Monday, December 31, 2012

The Loot (supplemental)
Following this weekend's second round of gift-giving, the two greatest oversights from my wish list have been remedied. The greatest remaining oversight is a wall calendar, to which I shall see directly.

Motion Pictures
The Dark Knight Rises
Die Another Day—Two-Disc Ultimate Edition
Dr. No—Two-Disc Ultimate Edition

Television Series
Star Wars: The Clone Wars—The Complete Season Four

The Rebel Black Dot Song of New Year's Eve
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Auld Lang Syne" (live) from …Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXXI - The Sidney Street Siege, A.K.A. the "Battle of Stepney," 3 January 1911.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 6th Day of Christmas
Duvall, "The Little Drummer Boy" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)


"Mary nodded, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum,
The ox and lamb kept time, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum,
I played my drum for Him, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum,
I played my best for Him, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum,
Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum,
Then He smiled at me, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum,
Me and my drum,
Me and my drum,
Me and my drum."

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 5th Day of Christmas
Susan Egan, "Silent Night/Greensleeves" from Winter Tracks (T.L.A.M.)


"Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glory streams from Heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing, 'Alleluia!'
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!"

Friday, December 28, 2012

Kith & Kin
Kin are visiting through the weekend. I shall be slumbering on a couch as my room is being given to Where's Teddy?; this is not a complaint, merely a statement of fact. These dual, closely-related factors will severely curtail my ability to tend to The Secret Base, so I am taking the liberty of preparing the R.B.D.S.O.T.Nth.D.O.C. ahead of time. Enjoy, & merry Christmas!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 4th Day of Christmas
Sarah McLachlan, "Silent Night" via iTunes, (free) Holiday Sampler (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: While not wishing to speak ill of my parish pastoral vicar, Father Anderson's homily's aren't usually to my taste, as he normally doe snot address that week's Scripture readings. A Midnight Mass on Christmas Day, though, he was unusually on-topic. His best point referred to Luke 2:1-7, & the contrast 'twixt Caesar Augustus, master of all he surveyed, whose order of a census drove Saint Joseph & the Blessed Virgin from their home in Nazareth back to Bethlehem, where the Christ Child was born, & the humble circumstances of the Nativity. Augustus, king-in-all-but-name of the greater part of the known world, lived in splendor & opulence; our Emmanuel, king of all time & space, was born in a stable, because there was no room in the inn. Our Lord did not simply preach the Beatitudes, He lived them; He was born into them.

"Jesus, Lord at Thy birth…"

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 3rd Day of Christmas
Sufjan Stevens, "Holy, Holy, Holy" from Songs for Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Holy, Holy, Holy" is so beautiful that it almost brings tears to my eyes.

"Perfect in power…"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Loot
Bitter experience has affirmed that he who hesitates is indeed lost, & delay has often sounded the death knell of "The Loot." Thus, I dared wait no longer than today, even though Where's Teddy? & The Cupcake are not visiting 'til the weekend, meaning the gift-giving is not yet concluded.

This was a good Christmas for books, though a little skimpy in every other category. This is not a complaint, merely an observation. I am most grateful for everything I received.

Len Deighton, Spy Hook
Len Deighton, Spy Line
Len Deighton, Spy Sinker
Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics
Steve Kelley, editor, Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year—2013 Edition
Mike Mignola & Richard Corben, Hellboy: House of the Living Dead
Lucinda Rosenfeld, I'm So Happy for You
renewed subscription to National Review

Simon Arron & Mark Hughes, The Complete Book of Formula One
Roger Smith, Formula 1: All the Races: The World Championship Story Race-by-Race, 1950-2011

The last two were joint gifts to my father & me from "Santa," whose handwriting oddly mirrors my father's.

Motion Pictures
Night Train to Munich—Criterion Collection

The great oversight from this category was the film of the year, The Dark Knight Rises, though as mentioned the exchange of gifts is not yet complete.

Television Series
Psych—The Complete Sixth Season

tartan scarf, reputedly the Wilson tartan
argyle socks, six pair

The scarf, a product of perfidious Scotland, was a gift from my father's sister & her husband, Aunt Meg & Uncle Fred, recent visitors to that benighted country. Between ten & fifteen years ago my sister, The L.A.W., visited Great Britain & brought me from Scotland a Wilson tartan scarf, which I have worn every winter since. What a neat coincidence!

cash, possessed of an old-school charm in this world of gift cards
my mother's signature beef salami
Toblerone, both milk chocolate & dark chocolate
AA batteries
ball-point pens
highlighter markers
assorted sweets

Highlighters? Never in my life have I made more than sporadic use of highlighters, not during either of my academic careers. I receive AA batteries as stocking stuffers every year without fail, regular as clockwork. I possess only one device—the flash attachment for the X-700, my camera—that requires AA batteries. If the apocalypse comes & I survive, & if in that ruin of the world AA batteries become the coin of the realm, then I shall be richer than Croesus.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Saint Stephen's Day
Sufjan Stevens, "What Child Is This Anyway?" from Songs for Christmas (T.L.A.M.)


"This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing…"

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Urbi et Orbi
Have I mentioned how much I love Midnight Mass? Man alive, I love Midnight Mass!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Christmas Day
Nat King Cole, "Joy to the World" from Christmas with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Christmas Eve
The Puppini Sisters, "O Holy Night" from Christmas with The Puppini Sisters (T.L.A.M.)


"Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease…"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXX - The Moons of Jupiter, Part II: The sixty-plus non-Galilean moons, & the rings of Jupiter.

Last week was the first week since Labor Day that did not see even a solitary daily constitutional. (Scheiße!) Through November & into December, I was averaging only two constitutionals per week, exactly half of my intended rate of four per week. This is a sorry state of affairs, one I dare not wait 'til '13 to address.

Thus far, I am holding the line on the consumption of Christmas cookies. I know that I have neither the will nor the willpower to quit cookies cold turkey, so I am allowing myself a small daily allotment. My diet has otherwise changed very little since Labor Day; I have not cut out as much snacking as I'd like, but I also have not allowed the holiday bounty to undo all the preceding months' good work. At least one part of ÖSTERREICH is operating according to plan.

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Thursday, 20 December 2012
(№ 2) Michigan 93-54 Eastern Michigan
12-0, Big Ten 0-0

The valiant Wolverines are now a single victory away from an undefeated non-conference schedule. Due to Indiana's loss to Butler, the valiant Wolverines are now ranked № 2, & receiving № 1 votes in the A.P. & the coaches' polls. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Go Blue!

The Victors
The valiant Wolverines (№ 19) are going to be costumed as idiots for the New Year's Day Outback Bowl game against the epithetless Gamecocks of South Carolina (№ 11). Instead of wearing Michigan's august uniforms, they will be wearing "special" uniforms. This is a great idea; why would we want to look like ourselves, like the winningest team in the century-plus history of college football, when we face the "Old Ball Coach's" squad? Why not instead look like an anonymous Arena League team? What a capital idea!

Go Blue! hang, Dave Brandon.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the 4th Sunday of Advent
Sufjan Stevens, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" from Songs for Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The wait is almost over. As Advent draws to a close, the Christmastide is nigh upon us!

Samstag, 22 Dezember
Brian d'Arcy James, "Michigan Christmas" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: On the last day for secular R.B.D.C.S.O.T.D., the temperatures finally became bone-chilling & the dead grass was at long last obscured by snow. At the eleventh hour, it began to look a lot like Christmas in the Mitten.

Freitag, 21 Dezember
Eddy Arnold, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" from Elf: Music from the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Songs of the Day
Andy Williams, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" from The Andy Williams Christmas Album (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Scary ghost stories"? "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is delightful, a veritable Yuletide institution, but what the heck? The only Christmas ghost story with which I'm familiar is A Christmas Carol. Andy Williams, harbinger of The Nightmare Before Christmas?

"There'll be parties for hosting,
Marshmallows for roasting,
And caroling out in the snow,
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories
Of Christmases long, long ago…"

Mittwoch, 19 Dezember
Sufjan Stevens, "It's Christmas! Let's Be Glad!" from Songs for Christmas (T.L.A.M.)


"Sing a carol to your Mom,
'Cause she know what's going on,
And she knows if you've been bad or good,
And if you get what you deserve,
To be graded on a curve,
Oh, you've got a lot of nerve…"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Louis Armstrong & The Commanders, "Cool Yule" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Christmastide is but a week away. Make merry! Be bright! "Have a Yule that's cool."

Monday, December 17, 2012

The most interesting vanity license plate I've seen recently was KINGMKR, which I've taken to mean "kingmaker." At the peril of the following being unforgivably snobbish, I have to wonder about the social milieu in which a kingmaker drives a fifteen-year-old Buick. Methinks the kingmaker claim is more aspirational than operational.

Last week, I passed by a motorist wearing a eyepatch waiting at a traffic light. This struck me as queer. I'm no sawbones, but depth perception would seem to be an asset, if not an outright necessity, to the successful piloting of a motorcar. Are monocular citizens allowed to drive motorcars?

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
The Puppini Sisters, "Jingle Bells" from Christmas with The Puppini Sisters (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXIX - The Moons of Jupiter, Part I: The Galilean Moons: Io, Ganymede, Europa, & Callisto.

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Saturday, 15 December
(№ 3) Michigan 81-66 West Virginia
11-0, Big Ten 0-0

The valiant Wolverines' match-up with the epithetless Mountaineers of West Virginia was highly anticipated for reasons four: one, West Virginia is a respectably-performing —though not respectable—program from a major conference (formerly the Big East, now the Big XII) & expected to be Michigan's stiffest competition 'twixt the Big Ten/A.C.C. Challenge game against North Carolina State in late November & the start of Big Ten conference play after New Year's. Two, West Virginia was Michigan coach John Beilein's last job before coming to Ann Arbor, & it just wouldn't do for his new school to lose to his old school. Three, Bog Huggins, the man who replaced Beilein at W.V.U., is an exemplar of everything that's wrong with collegiate basketball; for my part, I like to call him "Bob Thuggins." Four, West Virginia was former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez's last job before coming to Ann Arbor, & this has resulted in a certain enmity towards the Mountaineers that would otherwise be explicable by regional or conference-based hostility. Alas, West Virginia's 2012-13 campaign is off to a bad start & by tip-off the game was not the clash of top-tier competitors one would have liked. Still, any check in the "win" column is most welcome. I would normally like to see the valiant Wolverines be a little more balanced then they were last night, but if Trey Burke & Tim Hardaway Jr. want to combine for fifty-two points—a season-high twenty-seven for Burke & a season-high-tying twenty-five for Hardaway—I'm not going to object. If the valiant Wolverines' two top players want to put on the game's two top performances, more power to them.

Next: Home games against Eastern Michigan & Central Michigan bracket Christmas Day, & then the Big Ten season beings against the plucky Wildcats of Northwestern on 3 January '13.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 3rd Sunday of Advent
Duvall, "O Come All Ye Faithful" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)


"Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exaltation!
Sing ye, o bright host of Heaven above,
Glory to God!
Glory in the highest!
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him…"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This Week in Motorsport
With Speed mainstays N.A.S.C.A.R. & Formula One done for the year, & with F1 moving to different pastures (one hopes greener, but fears otherwise) next year, & with every racing series done 'til next year, the self-described "Motor Sports Authority" faces a programming dilemma: How to fill the empty hours of airtime? Why, with the rest of the year's racing! "This Week in Motorsport" has already chronicled Speed's surprising coverage of the Porsche Supercup, which ran only in the spring, summer, & fall as part of the F1 circus; add to that full-season coverage of the World Touring Car Championship (W.T.C.C.), the British Touring Car Championship (B.T.C.C.), the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (D.T.M.), & the G.T.1 World Championship.

Formula Fun!
Porsche Supercup
Rounds 3* & 8
Magyar Nagydíj (Hungarian Grand Prix)
Saturday & Sunday, 28-29 July 2012

Round 9
Grand Prix of Belgium
Sunday, 2 September 2012

Round 10
Gran Premio d'Italia
Sunday, 9 September 2012

*The third round of the season was originally for May, in support of the F1 Gran Premio de España, but it was cancelled for reasons unknown to this author. As a result, two races were held at the Hungaroring outside Budapest. Within the Supercup, Monaco continued to be called Round 4, despite being the next race after Round 2, & the two races at the Hungaroring were called Rounds 3 & 8. I rather admire that refusal to deviate more than absolutely necessary from the intended program.

The only problem with the television coverage of the Porsche Supercaup is that there isn't enough of it. The entire ten-race season was was crammed into three half-hour programs, meaning the races weren't really shown, just extended highlights. Four races is too many to cover adequately in a half hour! Still, beggars cannot be choosers, & I'm grateful for what Supercup coverage I was able to see, even whilst I greedily wish that I could see more. The racing was tight & well-mannered, & as every round of the Supercup is contest in support of an F1 grand prix, the facilities were top notch. I hope to see more of the Supercup next year, even though F1 will have migrated to N.B.C. (I shall address the move from Speed/Fox to the N.B.C. Sports Network/N.B.C. at a later date, in a special "Formula Fun!")

World Touring Car Championship
Rounds 1 & 2
Race of Italy
Sunday, 11 March 2012

Rounds 3 & 4
Race of Spain
Sunday, 1 April 2012

Before this year all of my familiarity with the W.T.C.C. came from Mobil 1's weekly propaganda broadcast, The Grid, a very useful resource covering a wide variety of motorsport stories. This year, the W.T.C.C. held the inaugural Race of the United States, at California's Sonoma Raceway (Sears Point), home to N.A.S.C.A.R. Cup Series & IndyCar Series races. Speed provided same-day coverage of the two W.T.C.C. races, but that was the last I saw of the series 'til this month, when Speed began broadcasting races from the beginning of the season in March.

The W.T.C.C. is O.K., but it isn't great. It doesn't get the blood running like Le Mans or F1, but those are clearly unfair comparisons. It doesn't get the blood running like the World Challenge, but it is more satisfying than semi-professional/advanced club-racing series like the Mazda MX-5 Cup & the S.R.T. (Dodge) Viper Cup. The fiercest battle in the W.T.C.C. field is betwixt the three drivers for the reighting double World Champion Chevrolet factory team ('10 & '11; run by R.M.L., a massively successful British motorsport team), triple World Champion Yvan Muller ('08, '10, & '11), a Frenchman; Rob Huff, a Briton; & Alain Menu, a Swiss. They bump & battle in a manner most unbecoming of teammates in almost every other category of motorsport with which I am familiar. How is it that the Chevrolet Cruze is so much faster than everything else? I'd venture 'tis a combination of the drivers' abilities & R.M.L.'s engineering & management magic; there are privateer (customer) Cruzes in the field that are competitive, but not quite as quick as the works trio.

The W.T.C.C. is O.K. but not great, but with no races in North America 'til late January, & that the unfortunate 24 Hours of Daytona, the W.T.C.C. is far, far better than nothing. Thanks for not taking the off-season off, Speed!

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Leon Redbone, "Winter Wonderland" from Elf: Music from the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

I've recently discovered that Maurice Chevalier was a comedic genius.

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
She & Him, "Sleigh Ride" from A Very She & Him Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kith & Kin
My mother's birthday is this month, meaning she receives a double dose of presents around Christmas. This year, she asked for a grand total of two things, a Kindle e-book reader & a single e-book for that Kindle. My sister, The L.A.W., contacted me upon receiving our mother's expansive list, & informed me that she & Brother-in-L.A.W. had been considering gifting Mom an iPad so that Mom could use FaceTime to "vid-chat" with their two Kinder, The Squeak & the Chunky Monkey. The L.A.W. & Brother-in-L.A.W. had hesitated due to our mum's known fear of technology, but I assured my sister that that fear, so prominent in the 1990s, had largely faded from view in the 21st century, & that our mother would leap any technological hurdle if it brought her closer to the grandbabies, the source of all joy & fulfillment. While this text & e-mail conversation was happening, we both received an e-mail from our father, who announced that he'd bought the principal item on our mother's/his wife's list, the Kindle e-book reader. The L.A.W. & I agreed that the iPad should still go ahead, & Mom just wouldn't be told about the ability to use it as an e-book reader, so as not to hang Dad out to dry. Fine & good.

Mom went to Washington, D.C. last weekend to celebrate The L.A.W.'s birthday & The Squeak's birthday, albeit early. (The Squeak is an incredible three years-old!) The L.A.W. & Brother-in-L.A.W. presented Mom with the iPad, before either Christmas or her birthday, so that Brother-in-L.A.W. could tutor her in its use. Très bien. Alas, one of Brother-in-L.A.W.'s many brothers—a nice guy who lives about an hour away & whose three kids, cousins of the Chunky Monkey & The Squeak, are wonderful playmates for my nephew & niece—told Mom all about the Kindle "app" for the iPad. As soon as Mom returned home from her trip, she announced that she know longer wants a Kindle, because she no longer needs it. Dirty pool, Mom! I know that circumstances had changed, but I do not care. If you ask for only one thing for Christmas & your birthday, it is bad form, exceedingly bad form to announce a fortnight before the holiday that you know longer want that one thing. A fortnight! Two weeks! The odds are that someone has already purchased the item, the thing for which you asked specifically! Dirty pool, old girl; dirty pool. My father had already received the requested Kindle from & was versing himself in its functions so that he could tutor Mom after the gift was presented. I had opted not to take part in the iPad gift since, with Mom receiving both a Kindle & an iPad, I thought a more traditional gift or jewelry or home decor might help keep her on an even keel, but Dad is screwed. What's he supposed to do now? One simply cannot ask for but one gift & then declare, a fortnight before one is to receive that gift, that one no longer wishes to receive that gift. That's rude, selfish, & utterly without class.

Is my analysis in error, dear readers? Are their aspects of the problem I've not considered properly?

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Songs of the Day
The Puppini Sisters, "All I Want for Christmas" from Christmas with The Puppini Sisters (T.L.A.M.)


"I just want you for my own,
More than you could ever know,
Make my wish come true,
All I want for Christmas is you."

Mittwoch, 12 Dezember
Barenaked Ladies, "Sleigh Ride" from Barenaked for the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Short & punchy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Victors: Project OSPREY
(№ 3) Michigan 67-39 Binghamton
10-0, Big Ten 0-0

Yes, Binghamton is S.U.N.Y. Binghamton. Ten in a row! In John Beilein's first season as head coach at Michigan, '07-'08, the valiant Wolverines finished with a 10-22 record, the worst in school history. It's been a long road back (& this season is yet far from over), but how far we have come!

Go Blue!
The Victors: Project OSPREY
Saturday, 1 December 2012
(№ 3) Michigan 74-66 Bradley
7-0, Big Ten 0-0

I did not see the Bradley game, but I have read that in the closing stages, as their epithetless squad went down to defeat, the Bradley students began to chant "Overrated!," as if the valiant Wolverines had somehow embarrassed themselves in the victory. It takes fortitude not to be a sore loser; judge not too harshly the students of Bradley, for they are young. The many defeats they will endure in the long lives ahead of them will offer ample opportunities for them to learn sportsmanship & to cultivate fortitude.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012
(№ 3) Michigan 73-41 Western Michigan
8-0, Big Ten 0-0

Saturday, 8 December 2012
(№ 3) Michigan 80-67 Arkansas
9-0, Big Ten 0-0

The valiant Wolverines made things a wee bit more exciting than they needed to be, at one point in the second half allowing the epithetless Razorbacks to draw within a single point, but thereafter reasserted themselves & made their free throws down the stretch to win by double digits. My attention was not riveted to the second-half rally because I was engaged in conversation with my father, who has an irrational disdain for Michigan's head coach, John Beilein. I explained patiently that this year's valiant Wolverines are a more balanced squad than those of seasons past, with more of an inside game & less dependence on three-point shooting. The valiant Wolverines' victory has the one hundredth of Coach Beilein's tenure in Ann Arbor, & the 9-0 start is Michigan's first since 1988-89, a season that saw the valiant Wolverines win their last national championship. (I'm not getting ahead of myself, I'm not predicting similar success for this year's squad, but it occurred to me that not to mention the national championship would be to cower before superstition, a baseless desire not to "jinx" the '12-'13 valiant Wolverines. I adore sport, but I have no time for sport's superstitions.)

Next: The valiant Wolverines return to action tonight, against Binghamton (S.U.N.Y. Binghamton? I'm not sure.), the third of three consecutive home games.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Dean Martin, "White Christmas" from Christmas with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, & Dean Martin (T.L.A.M.)


"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write…"

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXVIII - The Dornier Do 31.

Perchance to Dream
I had an oddly memorable dream this morn, or at least odd in the thoroughness of the memory. I was in Ann Arbor, but a bizarre caricature of Ann Arbor. The buildings were packed tightly together, & uniformly taller that the actual edifices of my beloved "Moscow on the Huron." The architecture looked like something out of Tim Burton's Batman, though with the earthly color palette from Batman Begins. I was moving on foot, but with the speed & fluidity as if I was on rails. It was urgent that I get "home," but always there were tall building in my way. I'd easily scale the rear or alley side of a skyscraper, but once on the invariably flat roof I'd look down into the canyons of the street below & know that I'd have to retreat. I'd then go back down the way I'd come up. Why couldn't I use the same impossible ability to scamper up vertical surfaces to go down into the streets, from whence I'd be able to more readily make my way home? Dream logic is illogical, I've no other explanation.

I arrived home, inexplicably since I'd made no discernible progress before suddenly accomplishing my goal. Waiting for me at home was the actress Anne Hathaway, clothed only in her unmentionables. I took her in my arms & kissed her roughly. She warmly welcomed these attentions. Between kisses, as I was working a hand inside her bra, I said something about how holding her in my arms felt like Thanksgiving. (Yeah, I know, I don't know.) She retorted archly that we'd already celebrated Thanksgiving. As I laid her down on something—a couch or a bed I could not discern—I quipped that if only I could unwrap my present this would feel like Christmas. My dream self was so conceited, so very like my waking self, that even whilst laying hands on the splendor of Anne Hathaway he took a moment to compliment himself on how clever the unwrapping quip had been. At this point I awoke. I can see the dream almost as clearly now as I could in the midst of the dreaming. Why so distinctly recall this dream? Either the aforementioned splendor of Anne Hathaway, or a reason as illogical as dream logic.

The Rebel Black Dot Hanukkah Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Hanukkah Blessings" from Barenaked for the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)


"We remember how Maccabees
Fought so all of us could be free,
And so we celebrate."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the 2nd Sunday of Advent
The Klezmonauts, "Carol of the Bells" from Oy to the World: A Klezmer Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Susan Egan, "We Are Lights/Shalom Alaychem" from Winter Tracks (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: 'Tis the first night of Hanukkah. Having naught to do with Hanukkah, I find my thoughts dwelling on golems.

Freitag, 7 Dezember
Cake, "Sheep Go to Heaven" from Prolonging the Magic (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: No one else gives a tinker's damn, but curse my bones for not properly commemorating Pearl Harbor Day!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Queue
With Leviathan having now become a joy to read (though with still much more ahead than lays behind), I find myself fancying ever more ambitious future projects. To the following list, I shall have to add greater explorations of poetry, especially Alfred Tennyson & Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
Dante Alighieri, Comedy (A.K.A. the Divine Comedy)
John Milton, Paradise Lost
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress

And, of course, Edmund Burke. The problem is there appears not to be a "definitive" work by Burke; so, I shall have to pick amongst the various surveys of his writing to find that by which I will first be introduced to his ideas.

Years ago, my sister warned me off reading Dante, but I fear I did myself a disservice by so readily accepting her advice. After all, our tastes in literature diverge just as widely as do our tastes in music, movies, & art; so, why should I be so certain of her predicted verdict of my taste on a given work? I am, if nothing else, an eclectic fellow (or, less charitably, mercurial). She might well be right about the Divine Comedy, but I will have no confidence of that 'til I take the plunge myself.

This Week in Motorsport
Formula Fun!
Formula One World Championship
Round 20
Grande Prêmio do Brasil
Sunday, 25 November 2012

Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel ('10, '11, & '12)! If one of the most exciting, crazy races I've ever seen, Vettel became only the third man to win three consecutive World Drivers' Championships, joining the illustrious company of five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio ('51, '54, '55, '56, & '57) & seven-time champion Michael Schumacher ('94, '95, '00, '01, '02, '03, & '04). At the age of twenty-five, in only his fifth full F1 season, Vettel became the ninth driver to win at least three titles over the course of a career, joining the aforementioned Fangio & Schumacher, & such illustrious names as Alain Prost ('85, '86, '89, & '93), Sir Jack Brabham ('59, '60, & '66), Sir Jackie Stewart ('69, '71, & '73), Niki Lauda ('75, '77, & '84), Nelson Piquet ('81, '83, & '87), & Ayrton Senna ('88, '90, & '91). Red Bull Racing (Renault), for whom Vettel drives & who also won their third consecutive Constructors' Championship, produced T-shirts emblazoned with "V3TTEL" across the chest. I want one.

The race, as mentioned, was completely bughouse. The race began on a drying track, having earlier been subjected to rain. Vettel was spun on the first lap & after the spin his Red Bull was clipped & damaged by the Williams (Renault) of Bruno Senna. After spinning 180° the RB8 came to rest in the middle of the track, Vettel's nose pointed at the noses of the swiftly oncoming cars. The pack parted like the Red Sea, an amazing sight given the proclivity for multiple-car shunts on Lap 1 of any grand prix. Absolute disaster having been inexplicable avoided, Vettel reoriented his car & dashed off in last place. Meanwhile, up at the front, the McLarens (Mercedes) of '08 World Champion Lewis Hamilton & '09 World Champion Jenson Button & the Force India (Mercedes) of Nico Hülkenberg were quickly pulling away from the rest of the field. A light rain began to fall & in the slippery conditions more & more cars dove into the pit lane for "intermediate" rain tires ((or "inters," as opposed to "full" or "wet" rain tires)—except Button & Hülkenberg. Those two stayed out, way out in front, through the rain, & when the rained ceased & those behind them had to pit again to shed their inters, the pair found themselves forty seconds ahead of the third-place runner. (A lap around Interlagos only takes eighty seconds.) Alas, in such slick, mixed conditions shunts are inevitable & there was deemed to be enough debris on the racetrack to warrant a safety car intervention, wiping out Hülkenberg's & Button's massive gap. By this point the young German ace was leading, the first time he'd ever lead a grand prix. Vettel continued his charge through the field, & was soon back into the points (only the first ten finishing places pay championship points). The race wore on & the rain fell intermittently & everyone stopped for tires, & eventually Hamilton, on fresher rubber, retook the lead from Hülkenberg. The Force India tried to pass the McLaren in the first turn, with a slower Caterham (Renault) slightly balking them both at that awkward spot, but there wasn't enough traction & Hülkenberg slid into Hamilton, deranging the front suspension of Hamilton's car, shunting the former World Champion out of his final race for the only F1 team he's ever known. (Next year, Hamilton is to drive for the hapless Mercedes A.M.G. factory squad, a deeply puzzling move on Hamilton's part.) Hülkenberg was given a drive-through penalty for causing the collision, & Button assumed the lead, with the Ferrari duo of double World Champion Fernando Alonso ('05 & '06) & Felipe Massa behind. Vettel worked his way through the traffic up into seventh place, & then one more up into sixth. With Alonso finishing second & Vettel sixth, Vettel would win his third consecutive Drivers' crown. The rainfall became a downpour & if there has been more than a handful of laps left everyone would have pitted for full wet tires, but as it was everyone stayed out on inters & Paul di Resta of Force India crashed on the second-to-last lap, meaning the race finished behind the safety car, freezing all the runners in their positions. By a three-point margin over a twenty-race season, with twenty-five points paid for each race win, Sebastian Vettel became the 2012 Formula One World Drivers' Champion. On the podium, Alonso's eyes had a thousand-yard stare.

'Twas a thrilling conclusion to a madcap season, widely heralded as one of the best in F1's sixty-plus-year history. A title chase that went all the way to the final round, eight different race victors, a triumphant return of F1 to the United States—for what more can one ask? Formula One is an incredible sport, dear readers, one that I would urge sincerely each of you to give an honest chance to win you over.

By Endurance We Conquer
The first Le Mans-affiliated race of 2013, the 12 Hours of Sebring, is yet over three months away, but season entries for the World Endurance Championship (W.E.C.), the American Le Mans Series (A.L.M.S.), & the European Le Mans Series (E.L.M.S.) are beginning to take shape. This will be the fifteenth & final year for the A.L.M.S. in its current guise, after the Series's purchase by the N.A.S.C.A.R.-owned Grand-Am Road Racing Association & ahead of the '14 debut of the as yet unnamed "unified" series. There is little news, as everyone in North America seems to be holding their breath 'til the rules under which the unified series are to be run are announced early next year. What news there is: Aston Martin are making a big push in G.T. (modified production cars, as opposed to prototypes), with Vantages to run in both the A.L.M.S. & Grand-Am. Porsche have ceased factory support for customer teams while they concentrate on developing the racing version of the new 911, the Type 991, with two factory-backed 991s to run in the W.E.C. Flying Lizard, the once-&-future Porsche factory-backed squad in the A.L.M.S., have thus announced that in '13 they will campaign in the lower G.T. Challenge category, instead of the ruthlessly competitive G.T. class. In A.L.M.S. G.T. the factory-backed B.M.W. squad (co-owned by Bobby Rahal & David Letterman) are switching from M3s to Z4s, a car that has been enjoying great success in Europe & seems more directly equivalent to class competitors the Chevrolet Corvette, the Ferrari 458 Italia, & the S.R.T. Viper.

Prototype counts continue to be lower-the-ideal in the A.L.M.S.; the Anglo-Swiss team Rebellion Racing, who earned the overall victory at October's Petit Le Mans, have announced a full-season campaign, a most welcome addition to the P.1 class. I don't expect much change in the P.2 count, again as the '14 rules & regulations are yet unknown. The W.E.C. & the E.L.M.S. have the opposite problem of the A.L.M.S., with healthy fleets of prototypes & a dearth of G.T.s. The W.E.C. especially looks set to have an embarrassment of riches in P.2, with multiple squads joining the globetrotting series from both North America & Europe. Here's hoping those moonshiners at N.A.S.C.A.R. are paying attention to the popularity of P.2; it would be a relatively easy for the Grand-Am teams currently running Daytona Prototypes (D.P.) to switch to Le Mans Prototype 2 (L.M. P.2) machinery in a few years' time, when their D.P.s have reached the natural end of their mechanical lives.

S.R.T. (Dodge) Viper Cup
Round 4
Road America, Race 2
Sunday, 12 May 2012

Round 5
Virginia International Raceway, Race 1
Saturday, 7 July 2012

Round 7
Monticello Motor Club, Race 1
Saturday, 25 August 2012

There is a chap, Ben Keating, who oft-times appears to be invincible. He often stands head & shoulders above the rest of the field, sometimes so much so that I think he might deserve a drive in a higher category, maybe even the A.L.M.S. The Viper Cup is high-level club racing, not a real pro series, but that is not a criticism; I'm the last man ever to have a bone to pick with amateurism. I enjoy professional sports as much as the next fellow, but that's simple acceptance of the ways things are. Had I my druthers, the gentlemen versus players debates of the late 19th & early 20th centuries might well have turned out differently.

Mazda MX-5 Cup
Round 5
Sunday, 10 June 2012

Round 6
Road America
Saturday, 23 June 2012

Round 7
Mosport (technically renamed Canadian Tire Motorsports Park)
Friday, 20 July 2012

The "Miata Cup," too, is high-level club racing, as the commentators like to remark, "The cheapest way to get yourself into a nationally-televised racing series." What is most interesting in this latest series of races was seeing Mid-Ohio on television. I am now so familiar with both the track & the entire complex, having spent the best part of three days there, that it lends a unique perspective to the television images. (I am dreadfully late in my report on seeing the A.L.M.S., the IndyCar Series, the World Challenge series in person at Mid-Ohio, & for that I am sorry.) I will agree with a point often made during Speed's F1 coverage, that television does not adequately convey the topography of racing circuits, especially the vertical element. Hills upon which circuits climb on valleys into which circuits plunge looks much steeper in person, rather, they look artificially gradual on television. Sweet mercy, how steep must Spa's Eau Rouge or Laguna Seca's Corkscrew really be, given how vertigo-inducing they already look through the camera?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The London Symphony Orchestra & Alberto Lizzio, "Pomp and Circumstance, Five Marches for Orchestra, Opus 39, № 1 in D Major, 'Land of Hope and Glory'" from London Symphony Orchestra Plays Classical Favorites (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I am well past sick of having to wear my wide-brimmed straw hat for protection against the increasingly oblique angle of the death rays of the Accursed Sun. 'Tis December. Where are the clouds? Where is the unbroken blanket of gray that oppresses the spirit & saps morale? (At least for many. Such skies make my heart fairly sing.)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Letters to Cleo, "Alouette & Me" from Go! (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On the Saturday following Thanksgiving "Never There" by Cake was nominated as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D., with a note that the selection was connected to events of that weekend, under the auspices of Projects MERCATOR & PANDORA. First, MERCATOR.

Daddy Dylweed, his lovely wife, & their many Kinder were back in Michigan for the holiday, to see kith & kin. He & I stated our intention to meet, though in the natural way of these things we doomed those intentions to almost certain failure by neglecting to secure them with concrete plans. I was very much looking forward to seeing him, not because it had been ages since our last meeting, but because the last two times we saw each other were occasioned by the deaths of first his sister & then his mother; it was my honor & duty to help him grieve, but for both selfish & selfless reasons I wished to see him under happier circumstances. Alas, due to the vagaries of both our schedules & the aforementioned mutual neglect, we were not able to rendezvous before his clan decamped back to the old Confederacy. We were in regular e-mail contact prior to Thanksgiving & have remained so since, but I regret my part in our failure to meet face to face this November.

A stalwart from the early days of Project MERCATOR, The Cowgirl, recently initiated e-mail contact in a not unwelcome bid to foster those neglected ties. She organized a lunch for much of the old gang, including herself & the sisters The Most Dangerous Game & The Impossible Ingenue amongst others. Despite mine own part in allowing those friendships to lapse, I would gladly have partaken of the lunch & reconnected with my old distaff companions—except that the appointed hour was noon on Saturday, 24 November 2012, the same time as kick-off in the benighted Horseshoe for "The Game" 'twixt the valiant Wolverines of the University of Michigan & the hated Buckeyes of THE Ohio State University. I pointed out this profound oversight in The Cowgirl's planning & received as a reply assurances that the sports bar/restaurant where the lunch was to take place had "plenty of T.V.s." There was clearly a failure to communicate. The Game. The Game! Who in her right mind schedules any social function for that nigh-sacred Saturday, & especially at that most important of hours? My choice was easy. Though I would like to have seen The Cowgirl, The Impossible Ingenue, & The Most Dangerous Game, I would have rued titanically missing The Game.

Go Blue!

Last Thursday, my good chum Red Patton, having decided not to spend a year apart from his betrothed studying abroad in Polska, invited me to Flint's unsatisfactory but sole pub quiz. The invitation came after 8:00 P.M. I declined, having already settled into the idea of a quiet night at home, but I have high hopes that there is more good-enough pub quiz in my future.

The same Saturday that the valiant Wolverines came up short against the ancient foe, a pair of days astern of Thanksgiving, I received a postcard from From Russia, with Love (formerly Comrade Coquettish). She wished me & mine a happy Thanksgiving, & reminded me, sagely, "Grace is bliss." Upon contemplating the great geographic gulf twixt she & I, the pain is acute. I name her kith, but I wish her kin.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mark Mothersbaugh, "Ping Island/Lighting Strike Rescue Op" from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: Soundtrack from the Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Urbi et Orbi
Yesterday, I attended my thirty-eighth Mass of this year. (Calendar year, as yesterday was also the first day of a new liturgical year.) I will fall well short of the goal of attending at least fifty-two Masses this year, but the provisional thirty-eight does best last year's total of thirty-seven Masses, previously the best attendance record since record-keeping began in '08. "Provisional thirty-eight" because the end o' the year, Advent & the Christmastide, habitually results in a flurry of church-attendance. I log my attendance not as a badge of pride (deadliest of the Seven Deadly Sins), but as a means of goading myself into greater obedience to His commandment regarding the Sabbath. My great hope is that greater obedience will lead to greater piety.

This Week in Motorsport
The week 'fore last I threatened two "This Week in Motorsport" posts, but only published one. There was no "This Week in Motorsport" at all last week, & I am desperately far behind. I hope there will be two this week, in addition to a raft of other material.

Rally Monkey
World Rally Championship
Round 13
Rally de España
Friday-Sunday, 9-11 November 2012

The '12 World Rally Championship (W.R.C.) ended as it began, with nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb victorious. Loeb won nine of the year's thirteen rallies, with a lovely symmetry of having won the first & last rallies, the third & third-from-last (eleventh) rallies, & the middle five. "Flying Finn" Jari-Matti Latvala finished second in his last rally for the Ford factory team, & repeatedly expressed astonished dismay at the end of every stage; he'd push as hard as he could, having greatly increased his pace on tarmac (as opposed to snow or gravel) over the course of the year, only to find that he'd lost anywhere from tenths of seconds to tens of seconds to the Alsatian Frenchman. Latvala simply had nothing for Loeb, even as he bested the rest of the field.

Loeb is semi-retiring from the W.R.C., & will contest only a partial schedule for Citroën, in a third car at those select rallies. Defending Manufacturers' Champions Citroën will field the full-time duo of Mikko Hirvonen, who finished second in this year's Drivers' standings, & Dani Sordo, returning to Citroën after several largely fruitless years with the semi-works Mini team. Ford are withdrawing as a factory squad, though they will still provide support for customer Fiestas, including the M-Sport squad who ran the factory effort. The now-privateer M-Sport effort will be lead by Mads Østberg & Olympic medal-winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, with standout lower category driver Juho Hänninen to contest a limited calendar. Volkswagen will enter the fray next year with talented drivers Latvala & Loeb's youthful nemesis, Sébastien Ogier. Hyundai are confirmed to run a partial-season schedule, ahead of a full-year effort in '14; drivers are yet to be announced. '03 World Champion Petter Solberg, the last man to win the world title besides Loeb, is likely to continue as a privateer, if funding can be found, having previously said that he'd drive for free if that was the only way to stay in the W.R.C.

Loeb is said to be preparing to lead Citroën's entry into the World Touring Car Championship in '14, & owns his own team that competes in G.T. racing & the European Le Mans Series; so, here's hoping we'll see him against at the 24 Heures du Mans.

2011 W.R.C.
Round 3, Power Stage
Rally de Portugal
Sunday, 27 March 2011

Last year, the W.R.C. was given extensive coverage on the cable channel Velocity, formerly Discovery H.D. Theater. This year, there was no such reurn to velocity & it was not 'til mid-year that I became aware of Speed's most welcome but still somewhat minimal W.R.C. coverage. (Velocity broadcast five hours every rally weekend, including hour-long programs on each day of a rally; Speed broadcasts just the one-hour weekend review.) Several weeks ago, I noticed a rally program in the Velocity listings, & programmed the D.V.R. to capture this possible golden nugget. Alas, what I found was a rerun of some of '11's coverage. Curses! As it is, the Power Stage is my least-favorite part of any rally, but something is better than nothing.

Part of the problem this year was with the W.R.C.'s basic programming, that programming's producer having gone out of business rather at the last minute. This year's rallies were covered on an ad hoc basis; so, it is possible Speed broadcast everything there was to broadcast. Next year sees the return of a stable ('tis hoped), full-season programming provider; let us hope that with this comes more coverage on American television.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
LCD Soundsystem, "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Originally a recommendation of Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. I thank her.

"New York, you're perfect,
Don't, please don't change a thing.
Your mild billionaire mayor's
Now convinced he's a king.
And so the boring collect,
I mean all disrespect…"

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXVII - The Crossness Pumping Station, London.

The Queue
I've finished Part I of Leviathan, "Of Man," & have begun Part II, "Of Common-wealth." I was on the verge of abandoning the enterprise last Tuesday, but some stubborn impulse within me recognized that "Of Man" was picking up speed & that context indicated I was drawing ever closer to the meat & potatoes that drew me to Leviathan in the first place. The latter chapters of "Of Man" were far less torturous than the early chapters, which were the most difficult tripe through which I've slogged. After "Of Common-wealth," Parts III & IV await, "Of a Christian Common-wealth" & "Of the Kingdome of Darknesse."

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the 1st Sunday of Advent
The Civil Wars, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" via iTunes, (free) Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Warm & drizzly as today has been, it doesn't seem like the first Sunday of Advent, but 'tis all the sme. Ordinary Time is ended, & we are in a holy season 'til Epiphany draws the Christmastide to a close.

Samstag, 1 Dezember
Séan McCann, "Sooner or Later" courtesy The Watergirl (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Napoleon Bonaparte, Cleopatra VII Philopater, Adolf Hitler, & Grigori Rasputin. The lyrics say, "Sooner or later we're all gonna die/…Someday we're all gonna die," yet McCann references only the powerful, & not only the powerful, but among the most famous (or infamous) persons in all the world. I suppose it goes without saying that those whose names are lost to history are mortal.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Running Out of Ink" from Barenaked Ladies Are Men (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "It's bleaker than you think."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Victors: Project OSPREY
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
(№ 5) Michigan 77-47 Cleveland State
3-0, Big Ten 0-0

A thirty-point win? I'll take that. Yes, this was a care of a highly-ranked club beating up on lesser opposition, so an argument could be made that this win is nothing to celebrate. That, however, is a despicably patronizing argument. Cleveland State is a Division I program; they've been to the N.C.A.A. Tournament as recently as '09 & to the N.I.T. in two of the last three years. They are an opponent worthy of respect, not yokels just off the turnip truck from the sticks, cannon fodder against the mighty major conference school. The Cleveland State Vikings came to play against the Michigan Wolverines, fair & square; Cleveland States neither wants nor needs your pity. That the valiant Wolverines trounced them by thirty points, well, let's take that as something of a validation of Michigan's terrifyingly high pre-season ranking.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012
(№ 4) Michigan 67-62 Pitt
4-0, Big Ten 0-0

A tough win against the toughest opponent yet faced in a young season. The valiant Wolverines played far from their best game, & yet were able to emerge victorious against a brutal, unsportsmanlike Big East opponent. (I suppose it is redundant to label any Big East club as unsportsmanlike.) Previous valiant Wolverines squads, with a less diverse offense & less aggressive rebounding, might well have lost a game like this. Another encouraging sign that the '12-'13 valiant Wolverines might be worthy of their hype.

Friday, 23 November 2012
(№ 4) Michigan 71-57 Kansas State
5-0, Big Ten 0-0

The valiant Wolverines are N.I.T. Season Tip-off champs! This is the first time a valiant Wolverines squad has won an early-season tournament in… I can't say how long precisely, but quite a while. The game was tight throughout the first half, & the valiant Wolverines took only a four-point lead into the locker room at halftime, but assumed control in the second half on the way to the double-digit victory. These boys who represent the Maize & Blue have yet to best a ranked opponent, but they are playing & winning as a team, depending on no single superstar player to shoulder the burden (though there are at least two—Tim Hardaway Jr. & Trey Burke—& possibly three—Glenn Robinson III—who have the potential to blossom into superstars). They still rain in threes, but also play a better game inside the paint that any previous squad of John Beilein-coached valiant Wolverines. Holy smokes, the Top 5 ranking might be for real.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012
(№ 3) Michigan 79-72 North Carolina State (№ 18)
6-0, Big Ten 0-0

A two-fer: The valiant Wolverines made a useful contribution to the annual Big Ten/A.C.C. Challenge & defeated their first ranked opponent of the still-young season. Woo hoo! There are concerns about both offense (consistency) & defense (everything), but, by Jove, the valiant Wolverines might really be the № 3 club in the United States!

Next: At Bradley on Saturday, followed by a three-game home stand at the Crisler Center. ("Crisler Center" looks & sounds weird to me, as I still think of the "House that Cazzie Built" as Crisler Arena. Of course, I'm used to Yost as the Yost Ice Arena, a name that must look & sound weird to those who knew it as the Yost Fieldhouse. I'll get used to the Crisler Center name, it'll just take some time.)

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Folksmen, "Blood on the Coals" from A Mighty Wind: The Album (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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

Commentary: "Denise" is one of my all-time favorite songs.

"She got a heart made of gravel."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I thought I'd catch up on the nascent basketball season today ("The Victors: Project OSPREY"), but I also didn't think I'd spend so much time in the attic laying down insulation. So, you never know the twists & turns a day will take.

A dire warning, & 'tis hoped a wake-up call, from today's New Girl. I must not allow PARAFFIN to become like Nick Miller's Z is For Zombie. More on this later.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
First Aid Kit, "Wolf" from The Lion's Roar (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Victors
Saturday, 24 November 2012
(№ 4*) Ohio State 26-21 Michigan (№ 20)
8-4, Big Ten 6-2

First, inarticulate frustration: Argh! Der! Grr! Argh! Second, affirmation: Now, as ever & always, it is great to be Michigan Wolverine. Third, the goat: The Devil take Al Borges! (Mr. Borges is the valiant Wolverines' offensive coordinator.) We win & we lose as a team ("The team, the team, the team."), & our purpose here is neither to assign blame nor to engage in emotionally-satisfying-but-ultimately-counterproductive recriminations. But we do ourselves a disservice if we do not seek to identify those faults in preparation or execution that lead to Saturday's ignominious defeat at the hands of the ancient foe. My great fear, & I freely admit that it borders on the irrational, fueled by the trauma of the '08 through '10 seasons, is that Brady Hoke is the reverse Rich Rod—whereas Rodriguez focused on the offense & almost entirely neglected the defense (to our great detriment), I fear that Hoke is focused on the defense to the virtual exclusion of the offense. These last two years, while Rich Rod-recruited defensive players have been transformed into fire-breathing monsters, a buzz saw of a defense that rates well nationally, the offense has displayed a variety of bizarre, doomed-to-fail schemes. Runs up the middle that are terminally delayed, runs to the outside that take so long to develop that geriatric D-linemen would have adequate time to thwart them, & passes behind the line of scrimmage that almost invariably lead to lost yardage. The perfect exemplar of this spotty play-calling was Saturday's fourth-&-three play. We went for it under ridiculously dubious circumstances: fourth-&-three, in our own territory, early in the third quarter, with the score virtually tied. Wait, what? What?! Fourth-&-inches, sure, I could see that, late in the fourth quarter or even in the third if we were desperately far behind, & on their side of the field. But fourth-&-three, there, then? Are you pulling my leg? What brain donor thought that was a good idea? Adding insult to injury, we attempted to gain the three yards—not mere inches, mind you—with a run up the middle, even though we had failed utterly to evince any interior running game up to that point in the game. They stopped us, of course, & we turned the ball over on downs. (A punt, the customary choice when facing a fourth-&-three, would most likely have pinned the hated Buckeyes deep in their own territory.) We were lucky to escape with them having only scored a field goal.

Specific plays aside, the greatest source of the opening, inarticulate frustration was our use of the "platoon" system at quarterback. Playing more than one quarterback, by choice, as more than just an every-once-in-the-while wrinkle? Doom. Doom! DOOM! I adore senior quarterback Denard "Shoelace" Robinson, & I agree that, even compromised by an arm injury that prevents him from throwing the ball, he's too slippery a runner, too dynamic a player to leave on the sidelines. But putting him in at quarterback, with both teams aware that he was unable to throw, for such a substantial number of plays bordered on the insane. Or at least on the inept. Missing our best running back, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Borges & the offensive brain trust (a term I use loosely) decided to insert Shoelace at quarterback, a clearly signal to the Ohio State defense that a running play was in the offing. Why? Shoelace had proved dangerous at running back the previous week, playing in tandem with back-up quarterback Devin Gardner. Why wasn't the same winning combination used more against the hated Buckeyes. Gardner & Shoelace were almost never on the field together. Evaluate this perplexing choice in the light of the early-season decision to play Gardner at wide receiver, to risk injury when he was clearly needed as back-up quarterback. Instead, of the junior Garnder, red shirt freshman Russell Bellomy was designated as second-strong quarterback, a fundamental error in judgment that possibly cost us the game against Nebraska, & with it a likely slot in this coming weekend's Big Ten Championship Game. Why weren't Shoelace & Gardner used as a dangerous duo against Ohio? Why was Gardner risked at wide receiver? Why was Bellomy the designated back-up over the vastly-more-experienced Gardner? As previously mentioned, the Devil take Al Borges!

Alas! For their many sins, the hated Buckeyes' season is over. They will play in neither the Big Ten Championship Game nor a bowl game. They're done 'til spring practices. The valiant Wolverines finish the regular season at 8-4, a hard return to Earth after last season's improbable, glorious 10-2 regular season (11-2 after the Sugar Bowl victory). There is cold comfort in all four losses coming to Top 15 teams: (№ 1) Notre Dame, (№ 2) Alabama, (№ 4) Ohio State, & (№ 14) Nebraska. Cold comfort, because we had every chance in the world to defeat the vile Fighting Irish, the hated Buckeyes, & the unwelcome Cornhuskers, & in all three contests we beat ourselves with stupidity & blundering. (I suppose I'll have to re-evaluate Nebraska's epithet in light of the Big Ten's preposterous decision to admit Maryland & Rutgers, but that's a mater for another day.) Now we await the bowl bids, amid hope that we can end the year a proud 9-4 instead of a disappointing 8-5.

Saturday, 17 November 2012
(№ 23) Michigan 42-17 Iowa
8-3, Big Ten 6-1

It was nice to see the valiant Wolverines, again under the direction of relief quarterback Devin Gardner, kick the snot out of the tenacious Hawkeyes. I don't care how bad an opposing defense is, forty-two points is an impressive offensive output. Your humble narrator was surprised by how long Gardner was kept in the game, especially considering how desperately third-string quarterback Russell Bellomy needs to recover some of the poise & confidence he threw away during our hideous shellacking by Legends Division-championship rivals Nebraska.

Saturday, 10 November 2012
Michigan 38-31 Northwestern* (O.T.)
7-3, Big Ten 5-1

Wow! There is nothing else in sport so thrilling (as distinct from exciting or pleasing) as your club prevailing in a tight, nerve-racking game. One is overwhelmed by a wave of relief once the tension is released; the flip side of this, the depths of misery once that tension is released, but by your side's defeat… well, the less said about that unpleasantness the better. The plucky Wildcats' coach, Pat Fitzgerald, himself a former plucky Wildcat player, is annoying as all get-out, & it does my heart good to see him again thwarted. He's not evil incarnate like that goon in East Lansing, he's just so proud that I love to see him taken down a beg or three. Victory in overtime time; I'll take it!

Go Blue!

007's Golden Jubliee
Thanksgiving was a day of leisure, a day with virtually all of free time spent watching television. Not giving a tinker's damn about the National Football League (A.K.A., the "No Fun League"), I alternated 'twixt T.N.T.'s Castle marathon & Syfy's 007 marathon, seeing parts of Octopussy, License to Kill, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, & Die Another Day. Ian Fleming's James Bond canon has been extensively culled for the movies over the last fifty years (wow!), with bits & pieces woven here & there into a variety of other adaptations or original screen material. Those bits & pieces sometimes include nothing more than the title: the film Moonraker has naught to do with the novel Moonraker, whilst the film Die Another Day is largely an adaptation of the novel Moonraker. The exquisite short story "From a View to a Kill" is unrelated to the dreary film A View to a Kill, while the film For Your Eyes Only contains story elements from "For Your Eyes Only" & "Risico," plus original screen material. Quantum of Solace has nothing to do with "Quantum of Solace," while a sequence in The Living Daylights is adapted from "The Living Daylights," & so on & so forth. I liked Skyfall, & as the Fleming canon having been, as mentioned, extensively, possibly even exhaustively culled, I have not the slightest objection to new screen stories, especially as I wish very much to see the James Bond film franchise flourish for at least the next twenty-seven years. That said, I do wish they could find a use for the short story titles that have yet to be recycled. They are:

"The Hildebrand Rarity"
"The Property of a Lady"
"007 in New York"

(O.K., you got me. I'd rather there not be a film titled 007 in New York. "The Property of a Lady" has real potential, though, despite the short story's being adapted almost in its entirety in the film Octopussy. Bond 24, The Property of a Lady?)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
First Aid Kit, "Emmylou" via iTunes, (free) Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

*The plucky Wildcats of Northwestern University were (at the time) ranked in some polls—№ 24 in the B.C.S. standings & № 21 in the coaches' poll—but we here at The Secret Base recognize only the Associated Press (A.P.) poll. Pumping up Northwestern, making them seem as fearsome as possible, might be welcomed in some corners of Michigan fandom, but here we strive ever not to be hypocrites, even at the cost of prestige. By the same token, the hated Buckeyes are ranked in the A.P. poll because of their on-field performance, whereas they are not ranked in the B.C.S. due to their well-earned N.C.A.A. post-season ban, a result of their off-field knavery. I include their ranking here not to excuse our defeat, but for the sake of consistency.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXVI - Felix Baumgartner (b. 1969) & the Red Bull Stratos project.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Meaghan Smith, "It Snowed" from iTunes, (free) Holiday Sampler (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I had to brush the snow off of the Lumi the Snow Queen this morning before I could motor to Mass. Joy!

"How merry! How bright!"

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Cake, "Never There" from Prolonging the Magic (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Inspired by events & non-events to be related in upcoming "Project MERCATOR" & "Project PANDORA" posts.

Freitag, 23 November
Cake, "Meanwhile, Rick James…" from Comfort Eagle (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Operation AXIOM
Your humble narrator is thankful for this world of woe & wonder, for his kith & kin, for his nimbleness of mind & strength of body, & for the innumerable blessings with which he has been graced. Give thanks to He Who is the author of all splendor, of all our joys & sorrows. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers, to you & yours!

A latter-day phantom island: Sandy Island-link. Neat! It is interesting that in this day & age, with our supposed crowd-sourced, cloud-stored, digital omnipotence, when Man's fallen nature is denied & perfection is assumed to be but a few lines of code away, that such a basic error could persist for so long & be so widely repeated. My congratulations to the French on the accuracy of their nautical charts, triumphing where Google succumbed to pride & failed.

"No, GIR! Those piggies are for science. Science!"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Thanksgiving
Susan Egan, "The Turkey and the Stuffing" from Winter Tracks (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day
As I declared several weeks hence, "Like many men of my generation, I have a persistent crush on Zooey Deschanel. I will not apologize for that." This was declared in the context of watching an episode of the delightful sitcom New Girl. I will not apologize for that.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Cake, "Comfort Eagle" from Comfort Eagle (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: It's a Cake kind of week, methinks. There is of course an argument to be made that the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. on Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day should be supplied by her own band, She & Him, but as I said, it's a Cake kind of week, methinks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

This Week in Motorsport
A thousand pardons, dear readers, but I intend to make a liar of myself this week, publishing a pair of "This Week in Motorsport" reports to make up for last week's lack of a solo "This Week in Motorsport." (I know that at some point I titled a post "Last Week in Motorsport," but the demarcation is fuzzier this go-round.)

Formula Fun!
Formula One World Championship
Round 19
Grand Prix of the United States
Sunday, 18 November 2012

I had only the most rudimentary awareness of Formula One when last was held a United States Grand Prix, in 2007, at the misbegotten "roval" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; so, I have no idea of how big a deal F1 used to be, at least amongst the motorsports set. That said, I was blown away by the massive attention that was paid to the inaugural race at the brand-new, bespoke-for-F1 Circuit of the Americas (C.O.T.A.) outside of Austin, Texas. There has been a new F1 grand prix/circuit on the calendar every year that I've been an F1 fan: Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit in '09, Korea's eponymous International Circuit in '10, India's Buddh International Circuit in '11, & C.O.T.A. this year. Yet never before was there such a ballyhoo before the race weekend. Admittedly, I am an American & watch F1 on an American broadcaster (& Speed expanded its coverage of the whole weekend, carrying live on T.V. all three free practice sessions, not just Friday afternoon's Free Practice 2), which could skew my perspective, but I base this assessment also on the internet, websites from abroad moreso than websites based in America/targeted at the American audience. I see for this two reasons: one, there is a previous history of the U.S. Grand Prix to celebrate & recall, from twenty glorious years at Watkins Glen in upstate New York to the nomadic '80s at street circuits in Long Beach, Las Vegas, Dallas, Detroit, & Phoenix to the better part of a decade at Indianapolis. By contrast, Abu Dhabi's petroleum-fueled wealth has only been poured into encouraging Western tourism in the last decade, Korea is a new member of the rich-countries club, & India is still a developing nation. In that same vein, the second reason, that the United States is still, by a factor of 2:1, the largest economy in the world, the richest country in the known universe, the most lucrative market F1 has yet to exploit. In any event, the hype was fulfilled, the grandstands were full to bursting, Austin's hospitality was fêted, the circuit was praised, & the grand prix, as both a race & a public relations exercise, was a smashing success.

The race was, as mentioned, a smashing success. Reigning double World Champion Sebastian Vettel ('10 & '11) of Red Bull (Renault) dueled all race with '08 World Champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren (Mercedes), leaving the rest of the field over thirty seconds behind. Vettel lead most of the way, but was passed by Hamilton along the main straight (damn the D.R.S. gimmickry!) & did not have the speed to retake the position. Double World Champion Fernando Alonso ('05 & '06) of Ferrari finished third, after being promoted to the clean side of the track on the starting grid due to some skulduggery by Ferrari. To paraphrase James T. Kirk, "I've never trusted Italians, & I never will." Hamilton won, Vettel finished second, & Alonso finished third. Alonso is thirteen point behind Vettel going into the final round of the world championship, Brazil, with a win worth twenty-five points. Vettel has more wins on the season than Alosno, so Vettel wins the Drivers' Championship should they tie on points (possible only if Alonso finishes third [fifteen points] & Vettel finishes ninth [two points]).

As part of the return-to-America pageantry, Pirelli issued special hats for the podium ceremony. Normally, the top three finishers stand on the podium wearing black Pirelli baseball caps, denoting their finishing place—1st, 2nd, or 3rd—& promoting Pirelli's P-Zero tires. For Texas, Pirelli did something a bit more whimsical:

Beyond Thunderdome
International V8 Supercars Championship
Rounds 24-26
Yas V8 400
Saturday & Sunday, 3-4 November 2012

Reigning champion Jamie Whincup of Team Vodafone/Triple Eight Engineering (Holden) dominated the weekend shared with F1, pursued in all three races by second-place finisher Will Davison of Trading Post/Ford Performance Racing. Abu Dhabi has been on the V8 calendar for several years now, but heretofore it had been the season-opening round, in the spring (the Australian fall). This year was the first time the Aussies had shared the weekend with the F1 circus, & to work around F1's schedule the Supercars undertook a trio of sprint races, instead of the usual duo of longer races. odd all around, but the Holden-Ford duel is always an amusing show (to be joined by Nissan next year). I will be glad to see the Supercars back on rough & tumble Australian tracks, instead of F1's polished jewel in the desert. (Abu Dhabi is more about the spectacle than the racing, but with the V8 Supercars all the spectacle is in the racing.)

One-Make Wonderland
Porsche Supercup
Rounds 1 & 2
Grand Prix of Bahrain
Sunday, 22 April 2012

Round 4
Grand Prix de Monaco
Sunday, 27 May 2012

Round 5
Grand Prix of Europe
Sunday, 24 June 2012

Round 6
Grand Prix of Great Britain
Sunday, 8 July 2012

Round 7
Grosser Preis von Deutschland
Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Porsche Supercup is exclusively a support series for Formula One, pitting some of the best drivers from various national Carrera Cups against F1's European (& Middle Eastern) circuits. A plethora of Porsches—what's not to love? I had no idea that Speed televised the Supercup in any way, shape, or form 'til my father recorded highlights of the first three race a couple week ago. Way to go recording obsessively anything & everything the D.V.R. labels "racing"! I am glad to see the Supercup, but I have too complaints. One, the races are too short, sprints of never more than sixteen laps (of Monaco, where F1 does seventy-eight laps), & two, the highlights are two short, with three races crammed into half an hour (less, with adverts). I want more Supercup!

The season's been over since September, but as mentioned before this year in motorsport is winding down, & filling in what was missed over a frenetic summer & fall is most welcome as the live pickings grow increasingly thin. There are four more races, & I hope they'll be spread over two more episodes instead of jammed into one. Come on, chaps, be expansive.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Cake, "Never There" from Prolonging the Magic (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I've always wished "Never There" was a little bit longer. I think it could be without overstaying its welcome.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Queue
Leviathan is proving, in Donald Rumsfeld's immortal words, "a long, hard slog." I am a hundred pages into a six hundred-page work, & am advancing at a snail's pace. This is due in part to the near-impenetrability of Hobbes's prose. Sure, the archaic spellings & meanings of words pose a challenge in & of themselves, but the impenetrable aspect is Hobbes's tone & style. I am in yet in the first of the four parts, "Of Man," & found the early going the hardest reading I've ever done, as Hobbes discussed at mind-numbing length the most seemingly basic of ideas & definitions. (I forgive him this, as I suspect he was striving simply to be as clear as possible, to forestall any misconstruing of his ideas, but that didn't make that pedantic drivel any easier to read.) He rails at length against "Metaphor," always capitalized, & yet employs metaphors throughout the text; so, I assume he's railing against some archaic, now obsolete & discarded definition of metaphor. "Of Man" is gathering pace, but progress is still to be had only at a premium. If the next part, "Of Common-wealth," doesn't offer significant change, the endeavour might well be abandoned.

I renewed my lease of Leviathan today, & doubt I'll finish the book, if I finish the book, by this time in December. To reach the finish, if I reach the finish, I might have to take a break or two, & take a vacation to Barsoom.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Fratellis, "Henrietta" from Costello Music (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXV - Colonel Joseph Kittinger, U.S.A.F. (b. 1928) & Projects MANHIGH, EXCELSIOR, & STARGAZER.

Commentary: I do so love it when "The Explorers' Club" shines its spotlight on an actual explorer.

The Rebel Black Dot 007 Songs of the Day
Shirley Bassey, "Diamonds Are Forever" from The Best of Bond… James Bond: 50th Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 17 November
John Barry, "007" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A secondary James Bond theme, introduced during the action sequences of From Russia with Love. You'd recognized "007" if you heard it, even if you don't know the title.

Freitag, 16 November
Eric Rodgers, "Kingston Calypso" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The grimly comic song accompanying the opening titles of Dr. No, in which the immortal "James Bond Theme" appeared much later in the film's progression.

Donnerstag, 15 November
Louis Armstrong, "We Have All the Time In the World" from The Best of Bond… James Bond: 50th Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The love theme, though not the main theme, from the most tragic of all Bond films, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The titular theme is instrumental.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot 007 Songs of the Day
Matt Monro, "From Russia with Love" from The Best of Bond… James Bond: 50th Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Dienstag, 13 November
Tina Turner, "GoldenEye" from The Best of Bond… James Bond: 50th Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Project MERCATOR: 007's Golden Jubilee*
I saw Skyfall on Friday, accompanied by Ska Army. We were both quite pleased by & enthusiastic about the film, though the boom was lowered on our post-film conversation when my companion revealed his disdain for the films Live and Let Die & The Man with the Golden Gun. It should be noted that Ska Army's opinions regarding the cinema aren't worth a tinker's damn: he disliked The Dark Knight Rises, the Philistine. Nonetheless, even Philistines recognize the quality of Skyfall.

Sean Connery
Dr. No (1962)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)
Thunderball (1965)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)†

George Lazenby
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Roger Moore
Live and Let Die (1973)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Moonraker (1979)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Octopussy (1983)
A View to a Kill (1985)

Timothy Dalton
The Living Daylights (1987)
License to Kill (1989)

Pierce Brosnan
GoldenEye (1995)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Die Another Day (2002)

Daniel Craig
Casino Royale (2006)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Skyfall (2012)
"…James Bond Will Return…"

*This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the first James Bond feature film, Dr. No. Ian Fleming's novels celebrated their golden anniversary in 2003, fifty years after the publication of Casino Royale.

†We here at The Secret Base are proud Eon Productions partisans & as such consider neither 1967's Casino Royale nor 1983's Never Say Never Again to be true Bond pictures, despite Mr. Connery's lamentable participation in the latter film.

The Rebel Black Dot 007 Songs of the Day
Garbage, "The World Is Not Enough" from The Best of Bond… James Bond: 50th Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)


"The world is not enough,
But it is such a perfect place to start, my love,
And if you're strong enough
Together we can take the world apart, my love."

Samstag, 10 November
Adele, "Skyfall" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Armistice Day
At the eleventh hours of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, ninety-four years ago to the day, 11 November 1918, the Armistice silenced the guns on the Western Front. 'Twas not yet a peace, but 'twas no longer a war. But for a few trifling details, such as the lives of the ten of thousands who would perish as the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, & Russian Empires convulsed & disintegrated, the Great War was ended. A world met its grisly demise in the four unspeakable years of the Weltkrieg; a generation was lost, slaughtered or otherwise broken in body & spirit; the cultures, morals, & societies for which that doomed generation fought & died perished with them. We are, all of us, maimed by the First World War. We have never recovered what was lost, we have never found our way again, we have never restored our faith. We are, all of us, maimed, even unto the present day. We dare not forget those dark & terrible years, we dare not, lest we fall victim to those same dreadful mistakes. We dare not think ourselves immune to the same folly, we dare not, lest we hasten its repetition. Lest we forget.

"Achilles in the Trench"
by Patrick Shaw-Stewart (1888-1917)*

I saw a man this morning
Who did not wish to die;
I ask, and cannot answer,
If otherwise wish I.

Fair broke the day this morning
Upon the Dardanelles:
The breeze blew soft, the morn's cheeks
Were cold as cold sea-shells.

But other shells are waiting
Across the Aegean Sea,
Shrapnel and high explosives,
Shells and hells for me.

Oh Hell of ships and cities,
Hell of men like me,
Fatal second Helen,
Why must I follow thee?

Achilles came to Troyland,
And I to Chersonese;
He turned from wrath to battle,
And I from three days' peace.

Was it so hard, Achilles,
So very hard to die?
Thou knowest, and I know not;
So much the happier am I.

I will go back this morning
From Imbros o'er the sea.
Stand in the trench, Achilles,
Flame-capped, and shout for me.

"On Receiving News of the War"
by Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918)

Snow is a strange white word.
No ice or frost
Has asked of bud or bird
For Winter's cost.

Yet ice and frost and snow
From earth to sky
This Summer land doth know.
No man knows why.

In all men's hearts it is.
Some spirit old
Hath turned with malign kiss
Our lives to mould.

Red fangs have torn His face.
God's blood is shed.
He mourns from His lone place
His children dead.

O! ancient crimson curse!
Corrode, consume.
Give back this universe
Its pristine bloom.

*Poetry has been a part of The Secret Base's commemoration of Armistice Day since '07. Both of this year's poets, Patrick Shaw-Stewart & Isaac Rosenberg, were killed in the Great War. We have also spotlighted the poets John McCrae, Wilfred Owen, Rudyard Kipling, Rupert Brooke, Laurence Binyon, & Robert Graves; McCrae (1872-1918), Owen (1893-1918), & Brooke (1887-1915) all died in uniform during the Great War.

The Explorers' Club
№ CCCXIV - The Fokker D.VII, the best fighter plane of the Great War.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Armistice Day
Dropkick Murphys, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya" from The Meanest of Times (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The tune of my beloved "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" originated with the unambiguously anti-war song, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye," here presented in a punk rock rendition, slightly retitled as "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya," by Dropkick Murphys.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
William Shatner, "Has Been" from Has Been (California Dreamer)

Commentary: The Dreamer didn't directly suggest "Has Been," but some remarks of hers brought it to mind, & that's how the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. works.

"I've heard of you,
The ready-made connecting with the ever-ready, yeah.
Never Was talking about Still Trying, I got it.
Forever Bitter gossiping about Never Say Die…

"What are you afraid of?
Failure? So am I.
(Has been, has been.)
'Has been' implies failure: Not so.
(Has been, has been.)
Has been's history. Has been was.
Has been… might again."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I have now walked one hundred miles through the agency of my two & a half mile "daily" constitutional. One hundred miles! One hundred miles of exercise I would not otherwise have taken, one hundred miles of pushing & urging myself forward, one hundred miles through rain & sunshine (a bigger deterrent to me than rain) & wind & motorcars & barking, charging dogs. I'm proud of myself (but not boastfully so, methinks), but also reproachful that it took me so blasted long to get to one hundred miles. Months! Months of inactivity through the height of the summer! Lousy sloth! I've never walked five times in one week, but twice in consecutive weeks I walked on four consecutive days; if I do that regularly, or even semi-regularly, if I can lay down ten miles on course every week, I'll be to the next hundred miles in the later stages of January. Other weeks I've walked on four days, but non-consecutively. Observation of my times indicates that consecutive days produce the fastest times; a day spent at a standstill is the enemy of speed. More laps, & faster lap times. Those are my (admittedly fuzzy) objectives. Onward!

This means I've also put more-or-less one hundred miles on my sneakers. My informal adviser, Mrs. Skeeter, Esq., told me that a pair of training shoes have a life of approximately five hundred miles; I am logging the distance walked more to monitor shoe degradation than as benchmarks such as that celebrated above (a nice fringe benefit all the same). Four hundred more miles on this pair of sneakers. Let's run (walk, jog) 'em into the ground!

Warning: Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. is not going to want to read this next part, which discusses my moustache.

A hair fell out of my moustache today, perfectly intact from root to end. I caught it in midair & had a sudden inspiration to put it to the test on a ruler. Not every hair in my moustache is this long, & this one had indeed given up the ghost, but this one measured almost exactly two & a half inches. Wow! I really should wax the 'stache, at least on an experimental basis.

All clear, Skeet!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Lenka, "Trouble Is a Friend" from Lenka (T.L.A.M.)


"He's there in the dark,
He's there in my heart,
He waits in the wings,
He's gotta play a part,
Trouble is a friend, yeah,
Trouble is a friend of mine,
Oh, oh!

"So now don't be alarmed
If he takes you by the arm,
I won't let him in
But I'm a sucker for his charm,
Trouble is a friend, yeah,
Trouble is a friend of mine…"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

This Week in Motorsport
Formula Fun!
Formula One World Championship
Round 18
Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
Sunday, 4 November 2012

Disaster! & disaster averted! Red Bull (Renault) blundered during qualifying at the Yas Marina Circuit. Reigning double World Champion Sebastian Vettel ('10 & '11) qualified third, behind '08 World Champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren (Mercedes) & '07 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen of Lotus (Renault), but then stopped on track on the instructions from his race engineer. This suspicious behavior drew the attention of the stewards & Vettel's RB8 was found not to have the required one liter of fuel remaining & available for inspection. Eight hundred fifty milliliters shy of the mark, Vettel was disqualified & had to start the grand prix from the back, not just the back of the grid but from the very pit lane itself. A stiff task was set the young German, as his chief rival double World Champion Fernando Alonso ('05 & '06) of Ferrari was to start from sixth (promoted from seventh by Vettel's disqualification), & Alonso is notable as an aggressive overtaker at the first corner.

There was the usual chaos at the first turn, but luck was with most of the field & only a single driver, Nico Hülkenberg of Force India (Mercedes), had his day ended. Mark Webber of Red Bull, who qualified second, made his customary dreadful start & was back in fifth place before the end of the first lap. Vettel began slicing his way through the back markers, but had his front wing damaged in a pair of incidents. There was an unholy smash up 'twixt the Mercedes A.M.G. of Nico Rosberg & the H.R.T. (Cosworth) of Narain Karthikeyan, with Rosberg's machine riding up & over Karthikeyan's, ripping the camera off the top of the roll hoop & sending carbon fiber shrapnel flying in all directions. Clearly & rightly afraid of fire, Rosberg hopped out of his wounded machine with uncanny quickness; fortunately, there was no fire. Vettel pitted during the resultant safety car period, had his wing replaced & received a new set of tires, was again relegated to the very back of the field, & began fighting his way back to the front. Hamilton was cruising serenely in the lead, untouchable by the pursuing Räikkönen, when his engine suddenly lost fuel pressure, ending his race. It was Hamilton's second retirement from the lead in the last five grands prix. Räikkönen assumed the race lead & was not to be denied; he lead from Hamilton's retirement through the pit stop rotation & all the way to Lotus's first* victory.

Behind him, Vettel showed the aggression & passing mastery last displayed at Spa in the end o' August, when he climbed from twelfth to second. At Abu Dhabi, Vettel overtook '09 World Champion Jenson Button of McLaren for third in the waning laps & might well have caught up to the second-place Alonso had he managed to get around Button two or three laps sooner. Vettel drove from twenty-fourth to third, one of the most amazing performances I've seen in my four years of watching motorsport. Hamilton, Räikkönen, & Webber were officially eliminated from championship contention; Alonso trails Vettel by ten points, with a maximum of fifty points available in the last two grands prix of the year, the United States & Brazil. With Vettel's exclusion from qualifying, Alonso had a golden opportunity to make up serious ground on his rival, or even resume the championship lead, but by claiming the third step on the podium Vettel kept his points-lead over Alonso in the double digits. Nothing is yet decided, & the championship will almost certainly not be decided 'til the season finale at Interlagos in São Paulo. This is thrilling stuff, & Abu Dhabi was amazing!

Next: the United States Grand Prix, for the first time since '07. The brand-new, purpose-build Circuit of the Americas looks mightily impressive, & will be plainly superior to the old, misbegotten "roval" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (I.M.S.). This will be the race to watch, dear readers, the perfect chance to check out the F1 circus while basking in a glow of patriotism. Sunday, 18 November 2012, live at 1:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time for the pre-race show. The grand prix rolls off at 2:00 P.M., & Formula One races are time-limited to a maximum of two hours. Join me, won't you?

Indy Rock
Star Mazda Championship
Round 5
Night Before the 500
Saturday, 26 May 2012

U.S. F2000 National Championship
Round 5
Night Before the 500
Saturday, 26 May 2012

The "Road to Indy" is a Mazda-sponsored driver-development ladder meant to train-up the next generation of drivers in American open-wheeled racing. The four steps, from lowest to highest, are the U.S. F2000 National Championship, the Star Mazda Championship, Indy Lights, & the IndyCar Series proper. The races, both held at the smaller Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, not the larger, world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, were run months ago, & the respective championships long-ago decided, but that's O.K.; this is the time of year when the motorsports action is getting a little thin, & races from the meatier part of the year are most welcome. The "Night Before the 500" marked the only oval-track race on that F2000 schedule, & one of only two ovals for the Star Mazda drivers. I understand that if drivers are being trained to one-day race in the IndyCar Series & at the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race they have to get used to racing on ovals, but it still seemed… demented. Here are these kids, many of them teenagers & the oldest still in their early twenties, still learning their racecraft & the limits of their cars, how to navigate their way around a proper circuit, & suddenly they have to learn the new skill-set needed to "compete" in a crap-shoot oval-track race? Ovals are so incredibly inferior to road courses that I'm staggered, & irked if not slightly offended, that young pilots are still being taught to embrace those anarchic ovals. Also, as races, at least from the spectator's point of view, oval races are rubbish.

S.R.T. Viper Cup
Round 3
Road America, Race 1
Friday, 11 May 2012

Viper Cup races are short, only half an hour long, but they're kind of entertaining. They are, if nothing else, better than Mazda MX-5 Cup races. The cars are all previous generation Viper GTS-Rs, but watching them is also a pleasnt reminder of the new Viper GTS-Rs competing in the American Le Mans Series & soon, 'tis hoped, at Le Mans itself. But I digress. Big, loud, ludicrous American muscle? I can get behind that.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
William Shatner, "Ideal Woman" from Has Been (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Ideal Woman" was featured in Monday's episode of Castle, a murder mystery set amidst a science fiction convention. "Ideal Woman" features one of my favorite turns of phrase, "turn of phrase." For so very many reasons, thank you, William Shatner!

"It's you I fell in love with:
Your turn of phrase,
Your sensitivity,
Your irrational moods…
Well, maybe that could go,
But everything else,
I want you to be you."