Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: Matrimania - D.C.
Sweet fancy Moses, how in the hell is this wedding already upon us? Where has the time gone? Tempus fugate hardly seems sufficient.

Believe: Red Wings 4-3 Avalanche
Seven down, nine to go. Best of seven: Detroit 3-0 Colorado.

I think people around here are just a bit too confident about this series. Yes, I'm thrilled the Wings are taking the hated "Avs" apart, but let us not forget that that same team has scored three goals against goalie Chris Osgood and the defense in two of the three games, both one-goal victories by Detroit. The Avalanche, despite their ridiculous name and the Red Wings' perfect record against them in both regular season and playoff games, are not two-bit chumps. If the Wings relax for a second, the Avs can be right back in the series. Of course, the other side of the coin is that while some fans appear to be a little too cavalier in their attitudes, I have no doubt that the Wings themselves are grim in their determination not to repeat the mistakes of the Nashville series.

And so, yeah, to blazes with caution and prudence, I hereby predict that the Red Wings will defeat the Avalanche in Game 4 to sweep the semifinal series and advance to the Western Conference Finals. Go Red Wings!

Elsewhere in hockey, Bog, I hate the New York Rangers. I hate everything about them and every one of them, even former Red Wings stalwart Brendan Shanahan. They're classless bums, and I wish Pittsburgh all the best on Thursday. Send Sean Avery and the rest of those thugs back to Manhattan, that wretched hive of scum and villainy.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Proclaimers, "My Old Friend the Blues" from Sunshine On Leith (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Who Used To Own It? East Indies Edition
West Indies - Round Two Answers
1) Antigua and Barbuda - Great Britain
2) Belize - Great Britain
3) Cuba - Spain, America
4) Guyana - Great Britain
5) Saint Kitts and Nevis - Great Britain
6) Brazil - Portugal
7) Trinidad and Tobago - Spain, Great Britain, France, The Netherlands, Latvia (as the Duchy of Courland)

West Indies - Round Two Scoring
Skeeter 5:7 = 71%
The Guy 4 1/2:7 = 64%
Dr. Hee Haw 4:7 = 57%

I gave The Guy half a point for his answer of Russia as Cuba's former suzerain, assuming that he was poking fun at the Soviet Union's role as Fidel Castro's sugar daddy between approximately 1960-1990. Hee hee! This is a clearly incorrect answer given the tenor of Who Used To Own It?, but Who Used To Own It? is a game, after all, and are not games supposed to be fun?

Belize's colonial-era name would have given away the answer: British Honduras. As both Skeeter and the good Doctor gave The Netherlands as the former master of Antigua, I wonder if they were both mistakenly thinking of the Dutch (or Netherlands) Antilles. Antigua, Antilles. Just a guess. And since just about everyone and his uncle has owned some portion of Trinidad and Tobago since 1492, almost any answer would have been accepted.

As ever, thank you all so much for playing!

East Indies Edition
And just as all the countries in the West Indies Edition were not strictly in the "West Indies," neither are all the countries in the East Indies Edition strictly in the "East Indies." But as before, I hope you accept the spirit of the name, not to mention its symmetry with the West Indies Edition. Have fun, thanks for playing, I hope you come away from the experience with a greater appreciation for the wondrous splendor of the world, and good luck!

1) Indonesia

2) Singapore

3) Burma

4) Malaysia

5) Vietnam

6) The Philippines

7) Thailand

Addendum Added at 11:09 P.M.

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: Matrimania - D.C.
The wedding is very nearly upon us! I am very much looking forward to seeing my sister and welcoming into the clan (as small and dubious as it is) my new brother-in-law. By the same token, I am sure seeing other members of my family will rouse my ire sufficiently for the continuation and conclusion of the too long delayed "The Wedding Album." I am going to be so happy and so furiously angry at the same moment that by the time we get home I'm sure I'll want to sleep for a week. Banzai!

Believe: Red Wings 3-1 Avalanche (2nd Period)
I shan't stay awake late enough to witness the end of the game. Indeed, there is no television in my bedroom; so, sitting here at my HAL I am already not watching the action from Colorado. But I am confident that the Red Wings shall prevail. And a reminder, "we" lose, but only "the Red Wings" win; solidarity in defeat, gratitude in victory.

I was not raised as a hockey fan, and the Red Wings have been one of the most dominant teams in the N.H.L., if not the single most dominant team, the entirety of my fandom. And I must confess there is some small part of my that is eagerly awaiting a serious decline in the Wings' fortunes so that I might have the opportunity to prove that I am not that most detestable of creatures, the fair weather fan. Of course, it has been six long years since my boys hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup; so, I am willing, perfectly willing to wait a decade or three to prove my foul weather fidelity.

Go Wings!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Yolanda Hayes" from Traffic and Weather (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Who can you trust with your love these days?"

Monday, April 28, 2008

"I am not what I am."
--Wm. Shakespeare, Othello, the Moor of Venice Act I, Scene I

I beg your indulgence, gentle readers, as there are matters most troublesome to my mind and most disruptive of my tranquility that by honorable oath I am bound against bandying about in so treasured and public a forum. That which vexes me best I mustn't declare, lest I be proved a braggart and faithless besides. I have by pains and against my nature learned to keep mine own counsel, to say less when more would accomplish naught but that my means prove fruitless and all my hopes be undone. But in the fullness of time all oaths shall be sundered, all bonds of former affection null and void. And then shall tower my revenge, fierce and rampant.

"That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain."
--Wm. Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Act I, Scene V

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Billy Joel, "An Innocent Man" from An Innocent Man (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "And although this is a fight I can lose, / The accused is an innocent man."



Sadly, the name "Elvis" is not of Biblical origin, but derived from Old English. Rats!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Correspondence Stock
Dear Ned,
I just wanted to say again how much I loved the sand dollar necklace. The peppermint dental floss was an inspired touch. Who are you, Ned Plimpton? I find myself asking that question. I hope you allow me to find out.

The Explorers Club
No. LXXV - Canute the Great (???-1035), Viking king of England and much of Scandinavia.

The legend of Canute, or Knut, trying to turn back the tide by sheer force of will is almost certain that, a legend. More interesting from where I sit is the quite legitimate question of the date of his birth, which varying estimates of between A.D. 980 and 995, making him between 55 and 40 at the time of his death. Oooo, mystery!

Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition - Round Two
Answers and scoring tomorrow! Play now before all is lost!

Second Son of Direct Hyperlink.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Murky Transport Disaster, "The Viking Song" from The Murky Transport Disaster Disaster Transport Transport Disaster (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "The Viking Song" has fuck all to do with vikings beyond the fact that it is titled "The Viking Song," which is mentioned in the chorus. This is not the chorus:

"And now I'll sing to thee,
About a place called L.C.C.
That's where K. Steeze went,
M.S.U.'s where his time was spent.
It's a shabby place,
To orientation came Jon Mace.
Old Asian women are hard to face!"

This is:

"This is 'The Viking Song,'
Everyone can sing along.
Sing along please with our song,
Our song that is 'The Viking Song'!"


Project TROIKA
We're big fans of mottoes in Blue Tree Whacking.

The B.T.W. Forums: "Push it further."

Project TROIKA: "Grow or die."

Real Can of Yams: "Seven hundred and* one ounces of terrible."

Murky Transport Disaster: "The best band for all the wrong reasons."

*The "and" is incorrect. The motto should read "Seven hundred one ounces of terrible," which I have pointed out repeatedly, but each time I've been overruled/outvoted/what have you. I am beset upon all sides by Philistines!

We're also fans of initializations: B.T.W., R.C.Y., M.T.D.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Seu Jorge, "Life On Mars?" from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Disc Two: The Supplementals (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Life On Mars?" comes to us directly from my D.V.D. of The Life Aquatic, the first time a song has come from neither a compact disc nor my iTunes library (into which I've ripped nearly all of my C.D.s, but a few are locked and unrippable [reasonably sure that isn't a word], for example "Weird Al" Yankovic's Straight Outta Lynwood). Adding to the unique character of the moment, who'd like to wager that time will prove "Life On Mars?" to be the first, last, and only David Bowie tune chosen as a R.B.D.S.O.T.D.?

Freitag, 25 April
Dan Potthast, "Stepping Stones to CA" from Sweets and Meats (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Happy!

Believe: Red Wings 5-1 Avalanche
Six down, ten to go. Best of seven: Detroit 2-0 Colorado.

Franzen earned a hat trick, McCarty was at his pugilistic best, Jose Theodore was chased from his net for the second straight game, and it had been far, far too long since I'd heard that grand old tradition of The Joe, the grateful, affectionate chants of "Ozzie! Ozzie! Ozzie!" What a perfect way to while away a Saturday afternoon.

Almost precisely a year ago, during my time in Texile, Johan Franzen was incorrectly identified on E.S.P.N.'s Pardon the Interruption as "Johan Frazier." Franzen. Frazier. Worse still, P.T.I. has a segment of the show dedicated specifically to correcting errors - almost always innocent misstatements - but on this occasion naught was said. There are times when I sincerely hate everyone and everything associated with E.S.P.N.

I choose to be self-indulgent, here is the full text:
One can infer from watching Pardon the Interruption that hockey is not a passion for anyone working on the show. Distressing, but we each have our preferences. But, is it really necessary to denigrate hockey by not treating the N.H.L. with the same laudable professionalism displayed when the N.F.L., N.B.A., or M.L.B. are discussed? During Monday's P.T.I., Mr. Wilbon spoke of "Johan Frazier" of the Detroit Red Wings, the player who was slashed on Saturday afternoon and scored the series winning goal on Sunday night. He meant Johan Franzen. Mistaking Franzen for the more common Frazier is an easy mistake to make, but what really surprised me is that Mr. Reali made no mention of this slip of the tongue during the review of errors at the tail end of the broadcast. Had Alex Rodriguez been called "Alex Rodrigo" would the error have passed unnoticed? If Peyton Manning was called "Peyton Manningham" surely someone would pip up.

It is sad that Mr. Wilbon and Mr. Kornheiser deign the Stanley Cup playoffs to be of lesser importance than what Tiger Woods has for breakfast, but on those rare instances when hockey is mentioned, would accuracy and attention to detail be too much to ask?


Mike Wilson
fan of the Red Wings
Unsurprisingly, no on-air correction was ever issued, nor a direct response given. Ladies and gentlemen, the arrogance of power.

After a particularly disheartening second half collapse against, if I recall correctly, Purdue, I once sent an email to Lloyd Carr asking him to please remind his team that football games are sixty minutes in length, not thirty. I further suggested that remembering this vital detail might produce positive results on the playing field. (No response.) I also once sent an email to Drew Henson asking him to please leave college early to chase those Yankee millions. (No direct response, but a season later he did as I asked, the blighter.) After an overhanging deck was added to the student side of Yost Ice Arena (formerly Yost Fieldhouse), greatly obstructing views in the student section, I mailed my ticket and a venomously vitriolic letter to Athletic Director Bill Martin, accusing him of failing utterly to take into account the needs of the loyal season ticket-holding students when drawing up the plans for his overhanging deck. (I received an invitation - summons? - to his office in Weidenbach Hall, and had a one-on-one, face-to-face sit down with a millionaire. Neat!)

I come from a long line of cranks and fully expect, entirely against my wishes, to lose my sanity shortly after my fiftieth birthday. Judging by the pattern set by my father and grandfather, I will become increasingly egomaniacal, paranoid, and bigoted. Lovely. However, I will never become a regular correspondent to my local newspaper's editorial page, because that way lies madness. Should the lobbing of such literary bombs become a habit, you will know that I am well and truly lost; the Mike you know will be dead, even if this body persists.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I mean no disrespect to the deceased, but this news item made me think of the jaguar shark from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: sharklink. I should watch that again, sooner rather than later.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition - Round Two
My thanks to The Guy for being the only person with the audacity to try his fortune against the second round of Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition. Good show, old bean! I now beseech the rest of you to summon your courage and banish foolish thoughts of embarrassment or cowardice. All who play Who Used To Own It? are members of a fellowship, a fellowship of the curious, of those who seek to better know the vast and wonderful world about them. Play the game and take up the bonds of fellowship! Hoping that lightning will strike twice, this is your invitation to step up to the plate.

Son of Direct Hyperlink

Betty! Betty! Betty! Betty! Betty! Betty! Betty! Ugly Betty returned this evening. All is joy.

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: Matrimania - St. Louis
My invitation to the nuptials of The Guy and The Gal arrived in today's post! Huzzah! On a somewhat less jovial note, I will be journeying to the far bank of the Mississippi River via motor car by way of Columbus, Ohio, where I will pool my resources with a pair of traveling companions, a married couple. Drat and double drat.

There are many slings and arrows involved in having an erstwhile best friend.

Believe: Red Wings 4-3 Avalanche
Five down, eleven to go. Best of seven: Detroit 1-0 Colorado.

I admit to being a little worried there at the end of the second period, and the second couldn't tick off the clock fast enough at the end o' the third, but any win you can walk away with is a good one. And illness or no, it is always nice to see an opposing goaltender chased from the net. It's not the same as it was, but I still hate the Avalanche. Jerks.

Project TROIKA
The work continues apace, but something curious is happening. The more work we do, the more work we want to do. This is especially true of K. Steeze, our fearless leader. There are now four discrete B.T.W. endeavours underway: Project TROIKA (Steeze and me, to be joined by The Professor); the second R.C.Y. album, CODENAME: Koala (95% Steeze, the rest of us will join in later); the next Smith and Winkler picture (Ki-El and The Professor, "supervised" by me); and a short story (The Guy and Steeze). We are experiencing something of a Blue Tree Whacking renaissance and in the words of Dr. Peter Venkman, "I'm excited to be a part of it!"

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "For You" (live) from Talk to the Hand: Live in Michigan (T.L.A.M.)
Believe: Red Wings vs. Avalanche
Darren McCarty is once again a Red Wing, Chris Osgood is back in net, and tonight the Detroit Red Wings face the Colorado Avalanche. I'm sorry, is this 1998 or 2008? Let the good times roll!

Four down, twelve to go. (And I started using this countdown before I saw the graphic with the same thing on the Wings' website, by Jove! This isn't imitation, it's Zeitgeist.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No controversy or confessions for you voyeurs tonight, I'm pooped.

"Finish, good lady; the bright day is done,
And we are for the dark."
--Wm. Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Play Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition Round Two! Geography is fun!

Vote For Kodos: Donkey Punch
I have loathed Hillary Clinton since I was thirteen years old and I cannot imagine anything ever changing that. Barack Obama is a racist, and I believe too much in America to ever vote for a racist. (Senator Obama has said that the "typical white person" is racist. If Senator Clinton was to say that the "typical black person" is racist, she would be roundly - and rightly - denounced as a racist herself. How can it then be said that Senator Obama is anything but a racist?) I have my problems with Senator McCain, which I will elucidate in detail in my own good time, but the alternately uproariously hilarious and profoundly terrifying clash between Senators Clinton and Obama has reminded me of the paramount reason that I am a Republican: hatred of the Democratic Party. So, from where I sit, I hope this fight goes on all the way to the convention, and that the hurt feelings and resentments carry on all the way through the general election: Keystonelink.

Believe: Who's Next?
I'm not going to stay up late enough to learn the victor of Game 7 between the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames, but to this point neither team has particularly intimidating goaltending. But I suppose I'd rather see the Red Wings play the once-and-future rival Colorado Avalanche than the damn dirty cheating Flames; so, I'd prefer to see the Sharks prevail.

Also, I'd like to send a very special "Bwa ha ha ha ha! You chumps!" to the Anaheim Ducks on the occasion of their first round exit from the playoffs: Bwa ha ha ha ha! You chumps! Now eat shit and die.

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

Commentary: "She must have stolen the stars and set them in her eyes."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition - Round Two
Round One Answers
1) Barbados - Great Britain
2) Suriname - The Netherlands
3) Jamaica - Great Britain
4) Haiti - France
5) Dominican Republic - Spain
6) Dominica - Great Britain
7) Puerto Rico - Spain

Round One Scoring
Skeeter 7/7 = 100%
The Watergirl 6/7 = 86%
Dr. Hee Haw 5/7 = 71%
The Guy 3/7 = 43%
K. Steeze 3/7 = 43%

Great Caesar's ghost, the first perfect score in the brief but illustrious history of Who used To Own It?! Congratulations, Skeeter! I am humbled by your vast knowledge and invigorated by the challenge is poses. And well done to you all, many of you far more comfortable in the warm, familiar waters of the Caribbean Sea than in the fabled jungles of the dark continent. Thank you all for playing, for answering the clarion call of Thursday's now famous Direct Hyperlink, but most especially my thanks to The watergirl, the only soul to brave the queries before the Direct Hyperlink. Brass balls, Katie, brass balls.

Also, Dominica was labeled "Tricky" because France nominally owned the island before ceding it to Great Britain at the conclusion of the Seven Years' War (the French and Indian War), though there was never an accompanying French colonial presence. Half a point would have been awarded for an answer of France.

Round Two
And now, emboldened by your collective triumph, I bid you test your mettle against... Round Two! Have fun, I hope you learn something (though if Round One is any indication you already know everything), and thank you so very much for playing. Good luck!

1) Antigua and Barbuda

2) Belize

3) Cuba

4) Guyana

5) Saint Kitts and Nevis

6) Brazil

7) Trinidad and Tobago

The Quality of Mercy
In the Fall, I was picking up a few groceries at my mother's request when I was approached by a man who handed me a bright orange card. The card read:



I am selling this
Deaf Education System
card to make my living.



The back of the card sported simple illustrations of the American Single-Hand Manual Alphabet for the Deaf and the caption, "Hand alphabet used by the Deaf throughout the world. Easy to learn."

I had in my wallet fourteen dollars, four singles and a ten. I paused for a moment, thinking not really on a conscious level, and handed the man the the folded dollar bills. He pressed his palms together and if in prayer and bowed his head in thanks before moving along. Why, why in the name of all that's holy didn't I give him the ten? By tiny inches now and again this has been eating me alive. I am poor, but not so poor that I couldn't spare ten dollars for someone clearly in greater need than myself. What did I have to buy that was so important six measly bucks made all the difference?

I have been to confession and partaken of the Sacrament of Reconciliation twice in the past six weeks, but prior to that I had not been in three years, since just before Easter in '05. At that time, Father Bill, since revealed as a drunkard and dismissed from his pastoral duties, seemed disinterested in my sins, possibly because though they encompassed the deadly sins of gluttony, sloth, envy, wrath, lust, and pride, they were commonplace, everyday sins. Not murder most foul, no rape or pilferage in the offing, just the sins of a weak man striving and failing to achieve the Christian ideal. Before he gave me absolution, he suggested that perhaps I was being too hard on myself for relatively minor sins. Of course, Father Bill was a squooshy, hazy, feel good type of priest, seemingly none too concerned with the grave difference between venial and mortal sins, but I believe he was right about me, at least to some degree.

The dark bastard scoffs each and every time I ask for God's mercy, I pray that God forgives me, because I know I'll never forgive myself. I brush off a great many mistakes and missteps, some perhaps too quickly, but others, like the incident with the deaf gentleman, haunt me. Any sin I might have committed has since been absolved through the blessed Sacrament, but still some small corner of my mind dwells upon the occasion. But it's not like I didn't give him anything, another corner protests, I gave him almost 30%, almost a third of what I had on me! But no matter what I do, I simply refuse to be pleased with myself, I always find my efforts wanting. I could have done more. I could have given him ten dollars instead of four. I should have. I could have done more. I am simply incapable of taking to heart the words of the Bard:

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
--Wm. Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

(Reminiscent of the Book of Job, The Merchant of Venice is the most challenging of Shakespeare's plays, at least of those with which I am familiar.)

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Rule the World With Love" from Barenaked Ladies Are Me (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXXIV – the Questing Beast, a fell creature from Arthurian legend.

There is a dearth of images of the Questing Beast, but it is a monster with a laudable literary pedigree.

The Queue
I am terribly ignorant of all but the broad strokes of the vast body of Arthurian legend, one of many deficiencies I hope to correct in the thirty-one-odd years left to me. In an attempt to surmount the backlog of books plaguing me, I have embarked upon a rigid reading plan. I have a reading goal for each day, and if I do not complete a given day's reading it is simply added to the next day's total, requiring all the more reading to avoid falling yet further behind. In a month of the plan, I have never fallen more than three days behind and never taken more than two days to catch back up. If I exceed the day's quota, the extra pages do not reduce the following day's requirement, they instead a boon toward the ultimate goal. It is a somewhat joyless task, but necessary if ever I am to tame the herd of books on my nightstand.

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick ***progress resumed after a sabbatical***
Sloane Crosley, I Was Told There'd Be Cake
John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise
Nicolas Sarkozy, Testimony
Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
Robert M. Soderstrom, The Big House: Fielding H. Yost and the Building of Michigan Stadium ***Fall '09, even if line jumping proves necessary***
Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story
Victor Davis Hanson, A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War

And a thousand others, not even counting all the research I want to do for Project TROIKA. Bog, were I do to naught all day but read there would still never be time enough for them all. So many lovely, lovely books, so little and tremendously fleeting time. It is a tragedy of riches.

Perchance to Dream
I had two discrete dreams this morning. In the first, I was at a ball when I was suddenly come upon by an old high school acquaintance, one of many with whom I have "reconnected" since joining Facebook several weeks hence. Oddly, though she looked like th elder of two sisters, she insisted that she was the younger. When I attempted to rejoin my dance partner, the elder-younger sister collapsed in a heap and wept terribly, apparently for love of me. Good job, random subconscious, stroke that ego!

In the second, I was in a thoroughly alien-seeming room, one of a trio of individuals who through a rather disgusting process combined with two others to form some manner of invincible superhero. Think Voltron, only of moderate stature and repulsively organic, replete with gallons of ooze. But as there were only three of us, with nary a clue as to the location of the other two necessary for the horrid conglomeration, we were fodder for the unseen foes intent upon our deaths. I'd have rather reversed the sequence of the episodes, but such is the nature of dreams.

Believe: Red Wings 3-0 Predators
Series: Detroit 4-2 Nashville. Four down, twelve to go.

I missed the lion's share of Friday's game - Red Wings 2-1 Predators (O.T.) - watching the premiere of Doctor Who (the Christmas Special, "Voyage of the Damned"), and today's contest pulled double-duty with live coverage of the Mass at *shudder* Yankee Stadium. I believe I was so easily distracted because I never really doubted the Wings' eventual victory. I give the Predators credit for their effort, but they were simply no match for the juggernaut of the winged wheel. They might very well have been swept had Dominik Hasek not been felled by one of his periodic and puzzling bouts of mediocrity. I love the way the Wings play under head coach Mike Babcock.

Onward ho! Lord Stanley's Cup awaits!

The Pope Conquers America
And speaking of today's nationally televised open air Mass: popelink. C.N.N. betrayed a hatred of Catholicism worthy of the hypocrite Oliver Cromwell when immediately after His Holiness left Yankee Stadium their coverage switched to relentless and tedious hammering of the Church over the sex abuse scandal. Once you take the Church's money as part of a settlement, you lose any right to moral indignation. Want a greater voice for the laity in the running of the Church? Go join the Protestants, their dwindling ranks could certainly use the converts.

Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition
Scoring tomorrow! Get your answers in while there is yet time!

See The Painted Veil. You'll thank me.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Softball, "Foreign Land" from Plea for Peace (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Habemus Papum!
Happy anniversary to His Holiness the Pope: popelink. Also on this date, in A.D. 1012, St. Alphege was martyred in Greenwich, England. (Martyrdom is the quick, though certainly unpleasant, route to sainthood.)

In addition to the third anniversary of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's election as Pope Benedict XVI (2005), 19 April is also the two hundred thirty-third anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord (1775), the Shot Heard 'Round the World that inaugurated the Revolutionary War; the fifteenth anniversary of the fiery end to the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas (1993); and not coincidentally the thirteenth anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1995). Throughout the late '90s, before I'd ever heard of al Qaeda, I used to dread the coming of April 19th, always expecting domestic terrorists to make some manner of murderous strike. Not so much anymore, for a confluence of reasons.

Vote For Kodos & The Stars My Destination
The space shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired in 2010. The new Orion spacecraft is not scheduled to be operational until 2014 (I know that date looks futuristic, but it's a scant six years distant). If a hypothetical President Obama guts N.A.S.A.'s funding to the degree Senator Obama promises/threatens, the first flight of an Orion will be pushed back, if it ever happens at all. Our European and Japanese partners, for all their technical sophistication, have no manned spacecraft; neither the E.S.A, nor any of the independent European space agencies, nor J.A.X.A. have ever placed an astronaut in orbit without hitching a ride on an American and/or Russian spaceship. The Chinese have independent launch capability and have orbited their own astronauts, but they are neither participants in the International Space Station nor, how shall I phrase this?, terribly cooperative in these matters. The Chinese have an attitude reminiscent of the U.S.A.-U.S.S.R. Space Race.

I mention all this in the context of a hyperlink. Without the S.T.S. fleet, and Orion still on the drawing board, the only means to place astronauts in orbit and return them "safely" to the earth would be Russia's Soyuz capsules: landinglink. A vote for Barack Obama is a vote to lose America's ability to place astronauts in low Earth orbit for the first time since 1961. Happy landings!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Frightened Rabbit, "Old Old Fashioned" via iTunes (Daddy Dylweed)

Commentary: Frightened Rabbit reminds me of my late Grandpa Wilson's, God rest his soul, V.W. Rabbit. I loved that car when I was a youngling, especially the silhouette of a bolting hare on the front fender.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Hi-Standard, "Asian Pride" from Short Music For Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition
The latest round of Who Used To Own It? has been available since Monday and only a single player has availed herself of the opportunity. THANKS, KATIE! It doesn't matter one lick how much or how little you know, the point of Who Used To Own It? is to put forward your best guess, have fun, and learn something in the process. The thrill of victory is worth risking the agony of defeat. I was on competitive sports teams with many of you; so, I know you understand and owe allegiance to this principle. I'll ever be so solicitous as to use a *shudder* baseball analogy: come on, guys, step up to the plate!

Direct Hyperlink!

Eye of the Tiger
The intensity and frequency of Tiger's affectionate behaviors waxes and wanes. Currently, we are waxing, and last night I fell asleep with her on my bed for the first time in a couple months. Woot! I love my kitty.

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: Matrimania - D.C.
I will be flying solo at my sister's wedding, now little more than a fortnight distant. Last summer, I asked The Sardine to accompany me as my date and she accepted, seemingly with some enthusiasm. Early in March, I reminded her of the approaching nuptials and soon learned that due to business travel she would be unable to attend. I only know four girls on the Eastern seaboard, one of their number my sister, the bride, and the second being the indisposed Sardine. Skeeter is to be buried under mounds of legal treachery as she will be between two work trips and The Watergirl has plans already in place to be traveling that weekend. Strictly speaking, I do know several other girls between Maine and Florida, but they are either online friends whom I have never met in the real world (and it would seem awkward to meet someone for the first time as your date to your sister's wedding, no?) or old acquaintances with whom I've all but lost contact. So, I shall have to be clever and adroit to avoid getting dragged into a most unpleasant confab with a couple who shall remain anonymous. As the only other people I will know at the wedding festivities will be my sister, The L.A.W., and my by-then brother-in-law, Brother-in-L.A.W., who as the bride and bridegroom will be understandably otherwise engaged, and my parents, of whom I already see a great deal, I am not hopeful for my prospects. Who am I kidding? I'm doomed.

Matrimania - St. Louis
Washington is a train ride away from New York or Boston, but aside from The Gal I don't know any girls within a fairly large radius from St. Louis; so, I had always intended to attend the wedding of The Guy to The Gal without distaff companionship. The implicit blow is immeasurably softened by the presence of my fellow Blue Tree Whackers; the same anonymous couple will also be present, but I shan't be left alone with them. Things are looking up!

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony: The Wedding Album
I have too long neglected the concluding chapter(s) of "The Wedding Album," and for that you, my treasured readers and darling friends, have my deepest apologies. Please understand, though, that outside of "The Wedding Album" I have given my word not to write about my brother and his wife, The Bridegroom and The Bride, even though my sundered relationship with my brother and erstwhile best friend is the paramount issue on my emotional plate.

Skeeter commands. I obey. (There is much that could be said about a person whose blog has not been updated in almost precisely twenty-nine months scolding me about the need to start blogging "about life" again, but we'll save that for another discussion.) So, I henceforth rededicate myself to posting for all the world to see the minutiae of my life. Coming attractions include:

One Hell of a Holy Week
Grand Blanc in Detroit
The Four-Ten Split
The Endurance Ends

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "Where Have You Been?" from Cheer Up! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "What makes you think I'd ever want you again?"
A bit of poetry that I attempted to quote yesterday at work, but less than successfully, i.e., I remembered the second and fourth lines and substituted "something something something" for the first and third:

"Take up the White Man's burden--
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper--
The tale of common things."

The back half of the same stanza is among the greatest statements ever made about the spirit of adventure and Man's need to challenge the unknown, bugger the cost:

"The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go make them with your living,
And mark them with your dead."

All of this is of course from Rudyard Kipling's poem "The White Man's Burden."

Hey, that could make a pretty good science fiction novel about colonizing an alien world...

Part I: The Ports Ye Shall Not Enter
Part II: The Roads Ye Shall Not Tread
Part III: Go Make Them With Your Living
Part IV: And Mark Them With Your Dead

But I must table the idea before I give myself the chance to get too excited about it. All else must be suppressed in the name of Project TROIKA!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Scroll down to Monday to play Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition!

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop of Rome, Pontifex Maximus, has arrived in the third most populous Catholic country in the world, the United States of America. Popelink. I would write more, but I always come off as derisive, dismissive, and disdainful toward non-Catholic Christianity, and though it is against my nature I am trying to embrace the message of interfaith tolerance and cooperation espoused by both Pope Benedict and the late John Paul II. And as I am so very fortunate to belong to the Holy Mother Church, I have a duty to observe faithfully the edicts and proscriptions of the Holy Father. I am a wretch of a Christian - among my many sins, my heart lusts for dread revenge - but I am laboring mightily to be a better man. I believe faithful obedience to the Church to be essential to the path.

Oh, what the heck, one for old time's sake: His Holiness the Pope is come! Tremble, ye Protestant curs, your manifold heresies are at an end. The Holy Inquisition is returned and there shall be a fearsome reckoning.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Simon & Garfunkel, "A Most Peculiar Man" from Sounds of Silence (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scroll down to play Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition!

Project OSPREY: Comeuppance
A week and a day late is still better than never, oui? Firstly, my congratulations to the Kansas Jayhawks. Though my natural disposition is to be vehemently against any and all members of the thuggish Big XII Conference, in this case they were a useful means to an end. The Memphis Tigers are an astonishingly formidable basketball team. To oversimplify the case, they have only one identifiable weakness, a genuinely pathetic free throw shooting percentage. And here is the sole reason why Memphis's defeat was the end for which I embraced Kansas as the means: this weakness was pointed out to their head coach, John Calipari, in several public forums; this deficiency was acknowledged by Calipari; and then dismissed by that selfsame coach. In any level below that of professional athletics, the paramount job of any coach is to instruct, to teach through the medium of sport lessons that will make those in his charge better members of society. Calipari taught his kids that if you are perfect except for one glaring weakness, you should completely overlook that weakness and arrogantly believe that it could not possibly return to thwart your ambitions.

What was the misstep by Memphis that gave Kansas the slimmest of opportunities to force overtime and thus earn a second chance at victory? 1 of 6 free throw shooting in the closing seconds. Kansas got the ball with ten seconds left in the game. The Jayhawks drove down the court and scored an improbable three-point shot to send the game into overtime. Had Memphis made just one of those five missed free throws, Kansas would have been down four, an insurmountable deficit given the time remaining. One free throw and the Tigers would have won the Big Dance. No team is perfect. No team can correct all its flaws. But Memphis is the only team I can remember that looked at its one flaw, scoffed, and declared that they were simply too good to let some little thing like that stand between them and their rightful championship. And so, as they missed those free throws in the clutch, I laughed and laughed and laughed. Ah, what a glorious sight, chumps and their justly-earned defeat.

Project OSPREY: The Last Angry Bracket
31-25-7 for the whole of the tournament, thirty-one picks correct and thirty-two in various stages of incorrectness. Not bad. Not good, but not all that bad, really. Remind me sometime to tell you of the year I won the 1213 house pool, predicting not only both teams in the championship game, but also the final score within two points of the actual total. Heady days.

Project OSPREY: Farewell
I look back and I am ashamed that in the six years I lived in Ann Arbor, I never once attended a basketball game at Crisler Arena. All those opportunities that I let slip through my fingers. All the years, both in A2 and since, that I let all that college basketball on T.V. pass by me unwatched. Life is far too short and far too fleeting to forgo these chances so cavalierly.

Well, enough of that, there's no reclaiming the past. There is only the future. Boy howdy, I cannot wait for next season!

Believe: Predators 5-3 Red Wings
Series: Detroit 2-1 Nashville. Still two down, fourteen to go.

Well, that sucked. I did not expect the Wings to sweep the series, but neither did I expect such a rapid collapse. Alas, such are the vagaries of sport. I am confident of vengeance and victory on Wednesday. Go Wings!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Queen, "Killer Queen" from Greatest Hits I (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Dynamite with a laser beam."

Zinda Blake, Lady Blackhawk, a.k.a. Queen Killer Shark?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Who Used To Own It? West Indies Edition
Round Six Answers
1) Mauritania - France
2) Swaziland - Great Britain
3) Nigeria - Great Britain
4) Niger - France
5) Burkina Faso - France
6) Ivory Coast - France
7) Botswana - Great Britain

Round Six Scoring
The Watergirl 5/7 = 71%
Dr. Hee Haw 4/7 = 57%
The Guy 2/7 = 29%
K. Steeze 1/7 = 14%

I used Ivory Coast instead of the preferred Côte d'Ivoire out of concern that the proper French name might have given away the answer. The Guy reclaimed his title as Who Used To Own It?'s most prolific player, participating in five of a possible six rounds. (5/6 = 83%!)

West Indies Edition
Not all of the countries to be featured as queries are strictly in the "West Indies," but I prefer that somewhat fanciful name to any of the alternatives, among them "Latin America Edition" (which is inaccurate), "Caribbean Edition" (which is inaccurate), "Western Hemisphere Edition" (which is dull), or "The Americas Edition" (also dull). With one very special exception (listed below), dependencies - such as Bermuda and French Guiana - will not be featured, only former colonial possessions that have achieved independence from their suzerains. From the bottom of my heart, thank your for playing, have fun, and good luck!

1) Barbados

2) Suriname

3) Jamaica

4) Haiti

5) Dominican Republic

6) Dominica

Extra Special Tricky (Downright Nefarious)
7) Puerto Rico

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Silly Wizards, "Lover's Heart" from Green Linnet Records: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Silly Wizards is a terrible name for a band, but "Lover's Heart" is a beautiful song. Silly Wizards sounds like something Led Zeppelin-obsessed thirteen year-olds would come up with while staring at posters of unicorns prancing on rainbows in space.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Explorers Club
No. LXXIII - Peter Cushing, O.B.E. (1913-1994), actor, icon, and recipient of the Pipe Smoker of the Year award for 1968.

And this is just an astoundingly delightful photograph:

Who Used To Own It?
Round Six answers and scoring posted tomorrow; so, get your answers in post haste or miss out on the end of Africa. Also, tomorrow, the beginning of the enigmatic next chapter of Who Used To Own It?

Believe: Red Wings 4-2 Predators
Two down, fourteen to go. Bog, that was fun to watch. I am so glad McCarty's back; I was thrilled when the lockout was over, but saddened to see him fall victim to the new salary cap, though I never questioned the cap's necessity. In any event, Mac's back and Nashville's in peril!

Go Wings!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Chasing the Sun Away" from A Jackknife to a Swan (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Chasing the Sun Away" is a beautiful and touching song, but as big a fan of The Bosstones as I am, it is always peculiar when they sing about love. Almost all rock 'n' roll is about love, but for these plaid-clad gentlemen of Boston it's just so out of character.

Samstag, 12 April
MxPx, "Punk Rawk Celebrity" from Secret Weapon (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Another tiny treatise on the degrading nature of fame and the destruction of artistic ambition by the pursuit of celebrity. Solid.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Forces of Evil, "Maybe I'm Wrong" from Friend or Foe? (T.L.A.M.)
The Victors: Notre Dame 5-4 Michigan (OT)
Defeat is spelled S-A-U-E-R.

Without Billy Sauer, we outscored the vile Fighting Irish 4-2, but the three extremely soft goals he gave up were too much ultimately to overcome. We had to fight all game to claw our way back, and Notre Dame never relented. I would not be so quick to throw the devil Sauer under the bus if the exact same thing had not happened in last year's N.C.A.A. tournament, when "The Sour Sieve" gave up seven goals in an 8-5 loss to North Dakota. Billy Sauer chokes in single-elimination tournament hockey, it's as simple as that. I hope one day he finds something he's good at, because big time goaltending certainly isn't it.

Meanwhile, my congratulations to Alistair on his boys' victory; I am not congratulating them, I am congratulating my friend.

On Saturday, the vile Fighting Irish will face the chumpish Eagles of Boston College, and one of those two bottomfeeders will skate away the N.C.A.A. champion. What a repugnant thought. I will of course be rooting for The Meteor, and hoping fervently for Billy Sauer to give up hockey at once and for all time.

Go Blue!

Believe: Red Wings 3-1 Predators
One down, fifteen to go.
The Victors: End of Regulation
Billy Sauer 3-0 Michigan + Michigan 4-1 Notre Dame = Notre Dame 4-4 Michigan. I have to say, I like our chances in overtime. Go Blue!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Victors: 2nd Intermission
Notre Dame 3-2 Michigan. They scored three goals in the first period, we scored two in the second, and we have a fighting chance to win this game and advance to play for the N.C.A.A. national championship thanks to another five-letter word: H-O-G-A-N. The irredeemable sieve Billy Sauer will forever be cursed by the Maize and Blue faithful, the only question is if the condemnation will be in the same breath as John Navarre or Drew Henson.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Everything Had Changed" from Barenaked Ladies Are Men (T.L.A.M.)


"On the path of life I wish you well.
Divergent journeys, we will meet again in Hell.
I kept my head down and moved on,
'Til every friend I'd known was gone.
Then, one day, I was not alone.
Everything had changed,
Everything was strange.
Everything had changed,
Everything was strange."

Mittwoch, 9 April
The Aquabats!, "The Ballad of Mr. Bonkers!" from The Aquabats! vs. The Floating Eye of Death! and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 1 (T.L.A.M.)
The Victors: 1st Intermission
Notre Dame 3-0 Michigan. Unbeknownst to most people, defeat is actually a five-letter word: S-A-U-E-R. Fielding Yost's ghost, how are we supposed to get back into this game when we'd be better off not even having a goaltender? Way to choke, Billy, again.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Don't be a loser, scroll down for Who Used To Own It? Round Six!

I am feeling particularly ineloquent at the moment, but shall address Memphis's glorious defeat and the valiant Wolverines' chances in the Frozen Four in good time. Um, patience is a virtue?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Proclaimers, "Hate My Love" from Born Innocent (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Sweet mercy, I love a bitter love song, the blacker the better.

"I like the way you're standin'
In just your hi-i-i-igh-heeled shoes,
But I hate my love for you.
Yeah, I hate my love for you.
Well, I hate my love for you.
Yeah, I hate my love for you."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Who Used To Own It? - Round Six
Round Five Answers
1) Western Sahara - Spain
2) Lesotho - Great Britain
3) Eritrea - Italy
4) Burundi - Germany
5) Djibouti - France
6) Central African Republic - France
7) Liberia - Independent

Round Five Scoring
Skeeter 5/7 = 71%
Dr. Hee Haw 2/7 = 29%
K. Steeze 2/7 = 29%
The Guy 0/7 = 0%

I hereby christen Round Five "The Widowmaker." Sure, sure, the name fit better before Skeeter had to go and screw up the curve by being the only player to score over 30%, but The Guy's goose egg is still unprecedented in the brief but illustrious history of Who Used To Own It? And The Guy has ever been a good sport; so, he knows that I am not trying to make fun of his score when I say, quake in fear at the mere mention of... The Widowmaker!

Round Six
And here is the end of Africa, which I promise you will be easier than The Widowmaker. Good luck, I hope you've learned quite a bit over the past five rounds, and, as ever, and most sincerely, thanks for playing!

1) Mauritania

2) Swaziland

3) Nigeria

4) Niger

5) Burkina Faso

6) Ivory Coast

7) Botswana

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Aly & A.J., "Potential Breakup Song" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Vive la France!
We're supposed to be better than this: shamelink. Leave the glorious dead in the peace for which they paid such a terrible cost.

The Explorers Club
No. LXXII - John Henry Patterson (1867-1947) and the man-eaters of Tsavo (1898).

There is no finer source of information than Col. Patterson's own account, The Man-eaters of Tsavo, first published in 1907. And despite their maneless appearance, the Tsavo man-eaters were lions, not lionesses.

Project OSPREY: The Last Angry Bracket
Though the final performance of my bracket it set in stone and I have no say in the game's final outcome, I have to say that I would really prefer Kansas to win. I respect the talent and determination of the kids from Memphis, I just don't want to see their coach's "free throws don't matter" attitude rewarded with a national championship.

And Bog was it fun watching those cheaters from U.C.L.A. and those scumbags from U.N.C. bite the dust on Saturday. Schadenfreude!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "I Believe I Can Fly" from Take a Break (T.L.A.M.)

"A short skirt,
A Gimmes shirt,
A Jones Soda,
Ain't life grand?"

Saturday, April 5, 2008

After a lazy morning, I spent the afternoon closely rereading The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite. And now I'm going to work on a Project TROIKA email for transmission to Steeze; so, Who Used To Own It? may have to wait until tomorrow. Round Six will all but exhaust Africa's supply of nation-states, but fear not, I have a clever scheme to keep the educational fun rolling beyond the shores of the mother continent. Just you wait.

The Umbrella Academy
Sir Reginald Hargreeves a.k.a. The Monocle (R.I.P.)
Dr. Pogo (R.I.P.)

00.01 - Luther Hargeeves a.k.a. Spaceboy
00.02 - Diego Hargreeves a.k.a. The Kraken
00.03 - Allison Hargreeves a.k.a. The Rumor
00.04 - Klaus Hargreeves a.k.a. The Séance
00.06 - Ben Hargreeves a.k.a. The Horror (R.I.P.)
00.07 - Vanya Hargreeves a.k.a. The White Violin

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Student Rick, "Falling For You" from Soundtrack For a Generation (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 4 April
Elvis Costello, "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" from This Year's Model (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Love the song, hate the title. Slow Gherkin's "Pretty (In a Pretty Sort of Way)" is ridiculous and silly, like the song itself (and the band for that matter). But what in the high holy hell is the point of putting the vast majority of a straight song's title in parentheses? How is "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" better than "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea"? Either shorten the title to "Chelsea," though of course the lyrics make plain why that might not work as the title, or bite the bullet and go for the whole phrase sans parentheses. Shape up, Costello!

"They call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie,
I don't want to go to Chelsea."

Love this song.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Who Used To Own It?
Act now, while there is still time! Round Five answers will be scored tomorrow! It's not yet too late to play America's fastest growing obscure quiz sensation!

The Stars My Destination
Space truck! Once again reinforcing the view that everything is better with the word "space." Truck? Myeh. Art Truck? Wicked! Space truck? Hyperlink-tacular! I am a tad disappointed that the A.T.V. is a disposable craft, though I do acknowledge the inherent difficulties of atmospheric reentry.

The Orion will be reusable, though! U-S-A! U-S-A!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Tally Hall, "Banana Man" via iTunes (Saturday Night)

Commentary: Big week for nominations. Keep it up, you apes!
Under the Rhodesian Sun
Angels and saints, is it true? Is Zimbabwe really on the cusp of freedom? Electionlink. The late, unlamented Ian Smith was a cur and a brigand, but one of the keys to understanding the way of this woeful world is to grasp the seemingly contradictory notions that Ian Smith's ideas on minority rule were wrong and Robert Mugabe was utterly opposed to Ian Smith, but that does not mean Robert Mugabe's ideas of majority rule are right.

Meanwhile, the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations keeps marching eastward: Welcome, Croatia and Albania! Also, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Georgians: Georgialink. The Russians need to be made to understand that their neighboring nations are sovereign states, not satellites in their "near-abroad." N.A.T.O. membership is a powerful tool toward this end.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day
I cannot wait to hear She & Him's Volume One.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Weasel Stomping Day" from Straight Outta Lynwood ( ... )

Commentary: Previously selected as a B.T.W. South Song of the Day during the joyless nightmare of my year in Texile.

"That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain."
--Wm. Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Scroll down for Who Used To Own It? Round Five!

I hope one and all had a mirthful April Fools Day. I would love to prank people on April Fools Day, but I simply don't have the knack. I am, however, extremely gullible, falling completely for everyone else's pranks; so, the day is far from wasted and always good for a ton of laughs.

The best pranks of which I am aware are Senator Clinton challenging Senator Obama to settle the Democratic nomination through a winner-take-all bowling match and Pardon the Interruption's report of the N.C.A.A. ordering the last sixteen seconds of Kansas's win over Davidson to be replayed. Good stuff all around, and who knew Hillary Clinton even had a sense of humor?

Project TROIKA
I checked two more books out of the library on my way more this afternoon, bringing the total to five. Or really, only four, since one is a replacement for another that proved unsatisfactory. In the words of the M.C. Bat Commander, commander of The Aquabats!, "There's so much to learn!"

The Victors
The valiant Wolverines are back in the Frozen Four after far too long an absence. And set for battle against the vile Fighting Irish, who did us the kind service of eliminated the dastardly Spartans in the round of eight. Bog, I hope these games will actually be on television; I had to read about Michigan's victories over Niagara (5-1) and Clarkson (2-0) on ye olde internet. It's uncivilized, I tells ya!

Go Blue!

Project OSPREY: The Last Angry Bracket
2-5-1 on Thursday and Friday, including the damnable loss of my last standing Final Four team, Villanova. Bloody Jayhawk scoundrels! 0-2-2 on Saturday and Sunday. I had both North Carolina and U.C.L.A. in the great eight (which I prefer over "elite eight"), where I predicted they'd fall to Tennessee and Duke, respectively. I was wrong about all four participants in the Kansas-Davidson (Villanova-Georgetown) and Memphis-Texas (Pitt-Stanford) games. A grim 2-7-3 for the second weekend, 29-18-1 through the first weekend, and a shabby 31-25-4 thus far. Three games left, all of which will register as ties. My overall record for the 2008 N.C.A.A. Men's Basketball Tournament will be 31-25-7, thirty-one correct and thirty-two to varying degrees of incorrectness. By Lucifer's beard!

On my bracket, which I clipped from the newspaper, my predictions are written in black ink, the actual results in blue. The key reads "MW" in black and "Reality" in blue. Reality bites.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Tally Hall, "Good Day" via iTunes (The Sardine)

Commentary: Though not standard practice for individually acquired songs, I must mention the completely awesome title of Tally Hall's album, Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum! Wicked cool.