Thursday, September 30, 2010

This episode of "The Explorers Club" concludes our month-long series on espionage. I am also pleased to report that thanks to the twice-weekly frequency of "The Explorers Club" we are swiftly making up the ground lost during the regrettable & unintended December '09 to May '10 hiatus. Let us hope that boast has not jinxed our chances of successfully returning to form.

The Explorers Club
No. CXCIV - Fritz Duquesne, Part II: The Duquesne Spy Ring.

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Idiot Box!" from The Return of The Aquabats! (Captain Thumbs-up)

Commentary: 'Tis always amusing to note that The Return of The Aquabats! is the very first album by The Aquabats!.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Victors
(No. 21) Michigan 65-21 Bowling Green
4-0, Big Ten 0-0

Due to Saturday's afternoon attendance at the Michigan Renaissance festival, I was unable to watch the Michigan-Bowling Green (B.G.) game, though I did use the house D.V.R. (Distance Vril Recorder) to record it for later viewing. I would not normally have done so, because into every life a little rain must fall & sometimes that metaphorical rain includes missing some of the year's precious few college football games. But I very much wanted to see the B.G. game because I knew I'd have to miss the following weekend's Michigan-Indiana game, the valiant Wolverines' Big Ten season opener. Our cable system does not carry E.S.P.N.U., the channel on which Michigan-Indiana will be aired; some would surely point out that I could probably find E.S.P.N.U. & thus the game at a local sports bar, & that would be an excellent plan accept for the fact that I will be both out of the state & otherwise occupied on Saturday afternoon. So, alas & alack, I shall have to miss the Indiana game, and so forewarned I was unwilling to miss the game against the epithetless Falcons of Bowling Green. I could not watch the B.G. game upon my return from the Ren. Fest. because my parents were hosting the first "Cards" game of the season. "Cards" is a fantastic tradition, a monthly (nine or ten times a year) evening of camaraderie & pinochle between my parents & three other couples. "Cards" is one of the best ideas for adult socialization I've ever encountered, and it should serve as a model for us all. I would not dare to interfere with such a grand tradition even were I in a position to rightfully do so; so, I didn't get the chance to watch the football game until Sunday afternoon.

To wit: Holy smoke, what an offense! I do not care if the epithetless Falcons are a M.A.C. team, and not necessarily a good M.A.C. team at that. The valiant Wolverines have struggled so thoroughly & so mightily over the last three seasons that just as no opponent can be overlooked, no victory can be taken for granted. And sixty-five points is impressive no matter whom you are playing. What happened to Bowling Green in the first seven minutes of the game? For that I'm going to turn Denard "Shoelace" Robinson's nickname into a verb; the epithetless Falcons got Shoelaced, though not as badly as UConn & Notre Dame got Shoelaced due to the super scary possible knee injury sustained by Robinson on yet another Shoelacing run. More impressive to me--because four games into the season Shoelace is viewed, and rightly so, as a demigod for whom almost nothing is impossible--was the play of backup quarterbacks Devin Gardner & Tate Forcier. 12 for 12? Twelve passes completed in twelve passes attempted? One hundred percent passer efficiency? It's good to know that even though little man Tate's no longer the starter it's still true that "the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Forcier." A couple weekends back I saw Arizona State being lead by quarterback Steven Threet, a transfer from Michigan & our starting quarterback in the benighted '08 season. "Triple Threet" might develop into a fine pocket passer-style quarterback, but he was, as a legacy of the Carr era, entirely ill-suited to the hydra (it would be redundant to call a hydra "multi-headed" as I originally intended) that is the Rodriguez offense. I think back to '08, when we'd been abandoned by the faithless turncoat Mallett (whom Lloyd had loved too well, and who is now prospering at Arkansas), leaving us with essentially no starter-caliber quarterback; Threet & Nick Sheridan ("the devil Sheridan") tired their best, but at that point in time neither was any better than a second- or perhaps even third-string backup. And now the valiant Wolverines have three serviceable starting quarterbacks on the roster, none older than a true sophomore. Astonishing!

But best of all was the improved play of the defense. B.G.'s first scoring drive came when we were all still petrified by the specter of Shoelace's injury. The second was not a sustained drive, but the result of one well-designed, well-executed play & a single missed tackle. Do I wish that tackle hadn't been missed? Yes. Do I with our defenders had gotten off their blocks? Of course. But, and please forgive my language, shit happens; shit happens & that's the nature of the game. Bowling Green put together a regrettable third scoring drive, but after that it was curtains for the epithetless Falcons. They were held scoreless throughout the fourth quarter as the valiant Wolverines sealed the win with continued, though ultimately unnecessary, displays of offensive wizardry. The defense is still Michigan's Achilles heel, far & away our greatest weakness, and like the rest of the Maize & Blue faithful I dread the arrival of the inevitable day when the defensive unit's failings prove our undoing. But after the heart attack-inducing debacle against UMass, Saturday's improved showing was a needed glimmer of hope.

But let us remind ourselves that we've been here before. Last season, on the strength of an undefeated non-conference schedule, including a win over an overly esteemed Notre Dame squad, the valiant Wolverines were 4-0 & ranked in the Top 25 on the eve of the Big Ten season. What followed was a total team collapse worthy of the dastardly Spartans, and a 1-7 conference record. A repeat is too horrific to contemplate, but the moment we deem it impossible we all but guarantee a repetition. I will not see next Saturday's game against the wily Hoosiers of Indiana University, the opener of Big Ten Conference play, but I will read about it extensively as soon as I return from La-La-Land. Here is my most sincere hope that all goes well, that all goes to Coach Rich Rod & the valiant Wolverines' plan.

Go Blue!

Friday night, The Impossible Ingenue hosted a party in celebration of her birthday (actually on Saturday). The festivities were quite in line with The Ingenue herself, understated & casual. It was the first time I'd been to her home in rather a while, invitations having been far less frequent since The Most Dangerous Game moved out into her own apartment. My present to her, though inexpensive, is the kind of gift that keeps on giving; I hope she enjoys it. I hope, also, that she had a delightful time, but of course The Impossible Ingenue plays her cards so close to the vest that no one ever knows that she's really thinking. Not in the same sense as she was originally dubbed "Impossible," but impossible girl, just bloody impossible. So, I hope she had fun. Happy birthday, Cara!

Saturday afternoon, I motored Lumi down to the (ugh) "Shire of Holly" for the Michigan Renaissance Festival. Year after year, I've always meant to go to the Ren. Fest., but the time flies so quickly and there are so many other distractions on the weekends: even if the weather's not too hot, there's a college football game to the watch, or a Formula One grand prix, or the lawn needs to be mowed, or the house needs to be cleaned. But this year I was invited to accompany a new acquaintance and speech & debate teammate, The Regina, a friend of Love/Hate's, & that was just the kick in the pants I needed! I was additionally aided by The Most Dangerous Game scoring free tickets from one of her multiple places of employment. A "free"* ticket? Don't mind if I do! Thanks, The Most Dangerous Game! Because Grand Blanc is so proximal to Holly I offered to drive myself, rather than needed to be picked up. The rendezvous was originally set for noon, but in the morning it was pushed back to one o'clock via text message. I was running a few minutes behind schedule, as is my habit, and informed The Regina by way of text. I was directed overland (see: Saturday's "Autobahn") to a parking spot almost in the bushes on the edge of the improvised parking lot & began the long trek to the Festival grounds. (It was not a long, dusty trek thanks to an earlier spot of rain, just enough to keep the dust down but not enough to reduce everything to mud.)

I reached the main gate, where the overly theatrical fun begins, without any word from The Regina, and so resigned myself to trying to locate her & her companions once inside. I had just finished handling & being entranced by a rapier (though, sadly, the "full basket hilt" was anything but) and was trying to figure out how best to respond to the bladesmith's offer to sell me the sword--something more brief & clever than, "Sorry, chief, but {a} I cannot justify the expense of a rapier until after the successful conclusion of Project RADIANT and {b} the blade is beautiful, but if I'm buying a rapier I'd really rather one with a far more elaborate hilt"--when my mobile, an anachronism, I know, rang. The Regina & company were running ever more late than I was, but soon enough I'd met them just inside the entrance & all was well. Over the course of the afternoon we took in a joust; split down the middle over the superior lunch choice, a bread bowl full of chili or a giant turkey leg; agreed that a "Schneeball" is a magical dessert; spend a spell in incongruously Asiatic hedonism around a hookah; were by far the loudest laughers & clappers amidst an almost comatose audience at the Zucchini Bros. juggling show; & visited every leather shop in search of the one with the secret "adult" backroom. (I waited outside & tried to think happy thoughts.)

The Renaissance Festival is a lot like bowling: every time I go, I wonder why I don't go more often. I had a splendid time & am determined to make the Renaissance Festival a yearly tradition. Project MERCATOR is about more than just socialization, it's also about taking advantage of everything my community has to offer. The Renaissance Festival is right up MERCATOR'S alley.

*As a partially-trained economist, I know that nothing is truly free, everything has costs even if those costs aren't borne by or apparent to you. My ticket to the Ren. Fest. was paid for by somebody, possibly even out of the Festival's own funds, even though it was "free" to me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CXCIII - Fritz Duquesne (1877-1956), Part I: The Second Boer War & "the Man who Killed Kitchener."

He's Dead, Jim
After mowing the lawn on Friday & schlepping up & down the grounds of the Renaissance Festival all afternoon on Saturday without experiencing any ill effects, I am declaring my feet fully recovered from Objective FINNLAND. I won't have the chance to put them to the test at a ska show for almost another month, though, alas.

The week before last, I went to the optometrist for the first time since 2001 (according to their records, since I didn't remember precisely, instead saying "about ten years"). Given that nine years have passed, my eyes have changed rather little. The vision in my left eye is almost perfect, farsighted only ever so slightly. My right eye, by contrast, is nearsighted, and slightly more so. I've had prescription spectacles since I was perhaps twelve or thirteen, but have never in my life had to wear them with any regularity. I get by just fine on the strength of "Lefty," and that's not just my opinion: the State of Michigan does not require me to wear corrective lenses while operating a motorcar. But I do have spectacles & I have long believed that it is only a matter of time before I must join the rest of my immediate family (both of my parents & both of my siblings) in needing to wear spectacles in everyday life. I am acquiring a new pair of spectacles, in part to acclimate myself to them for the future. I almost never wore my old spectacles in part because I never liked the frames (which predated that last appointment in 2001) & in part because, as the years passed, their out-of-date prescription defeated the corrective purpose of the lenses. Experimentation will begin once my new frames & lenses are prepared.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Hold Steady, "Girls Like Status" from Boys and Girls in America (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Note to self: Acquire status, Project PANDORA's success may well depend on the success of Project EPIMETHEUS.

Sonntag, 26 September
Less Than Jake, "We, the Uninspired" from the Absolution for Idiots and Addicts E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "World is for the living not the dead."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Forget the United Colors of Benetton, make way for the false-colors of Saturn: auroralink. By Jove, those images are beautiful!


The Queue
I was prematurely nostalgic for Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 before I'd finished the book & now that I have finished I am properly—if, I condede, preposterously—nostalgic. The monstrous thing's eight hundred fifty-one pages long, not counting the scores of pages notes & the bibliography, and covers a century in the Security Service (M.I.5), Great Britain's domestic intelligence agency, but for all that I wish it had been twice as long. I want more! I shall have to see what else I might find concerning M.I.5, starting with the other works of author Christopher Andrew & drawing upon Defend the Realm's bibliography. And then I shall have to see what might be found concerning Great Britain's foreign intelligence agency, the Secret Intelligence Service (S.I.S. or M.I.6). For whatever reason, this brings to mind a few lines from the extraordinary television miniseries adaptation of John le Carré's novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; not the whole brilliant miniseries, but just these lines, spoken by Control, the head of "the Circus" (M.I.6), to his deputy George Smiley:

"Buying their way in with counterfeit money. Tell them that! Tell them anything, I need time. (pregnant pause)

There are three of them, and Alleline. Sweat them, George; tempt them, bully them, any damn thing. Give them whatever they eat, I need time!"

And now a few words on the next book in the queue, reprinted from the B.T.W. Forums. The Forums are the exclusive preserve of the members of Blue Tree Whacking, not fit for the eyes & minds of outsiders, but since this is my own product & does not concern any internal B.T.W. business, I think an exception is in order.

I was mildly disappointed by Len Deighton's Horse Under Water, but not so much that I'm unwilling to give Deighton another chance. Wagering that some of the problem with Horse Under Water might have been the unnamed protagonist & narrator, I'm going to try another character, this time Bernard Samson, protagonist & narrator of a trilogy of trilogies: Berlin Game, Mexico Set, & London Match; Spy Hook, Spy Link, & Spy Sinker; and Faith, Hope, & Charity. I'll only tread the second & third trilogies if I like the first and I'll only read the second & third books of that trilogy if I like the first; so, much may hinge on Berlin Game. Reading Berlin Game, Mexico Set, & London Match was going to be a hodge podge, because due to a random purchase at a used book sale several years ago, before I knew who Len Deighton was, I own a paperback copy of London Match, but neither of the others. The university library doesn't have the books, and the county library has only Mexico Set as an individual volume. All three books are available in one massive hardcover that drawfs even the behemoth of Defend the Realm. So, the plan of campaign was to read Berlin Game in the back breaker, Mexico Set in a much more reasonably sized library hardcover, and then my own copy of London Match. A short time ago, I unburdened myself of some ill-advised past acquisitions at Jellybean's & as part of the swap got ahold of a pristine paperback copy of none other than Berlin Game. I no longer have need of the back breaker!

A score or so pages into Berlin Game, it's not nearly so spare as Horse Under Water, a book that is spartan at all the wrong times.

Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour
Anthony Hope, The Prisoner of Zenda
Christopher Andrew, Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5

Len Deighton, Berlin Game

Len Deighton, Mexico Set
Len Deighton, London Match
Karen E. Olson, Pretty in Ink
John Toland, The Great Dirigibles
Rudyard Kipling, Kim
Anthony Hope, Rupert of Hentzau
Anthony Hope, The Heart of Princess Osra
Saki, When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns

On some level, I suppose I went off-roading in Lumi this afternoon, in order to park at the Michigan Renaissance Festival. The vast expanse of grass over which I motored was uneven & undulating, with dips & rises both significant & abrupt. Whee! The broken ground provided a very fun pair of bookends to an already fun afternoon (recounted in the next Project MERCATOR post).

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Grant-Lee Phillips, "Mona Lisa" from Virginia Creeper (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A song of love of heartbreaking beauty.

Freitag, 24 September
The Hold Steady, "Chips Ahoy" from Boys and Girls in America (The Guy)

Commentary: Thanks, The Guy! I am most intrigued by these The Hold Steady chaps, & I doubt we've seen the last of them around these parts.

Donnerstag, 23 September
Elvis Costello, "Alison" from The Very Best of Elvis Costello, Disc 1 (T.L.A.M.)


I know this world is killing you.
Oh Alison,
My aim is true."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CXCII - James Jesus Angleton (1917-1987), proof that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

I spied an amusing vanity license plate this afternoon as I motored around in Lumi. Vital to the comedic value of the plate is an awareness of the motorcar on which it sits, an Audi RS6, the high-end performance-tuned version of the Audi A6 ("RS" standing for Rennsport, German for, loosely translated, "racing"). The Audi's plate: WOWDI. Hee hee. Well played, sir.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Objective FINNLAND: He's Dead, Jim
Almost four weeks hence, I "ran" the Crim 10 Mile Race; almost four weeks later, my poor feet are still recovering. My training regime ahead of Objective FINNLAND was plainly inadequate. This was the result of two flaws in my thinking, driven by two of the seven deadly sins: {a} sloth & {b} pride. {a} I did not spend as much time in training as should have been the case. I've no one save myself to blame for this, and I blame myself alone. {b} I underestimated the rigors of the course. My training involved running not on a treadmill for the first time since the single season in middle school during which I played football. I ran around the circle track in the Rec. Center on campus and I ran on the treadmill on both a level plan and at an incline. What I did not account for properly was a negative incline, running downhill. It is part of my nature, and here my intention is not to boast, that I am a beast when presented with a physical challenge. I do very well running uphill, something about it taps into that old S.K.P. Machine esprit; I have more vim running uphill than I do running on a level plain. But on the downhill I was powerless; it felt completely wrong & I could do nothing about that but push onward.

***Caution: What follows is disgusting, i.e., just plain gross.***

The result was a matching pair of preposterously huge, hideous, black blisters on the balls of my feet. By the end of the day on Saturday, I was hobbled, walking around on my heels, a sharp pain shooting up my brain every time the slightest pressure was place on the balls of the feet. The situation was untenable; so, after elevation & icing failed to have any event & my misery continued, on Sunday night I sat down in the bathtub while my father set about lancing the blisters with an over-sized, sterilized needle & draining out the bloody pus. There was no physical pain in the process, but watching all that offal drain out of my feet was shocking. For all that, though, the draining was a silver bullet. My feet were immensely improved immediately, and though still tender I was able to put pressure on the balls of my feet, slowly beginning to walk normally again. Though in the summer in the house I am habitually barefoot, I wore socks to soak up any residual pus, and soon discovered a special padded type of Band-Aid specifically for blisters. And against my historical pattern of behavior, I did not try to peel off the dead blister skin until it was ready to fall off on its own. Precisely a fortnight after FINNLAND, the white blister skin torn first on my right foot and then, a day later, on the left. The soft, pink skin beneath was a sight for sore eyes.

I was well on the road to recovery, but this seems to have prompted pride which led to a mild relapse. After a fortnight of getting around in my flip-flops (I didn't want to wear my normal sandals for fear that the rear strap would cause further damage to an already burst blister on the back of my right foot) & Adidas Sambas, I was finally confident enough of my feet's recovery to venture into my low topped Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Either the Chucks alone or the Chucks in collusion with my dress shoes (worn to Mass) caused the formation of small blisters on the sites of my former monster blisters. I did not notice the pain until Tuesday evening, after two days back in the Chucks, and quickly put the special blister Band-Aids on both feet & resumed wearing the Sambas. By Thursday, the tide had turned & I was again on the mend. This time, I plan to go slowly, not returning to my Chucks until at least a week after my feet feel & look normal again, and my feet do not yet look normal.

Also, as Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. warned me is an ailment common to runners, one of my toenails—on the index toe on my left foot—has turned a very dark purple color, though it has not fallen off as she said would happen. But only time will tell the whole tale.

***I warned you that would be gross.***

Despite all this, I have every intention of making the Crim 10 Mile an annual event, a collaboration between Operation ÖSTERREICH & Project MERCATOR. Next time, knowing the challenge awaiting me, I will be far better prepared, both to better my time over the course & to avoid this year's pitiable aftermath. Should the effort be code named Objective FINNLAND II, or the German name for another part of Scandinavia, such as Objective NORWEGEN or Objective DÄNEMARK? I was leaning toward FINNLAND II, et cetera, but now that I see the German for Norway & Denmark….

There has been an understandable pause in my treadmill-based "cardio" routine, though now that I think about it I should go ahead and resume strength training in the weight room, at least on my arms, chest, & torso, if not my legs for fear of re-injuring my feet. Back to work, Lazybones!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Phenomenauts, "Man Alone" from For All Mankind (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "What's a man if he has no ambition?"
I need friends who aren't lame. I kept that sentence simple to heighten its effect, but there are important caveats both because what I mean is simple, but not straightforward, & because I long ago grew comfortable with my own garrulousness. I'm long-winded, bombastic, grandiloquent, what have you. You know this and for your own reasons have not let it deter you from reading The Secret Base, a decision on your part which I find most gratifying. But I digress.

By "friends" I don't mean my friends, I mean my local friends. My friends are the finest people I've had the pleasure to know, clever, challenging, supportive, funny, patient, & generous; the only black mark I can make against many of them is their irrational fondness for a tempestuous scoundrel like your humble narrator. But they should rest assured that I am grateful for that flaw in each and every one of them. Friendship is a category of intercourse in which the English language, for which I harbor an unashamed passion, fails us. From my most boon companion of long standing to the newest acquaintance met by a chance encounter, the word I am expected to use for each is "friend." As a society we recognize the inadequate specificity of that label, which is my we invented from phrase, "best friend." But that hardly solved the problem, as evidenced by a great many people claiming to have more than one "best friend," entirely disregarding the definition of the word "best." The word "acquaintance" could be of great usefulness, except that most people take grave offense at being described as an acquaintance by their acquaintances, resulting in ever more frequent & inaccurate use of the title of "friend." I have yet to devise a comprehensive scheme to counter these linguistic shenanigans, though I am drawn to the phrase "kith & kin," and may well decide to use "kith" to describe solely my truest & most far-flung friends. But again I digress.

(Yes, I am aware of my penchant for, in newspaper terms, "burying the lead.")

I need friends, in the greater Flint metropolitan area, who aren't lame. I am tremendously glad to have met "the gang," the stars of most of the past year's Project MERCATOR posts, and for the subsequent revelation of how lonely I'd been prior to that meeting. Mainstays of the gang include the sisters, The Most Dangerous Game & The Impossible Ingenue; their cousin-sum-sister the Drama Queen; erstwhile paramours The Cowgirl & Ska Army; the Action Hero; Frankenstein's Monster (with whom I wish not to associate, but with whom I shall have to as a byproduct of interacting with other members of the gang); and new members Vitamin H. (Colette) & The Blonde (Jenny). These are people I like, people with whom I enjoy spending my time, but my instinct tells me that none of them are candidates to join the ranks of my long-term kith. A minor but illustrative example of this, and the precipitating event to this post, is that none of them will accept my repeated invitations to join me at a Flint City Derby Girls (F.C.D.G.) bout. Roller derby is a grand old time, but I recognize that lots of people have both terrible taste & no appreciation for fun; so, I know that roller derby isn't for everyone. I wouldn't expect everyone—or even anyone—who attended a game to be instantly mesmerized as I was last fall. But what I find distressing is that not a one will even sample roller derby.

I've never said that I'd try anything once, but that's only because my mind instantly leaps to the most extreme examples, like sampling cocaine just to experience being high as a kite or shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die. But I'll try anything within reason once; how else could I conclude whether I liked it? From Sunday's bout (F.C.D.G. v. Jacktown Rollers, "Jacktown" presumably being Jackson)—which I attended alone, such is my love of roller derby—I sent a whiny text about my local friends' refusal to give derby a try; the response, with which I agreed entirely, was, "They're lame?" My friends are lame. Lame friends are better than no friends, but better still are aggressively not lame friends, such as my widely dispersed kith. Though Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. would say it's impossible, as she may well be right, I must endeavour to locate locals who aren't lame, & then befriend them.

* * * * *

This morning, The Impossible Ingenue rang me up to invite me to a working lunch, to help her study for an upcoming mathematics exam (yes, I know, I'd be even my own last choice to help someone study for a math test). Also to attend were Frankenstein's Monster (admittedly, a better math tutor than me) and some girl with whom I'm acquainted. When The Ingenue showed up a half hour late with Vitamin H. & The Blonde in tow, I was halfway through the sushi I'd ordered when she was twenty minutes late. No coherent explanation was given, and instead of her math exam she asked for my help on a biology pre-lab assignment. I owe it to myself to make finding friends who aren't lame a priority.

I owe you the whole pointless, eye-rolling tale of the nothing that ever happened with Love/Hate, and I do mean to publish it sooner rather than later, but until then chew on this: on Monday, after debate practice, Love/Hate invited the whole team back to her place to watch episodes of the unintentionally hilarious television show Ghost Adventures on D.V.D. Accepting the invitation were Too Sly, some guy who's new to the team, and your humble narrator. I had confirmed my suspicion that whatever interest I'd ever had in Love/Hate had been extinguished by her relentless mediocrity when I realized that at no point did I hope Too Sly & some guy would leave before me so that I might be alone with Love/Hate. I can do better, & I dare not allow myself to accept less than my very best effort. Project PANDORA continues.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CXCI - William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan (1883-1959), the "Father of Central Intelligence."

The Victors
(No. 20) Michigan 42-37 Massachusetts
3-0, Big Ten 0-0

There are two ways to looks at the valiant Wolverines' nail-biting victory over the epithetless Minutemen of UMass: {a} a near-disaster that portends doom & gloom for the future or {b} a near-disaster that augurs well for the future. The {a} school of thought runs thus: Michigan entered the game ranked in the Top 25 & yet barely scrapped by an F.C.S. (the old Division 1-AA) team. The defense was atrocious & the offense frustratingly streaky. All is lost, the wise Maize & Blue fan would start drinking heavily now. The opposing {b} view, to which subscribe, runs thus: Michigan was caught unprepared against a seemingly lesser team, made innumerable errors, & yet still managed to pull out the win. The last seven words of that sentence are paramount. We must remind ourselves that it was Lloyd Carr, nor Rich Rodriquez, who was Michigan's coach in 2007 when we became the first F.B.S. (the old 1-A) team in history to lose to an F.C.S opponent, the Appalachian State game that is known as simply "The Horror." Michigan's defense was atrocious, there's no denying that, & the offense was absent from the game for long stretches of time, even when it was out on the field. The epithetless Minutemen were relentless, playing all sixty minutes, but so too did the valiant Wolverines. Too many time in the past we've seen our boys in the Maize & Blue collapse in the face of adversity, especially if that adversity is self-inflicted. But on Saturday, the valiant Wolverines kept fighting. They barely won, that's true, but they could easily have lost.

To my mind, the best explanation for Saturday's close escape is twofold. {a} We were arrogant, both the valiant Wolverines & we their loyal fans in the "Michigan nation." In the week following the emotional win over the vile Fighting Irish of our hated rival Notre Dame (ranking second or third amongst our trio of rivals), we all spent too much time in blissful, idle pondering about the growing legend of "Shoelace" Robinson, and far too little time preparing for UMass. The valiant Wolverines were caught napping early, and were never quite able to get themselves into proper game shape, though again, and I repeat this because it is vital, they were able to wrest victory from the jaws of defeat. {b} 'Tis a cliché for a reason: any given team can beat any other given team on any given day, that's why they play the games. Saturday was the Minutemen's day, & the valiant Wolverines were lucky to hang on for the win by the skin of their teeth. (We must not forget that if any given team can beat any other given team, then any given team can fall to any other given team. Capricious fortune will play her part & will not be denied.)

The upcoming games against Bowling Green & Indiana should be very instructive, letting us know which is true, the first paragraph's {a} or {b}. And if it is the first paragraph's {b}, will this confirm the second paragraph's {a} & {b}? As a fan, there's nothing to do of a practical nature by wait & see. So, we wait & we shall see. And while we wait, we should be grateful for the win, because ever since The Horror we've grown far too accustomed to the agony of defeat; however much Saturday's victory might not have been thrilling, any victory is infinitely preferable to another lamentable defeat.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Thin Lizzy, "The Boys Are Back in Town" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As I was motoring along in Lumi yesterday, I could not stomach the interview on All Things Considered of some washed up old hack who never had any talent to begin with, Robert Plant, I think. I could nto switch over to the primarily classicla music N.P.R. station, because it too carries both Morning Edition & All Things Considered. The oldies station was in commercial. The alternate oldies station was in commercial. (This is why I started listening to public radio in the first place, back in the '90s.) As as last gasp before turning the radio off or popping in a cassette tape, I tried the classic rock oldies station. And there is was, "The Boys Are Back in Town." The lyrics are mediocre, but, by Jove, it's hard to beat that guitar riff. "The Boys Are Back in Town" would have been the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. for Monday, but once I learned what mischief was afoot online, "Virus Alert" was the only song that would fit the bill.

Montag, 20 September
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Virus Alert" from Straight Outta Lynwood (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Between 5:27-5:30 P.M., an unknown agency seized control of my Yahoo! email account & transmitted four emails to a number of people the account's address book. Those illicit emails contained hyperlinks that must be assumed to harbor malicious content. I know not how to investigate this incident, with an eye toward preventing its recurrence by attacking the problem at its source, but I have changed my Yahoo! password & shall henceforth always sign out from the site after checking my email, instead of leaving myself signed in on my H.A.L. Any amongst you who received the offending emails have my sincerest apologies for the attack & for any resultant damage. I am sorry, my friends.

"Soon, very soon, it will make all
The paint peal off your walls.
It'll make your keyboard all sticky,
Give your poodle a hickey,
And invest your cash in stock in Euro Disney.
Then it will tie up your phone
Making prank long-distance calls,
It'll set your clocks back an hour,
And start clogging the shower;
So, just trash it now or else it will
Decide to give you a permanent wedgie,
Legally change your name to Reggie,
Even mess up the pH balance in your pool!

(Look out!)
It's gonna melt your face right off your skull!
(Look out!)
And make your iPod only play Jethro Tull!
(Look out!)
And tell you knock-knock jokes while you're trying to sleep!
(Look out!)
And make you physically attracted to sheep!
(Look Out!)
Steal your identity and your credit cards!
(Look Out!)
Buy you a warehouse full of pink leotards!
(Look Out!)
Then cause a major rift in time and space,
And leave a bunch of Twinkie wrappers all over the place!

That's right, it's a
Virus alert!
Delete immediately
Before someone gets hurt!"

Sonntag, 19 September
Dropkick Murphys, "The State of Massachusetts" from The Meanest of Times (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Ignoring the lyrics & themes of "The State of Massachusetts," Saturday's game against the University of Massachusetts was certainly amongst the meanest of times.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Girls of September '79
Happy birthday to The Watergirl! One of my favorite things about my friendship with The Watergirl is the unbridgeable gulf between so many of our opinions. We have widely divergent, irreconcilable views on religion, politics, & interpersonal relations. And these are not merely things about which we disagree, these are also issues in which we are both heavily invested, for which we are both vociferous advocates. And yet in person we get along famously. Perhaps because of the many things about which we agree, among them Michigan football, college hockey, & music. (We often disagree about music, but The Watergirl's got way better taste than, for example, Daddy Dylweed.) Or perhaps simply because we are friends, and that simple, infinitely complex relationship trumps all other considerations. The Watergirl is wrong, dead wrong about all sorts of things, but I know myself to be lucky to be able to count her amongst my friends, and even moreso to be counted amongst hers. Happy birthday, Katie!

The Explorers Club
No. CXC - Whittaker Chambers (1901-1961), Communist spy, anti-Communist firebrand, & self-contradictory witness; & Alger Hiss (1904-1996), diplomat, perjurer, & probable Communist spy.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Katie" from Medium Rare (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Kindly pay no mind to the lyrics of "Katie," I'm just glad to be able to present a R.B.D.S.O.T.D. besides Barenaked Ladies's "Maybe Katie" on The Watergirl's birthday. The Belle of Beantown knows I mean well.

Freitag, 17 September
Less Than Jake, "Negative Sides of Optimistic Eyes" from the Absolution for Idiots and Addicts E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 16 September
Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, "Death or Radio" from Schematics (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Let's hold hands and listen to shitty bands."
The Victors: Halftime
Michigan 21-17 Massachusetts

From my admittedly jaundiced viewpoint, it looks as if we spent far too much of the last week reading about ourselves online (what used to be called, back when people read newspapers, "press clippings") & far too little time preparing to play against UMass. *sigh* The two quick strikes at the end o' the half were grand, but they do raise the troublesome question of why our offense runs hot & cold. Why can't we find a degree of consistency?

And now for the second half. Go Blue!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Senator & The New Republic, "Intermission" via iTunes, Free Single of the Week (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Nominations for the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. are always welcome & always massively appreciated.
The Girls of September '79
Happiest of birthday wishes to Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. (née Skeeter)! We have been friends since the tenth grade, when I was fifteen years old; so, I have now had the pleasure of Mrs. Skeeter, Esq.'s friendship for more than half my life. Just this past spring, I was afforded the privilege of being hosted in Old New Amsterdam for a whole week by Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. & her delightful husband, Mr. Skeeter, Esq. (né Jimmy From Queens), with the pleasant result that the friendship not only endures but thrives even after spending so much time in such close quarters. Objective FINNLAND was initiated & carried out at Mrs. Skeeter, Esq.'s urging, & I thank her for always being there to give me the kick in the rear so often necessary to get me moving (more figuratively than literally). Happy birthday, Julie!

The Victors
Michigan 28-24 Notre Dame
2-0, Big Ten 0-0

Saturday's clash between the valiant Wolverines & the vile Fighting Irish, the two winningest programs in college football, was not a classic Michigan-Notre battle for the ages. Both teams made a great many pathetic mistakes, both teams left a lot of points unscored, and neither team took advantage of all or even most of its opportunities. But what impressed me most about the game was that Michigan was able to overcome those lost opportunities. The valiant Wolverines committed a variety of drive-killing penalties & sundry miscues to paralyze their offense for the vast majority of the second half. Meanwhile, the vile Fighting Irish, while dealing with their own miscues, clawed their way back into the game. Time & time again, from the tenures of Gary Moeller to Lloyd Carr to Rich Rodriguez, when Michigan repeatedly fails to capitalize on opportunities to knock down a struggling opponent & put the game away, we pay the ultimate penalty for that ignominious failure: defeat. So, when the offense sputtered & Notre Dame exploited the holes in our defense, I admit I resigned myself to this being another game that we'd let slip through our fingers, a game we could have won if only we'd answered the door when opportunity knocked. But then Shoelace & the offense proved that they are what every Michigan man strives to be: good in the clutch. The final drive was magnificent. Though it does raise the infuriating question of where that skill & execution had been for the rest of the second half, we should not lose sight of the fact that when the game was on the line, when there was no second chance, the valiant Wolverines proved themselves to be not only winners, but victors.

I'm a dark, pessimistic soul, and so I must caution that these are yet early days. Connecticut & Notre Dame might turn out not be any good this year. Last-gasp drives are no way to run a railroad; sure they're exciting, but they lead more often to defeat than to victory. I'm terrified that Michigan is now ranked in the Top 25 (no. 20 in the A.P., no. 22 in the B.S.), remembering that our 4-0 (non-conference) start to last season earned us a similar ranking, because those whom gods destroy they first make proud. I'm aghast by hyperbolic mentions of Denard "Shoelace" Robinson as a Heisman Trophy candidate, though my horror is tempered by the fact that much of the hyperbole is not coming from the Michigan nation; so, it's not just hubris on our part. And my terror at our ranking is mitigated by the realization that we might actually deserve it; UConn & Notre Dame might turn out to be good this year, in which case we might well be giant-killers!

Saturday was a jolly day, because there's no spectacle in sport that tops a close victory over a hated foe for thrills & pleasing afterglow. Shoelace is a revelation, a marvel to behold. And I've held firm from the beginning: "In Rod we trust." I'm excited for this weekend game against UMass and the rest of the season ahead. Win or lose, it's always great to be a Michigan Wolverine, but there's a reason why our fight song is titled "The Victors." We've always been the leaders & best, let's get back to being victors valiant & conqu'ring heroes and, in time, the champions of the West. Go Blue!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Half a Woman" from Out-of-State Plates, Disc Two (T.L.A.M.)


"They called him Great Scott
Because he was great.
They called her Great Susan
'Cause she was his date."
He's Dead, Jim
The latest news is, I believe, qualified good news. Though the dark spot in my mother's nose, sited in the same place from which was removed the polyp that was the first indication of the cancer, has been confirmed as being cancerous, both the team of physicians overseeing her care and the ominously- & hilariously-named Tumor Board advise the wait-and-see approach. While I caution that I am neither a medical doctor nor do I play one on television, this suggests to me that they believe the risk of the cancer spreading is less than the risks involved in any of the more serious non-surgical treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The only truly good news would be that she's cancer free, but the qualified good news is that the cancer present does not present such a danger as to require drastic countermeasures, at least not for the time being. My mother's appointments with "Mr. Clean" (Dr. McLean), the head of her team of physicians, have been increased in frequency from bimonthly to monthly; the first of these monthly examinations/consultations will be this Friday. I will keep you apprised of developments as they happen, with the caveat that in this matter, no news may be assumed safely to be good news.

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXXIX - The Cambridge Five, Part II: Kim Philby's 1963 unmasking & defection; the detection of Anthony Blunt (1907-1983), formerly of the Security Service (M.I.5); & the many blind alleys & conspiracy theories on the long road to unmasking the "Fifth Man," John Cairncross (1911-1995).

As expected, when it rains it pours. On the eve of Labor Day (just over a week ago), an impromptu evening was organized at The Most Dangerous Game's apartment. In attendance were our charming hostess; Jenny* (Wayback Machine, see "Project PANDORA"), who in the aftermath of an as yet unexplained gulf appearing between The Most Dangerous Game & The Cowgirl seems to be The Game's best gal pal; Colette*, Jenny's dormitory roommate & a pre-U. of M.-Flint friend of The Game & The Impossible Ingenue; Jelani*, Colette & Jenny's new pal from the dorms; Frankenstein's Monster, who was "fashionably late" as ever; and your humble narrator. Over pizza & buffalo wings, with How I Met Your Mother D.V.D.s playing in the background, there was an effort to open Colette's eyes to the fact that she'd been played, as freshman are wont to be, by a sleazy upperclassman. Later, in a bizarre group discussion, I was the only member of the party to argue that bisexuals are actually bisexual, as opposed to being homosexuals who are still halfway in denial of their homosexuality. (The first time I heard the group's argument was from a homosexual man who hated what he would call "supposed" bisexuals as much as any heterosexual homophobe ever hated homosexuals.)

This past Friday, I took a step to advance Project MERCATOR's lesser known other objective, to not only be more social, but to take advantage of all that my community has on offer: I attended the "2nd Friday Art Walk," a monthly event highlighting Flint's arts scene, from painting & sculpture to dance & theatre. The Art Walk is organized in part by Mr. Flint Local 432, with whom I am acquainted & shook hands, and who has always been a friend to Blue Tree Whacking. I was joined by Colette, Jenny, at the second or third stop by Jelani, & by a girl I'd seen around campus (it's a small place) but never before met, Elise*. From the way the girls were gathered together & conversing at the beginning of the night, I'd have thought they were friends, but after a while it became clear there was tension between the libertine Colette & the enigmatic Elise.

The first stop on the Art Walk was the Buckham Gallery (near but not directly off of the Buckham Alley), bursting to capacity with my fellow Art Walkers and hot as an over from their body heat, despite the evening's chill. The girls stayed near the entrance & the concessions stand, leaving me to explore the art on my own. On display was some interesting photography & some even more interesting sculpture, with the exact wrong proportion of photography to sculpture. While I was trying to find the leaning in a sculpture, I was greeted by Becca, the saxophonist & sometime vocalist of The Loose Ties, who chided me for missing the previous week's show (see the previous "Project MERCATOR," recent enough that the Wayback Machine is unneeded). The second stop was the Greater Flint Arts Council (G.F.A.C.), where a large selection of small quilts (2' x 2', too small be be quilts, really, but I don't know what else to call them) was on display. In the equally crowded space, this time the group stayed somewhat together, though again I was the only one who seemed to be paying any attention to the art. Or should I say, to the displays? I don't think I'd count the wee quilts as art. Craft & skill certainly went into their construction, but are they art? Okay, I'll grant their artistic status, but only stipulate to them being amateurish art.

After the G.F.A.C., the organization of the Art Walk broke down completely. We were making our way back up Saginaw Street on a rough heading back to campus when we encountered Becca in the company of Frankenstein's Monster. They suggested a nearby yoga studio as a useful destination. The paintings on display were interesting, but the studio clearly depends upon sunshine for much of its lighting; so, the illumination was insufficient in the gathering dusk. But we praised our timing as we finished surveying the art (and helping ourselves to cheesecake & green grapes) immediately prior to the arrival of a large herd from the G.F.A.C.; we'd had the yoga studio almost to ourselves, but I'm sure they were back in like sardines before they had time to realize the space was too small for all of them at once. Wandering on, we encountered more quilts at The Lunch Studio, which was unique in furnishing a small pamphlet identifying the works & containing a short artist's commentary on each. Outside, chalk was on offer, with the sidewalks as a canvas; not knowing what if anything to draw, I wrote instead (in cursive), "Welcome to the Mike Wilson Ego Experience."

By now the tension between Colette & Elise was becoming evident & the group soon splintered. Colette, Jenny, & Jelani (who appeared sometime after we departed the yoga studio) raced ahead while Elise & I strolled leisurely behind. We all met up in the UCEN, but first Jelani & then Jenny & Colette said they were retiring back to their dorm rooms. Darkness had fallen by this point & Elise asked me to escort her to her motorcar out in the flat parking lot; after I dropped her off I walked to Lumi, parked as is my habit in the structure (shade against the Accursed Sun), & drove home. A couple days later, in a chat through the Farcebook, Colette wrote that she & Jenny had wanted to invite me to hang out in their room, but hadn't known how to do so without being rude as long as Elise, whom they didn't wish to invite, was around.

On Saturday, The Loose Ties played at the Good Beans Cafe. They were remiss in advertising the where & the when of the show, and their timing was abysmal, as Ska Army told me they were to go on at 7:00 P.M. At 7:00 P.M., the Michigan-Notre Dame football game had not yet reached its breathless conclusion. Let there be no doubt about my allegiance in this situation: I did not put on my shoes & grab my kit until after time had expired and until after basking for a few moments in the glow of the valiant Wolverines' triumph over the vile Fighting Irish. I drove downtown & parked Lumi quite near to where I thought the Good Beans Cafe was sited, where I would have sworn it at least used to be sited. However, my knowledge was either mistaken or out-of-date, for the cafe was not to be found. I wandered up and down Saginaw, covering much the same ground as the previous evening's Art Walk, and a short way along the most likely side streets, but no trace was to be found. I'm convinced I was at an establishment of the same name years earlier, and I'm nearly certain that place was on Saginaw, but now neither hide nor hair was to be found of The Loose Ties. Returning home from an apparent snipe hunt, I harnessed the power of the internets & learned the address of the venue, on Grand Traverse rather than South Saginaw. By this time, the hour was almost 9:00 and if I hadn't missed all of The Loose Ties' set, I'd missed most of it; so, I decided against venturing out again.

*Secret Base code names shall have to be devised for Jenny & Colette. It is as yet unknown if code names will be necessary for Jelani & Elise.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Rebel Black of Song of the Day
Hey Monday, "Wish You Were Here" from the Beneath It All E.P. (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A song & a sentiment I'm directing toward a good many people in this moment, foremost among them Comrade Coquettish.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXXVIII - The Cambridge Five, Part I: Donald Maclean (1913-1983) & Guy Burgess (1911-1963) of the Foreign Office, their 1951 defection to the Soviet Union, & the suspicion the defections cast on Harold "Kim" Philby (1912-1988) of the Secret Intelligence Service (M.I.6).

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
MxPx, "My Mom Still Cleans My Room" from Life in General (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: She doesn't actually, but "My Mom Still Cleans My Room" is a humorous choice as this weekend, at her request, my father cleaned all the windows (knocking several items off my window sill to land behind my bed, not to be seen again until I undertake the major endeavour—because my room is rather small—of moving the bed) and I Hoovered all the floors. Mom did mop the kitchen & other tiled floors, cooked our meals, and shopped for groceries.

Samstag, 11 September
The Heavy, "How You Like Me Now" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: It seems Denard Robinson's stunning performance against Connecticut was not the one-off miracle the Dark Bastard insisted it was. Hip hip hooray. More in "The Victors." Go Blue!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Operation AXIOM
11 September 2001 is "a date which will live in infamy," a day of profane villainy, made sacred "far above our poor power to add or detract" by the martyrdom of its victims.

Expect more hoopla from yours truly (and from the popular culture 'tis hoped, though very likely in vain, less venality) next annum.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXXVII - Mata Hari, the immortal name by which is known the Dutch dancer & courtesan-cum-spy Margarethe Zelle (1876-1917).

The Girls of September '79
I was friends with Mrs. Sacramento (née Never Girl) for a year-and-a-half, from her return home to the Ann Arbor suburbs after graduating college a semester early to her departure for graduate school in the Bay Area. At her request, because she was new to the Golden State & lonely, she invited me to visit her in Berkeley. Once my usefulness as an antidote to isolation was at an end—once she forged new, more local friendships—so was our acquaintance. A valuable lesson that, one for which I am grateful despite the bitter taste. Happy birthday, Lindsay!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Atomic Fireballs, "Mata Hari" from Torch This Place (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Girls of September '79
Back in the third or fourth grade, Mrs. Blinky (née Ham 'n' Eggs) & her confederate, L.L.*, spent nearly every recess chasing me around the playground chanting "Oh, Mr. Wiiiiiiilllson!" after the style of Dennis the Menace of Dennis the Menace. I have no idea what horrors I thought might befall me should they catch me, but I did my utmost to avoid, evade, & elude their pursuit. About what else should I write on the thirty-first birthday of a girl I've known since elementary school, but to whom I have not spoken in an age? Happy birthday, Emma!

*At the time, I was too young to realize she must have mistakenly wandered out of a Superman comic. And she must have, because what other explanation could there be for a name that fit in so seamlessly with Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Lori Lemaris, and so many others? Heck, even Superman's Kryptonian name, Kal-El, was originally rendered as Kal-L. Mrs. Blinky's L.L. must have wandered out of an issue of Action Comics or The Adventures of Superman, because back then John Byrne's new Superman hadn't yet acquired a cavalcade of supporting characters.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Clash at Demonhead, "Black Sheep" via YouTube (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Yes, The Clash at Demonhead, not Metric, because the vocals are by Brie Larson (playing Envy Adams), not Metric's Emily Haines. R.B.D.S.O.T.D.-link.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy (Belated) Birthday!
Sincerest apologies to Doctor Hee Haw for overlooking his birthday this past Saturday, 4 September. The funniest conversation of my life I had with the good doctor, a fact I've mentioned before because it truly was the funniest conversation I've yet had. If I am ever party to a funnier conversation, I might well die laughing. I enjoyed my trio of lunches with Doc Hee Haw over the spring & summer, I wish him all success in his new home in benighted Florida, and I look forward to seeing him upon his next visit to sacred Michigan. I do hope he accepts my apologies for the tardiness of these well wishes. Happy birthday, Seth!

We now commence a month-long series within "The Explorers Club," exploring the fascinating world of espionage: spies & spymasters, statesmen & saboteurs, secrecy & scandal.

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXXVI - Sidney Reilly (circa 1873-1925), the "Ace of Spies."

Bonus: Reilly met his demise thanks in part to the machinations of "Iron Felix" Dzerzhinsky (1877-1926), subject of episode No. II of "The Explorers Club" (though marked at the time as "Question No. 2," the Roman numerals & episodic parlance having then been not yet devised). Wayback Machine.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Hey Monday, "Mr. Pushover" from the Beneath It All E.P. (The Last Angry Man)

Commentary: Lyrics so awful that they're awesome or so awful that they're just awful? Either way, there's no denying that the following lyrics awful, and that I like them anyway:

"The haters are hating,
They're haters, they hate me.
Lovers are loving,
But lovers they hate me, too."

Dienstag, 7 September
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Sad Silence" from Question the Answers (The Last Angry Man)

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Labor Day
Potshot, "End of the Long Summer" from Potshot A Go Go (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Of course, 2010's wasn't a long summer, 'twas an almost distressingly brief summer that raced by with staggering swiftness. But there's no profit in standing still, distressed and staggered, because time & tide wait for no man. "End of the Long Summer" is a remarkably sedate song from the usually frenetic Potshot, a fitting tune by which to reflect—briefly, mind you—on the tide just past before setting to work preparing for the times ahead.

And now, because it's Labor Day, meaning there's no labor to be done this day, I'm off to enjoy the last of the summer beer with my lunch.

An icy tomb on the Red Planet for N.A.S.A.'s Phoenix lander: Martianlink. The phoenix of myth was reborn from the ashes of its own demise, a resurrection bird. But note that the phoenix was destroyed by fire & arose from the ashes of that fire; the myths say nothing about being able to resurrect itself from the ice, particularly the carbon dioxide ice of the Martian "Arctic." Therefore, I'm afraid this must be a farewell to the Phoenix, our faithful robot minion. Well done, Phoenix, you exceeded our expectations and gave the last full measure of devotion; your human masters are proud of you. Rest now, little robot friend, rest in the peace of a job well done, of an existential purpose fulfilled.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Victors
Michigan 30-10 Connecticut
1-0, Big Ten 0-0

A week before the game, Mrs. Skeeter, Esq. & I were discussing the upcoming football season. She was very worried about Tate Forcier's apparent lack of involvement with the team, worries fed by Mr. Skeeter's support for the vile Fighting Irish and rapid rumor-mongering among the Notre Dame faithful. I had nothing beyond broad generalities with which to placate her worries. It is safe to say that the inauguration yesterday of the current football season found me uninformed & unable to comment intelligently on the prospects of any particular team. But I can now say that Denard Robinson has come a long way since the valiant Wolverines' '09 campaign; more insightful analysis will have to wait until I spend the rest of this week playing catch-up.

Also, a note on the renovations to Michigan Stadium: the announced attendance for the UConn game was 113,090. One hundred thirteen thousand ninety! Those inbred, cheating sons of bitches at the University of Tennessee can put that in their pipes and smoke it. (No, I will not forget nor will I ever forgive them for 1998. Death to Tennessee!)

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Ataris, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" from End is Forever (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 4 September
New Found Glory, "It's Been a Summer" from Sticks and Stones (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "It's Been a Summer" is a song of love & loss, not a song about the manifold splendors of the summertime, but with these R.B.D.S.O.T.D. theme projects I've always been more interested in the titles of songs than the contents or intent of those selfsame songs. Maybe that's dirty pool on my part, but there's to be no reform of the system; it is what it is.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I had the opportunity to see The Loose Ties play at Woobie's Bar & Nightlife tonight, a fantastic way to get Project MERCATOR back on track. But I didn't seize that opportunity, instead staying home to continue watching the entire series of Sports Night & chat on the phone with Love/Hate.

Casey:What happened to your values?
Dan: I find that maintaining them is a lot of work. I take a day off every now and then.
Casey: You take a vacation from doing the right thing?
Dan: Yeah. I don't loot storefronts or anything, but once in a while, when I consider the effort it takes to diligently adhere to a moral compass, I take myself out of the lineup and I rest up for the next game.

There was a welcome-to-campus event for new & transfer students yesterday, and I set up & manned the table for the Econ. Club; so, I made tonight's choice—a choice clearly in violation of both the spirit & the letter of MERCATOR—secure in the wonderful/baleful knowledge that before I know it I'll be up to my eyeballs in social shenanigans, malarkey, & tomfoolery. So, yeah, tonight I took myself out of the lineup to rest for the next game, a reminder of the utility of periodically reviewing the whole of Sports Night.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Hot Summer Nights (Won't Last Forever)!" from Charge!! Special One Year Anniversary Edition (T.L.A.M.)


"I'm gonna miss you!
I'm gonna miss you so much!
Those hot summer nights
Won't last forever!
I'm gonna miss you!
I'm gonna miss you so much!
Those hot summer nights
Won't last forever!
I know you're gone
And you can't come home.
I'm so alone (so alone),
But I'll never forget about you."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Explorers Club
No. CLXXXV - The Blackpool Tower & its celebrated ballroom.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
The Starting Line, "The Drama Summer" from Say It Like You Mean It (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: There was not nearly enough drama this summer to merit the appellation "The Drama Summer," but "The Drama Summer" is still a good song. Say It Like You Mean It is all I know of The Starting Line; I wonder whatever became of them. The Wikipedia, ho!

"Cross your fingers
And pray for winter."

1 September
Sex Bob-omb, "Summertime" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This is the fifth song in my iTunes library named "Summertime." Each is distinct, no two are versions of the same song.