Monday, July 30, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Mono Puff, "Back-Stabbing Liar" from It's Fun to Steal (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Mono Puff is a side project of John Flansburgh, one half of They Might Be Giants. I've listened to It's Fun to Steal far less often than to John Linnell's solo album State Songs, Vol. 1.

Sonntag, 29 Juli
Don Byron, "Powerhouse" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: You probably don't know "Powerhouse" by name, but trust me that you're very familiar with the song from innumerable cartoons of your youth.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Overrated (Everything Is)" from In With the Out Crowd (T.L.A.M.)


"Everybody's too afraid to be different,
Please excuse me now if I don't listen,

"Having sex is overrated,
So is always getting wasted,
Designer drugs and dead-end jobs,
And classic rock is so outdated,
I'm so sick of therapy
And all the things it's done to me,
How can I be satisfied
When everything is overrated?
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,
(When everything is overrated)
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,
(When everything is overrated)

"Can't stand the normal,
Can't stand the ordinary,
Find me anything that's extraordinary,
Show me something, show me anything,
Am I the only one?
Am I the only one?"

Friday, July 27, 2012

The following is the first & final thing I shall say on the matter of the Games of the XXX Olympiad: Great Caesar's ghost, I hate the Olympics!

Perchance to Dream
I remember nothing of this morning's dream beyond the unmistakable visage of Danica McKellar. Winnie Cooper with a degree in mathematics: the stuff dreams are made of, in this case literally.

Kith & Kin
I've learned this much about midsummer home repair/improvement projects: I enjoy working with wood, except for the bit about being out of doors in the summer heat beneath the merciless, unblinking eye of the Accursed Sun, & there is nothing else in the world I hate in quite the same way I hate removing wallpaper. Wallpaper is surely the handiwork of Old Scratch. Scripture teaches us to rejoice in our weakness, for only in weakness can we find strength; in this way, I shall embrace the infernal wallpaper, for it affords me the opportunity to strengthen myself in the virtues of patience & endurance. I shall not complain, I shall not be wearied. I shall do the work & I shall be glad.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Five for Fighting, "Superman (It's Not Easy)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Dark Knight Rises, & in the build up to it Batman Begins & The Dark Knight, have whetted my appetite for the Caped Crusader. This has in turn sparked anew my interest in the Man of Steel. Can anyone tell me anything about Smallville or Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman? I have vague, & not at all positive, memories of the latter from my youth, but I've never seen more than fleeting snippets of the former. Any good? Worth my while?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Golden Age of My Negative Ways" from GNV FLA (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy Birthday!
I am one-third of a century old. Were I to die tonight, what would I have to show for so long a life? I must hustle to make my mark, any mark, upon this world of woe & wonder. Thirty-three down, twenty-seven to go; there are fewer days ahead than there are behind.

The Loot
As a birthday present to myself, I saw The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX this afternoon, using a coupon that allowed me to see the film for free. (The four-dollar IMAX surcharge as akin to highway robbery.) 'Twas the second time I'd seen The Dark Knight Rises, & again I loved it to pieces. My kin were very generous this year, & for that I thank them most sincerely. There were a couple of screw-ups that will be discussed toward the end, though with gift-giving it is truly the thought that counts. The loot is by category, with the giver(s) following in parentheses:

Charles Brooks, editor, Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year: 2012 Edition (Mom)
Sir Richard F. Burton, translater, The Arabian Nights (Dad)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Dad)
Steve Matchett, The Chariot Makers: Assembling the Perfect Formula 1 Car (Dad)

{The Silver Screen}
The Incredible Hulk (Where's Teddy? & The Cupcake)
Thor (Where's Teddy? & The Cupcake)
Captain America: The First Avenger (Where's Teddy? & The Cupcake)

{The Idiot Box}
Burn Notice Season Five (Mom)
Sherlock Season Two (The L.A.W. & Brother-in-L.A.W.)

Hot Wheels Porsche 917 in Gulf Oil livery (Dad)
"Yes M!ch!gan" T-shirt (Mom)
vintage Michigan Wolverines T-shirt (Where's Teddy? & The Cupcake)
white collared shirt (Where's Teddy? & The Cupcake)

I have received the Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year every year dating back to the 1991 Edition, covering 1990. It is a much-beloved family tradition. The only problem is that already I received the 2012 Edition for Christmas 2011; the book is published in December, reflecting back on the year that was. Somehow, the idea was propagated that Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year is a birthday tradition, instead of a Christmas tradition, leading to much confusion. I shall have to begin including a few explanatory lines in my birthday gift wish list, explaining that the book should be given me as a Christmas present instead. Would anyone like a copy of Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year: 2012 Edition? I have a spare. The only other issue is that I was given Sherlock on Blu-Ray disc, not D.V.D. I do not own a Blu-Ray player, you see, though I do have ready access to my parents'.

Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year & The Complete Sherlock Holmes were off-list gifts, sincerely appreciated all the same, though I am persnickety enough to point out that I did not receive two books that were on the list, meaning a one-for-one substitution would have been entirely feasible. My guess is I was given The Complete Sherlock Holmes because Sherlock was on my wish list & the complete tales is a leatherbound hardcover much like the requested The Arabian Nights, & it caught my father's eye when he was looking for the tales of Scheherazade. I've read many of the Holmes short stories, but by no means all, & I've not yet read any of the novels. Having them all in one convenient volume, with the table of contents as a checklist, should be quite a boon. The vintage Wolverines T-shirt & the 917 toy car were also off-list, though the 917 proves that my dad does indeed listen from time to time, as I once rued to him that I had a Hot Wheels Ferrari 512, but not a Porsche 917, meaning I could only reenact half of the dramatic finish of Le Mans. It's Gulf-liveried & everything!

I do wish I'd received a few more clothes, though, as I a woefully short of dress trousers & non-ugly neckties.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
John Williams, "Prologue and Main Theme" (from Superman) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Brilliant music from a wretched, worthless film. Johnny Williams does it again! This choice of the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. was in no way influenced by the fact that I've now seen twice on the silver screen the teaser trailer for Man of Steel. There are three reasons to dread that upcoming film & one cause for hope, however forlorn. The three: {a} The unmitigated disaster that was Sucker Punch (an indictment against the director), {b} the unmitigated disaster that was Green Lantern (an indictment against the studio), & {c} the iconic costume has already been severely botched (an indictment against this specific production). The one: There have been five terrible Superman motion pictures since 1978; surely we're due for a good one, right? The film gods can be cruel, sure, but surely not that cruel.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCXCVII - Steve McQueen (1930-1980), the "King of Cool."

Amongst other accomplishments, McQueen finished on the podium at the far-famed 12 Hours of Sebring, which today serves as the opening round in the World Endurance Championship.

The Queue
Seven Pillars of Wisdom is a struggle, one that I might abandon. (Was it really necessary for Lawrence to describe every single wadi he traversed? He apparently felt it was quite necessary, to my lament.) I've not yet abandoned the book, but I have set it aside for the nonce in favor of The Chariot Makers, received over the weekend as a birthday present. (Watch this space tomorrow for "The Loot," barring extraordinary circumstances.) I loved Matchett's first two books, Life in the Fast Lane & The Mechanic's Tale, & I'm already enjoying this final volume in his Formula One trilogy. I'd have no objection to the trilogy eventually becoming a tetralogy, because I'm confident that Mr. Matchett, a Briton resident in France who works in the United States, has not run out of insightful things to say about F1.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars
Barry Wynne, The Man who Refused to Die: Teehu Makimare's 2,000 Mile Drift in an Open Boat Across the South Seas
Jim Clark, Jim Clark at the Wheel: The World Motor Racing Champion's Own Story

T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph ***postponed***
Steve Matchett, The Chariot Makers: Assembling the Perfect Formula 1 Car

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thuvia, Maid of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Chessmen of Mars
Richard Price, Clockers
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Master Mind of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Fighting Man of Mars
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Swords of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Synthetic Men of Mars

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Ben Folds, "Zak and Sara" from Rockin' the Suburbs (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 23 Juli
Fountains of Wayne, "Denise" from Utopia Parkway (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I heard she used to be married…"

Sonntag, 22 Juli
MxPx, "Vacation" from On the Cover II (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 21 Juli
Barenaked Ladies, "Baby Seat" from Maroon (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 20 Juli
N.A.S.A., "Apollo 11 Excerpt 17" from The Apollo Missions (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Forty-three years ago to the day, 20 July 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong & Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. became the first men to walk on the Moon. They "came in peace for all Mankind."

The Apollo Missions is a compilation of excerpts from the radio traffic 'twixt N.A.S.A. Mission Control on Earth & the Apollo astronauts on their way to & from the Moon, in orbit of the Moon, & on the surface of the Moon. Dry, yet fascinating listening. "Apollo 11 Excerpt 17" contains the immortal words, "Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed."

Snapshot of Colonel Aldrin taken by Mister Armstrong.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCXCVI - Jack Kirby (1917-1994), the "King of Comics."

Hail to the king.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Moving Cloud, "Chinese Polka/William Durrette's Clog/The Boys of the Lough" from Green Linnet Records: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 18 Juli
Glenn Miller, "I've Got a Girl in Kalamazoo" from Glenn Miller's 50 Finest (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "K-A-L-A-M-A-Z-O-Oh what a girl!"

Kith & Kin
The L.A.W., The Squeak, & Benno (not yet code named, as this will be the first time I've met him) are to arrive shortly. Where's Teddy?, The Cupcake, & their retinue are to arrive tomorrow. This weekend is to be a chance for everyone in the family to meet The Cupcake & Benno, who are both shiny & new, & will also include an early celebration of my birthday. Bloggy blogging, & in fact all use of ye olde interwebs, will be at best sporadic in the days ahead. 'Til next week, then:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "The Analogy of the Goat and the Rubber Inflatable Raft" from Good or Suck! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "The Analogy of the Goat and the Rubber Inflatable Raft" is the R.C.Y. song that is perhaps most true to our band's oddball ethos. First, there is nothing in the song that could be even remotely misconstrued as an analogy of a goat & a rubber inflatable raft. There is a story behind the title, & it's a good one, but that will keep to another time. Second, the verses are comprised of quotes from the eminently quotable 1989 motion picture Batman, with due credit given in the liner notes to the screenwriters Sam Hamm & Warren Skaaren. Third, the choruses consist of just two lines, arranged in various ways, that one might reasonably assume refer to the Batman. However, the song's not about the Batman.

The chorus:
"Hats off to the man with the plan
'Cause he's gonna save your ass again!"

The verses:
"Now you wanna get nuts?
Come on, let's get nuts, I'm Batman.
Eckhart, think about the future.
Call me Joker, I'm glad you're dead.
Nice apartment, lots of space,
Mean kid, bad seed, hurt people.
Ship 'em all!
We're gonna take 'em out a whole new door!

"It's time for 'Who do you trust?,'
Hubba hubba hubba, money money money,
I've been dead once already,
It's very liberating.
Never rub another man's rhubarb,
You better be sure.
Stop the press! Who is that?
This town needs an enema!"

Monday, July 16, 2012

This Week in Motorsport
Four racing series I cared to watch were in action over the weekend after Independence Day, compared to none during the weekend just past. Three series are to be in action next weekend, when my time shall be unavoidably monopolized by an otherwise most welcome visit from both my siblings & all of their wee bairns. C'est la vie!

Formula Fun!
Formula One World Championship
Round 9
Grand Prix of Great Britain
Sunday, 8 July 2012

Silverstone is one of the fastest circuits on the F1 calendar, but this year's British Grand Prix fell during the wettest summer since meteorological record-keeping began in merry old England, slowing the cars considerably. Friday's practice sessions & Saturday's qualifying were held in pouring rain, qualifying being subjected to a ninety-minute interruption due to excessive water on the track. So of course the race on Sunday was dry as a bone. Mark Webber & reigning double World Champion ('10 & '11) Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull (Renault) finished first & third, with double World Champion ('05 & '06) Fernando Alonso & Felipa Massa of Ferrari in second & fourth. Fifth & sixth place for the Lotus (Renault) duo of '07 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen & Romain Grosjean lifted Lotus to third place in the Constructors' Championship standings, ahead of perennial powerhouse McLaren (Mercedes), who dropped from second to fourth (Ferrari are in second, while reigning double World Constructors' Champions Red Bull stand atop the rankings). 'Twas a whale of a race!

G.P.2 Series
Round 7
Silverstone Circuit, Great Britain
Saturday & Sunday, 7-8 July 2012

G.P.2 is the official feeder series in Formula One. Six of G.P.2's seven series champions have gone on to careers in F1: Nico Rosburg of Mercedes A.M.G., '08 F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, Timo Glock of Marussia (Cosworth), Nico Hülkenberg of Force India (Mercedes), Pastor Maldonado of Williams (Renault), & Romain Grosjean of Lotus. Six of the seven series runners-up have also gone on to at least one full season in F1: Heikki Kovalainen of Caterham (Renault); Nelson Piquet, Jr., formerly of Renault (now Lotus); Lucas di Grassi, formerly of Virgin (now Marussia); Bruno Senna of Williams; Vitaly Petrov of Caterham; & Sergio Pérez of Sauber (Ferrari). The problem with G.P.2 is that some fellows seem to make a career out of it; instead of impressing & then moving up the ladder, they stay in G.P.2 for years & years. Maldonado, for example, was in his fourth year of competition when he won his championship, over then-G.P.2 rookie Pérez. This year's G.P.2 leaders are all series veterans, making me dubious they have much of a future in F1, except possibly as hopeless, hapless back markers at Marussia or H.R.T. The young driver who's impressed me most has been James Calado, a G.P.2 rookie. Alas, young Calado had a disastrous weekend at Silverstone, scoring no points, & dropping from third in the drivers' standings to a fourth-place tie with fellow Briton Max Chilton. Plenty of time left on the G.P.2 calendar for that lost ground to be made up.

By Endurance We Conquer
American Le Mans Series (A.L.M.S.)
Round 4
Northeast Grand Prix
Saturday, 7 July 2012

The post-Le Mans return to action for the A.L.M.S. was broadcast live (!) on E.S.P.N. 2, by-passing my greatest complaint about the Entertainment & Sports Programming Network's A.L.M.S. coverage, the delayed, edited nature of the race broadcasts. The first hour of the two-hour-forty-five-minute race was carried only on the website, but the final hour & forty-five minutes, with time for podiums & interviews after, was carried live on television. This was a most welcome change. The race was run from Connecticut's Lime Rock Park, the shortest circuit on the A.L.M.S. calendar, a tremendous contrast with the Circuit de la Sarthe in France. Still, I was reminded of how much better the American Le Mans Series is than the rival Grand-Am Rolex Series. The next two races will be broadcast in the same manner, before the return to the irksome practice of an edited & condensed broadcast of the four-hour race at Road America. Alas & alack!

Indy Rock
IndyCar Series
Round 10
Indy Toronto
Sunday, 8 July 2012

There are some things to like about the IndyCar Series, but I simply cannot escape the conclusion that it is amateur hour compared to Formula One. The comparison is unfair perhaps, but they are the world's two most-famous open-wheeled racing series & so I think it also inevitable. I'm unimpressed by Indy's namesake event, the far-famed 500, but on the other hand I'm glad they run more races on road courses & street circuits than on ovals. I'm not much of a partisan in that have a team to root for, yet I find myself oddly annoyed that American driver Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport (Chevrolet-powered) has assumed the points lead over Australian Will Power of Team Penske (Chevrolet). Why? The only explanation I can offer is that I am rooting for Power because he has so often been eclipsed by Dario Franchitti of Chip Ganassi Racing (Honda). What do I have against Franchitti? Envy over his marriage to Ashley Judd? No, not really. Power just seems like the underdog, & who doesn't like rooting for the underdog. There are no firm IndyCar loyalties as of yet, nor are there certain to be in future, as I'm still lukewarm about the series.

Elsewhere in Motorsport
S.C.C.A. Pro Racing World Challenge
Rounds 6-7
Cadillac V-Series Challenge
1 June 2012

Rounds 8-9
Motul Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Grand Prix
22 June 2012

The Pirelli World Challenge is an all G.T. series that I first watched because {a} it was on & {b} I wanted to see the Cadillac CTS-V racecar in action. These were my second & third World Challenge races. I'm intrigued enough to watch more.

Next time on "This Week in Motorsport": a major development, maybe even, in the vernacular, a "game-changer."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Great Big Sea, "The Night Pat Murphy Died" from Play (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I woke up this morning with "The Night Pat Murphy Died" rolling through my head.

The following image was considered for this week's episode of "The Explorers' Club," but rejected on two grounds. {a} As a non-scientific illustration, it served little pedagogical purpose. {b} It's just too scary. We now present it as pure entertainment, solely for the shock value. It's terrifying. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCXCV - The Japanese spider crab (Macrocheira kaempferi).

Urbi et Orbi
We had a guest priest at Mass today. He was delivering a pretty good homily, tying together the day's Scriptures in a way that Father Anderson, Holy Redeemer's pastoral vicar, never does, when suddenly he veered far off the reservation. Father told us that "institutions" don't work; institutions never repent, even when told repeatedly by righteous men to repent. What our society needs is not institutions, but "movements." Movements will save us. Movements like Occupy Wall Street, & Occupy Flint, which had transformed our local community & "restored our dignity" (verbatim). Occupy Flint restored my dignity? Wow, neato! Maybe I should send Occupy Flint a nice fruitcake, a card at the very least—a token of my esteem & gratitude for the restoration of my & the community's dignity. My thanks to "Father Occupy" for opening my eyes to the nigh-miraculous way in which Occupy Flint had transformed the City of Flint & indeed all of Genesee County beyond all recognition, & all without anyone even noticing.

Church is always fun, sometimes for the oddest reasons.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Aloe Blacc, "I Need a Dollar" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: From my playlist, "Filthy Lucre," which also includes such pecuniary-themed tunes as "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo," "We're in the Money," & "I Need a Dollar's" Great Depression-era analog "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"

Samstag, 14 Juli
John Williams, "To Cairo" from Raiders of the Lost Ark: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Caution: Lewdness afoot.

Project PANDORA: The Interpreter, Act III
There's no way to compose this post without giving away the ending; if I "buried the lead" 'twould be to no useful purpose. I kicked The Interpreter to the curb on Thursday, 10 May. (Operation AXIOM reminds us that 10 May was a very busy day on multiple years during the Second World War [1939-1945], & invites all & sundry to further investigate that auspicious date.) Those who occasionally spy my FaceSpace page might well have guessed as much. I hold out hope that our intercourse is at an end, though I fear 'tis a forlorn hope.

Our story so far:

Wayback Machine: The Interpreter, Act I

Wayback Machine: The Interpreter, Act II

Now, on with Act III. The first sign of trouble with The Interpreter came during my wonderful sojourn in Salem, Oregon, in mid-April. Innocently, & perhaps naïvely, I sent her a text message asking how many dates we had been on. My purpose in this was not to spark a conversation about the status of our budding relationship, merely to conduct a bit of housekeeping or accounting; I wanted to know if the lunches we'd had counted as dates, for record keeping in my journal (currently in its eighth volume). She replied that she didn't think we were dating, that she didn't know what we were doing; she took pains to emphasize that she liked me, but she also liked another fellow, to whom we shall refer as my rival. (This is not because the mention of my rival's given name fills my heart with dread or jealousy or some such silliness, but because that given name is repellant: Rayce. I'm not going to pollute further The Secret Base with his parents' idiocy, thus the euphemism "my rival.") I took care to seem unfazed in my replies, while in reality I was nonplussed. It took me some minutes to puzzle out why I found this so unsettling. I did not bother me in the least that The Interpreter was romantically interested in another bloke; we'd not had any definitional conversation, which meant our relationship was rightly to be regarded as non-exclusive. What bothered me was that we were non-exclusive & yet The Interpreter had been so eager & willing to screw. This is not boastfulness on my part, dear readers, but we'd have screwed a few days earlier if I'd been game. I know my sexual mores are out-of-sync with the times, but this was beyond the pale, even striving to be as broadminded as possible. What kind of a person would screw someone she wasn't even dating? Would screw someone with whom she wasn't even willing to be in an exclusive relationship? With what manner of trollop had I become entangled? These developments necessitated too complicated a discourse for text messaging; so, we tabled any further discussion for after my return to sacred Michigan.

It occurred to me that the whole kerfuffle might be no more than a matter of semantics. I'd asked how many dates we'd been on, The Interpreter replied that we were not dating. Accepting that going on dates & dating are synonymous in her mind, a sentiment with which I disagree, she & I might have very different notions of what defines "dating." We are a society of vagueness, or half-measures & confusion & everywhere—everywhere!—nebulousness. What does "dating" then mean? My theory is that to her going on dates is synonymous with dating, which is synonymous with being exclusive boyflesh & girlflesh, something we were emphatically not. On an episode of Psych from last season, a femme fatale drew the distinction 'twixt "seeing" a fellow & "dating" him; she was "dating" a fellow only if they'd screwed. That doesn't resolve anything in my case, since The Interpreter had all but begged me to screw her & I'd declined the invitation; so, if anything I'd be "seeing" her while she'd be trying to "date" me. Still, I'm always happy to mention Psych.

I returned from Oregon on a Monday, & saw (since these rendezvous were apparently not dates) The Interpreter on the following Wednesday & Friday. I slept over at her place on Wednesday night, the first night I'd ever spent in a paramour's bed. It was a miserable night's sleep; we stayed up into the wee hours fooling around, & she had to wake up for work damnably early. On top of that, her pillows were rubbish. Still & all, it was fun fooling around with her & I was glad to get to get to kiss her & touch her in the morrow. I motored home & ate breakfast, not fully waking up 'til I took a shower, my habitual morning restorative. The following Friday was the annoying evening that saw The Interpreter go three sheets to the wind & fall asleep several hours before midnight. (Wayback Machine, second paragraph.) We had fun together & Wednesday night had done a great deal to smooth what feathers had been ruffled in the Oregon text-message debacle, but Friday brought all those ill feeling back to the fore. A gulf had been created that no serious effort would be made to bridge. In the week that followed I was not actively avoiding her, but neither did I make an extraordinary effort to make time to see her. In one of our frequent text confabs, she mentioned that she was hanging out with my rival; I replied playfully that I wasn't the jealous type, but that I still intended to win her from him. She replied back that she had absolutely no romantic feeling towards my rival, that he was nothing other than a friend. This is quite other than what she'd told me while I was in Oregon. There were inconsistencies, inconsistencies that were immediately translated into suspicions, suspicions of I'm not quite sure what, but something untoward. I have a nasty, suspicious mind, & once roused my suspicions are not easily lulled.

We met up again on Friday, a week after the night she'd passed out, & once again she wished to get drinks at Churchill's. For a while we were joined by one of her staff coworkers on campus, a girl I also know, & that girl's ex-con boyflesh. As before, we sat at the bar, which I found highly confusing. The Interpreter liked talking to the bartenders, & the waitresses as they came to the bar to place their orders. I found this puzzling, but decided not to find it irksome; I certainly have my idiosyncrasies, this fondness for the companionship of strangers was one of hers. After the coworker & her ex-con boyflesh had departed, one of the waitresses asked The Interpreter & I if we were dating. The waitress specifically asked if we were dating. The Interpreter & I replied at the same time, but not in unison. She said, "Yes;" I said, "No." Of course I said, "No," The Interpreter had specifically told me we were not dating. Why then did she say, "Yes"? Not wishing to share a discussion of that question with the waitress, the bartenders, & any other Tim, Dick, or Harry who might happen up to the bar, I held me tongue; The Interpreter made no mention of the incongruity.

Perhaps chastened by the previous Friday, The Interpreter limited what she drank; we soon departed her favorite watering hole, bound for her apartment. She changed out of her work clothes & we repaired to a ribs joint for a late dinner. As we sat in the lobby waiting for a table for two to open up & I surveyed a menu, having never before been inside this particular establishment, The Interpreter nuzzled up to my shoulder & I put an arm around hers. There we sat, perfectly contented, until I asked, without any forethought or strategic planning, if she'd like to be my girlflesh. (Verbally, I used the more conventional word "girlfriend.") Mayhap I was egged on by her "Yes" to the waitress's question? Eh, whatever, I've no regrets. I've squandered too many opportunities thinking myself into paralysis. A gung-ho, leap-without-looking bravado is the essence of Project PANDORA. Go for broke! The question was out there, the die was cast. With a heavy sigh, nuzzling even further into my chest, The Interpreter said no. The differences between us were too great (I'm a Catholic, she's a heathen; I'm a prude, she's a slut) for us to have a permanent future together; therefore we couldn't be boyflesh & girlflesh. Without missing a beat, I asked her if she wanted to keep doing what we were doing, & she gratefully & hastily acceded. Periodically throughout dinner she's ask me if "it" was O.K., & I'd smile & reassure her that all was well. (All wasn't well, of course, but what profit would there be in broadcasting advanced warning of my forming intentions?) Once again, at least a portion of the difficulty confronting us appeared to be semantic. Her stated reason that we couldn't be boyflesh & girlflesh is that we weren't ever going to be married; to my mind, at least, boyflesh/girlflesh is not even remotely synonymous with betrothal, much less matrimony. Of course, an alternate explanation also sprang to mind: even if the pre-marriage nonsense was a ruse, she might well regard boyflesh/girlflesh status as being exclusive, which I do also, & she didn't want to be trapped in an exclusive relationship in which there'd be no screwing. Whilst I disagree with the expressed immorality, I can certainly respect that attitude. However, that attitude is not the reason she cited, & I could only scoff at the absurdity of her stated reason. I spent the night in her bed, & thoroughly enjoyed the parts of her body to which I'd permit myself access, but deep in the recesses of my mind the decision had been made to kick her to the curb. All the rest was Hamlet, the Purgatory betwixt deciding to act & acting.

I saw her briefly the following Tuesday, May Day, between when she got out of work & I had my evening Knights of Columbus meeting. We were not to see each other the following weekend. I was going to the reopened Flint Local 432 on Friday, when she had plans in Lansing, & I'd be in verdammt Ohio on Saturday & Sunday, though with the pleasant compensation of getting to see Where's Teddy? & The Cupcake. I saw her a week later, again on Tuesday, when we met at the cinema to see The Avengers. I held her in my arms throughout, & she raised the armrest 'twixt our seats to that we could snuggle closer, but my attention was on the silver screen & Earth's Mightiest Heroes. We sucked face in the parking lot afterward, more restrained in the bright sunshine than we'd been in the pouring rain that night we'd met, & as we embraced she told me that she'd gone to Lansing the previous weekend for a date. She & the fellow had gone to a hard rock club & had a good time. I had no claim to her, she was very explicitly not my girlflesh, I had absolutely no objection to her dating another fellow; however, I also felt myself under no obligation to discuss her dating another fellow in-between kisses. Nor, for that matter, to listen to her talking about another fellow at all. I played my cards close to the vest & did everything I could not to betray my discomfort. We parted amiably with plans to see each other again that Thursday.

I made the decision to end the affair when next I saw her. I had no interest in being "friends with benefits" with her; I had no interest in being with a girl who didn't want to be with me. Maybe that's small-minded & parochial of me, but so be it. Like Popeye, "I yam what I yam." I entered her basement apartment as I had no many times before, & when she hugged me I stopped her short of a hello kiss & said, "I have some bad news. Being friends with benefits doesn't work for me." Her reply revealed everything one need know about her. She said, "That's not bad news." Being with me meant less than nothing to her, so little that the end of our affair didn't even rate as bad news. I admit I was a little stung by this, but also profoundly, profoundly repulsed. She'd been so eager to screw me, & yet had no emotional attachment to me whatsoever. She was ever more debased a trollop than I'd feared. She asked if it was still permitted to hug me; 'twas. We hugged, & I departed. Promptly upon returning home, I "de-friended" her on the FaceSpace, & looked forward to never again seeing her. She had her chance, she didn't want any part of it, & that was that. I've long believed that persons who date should not be friends afterward, & though we'd apparently not shared any romantic feelings at all we'd had enough physical interplay that I was satisfied we should not attempt to be friends. She sent me several text messages in the following weeks, & I replied as basic courtesy demands, but did nothing to encourage conversation. I hoped that in time she'd take the hint & leave me in peace.

Four weeks later, my pal & History Club chum Red Patten entered a tater tot-eating contest at a chain public house, the only local public house with any sort of pub quiz. I accepted his invitation to cheer him on during the tot eating & to then join his team for the pub quiz. (I'd been looking for a local pub quiz, theretofore without any success.) Alas, no sooner had I arrived then I spied The Interpreter amongst Red Patten's supporters. Oy. There was an interminable delay before the deciding round of the tater tot-eating contest, & The Interpreter found ample opportunity to pick me off from the herd. She asked why I'd de-friended her on the FaceSpace; she was genuinely hurt. Without apology I informed her that we'd never been friends; that what I'd felt toward her was desire, not friendship; & I explained my opposition to former couples trying to reestablish friendship. She was shocked & not a little upset by my ruthless attitude. I apologize for nothing. Red Patten won the tater tot-eating contest & was unofficially declared, by us, not the public house, "King Tot," a lame premeditated play on King Tut. The pub quiz was a grave disappointment, as will be detailed in a forthcoming "Project MERCATOR" post; to no one's surprise, The Interpreter was less than useless on the pub quiz. At the end of the evening, The Interpreter stole my hat—the straw Trilby Mark III—& fled the public house.

At a deliberately slow pace, I followed her to the parking lot & cornered her at her motorcar. There, she played a childish game of refusing to return my Trilby, jumping about & holding it out of my reach. She stood very close to me, almost as if she wanted me to kiss her. All I wanted was my property restored, & to be on my way. She asked again why I'd de-friended her on the FaceSpace & explained that this had been very hurtful to her. I did my best not to roll my eyes, for I didn't think doing so would help me retrieve my hat. In the end, she eventually exhausted her petulance, but I still had to agree to "re-friend" her on the FaceSpace before she'd give me back my hat. I could have taken it from her by force, but there were innumerable ways in which that could have very swiftly gone sideways. I got my hat back & was true to my word. In the weeks since, she's left several witless comments on my FaceSpace page, & I've not visited hers. She seems to have gotten out of her system what she needed to get out, & I've not received any further text messages from her, thank goodness. I'll not make any waves for the next several months, & quietly de-friend her again in the fall of the winter, & hope thereafter never again to have anything to do with her.

Do I regret my time with The Interpreter? Nope. Project PANDORA needs data, & she provided data in spades.

Next time on "Project PANDORA": Interweb dating.

The great question of the 20th Century rears its ugly head once again: What in Himmel is wrong with the Germans? Nip the tip-link. Parents aren't allowed to circumcise their male Kinder? Even if their religion requires them to do so? And we are expected to believe that this just incidentally affects principally Germany's Muslim & Jewish population? The Second World War ended sixty-seven years ago, & I'd love to be able to put an end once & for all to comparisons betwixt modern Germany & the Nazi Reich, but then something like this comes along. When the German state singles out an ethnic-religious group for discrimination & dissociation, & polls show a majority of Germans support that discrimination & dissociation, the parallels to Nazi Germany are appropriate, inevitable, & terrifying. The Chancellory has issued a statement insisting that a legal means must be found for Jews & Muslims to continue circumcising their children, so they aren't quite prepared to require the wearing of yellow stars (& yellow crescents?) in public: Weimar-link. Nevertheless, these shameful events serve as a reminder that Germany simply cannot be trusted to behave as a responsible actor on the international stage; we can never relax our watch on the Germans, for given a few years of bad enough economic news & they might just embrace Nazism as a means of national salvation.

The dark bastard wonders, Should we have implemented the Morgenthau Plan after all?

He's Dead, Jim
I've been getting plenty of sleep, perhaps too much sleep, & imbibing great volumes of orange juice; the dreadful sick is in retreat, & I am racked by only the occasional cough. I am reluctant to make plans with Jojo, who has been agitating for such since Wednesday, for fear that I am yet contagious. Soon, though, I will be fully restored to healthy & once again footloose & fancy free.

My improved diet (less snacking & more—lots & lots more—fruits & vegetables) & my daily constitutional/Crim preparations (Objective SCHWEDEN) appear to be paying dividends. I'm in the midst of transitioning 'twixt belt notches; unlike past transitions, though, this is not from the zero (base) notch to plus-one or from plus-one to the zero notch, but from zero to minus-one. In the case of two of my belts, minus-one is the last notch, meaning I'll have to punch additional holes in some of my belts if this progress continues. Here's hoping there is lots of hole-punching in my foreseeable future.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Glenn Miller, "American Patrol" from Glenn Miller's 50 Finest (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Invariably, when I post anything of a political nature to my FaceSpace page one of my left-wing FaceSpace friends—the FaceSpace's abuse of "friend" being a major reason I have embraced the word kith to describe those closest to my heart but not related to me by blood—will pip in with some inane reply. This does not in itself irk me, because such is to be expected when one comments in as public a forum as the FaceSpace. What gets my goat is that they all argue in bad faith, demanding evidence whilst refusing to provide any themselves, flinging ad hominem venom when argumentation will not carry the day, & accusing me of everything short of believing the Earth is flat. I know that there is no etiquette, no decorum on the interwebs, but—Zounds!—this is ridiculous. Is this a manifestation of the broader, deeply disturbing trend against free speech that has evinced itself on the Left, or am I dealing with a few select mental midgets, people with whom I should disassociate myself? Either way, I shan't be cowed by such bully-boy tactics.

The Queue
The non-fiction spree continues, but at no risk of casting any doubt upon my affection for Burroughs's Barsoom; I shall return to John Carter's Mars in due time, after exploring directly a little more of mine own Earth.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars
Barry Wynne, The Man who Refused to Die: Teehu Makimare's 2,000 Mile Drift in an Open Boat Across the South Seas
Jim Clark, Jim Clark at the Wheel: The World Motor Racing Champion's Own Story

T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thuvia, Maid of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Chessmen of Mars
Richard Price, Clockers
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Master Mind of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Fighting Man of Mars
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Swords of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Synthetic Men of Mars

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
MxPx, "Linda Linda (English)" from On the Cover II (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 11 Juli
Fastball, "Better Than It Was" from All the Pain Money Can Buy (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

He's Dead, Jim
There's no denying it now, I have some variation of the dreadful sick. It appears, in my inexpert opinion, to be whatever has afflicted my mother the past four days. My nose started dripping last night & I sensed something was not quite right in my chest. I reset my alarms to get a little extra sleep this morning, rest being so important in the fight against disease, & loaded up on Vitamin C, but already this morning I've had a few explosive coughs. This too shall pass, & here's hoping it passes swiftly & mildly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCXCIV - Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), Part III: The Nansen passport & the Nansen bottle.

I've a personal hero in Fridtjof Nansen, a man to stand alongside the likes of Ernest Shackleton & Winston Churchill, & a select company of additional latter-day Argonauts.

Objective SCHWEDEN
Independence Day & the baleful blackout made my daily constitutional any but daily, & today I walked the familiar circuit for the first time in a week. My legs were sore from yesterday's yard work extravaganza (mowed the lawn, trimmed the hedges—including climbing betwixt the hedges & the house—, pruned the oak in the front yard, & pickd up all the sticks felled by the Wednesday night/Thursday morning storm that caused the blackout), but as usual there was no better cure for that rust than a bit of exercise. My time wasn't bad, but 'twas a bit off the pre-Fourth of July pace. Nothing for it but to put in the work to claw back what's been lost.

He's Dead, Jim
My Mom came through the blackout in fine style, but on Sunday, a full day after electrical power had been restored, she was afflicted by a sudden lethargy & a harsh, persistent cough. Twenty-four hours later much of her strength had returned, & the cough was less frequent, but had not disappeared. The cough has become sporadic today, but still prompts a harsh bark whenever it recurs. She's avoided her part-time babysitting gig in order not to risk infecting the wee bairns. I am paranoid about contracting this particular strain of the dreadful sick & am watching myself closely for symptoms, perhaps to the point of mild hypochondria.

Perchance to Dream
I've recalled recently two of my dreams. Friday morning, the first long, hot, sweat-soaked night of the blackout, I dreamt of my wife. She was tall & lean, with dirty blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was French. I've no idea if she was bilingual, but she spoke no English during the dream; I was fluent in French, though of course I don't really know French so what she said & I comprehended was certainly gibberish. I swept her off her feet & we made love in an auditorium. (?) I can picture her vaguely still, & I've been racking my brain to recall if she wears the face of an actress I've seen, someone I'd recognize but who's name I've never known, or if my mind invented her beauty all on its own.

This very morning, I dreamt that in a vast, unruly pile of books I discovered a small, leather-bound volume, Seven Pillars of Wisdom by Lawrence of Arabia. I've no idea why, but this discovery sent me into a slight panic. I was very concerned because I'd also placed Seven Pillars of Wisdom on reserve at the lending library (as I've done in the waking world), & somehow this posed a problem, a grave problem. Would the world end were I to have two copies of the book in my possession simultaneously? Couldn't I just cancel my reservation at the lending library? I awoke not long after, meaning I'll never know the answer to why my dream self was so perturbed. Alas, my beauteous Gallic bride was nowhere to be seen.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Dropkick Murphys, "Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced" from Blackout (T.L.A.M.)


"Oh, fuck it. Who am I shittin'?
I'm a pitiful sight, & I ain't all that bright.
I'm definitely not chiseled from stone.
I'm a cheat, & a liar, no woman's desire,
I'll probably die cold & alone."

Monday, July 9, 2012

This afternoon, through sheer carelessness on my part, I severed a power cord with an electric hedge trimmer, the very electric hedge trimmer to which the cord was supplying power. I know, sometimes I amaze even myself.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Kelly Sweet, "Dream On" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

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

Commentary: "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Queue
I'd never heard of the true-life tale of survival recounted in The Man who Refused to Die 'til I encountered the book at one of the History Club's periodic used book sales. I enjoyed the television series Man Vs. Wild & I certainly appreciate the time-tested doctrine of Man versus Nature; so, I really should delve into more of these types of stories, beginning with Sir Ernest Shackleton's South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage. Also, sooner or later, & probably sooner rather than later, I shall have to read at least part of One Thousand & One Nights, a.k.a. the Arabian Nights. I am especially interested in reading "Ali Baba & the Forty Thieves." Combining these interests in real-life feats of survival & tales of the Middle East, I've also been considering T. E. Lawrence, specifically the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Jim Clark at the Wheel jumped the queue because I'm yet in the mood for non-fiction after The Man who Refused to Die. An alternate subtitle is given on the front cover: "The world's greatest motor racing champion tells his own supercharged success story."

Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Gods of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars
Barry Wynne, The Man who Refused to Die: Teehu Makimare's 2,000 Mile Drift in an Open Boat Across the South Seas

Jim Clark, Jim Clark at the Wheel: The World Motor Racing Champion's Own Story

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thuvia, Maid of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Chessmen of Mars
Richard Price, Clockers
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Master Mind of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Fighting Man of Mars
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Swords of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Synthetic Men of Mars

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

Commentary: I considered Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" in celebration of the restoration of our electricity but "Science Fiction/Double Feature" was the first song that popped into my head this morning. For the life of me I don't understanding why the title of the song is "Science Fiction/Double Feature" & not "Science Fiction Double Feature." The slash is unnecessary & nonsensical.

Freitag, 6 Juli
Dropkick Murphys, "Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight" from Blackout (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Without power—& thus without refrigeration, without air conditioning, & without running water—on the hottest day of the year, when the temperature soared to 99˚. Only the anger of the Dropkick Murphys suffices as a response to such an outrage.

Donnerstag, 5 Juli
Stan Rogers, "Macdonnell On the Heights" courtesy The Watergirl (The Watergirl)

Commentary: Lieutenant Colonel John Macdonell (1785-1812) was aide-de-camp to the far-famed Major General Sir Isaac Brock (1769-1812), who conquered Fort Detroit in the early days of the War of 1812 & thwarted the American invasion of Upper Canada near Niagara Falls. Like Brock, Macdonell fell at the Battle of Queenston Heights, but he does not share Brock's fame in the Dominion of Canada. What's funny about "Macdonnell On the heights" is that the chorus laments, "But not one in ten thousand knows your name," while at the same time misspelling Colonel Macdonell's surname as "Macdonnell." Of course not one in ten thousand know Macdonnell's name, for who in blue blazes was Macdonnell? As to Macdonell, I shall henceforth remember him as a valiant & damnably successful enemy of the United States.

My thanks to The Watergirl for her indefatigable support of the R.B.D.S.O.T.D.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Operation Axiom
Happy Independence Day! Two hundred thirty-six years ago to the day, 4 July 1776, the United States of America declared its independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, in President Lincoln's immortal words, bringing "forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, & dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." The United States is the greatest country in the world, the greatest country the world has ever known, & we are immeasurably blessed, every one of us, to have been born in this country & this age, when the American gospel of freedom—both political & economic—has lead to greater levels of liberty & prosperity worldwide than at any other point in the long, sad orgy of violence & misery that is history of Man. Happy birthday, America, & many happy returns!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Independence Day
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "The Star-Spangled Banner" from Hurrah For the Yellow and Blue (T.L.A.M.)


"O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

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

Commentary: God bless General Sherman, hero of the Union.
The Middle Kingdom: Abroad
One of the most serious problems with the People's Republic of China's (P.R.C.) model of "state capitalism," so lauded by Tom Friedman & President Obama for its efficiency & verve, is that it is fundamentally a command economy. Market forces do not direct the allocation of capital & labor, oligarchs—high-ranking members of the Chinese Communist Party or the People's Liberation Army—allocate capital & labor as they see fit; it is neither a capitalism system nor a socialist system, but a hybrid manifesting the worst features of both. Consider the bargain struck betwixt the authoritarian rulers of the P.R.C. & the authoritarian rulers of the Republic of Angola—China receives precious Angolan petroleum & Angola receives new construction that is sorely mismatched with its citizens' needs: "If you build it, they will come"-link.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Kith & Kin | He's Dead, Jim
We—Mein Vater und ich—are nearing the end of the rebuilding of the stairs, remaking them better than new. Remind me never to pursue a career in construction. Working with my hands has been highly gratifying, above & beyond all the interesting things I've been learning about woodworking & home improvement, but in the process those selfsame hands have been cut to ribbons. Splinters aplenty & twice today I drew minor quantities of blood my left hand, including a colossally irritating cut at the tip of the index finger. I was at the home improvement warehouse again today, & I'll be there again tomorrow. I am so very weary of the home improvement warehouse. O how wish the local hardware store, the crazy one with the preposterously knowledgeable staff, hadn't been driven out of business by the home improvement warehouse!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Four Lads, "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Life is better, maybe even best, when you are sporting a fez.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Explorers' Club
№ CCXCIII - Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), Part II: Humanitarian, Nobel Peace laureate*, & namesake of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Nansen International Office for Refugees.

*Back then (1922 for Nansen, '38 for the Nansen International Office for Refugees), the Nobel Peace Prize was worthy winning.

Operation AXIOM
'Tis Canada Day, formerly Dominion Day, the national day of benighted Canada. On 1 July 1867, one hundred forty-five years ago to the day, the United Canadas (today, the provinces of Ontario & Quebec) joined with the colonies of New Brunswick & Nova Scotia to form a semi-autonomous polity of the British Empire, the Dominion of Canada. Do not mistake Canada Day for Canada's independence day, for that would not some 'til the British Parliament passed the Statue of Westminster in 1931… or was it when Parliament passed the Canada Act in 1982… or is the idea that Canada is a truly independent nation still risible because Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is also Queen of Canada? Enjoy your Canada Day, you Canuck bastards! Me, I'm going to count my nation's lucky stars that Isaac Brock almost singlehandedly thwarted your invasions during the War of 1812; imagine the horror if we'd had the millstone of the Canucks around our necks for the last two centuries. I shudder to think.

I only hate the Canadians because they hated me first.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Les Italians, "Ottomania" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Like yesterday's R.B.D.S.O.T.D., "Abdul Abulbul Amir," "Ottomania" comes from my playlist "Orientalism." My mind dwells amid the sands of the Maghreb, the cedars of the Levant, & the youngest of the three major Abrahamic religions. Jeers & hisses for the late, unlamented Edward Saïd.