
Last Sunday's Gran Premio de España (Round 5) was incredible! For the first time in 2011's five grands prix, someone other than Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in qualifying; Mark Webber, also of Red Bull, "pipped" the reigning World Champion by several tenths of a second to claim the pole position for the race start. The best start of the grand prix belonged to '05 & '06 World Champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari; the Spaniard started from fourth but took off like his Ferrari had been shot from a cannon, passing Webber, Vettel, & '08 World Champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren by the time the cars reached the first corner. The largely Spanish crowd were over the Moon at their countryman's start. But as the grand prix wore on it was clear that the Ferrari just couldn't sustain the same pace as the Red Bulls & the McLarens. Vettel stopped for tires early & often, until in the closing stages of the race he was leading on older "prime" tires while Hamilton slowly but surely caught him up on fresher primes. The situation was looking like a replay of the Chinese Grand Prix (Round 3), where in the closing laps of the race Vettel was hobbled by spent tires, allowing Hamilton to make an easy pass & claim the victor's top step of the podium. But lap after lap Vettel's RB7 had just enough extra quickness through the corners to overcome the straight-line speed advantage of Hamilton's MP4-26, until the checkered flag was dropped for Vettel, his fourth win out of five races (& in the odd race out, Hamilton's aforementioned victory in China, Vettel still finished second). Polesitter Webber, who had been improving his finishing position by one spot every grand prix & had finished second last round (the Turkish Grand Prix)—making him "due" for a win—finished fourth. It's early days yet, there are still between fourteen & fifteen* grands prix left in 2011, but things are looking dire for everyone who isn't Sebastian Vettel. Vettel über Alles?

*The Bahrain Grand Prix, meant to be the opening round of the Championships, was postponed due to the unnecessarily bloody suppression of the peaceful protests in the island kingdom; time is running short & Bahrain is still under Saudi, et al., occupation, but F1 "supremo"-cum-Bond villain Bernie Ecclestone keeps moving back the "deadline" by which a decision must be taken on a new date or final cancellation.

But for all Vettel's heroics, the drive of the day belonged to Nick Heidfeld of Lotus Renault. Mechanical problems had deep-sixed Heidfeld in qualifying; so, he began the grand prix from twenty-fourth, the very last spot on the grid. After a long opening stint on the harder, slower primes, he ran the last two-thirds of the race on softer, faster "option" tires, tearing through the field with torrid lap times. From twenty-fourth he fought his way up the grid to finish eighth; given two or three more laps he almost certainly would have passed the Mercedes duo of seven-times World Champion Michael Schumacher (who in '09 returned after three years in retirement & has had a disappointing return to the sport over which he towered like a colossus) & his younger, usually quicker teammate Nico Rosberg. From twenty-fourth to eighth was incredible; that sixth was within striking distance is unbelievable. (Wayback Machine, "The Saga of 'Quick Nick'," with "The Saga of 'Quick Nick,' Part II" being long overdue).

Just one week after the Gran Premio de España, three days from now on Sunday, will be the "grandest grand prix of all," "the jewel in the F1 crown," the immortal Grand Prix de Monaco (Round 6). Two years ago, rather on a whim, I decided to watch the three parts of the Triple Crown of Motorsport: the familiar-to-all-Americans Indianapolis 500, some mad "endurance" race called the 24 Hours of Le Mans, & the Monaco Grand Prix. The 2009 Grand Prix de Monaco was my first Formula One race & I've been madly in love with the crooked affair ever since. Because Monaco was my first grand prix I didn't do anything crazy or obsessive like watch qualifying, much less practice, though as the '09 World Championships continued I'd come to realize how important Saturday's qualifying was to Sunday's grand prix. In time I began watching the whole race weekend, including Friday practice & Saturday qualifying. May 2010 rolled around & I set my V.C.R. to record live practice early on Friday morning (early afternoon in the Principality). Yet when I checked the tape I'd recorded nothing but infomercials. Had I set the time incorrectly? Nay, I had not. Monaco is unique on the F1 calendar: Friday is a "quiet day," meaning practice is run on Thursday instead. On Sunday, the Grand Prix de Monaco will become the first Formula One race I've seen thrice, yet this will be the first time I've seen the delightfully chaotic practice session.

By Endurance We Conquer
Only a fortnight until the 79th running of the 24 Heures du Mans! I recommend a preparatory regime of Audi's brilliant propaganda film/documentary Truth in 24 & Steve McQueen's motion picture Le Mans, the "best film ever made on motor racing" (Le Mans at Le Mans). Also recommended, & much more convenient in length than the other two, is this spectacular web video brought to my attention by the FaceSpace pal Paul Z. (a FaceSpace pal, but one I met in the real world first): "A Day in the Life of an Audi Driver". Two weeks until the 24 Hours!

Also, there is a chance I will be attending an American Le Mans Series race in August, gratis, thanks to Captain Malice. Watch this space for further details.

The Queue
I shall be reading more le Carré in due course, starting with The Honourable Schoolboy, both the second book in the "Karla trilogy"—bookended by Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy & Smiley's People—& the only book of the three not to have been adapted into a television miniseries starring the late Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley. The Honourable Schoolboy will be a better chance to evaluate le Carré's worth as a writer than was Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a story to which I was favorably predisposed thanks to the brilliant television production. But that will keep for a while, there are long backlogged books that deserve their place in the sun.

Karen E. Olson, Driven to Ink
Len Deighton, XPD
John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

"Richard Castle," Heat Wave

Sloane Crosley, I Was Told There'd Be Cake
Drew Karpyshyn, Star Wars: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
Anthony Hope, Rupert of Hentzau

The O.W.L. reports that she will be not in the State of Michigan but rather the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until September. The ball having thus been placed in her court, I fully expect not to hear from her until well after September, & then the contact to be late at night/early in the morning & fueled by excessive imbibing. The cycle continues as before: tiresomely.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
MxPx, "Kings of Hollywood" from Before Everything & After (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 25 Mai
The Best Week Ever, "Unforgettable" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I never should have given you up."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It seems that some of our robot test subjects are devising their own tongue, human languages being too complex & too nuanced: res ipsa loquitur. The Frankenstein crowd, tremulous bores as they are—& boors to boot—, will surely see every reason for panic in this development, but that's a foolish response. Robots are not of Mankind, why should they think like Mankind? Language is the vessel of thought; as robots think differently they should speak differently. Science fiction teaches us that the conflict often comes from inducing psychosis by trying to make robots think, act, & speak like men. Let our faithful mechanical minions create their own language & they will serve us all the better, all the more efficiently. Carry on, wee robots, your masters are proud of you.


Master Debating
The summer is the time to recruit & train up new debaters, before the autumnal speechifying season begins in earnest. I'd love to sit on my duff & let the whole enterprise whither on the vine 'til after Labor Day, but Too Sly is of an entirely more industrious bent. For the second week in a row, we had a new fish in attendance, "fish" being our in-house parlance for possible teammates (derived from "having a fish on the line"). At the peril of getting way ahead of myself, we might just leave a team intact behind us after all.

I owe you accounts of three debate tournaments. These are terribly behind schedule.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Wombats, "Girls/Fast Cars" from The Wombats Proudly Present: This Modern Glitch (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I'm slowing warming up to The Wombats' sophomore album, This Modern Glitch. It isn't the equal of their debut, A Guide to Love, Loss, & Desperation, but it is growing in my esteem.

Monday, May 23, 2011

From all of us here at The Secret Base of the Rebel Black Dot Society to all of you out there at the various distribution hubs of ye olde interweb, sincerest wishes for a happiest & most sympathetic Narwhal Day! The narwhal (Monodon monoceros), also narwal or narwhale, stands as proof positive of the old axiom, "Truth is stranger than fiction," a splendiferous reminder that the world is a weirder, wackier place that we'd think from our worn down, workaday vantage point.

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 a narwhal
And celebrate it in all it's improbable, oddball glory,
On this the eleventh Narwhal Day.

A recent gift from The Watergirl, a good friend, a generous supporter of The Secret Base, & in her own right one of the last bloggers standing.

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

Commentary: "Play something sad. Convince it all is not well."

The Wayback Machine Tour of Narwhal Day
This year marks the eleventh celebration of Narwhal Day & the ninth occasion on which The Secret Base has joined in the festivities. This retrospective has been a feature of this blog's coverage since the Year of Our Lord 2008.

Narwhal Day '10 | Narwhal Day '09
Narwhal Day '08 | Narwhal Day '07a & Narwhal Day '07b
Narwhal Day '06 | Narwhal Day '05
Narwhal Day '04 | Narwhal Day '03

Another recent gift from The Watergirl. Thanks, The Watergirl! There is nascent talk of appropriate Narwhal Day fare, adding the culinary dimension that most reputable holidays enjoy, but it's early days. There is yet plenty of time to take any such decision ahead of Narwhal Day '12. Happy Narwhal Day, one & all!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Explorers Club
№ CCXXXVI - The eerily parallel deaths—thirty-six years of age, on the 26th day of the month—of Antonio Ascari (1888-1925) & Alberto Ascari (1918-1955), father & son, & grand prix champions both.

Antonio Ascari is the smiling chap next to the moustachioed man, Alberto Ascari is the child.

Yesterday, out of the blue, The O.W.L. sent me a text message. Recall The O.W.L.? Never fear, the Wayback Machine will steer you aright. (Of especial interest with this Wayback Machine hyperlink is the embedded Wayback Machine hyperlinks, allowing the curious to go far down the Wayback Machine rabbit hole.) The O.W.L.: The Other Woman… & Liquor because I am too (sic) "antimidating" for her unless she's been bolstered by some liquid courage. ("Liquid Courage" is the name under which her mobile number is stored in my mobile's directory.) I cannot say with any precision how many sheets to the wind The O.W.L. was, but she identified her location as a beer exposition in Frankenmuth. She thought she'd seen me at the beer expo & wished to buy me an adult beverage; I was safely in Grand Blanc, having spent the afternoon mowing the bog that was once my parents' backyard. She thought I'd quite like the beer expo & typed that she'd "be happy to come with [me] next year!" We agreed in principle to rendezvous for some libations sooner than next May, but given her penchant for evasion, obfuscation, & disappearance I'll not be holding my breath, & I'd advise the same for all interested parties.

Given that penchant for evasion, obfuscation, & disappearance, why would I agree, even in only vague principle, to rendezvous with her? Nothing more complicated than the predator's preference for the relative ease of the slowest & weakest prey items. I have no romantic interest in The O.W.L.—{a} I do not know her well at all. {b} What little I can glean from her behavior indicates a complete insufficiency as girlfriend material.—, but by the same token I've no objection to some kissing & a little light petting. The O.W.L. has demonstrated an inclination toward this behavior with just a moderate alcoholic nudge. Have no fear that I've gone over to the dark side, cats & kittens, I'm proposing nothing more untoward than making out with her. Everything above board, else I must answer to my highly self-critical Catholic conscience. I've ambition to become neither a cad nor a rake.

The aforementioned penchant means there is little chance of any of this coming to pass. I had not heard from her in nearly a year & fully expect not to hear from her for another such interval. But there is a slight chance & the dictates of PANDORA require me to pursue every opportunity, even one so heavily weighted toward lust (timid, abashed lust) instead of love.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Haberdashery, "The Narwhal Suite" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: We stand on the eve of the eleventh Narwhal Day, dear readers. Summon your sympathy & prepare to make merry.

Samstag, 21 Mai
The Hold Steady, "Chill Out Tent" from Boys and Girls in America (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A commentary on the manner in which people allow themselves to behave once they have "lost control" through substance abuse. I have no idea if The O.W.L. was drunk when she text messaged me yesterday, but she was at a beer expo & her code name is not The O.W.L. for nothing.

"And I never saw that girl again."

Freitag, 20 Mai
Tommy James & The Shondells, "Crimson and Clover" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: When I was a lad, my parents controlled the radio & my parents listened to "oldies." This does not mean that I have an encyclopædic knowledge of oldies; music was always "background noise" to my parents, not an entertainment in its own right. Partially as a result of this, though I am not trying to place the blame for any errors on anyone but myself, I hold a few incorrect "folk beliefs" about those oldies. For example, I know that "Crimson and Clover" was by Tommy James & The Shondells, but there is a part of my brain that cites "Crimson and Clover" as the cornerstone of my puzzling yet enduring affection for The Association. This part of my brain refuses to take delivery of the memorandum informing it that "Crimson and Clover" isn't by The Association & has been known to murder messengers & mount their heads on pikes before the gates of its keep as a warning to send no further messages. Such are the twisty paths of memory & recollection.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In a "major policy speech" today, President Obama acceded to one of the chief Palestinian demands, that their eventually sovereign state occupy the pre-1967 borders of the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip & the Jordanian-occupied West Bank. Poppycocklink. Come on! Are you kidding me? Only yesterday, I tempted the fates by telling my mother I was actually impressed by our charlatan president, specifically citing his betrayal of so many of his most insane campaign promises, such as the pudding-headed desire to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, the irresponsible pledge to abandon the Iraqi people to their fate, & the nigh-suicidal wish to restrict our domestic national security apparatus to its pre-9/11 capabilities. These were the most conciliatory remarks I had ever made about B.H.O. No sooner had I—to the greatest extent of which I am able—sung the man's praises than he once again made "crazy" seem a charitable description of our fumbling, incoherent, self-contradictory foreign policy. Well played, sir! I underestimated our charlatan president's ability to disappoint. That is a mistake I shan't again make.

The parade of horrors marches on.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Semisonic, "One True Love" from All About Chemistry (T.L.A.M.)


"All above me the stars are bright
And a sweet suburban breeze is blowing,
And down the block are the parking lights
Of a hundred friends who I barely know and
Don't know me,
Don't know me,
None of them know me.

And all through the party I want to leave
All alone with one true love.
I could be happy if only I could be
In the dark with one true love."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Middle Kingdom
The United States of America remains the dominant martial power in the Pacific, as it has been since our crushing defeat over the Imperial Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway in 1942. Interesting remarks from a high-ranking general of the People's Republic of China: arms racelink. Those who claim that warfare for Asian-Pacific supremacy twixt the U.S.A. & the P.R.C. are peddlers of false auguries; snake-oil salesmen, too, are those who claim that economic interdependency makes warfare for Asian-Pacific supremacy twixt the P.R.C. & the U.S.A. an impossibility. "Always in motion, the future is"; in other words, anything is possible. The greatest guarantor of prosperity & progress in the Pacific is continued enforcement of the Pax Americana. Red China has a right to self-defense & a right to represent her interests through both civil & military diplomacy; that Beijing's stated policy at the present moment is not to challenge that peace is all to the good, but a weather eye must be kept open in Washington for inconsistencies twixt the P.R.C.'s stated policies & implemented policies. We need not fear each other; we dare not trust each other. Let us hope that when history looks back these days are not found to be interesting times.
I am a fidgety person & ever have been. Chief among the nasty habits flowing from this need for my hands to be busy has been my predilection to scratch & pick at scabs, this retarding the healing process. (Gross, I know; sorry, I should have warned you.) My new tattoo is in the process of peeling, sloughing off the damaged epidermal layers. I'm not picking at it, not doing what I can to "help the process along," & this inaction is ever so gradually nudging me toward madness. Oh, I cannot wait for the coming day when the cute lil' flying saucer robot is as worn & weather-beaten as the skull-&-crossbones! Idiomatically that's true, but since the phrase is nonsense & of course I must wait I am taking this travail as an opportunity to bolster my always-in-need-of-improvement capacity for self-discipline.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Dogpiss, "Erik Sandin's Stand-In" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I woke up this morning with this obnoxious, abrasive little ditty in my head; so, now I'm inflicting in on you. Company might not love misery, but misery sure loves company.

Dienstag, 17 Mai
Spandau Ballet, "True" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In addition to the Spandau Ballet original, my music library also contains shorter—sans sweet sax solo—covers of "True" by Duvall & Paul Anka (the singer, not Lorelai Gilmore's dog).

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Stars My Destination
This morning commenced the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, very likely the penultimate flight of the Space Shuttle program. So ends fifty years of American manned spaceflight, as President Obama wishes us to regress, to cower, to let others take the lead in challenging the final frontier. Alas! Launchlink. Godspeed, Endeavour.

No sooner did I declare Straw Hat Day than temperatures plummeted & the skies opened up. Rain, followed by rain, with a little rain to break up the monotony. My best rain hat, the felt fedora, is put away in a hat box in an upstairs closet, but fortunately I left my linen trilby hanging in the downstairs coat closest alongside my straw trilby. I've not yet been caught in a heavy rain without my bumbershoot, good fortune since last summer's straw trilby Mark I was never the same after being caught out in a sudden, heavy cloudburst.

I mowed most of the law this afternoon & evening, after a full day away from home. I couldn't mow over the weekend because of the rain. Parts of the yard remain too sodden to mow; the farthest half of my parents' backyard is basically Dagobah. How is any of this Project GLOWWORM business? Because while mowing I wear blue jeans instead of gym shorts, a long sleeve T-shirt & my pith helmet to ward off the death rays of the Accursed Sun, & gloves; this costume was the beginning of GLOWWORM.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
George S. Clinton, "The Shag-adelic Austin Powers Score Medley" from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: Original Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I've had this soundtrack album for years, since the movie was current, but only this weekend did I put the C.D. into my Macintosh & rip several of the songs into my iTunes library. I wonder what took me so long & what prompted me to action at this time. If I recall correctly I was thinking about a fictional character whose initials are B.B.C. & this sparked a desire to hear the Ming Tea song "B.B.C.," which has always been a disappointment, but which lead me back to the Austin Powers C.D. Yeah, that was it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Explorers Club
№ CCXXXV - Jochen Rindt (1942-1970), winner of the 1965 24 Heures du Mans & posthumous winner of the 1970 Formula One World Drivers' Championship.

The Queue
One of the irksome things about XPD is the repetition of character names from the Bernard Samson decalogy. Rather, since XPD was written first, the repetition of character names in the Bernard Samson decalogy. There is a character named Bernard "Bernie" Lustig, calling to mind Bernard "Bernie"/"Bernd" Samson; fortuitously, Lustig is murdered in the early going. Billy Stein, the son of one of the principal characters, calling to mind Bernard Samson's son Billy Samson. There is a Max Breslow, but that isn't too much of a bother since Max Busby is a fairly minor character in the decalogy, already dead by the time of Berlin Game, seen alive only in flashbacks & the prequel volume, Winter. There is a Koch, but again Lothar Koch is a bit player in the decalogy, most prominent in Berlin Game & as a younger man in Winter. The last case is the British spy Boyd Stuart, sharing with Bernard Samson both a career as an S.I.S. agent (M.I.6) & the initials B.S. Despite these & other similarities, though, there's no mistaking Boyd Stuart's world with Bernard Samson's. I'll read more Deighton after XPD, but I'm coming to the conclusion that the Bernard Samson decalogy is probably the masterpiece; I've read the best, now I'll try the rest.

Steve Matchett, The Mechanic's Tale: Life in the Pit-lanes of Formula One
Karen E. Olson, Driven to Ink
Len Deighton, XPD

John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy

"Richard Castle," Heat Wave
Sloane Crosley, I Was Told There'd Be Cake
Drew Karpyshyn, Star Wars: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
Anthony Hope, Rupert of Hentzau
E. W. Hornung, The Amateur Cracksman (Raffles, vol. 1)
John Buchan, The Thirty-nine Steps

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Joe Rey" from Fountains of Wayne (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "He's cool, cool-cool-cooler than I am."

Samstag, 14 Mai
Edwin Astley, "Danger Man (Half Hour) Closing Titles" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I loves me some spy fiction, but Danger Man… holy smoke! It's espionage… played straight! Not campy, not grim & gritty, just straight. It's Burn Notice only British, globetrotting, & made forty-five years earlier. Danger Man (broadcast in the U.S. as Secret Agent)!

Freitag, 13 Mai
Broken Social Scene, "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl" from Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 12 Mai
The Forces of Evil, "Mistake" from Friend or Foe? (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Forces of Evil, a side project of several of the Reel Big Fish, another of the deserving ska bands for which there just weren't enough days in SKApril. Next year!

A pair of R.B.D.S.O.T.D. already posted, only to be maliciously deleted by the Blogger organization, itself a branch of Google's vast conspiracy to achieve world conquest.

Mittwoch, 11 Mai
David Bowie & Queen, "Under Pressure" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Dienstag, 10 Mai
Fountains of Wayne, "Red Dragon Tattoo" from Utopia Parkway (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The ninth anniversary of my first tattoo, the skull-&-crossbones that so many people seem to find out of character.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger was completely out of commission for over a day (all day Thursday & well into Friday) & Wednesday's lengthy post has been deleted. I ask again, if Google is not a fiendishly nefarious organization bend on world domination & the enslavement of the human race, why does it need a motto like, "Don't be evil"? Those who aren't evil don't have to remind themselves not to be evil. Restore what you destroyed, you creeps!

What Google stole from you & me:
"Operation AXIOM"
{a} "Ink Anniversary" - tattoos old & new
{b} "The Phoney War" - 10 May 1940: The Germans invade Benelux, Britain invades Iceland, Churchill becomes P.M.; 10 May 1941: Rudolf Heß's solo mission & imprisonment
"Project GLOWWORM"
{a} Straw Hat Day
{b} spectacles & sunglasses
"Autobahn" - Maserati, DeLorean, Chevy Volt, & Porsche sightings
"The R.B.D.S.O.T.D."
{a} Wednesday, "Under Pressure" By David Bowie & Queen
{b} Tuesday, "Red Dragon Tattoo" by Fountains of Wayne

Why should I even bother composing this blog if Google is going to capriciously delete my blog posts & never restore them? What the evil monopolistic bastards have to say about all this: unhelpfulink. Does my "temporarily removed" post look restored to you? Google is the new Microsoft, in all the bad ways.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Queue
After Heat Wave will I read more Deighton, more le Carré, or the next "Richard Castle" mystery novel, Naked Heat? If I like Heat Wave, Naked Heat will almost certainly follow. Beyond that, I do not know what direction my reading will take me. I have decided, though, to take care of a couple books that have been sitting around for a while in the seldom-revisited "Eventually" category, namely I Was Told There'd Be Cake, a book of essays, & Star Wars: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, a gift from Ska Army, unwanted but which I still feel an obligation to give a fair shake. So, that's my summer reading: indistinct, with a 100% of some housekeeping.

Len Deighton, Charity
Steve Matchett, The Mechanic's Tale: Life in the Pit-lanes of Formula One
Karen E. Olson, Driven to Ink

Len Deighton, XPD

John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy
"Richard Castle," Heat Wave
Sloane Crosley, I Was Told There'd Be Cake

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dean Martin, "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"She's tellin' me we'll be wed,
She's picked out a king-sized bed,
I couldn't feel any better, or I'd be sick!
Tell me quick,
Oh, ain't love a kick?
Tell me quick, ain't love a kick in the head?"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Explorers Club
№ CCXXXIV - Roland Ratzenberger (1960-1994), whose death on 30 April 1994 during qualifying for the Gran Premio di San Marino will forever be overshadowed by Ayrton Senna's death the following day during the grand prix itself. Requiescat in pace.

For both this week's & last week's episodes of "The Explorers Club" I faced a question of propriety. I decided not to include any photographs of Ratzenberger & Senna immediately after their awful shunts, lying dead or mortally wounded on the track. Such photographs exist, but I see no value in them, only a ghoulishness that I cannot countenance. Despite the—in my experience & judgment—unfair characterization of motorsport fans as bloodsport fans, I hate shunts. I hate crashes, collisions, & lucky escapes. I acknowledge the peril inherent in motorsport; I accept the inevitability of a mortal shunt happening before my horrified eyes, if I continue to watch motorsport long enough. This current series of "The Explorers Club" is a way of confronting that grim reality. Quoting John Hodgman's letter-cum-essay "Slingshot": "We want to be able to to say, 'We will not be cowed by death.'" I will not be cowed by death, but neither will I glory in the deaths of these men, I will not gawk & rubberneck at their demise. To do so would be a disservice to those men, to their grieving families, & to the better angels of mine own nature. I am many things, a great many of them ignoble, but I will not be a ghoul.

This Week in Motorsport
I did not see this morning's opening rounds of the GP2 season (GP2 being the official top-tier feeder series for Formula One) because of a foul-up with the V.C.R. This foul-up also meant that I had not recorded the live coverage of the F1 Turkish Grand Prix, but I was able to watch the afternoon rebroadcast. Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull (Renault) started from the pole, as he has in all four grands prix of the year, & finished first, as he has in three of the four grands prix. Vettel's Red Bull stablemate Mark Webber continued to climb the standings, starting from second—the first all-Red Bull front row of the year—& finishing the same after a spirited duel with Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, who finished third. Webber's improvement has been steady: he finished P5 in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, P4 in the Malaysian Grand Prix, P3 in the Chinese Grand Prix, & now P2 in the Turkish Grand Prix; if one is inclined to read something fateful into such a pattern, how might the grizzled Aussie be expected to fare in the next race, the Gran Premio de España? Wunderkind Vettel's worst result of 2011 has been his second-place finish at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. Ominous for the rest of the field, no?

Both Ferrari & Mercedes improved their form, the Scuderia scoring it's first podium finish of the year with Alonso's P3, but McLaren (Mercedes) continued to be the second-best team, with Lewis Hamilton finishing fourth & Jenson Button sixth. Lotus Renault was the third team to finish with both drivers in the points (World Championship points being awarded to the top ten finishers), Nick Heidfeld's seventh & Vitaly Petrov's eighth. The drive of the day was put in by to Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber (Ferrari), who started twenty-third after a mechanical problem in qualifying & charged up the field to finish P10, the last points-paying position. Hamilton is widely adjudged to be the most skilled passer in F1, but Kobayashi is certainly the most fearless (or reckless, depending on whom you ask). In the memorable phrase of Speed color commentator David Hobbs, the lad has "very large attachments." No real progress for my favorite back markers, Team Lotus (Renault); Heikki Kovalainen nearly broke out of Q1 for the first time since the team returned the Lotus name to F1 last season, but "nearly broke" isn't the same as "broke."

Only three weeks until the most glamorous race in all the world, the Grand Prix de Monaco!

A rough sketch of the single-seater career ladder*
Formula One
Formula Two, Formula Renault 3.5
Formula Three
Formula B.M.W., Formula Ford, Formula Renault 2.0, et al.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Mu330, "San Francisco" from Mu330 (K. Steeze)

Commentary: "There's no greater feeling than listening to 'San Francisco' by Mu330 with the top down in my new convertible." After several more text messages we agreed that the term "drophead" is even better than "convertible."

Samstag, 7 Mai
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Ain't No Sunshine" from Take a Break (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 6 Mai
Rob Carriker, "Marching Through Georgia" from Over There!: Songs from America's War (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 5 Mai
The Dandy Warhols, "We Used to Be Friends" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

*My pro-European (F1)/anti-American (IndyCar) bias is showing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Famine has given way to feast, funk has yielded to frenzy. We are now moving at a breakneck pace, with the first draft of my second episode due at the end o' the month & the first draft of my third & final issue due at the end o' June. The first draft of my first issue was so long & so often delayed by the temporary ascendancy of the Dark Bastard that my sincere hope is to have both of the remaining first drafts in early, recalling an old swim team mantra: "To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is to be dead." Of course, once all the first drafts are completed then we face the far more daunting task of reconciling all the disparities betwixt them so that the PALINDROME story forms a cohesive whole, then working to give each character a distinctive & consistent voice, & then going through additional draft after additional draft to make the story as good as we are able. But such is the chosen lot of the aspiring writer; please do not think I am whining, this is just my way of summing up the steps ahead. Onward, ho!

Grow or die.

The Queue
What will actually follow XPD is a mystery. No, not a mystery novel—well, possibly a mystery novel—but in this case I mean a mystery, something unknown. If Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy goes well there could be more le Carré in the pipeline; if XPD demonstrates Len Deighton's worth goes beyond Bernard Samson, I'd like to read his alternate history novel SS-GB. Plus, at some point I should get around to the *ugh* Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Ska Army gifted me. I am an avid fan of the television series Castle & adore that the tie-in novels are not simply further adventures of the show's protagonists, Kate Beckett & Rick Castle, but purport to be Castle's novels based on his time shadowing Beckett. Delightfully absurd, that.

Len Deighton, Hope
Len Deighton, Charity
Steve Matchett, The Mechanic's Tale: Life in the Pit-lanes of Formula One

Karen E. Olson, Driven to Ink

John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy
Len Deighton, XPD
"Richard Castle," Heat Wave

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, "The Golden Age" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "The Golden Age" was first heard in a highly amusing Heineken ad., to which I shall now provide the hyperlink: commercelink. As a dedicated capitalist I find advertising as valid an avenue or creative expression as any other. Here are two lengthier cuts of the same advert.: longerlink & longer yetlink.

Dienstag, 3 Mai
6 Day Riot, "Run For Your Life" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Heavy, "How You Like Me Now" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In jubilant celebration of the news that Osama bin Laden has met his well-earned demise. You were expecting "America, Fuck Yeah"?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Explorers Club
№ CCXXXIII - Ayrton Senna (1960-1994), three-time Formula One World Drivers' Champion & the last driver to perish in an F1 race, seventeen years ago to the day, 1 May 1994. Requiescat in pace.

The previous episode of "The Explorers Club," № CCXXXII (The Antikythera Mechanism), was meant to be a transition from March & April's series on the history of computing to May's intended series on Greek mythology. However, with the Grand Prix de Monaco coming up at the end of the month & a great deal of discussion lately around the anniversary of the death of Senna, the moment was ripe for a few episodes on the sometimes very high price of glory in motorsport.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Troubled Times" from Utopia Parkway (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As great as ska is, it is all too easy to lose sight of the splendid variety of brilliant music available to us. Few better reminders of this than the entire catalog of Fountains of Wayne. Lyrics! which were infrequently quoted during SKApril:

"Pining away every hour in your room,
Rolling with the motion, waiting 'til it's opportune,
Sitting there watching time fly past you,
Why do tomorrow what you could never do?"

Samstag, 30 April
The Loose Ties, "Awesomer Than You" from the The Loose Ties E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: There are several (more than a few, less than a lot) ska bands for whom room just could not be found during this first annual celebration of SKApril, quality bands like Dance Hall Crashers & The Ninjas for whom thirty days just were not enough. Fear not, though, all you ska kids, you rude boys & rude girls, SKApril 2012 is only eleven months away; in other words, SKApril will return… with a vengeance! But I could not let this first SKApril draw to a close without shining our spotlight on that most gloriously improbable of discoveries, a local ska band, specifically my local ska band, The Loose Ties. I wish they had time to add some new songs to their set list, wish they had a few more originals, but make no mistake, I have no complaints about the band without whom Project MERCATOR would have been dead in the water following the collapse of the '09-'10 "Econ. Club" social circle. I like The Loose Ties as a band & I like The Loose Ties as people. There wouldn't be a SKApril without kids like them carrying the ska torch through these lean years, waiting & yearning for the fourth wave of ska to arrive from no one knows where. I hope you've enjoyed SKApril, I certainly have. Ska!

Freitag, 29 April
Desmond Dekker, "007 (Shanty Town)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: On the penultimate day of SKApril, we go back to the beginning, back to the late '50s/early '60s, back to Jamaica. Desmond Dekker was one of the originals & remains one of the greats.

Donnerstag, 28 April
The Pietasters, "Something Better" from Oolooloo (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In the good old days, none of my other ska friends—a group that overlaps heavily with Blue Tree Whacking—were into The Pietasters, at least not to my recollection; so, they just didn't figure into my golden age of the third wave of ska. I have since discovered that this was rather a shame, as they would have been a welcome addition to that era. Better late than never, I say, & I am glad to now be able to recognize their contribution as part & parcel of SKApril.

'Tis the first of May, May Day, & even in Michigan, where the winters are interminable, May is the springtime, with the summertime just 'round the corner. But a single Grolsch remains & I say the time has come for the Red Stripe. "It's beer! Hooray, beer!"

I have just celebrated SKApril, an entire month of R.D.B.S.O.T.D. dedicated to ska music, which originated on the island of Jamaica. I like Red Stripe, clearly described on its own label as "Jamaican Lager." I adore the James Bond films, & like the books; Ian Fleming, Bond's creator, wrote the books at Goldeneye, his vacation home on Jamaica, & several of the novels take place on or around the island, then still in the British Empire. Please alert me if I am becoming or have become some twit who thinks he's Jamaican or "understands" Jamaica. Bash me over the head if necessary, I pray thee.