Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday!
Happy birthday to my mom, The Worrywart! I've always told her how lucky she is so many people around the world brave the elements and pour out into the cold to celebrate her birthday; she insists that they are instead celebrating New Year's Eve, but I've tired my best to disabuse her of that silly notion. Happy birthday, Mom!

Also, Happy New Year, one and all! Everything's going to be great in '08!

The Explorers Club
No. LVIII - The Jamestown Colony, founded in 1607, the first English settlement in the New World.

I would never have forgiven myself had I allowed 2007 to pass without in some small way marking the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. Without Jamestown, there would be no United States of America, and without America what hope would exist for this world of woe and wonder? Odd to think that the fate of the world entire turned on the fortunes of Captain John Smith, John Rolfe, and a handful of Englishmen who came to this "Virginia" because of their lust for gold. History is a funny thing.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Holiday
John Williams & the London Symphony Orchestra, "The Battle in the Snow" from Star Wars Trilogy: The Original Soundtrack Anthology, Disc 2: The Empire Strikes Back (T.L.A.M.)


Need I say more?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Christmas Should Be Lasting All Year Long" (live) performed and recorded on 30 Dezember 2002 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Five years ago to the day. The previous rendition of "Christmas Should Be Lasting All Year Long," chosen last Sonntag, was from 30 Dezember 2004, two years after today's Song of the Day.

"Christmas Should Be Lasting All Year Long" is also notable for the lyrics of the chorus, which are the more correct "Christmas should last all year long."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Those fiends at F.S.N. broadcast three of this weekend's four G.L.I. games, all but the final between Michigan and Michigan Tech, the tournament's co-hosts. This is an outrage! So, I was not able to divide my time between Penn State's triumph over Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl and the valiant Wolverine's overtime win over the technological Huskies at ye olde Joe Louis Arena. Still, all was right with the world as the Big Ten prevailed over the Big XII and the C.C.H.A. prevailed over the W.C.H.A.

In two days of play at the Great Lakes Invitational:
Goals scored by Michigan: 7
Goals allowed by Michigan: 0

Go Blue! No. 1 in the country and once again kings of the G.L.I. at the J.L.A.!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Duvall, "Go Tell It On the Mountain" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I have loved this month's Christmas/winter/snow theme, but I'd be lying if I said I was not looking forward to getting back to the normal, out-of-left-field Songs of the Day. This commentary was not meant to cast any aspersions upon Duvall. Duvall is rad, and I love "Go Tell It On the Mountain" and O Holy Night.

Fountains of Wayne, "All Kinds of Time" from Welcome Interstate Managers (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: For Tom Brady, a Michigan man, on the occasion of this season's sixteenth victory, and also for Anthony Morelli, who threw a stunningly beautiful twenty-two-yard pass on a third-and-twenty when the militant Aggies rushed a meager two men, affording the oft-woeful lad all kinds of time.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Never mind, there's to be no C.C.H.A. blood feud at the G.L.I. What a grand evening! First, the dastardly Spartans bumble their way to defeat at the hands of the chumpish Boston College Eagles in the Champs Sports Bowl(s), and then they were routed by Michigan Tech at the Great Lakes Invitational! "Victory for M.S.U."? Not tonight, you cretinous goons!

Tomorrow we reclaim our rightful G.L.I. crown! Bring on the Huskies! Go Blue!
There are too many games to watch tomorrow night: Michigan in the G.L.I. final, Penn State against Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl, Tom Brady and the Patriots' bid for perfection. I suppose the Golden Boy will have to fend for himself; I'll check in on the N.F.L. from time to time, but the majority of my time will be split between Big Ten action in the Alamodome and a C.C.H.A. blood feud at the Joe (presuming the dastardly Spartans prevail over Michigan Tech in the first round).

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Better late than never...

The Explorers Club
No. LVII - The Nordic cross.





Damn Dirty Neutral Sweden


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Sweet mercy, last night's Purdue-Central Michigan game (the Motor City Bowl) was fun! Made ever more so by the histrionics (just short of gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes) of my father, an alumnus of both schools: Purdue is his alma mater, but years later, while still working full-time, he got his master's degree through C.M.U.'s night school program. I sense another defeat-laden bowl season for the glorious Big Ten, but by Jove if we go down we'll go down swinging!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "Go Tell It On the Mountain" via iTunes (Doctor Hee Haw)

Commentary: Doc Hee Haw should never be confused with the Second World War traitor Lord Haw Haw.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" from Barenaked for the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas! God bless us, every one!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Holiday
Brian d'Arcy James, "Michigan Christmas" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I discovered this song in the immediate aftermath of my Texile; for the rest of my days, it will be infused with massively powerful emotions, paramount among them a deep and abiding appreciation for that odd mixture of comfort, safety, and immense well-being we commonly describe as "home."

"The Dude abides."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Through no design of my own, the result of naught but happenstance, today I am wearing my polar bear boxer shorts and the next pair in the rotation, for Christmas Day itself, are the snow flake boxers. I have no Christmas specific boxers; so, these are the closest equivalents. Festive!

Merry Christmas!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Holiday
Dance Hall Crashers, "North Pole" from The Old Record (1989-1992) (T.L.A.M.)

Sonntag, 23 Dezember
Real Can of Yams, "Christmas Should Be Lasting All Year Long" (live) performed and recorded on 30 Dezember 2004 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: R.C.Y.'s cover of the old Murky Transport Disaster standard, from our latest, but most assuredly not last, show.

"Christmas = happiness."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mu330, "Three Days 'til Christmas" from Winter Wonderland (T.L.A.M.)


"Just two more days 'til Christmas,
I still haven't seen a package,
One that stands about 5'5",
With little air holes in the sides.
I'd run downstairs and open it up
Before anyone was even up.
I would throw the wrapping to the side
And you'd the standing there all smiles."

Codename: PANDORA isn't 5'5", but she'd need a couples inches of overhead clearance, right? Just to be comfortable on the long voyage from old New Amsterdam.

The Victors
I watched the lion's share of today's Michigan-U.C.L.A. basketball game in astonishing H.D. I'm disappointed that we lost, but not devastated; sad, but true, after being terrible for long enough, you get plenty used to it, comfortable even. And I am buoyed by the thrill of our halftime lead: 27-24. We've mastered Beilein-ball for twenty minutes, now we just need to learn to play it for the full forty. Baby-steppin' our way back to respectability, mayhap even glory. Go Blue!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ricky Fitness
This morning, I made the decision to skip today's exercise, citing fatigue. It was a done deal, signed, sealed, and delivered. Then, a gruff voice from the back of my head bellowed, "Get your fat ass to the gym! You're going, and you're going to run your ass off." And so my fat ass went to the gym, and I pushed myself during today's run and increased each and every weight during today's lifting. And I loved every second of the exquisite agony. Jumpin' Jack Pratt, I love those S.K.P. Machine moments!

Self-loathing is the key to self-improvement. To paraphrase Dr. Cox, the moment you're satisfied with your body, it's all over.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Duvall, "Joy to the World" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I believe this to be the season's first instrumental.
Man, I can't wait to see Juno. If the film is even half as good as I infer from the previews, Michael Cera's presence on a project will be very nearly enough to bank on the ensuing quality. That kid is a comedic genius!

Project TROIKA
I am endeavoring to keep my eyes on the prize, but my random word generating muse refuses to play ball. I respect her tenacity.

The Clockwork Doom
The Man Who Made War on the Sun

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
I am nearly always glad that there is not a television in my bedroom, but at this precise moment I wish I could have the Utah-Navy game (the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl) on in the background. Once finished here, I shall get back to it post haste. What do I care about the United States Naval Academy playing the University of Utah? Not a blasted thing, but these are the waning days of that most halcyon age, the college football season. Short of shirking familial or religious duties, it is vital to watch as much college football as possible between now and the B.C.S. Bullshit Bowl in mid-March (a slight exaggeration), to feast before the merciless famine that shall reign until the Fall.

Also, Lloyd Carr shall finish his illustrious career with a stunning triumph over the wretched Urban Meyer and his verdammt Wunderkind Tim Tebow. Victory shall be ours! Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the day
Mu330, "This Year More Than Ever" from Winter Wonderland (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Seoul Man
South Korea joins Germany, Canada, and France on the list of stable democracies that have replaced center-left governments than were intransigently hostile to the United States (at least as long as President Bush remains in office) with center-right governments more interested in patching up bilateral relations with the benevolent American behemoth; to this I say, Huzzah! (Of course, Australia has recently gone in the exact opposite direction, but, you know, win some, lose some. In geopolitics, you've got to play the long game and not lose your head over developments in the immediate present, either for good or for ill.) The next president of the Republic of Korea: To paraphrase Mu330, "R.O.K.! R.O.K.! R.O.K.!"

I had a South Korean co-worker back in Ann Arbor whose jaw dropped to the floor when he learned that I knew the Korean War had been fought between June 1950 and August 1953. For that one moment at least, the stereotype of the ignorant Ugly American was dispelled. Good on me.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Chinkees, "Christmas" from Peace Through Music (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A clichéd plea, but one well worth repeating: this holiday season, please try to remember those less fortune that you and your kith and kin.

"Sometimes Christmas isn't like T.V.
Some kids got no presents under their tree.
They're plates are empty,
They've nothing to eat.
Holidays just remind them what they haven't got.

That's why now sometimes Christmas hurts...."
"What do you want for nothin'? Rrrrrrrrubber biscuit!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Seven Days 'til Christmas!
I suggest blind, stinking, run-around-with-your-pants-around-your-ankles panic.

I had such plans for this evening, such aspirations of productivity, but gave myself over to the enticements of the Science Channel. Bog, what a spectacular idea! I have a lot of catching up to do, but I consider the time well spent.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Eartha Kitt, "Santa Baby" from Elf: Music From the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

When I checked my email a moment ago, I found two new messages: a "Save the Date!" message from my sister, The L.A.W., replete with a hyperlink to her and The Maine Man's wedding webpage, and a notification from Netflix that Red Dawn had shipped and was on its merry way to me. There is something about that pairing that I find greatly pleasing.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Hava Nagila (Christmas Arrangement)" from Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Set to the tune of José Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad," including the chorus, "I wanna wish you a Rosh Hashanah / I wanna wish you a Rosh Hashanah / I wanna wish you a Rosh Hashanah from the bottom of my heart!" Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah is a live album recorded at the actual Bar Mitzvah of a kid - sorry, technically a man - named Jonny. On the album, "Hava Nagila (Christmas Arrangement)" is preceded by a more Gimme-style, punked out rendition of the traditional "Hava Nagila."

"Hava Nagila (Christmas Arrangement)" takes up only about one minute fifteen seconds of a nearly thirteen-minute-long track; the rest is silence, crowd sounds, a delightfully ridiculous French-English hybrid rendition of "Seasons in the Sun" (covered on the Gimme Gimmes' album
Have a Ball) by Jonny's uncle, Roger, and Jonny himself playing drums - quite well for a thirteen-year-old - on "Sloop John B" (from the album Blow In the Wind). Best. Bar Mitzvah. Ever.

If you have the means, I strongly advise that you engage the services of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes for all of your wedding receptions and other important functions.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. LVI - Timur "the Lame" (1336-1405), immortalized as the fearsome Tamerlane, indelibly imprinted on the Western imagination through such works as, among others, Kit Marlowe's two-part Tamburlaine and Edgar Allen Poe's "Tamerlane."

Say what you will about Kathmandu, Timbuktu, or the fabled Xanadu, for my money there is no place (more specifically, the idea of the place) more exotic or intoxicating than Samarkand.


Ricky Fitness
I did not fulfill my ambitions of running and lifting today, though I remain committed to eventually exercising on the weekends. Someday. However, I did get some cardio and weight training in thanks to six inches of snow and the enormous driveway I like to call Wilson Field. On that note...

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Lena Horne, "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" from Elf: Music From the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The most interesting tidbit here, President Petraeus? Webblink.
I've blundered enormously! For years, I have referenced my Blues Brothers-style hat as a "porkpie." 'Tis not so! The true porkpie has a flat top, whereas the Blues Brothers and we imitators sport a hat that looks for all the world like a fedora, but with a far smaller brim. This hat is in fact called a Trilby, after the novel Trilby, which also introduced into the English language the word "Svengali." I own and occasionally don a Trilby, not a porkpie. Please forgive the egregious and oft-repeated error, 'twas entirely unintentional.

Sweet fancy Moses, I love wearing my Trilby!

The Endurance
Who know what goes well with my Trilby? My imperial, also called a soul patch, which sadly I have not sported for over a year now. The Trilby and the imperial go together like gangbusters! The lone upshot is that Codename: PANDORA endorses the imperial's absence. Of course, this drives the mischievous contrarian in me to yearn all the more for its return....

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mu330, "Christmas Merry Christmas" from Winter Wonderland (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Locate your local comic book purveyor. Sojourn to said purveyor's shop. Purchase Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus No. 4. Read the issue; you'll be confused unless you've read Nos. 1-3, but entertained and possibly even intrigued. Examine closely the "Hellmail" page following the featured story. It will be worth your while.

* * * * *

Here's an impossible question, Which is the superior British comedy director-actor duo, Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant (The Office and Extras) or Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz)? All this and Doctor Who? This is a damn good time to be an Anglophile.

Lousy Redcoats.

In a lovely confab with Codename: PANDORA, we were discussing her spectacles and she mentioned that she knows several people who wear spectacles with plain glass plates instead of lenses. They don't need corrective lenses, they're just a fashion statement. She took umbrage, and cited the wheelchair example: people think it is okay to wear eyeglasses even if they aren't required, but how would you look if you rolled around in a wheelchair because of simple sloth? The very next day, I trekked to good ol' McFarlen Library to reserve a copy of Beowulf, the contemporary Seamus Heaney translation. (I have not seen the animated film Beowulf, but I hear it is a travesty, yet one more reason to hate Neil Gaiman.) Leaving, I was proceeded through the exit by a gentleman in a wheelchair, zipping along with great celerity toward his car. What are the odds, the very day after The Sardine's delightful rant? How often do I find myself pondering wheelchairs? I'll have to maneuver her into conversing about mermaids and then spend the next day skulking about the vicinity of Thread Creek. A long shot, but you never know.

Baseball Sucks
This Mitchell Report brouhaha is my favorite baseball story since the strike. Bog, how I enjoyed the strike. In conclusion, baseball sucks.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Bob & Doug McKenzie, "Twelve Days of Christmas" from Great White North (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Take off, you hosers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ricky Fitness: Catchall
Patronizing the gym first thing in the morning rots, but it is preferable to the afternoon/evening-after work option, which consists of me saying to myself, Ugh, not today, I'm too tired, but I'll go tomorrow. And repeat.

Need a shady way to feel better about yourself? Use an upper body machine directly after a thin women. You'll believe yourself to be some kind of Herculean he-man when you're lifting five or six times more weight than her.

The gym is just like the real world: hot girls stick together, ordinary girls do the same, and never the twain shall meet. Hot girls only talk to muscular guys. Muscular guys scoff at fat guys. Same as always.

There is a biddy who gives me the stink eye each time I look up after finishing a set. I have a feeling that were I ever to talk to her she'd by like the old bag to whom Ed Robertson dedicates "If I Had $1,000,000" on Rock Spectacle. Lady, what have I ever done to you? In what way have I wronged you? Too fat to share your exclusive rec facility? Hate my tattoo? Lousy crone.

Tuesday of last week, I saw the most amazing girl. She looked like Wonder Woman, only blonde. Not too thin like so many, but without a trace of pudge; she was obviously very powerful, but still conformed to an impossible feminine ideal. The crone is omnipresent, but Wonder Woman I saw but the once.

Dark Bastard Dinner Theatre
The next couple days will be high times for the dark bastard. I shan't be in the emotional doldrums, it's simply that the time has come to pay the Danegeld. The dark bastard is vicious and cunning, but ultimately lazy. He stands for nothing himself, he is entirely oppositional. I could fight the dark bastard and assuredly force him back into his chambers, but he'd eventually find an exit and strike at the mosy disadvantageous time. This way, vent is given to his fury at the cost of the least damage possible. It is an imperfect solution, but not without some degree of elegance.

The time 'round, he is haranguing me for my insufficient knowledge of medieval pilgrimage customs. And he's right, I don't know as much as I should about reliquaries and veneration sites, about saints' bones and the man miracles ascribed to their holy power. And now he's lambasting me for blogging about this instead of pouring over dusty volumes for information about Rheims and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. And he does have a point, I am unacceptably ignorant on a whole range of issues across an impossibly board range of subjects.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Kokomo Kids
My sincerest congratulations to Daddy Dylweed and his lovely bride Mrs. Dylweed on the occasion of the birth of their third son, Dylweedling K! My sympathies also to K's directly elder brother, Dylweedling Z, who has now been devoted from the baby of the family to the weird middle kid. Bets of luck, Z, from one middle kid to another. Back on topic, welcome to the world, Dylweedling K! We find ourselves surrounded by nearly endless splendor, by wonder and woes beyond imagining, of transcendent joy and exquisite pain. Count yourself lucky, K, you hit with jackpot with your parents; Daddy and Mommy Dylweed are spectacular, and I know your brothers will also look out for you as you grow into resplendent manhood.

This is just astounding. Look at what they've done! Dylweed and wife have brought into the world three new lives. I know people have kids every minute of every day, but it's different when you've known one of the parents since middle school. Dylweed is somebody's day. Three somebodies' dad. I am in awe of the responsibility he has shouldered and the manner with which he's borne it.

My love and best wishes to the Dylweeds and their ever-growing brood of Dylweedlings.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Duvall, "Away in the Manger" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)

Mayhap the rings of Saturn are not so youthful and sprightly as we'd believed: ringlink. Clearly, further observations must be taken, using up-to-the-minute tools and techniques and a vast new celestial armada of mechanical minions. On that subject, well done, little Cassini space probe, you've earned the gratitude of your distant human masters.

The War for Civilization
Another assassination in the land of milk and honey, this time of a high-ranking army officer: Lebanon. Also, for God's sake, didn't the people of Algeria suffer enough during the '90s? Algeria.

I sometimes wonder if I lean too-heavily on hyperlinks. I think I mostly post hyperlinks of substance, not Rod Serling's bane, dancing rabbits hawking toilet paper, and I always prefer to provide my own brief commentary; so, I think I'm in the clear. But it is a source of ongoing concern. Hmmm, does The Secret base need an ombudsman? Also, would that position be as much of a paper tiger as the ombudsmen at the major newspapers?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I agree with Jasper, "What a time to be alive!"

Programming note: as soon as I make the time, I shall regale you with the tale of my parents' new plasma television and my time as "The Vitruvian Man." Oddly enough, those two seemingly disparate items are joined at the hip. Stay tuned.

The best vanity plate I saw today: BRAND X.

Project TROIKA
This evening, K. Steeze and I had a long discussion via instant messaging. This project continues to be fascinating on two distinct levels. The first is Project TROIKA itself. We are coming up with a heck of a yarn, and settling into a nice pattern where I propose a series of ideas, Steeze critiques them, and then he comes back with a whole new set of ideas derived from mine; we are having a sort of arms race of ideas, with each forcing the other to defend his positions, thus resulting in an ever better, more logical, more entertaining story. It's a pleasure and a treat, even though I must constantly remind myself when he is approaching a plot point from another angle that No, in fact, he doesn't know what I'm thinking, not unless I tell him.

The second is the paramount nature of Project TROIKA. Anyone paying even the slightest attention will have divined that I had a rambling, flighty magpie of a mind, always jumping from one notion to the next, forever flitting from place to place to place. Already, I have had an idea for a sequel to Project TROIKA, even before we devise the ending. I have also been tempted to revamp a long dormant idea, A World On Fire, my stab at creating an anime. Yet the screws have been able to wrangle both ideas back into their cells, leaving Project TROIKA alone the apple of my imagination's eye. I've not forsworn my other darlings, I can occasionally flirt with A World On Fire or Polis or Antæus, but my eyes remain firmly affixed on the prize: Project TROIKA.

Of course, before I dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back, I must remember that I've not done this on my own. How was I able to focus back in my school days? The threat of teachers and later professors. Left to my own devices, we go back to being a gypsy inside my own head. It is my responsibilities to K. Steeze and The Professor that are keeping me from my usual tangents. Still, they are, and I think we've really got something cooking here.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Spike Jones & His City Slickers, "All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)" from The Spike Jones Anthology (T.L.A.M.)

Montag, 10 Dezember
Jackson 5, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)
We're all going to be X-Men? Mutationlink.

M2K4... 5... 6... 7...
Sweet fancy Moses, look what Spirit's discovered now: silicalink! I love those plucky little robots! Whenever the long night comes, the names Spirit and Opportunity will be honored in the annals of early human spaceflight; they may be robots, but so very many of us live vicariously through them.


Monday, December 10, 2007

A day behind schedule, made all the more odd as this is one of the first ideas I had for The Explorers Club in the Fall of '06.

The Explorers Club
No. LV - Spacecraft of the Romulan Star Empire (22nd Century-24th Century) in the fictional Star Trek universe.

The Stars My Destination
Atlantis... denied! Great in '08. S.T.S.-122 has been postponed due to a consistently malfunctioning fuel sensor. Verdammt sensor!

This is just a minor pause, though, and there is still plenty of nerdy goodness coming out of N.A.S.A. thanks to the Desert R.A.T.S.* and the next generation Orion spacecraft.

*Three cheers for Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery's "Desert Rats" for beating the snot out of Erwin Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps during the Second World War. Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray! Hip hip! Hooray!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Happy Birthday!
Happiest of birthday wishes to The L.A.W.! This is her last birthday as a single girl, for by this time next year she'll be one lucky beggar's old ball and chain. I hope 'twas a grand day, sister of mine, and fondest hopes for many happy returns. Happy birthday!

Among other delights this weekend, I watched the first of four direct-to-D.V.D. movies, Futurama: Bender's Big Score! "It Just Won't Stay Dead!"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Katiä & Scott, "Christmastime" from the Katiä & Scott E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mu330, "December" from Winter Wonderland (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: My personal belief is that the cold is something to be embraced, not fought, but it's still a damned good song.

Freitag, 7 Dezember
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "The Night Santa Went Crazy" from Bad Hair Day (T.L.A.M.)

The Stars My Destination
Okay, third time's the charm: S.T.S.-122, Mark III.

Friday, December 7, 2007


This is Pearl Harbor Day, and President Roosevelt was right, 7 December 1941 - sixty-six years ago to the day - is a date that has continued to live in infamy, the date that air and naval forces of the Empire of Japan doomed their nation and their cause by provoking the wrath of the United States of America. We Americans are by nature of true believers and idealists, which makes us uniquely dangerous, because true believers and idealists know little restraint in the service of their greater good. It seems clear the Japanese, neither the command elites nor the common people, knew the doom they were calling down upon themselves.

And not to draw an inappropriate parallel, but the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor bears a resemblance to the betrayal by Judas, an act of gravest perfidy necessary to summon a greater act of justice. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were evil incarnate, one need look no further than their respectively treatment of European Jewry and the Koreans to know this, and both regimes might yet hold dominion over vast swaths of the earth had it not been for America's entrance into the Second World War. But do not surrender to the temptation of misty fatalism; none of it was "meant to be" and thus moral in the grander scheme of things. Think of the dead from the U.S.S. Arizona and her "Battleship Row" sisters and you'll never again doubt Pearl Harbor's infamy.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Stars My Destination
Okay, so Thor's Day was a bust and Freya's Day (or Frigg's Day) - tomorrow, in either etymology - is out; we'll just have to wait until Saturn's Day to "rend the heavens and claim as our own the celestial domain of the old heathen gods" yadda yadda yadda: S.T.S.-122, sooner or later.

Yes, the same old heathen gods after whom the days of our week are named.

Project TROIKA
I have commissioned from The Watergirl a sketch of the male protagonist of Project TROIKA. If all goes as well, I should like to commission additional works of staggering genius, beginning with the female protagonist and the (to date) principal antagonist, and then continuing with other characters as they are realized and their roles in the story are defined. Project TROIKA is a nascent novel, not a comic book or motion picture, but I am predominantly visual. I start with pictures before my mind's eye and these gradually spawn words for the printed page.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Steppenwolf, "Snowblind Friend" from 16 Greatest Hits (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The "snow" in this song is blow, not actual snow, but the word snow is featured in the title and, dammit, I'm bringing some variety to the Dezember theme month! Don't worry your pretty little heads, there will be plenty enough Christmas cheer and winter's fury for all before we're through.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day
The enchanting Ms. Deschanel has been haunting the corridors of my mind of late due to the three-night, six-hour miniseries Tin Man, in which she portrayed D.G., an analog of L. Frank Baum's original heroine Dorothy Gale, and U.S.A.'s repeated concurrent screenings of the instant holiday classic Elf.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" from Elf: Music from the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)
The Stars My Destination
On Thor's Day, we once again rend the heavens and claim as our own the celestial domain of the old heathen gods: S.T.S.-122. Godspeed, Atlantis.

DC Comics has ruined completely the word "countdown," but they cannot touch the majesty of the principle of a diminishing ticking clock.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Bird and the Bee, "Carol of the Bells" via iTunes, Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Knife Fight in Caracas!
Even though F.D.R. did a mostly laudable job as President of the United States (with the damnable exception of gift-wrapping the whole of Eastern Europe for Josef Stalin), the Twenty-second Amendment was ratified less than six years after his demise. Hugo Chavez, friends, is no F.D.R.; so, my heart soared upon learning the Venezuelan people rejected Chavez's naked grab for life-long power: El Jefelink.

The Great White North
Egads, who doesn't get along with the Canadians? They are a nation dedicated to being as inoffensive as possible, even at the cost of being, with the brilliant exception of hockey, just about the most boring people on Earth: Persialink.

The Body of Chinese Gordon
As I remarked to a colleague last week, every time I try to fend off the sad tide of anti-Islamic hysteria and anti-Muslim bigotry, something like this or the Danish cartoon lunacy comes along: Teddy bearlink. The Cross and the Crescent were mortal foes for a millennium, but it doesn't have to be that way anymore. We can live together in peace! Idiocy like this is intensely unhelpful. It was just the name of a teddy bear, you hair-trigger buffoons!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Student Rick, "In the Cold" from Soundtrack for a Generation (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Let the earth be smothered beneath a flawless white oblivion. Let the Accursed Sun be cloaked by an endless gray ceiling. Let there be pitiless ice and a merciless wind that chills to the bone. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

"The cruel, hot Summer
Led into the long, hard Fall
Becoming the dark, killing Winter
Until Spring replenished us all."

Welcome to the dark, killing Winter.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


The Explorers Club
No. LIV - The terrorist bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England, the United Kingdom - an attempted assassination of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - by the Provisional Irish Republican Army on 12 October 1984.

The Victors: The Undiscovered Country
I rarely find myself in agreement with Mitch Albom, but even a broken clock is right twice a day: good riddance to bad rubbishlink.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Green Day, "Church on Sunday" from Warning (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 1 Dezember
They Might Be Giants, "Snowball in Hell" from Then: The Earlier Years (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: For twenty-four hours, the television screamed at us, spewing forth dire predictions of snowy doom and an icy demise. In the end, blades of grass poked up through the less than an inch of snow. The drive to Mass was free of black ice, though I had joked with my mom, "If you die on the way to Mass, that makes you a martyr, right? Saint Michael, I like the sound of that."

"Like Saint Michael the Archangel," she said with a smile.

"Way better than that guy."

Foul weather preparedness is one thing, but this was inexcusable fear-mongering. In the words of T.M.B.G., "If it wasn't for disappointment, I wouldn't have any appointments."

Freitag, 30 November
Steppenwulf, "Born to be Wild" from 16 Greatest Hits (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Stars My Destination 5.0 is awesome: per aspera ad astra!


The Victors
Ooo, has also been given a pretty sweet makeover: Go Blue!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you born with a heart full of neutrality?"

Project TROIKA
Three weeks ago tomorrow, K. Steeze I.M.ed me and proposed a partnership: he and I would develop characters and a story based upon a title given him by the Muses and an idea he'd had for a painting. Once satisfied with the fruits of our labor, The Professor would take our framework and author from it a novel. Without a moment's hesitation, I pledged myself to the endeavour to the bitter end. Was this because I recognized a golden opportunity to make a beginning in fulfilling my recent decision to give my all in a sincere attempt to become a professional writer? Nay, though I have since come to regard this effort as such. The truth of it is that my friend asked me and I said yes. Unless I have a substantial reason to decline, I will accede to almost any request made of me by a friend. Is that not one of the pillars of friendship, unconditional aid? Please do not think I am attempting to paint myself as a paragon. I am a wretched tangle of contradictions, but to this simple principle I am a zealot: the reason for friendship is affection, but the foundation of friendship is loyalty. And loyalty requires doing whatever your friends ask of you as long as it is within reason, but most importantly when it is beyond the pale. The old saw, "Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies."

So now I find myself in the familiar but mildly uncomfortable position of collaborating on a creative venture, one that we both intend to see to a successful conclusion. Most likely the Professor, too, making it "all three of us," but he and I have not yet spoken of this and I would not want to put words in his mouth, even though I know how he'd answer.

As aforementioned, working with a partner never been my preference. The reason for this is simplicity itself: I have a massive but prickly ego that bristles at the merest hint of critique. There is a voice within me, residing in the same neighborhood as the dark bastard, that screams, "These are gold-standard ideas! How dare you even question them?!" But I wish to one day write comic books, and yet I cannot draw. It follows, then, that I shall be required to collaborate with artists, to use their amazing talents to breath life into my words. So, I must tame the prickly bastard, and what better opportunity to bring him to heel than in collaboration with my dear friend, an artist whom I deeply admire?

Because of the future copyrighting of "Project TROIKA" material, Steeze has counseled that I refrain from exposing our work to the vagaries and depredations of such a public forum. The Secret Base has ever been and ever shall be an open bloggy blog; I view this as a strength, but it also leaves all that transpires here easy fodder for whatever foul lurkers and skulkers may be abroad. Yet The Secret Base is a source of tremendous catharsis, release quite necessary given the dual stresses of creation and collaborative compromise. I will be blogging about the adventures and misadventures of the coming effort, but never directly, thus the Project TROIKA codename, and I shan't be discussing the work itself, only its geneses, triumphs, and travails. In the parlance of our times, I shall be venting and celebrating, largely without context. How fun for you.

And in closing, an idea of which I was ashamed the very moment it coalesced in my mind: the forerunner of Project Mayhem was Fight Club. What was the forerunner of Project TROIKA, "Write Club"? And speaking of bad ideas, remind me sometime to regale you with the story of The Gargoyle's "Drunk Page." Or ask The Bradman, he lived to tell the tale.

Welcome to Project TROIKA. Grow or die.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "The Bad Guy" from We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy (T.L.A.M.)
My father presumes to know the shape of the world in A.D. 2107 and he despairs. I say instead, look to 1907 and the world of the emperors. A century before the present day, Germany had an emperor. There was an emperor of "all the Russias." The British King was also the Emperor. The "Austro-Hungarians" - the Austrians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Slovenians, Romanians, Roma, Czechs, Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks, Albanians, and some Italians - had an emperor. Ethiopia had an emperor. China had an emperor. Scarcely thirty-seven years earlier, the French had had their second emperor. (Around the same time, Mexico had an emperor, briefly.) The Japanese had an emperor, a station that persists yet, but I'm the sure attendance of the annual Emperors Club Labor Day Picnic has gotten spotty. If you and I had lived then and I'd told you by 2007 all the emperors but the Japanese would be gone, and that his role would be purely symbolic, you'd have rightly called me a liar.

We must try to make for our posterity a future superior to our present, and this involves an inevitable degree of prognostication, but to say with any presumption of certainly that you know the shape of the world of tomorrow is unforgivably arrogant. It requires, one might be tempted to say, the arrogance of an emperor.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Johnny Cash, "Sam Hall" from American IV: The Man Comes Around (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A couple Saturdays back, either in between football games or during a commercial break (I am an inveterate and unashamed channel surfer), I caught the preamble to a N.A.S.C.A.R. Busch Series race. As absolutely soon as I'd inadvertently tuned in, the track announcer introduced a gentleman to give, of all things, the invocation. I have forgotten the gentleman's name, which is a shame as his invocation was staggering. He was incredibly charismatic and spoke openly of both the primacy of Christianity and the bloody necessity of the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. It was refreshing beyond words to hear a man sound so proud of his faith as a Christian without coming off as an Evangelical nutjob. (And he was Latino; so, I'm going to assume he's Catholic. Is that racist? I hope not.) So, color me stupefied, I've actually found something about N.A.S.C.A.R. not to hate.

And don't give me that look. I'm no turncoat.

In other news, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is a loon: twaddlelink. And this isn't even a particularly egregious example of his lunacy. Small wonder that huge swaths of the "Anglican Communion" are jumping ship to less radically liberal bishops, bishops less ashamed of their own faith and religious heritage.

Protestantism is anarchy, may they all fall upon each other in ceaseless infighting.

Yes, I know I really have to work on my spirit of Christian brotherhood. Maybe that'll be my next Lenten sacrifice; it would be a most exquisite torture to endure six weeks without breathing a word against our Protestant brethren. Ooo, intriguing....

Vive la France
You can judge quite a bit about a man's character based upon those who count themselves among his enemies. By that standard, Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, must be a fine fellow indeed: strikelink et riotlink.

And of general interest, here is what the ever-helpful C.I.A. World Factbook has to say about our Gallic friends: spooklink.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Plastic Cup Politics" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. LIII - Excalibur, Durendal, Kusanagi (the "Grasscutter"), Gram, and the pan-cultural, oddly ubiquitous phenomenon of mystical mythical swords.

My deepest thanks to Codename: PANDORA for intorducing me to XKCD, specifically No. 162: Angular Momentum.

The Victors: The Undiscovered Country
If the scuttlebutt is more than just scuttlebutt, if the rumors are true that Kirk Ferentz has been offered the job of head coach of the valiant Wolverines, then I am here to tell you that we are doomed. Doomed to never again defeat Ohio State, not the the foreseeable future. Doomed to never again win a bowl game, not for the foreseeable future. Doomed to never again lose fewer than four games a season, not for the foreseeable future. Doomed. If Ferentz is hired, than any faith I ever expressed in Bill Martin's decision-making was horrifically misplaced, and for that I am so, so sorry. Hiring Kirk Ferentz would be the same as holding a press conference and announcing our intention to never again credibly vie for the Big Ten championship. DOOOOOOOOOOMED.

Sweet fancy Fielding Yost, please let the scuttlebutt be nothing more than scuttlebutt. Doomed.

Project TROIKA
I don't play well with others, but I am endeavouring to learn.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "King of Suede" from In 3-D (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

So many aborted sentences.... A pity.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Maroon 5, "Sunday Mornings" from Songs About Jane (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Fear not, this silly theme of Sunday-titled songs has nearly run its course. Of course, if you know of any other decent Sunday songs, I will continue the theme for the sake of you, my treasured audience.

Samstag, 24 November
Potshot, "To Hell With Potshot" from Dance to the Potshot Record (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I have recently learned that Potshot broke up in 2005; another ska band bites the dust. I blame the delay in notification on Potshot being a Japanese band. We'll miss you, you manic J-ska bastards.

Friday, November 23, 2007

When I left the house this morning, I had to scrap the snow off Lumi. And Wednesday's snowfall was particularly damp; so, the bottom layer of could snow could not be merely brushed off. I hadn't had to scrap the snow off a car in more than a year. Bog, it's good to be home.

Also, today felt like more of a Saturday than a Friday. Double the Saturdays? Score!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "Late Again" from Panic (T.L.A.M.)
Perchance to Dream
Sickeningly, I awoke this morning five minutes before my first alarm rang. I seemed to do this of my own volition, without benefit of mysterious, thunderous noise or feline insistence. Once asleep again, I dreamt of strolling through a strange city that seemed halfway between grimy New York and antiseptic Toronto. I was in the company of my B.T.W. comrades and we appeared to be on our way to a rock show, though I have no idea what band were were meant to be seeing. On the way to the show, after an odd adventure in an urban mall/galleria, we found ourselves wandering through a residential neighborhood and eventually fell into conversation with a mother and daughter who were sitting on their porch. We must have persuaded the daughter (a punk rock girl approximately my age) to accompany us to the show, because the next thing I know I was walking down the street holding her hand. The venue looked for all the world like a whirlpool, with the crowd being funneled through a series of spiral pathways, first to buy tickets and then later on to have them again inspected. Somehow in this maelstrom I was separated from both the girl and the Blue Tree Whackers; I caught fleeting glimpses, but I could never progress toward them. I awoke for the day before entering the actual concert space, but based upon what else I had seen I would not venture a guess as to its aspect.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I am thankful for the first snowfall of the year. Yes, M!ch!gan!

Vive la France
I give thanks to the French populace for their seeming unwillingness to be bullied by their labor movement: strikelink. I have said before that it is not too late to save France; that faith appears to be paying dividends.

I am also thankful for...

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mike Park, "Thankful All the Same" from For the Love of Music (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I considered Green Day's "Macy's Day Parade," but decided against it because, by Jove, Thanksgiving is about earnest gratitude and good will, not wickedly amusing cynicism.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I hope you all have a most wonderful Thanksgiving.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "Beer" from Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album, Disc 1: More Shtick Than You Can Shake a Stick At (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "She looks like Heaven, / Maybe this is Hell."
Eye of the Tiger
Last night, as I knelt beside my bed and performed the Sign of the Cross at the conclusion of my prayers, "In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost," I opened my eyes and beheld Tiger lounging on my bed, somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. I gently ran a hand along her spin and asked, "And the Holy Kitty?" So, if the Lord God deigns to smite me today, it's been a genuine pleasure knowing you all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ricky Fitness
There was an individual of indeterminate gender in the weight room yesterday. And not due to baggy gym clothes, he or she was dressed in shorts and a sleeveless shirt. This was the most androgynous person I'd ever seen. I could have taken the deeply inappropriate step of following her or him back to her or his locker room, but that would have been unconscionable. We are trying to conduct a civilization here, and that kind of lurking simply cannot be tolerated. Besides, I think I like the mystery, it makes life just that little bit more thrilling.

The Victors: Lamentations
There has been much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes. I am quite alright, my usual dementedly chipper self, unless and until I actively think about Saturday, at which point reason fails and I feel myself torn between the twin temptations of rage and despondency. I damn the Stoics for their inhumanity, but at this moment I find myself deeply envious of their self-mastery.

I must remember Keith Primeau, and the inner monologue of the Batman in so very many comic book tales: pain is a teacher. Disappointment can be invaluable. Learn from this. And as Jim Kirk said, "I need my pain!" Who am I to argue with Bruce Wayne and James T.?

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "The Set Up (You Need This)" from Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album, Disc 1: More Shtick Than You Can Shake a Stick At (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Interestingly, on Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album's back cover the song is identified simply as "The Set Up." However, on the original album Why Do They Rock So Hard?, the title is given as "The Set Up (You Need This);" I shall defer to the original album and treat the live record's title as lazy shorthand.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "One Hit Wonderful" from We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Sweet merciful crap, I love the Reel Big Fish!
There is something in the content of my character that finds me sympathetic to my fellow man most acutely when I am myself in the doldrums. If this speaks well or ill of me 'tis not mine to say. If you would be so kind, please say a prayer for the soul of Joi Smith: R.I.P.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls"
by John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. LII – The wreck of the White Ship on 25 November 1120 and its deleterious aftermath, culminating in the Anarchy.

The Victors: Misery Misery Misery
At moments like this, I always call to mind something Keith Primeau said after the Red Wings were swept by the fiendish New Jersey Devils in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals. The Red Wings slunk away to their locker room while their foes reveled in the triumph and each Devil hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup over his head, basking in the glory of the moment, but Primeau had wanted to stay out on the ice and watch the Devils. He had wanted to suffer, to make the pain of that defeat as exquisite as possible. He had wanted to take that devastation and use it as fuel for later achievement. And though Primeau himself was traded by the Red Wings before the 1996-97 season, the first of Detroit's three contemporary Stanley Cup victories, I have always believed in the veracity of his argument. I believe the failure of '95 was necessary in teaching the Wings how to win in '97, '98, and '02.

I wish I could just put my head in my hands and weep, but to do so would be unforgivably self-indulgent. The agony of defeat is the price we pay for the thrill of victory. 'Tis a bitter pill, but the only alternative is fair-weather fandom, the way of bandwagon hoppers and other moral degenerates. Honor demands constancy; I am as devoted a supporter of the University of Michigan today, in the aftermath of abject failure, as I was on November 22, 1997, when I joined a crowd of my fellows on the lawn of the President's House in celebration of the valiant Wolverines' triumph over the hated Buckeyes, completing an 11-0 regular season and setting the stage for the national championship-winning Rose Bowl victory on January 1, 1998. I'm a far grumpier and gloomier fan than I was on that cloudy November afternoon, but every bit as steadfast and stalwart. I danced on top of an S.U.V. that foolishly tried to make its way throw the jubilant throng that afternoon, before some drunken idiot fell out of a tree and gave us all a fright. Bog, that was a magnificent day. If your college has never won a national championship in your lifetime, I highly recommend the experience. It is every bit as grand as you'd imagine.

I want to make something clear. I do not want Lloyd Carr to retire, but it is necessary for the greater glory of Michigan. If he had his druthers, Lloyd wouldn't even field an offense, he'd only play defense. And I love that about him. Lloyd cares more about crafting his players into fine young men than winning the Big Ten championship, and that is as it should be; these are, after all, student-athletes. And given the low regard in which I hold the holier-than-thou bottomfeeders of the self-proclaimed Fourth Estate, you can guess how much I love Lloyd's gruff but hilarious dismissals of those jackals. I would love to see Lloyd stick around for a dog's age, but we haven't won a bowl game since January 1, 2003. We haven't beaten Ohio State since November 22, 2003. What exactly is the point of even having a football program if we are going to lose the last two games of every season? Winning isn't the only thing, but it must be something. If not, why even play the games?

There is so much more I want to say, but right now it is all jumbled up with my grief over yesterday's lost opportunities, of once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. If the aforementioned jackals are to be believed, Lloyd will announce his retirement tomorrow; so, I'll wind up opining on why I believe we need a new coach even after the decision has been taken to seek one. Of course, finer men than I have been overtaken by events; so, I shall at least be in esteemed company in fruitlessly speculating after the fact. But the jackals have been wrong before and they will be wrong again and there's naught for it but to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
No Doubt, "Sunday Morning" from Tragic Kingdom (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Victors: 1968
It is a simple as this: we have to start again from scratch. Lloyd Carr must retire and not a single member of his coaching staff should be retained. I love Chad Henne's grit and Mike Hart's heart, but the fact is that they never defeated Ohio State, I am confident they will never win a bowl game, and that above all else will be their legacy. I thank Lloyd Carr for his many years are good and faithful service to the good old cause, but this will be his second five-loss season in three campaigns and clearly loyalty to his assistants has become more important to him than winning; he must be put out to pasture before he further tarnishes an overall laudable career. And he is clearly not the man to lead us into a new golden age.

This is 1968 all over again. A tall order, but what we need is nothing less than this age's Bo Schembechler. From whence shall our salvation come? Certainly not from within. So, just as we did with Bo, we must look outside ourselves to find a man who truly embodies Michigan football. There are dire times ahead unless we have the courage to act. If not, ashes, it will all fall to ashes.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "Grieg Medley" from Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 16 November
The Aquabats!, "Demolition Rickshaw!" from Charge!! Special One Year Anniversary Edition (T.L.A.M.)
The Victors: The Eleventh Hour
Today's the day! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome to the latest installment of the greatest rivalry in all of sports! A scant hour from now, the valiant University of Michigan Wolverines will host the hated THE Ohio State University Buckeyes in a contest that will determine the championship of the Big Ten Conference. All this is right and proper. The Big Ten may not have a de jure championship game, but Michigan-Ohio State has long served in a de facto capacity.

And now we pause in remembrance of a great Michigan man, Bo Schembechler, who died a year ago to the day. I miss you terribly, sir, but I am grateful for the timing that will evermore see you remembered in conjunction with The Game. 'Tis a fitting memento that will ensure you are not soon forgotten in the headlong rush to all our future yesterdays. Glenn "Bo" Schembechler (1929-2006), a Michigan man, who in his last act of service admonished the valiant Wolverines to remember, "the team, the team, the team!"

And now, to the business at hand, the dispatching of the ancient enemy. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...!"

Go Blue!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Victors: Wistful Before the War
This was supposed to be our year. Henne & Hart were going to be seniors at the height of their prowess, Ohio State was going to be mired in a rebuilding year. I'm reminded of the opening of the Holy Redeemer youth group's annual Passion Play, "What a week it was to be for Jesus." What a charmed year this was supposed to be. But the majesty of sport is that any given team can beat any other given team on any given day and our years of slow starts and wasted spring and summer practices finally caught up with us in the historic lose to Appalachian State. The loss to Oregon is not the black mark it once was, now that they may well be headed to the B.S. B.C.S. championship game. We got healthy against Notre Dame, but it is entirely possible that a girls' middle school volleyball team might be able to beat Notre Dame this season. And then we entered the fray of Big Ten play and acquitted ourselves well at times, but very poorly at others. Still, an eight-game win streak was just what the doctor ordered after the opening fortnight's trauma, and all was again well. Perhaps too well, as we then shamed ourselves with an somnambulant lose to boorish Wisconsin. This year's has been a heartbreaking campaign and given recent history we face the very real possibility of our second five-loss season in three years. What finer time to muster our strength and pit it against that of the ancient enemy, the hated Buckeyes? And what greater stakes than redemption itself?

For all our staggering ineptitude (Mr. DeBord, I'm looking in your direction), the hated Buckeyes may be had. They are all too mortal. All we need do is keep our wits and remember that there is not a single day on God's green earth when it is not great to be a Michigan Wolverine. Let us show them why we are the stuff of their very nightmares, the bane of seemingly the entire State of Ohio. Let us be their terror made flesh.

Go Blue!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

You cannot wait to read the adventures of Job Snow and Scheherazade "Sadie" Khalid.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Paramore, "Fences" from Riot! (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In the immediate past, I caught the last few minutes of Charlie Rose, an interview with General William "Kip" Ward, U.S. Army, the commander of the brand-new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Mr. Rose asked General Ward why the United States was taking such an unilateral approach to Africa, rather than trying to work in a more internationally cooperative capacity; I do not believe Charlie was trying to make any political point, he was merely asking a very legitimate question. General Ward replied that the purpose of AFRICOM is to provide a unified command structure that will enable the U.S., both alone and in cooperation with the international community, to better serve both our own national interests and humanitarian concerns on the continent; the Africa Command is a tool, not a policy.

In contrast, here is an example of the dubious success of collective decision making, the U.N.-A.U. mission to the Darfur region of the Sudan: farcelink. Working with the Sudanese government is like coordinating with the Imperial Japanese Army to stop the Rape of Nanking (today Nanjing). Where is Chinese Gordon when we need him?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Flaming Lips, "The W.A.N.D." via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)
The Victors: The Game is Near!
I have been remiss in my college football boosterism! The Game is Saturday! The Game is Saturday! We are going to beat the living snot out of the hated Buckeyes! Go Blue!

Vive la France!
It is nice to see that even as Presidents Nicolas "L'Américain" Sarkozy and George W. "Dubya" Bush become bestest friends forever, the French have not forgotten that which makes them quintessentially French: strikelink. Good show, old bean!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Skepticlink. Belief is the enemy of science. Evidence, objectively and dispassionately interpreted, is the heart of science. When skeptics are mocked for ideological impurity, true scientific analysis becomes impossible. Evidential science must trump "scientific" belief or all is lost.


Also, that is one bitchin' mustache.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Puppini Sisters, "Sway" from Betcha Bottom Dollar (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Body of a Journalist
I finished the latest volume of my journal this evening. I sleep soundly knowing I have in place arrangements to have them destroyed, one and all, unread by any eyes but mine, in the event of my demise. I'm counting on you, my friend (you know who you are), and I know you won't let me down.

Volume Zero: 8 October 1991 - 9 June 1992

This volume was an assignment for Mrs. Horvath's seventh grade English class, in which I sat next to Dylweed for most of the year. (Score!) We were required to write in our journals, so they were inspected, but were were allowed to mark our entries as unfit for prying eyes, "Do not read!" I hope that this requested was respected, and that the inspections were simply to confirm that we were writing, because I wrote my most private thoughts in that journal. I was in middle school, so those thoughts were mostly about a girl named Heidi Plumb, for whom I felt an unrequited "love." Ah, the folly of youth.

Volume I: 5 March 1994 - 2 June 1995

Jumpin' Jack Pratt, my handwriting was HUGE back then!

Volume II: 3 June 1995 - 23 April 1996

A ninety- instead of two hundred-page notebook.

Volume III: 25 April 1996 - 9 September 1998 (Wednesday)

Began recording the day of the week on 26 April 1997, a Saturday.

Volume IV: 10 September 1998 (Thursday) - 21 December 2001 (Friday)

Volume V: 22 December 2001 (Saturday) - 4 July 2004 (Sunday)

Volume VI: 4 July 2004 (Sunday, cont'd) - 12 November 2007 (Monday)

Volume VII: 13 November 2007 (Tuesday, probably) - ????

There are periodic flights of fancy in which I wish that my journal was preserved in exquisite red leather-bound tomes, but the notion is ridiculously impractical. Instead, the splendor of my madness is laid bare in unassuming Mead spiral-bound notebooks, with the pen-of-the-moment clipped inside the spiral.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
No Doubt, "Ex-Girlfriend" from Return of Saturn (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I try not to allow the monster Gwen Stefani has become to taint all that No Doubt once was. Return of Saturn is just an album, and an uneven one at that, but Tragic Kingdom was one-half of the soundtrack of my high school years.

Samstag, 10 November
Palooka-ville, "She Gave Me Pudding Cups" from Falling Off the Doghouse (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Ki-El is a rock star!

Freitag, 9 November
The Lawrence Arms, "Chicago is Burning" from Plea For Peace (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Years hence, my erstwhile friend The Plate and I attended a show at The Shelter, the basement of Saint Andrew's Hall in blessed Detroit. We were there for The Anniversary, who turned out to be a crummy live band, but first we had to survive the opening acts. The first, Har Mar Superstar, was bar-none the worst live act I have ever seen (I can endure anything, because I've endured that); The Lawrence Arms is nothing to write home about, but after the opening horror they seemed, as we remarked at the time, like the second coming of the damned Clash. I will forever be grateful to The Lawrence Arms for saving us from Har Mar Superstar. "The horror, the horror...."

I once remarked that the true measure of my wickedness is that even after all I have done I sleep the sleep of the just.

And as I end every journal entry, Until tomorrow, my friend.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Armistice Day

The Explorers Club
No. LI - The poetry of the Great War (1914-1918), specifically but not exclusively "In Flanders Fields" and "Dulce Et Decorum Est."

"In Flanders Fields"
by John McCrae (1872-1918)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

"Dulce Et Decorum Est"
by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, chocking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

I am a monoglot. I studied both Spanish and German, but failed to pursue diligently those studies and accordingly mastered neither tongue. My predilection, then, by both nationality and education, is to English-language poets, exemplified here by Lieutenant Colonel Dr. McCrae, a Canadian, and the British Leftenant Owen. But the Great War was truly a worldwide war and I am certain that those dark years are the subject of brilliant poetry in the French, German, Italian, Russian, Flemish, Hungarian, Turkish, and Arabic, et al., languages.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
June Tabor, "No Man's Land/Flowers of the Forest" from Green Linnet Records: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Paul Anka, "Mr. Brightside" via ye olde internet (Captain Malice)

I hate to offer excuses, but I really have been fantastically busy of late. Still, I have a responsibility to you, my public, and I have not been holding up my end of the bargain.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Mustard Plug, "Thigh High Nylons" from Skapocalypse Now! (T.L.A.M.)
Good morning, lads and lasses, and welcome to another glorious day in the war of all against all. Bellvm omnium contra omnes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How could I possibly justify not picking up this comic when it comes out next week?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Pain, "Bottle Rocket War" from Pounded: The Official Comic Book Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Bottle Rocket War" was previously a B.T.W. South Song of the Day and has now joined the ranks of the Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day. There was a strict rule limiting any given song to one appearance as the B.T.W.S.S.O.T.D. Thus far, Rebel Black Dot songs had adhered to this rule, also, though I now view it as more of a guideline than a blanket prohibition. On the one hand, some songs are of far greater emotional import than others; it is only right and fitting that they be chosen whensoever they capture the Zeitgeist. On the other hand, I have a propensity to fixate, and it is not outside the realm of possibility that a single song might be selected as many as a dozen times per annum, unnaturally excluding other worthy choices. On the gripping hand, I have ever been a contrarian; so, best not to make a rule until it becomes necessary lest I violate it immediately just to spite myself. Spite!

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Gunpowder Plot
'Tis Guy Fawkes Night in merry old England! Penny for the guy? I'm glad we fought the Revolutionary War and I am fiercely proud of being American, but there are times I wish we had even closer cultural links with the mother country. Perhaps we could start by burning in effigy The Guy....

"Remember, remember,
The 5th of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot.
I know of no reason
The Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot."

What is the secret behind this reversal in my attitude toward Guy Fawkes Night? I'd tell you, but I am attempting to cultivate an air of mystery. And by "air of mystery" I mean that I have writer's block, thus explaining the absence of the football posts I mentioned yesterday. I know that will break C's heart, not getting to skip over my thoughts on the Michigan State game, Navy's triumph over Notre Dame, and Arizona State getting screwed in the AP poll.

For now, here's a rock 'n' roll song to which almost none of you will be able to listen!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Girls Are Better Than Electronics... Most of the Time (Temp Track v7)" from the forthcoming CODENAME: Koala (K. Steeze)

Sunday, November 4, 2007


The Explorers Club

No. L - The last will and testament of Cecil Rhodes and the Secret Society for the advancement and preservation of the British Empire proscribed therein.

The life (1853-1902) and times of Rhodes himself shall be saved for another occasion.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Sunday Morning Coming Down" from Love Their Country (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 3 November
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "I Can't Turn You Loose" from A Saturday Tradition (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I Can't Turn You Loose" by the M.M.B. was the B.T.W. South Song of the Day exactly fifty-one weeks hence, on Saturday, 11 November 2006, Armistice Day. Michigan football and the Blues Brothers, two great tastes that taste great together.

Go Blue!

The troika of "The Victors," "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and "He Tasks Me" will be posted tomorrow. Tempus fugate.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Oh, hey, a word of caution about Confetti, and I am sorry it slipped my mind yesterday, some of the characters are naturists (more commonly known as nudists here in the States) and in that context the film does feature some N.M.P., that is to say, naked man penis. All in the service of comedy, but I wouldn't want anyone to be caught off guard. All clear? Grand. Enjoy!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Nirvana, "Breed" from Nevermind (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Breed" must be heard only at full volume. So, you know, be mindful of the neighbors and/or the younglings, but this is a hard and fast rule. "Breed." Full volume. Go.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony at the Movies
Run, don't walk, to your Netflix queue or neighborhood video rental shoppe and make arrangements to screen the film Confetti, a British mockumentary about that most worthy of subjects: weddings and the madness they engender. Confetti is time well spent.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Monsters Wedding!" from The Aquabats! vs. The Floating Eye of Death! and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 1 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Serendipity!

I missed the sole Mass at Holy Redeemer; so, I celebrated the Feast of All Saints at Holy Family. Boy howdy, they really love their incense over there; they were burning it like it's going out of style. Holy Family is smack dab in the middle of Grand Blanc, and I dearly love Grand Blanc, but I was baptized, received First Communion, gave first confession, and was confirmed at Holy Redeemer; consequently, everything at Holy Family will always appear just a tad askew. Catholicism WOW!

And now for something completely different.

Vigilance is the surest defense against the Dark Bastard. Like most monsters, he is nary so frightening once he is plainly seen. But credit where it is due: he is a crafty, dogged bugger, tirelessly probing for new avenues of attack, ever refining his methods of undermining.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween's Revenge
Welcome back, Halloween, old friend, I had never truly appreciated how much I missed you. Never again shall I repeat the apathetic fiasco that was the last decade. You and me, we're going to go the distance.

But the nocturnal merrymaking of Halloween has a sober diurnal counterpart, All Saints' Day. Upon the morrow, I shall rise early and attend Mass in veneration of the saints.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Chemical Bomb!" from The Aquabats! vs. The Floating Eye of Death! and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 1 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: You know, I don't really have any Halloween music in my audio library. I have boatloads of Christmas tunes and plenty of bombastic songs for the Fourth of July, but naught for All Hallows' Eve. Odd, that. I thought about "Monsters Wedding!" (it had to be an Aquabats! song since my costume was my Captain Thumbs-Up uniform) but decided the cheery gruesomeness of "Chemical Bomb!" was more in keeping with the spirit of Halloween.

"Chemical bomb,
Chemical bomb,
Eyes melt, skin explodes,
Everybody dead.
It won't be long,
It won't be long,
People gonna run around
Losing their heads.
A river of blood,
Who's gonna live?
The earth is tired of humankind,
And I think this world
Is gonna wash up in Hell.

La la la la la,
La la la la la,
La la la la la la la.
La la la la la,
La la la la la,
La la la la la la la."
Happy Halloween, you grotesque ghouls! Woot!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween's Revenge
In my youth, which I thoroughly enjoyed, my Halloween costume specialty was the cardboard box. I used a rectangular cardboard box for at least three distinct costumes: a gas pump, a robot, and a block o' cheese. The robot was exactly what you would expect; I wrapped the box in aluminum foil, added a few pieces of construction paper sporting circuit-like designs, and poked my arms out through two holes cut in the front. I am more proud of the block o' cheese because even though it was the same essential set-up only with the box covered in yellow construction paper and bereft of any other labeling, what in the hell kind of a costume is a black o' cheese? I was quite proud of that little innovation, which I one day hope to revisit as a wedge of cheese. But the cardboard zenith was the gasoline pump. Honestly, what in Bog's name was going through my fifth grade mind? I covered a box in aluminum foil, posted three different octane values across the chest area (87,89, and 93, if I remember correctly), and attached a flexible old vacuum cleaner extension tube to the left side.

All day, as my elementary school made a big deal out of Halloween and marches each class around the whole school so that everyone saw everyone else's costume, I was asked, "Are you a robot?" to which I would proudly reply, "Nope, I'm a gas pump!" I beamed all day, even though more often than not people looked at me as if I was mad. That night, as my Cub Scout pack (though I may have been a Webelo by that point) gathered in the school cafeteria, my costume was honored with the "Most Unusual Costume" award. My best friend had used four or five enormous cardboard boxes to construct a crude tank costume, a lumbering wall of cardboard out of which we could hardly see and which he could hardly maneuver. As we plundered the neighborhood on Halloween night, he had a difficult time carrying his pillowcase full of candy, but the beauty of that tank costume made the sacrifice worthwhile. Back at the pack meeting, he garnered the "Most Creative Costume" award and he more than deserved the recognition. His tank costume was fantastic.

This turned out to be quite a formative experience for tow-headed little Mike (my hair did not degenerate from beautiful blonde to boring brown until verdammt puberty). I was quite proud of my Most Unusual Costume award, but why had my gasoline pump received Most Unusual while the magnificent tank was Most Creative? While certainly unusual, wasn't a gasoline pump also pretty darned creative? "Creative" is an almost universally positive word. When people call a kid "creative," they are praising him. Though at the time my thoughts on the matter were embryonic and it would be several more years until grew comfortable with the notion that I was strange and would simply never fit in with most of my peers, even then I recognized that while "unusual" did not have an inherently negative meaning, it was most often used with negative connotations. If a child is called "unusual," odds are he isn't being praised. A tank was certainly unusual, but it was the good kind of unusual; so, it was praised as "creative." A gasoline pump was, if I may toot my own horn, certainly creative, but is was the bad kind of creative; so, it was... not by any means condemned, but not exactly praised either, as "unusual."

I also found out that I really like winning awards. If you've never won an award, and no, universally distributed "Participant" ribbons do not count, I highly recommend the experience. Quite a boost to the ol' ego. Woot!

Other Halloween costume highlights: I was Superman, though I was too young to actually remember this and am aware of it only through my mother's photo albums. (Looking back, it is really hard to believe I didn't start reading comic books until I was twenty years-old.) Before the cardboard box mania, I was a Martian, replete with springs for antennae, silver overalls, and green face paint. This was the one and only time in my life I've painted my face. (I think I missed the boat in college; I wasn't a face paint guy, but I should have been! I'm temperamental, I'm a shameless showman, and I'm fat! Why oh why wasn't I shirtless at late November football games with half my torso painted blue and other half maize?) Years later, after the end of the box era, my best friend and I dressed as Bob & Doug MacKenzie and prowled the streets saying, "Trick or treat, eh!" Through our youths we hadn't worn matching costumes, but towards the end we knew that our trick-or-treating days were numbered and so resolved to make the most of the last couple go-'rounds. My senior year of high school (his freshman year), for our last-ever candy-amassing expedition, we dressed in our best suits and went door to door as pallbearers, carrying a shoebox made up as a coffin for a goldfish (no goldfish were harmed in the making of the coffin prop). Some of our neighbors were amused, but most looked at us as if we each had two heads. Bog, I love weirding out the squares. It would have been a little too high concept to have labeled the coffin as containing the mortal remains of two childhoods full of Halloweens; thus, a Christian burial for a goldfish. If there is one thing every truly great Halloween costume has in common, though, it is none-too-subtle philosophical subtext.

Tomorrow: Captain Thumbs-Up rides again!

The Stars My Destination
Solar panel? Solar panic! Riplink! I tell you, putting our faith in the Accursed Sun will be the death of us all. The Sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace! It pumps out lethal radiation! Without Earth's magnetosphere and our pleasantly thick atmosphere, the dastardly Sun's death rays would have destroyed us all years ago! (This argument is patently ridiculous, as without the magnetosphere and atmosphere to protect our lovely planet, the Sun would have prevented life as we know it from ever arising.) Don't trust the Sun! It would sell its own mother for a chance to destroy Mankind!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Puppini Sisters, "Panic" from Betcha Bottom Dollar (T.L.A.M.)