Thursday, May 31, 2012

The hostage-taking, having failed, is at an end. 'Twas doomed from the start in accordance with two principles. The first is my repeatedly reinforced observation that the busier I am the more I can get done; by ceasing to work on The Secret Base I did not redirect that time & vim to Project PALINDROME. Leisure time does not beget productivity, old son, but work begets more, & more productive, work. The second is my natural aversion to ultimata; I've long held that instead of negotiating with hostage-takers we should proceed on the assumption that they've already murdered their hostages & dispense justice/vengeance accordingly. On that score, I'm mildly proud of myself for having the courage of my conviction, of not giving in to threats.

None of this has finished my work, however. Back to the salt mines, curse my bones!

Operation AXIOM
Seventy years ago to the day (at the time of typing), 27 May 1942, British-trained Czechoslovak commandos mortally wounded Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia & Moravia (the ethnic Czech areas of the then-defunct Czechoslovakia) in an audacious assassination plot code named "Operation ANTHROPOID." Heydrich was a monster amongst monsters, vicious even by Nazi standards; worse than that though, he was also damnably efficient, deserving much of the credit/blame for building the Sicherheitsdienst (S.D.) into the brutal engine of terror & repression it became. Killing Heydrich wasn't just striking a blow for Czechoslovak freedom or the Allied cause, it was striking a blow for all Mankind. A terrible vengeance was wreaked by the furious Nazis, but a likely successor to Himmler as Reichsführer-S.S. & a principal organizer of the Final Solution, an invaluable asset to the "Thousand-year Reich," was removed from play. By such small victories are wars, & nations, won & lost. Heydrich lingered for a week before succumbing to the wounds inflicted upon him in Operation ANTHROPOID; I like to think he suffered greatly in that week. Three cheers for the death of the "Butcher of Prague": Heydrich must die-link. Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Eric Hutchinson, "Watching You Watch Him" via iTunes, (free) Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Jojo is out of bounds as far as Project PANDORA is concerned, but that does precious little to make her any less appealing whenever we socialize. I'm not in love with her, but I am woefully in lust.

Mittwoch, 30 Mai
The Animals, "House of the Rising Sun" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I'll always treasure the memory of being lead in a rousing chorus of "House of the Rising Sun" in the basement of Ashley's—the pub in A2—by Father Firestone.

Dienstag, 29 Mai
Ben Folds, "Kylie from Connecticut" from Way to Normal (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 28 Mai
Sam Cooke, "Summertime" from Portrait of a Legend, 1951-1964 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A cover of the Gershwin song from Porgy and Bess, one of several covers of that song in my library, chosen in honor of this unofficial first day of summer.

Sonntag, 27 Mai
Charles Coborn, "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Sorry, Indianapolis, but Sunday's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. was chosen in honor of the "grandest grand prix of all," the Grand Prix de Monaco, "the jewel in the F1 crown."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nothing more 'til I've finished the current, & massively behind-schedule, phase of Project PALINDROME. I am dreadfully sorry if you feel betrayed, dear readers, but holding The Secret Base hostage might well be the only way I can make myself cross this particular finish line.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Dr. Worm" from Severe Tire Damage (April May June)

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Stars My Destination
Cool beans, everything works: station-link! The good news is that there is a now a third means of getting cargo & supplies to the International Space Station (I.S.S.), supplementing the Russian & European cargo capsules. The bad news is that a private company, SpaceX, now joins the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, & the nations of the European Space Agency in having more advanced spaceflight capabilities than the United States of America. Thanks to President Obama's simultaneous decisions to retire the Space Shuttle fleet & delay the development of N.A.S.A.'s Orion capsule, the United States has no ability to boost supplies to the I.S.S.; we can't do more than launch satellites in orbit, an ability shared by the Russians, the Chinese, the Europeans, & a clutch of private concerns. The United States of America: "leading from behind" on the planet & in outer space.

Autobahn | Project GLOWWORM
As I was leaving Mass Wednesday evening, Father McGuinness had to scurry out to his motorcar to fetch something. I discovered that Father McGuinness drives a Prius. Of course he does. What else would such a dedicated old hippie drive in the 21st century? As I passed the Prius on my way to the Lumi the Snow Queen, Father McGuinness called out a compliment about my moustache. I turned & told him that I'd always been inspired by his beard; 'twas a tiny white lie to say "inspired," though I have always admired his beard. Of course, he's trimmed it nearly down to stubble for the summer, but in cooler weather it's a proper old beard. It goes hand-in-glove with his kindly, booming voice.

Objective SCHWEDEN
Wednesday's daily constitutional was taken at thus-far a unique time, late afternoon, as opposed to late morning or evening. At one point, as I emerged from a cul-de-sac, I found myself amidst a jogging traffic jam, with a beef fellow headed in the opposite direction & two comely maidens along my heading. One quickly jogging into the distance & away, while with the other I soon found myself unintentionally acting out the fable of the tortoise & the hare. She would walk for a spell & then break into a moderate run, while I plowed ahead at my same swift walk (relatively swift, I am elephantine after all). She would scamper off into the distance with her sprints, but I would steadily make up ground whenever she walked. Over time, as we traversed the same route, my steady pace was making up ground to her fast-then-slow pace. Once or twice she cast a glance back at me, & the terrible thought that she might be concerned I was following her crossed my mind. She was very fit, & in the modern style wearing next to nothing, skintight shorts & a sports bra; I never got a clear look at her face, not that I'm very good at judging ages anyway, so she could have been anything from fifteen to twenty-five. But what was I to do except walk the familiar route of my daily constitutional? I'd not altered my pace in any way since emerging from the cul-de-sac behind her. The dark bastard lives to jump to that sort of conclusion, never considering other options like she just might have been looking over her shoulder to check for approaching motorcars. At the corner of Rolling & Kimberly she turned onto Kimberly headed out toward Hill Road, while I continued along Rollings, heading deeper into the subdivision, alone again with the quiet voice urging me to maintain a swift pace (relatively swift).

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Days After Narwhal Day
David Polansky, "Narwhal" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A genuine educational children's song, from an album of alphabetical animals. "N" is for narwhal!

Donnerstag, 24 Mai
Aaron Burnett, "Narwhal" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Narwhal" bears similarities to They Might Be Giants's educational songs, like "Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)," "James K. Polk," or "Meet James Ensor," but with a decided folk tendency. Also, it's about narwhals!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I've long struggled with the appropriate Narwhal Day greeting/exhortation, something along the lines of "Happy New Year" & "Merry Christmas." "Happy" works for most, but not all holidays. The British "Happy Christmas" sounds queer (the real definition of queer, which I'm going to try to bring back along with gay—you know me well enough to know that I'd never use such words as pejorative shorthand for homosexual), which "Happy Memorial Day" & "Happy Veterans' Day" sound disrespectful of our glorious dead & our living veterans respectively. "Happy Narwhal Day" is similarly quasi inappropriate, as Narwhal Day is a day of celebration of the narwhal, yes, but also a day of earnest sympathy for these bizarre, woebegone sea beasts. In the last couple of years I've arrived at "happy & sympathetic," an adequate though unsatisfactory solution. I've yet to stumble upon the perfect word. Should I wish folks a "bittersweet" Narwhal Day? Mayhap. The search continues.

Meanwhile, let me wish one & all a happy & most sympathetic Narwhal Day! The narwhal (Monodon monoceros), also narwal or narwhale, one of the strangest sights in the seven seas. A whale with the horn of a unicorn, a horn that quite possibly inspired the myth of the unicorn. No one would believe such a thing if it wasn't real. Neptune's blessings upon the narwhal for providing a constant reminder that there is plenty in our seemingly mundane world that is weird & fantastic, we just need to pay attention.

The oath is a solemn pledge. Do not take it as a jest or a lark, 'tis a serious matter.

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

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

Commentary: There would be no Narwhal Day without the inspiration of "Sympathy for the Narwhal." D.J. Seaghost, also known as The Seaghost, is an old ally & friend of The Aquabats!, thus explaining why "Sympathy for the Narwhal" was selected as the R.B.D.S.O.N.D. not by The Last Angry Man, but by Aqua-Cadet № 0003432, Captain Thumbs-up. I was given that code name by none other than Chainsaw, the Prince of Karate, a once (& future?) Aquabat.

The Wayback Machine Tour of Narwhal Day
As this year's reading of "The Oath" reminds us, this is the twelfth celebration of Narwhal Day, the tenth time The Secret Base has been party to the fun & high jinks. This retrospective, though not always called "The Wayback Machine Tour," has been a feature of this blog's Narwhal Day observances since Anno Domini MMVIII.

Narwhal Day '11 | 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

This Week in Motorsport
Remember, this weekend is the Grand Prix de Monaco & at Monaco Friday practice is on Thursday. Got it? "Friday practice" is on Thursday. Friday is a quiet day in the Principality, ahead of the roar of qualifying on Saturday & the grand prix on Sunday. Monaco! Monaco! Monaco!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Warning: The following hyperlink might cause certain individuals of a sensitive nature some discomfort, as it details five chaps' moustaches: pride-link.

The Stars My Destination
Second time's the charm for SpaceX's latest Falcon rocket & Dragon capsule: launch-link. I genuinely wish I didn't have to be such a sourpuss, but I cannot let falsehoods & obfuscations pass unchallenged: N.A.S.A. honcho Charles Bolden is quoted as saying, "It's a great day for America… There are people who thought we'd gone away, and today says we've not gone away at all." With respect, Administrator Bolden, America didn't do this, the privately-held company SpaceX did this. Would it make sense to say that "America" made The Avengers or "America" invented the FaceSpace? Of course not. In the same vein, it is embarrassing for as accomplished a man as General Bolden to try to take credit for the accomplishments of others, to credit the accomplishments of every or any American to "America," as if the individual & the corporation did not exist, only the collective.

When N.A.S.A.'s Orion spacecraft & S.L.S. rocket sunder the veil of the heavens & carry astronauts into orbit & beyond, then "America" will have "not gone away," Administrator Bolden, & not before then.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "The Broken Bones" from Ten Years and Running (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Golem, "Mirror Mirror" from Citizen Boris (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCLXXXVIII - The Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

The Stars My Destination
I freely admit to grinning upon learning of SpaceX's aborting of the latest Dragon-Falcon launch: failure is not an option-link. I'm not opposed to private space flight, I'm opposed to N.A.S.A. being ordered to abrogate its responsibilities to the private sector. Why reinvent the wheel? N.A.S.A. has been building rockets & spacecraft for over fifty years, while SpaceX & Orbital Sciences Corp. are by trial & error recreating N.A.S.A.'s work from the late 1950s & early '60s. I ask again, Why reinvent the wheel? Under Obama administration policy, the United States must pay tribute to the Russian Federation for the privilege of accessing the International Space Station, for which the United States has borne approximately 75% of the cost. If the Dragon capsule is ever rated safe for manned spaceflight, then the United States must pay tribute to Elon Musk for the privilege of accessing the International Space Station. If private spaceflight is such a boon, then why is the U.S taxpayer having to line Mr. Musk's pockets (to the tune of betwixt $1,600,000,000 & $3,000,000,000) to make it a reality? If it's really going to be so much more cost-effective than N.A.S.A., why isn't the private equity market stepping in to foot the bill?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Cab Calloway, "Minnie the Moocher" from The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Calloway's brilliant scatting gets the attention, & rightly so, but I've always been very fond of the actual lyrics of "Minnie the Moocher."

"She had a dream about the King of Sweden,
He gave her things that she was needin',
He gave her a home built of gold and steel,
A diamond car with the platinum wheels."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

This Week in Motorsport
The dark side of motorsport, the side the passionate fan hopes never to see but knows will rear its ugly head sooner or later, or maybe both sooner & later: requiescat in pace-link. May the Lord have mercy on the souls of those killed, may those injured be restored swiftly & fully to health, & may justice be done, the driver punished only if this tragedy was anything other than a horrible accident. I've not yet seen a fatality in my three years of watching motorsport—there but for the grace of God go I—, my closest brush being last year's IndyCar season finale, in which double Indy 500-winner Dan Wheldon perished, a race I missed only for the most idiosyncratic of reasons (Wayback Machine). I remain all too aware that if I keep watching motorsport then witnessing such a death remains a possibility, & if I keep watching long enough then witnessing such a death becomes a probability & all but a certainty. I am striving to prepare myself for that day, to weigh the costs & benefits of motor racing so as to ensure that I embrace the virtues that make motorsport a worthwhile pursuit even at the costs of life & limb.

'Tis a famine weekend, with no races I wish to watch. Next weekend's the feast, with Formula One in the Principality of Monaco, the World Rally Championship in tempestuous Greece, the V8 Supercars somewhere Down Under, & my third attempt (Third time's the charm?) to appreciate the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Proclaimers, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" from Sunshine on Leith (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: MxPx's cover of "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," inexplicably mistitled as "(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles," was in the running, but as you can see I decided ultimately to go with original flavor.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The hot weather has arrived, & with it the Red Stripe. Boy howdy, I really do love a memorable advertising campaign. "It's beer! Hooray, beer!"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
John Williams, et al., "Call of the Champions" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I hate the Olympics, even Mitt Romney's runaway success the XIX Olympic Winter Games (Salt Lake City, 2002), for which "Call of the Champions" was the theme music. But I heard "Call of the Champions" earlier in the day on W.K.A.R., the classical music public radio station based on the dastardly Spartans' pastoral campus, & haven't been able to get John Williams's magnificent music out of my head.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guinness World Records can go to blazes! This fellow doesn't have the world's longest moustache, he has a very, very long beard—possibly the world's longest beard, but that thing's not a moustache: I call shenanigans!-link. The photographs clearly show hairs from below his lips, his cheeks, & his jawline contributing to his "moustache." A moustache is something much more specific than just a beard paired with a shaven chin. It is right & proper that the B.B.C. quotes a member of the Handlebar Club in support of this fraud. Those hypocrites follow the same prejudice, explicitly discriminating against men with beards whilst allowing their own members to have "moustaches" that are massive beards with just the jutting chin cleanshaven. A moustaches-only club is fine, as long as the rules are consistently applied! For shame, Guinness World Records & the British Broadcasting Corporation, for promoting such chicanery.

This Week in Motorsport
Formula Fun!
Sunday's Gran Premio de España was won by Pastor Maldonado of Williams (Renault), the first Venezuelan driver ever to win a Formula One grand prix. The victory was the august Williams team's first since '04; Maldonado's triumph also made him the fifth different driver to win one of 2012's five grands prix, from five different constructors. '09 World Champion Jenson Button of McLaren (Mercedes) won the Australian Grand Prix, '05 & '06 World Champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari won the Malayasian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg of Mercedes A.M.G. won the Chinese Grand Prix, reigning '10 & '11 World Champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull (Renault) won the Bahrain Grand Prix, & the aforementioned Maldonado won at the Circuit de Catalunya. Rosberg & Maldonado are both first-time race-winners. No one knows what to expect from the rest of the 2012 World Championships. Who will win? Who will lose? The most consistently fast team has been Lotus (Renault), but they've yet to win a grand prix. Traditional powerhouse McLaren seem to be moving backwards after their triumph in Australia, even though '08 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has won three* of the first five pole positions (*he won the pole in Spain, but was disqualified after the session, promoting Maldonado from the second starting position to the pole; technically then, Hamilton only has two poles); their pit stops & strategy calls have been suspect. Ferrari are said to have a terrible racecar, but the Spaniard Alonso won in Malaysia & lead much of his home grand prix before losing out to the surprising Maldonado. '10 & '11 World Constructors' Champions Red Bull are leading the constructors' standings, but have only one race win, in Bahrain. It's a topsy-turvy season, & next up is the "grandest grand prix of all"—& the most idiosyncratic—, the Grand Prix de Monaco!

By Endurance We Conquer
Last weekend's coverage of the American Le Mans Series (A.L.M.S.) race at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California was the most satisflying (or, rather, least dissatisfying) I'd experienced since the A.L.M.S. sold its soul to the Entertainment & Sports Programming Network. (The six-hour race was on Saturday, the two-hour television broadcast was on Sunday.) I attribute this to three factors: One, a long time had passed since I'd seen an A.L.M.S. race, even in such a butchered form, & absence makes the heart grow fonder. Two, the nature of the race, being a true endurance race (six hours!) & being held on a spectacular race course, Laguna Seca. Three, the delightful commentary provided by veteran driver Justin Bell; nothing against usual commentor Johnny O'Connell, also a veteran driver, but Bell is simply a more amusing, more satisfying broadcaster.

One of the most beautiful aspects of endurance/sports car racing is the endurance, an area where the A.L.M.S. struggles. The first round of the year, the 12 Hours of Sebring (Florida), is the longest race on the calendar, & also serves as the first round of the F.I.A. World Endurance Championship (W.E.C.); the second round is the shortest race of the year, a mere two hours around the streets of Long Beach, California, held the same weekend as the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach. Two hours does not an endurance race make. Six hours around Laguna Seca would test any machine, but after that come three races of just under three hours; I cannot say exactly how long the cars must drive to constitute an endurance race, but four to six hours would seem to be a reasonable standard, no? The W.E.C. is a joint venture of the F.I.A. (the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, the world governing body) & the A.C.O. (the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans), & supplants the A.C.O.'s runaway success the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup as the world's premier endurance racing series. All seven (or eight) rounds of 2012's inaugural W.E.C. will be at least six hours in length, with Sebring & Le Mans being twice & four times as long respectively. Of the remaining seven rounds of this year's A.L.M.S., only one will be longer than four hours, the ten-hour-or-one-thousand-miles Petit Le Mans. The American Le Mans Series must be convinced to make endurance a focus of its racing.

One of the inherent problems of the A.L.M.S. is the two-month layoff betwixt Laguna Seca & the next race at Lime Rock, Connecticut, a layoff necessary for competitors to compete at & recover from next month's 24 Heures du Mans in Le Mans, France; but, without the chance to compete in the "Grand Prix of Endurance," what would be the point of the A.L.M.S.? There's just no way around the two-month break. The plus side of the break? It means there's only one month until Le Mans! Yippee!

Grand Dammit
I watched Sunday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race from the New Jersey Motorsports Park live on Speed in its entirety, a situation far superior to watching Saturday's American Le Mans Series race from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca a day later on E.S.P.N. 2, edited to less than one-third of the race's duration. Yet, I still liked the A.L.M.S. race better than the Grand-Am race. I can't really explain why. Positive association 'twixt the A.L.M.S. & my beloved 24 Heures du Mans? The presence in competition of my beloved Corvette Racing team? The aesthetic superiority of Le Mans Prototypes to Daytona Prototypes? It must be said that the Daytona Prototypes (D.P.) look better this year, the bodywork having been restyled from last year; many of the teams are running Chevrolet engines & are branded "Corvette D.P.s," but those aren't Corvettes. The Corvette C6.Rs that run in the A.L.M.S. (& at Le Mans), those are Corvettes. Whatever the root, the prejudice against Grand-Am that led me to declare on May Day that I could no longer justify using the "By Endurance We Conquer" subtitle for coverage of the Rolex Series (Wayback Machine) persists.

Beyond Thunderdome
Last Saturday, I also watched the broadcast of a trio of V8 Supercars races from the Barbagallo Raceway outside Perth, Western Australia. I can't put my finger on why, but I was less entertained than during previous V8 Supercars races. Mayhap I was just in an ill—or an ill-suited—humor? Maybe the magnificently mad Bathurst 1000 has ruined me for other, lesser Aussie circuits? I've enjoyed watching the Supercars in the past & remain confident that I'll enjoy watching them again in the future.

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

Commentary: I'm not normally a fan of those twanging strings, hate 'em in fact, but somehow "Emmylou" works, & it just slays me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Objective SCHWEDEN
I flew yesterday, traversing the route of my daily constitutional four minutes faster than I'd walked the same distanced on Thursday last. Admittedly, Thursday's time was about a minute faster than usual, due to puddle-avoidance delays & modifications to the route, but that still put yesterday's time a full three minutes faster than the circuit average. I felt as if I was flying the entire time, my pace quick & my feet light as I pushed, pushed, pushed. Today, I went faster still, a minute quicker than yesterday's record time! Initially, my legs felt heavy, like lead, but I pushed through the discomfort & it faded then vanished when I was about one quarter of the way along my route. I powered through that initial sluggishness & at several points along the circuit had to fight the curious urge to break out into a run. The best news of all, better than the pace or the desire to go faster yet, was the welcome return of an old friend. Whenever I felt myself starting to lose pace I heard calling out from the back of my mind a small voice, the familiar, adamantine will that fueled the "S.K.P. Machine" of yore, a voice so long silent but never gone entirely. I smiled through the lion's share of today's daily constitutional, moreso in the middle & at the end than in the beginning, recalling to mind those halcyon days of yore when I reveled in physical exertion, when I was fat but also undeniably an athlete.

I am enjoying my out-of-doors daily constitutional more than I've ever enjoyed running on a treadmill; girded as I am now to resist the depredations of the Accursed Sun, outdoors would seem to be the way to go. Preparations shall have to be made for enduring should this glorious sensation persist into the fall & the winter. I have always longed to return to the pool, but frankly I'm just not fit enough to swim as intensely as my memories insist I must. They are persistent in their refusal to acknowledge that I was seventeen fifteen years ago, that a thirty-two-year-old man can't be expected to put in the same yards or swim at the same pace. For the nonce, I walk, soon enough to jog & to run. In time, I hope swimming will be the fruit of these labors.

My intake of fruits & vegetables has increased in the past fortnight. For the past few days I've also done a much better job of cutting back on the cheese & the various snack chips/crackers. All to the good if these trends continue & become institutionalized.

I spied a pair of Dodge (Alfa Romeo) Darts this afternoon on I-75, much as I several times spied pairs of Fiat 500s last summer or the summer before. (Chrysler's headquarters are less than half an hour to the south via 75, in Auburn Hills.) The Dart looked very different than it did this winter at the North American International Auto Show, but that's the be expected given the vagaries of light & vantage point. Neat!

Also today, I saw a hardtop B.M.W. Z3. I'm no fan of cabriolets (beware the Accursed Sun!), but I will never understand why anyone would want to put a hardtop on a motorcar that was designed to be a roadster.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Lit, "Four" from A Place in the Sun (T.L.A.M.)


"Yeah, she doesn't think we're gonna make it,
But when I'm home we're sleeping' naked,
And we pretend that we're in love."

Dienstag, 15 Mai
John Williams, "Theme from Jurassic Park" from Jurassic Park: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Caution: Lewdness afoot.

Continued from: Wayback Machine.

One week after I first met The Interpreter, six days after I'd really met her & ended the evening by making out with her in the parking lot in a downpour, I followed the internet-derived driving directions to her basement apartment (not quite remembering how to get there from the previous Sunday), parked Lumi the Snow Queen, & knocked on her screen door. The main door behind the screen was already open & I heard her shout, "Come in" from somewhere around the bend of the descending stairs. I set my hat upon a convenient piece of counter top, we exchanged, & I kissed her hello. Her eyes acquired a dreamy look I'd soon come to recognize as their habitual reaction to being kissed. She removed a goodly number of assorted containers from her refrigerator & set about making our dinner, a pair of miniscule, personal-sized pizzas. We bantered throughout the preparation & cooking. As we kissed, separated by the high, narrow counter upon which I'd set my hat, she suddenly but slowly pulled back & said she needed to tell me something; from her tone, I know nothing good was to follow. At some point in the recent past, she'd had a liaison with The Braggart. I gather there was no intercourse, but in truth, as I told her, I didn't want to know what she'd done before we'd even met; 'twas none of my affair & none of my concern. She asked if I now thought she was repellent. I said that I'd show her what I thought of her, & kissed her. (The kiss was a white lie, because who in her right mind would have a tryst with The Braggart?! A seed of trouble was planted, though not what you're thinking.) We then sat down to our meager, Weight Watchers points-friendly meal. She laughed, I laughed, & we found each other very amusing. We repaired to the couch, talked, laughed, & made out. As the hour grew late, I prepared to take my leave. She said she wasn't going to screw me (she used the more polite euphemism "sleep with"), but asked me to spend the night in her bed. I demurred, kissed her good night, & went out into the cool night air.

We exchanged text messages throughout the weekend & made plans to get together on Monday. I was to leave for Oregon on the following Wednesday, & this would be our last chance to see each other for a week. Events unfolded much as they had on the preceding Thursday, except that our dinner was fish tacos. I'd never before had a fish taco, always regarding that combination of words with, frankly, dread. A fish taco? That seemed like asking for trouble. I've never like tilapia, & the fish tacos did nothing to change my mind. I was eating tacos, but there was a flavorless void where the ground beef or chicken was supposed to be. Nevertheless, I was thankful for the meal, as I am for any meal I needn't prepare myself. We sat on her couch & snuggled for a spell, until she suggest we play Uno—strip Uno. She'd mentioned this earlier in a text message & I was prepared for the eventuality. The worst past of the novel Moonraker is an exhaustive, trick-by-trick account of a game of contract bridge between James Bond & the villain, Sir Hugo Drax; I'll spare you that. She won & some of my clothes came off. I won & some of her clothes came off. She won the tiebreaker, we made out a bit, & then she took me by the hand & led me into her bedroom. As we laid there in each others arms, she asked me how many girls I'd screwed. I answered her, "Zero." In our various conversations she'd expressed some amazement at my almost complete lack of relationship experience, questioning & probing how many girlfleshes I'd had & how long those relationships had endured, but at no point did I lie to her about sex. She never asked if I abstain from premarital sex; I never volunteered that I do. We talked & kissed & cuddled for a spell, & she asked me to stay the night, stating her desire to wake up next to me. I did indeed have a very trying day awaiting me upon the next morn; so, again I demurred. We got dressed & said our good-byes, & I went out into the night, back to mine own bedchamber.

I can't recall precisely how it got started, but by this time The Interpreter & I had fallen into the habit of exchanging "good morning" text messages at approximately 8:20 A.M. More often then not, these texts found me still in bed but awake, going through the laborious process of getting up. This ritual was both a pleasing & an annoying way to start the day, but if Project PANDORA is ever to get anywhere my cherished (& by the same token, stifling) routine will have to suffer some disruption; there are worse things than the apple cart behind upset. I was fun & flirty in our texts, always mindful that my innuendo didn't go so far that my ego was writing cheques my body couldn't cash. But I was soon to depart for the West Coast, for the Pacific Time Zone, & 8:20 A.M. texts from The Interpreter would reach me at a decidedly unpleasing & definitely annoying 5:20 A.M.; so, for the duration of my trip I would be the one to initiate all text messaging. I'd be busy & otherwise engaged much of the time, but I told her I'd text when I could, to tell her about my day & inquire about hers. We exchanged texts, but far less frequently than we had been to that point. Several factors contributed to this: one, when I travel I am truly away from my life. All of my usual routines go out the window or are substituted with new & different rituals. Two, out of sight, out of mind; inevitably, when there was no chance to see her, no chance to pop up to her office on campus & steal a moment with her, she just couldn't occupy the same place in my thoughts. Three, & perhaps most significantly, The Interpreter was simply outshone by the brilliance that is Comrade Coquettish, with whom I spent every available moment whilst in her adopted hometown of Salem, Oregon. I've reveled in the splendiferous company of Comrade Coquettish on four occasions; based on the ratio of time spent together to fondness, she is possibly my favorite person in all the world. Fond as I'd grown of The Interpreter, what chance has a single candle against all the radiance of the sun?

I returned to sacred Michigan on Tax Day, a Monday, having been "on the road" since the previous Wednesday. There was no time to catch my breath, time & tide waiting for no man. I saw The Interpreter only briefly on that Tuesday, & spent my evening being initiated into the Knights of Columbus (Wayback Machine). When I embraced The Interpreter on Wednesday it was evident that we'd missed each other in the week-plus we'd been part. We passed a lovely evening together, cuddling as we watched, via D.V.D. multiple episodes of The Big Bang Theory, which The Interpreter was very insistent that I must see. Perhaps because I am a nerd, she thought the show would have some special resonance with me? Perhaps she's just inordinately fond of a mediocre situation comedy? (I am an unrepentant snob, if this had somehow escaped your attention.) The hour grew late & we retired to her bedroom, & to her bed. For the first time in my life, I spend the night in the bed of a paramour. We kissed & cuddled & snuggled under the blankets whilst a fan turned to make such heavy bed coverings bearable. The pillows upon which my head was to rest were insufficient, but it must also be noticed that I like my pillows uncommonly hard & piled uncommonly high; I bear no ill will to any bed unequipped to deal with this idiosyncrasy. The low point of the night was when The Interpreter decided to test or ignore the rules & attempted to fellate me; physical intercession was necessary to thwart her ambition, & only in the nick of time was my virtue, such as it is, preserved. We continued to fool around, & soon put behind us that unpleasant business. All in all, 'twas a joy to be in her bed, & to have her in my arms.

We kept each other awake far too long into the wee hours of the morning, & I spend a restless night, awakened by my awkward position in the unfamiliar bed, & by the incessant circling of The Interpreter's incredibly irritating cats. (She has two, the maximum permitted 'fore one becomes a "crazy cat lady.") The early alarm necessary for her to be at work by 8:00 A.M. came at its appointed time, as necessary & unwelcome as the crowing cockerel. I slumbered as she showered, then we dressed, bade each other a fond farewell, & went our separate ways. The drive of shame? I returned home Thursday morning in the same clothes as when I'd left the previous Wednesday morning, a novelty in my experience. I ate my usual breakfast, then repaired to my bed for a rare & invaluable nap. I met The Interpreter after work on Friday, for drinks at her favorite public house, Churchill's. I appreciate the Winston Churchill quotes spread throughout the interior of Churchill's, but little else about the establishment recommends it; mine own preference is for The Torch, & not just for the "Torchburgers." Still, better Churchill's than that den of iniquity, The Loft. The evening was derailed when The Interpreter imbibed too much (Wayback Machine), but aside from that wrinkle the time we'd spent together since my return from Oregon filled me with joy. We'd not had "the talk" about the status of our relationship, but I liked spending time with her, she liked spending time with me, & I liked that she liked spending time with me. We had a good thing going. The anticipation of the previous "Project PANDORA" post had come up trumps, I'd experienced new & exciting milestones in my greatly retarded development, & a new highpoint had been reached in the history of Project PANDORA. Valuable data were being accumulated &, what's more, being with The Interpreter made me happy; not that I'm normally unhappy, but happy in a new & interesting way.

To quote Robert Browning, "God's in His heaven—/All's right with the world!"

To be continued…

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Robbie Williams, "One For My Baby" from Swing When You're Winning (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Just make it one for my baby, and one more for the road."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCLXXXVII - The life & theology of Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971).

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Sam & Dave, "Soul Man" from the Rhino Hi-Five: Sam & Dave E. P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: In memoriam Donald "Duck" Dunn (1941-2012), who perished overnight. Duck-link. Requiescat in pace.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Operation AXIOM
This weekend is being commemorated & celebrated the sestercentennial of the sandwich: two hundred fifty-link! Your humble narrator devours a sandwich almost every day, averaging somewhere between five & six sandwiches for every seven-day week; it is impossible to envision what I'd be eating with the Earl of Sandwich's staggering invention. My profound gratitude to the Right Honorable John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.

Ever since last Sunday's new episode of Sherlock, "A Scandal in Belgravia," I've spotted Saabs everywhere I look.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart" from Sky Full of Holes (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 11 Mai
Mu330, "Fried Chicken" from Chumps on Parade (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Gene Kelly, "I Like Myself" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"Can it be I like myself?
She likes me, so I like myself.
If someone wonderful as she is can think I'm wonderful
I must be quite a guy.
Feeling so unlike myself,
Always used to dislike myself,
But now my love has got me riding high,
She likes me, so so do I."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vote for Kodos
What we need now is a law that bars from dual citizens from serving in the United States Congress (which comprises both the House of Representatives & the Senate, despite the common & incorrect reference to the House alone as "Congress," a misapprehension perpetuated by idiots): Swiss miss-link.
Kith & Kin
Where's Teddy? is in the grips of the "terrible twos," & he can be a terror, but considering the difficulties associated with his age he really isn't all that terrible. We engaged in our most persistent game: mirroring bottles. As I am nearly always to be seen with my flip-top green water bottle, Where's Teddy? likes to have handy a sippy cup full of water—not milk, but water, like mine—& for the two of us to drink at the same time. He walk up to the armchair whee I was seated, by my leave flip open the top of my bottle, scurry to the far end of the adjoining couch where his sippy cup was resting on a small table, & then take a drink at the exact same time I did. We've been playing this game for at least a year, & the novelty's not yet worn off for him. We played lots of games both indoors & out, & I read to him his bedtime stories on both Saturday & Sunday nights. It's not Where's Teddy?'s fault he's a little savage, all Kinder are born such & it is the job of parents, sundry family, & eventually teachers to civilize the little monsters.

My wee niece Lucy has been assigned the code name "The Cupcake," inspired by a nickname given her by her father, mirroring the origin of The Squeak's code name. The Cupcake is only nine weeks-old & so yet evinces little in the way of personality, but she is mostly calm, fusses & cries not in excess, & sleeps like a champ. Not unexpectedly, I suppose, she bears a tremendous resemblance to Where's Teddy? at the same age. She looks so small, &yet she's grown so much since she was born; her legs are starting to become ham hocks & I have high hopes that she'll be quite the fat little chunk in the weeks & months ahead. I love fat babies & fat kitties, & I won't apologize for either.

The Loose Ties played The Flint Local 432 last Saturday, but I was unable to attend as I was at Xanadu meeting The Cupcake & playing with Where's Teddy?. So, even though I was familiar with none of the bands playing at The Local on Friday, I went that night to show my support for the resurrected club. I am thrilled to report, dear readers, that the new Local is the same as the old Local: a bare-bones monument to the D.I.Y. spirit & a no-pressure environment for younglings to learn the difference 'twixt playing music together & performing as a band. I was joined by my pal-cum-acolyte Ska Army, due to spend both Friday & Saturday nights there. In between two bands, Ska Army asked if I wanted to nip over to one of the nearby public houses for "a pint;" respectful of The Local's stance as a substance-free zone—'tis an all-ages venue, after all—, I instead proposed that we get that pint after the evening's music concluded. When that moment arrived we repaired to The Torch, where I had a pint & Ska Army had two pints & a meal, leading me to believe I'd been brought there under a mild pretense. A good time was had by all, his delay simply kept me out slightly later than I'd intended, a small annoyance since I was to awake early the next morrow & motor to Xanadu.

Objective SCHWEDEN | Project GLOWWORM
I was in a position to take my daily constitutional today for the first time since Friday last. Four days on followed by four days off, but at least now May's days on outnumber the days off five to four. Fearful that the sweat of my daily constitutional would bring my pith helmet to an early grave, & yet needing a shield against the death rays of the Accursed Sun, I've acquired a broad-brimmed straw hat. I fully intend to drive this hat into the ground in the course of the next several months, but hesitated to wear it today due to a steady rain; I saw no sense in having it potentially ruined by the rain before it had the chance to fulfill its purpose as a personal parasol. So, I went out into the rain without a hat, the drops feeling nicely refreshing on my only lightly fuzzed scalp. I'd not gone more than a block, though, when the rain ceased, & within a couple more blocks the clouds had parted to unleash the fury of the Accursed Sun. When will I learn not to go out of doors without a hat? When I least think I need it is when I am most vulnerable & thus most likely to be in need of headgear! I got a little sun yesterday (a forthcoming "Vote for Kodos"), so today's didn't make much of a difference, but I learned a valuable lesson. I wish to preserve the pith helmet from the daily grind of the daily constitutional's sweat, & I wish to preserve the wide-brimmed straw hat from the capricious rain; thus, the straw hat on sunny days & the helmet on rainy days (of which Michigan's spring & summer have their share).

I won't take the daily constitutional on Friday if the yard's dry enough to be mowed, since what is mowing but a long walk—albeit a long walk behind an infernal machine & amidst the irksome odor of freshly-cut grass?

The Queue
"Baa Baa, Black Sheep" alone would have more than justified the reading of The Man who would be King and Other Stories, but there were other gems betwixt its covers, such as the eponymous "The Man who would be King," "Only a Subaltern," & "In Flood Time," et al. I skipped "With the Main Guard" & "Black Jack" entirely because, as the twin tales feature Kipling's famous "Three Musketeers"—Mulvaney, Learoyd, & Ortheris—, the tales are written largely in dialect; I couldn't stomach that sort of writing years ago when I aborted reading Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, & I've still not acquired the knack. My faith in the master has been restored entirely, my grousing about his earlier tales having proved to be grousing about the writing of a young author (only in his early twenties) learning his craft on the fly. I look forward to reading the next Kipling volume sitting on my bookshelf, The Jungle Books.

I've been meaning to read Nicolas Sarkozy's political autobiography/treatise ever since "Sarko l'Américain" was elected President of the French Republic in '07. Now that he's about to be replaced by François Hollande (& Europe is about to be set ablaze, to the detriment of us all), I've been jolted into action. I've also been meaning to read Lush Life since Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. loaned it me in '10, though I cannot point to any specific reason why I decided to read it now. The august Mr. Burroughs will keep a little while longer, & his Barsoom will still be there in all its splendor when I'm through with Messers. Sarkozy et Price.

Steve Martin, An Object of Beauty
Steve Martin, The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten.: The Tweets of Steve Martin
Rudyard Kipling, The Man who would be King and Other Stories

Nicolas Sarkozy, translated from the French by Philip H. Gordon, Testimony: France, Europe, and the World in the Twenty-first Century

Richard Price, Lush Life
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Gods of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thuvia, Maid of Mars

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


"Blood on the tracks, blood in the mine,
Brothers and sisters, what a terrible time!
Old Ninety-seven went in the wrong hole,
Now in mine number sixty there's blood on the coal,
Blood on the coal, blood on the coal."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Attacked by Snakes!" from The Fury of The Aquabats! (Captain Thumbs-up)

Commentary: Attacked by snakes-link.

"My perilous fate, I see no escape
As serpents lay siege to my country estate,
The Devil must have opened Hell's gate
And called up millions of snakes to take me from this place.

Big ones, little ones, fat ones, skinny ones,
Protect me from their venomous drug
That springs from the needles of fangs,
Attacked by snakes! By snakes!

So many snakes you could fill the Great Lakes with snakes,
Ha ha ha, run! I tried to hide,
But snakes bites on my face testify I've been
Attacked by snakes! By snakes!

So many snakes it would take a thousand crates
To contain the snakes after me,
I'd rather be burned at the stake
Then be, attacked by snakes!"

Also of interest are the comments of a U.S. Department of Agriculture official named Dan Vice; well, not his comments, but his name: Mr. Vice. Man alive, I hope his surname is pronounced "vice," not something like "vee-che." Beware Mr. Vice!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Three Dog Night, "Eli's Comin'" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As far as I can recall, I never heard Three Dog Night's cover of "Eli's Comin'" 'til the song was referenced on Sports Night. That television show is immensely influential in my mind's pop cultural landscape, & so I hew to Dan Rdyell's consciously erroneous interpretation of "Eli's Comin'" from the episode "Eli's Coming." There is doom abroad, & it originates from abroad, from the elections in France & Greece, & the return of (Ras)Putin in Russia.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCLXXXVI - Los Millares & the eponymous Los Millares culture.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Jimmy Eat World, "The Middle" from Bleed American (Jojo)

Commentary: I wish Jojo would take the lyrics of "The Middle" a little more to heart.

"Hey, don't write yourself off yet,
It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can,
And don't you worry what they tell themselves when you're away."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Workingman's Hands" from Sky Full of Holes (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Yesterday, Jojo picked me up in her brand-new (to her) motorcar, the Chelsea, & we motored to McFarlen Library. There is a nature trail behind the library & we hiked it with gusto. Early on, Jojo spied a blue bird & drew my attention; not being an ornithologist, I cannot provide any additional identifying information other than to say it was predominantly blue & appeared to have some white on its tail. Not long after this, we saw another hiker approaching us. I adopted the voice of a television naturalist & narrated the fellow's approach, telling Jojo that it was important not to spook a human, as they are skittish creatures. Spying the fellow's red T-shirt I commented upon the human's "bright plummage" as he passed us by, a look of mild confusion upon his face. I was utterly composed, being naturally theatrical, but Jojo was on the verge of uproarious laughter. As we watched the fellow go slowly on his way, he hesitantly turned about & said tremulously, "Have a nice hike." I thanked him & wished him the same, & then we were off on our way. I hope I didn't disturb the poor fellow, I was only trying to add a bit of fun to everyone's day. In any event, this further cemented my reputation as a comic genius in Jojo's eyes.

The late afternoon was not quite as hot & humid as I'd feared, & there was blessed shade on some portions of the trail, but between the heat, the death rays of the Accursed Sun, & the exertion I was soon sweating like a Wilson. Onward & onward we pushed, farther along the loop of the trail than I'd ever gone on my own occasional forays into the nature preserve. Of course, we were still in the heart of Grand Blanc & from time to time would see houses & backyards through the trees to our right or left. We discussed the troubles Jojo's recently had, being stabbed in the back en masse by some false friends, one of the seemingly unavoidable perils of the transition from childhood to adulthood. We joked & laughed & we generally reminded of how much we enjoy each others company. By the time we returned to the Chelsea & Jojo rolled down the windows to let the motorcar cool down before we reentered, I felt as if I'd taken a second dose of my daily exercise. We partook of the perfect restorative on a hot summer's day in Grand Blanc, Ziggy's, my treat since Jojo had been kind enough to drive. I had a single scoop of Superman, & did not make a mess of myself with a waffle cone for the first in, literally, years. Woot! 'Twas rather a perfect summer outing.

The oddest part about my new Objective SCHWEDEN wardrobe is The Interpreter's reaction to my informing her that I'd be wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt for protection against the Accursed Sun's death rays. She remarked that I'd "melt." I received a similar response in the summer of '11 when I started wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt to mow the lawn & perform other yard work. Out of what material are these people under the impression long-sleeved T-shirts are made? A long-sleeved T-shirt isn't a parka! My short-sleeve-loving credentials are unassailable; my first two tattoos aren't on my upper forearms so that they can be obscured by long sleeves. But at my elephantine bulk a brisk walk for exercise or a more plodding pace behind a no-longer-self-propelled lawnmower is going to generate a lot of heat, resulting in perspiration; I admit that a long-sleeved shirt will generate marginally more perspiration, but any additional discomfort will be more than mitigated by the lack of sunburn discomfort. I'm going to be hot & sweating like a Wilson either way; so, I might as well not be burnt to a crisp.

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


"He thinks of his mother,
He thinks of his bride-to-be,
He thinks of his father,
His two younger brothers,
Gathered around the widescreen T.V."

Bonus S.O.T.D.

The Skatalies, "James Bond Theme" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This bonus Song of the Day in memoriam Lloyd Brevett (1931-2012): Requiescat in pace-link.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hey, look at that, despite the "reset" of relations, the "New ST.A.R.T.," & the United States's silence over the Russian Federation's propping up of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Russians are still engaging in brinksmanship regarding missile defense: saber rattling-link. Chalk up another victory for the transformative power of hope & change!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, "The Tears of a Clown" from Motown 1's (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The iceman bleedeth: hæmoglobin-link. No one will ever be able to solve "the world's oldest murder mystery," but it is fascinating to think that the techniques used to locate blood samples from the so-named "Ötzi" (or, "Oetzi," for those who, like the Germanophobic B.B.C., disdain umlauts) might have practical applicability to modern criminal investigations. Keep up the good work, research for research's sake!


From the article hyperlinked above I was also able to learn that hemoglobin may be spelt haemoglobin or hæmoglobin. Huzzah! I love to discover new & interesting, & still correct, spellings of words, especially if they involve the use of an increasingly rare ligature like "æ." As The Aquabats! said, "There's so much to learn!"

Objective SCHWEDEN
Day two was a success, though I fear I underestimated my old enemy, the Accursed Sun. The sky was cloudy, but the clouds were not as thick as they were yesterday; I saw that for myself via the higher light level, but I didn't draw the proper conclusions from what I saw. My forehead is a wee bit sunburnt. For tomorrow's brisk walk, yesterday's & today's headband will be replaced with my pith helmet & yesterday's & today's fancy-pants "Duo Dry" workout shirt will be replaced with a long-sleeved T-shirt. There will undoubtedly be some compromise in comfort, but this will be more than outweighed by the gains in protection against the death rays of the Accursed Sun. I won't again underestimate my ancient foe.

This afternoon I drove my father to his favorite mechanic's, where his Corvette had been stored for the winter (our attached garage being unavailable for the purpose due to housing his Camaro [1985, I.R.O.C.-Z], which hasn't run since he began an engine replacement project in the 20th century & will never run again, I'd wager). At the I-475/I-69 interchange we saw an S.U.V. overturned in such a way that we both assumed the driver had been exiting I-475 toward eastbound I-69 & at the last second (too late, as evinced by the overturning) tried to switch to westbound I-69. Thereafter ensued a confab about driving itself, & the marvel that many more persons aren't killed annually in motorcar collisions. Think about how complex a task piloting a motorcar is, think about how well most persons are able to carry out that task even when not paying full or undivided attention, & think about how fast everything happens when one is piloting a motorcar. Before, say, A.D. 1850, when had a Homo sapiens sapiens ever traveled (relative to the Earth, which is hurtling through the heavens at a mind-numbing speed) faster than forty-five miles an hour? Nothing in our species's evolutionary path prepared us to navigate, much less pilot, at any rate faster than a horse's gallop. Why is my brain capable of processing stimuli & making decisions as Lumi the Snow Queen flies along at speeds in excess of seventy miles per hour? What use could that processing ability have been to our forebears, scratching out a miserable existence in the Serengeti? A puzzlement, 'tis.
I was awoken at 5:44 A.M. by a text message. Even though I was able to fall asleep again, since then I've been having the devil of a time devising a coherent argument for why murder should be illegal.

This Week in Motorsport
And now for something completely different: toilet-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Smash Mouth, "Heave-Ho" from Fush Yu Mang (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Objective SCHWEDEN
I took a brisk walk around my neighborhood today, a route that I'd ballpark at being two-plus miles. This should be much better preparation for Objective SCHWEDEN (the Crim) than running on a treadmill, as I need to break in my new shoes & acclimate my legs to pounding the unforgiving pavement, not the treadmill's springy conveyor belt. The first day is always easy, the real test is if I'll repeat the exercise tomorrow, that second day having so oft proved to be my bugbear. My hope is to arise early & put in the distance first thing tomorrow, before the day's promised heat descends. If I can commit to this routine, gradually extending the distance & increasing my pace, this August's Objective SCHWEDEN should be far less physically damaging than was Objective FINNLAND in August '10.

This Week in Motorsport
Indy Rock
The São Paulo Indy 300, so named because the race distance is a little over three hundred kilometers, was fun & interesting. The course had a pair of uncommonly long straights & more passing opportunities than most street circuits. For the first time in the race's three-year history the race was not shortened by excessive rain. Yellow-flag caution periods are endemic to street circuits, with their limited to non-existent runoff areas, but the Indy 300 featured five, far too many, consuming approximately one quarter of the racing laps. As one of the N.B.C. Sports Network (formerly Versus, originally the Outdoor Life Network) commentators commented, "Yellow breeds yellow," in this case because the post-caution restart procedure had the race cars line up two-by-two, as opposed to single file, a formation almost guaranteed to cause trouble as the DW-12s headed into the tight Turn 1. Three of the five yellow-flag periods happened back-to-back-to-back, as each restart resulted in shunts necessitating a new caution period.

For all that, the racing was tight & interesting, even though Will Power of Team Penske (Chevrolet) won from pole & lead every lap for all practical intents & purposes (the only other leaders being those who benefited from Power's pit stop rotation). Power was closely pursued by Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andetti Autosport (Chevrolet), who finished second ahead of third-place Takuma Sato of R.L.L. Racing (Honda), who started the race from the back of the grid & drove like a man possessed almost all the way to the front. One of the oddest differences 'twist Formula One & IndyCar is that in F1 each team fields two cars in identical liveries, whereas in IndyCar the teams field between one & four cars, each with a unique sponsorship livery. Reigning four-time series champion Dario Franchitti of Chip Ganassi Racing (Honda) started from the front row, second alongside pole sitter Power; was knocked to the back of the field by a shunt with another car; & fought his way back to finish fifth, his highest finish of a disappointing 2012 campaign. Team Penske cars have won all four of this year's races, & championship points-leader Power has won three in a row.

As I've said before in the context of the F1 Grande Prêmio do Brasil, Brazil is a wonderful country with a wonderful people. Hello, ladies.

IndyCar now enters a more worrisome phase of its schedule, as four of the next five races take place on oval tracks, the only exception being the Belle Isle road course at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix in early June. The next race is the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, which I have twice watched & twice found as dull as watching paint dry. The appeal of oval racing continues to elude me, yet I will try again this year.

A big problem with American racing in general, & the IndyCar Series in particular, is the inconsistent naming of the races. The last race was the São Paulo Indy 300, the next is the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, & the next after that is the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. "300" meaning kilometers; "500" meaning miles; the Firestone 550, "550" meaning kilometers even though it is to be held in the U.S.; & here & there the Grands Prix of Saint Petersburg, Alabama, Long Beach, Detroit Belle Isle, Baltimore, & Sonoma. Consistency is all I ask!

Grand-Am (title pending)
Over in Grand-Am, the Grand Prix of Miami was a waterlogged fiasco. Rain happens, it is a fact of being outdoors & often adds an exciting element to automobile racing, but sometimes it rains too much to race. Such was the case on Saturday, when qualifying for Sunday's race was rained out, & such should have been the case for Sunday's race. The race started in rain, continued in rain, often ran under the yellow flag due to the hazard of rain, & was ultimately red-flagged about two-thirds of the way through the scheduled two hours forty-five minutes of the race. Yes, all the drivers faced identical conditions, & an argument can certainly be made for the awarding of full championship points for the positions at the time the red flag was shown, but I hold with those who would argue that the race should not have been run in the first place; better to postpone to a day featuring less of a deluge than the risk men & machines in the too-treacherous conditions.

An additional problem with Sunday's race was the track, the Homestead-Miami Speedway, a N.A.S.C.A.R. oval. As is the case with Grand-Am's marque race, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Grand Prix of Miami was run on Homestead's "roval" configuration: the cars drive around three-quarters of the track's oval, & then veer off into an infield road course section before returning to the interrupted oval. Road course & oval, "roval." As previously stated, I don't understand the appeal of oval circuits, but I do understand road courses, & the conclusion I reach is that a roval, not providing the same thrill as a true road course, must also fail to match whatever excitement there is to an oval, making a roval the worst of all possible worlds. Blast!

Grand-Am Road Racing's Rolex Sports Car Series is endurance racing, after a fashion, but it just isn't up to snuff with an A.C.O.-sanctioned series, even one as woebegone as the American Le Mans Series (A.L.M.S.); so, I just can't bring myself to subtitle this post "By Endurance We Conquer." I'm going to continue my flirtation with Grand-Am, & hope for better things on the true road courses that make up the rest of the calendar. Meanwhile, I'll try to devise a fitting subtitle for Grand-Am posts. "Grand Damn" maybe?

By Endurance We Conquer
I might, in a fortnight's time, make one more attempt to watch the Entertainment Sports & Programming Network's coverage of the A.L.M.S.'s next race, from the devilishly tricky Laguna Seca road course (formally, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca). Dare you to challenge the twisting series of corners known as the dreaded Corkscrew? The Corkscrew isn't the equal of Spa-Francorchamps's Eau Rouge, but it is its own special kind of hell.

Beyond Thunderdome
After the IndyCar race, I caught the back half of a pair of V8 Supercars races from Hamilton, New Zealand. The competition was fierce betwixt the Ford Falcons & the Holden Commodores, but the blue bastards got the best of it, Ford Performance Racing winning both the weekend's races. There is a big push on currently to internationalize V8 Supercars beyond its home in Australia (& New Zealand); there has been a pair of races at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the last couple of years & there is to be a race in the U.S. in 2013. Expansion throughout Asia & beyond—in India, Korea, South Africa—is in the works, & more manufacturers are being enticed to enter the sport, disrupting the traditional Holden/Ford rivalry. V8 Supercars is so thoroughly Australian, can it expand throughout the world & beyond Australia's two leading marques & still remain the sport its always been? I fear the days of the V8 Supercars as something other than a cheap, international N.A.S.C.A.R. imitation are numbered. I intend to enjoy the Supercars whilst I still can.

Rally Monkey
The highlight of Sunday's racing was the return of (television coverage of) the World Rally Championship (W.R.C.) with the Rally Argentina. Man alive, I missed the W.R.C.! Rally Argentina was, pardon my French, batshit crazy! Sweet fancy Moses, it was nice to again see the Citroëns & Fords battling it out, each pair of driver & co-driver (navigator) flying along at death-defying speeds, sometimes pulling it off brilliantly & almost as often as not dashing the car to pieces on a stone & rolling off the road into the surrounding countryside. As gloriously mad as is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, I know of no other form of racing as proudly bughouse as rallying. Reigning eight-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb of Citroën Total won, because he almost always wins, but he was in a dogfight until '03 World Champion Petter Solberg of Ford Abu Dhabi, the last man other than Loeb to be Drivers' Champion, suffered a mechanical failure & subsequent delay for repairs late on the first day. After that, with substitute Ford driver Dani Sordo falling behind (Ford regular Jari-Matti Latvala having injured himself in pre-rally testing) & team orders keeping at bay Citroën's № 2 driver, Mikko Hirvonen, Loeb cruised to victory. Solberg was fasted in the bonus-points-paying Power Stage, the finale of the rally.

The W.R.C. is third favorite motorsports series, after only the immortal 24 Heures du Mans & the Formula One World Championships. It's back! Hooray!

Oliver T.'s has Carlsberg in stock. Yippee! When in Ohio this weekend, I hope to have the opportunity to pick up some Yuengling, which is newly available in that otherwise benighted state.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Skip Bayliss (remix by unknown) "Tim Tebow—All He Does is Win" courtesy The Watergirl (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A fun little bit of frivolity that I thought would make a nice change of pace away from ska-punk. My thanks to good friend of the blog, The Watergirl!

Also, it should be noted that young Tebow was nigh-unstoppable during his collegiate career, leading his epithetless Gators of the University of Florida to two national championships & three B.C.S. bowl wins in his four-year career. Night-unstoppable, & yet only three bowl wins in four years? What happened during that fourth game? In Tebow's sophomore year, the season betwixt the two national titles, he & his Gators ran into a buzzsaw called the valiant Wolverines of the University of Michigan, playing for the final time under head coach Lloyd Carr. Should valiant Wolverines fans tremble in fear of Urban Meyer, the new head coach of the hated Buckeyes? Nay, for we've beaten Meyer before, even when he had as formidable a weapon as Tebow at his disposal.