Monday, December 31, 2012

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

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

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


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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

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


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

Friday, December 28, 2012

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

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

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

"Jesus, Lord at Thy birth…"

Thursday, December 27, 2012

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

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

"Perfect in power…"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Motion Pictures
Night Train to Munich—Criterion Collection

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

Television Series
Psych—The Complete Sixth Season

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

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

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

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

Monday, December 24, 2012

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


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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Go Blue!

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

Go Blue! hang, Dave Brandon.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

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

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

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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

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

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

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

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

Go Blue!

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


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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

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

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

Round 9
Grand Prix of Belgium
Sunday, 2 September 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

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

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

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

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

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

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


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

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

Commentary: Short & punchy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Blue!

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


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

Monday, December 10, 2012

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

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

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

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


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

Sunday, December 9, 2012

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

Saturday, December 8, 2012

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 6
Road America
Saturday, 23 June 2012

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

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

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

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

Go Blue!

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

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

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

Monday, December 3, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 2, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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