Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Project BLACK MAMBA: Backlog Edition, Part III

Friday, 18 August was the festival of Saint Helena (circa 248-328), discoverer of the True Cross: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link True Cross.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Twas also the festival of Saint Inan of Ayrshire, Hermit (ninth century, A.K.A. Evan): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twas also the festival of Blessed Martín Martínez Pascual, Priest & Martyr (1910-1936), martyred by Spanish Communist "Republicans" (Rojos): Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link (en español).

Scripture of That Day
Mass Readings—Feria
The Book of Joshua, chapter twenty-four, verses one thru thirteen;
Psalm One Hundred Thirty-six, verses one, two, & three; sixteen, seventeen, & eighteen; & twenty-one, twenty-two, & twenty-four;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter nineteen, verses three thru twelve.

Commentary: Reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today's Gospel Jesus teaches about the sanctity and permanence of marriage. Now we begin to see why the love of a husband and wife is a sacrament of God's love. The Father and the Son—while remaining distinct—give themselves utterly to each other, and this mutual giving is the Holy Spirit.

So when two people come together in love and form one flesh, they mimic the love between the Father and the Son. And when their love gives rise to a child, this mimics sacramentally the spiration of the Holy Spirit. Father, mother, and children are evocative of the divine Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And this is why Jesus speaks so forcefully about marriage, and why his Church, at its best, has echoed him up and down the centuries. It is because marriage is such a sacred sign that the Church has sought so assiduously to protect it.

I know that the Church gets a bad rap for surrounding marriage and sexuality with so many rules. I realize that libertarians through the ages have fought against the supposed uptight moralism of the Church. But look: human beings always surround precious things with laws, restrictions, and prohibitions.
Video reflection by Sister Elizabeth Ann Vasquez, S.S.C.J.: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Operation AXIOM


'Tis Black Ribbon Day, the American observance of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism & Nazism. Seventy-eight years ago to the day, 23 August 1939, the foreign ministers of Nazi Germany & the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a neutrality agreement that divided Eastern Europe into "spheres of influence." For the next fifty-two years, 'til the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, first Nazi & then Communist totalitarian repression would blight the face of Europe, slaughtering tens of millions outright & grinding hundreds of millions of terrorized survivors under an iron boot. We dare never forget how close absolutely tyranny was, how acceptable it was in even polite company. We American fought the good fight against both Nazism & Soviet Communism, but very few of us ever saw the oppression close up, even lived in such fear societies. Never forget & never again.

"First They Came…"
by Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.


The Wayback Machine Tour of Black Ribbon Day
Black Ribbon Day '16
Black Ribbon Day '15
Black Ribbon Day '14

'Tis also the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade & its Abolition. The slave trade may no longer be legal, but we should never mistake abolition from elimination. Slavery continues today, & we are all in chains so long as anyone is in chains.

While I dislike the tenor of much of our current sociopolitical discourse, I must say I am greatly encouraged by the recent movement to remove statues of Confederate "heroes" & to rename buildings & institutions that had honored that vile conglomeration of slavers & traitors. The Confederates lost the war, but in all too many ways they won the peace; it is high time we recognize treason as treason, & debunk & denounce the myth of the "Lost Cause of the Confederacy."

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Reel Big Fish, "Beer" from Turn the Radio Off (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: It as clear fairly early on that heartbreak was the norm in ska-punk, that romance rarely had a happy ending. A paraphrase of Rob's question from High Fidelity has long seemed appropriate: Am I cynical about romance because I listen to ska music of do I listen to ska music because I'm cynical about romance?
"She called me late last night
To say she loved me so,
But I guess you changed her mind.
Well, I should have known it wouldn't be alright,
But I can't live without her,
So I won't even try.

"And if I get drunk, well, I'll pass out on the floor now, baby,
You won't bother me no more,
And if you're drinking, well, you know that you're my friend and I'll say,
I guess I'll have myself a beer!

"Maybe someday I'll think of what to say,
Maybe next time I'll remember what to do,
She looks like heaven, maybe this is hell…"

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Project BLACK MAMBA: Current Edition

'Tis the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Madonna-link ūna, Madonna-link duae, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature & by right of conquest; through Him, with Him, & subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, & by singular choice of the Father.
'Tis also the festival of Blesseds Richard Kirkman & William Lacy, Priests & Martyrs (died 1582), martyred in the reign of the queen Elizabeth I: Martyr-link Romeo Kilo, Martyr-link Whiskey Lima & Wikipedia-link Whiskey Lima.

'Tis also the festival of Saint John Kemble, Priest & Martyr (1599-1679), martyred in the reign of the king Charles II, a victim of the perjurer Titus Oates' "Popish Plot" hoax, one of the Forty Martyrs of England & Wales: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link P.P. & Wikipedia-link XL.

Scripture of This Day
Mass Readings—Feria
The Book of Judges, chapter six, verses eleven thru twenty-four(a);
Psalm Eighty-five, verses nine, eleven & twelve, & thirteen & fourteen;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter nineteen, verses twenty-three thru thirty.

Mass Readings—Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Book of Isaiah, chapter nine, verses one thru six;
Psalm One Hundred Thirteen, verse two;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses twenty-six thru thirty-eight.

Commentary: Video reflection by Father Eugene Ulrich: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, today we celebrate the Queenship of Mary. Mary, Queen Mary, was the definitive bearer of the divine presence, the Ark of the Covenant par excellence. When she visited her cousin Elizabeth, the infant John the Baptist leapt in his mother's womb, doing his own version of David's dance before the Ark.

The Queen Mother—like all of the monarchs of Israel—is a fighter. Israel frequently brought the Ark into battle with them. Most famously, the priests parade around the city of Jericho bearing the Ark, just before the walls came tumbling down.

The Queenship of Mary is not a sentimental feast. Whenever biblical people spoke of kings or queens, they were speaking of warriors. The question for us is, which side are we on? Those trained in the Jesuit spiritual tradition know of the "two standards" meditation, which compels us to make the simple choice: in which army do you serve?

We fight, of course, not with the puny weapons of the world, but with the weapons of the Spirit, by God we fight. So don't just honor and acknowledge the Queenship of Mary; get in her army.
Penance
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter five, verses one thru eleven.

Commentary: The Call of Simon the Fisherman (Luke, 5:1-11).

Project BLACK MAMBA: Backlog Edition, Part II

Thursday, 17 August was the festival of Saint Eusebius, Pope (died circa 310), thirty-first Bishop of Rome: Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Twas also the festival of Saint Joan of the Cross, Religious (1666-1736, A.K.A. Jeanne Delanoue), foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne of Providence of Saumur: Saint-link ūna, Saint-link duae, & Wikipedia-link.

'Twas also the festival of Blessed Marie-Élisabeth Turgeon, Religious (1840-1881), foundress of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary: Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Bl. Marie-Élisabeth was beatified on 26 April 2015.

Scripture of That Day
Mass Readings—Feria
The Book of Joshua, chapter three, verses seven thru ten(a), eleven, & thirteen thru seventeen;
Psalm One Hundred Fourteen, verses one & two, three & four, & five & six;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eighteen, verse twenty-one thru chapter nineteen, verse one.

Commentary: Video reflection by Father Don Miller, O.F.M.: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, our Gospel today focuses on the gift of forgiveness. This is such an anchor of the New Testament, and so central to Jesus' ministry and preaching. When it comes to the offenses that we have received from others, we are, all of us, great avatars of justice. We will remember every insult, every snub, and every shortcoming, when it comes to our being hurt by others. That's why forgiving even once or twice is so difficult.

Forgiving seven times, as Peter suggests, is beyond the pale. Yet Jesus says to him, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." In other words, forgive constantly, relentlessly, without calculation. Your whole life must become an act of forgiveness.

And this is why Jesus tells the parable in today's Gospel. The man who had been forgiven so much should, at the very least, show forgiveness to the one who owed him so much less.

Here is the spiritual heart of the matter: whatever anyone owes you (in strict justice) is infinitely less than what God has graciously given to you; the divine forgiveness of you is infinitely greater than any forgiveness you might be called upon to offer.

Becoming an instrument of God's life, grace, forgiveness, and peace is what it is all about. Allow to flow through you what has been poured into you—that is the whole story.

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "The Rascal King" from Let's Face It (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: "The Rascal King" charted at № 7, proving that The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are not, in point of fact, "one-hit wonders." ("The Impression That I Get," the debut single from Let's Face It, reached № 1.)

Unbeknownst 'til these latter days, the eponymous rascal king was crooked Boston politician James Michael Curley (1874-1958), who served five months of his fourth term as mayor of Boston in federal prison for mail fraud. The epitome of corrupt Democratic machine politics, Curley also served as governor of Massachusetts, United States representative, & Massachusetts state representative. I'm no longer a Republican, but that doesn't mean I've lost any of my disdain for Democrats.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Johnny Socko, "They Know Us at the Spa" from Full Trucker Effect (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: I know nothing of Johnny Socko's music beyond Full Trucker Effect, having been first introduced to "They Know Us at the Spa" on the Asian Man Records compilation Mailorder Is Still Fun!!, the second in the series. Back in the day, before iTunes, that was how we sampled new music.
"Three in the A.M., Lincoln northbound,
Nobody knows me in this big, windy town,
Gig is over, but I'm not done yet,
Feel like shaking the rattle before I crawl into my bassinet.
Only one place, and that's drawing near,
Milk of human kindness: skunky Croatian beer,
Front desk, Ray looks up, says, 'Welcome home,'
Ain't no more need to roam.

"They know us at the spa, yeah yeah,
They know us at the spa, yeah yeah,
They know us at the spa, yeah yeah,
They know us at the spa, yeah yeah,
They know us at the spa.

"Best not overload the elevator,
If I was you I wouldn't even touch the floor,
T.V. is fine if you like W.G.N.,
Odds are two to one that you get the fresh linens,
Head down to the bar for a couple of belts,
Order what you want, you'll end up with something else,
Rum turns to whiskey, whiskey becomes gin,
'You like the Thompson Twins?'…"

Project BLACK MAMBA: Backlog Edition, Part I

Wednesday, 16 August was the Optional Memorial of Saint Stephen of Hungary (circa 969-1038, A.K.A. King Stephen I; also spelt István, Štefan): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
Stephen established at least one archbishopric, six bishoprics, & three Benedictine monasteries; thus, the Church in Hungary developed independently of the archbishops of the Holy Roman Empire. Hungary, which enjoyed a lasting period of peace during his reign, became a preferred route for pilgrims & merchants traveling between Western Europe & the Holy Land or Constantinople.
Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
Born a pagan, he was baptized around the age of ten, together with his father, chief of the Magyars, a group who migrated to the Danube area in the ninth century. At twenty he married Gisela, sister of the future emperor, St. Henry [13 July]. When he succeeded his father as King of Hungary, Stephen adopted a policy of Christianization of the country for both political & religious reasons. Stephen established a system of tithes to support churches & pastors & to relieve the poor. Out of every ten towns one had to build a church & support a priest.
'Twas also the festival of Saint Roch, Pilgrim, T.O.S.F. (circa 1295-1327, also spelt Rocco, Roque, etc.): Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

'Twas also the festival of Blessed Angelo Agostini Mazzinghi, Priest, O.Carm. (circa 1377-1438): Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of That Day
Mass Readings—Feria
The Book of Deuteronomy, chapter thirty-four, verses one thru twelve;
Psalm Sixty-six, verses one, two, & three(a); five & eight; & sixteen & seventeen;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter eighteen, verses fifteen thru twenty.

Commentary: Video reflection by Jem Sullivan, Ph.D.: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, the Gospel for today addresses an issue of tremendous practical importance, namely, how we ought to engage in fraternal correction. Jesus says, with utter directness and simplicity, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”

What a world of significance in that little recommendation! It holds off the sinful tendency of running to everyone but the person in question and complaining about him behind his back. This strategy is utterly unproductive and spiritually harmful, for it does nothing to help the person you are criticizing, and it puffs up your already inflated ego.

I know it is exceptionally difficult, but going to the person directly is both productive and spiritually uplifting. It has at least a fighting chance of accomplishing something, and it confirms you in love. But the right thing is, as usual, the hard thing. Notice please that the accuser is encouraged to tell the person in question alone—and no one else. Venting and gossiping are not helpful.
Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary
The Book of Deuteronomy, chapter six, verses thre thru nine;
Psalm One Hundred Twelve, verse one;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter twenty-five, verses fourteen thru thirty
(or, the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter twenty-five, verses fourteen thru twenty-three).

Project BLACK MAMBA: Current Edition

Simplex Edition
'Tis the Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope (1835-1914), two hundred fifty-seventh Bishop of Rome: Saint-link ūnus, Saint-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
His most important reform was to order the codification of first Code of Canon Law, which collected the laws of the Church into one volume for the first time.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
Pope {Pius X is perhaps best remembered for his encouragement of the frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children. The second of ten children in a poor Italian family, Joseph Sarto became Pius X at [age] sixty-eight, one of the [twentieth] century's greatest popes.
'Tis also the festival of Saint Abraham of Smolensk, Priest & Abbot (died circa 1222): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Our Lady of Knock (apparition in 1879): Madonna-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of This Day
Mass Readings—Feria
The Book of Judges, chapter two, verses eleven thru nineteen;
Psalm One Hundred Six, verses thirty-four & thirty-five, thirty-six & thirty-seven, thirty-nine & forty, & forty-three(a,b) & forty-four;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter nineteen, verses sixteen thru twenty-two.

Commentary: Video reflection by Monsignor James Vlaun: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, today's Gospel is the story of the rich young man. The rich young man has a deep desire to share in everlasting life. He is hungry for the infinite good of the spirit. He knows what he wants, and he knows where to find it. Jesus is the infinite Good that the souls wants. He is God's own self made flesh.

If you want to live in friendship with God, there are certain things that you must cut out of your life. Friendship with God means a life of love; therefore, those things that egregiously violate love have to be eliminated.

Jesus looks at him with love and says, "There is one thing more you must do. Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor; you will have treasure in heaven. After that come follow me." God is nothing but love, straight through, and therefore the life of friendship with him, in the richest sense, is a life of total love, self-forgetting love.

But at this point, the young man tragically balks. The spiritual life, at the highest pitch, is about giving your life away, and this is why his many possessions are a problem.
Mass Readings—Memorial of Saint Pius X
The First Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter two, verses two(b) thru eight;
Psalm Eighty-nine, verse two;
The Gospel according to John, chapter twenty-one, verses fifteen, sixteen, & seventeen.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Explorers' Club, № DLXIII

Operation AXIOM: The World War
15-25 August 1917: The Battle of Hill 70—The Canadian Corps captured the commanding height overlooking Lens & the surrounding lowlands, & withstood German counterattacks with Flammenwerfer (flamethrowers); the chief objective was to tie down German forces, preventing their reinforcement of the Ypres Salient; Gelbkreuz ("Yellow Cross") mustard gas was used extensively.






Lest we forget.

Project BLACK MAMBA: XX Sunday in Ordinary Time

Simplex Edition
'Tis the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Week
Mass Readings—Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Book of Isaiah, chapter fifty-six, verses one, six, & seven;
Psalm Sixty-seven, verses two & three, five, six, & eight;
The Letter to the Romans, chapter eleven, verses thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, & twenty-nine thru thirty-two;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter fifteen, verses twenty-one thru twenty-eight.

Commentary: Video reflection by Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M.: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Video reflection by Jeff Cavins: Encountering the Word.

Reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, a long tradition stresses the perseverance of the Canaanite woman we meet in today's Gospel. Augustine says that we pray in order to expand our will to accept what God is going to give us. Another reading shows how the woman exemplifies the proper attitude toward God, a combination of humility and boldness, of deference and defiance. We are creatures and God is God; nevertheless, God invites us into intimacy with him.

But I want to emphasize the reading conditioned by the "other." The Old Testament speaks insistently of the "stranger, the widow, and the orphan." The ethical life, in a Biblical framework, is about the press of these people upon us. They press upon us even when we would greatly prefer them just to go away.

We the Church are the body of Christ. And so people come to us demanding food, sustenance, friendship, love, shelter, liberation. Often we are tempted to do what Jesus does initially and what the disciples do: tell them to back off. We are overloaded, busy, preoccupied. We can't be bothered.

But the whole of the Christian life consists in remembering the suffering and need of the annoying other.
Mass Journal: Week 34
Reflection by Matthew Kelly, founder of the Dynamic Catholic Institute:
The philosophy of Christ is based on discipline, & it is discipline that our modern culture abhors & has rejected with all its strength. It is true that Jesus came to comfort the afflicted, but as Dorothy Day, journalist, social activist, & Catholic convert pointed out, He also came to afflict the comfortable. The saints make many modern Catholic uncomfortble because they challenge us to throw off the spirit of the world & to embrace the Spirit of God. Like Jesus, by their example the saints invite us to a life of discipline. Contrary to public opinion, discipline doesn't stifle or restrict the human person. Discipline isn't something invented by the Church to control or manipulate the masses, nor is it a tool to make people do things they don't want to do. All these are the lies of a culture completely absorbed in a philosophy of instant gratification. Discipline is the faithful friend who will introduce you to your true self. Discipline is a worthy protector who will defend you from your lesser self. And discipline is the extraordinary mentor who will challenge you to become the-best-version-of-yourself (sic) & all God created you to be. What are your habits? Are your habits helping you become a-better-version-of-yourself (sic) or are they self-diminishing?

Otherwise, 20 August would be the festival of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot & Doctor of the Church, O.Cist. (1090-1153): Doctor-link ūnus, Doctor-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
In the year 1111, at the age of twenty, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Cîteaux. His five brothers, two uncles, & some thirty young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot.

"In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart/ And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal." —St. Bernard
'Twould also be the festival of Saint Ronald of Orkney, Martyr (1103-1158, A.K.A. Rögnvald Kali Kolsson), martyred by the Viking outlaw Thorbjorn Klerk: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twould also be the festival of Blessed Georg Häfner, Priest & Martyr (1900-1942), martyred in the reign of the Führer Adolf Hitler: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Lord's Day

Francesca Battistelli, "This Is the Stuff" from Hundred More Years (The Last Angry Man)

Commentary:
"This is the stuff that drives me crazy,
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately,
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed,
This is the stuff that gets under my skin,
But I've got to trust You know exactly what You're doing,
It might not be what I would choose,
But this is the stuff You use…"

Bonus! Song o' the Day: SKAugust


King Apparatus, "Hold Me Down" from Marbles (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: As the turn of the millennium loomed, Mike Park's Asian Man Records began to introduce my ears to ska beyond the five or six "popular" ska-punk bands I really, really liked. At that time, I had yet little idea of ska's Jamaican origins & knew next to nothing about the mysterious "2-Tone," but while the popular culture stressed about Y2K my ska horizons were ever broadening.
"You can't hold me,
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me down.
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me down.

"Well you tried, but you won't be satisfied
Until you hold me down.
You can hold but not control me, girl,
You can't hold me down.
Come on, try and try, but you're gonna find
You can't hold me down,
Because better than you have tried and failed
To hold me down, I'm leaving town, and—

"You can't hold me,
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me down.
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me down.

"No lock and key can work on me,
I will be free,
My heart is wild, it was not styled
For captivity,
So I stayed a spell, I thought time would tell
Me friend from foe,
But I won't stick around and be held down,
Let me go! Don't you know that—

"You can't hold me,
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me down.
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me,
You can't hold me down…"
Marbles was released in 1993 & King Apparatus broke up in 1994, well before the Summer of Ska. My introduction to them in roughly the year 2000 & this remembrance of them in 2017 is proof that they were right: Good music can't be held down.

A note to Miss Mozart: This R.B.D.S.O.T.D. isn't in any way directed against you, though ye be fairly warned that "Hold Me Down" has ever spoken & still speaks to my wild heart.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Less Than Jake, "Johnny Quest (Thinks We're Sellouts)" from Losing Streak (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: L.T.J. spend a lot less time ruminating on fame & fortune than R.B.F., but I thought "Johnny Quest (Thinks We're Sellouts)" a nice thematic companion to this week's Why Do They Rock So Hard? quartet. "Johnny Quest (Thinks We're Sellouts)" was originally released on 1995's Pezcore, then re-recorded & re-released on 1996's Losing Streak, just in time for the Summer of Ska.
"Well, I really don't know
If it matters at all so,
But we try to keep our prices low
For our records and our shows,
But is that, is that enough?
Or is it that we're not punk enough?
Or is it that you think ska just sucks?
Johnny Quest, he thinks we're what?

Johnny Quest thinks we're sellouts, sellouts!
Johnny Quest thinks we're selling out, selling out, yeah!
Johnny Quest thinks we're sellouts, sellouts!
Johnny! Yeah hey hey!…"

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Reel Big Fish, "We Care" from Why Do They Rock So Hard? (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary:
"Thanks for the money,
Thanks for dancin' and singin' along,
And everything you do,
We just want you to know we care (we care).

"Thanks for callin' us sell outs
And not takin' a joke,
Talkin' shit and covering'us with spit,
We're so glad to know you care (we care).

"And we're sorry that so many people
Got to enjoy our music
By hearing us on the radio.

"We love you,
We love you,
Because you really understand,
We love you,
We love you a lot,
How could we not,
We'll say it again:
We love you,
We love you,
Because you really understand,
We love you,
We love you a lot,
We always thought
You liked our band.

"I'm not talkin' about everybody,
I'm sorry to waste
A song and your time like this,
We're so lucky to have you there (we care).

"And I know that some of you get it
And you're not ashamed to admit it,
That you're still with us after all.

"We love you,
We love you,
Because you really understand,
We love you,
We love you a lot,
How could we not,
We'll say it again:
We love you,
We love you,
Because you really understand,
We love you,
We love you a lot,
We always thought
You liked our band…"

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What's Eating The Last Angry Man?

As an update to last week's commentary on the new uniforms for the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus, photographs have belatedly been released of the new uniform with sword & baldric.



We shall never know how much of the tumult resulting from the botched announcement of the new uniforms—how much damage to the good works of the Order—might have been avoided that these photos been available at the Supreme Convention & had the F.A.Q. that came with them been properly anticipated, as it should have been.

The beret remains a horror show.

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Reel Big Fish, "Down in Flames" from Why Do They Rock So Hard? (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary:
"You don't know me,
But here I am in your living room,
You don't own me,
But you paid and that means a lot to you,
Well, you never listen,
But I know that's what you think you do,
And everybody wants a change,
But this time it'll be the same,
Watch us go down in flames.

"It's alright, it's O.K.,
It was gonna happen anyway,
We had our chance,
We made our point,
But you're not gonna take that—

"Radio, commercials,
T.V. shows and front page ads,
Photos and interviews,
Well, they'll make sure it's the latest fad,
Well, pay attention,
'Cause you know you'll have to pay either way,
And they tell you that it's the new thing,
But we know it hasn't changed,
Watch us go down in flames.

"It's alright, it's O.K.,
It was gonna happen anyway,
We had our chance,
We made our point,
But you're not gonna take that away!
Away!
Away!
Away!

"When this blows over
And the mainstream coughs up another shell,
Will you let us back in your underground?
Well, I guess that's a no and it's just as well,
'Cause you never supported us,
All you wanted was to see us fail!
(See us fail!)
They tell me that it's the new thing,
So I better get out of the way,
Watch us go down in flames.

"It's alright, it's O.K.,
It was gonna happen anyway,
We had our chance,
We made our point,
But you're not gonna take that—
'Cause it's alright, it's O.K.,
It was gonna happen anyway,
We had our chance,
We made our point,
But you're not gonna take that away!
You're not gonna take that away!
You're not gonna take that away!
You're not gonna take that away!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Reel Big Fish, "The Kids Don't Like It" from Why Do They Rock So Hard? (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary:
"Got some words, I don't know,
Gonna sing 'em, here I go,
Wanna try not to be lame,
Wanna make you feel the same,
I just wanna be someone.

"Don't you know we tried to do something new?
And it may sound real good,
But I don't think we're getting through.

"Because the kids don't like it! No, no!
The kids don't like it! No, no, no!
The kids don't like it, no, they don't like it at all!
I said, the kids don't like it! No, no!
The kids don't like it! No, no, no!
The kids don't like it, no, they don't like it at all, anymore!

"Had a hit. Famous? No.
Easy come, easy go,
Should be happy with what I got,
Should be happy, but I'm not,
I just wanna be someone…

"Though they'd come a day
I'd run out of things to say,
But now I know it's true:
No one listens anyway.

"All we wanted was to do something new,
Doesn't sound so good,
And I know we're not getting through.

"Because the kids don't like it! No, no!
The kids don't like it! No, no, no!
The kids don't like it, no, they don't like it at all!
I said, the kids don't like it! No, no!
The kids don't like it! No, no, no!
The kids don't like it, no, they don't like it at all!
I said, the kids don't like it! No, no!
The kids don't like it! No, no, no!
The kids don't like it, no, they don't like it at all,
Not at all, not at all, not at all anymore!"

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Project BLACK MAMBA

'Tis the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Madonna-link ūna, Madonna-link duae, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
Belief that Mary was bodily taken up into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.
Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Day
The Book of Revelation, chapter eleven, verse nineteen(a) & chapter twelve, verses one thru six(a) & ten(a,b);
Psalm Forty-five, verses ten, eleven, twelve, & sixteen;
The First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter fifteen, verses twenty thru twenty-seven;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter one, verses thirty-nine thru fifty-six.

Commentary: Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her great Magnificat, Mary is the new Isaiah and the new Jeremiah and the new Ezekiel, for she announces with greatest clarity and joy the coming of the Messiah.

What was only vaguely foreseen in those great prophetic figures is now in clear focus: "He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever." There is nothing stronger or more beautiful in any of the prophets.

Mary is the true Israel, she knows what to do and she does it with enthusiasm. No dawdling, back-pedaling, straying and complaining: she moves, she goes. And she goes upon the heights, which is exactly where God had always summoned Israel, so that it could be a light to the nations.
'Tis also the festival of Saint Tarcisius, Martyr (third century), martyred by a mob of pagans while defending the Blessed Sacrament: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Saint Altfrid of Hildesheim, Bishop, O.S.B. (died 874, A.K.A. Alfred): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

Bonus! Song o' the Assumption o' the B.V.M.


The Daughters of Mary, "Hail Holy Queen" from De Profundis (The Last Angry Man)

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Reel Big Fish, "Big Star" from Why Do They Rock So Hard? (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: Released in the fall of '98, Why Do They Rock So Hard? is almost-but-not-quite a concept album, an extended meditation of the nature & phenomenon of pop-music success. The first two & a half minutes of "Big Star" are acoustic, & even after the intensity & sheer volume of noise pick up it never quite becomes a ska song, but nevertheless "Big Star" remains the crucial first chapter in a four-song story we'll be telling this week, or rather, Reel Big Fish's story that we'll be re-telling.
"Now that I'm a big star, what am I gonna do?
I'm so bored counting all my money,
I sit here and I think of you,
It's so easy, it's so easy to do.

"I don't even have to try,
I don't even want to try,
And why should I waste my precious time,
If I can't make you love me,
But I know you will.

"I'm such an asshole, how could you resist?
I never meant to let it go to my head,
I never thought it would come to this,
It's me, asshole of your dreams.

"I don't even have to try,
I don't even want to try,
And why should I waste my precious time,
If I can't make you love me,
But I know you will.

"I don't even have to try,
I don't even want to try,
And why should I waste my precious time,
If I can't make you love me—"
Here the volume & the intensity are both cranked up to eleven.
"—I can't make you love me,
But I know you do!

"But I'm so cool no one wants to look at me,
And I'm so cool no one wants to talk to me,
And I'm so fuckin' cool, nobody cares at all!

"I'm a big fuckin' star, oh yeah!
I'm a big fuckin' star, oh yeah!
I'm a big fuckin' star, oh yeah yeah yeah!

"I'm a big fuckin' star, oh yeah!
I'm a big fuckin' star, oh yeah!
I'm a big fuckin' star, oh yeah yeah yeah!

"I'm a big (big) fuckin' star, oh yeah!
I'm a big (big) fuckin' star, oh yeah!
I'm a big (big) fuckin' (big) star, oh yeah yeah yeah!"

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust!


The Aquabats!, "Ska Robot Army!" from The Return of The Aquabats! (Captain Thumbs Up!)

Skammentary!: The Return of The Aquabats! is The Aquabats!' debut album. Let that sink in for just a moment. If that doesn't make you smile, doesn't make the world seem a slightly brighter place, well, you have my pity, though not my sympathy. You might just be a shark, because I bet you have "cold, dead eyes, like a doll's eyes." The Aquabats! also have a song about that, "The Shark Fighter!," though you & your cold, dead eyes don't have to worry about that because it isn't a ska song.

Also, yes, in light of their later defection it's hard not to see "Ska Robot Army!" as an early protest against what The Aquabats! felt were the constraints of the genre, though a fun, winking protest.
"They're coming to take over,
Look out behind you
And beware of the Ska Robot Army!…

"They're coming to take over,
To terrorize the Earth,
They're skanking in their best suits,
So beware of the Ska Robot Army!"

Project BLACK MAMBA: Backlog Edition

Saturday, 12 August was the Optional Memorial of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious, V.H.M. (1572-1641), foundress of the Visitation Sisters, formally the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary: Saint-link ūna, Saint-link duae, & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link V.H.M.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
She established the Congregation of the Visitation. The order accepted women who were rejected by other orders because of poor health or age. During its first eight years, the new order also was unusual in its public outreach.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
When she was thirty-two, she met St. Francis de Sales [24 January] who vecame her spiritual director, softening some of the severities imposed by her former diretor. She wanted to become a nun but he persuaded her to defer this decision. She took a vow to remain unmarried & to obey her director. After three years, Francis told her of his plan to found an institute of women which would be a haven for those whose health, age, or other considerations barred them from entering the already-established communities.
'Twas also the festival of Blessed Innocent XI, Pope (1611-1689), two hundred fortieth Bishop of Rome, the "Savior of Hungary:" Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twas also the festival of Blessed Karl Leisner, Priest & Martyr (1915-1945), martyred by the regime of the Führer Adolf Hitler, the demise of which he lived to see: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of that Day
Mass Readings—Feria
The Book of Deuteronomy, chapter six, verses four thru thirteen;
Psalm Eighteen, verses two & three(a), three(b,c) & four, & forty-seven & fifty-one;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter seventeen, verses fourteen thru twenty.

Commentary: Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, today in our Gospel we meet a boy driven mad by a demon and the disciples could not heal him. They asked Jesus why they had failed, and he said, "Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

In all circumstances, you have to pray with faith. Have you noticed how Jesus, time and again, says to people before working a miracle, "Do you believe I can do this?" Once, Matthew tells us, Jesus was unable to perform many miracles because he was met with so little faith among the people.

Lots of people today, especially in the healing ministry, seem able to reproduce what Jesus did, precisely because of the purity of their faith. Is part of our problem simply a lack of faith? We allow our skepticism to get the better of us; we're just a little embarrassed by asking God for things, or we're convinced that he is a distant power only vaguely connected to our lives. But God is far greater than that.
Mass Readings—Optional Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal
The Book of Proverbs, chapter thirty-one, verses ten thru thirteen, nineteen, twenty, thirty, & thirty-one;
Psalm One Hundred Thirty-one;
The Gospel according to Mark, chapter three, verses thirty-one thru fifty-five.

Project BLACK MAMBA

'Tis the Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest & Martyr, O.F.M. Conv. (1894-1941), martyred in the reign of the Führer Adolf Hitler: Martyr-link ūnus, Martyr-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
Saint Maxilimian Maria Kolbe, O.F.M. Conv., was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar, who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp of Auschwitz.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
St. Maximilian Kolbe entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans in Lviv (then Poland, now Ukraine), neat his birthplace, & at sixteen became a novice later earning doctorate in philosophy & theology. He dreamed of & then founded Knight of the Immaculata, a religious magazine under Mary's protection to preach the Good News to all nations. For the work of publication he established a "City of the Immaculata"—Niepokalanow. In 1939, Nazi forces overran Poland & arrested St. Maximilian & his friars, but they were released only to be arrested again in 1941.

"Courage, my sons. Don't you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win over as many souls as possible. Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, & that she can do with us anything she wishes." —Maximilian Mary Kolbe, when first arrested

Saint quote of the week: "That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me, a Child of Faith. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, & the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both." —St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Maximilian died at the Auschwitz camp in Poland during World War II. When one prisoner escaped, the commander decided to retaliate by killing ten other prisoners through starvation. St. Maximilian volunteered to take the place of a married man.
Quoth the daily reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, today we celebrate the memorial of Maximilian Kolbe, the great saint of Auschwitz. A prisoner from Fr. Kolbe's barracks escaped, and in retaliation, the Nazi guards picked out ten other prisoners at random for execution. When one of those chosen broke down in tears, protesting that he was the father of a family, Kolbe stepped forward and said "I am a Catholic priest; take me and spare this man."

Priests are called "father," because they are life-givers in the spiritual order. Spiritual fathers protect their children; they teach them; they are there for them. At the limit, they even give their lives for them, and that's what we see in today's great saint.

Jesus gathered around himself a band of apostles whom he shaped according to his own mind and heart and whom he subsequently sent on mission. Priests, down through the centuries—from Augustine and Aquinas, to Francis Xavier and John Henry Newman, to John Paul II and your own pastor—are the descendants of those first friends and apprentices of the Lord. They have been needed in every age, and they are needed today, for the Kingdom of Heaven must be proclaimed, the poor must be served, God must be worshipped, and the sacraments must be administered.
'Tis also the festival of Saint Eusebius of Rome, Priest & Martyr (died circa 357), martyred in the reign of the emperor Constantius II: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Blessed Aimone Taparelli, Priest, O.P. (circa 1395-1495): Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Feria
The Book of Deuteronomy, chapter ten, verses twelve thru twenty-two;
Psalm One Hundred Forty-seven, verses twelve & thirteen, fourteen & fifteen, & nineteen & twenty;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter seventeen, verses twenty-two thru twenty-seven.

Mass Readings—Memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe
The Book of Wisdom, chapter three, verses one thru nine;
or, the First Letter of John, chapter three, verses fourteen thru eighteen;
Psalm One Hundred Sixteen, verse fifteen;
The Gospel according to John, chapter fifteen, verses twelve thru sixteen.

Mass Readings—Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Vigil
The First Book of Chronicles, chapter fifteen, verses three, four, fifteen, & sixteen; & chapter sixteen, verses one & two;
Psalm One Hundred Thirty-two, verses six & seveb, nine & ten, & thirteen & fourteen;
The First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter fifteen, verses fifty-four(b) thru fifty-seven;
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter eleven, verses twenty-seven & twenty-eight.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Explorers' Club, № DLXII

Operation AXIOM: The World War—The Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres), Part II
16-18 August 1917: The Battle of Langemarck—British & French forces attacked behind carefully coordinated creeping artillery barrages, consolidating their gains on the northern flank but being pushed back to their start lines by determined German counterattacks on the southern flank, on the Gheluvelt Plateau; operations continued to be hampered by heavy, unseasonable rains & mud.





Lest we forget.

Project BLACK MAMBA: XIX Sunday in Ordinary Time

'Tis the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Wikipedia-link.

Scripture of the Week
Mass Readings—Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The First Book of Kings, chapter nineteen, verses nine(a), eleven, twelve, & thirteen(a);
Psalm Eighty-five, verses nine & ten, eleven & twelve, thirteen & fourteen;
The Letter to the Romans, chapter nine, verses one thru five;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter fourteen, verses twenty-two thru thirty-three.

Commentary: Video Gospel reflection by Jeff Cavins: Encountering the Word.

Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in today's Gospel Jesus comes to his disciples walking on the sea. And he came at the darkest time of the night when they found themselves isolated and in danger.

God's mastery of the sea is a Biblical commonplace. The spirit of the Lord hovered over the surface of the waters in Genesis; in Exodus, God splits the Red Sea in two. In the book of the prophet Isaiah, God is described as having conquered the monsters of the deep.

The water—especially the stormy water—represents all of the cosmic powers that oppose themselves to God, all those spiritual and physical forces that threaten the Church, most especially death itself. In walking on the water, Jesus shows that he is the master of all of these forces, that his power and authority are greater.

Paul says, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." John says concerning Christ, "I have conquered the world."

And so Jesus comes to his Church precisely when it is threatened. "Behold, I am with you always, even until the close of the age." The Lord accompanies his Church, coming to it and subduing the evil forces that surround it.
Mass Journal: Week 33
Reflection by Matthew Kelly, founder of the Dynamic Catholic Institute:
I believe there is a direct relationship between happiness & holiness. This was my first serious observation of the Christian life as a teenager. I must also confess it was the reason I first began to explore Catholicism seriously. As simple as it may sound, I was aware of my uearning for happiness. I had tried to satisfy this yearning in other ways & had been left wanting. I had witnessed a peace & purpose in the lives of a handful of people I knew who were striving to live their faith, & I knew they had something I was yearning for. God calls each of us to holiness. He invites us to be truly ourselves. This call to holiness is in response to our deep desire for happiness. We cry out to God, saying, Show us how to find the happiness our hearts are hungry for, & God replies, Walk with me, be all I created you to be, become the best-version-of-yourself. It is a natural & logical conclusion that we will never find happiness if we are not ourselves.

Otherwise, 13 August would be the festival of Saints Pontian, Pope, & Hippolytus, Priest, Martyrs (died 235), eighteenth Bishop & Rome & first antipope, martyred in the reign of the emperor Maximinus Thrax: Martyr-link Papa & Wikipedia-link Papa, Martyr-link Hotel & Wikipedia-link Hotel, & Martyrs-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine.

'Twould also be the festival of Saint Maximus the Confessor, Abbot (circa 580-662): Saint-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Twould also be the festival of Blessed Jakob Gapp, Priest & Martyr (1897-1943), martyred in the reign of the Führer Adolf Hitler: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Lord's Day

Sandi Patty, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" from Everlasting (The Last Angry Man)

Commentary: I echo Miss Patty in re-contextualizing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" into a Christian milieu. In today's Gospel reading, St. Peter walks on water due to his trust in Our Blessed Savior, then begins to sink beneath the waves as doubt creeps in, but has faith enough to cry out for Jesus to save him, which He does immediately. Lord, help us ever to recall that You are our refuge & sure rescue in time of trouble; You never promised this life would be without trouble, only that You would be there to see us safely to shore if only we trust in You.

Bonus! Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Mustard Plug, "Skank by Numbers" (live) from Skapocalypse Now! (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: This live recording of "Skank by Numbers," a studio version of which appeared on 1993's Big Daddy Multitude, was not featured on the original '92 release of Skapocalypse Now!, but on the post-Summer of Ska '98 re-release. In '92, I had no idea that such a thing as ska existed; my world was rapidly expanding in those halcyon days of the late '90s, when ska-punk was in full bloom.
"One: Get off your seat,
Two: Stomp your boots to the beat,
Three: With your knees in the air,
Four: You better beware!…"

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Count von Count & The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Zig Zag Dance" from Sesame Street: Elmopalooza! (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: We here at the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. have already weighed in with the opinion that for all the Bosstones' ironclad ska bona fides, "Zig Zag Dance" is more of a swing revival song that a ska song. Yet, "Zig Zag Dance" fits in perfectly with SKAugust's purpose of looking back on the score of years since the Summer of Ska. Such was the pop-cultural penetration of ska in those halycon years, alongside the swing revival, that The Mighty Mighty Bosstones—never the hardest of the hardcore, but not exactly a show to which I'd take my nieces & nephews, as I would to The Aquabats! or "Weird Al" Yankovic—appeared in a television special celebrating Sesame Street's thirtieth anniversary, & the subsequent album, recording a song with Count von Count. Ska was mainstream for a brief, shining moment—deeply, if ephemerally entrenched in the late '90s Zeitgeist.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Project BLACK MAMBA: Late Edition

Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea máxima culpa!

'Tis the Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin, O.S.C. (1194-1253, of Assisi), foundress of the Poor Clares, formally the Order of Saint Clare: Saint-link ūna, Saint-link duae, & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link O.S.C.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
Saint Clare was an Italian saint & one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi [4 October]. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, & wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
At eighteen, she escaped one night from her father's home, was met on the road by friars bearing torches, & in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woolen habit, exchanged her jeweled belt for a common rope with knots in it, & sacrificed the long tresses to Francis's scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent, which her father & uncles immediately stormed in rage. She clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair & remained adamant. On her deathbed, Clare was heard to say to herself: "Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He Who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, & loves you as a mother. Blessed be You, my God, for having created me."
'Tis also the festival of Saint Alexander of Comana, Bishop & Martyr (died circa 251, A.K.A. "the Charcoal Burner"), martyred in the reign of the emperor Decius: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Blessed John Sandys, Priest & Martyr (circa 1552-1586), martyred in the reign of the queen Elizabeth I, one of the Eighty-five Martyrs of England & Wales: Martyr-link & Wikipedia-link; Wikipedia-link LXXXV.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Feria
The Book of Deuteronomy, chapter four, verses thirty-two thru forty;
Psalm Seventy-seven, verses twelve & thirteen, fourteen & fifteen, & sixteen & twenty-one;
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter sixteen, verses twenty-four thru twenty-eight.

Commentary: Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, in our Gospel for today Jesus outlines the cost of becoming his disciple: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." We have a very antiseptic view of the cross, for we have seen it for so long as a religious symbol.

But for the first nine centuries or so of the Christian dispensation, artists didn't depict the cross, for it was just too brutal. Say what you want about the violence in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, it probably came as close as any work of art to showing the reality of a Roman crucifixion.

But here's the point: we are meant to see on that cross, not simply a violent display, but rather our own ugliness. What brought Jesus to the cross? Stupidity, anger, mistrust, institutional injustice, betrayal of a friend, denial, unspeakable cruelty, scapegoating, and fear. In other words, all of our dysfunction is revealed on that cross. In the light of the cross, no one can say the popular philosophy of our times, "I'm okay and you're okay." This is why we speak of the cross as God's judgment on the world.
Mass Readings—Memorial of St. Clare
The Letter to the Philippians, chapter three, verse eight thru fourteen;
Psalm Sixteen, verse five(a);
The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter nineteen, verses twenty-seven, twenty-eight, & twenty-nine.

Mass Readings—Requiem for Mike Mike
The Book of Proverbs, chapter thirty-one, verses ten thru thirty-one;
The First Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter four, verses thirteen thru eighteen;
The Gospel according to John, chapter twelve, verses twenty-four thru twenty-eight.

The Rebel Black Dot Song o' the Day: SKAugust


Reel Big Fish, "Take on Me" from BASEketball: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (The Last Angry Rude Boy)

Skammentary: Such was the rapacious desire of the moguls who run Hollywood to profit from the Summer of Ska (see: Reel Big Fish's "Sell Out") that not only did R.B.F. provide music for the BASEketball soundtrack (1998), but the band also appeared onscreen as live entertainment in the Milwaukee Beers' stadium.

"Take on Me" is the quintessential & most prominent example of a ska cover of a 1980s pop song.


Project MERCATOR
Not coincidentally, tonight I am going to a minor-league baseball game.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Project BLACK MAMBA

'Tis the Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon & Martyr (circa 225-258), martyred in the reign of the emperor Valerian: Martyr-link ūnus, Martyr-link duo, & Wikipedia-link.

Commentary: Wayback Machine. Quoth the Holy Redeemer bulletin:
He was one of the seven deacons of the city of Rome, Italy under Pope [St.] Sixtus II [7 August] who were martyred in the persecution of the Christians that the Roman Emperor Valerian ordered.
Quoth the Holy Family bulletin:
He was a Roman deacon under Pope St. Sixtus II. Four days after this pope was put to death, Lawrence & four clerics suffered martyrdom, probably during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian. The church built over his tomb became one of the seven principle churches in Rome & a favorite place for Roman pilgrimages.
'Tis also the festival of Blessed Amadeus of Portugal, Priest, O.F.M. (1420-1482): Blessed-link & Wikipedia-link.

'Tis also the festival of Blesseds Franciszek Drzewiecki (F.D.P.) & Edward Grzymała, Priests & Martyrs (died 1942), martyred in the reign of the Führer Adolf Hitler, two of the One Hundred Eight Martyrs of World War II: Martyr-link Foxtrot Delta & Wikipedia-link Foxtrot Delta (№ 21), Martyr-link Echo Golf & Wikipedia-link Echo Golf; Wikipedia-link CVIII.

Scripture of the Day
Mass Readings—Feast of St. Lawrence
The Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter nine, verses six thru ten;
Psalm One Hundred Twelve, verses one & two, five & six, seven & eight, & nine;
The Gospel according to John, chapter twelve, verses twenty-four, twenty-five, & twenty-six.

Commentary: Gospel reflection by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire):
Friends, Our Gospel for today contains one of the most beautiful and terrible summations of the Christian message: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."

And now this one upon whom the crowds had pinned their hopes is speaking of falling to the earth and dying. And then it gets stranger. "The man who loves his life loses it, while the man who hates his life in this world, preserves it to life eternal." Come again?!

Just when we are raising you up, you're talking about falling down; just when we are showing you that your life has come to its fulfillment, you're talking about hating this life.

To understand what all this means, we should go back to the grain of wheat that falls to the earth. A seed's life is inside, yes, but it's a life that grows by being given away and mixing with the soil around it. It has to crack open, be destroyed.

Jesus' sign is the sign of the cross. The death that leads to transfiguration.

What's Eating The Last Angry Man?

Last week (Tuesday thru Thursday, 1-3 August 2017), the 135th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus was held in St. Louis, Missouri. This is an annual event, a chance for the hierarchy & leadership of the Order to celebrate the previous year's achievements in charity, unity, fraternity, & patriotism & to set the agenda for the coming year. (The Order's "fraternal years" are like fiscal years, beginning on 1 July & ending on the following 30 June.) This year's Supreme Convention generated substantially more controversy than in years past, due to the announcement of a new uniform for the Fourth Degree Color Corps: Knights Gear-link.

Heretofore, for the past four score years (that's eight decades for those keep score at home, a good, long lifetime), the "full regalia" uniform of the Fourth Degree has consisted of a tuxedo, a cape, a sword & a baldric, & a plumed bicorne, called a chapeau (which I've never thought was a good name, since chapeau is simply the French word for "hat;" bicorne is a more specific, technical term). Below is a photograph of the Color Corps from Monsignor Patrick R. Dunigan Assembly 510 (including your humble narrator, second from the left) escorting the Most Reverend Earl Boyea, fifth Bishop of Lansing, at St. John Vianney Church in Flint, from February of this year.


The new uniform of blue blazer with hand-embroidered crest, gray slacks, blue necktie adorned with golden Fourth Degree emblems, & black beret with metal badge is intended explicitly to appeal to a younger generation. Wrote Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson in an e-mail:
"The new uniform is part of a comprehensive and necessary effort to keep our Order relevant and attractive to men, particularly younger men."
The tuxedo, cape, & chapeau are definitively out, but the ceremonial sword shall remain, as further wrote the Supreme Knight:
"Ceremonial swords will continue to be part of the Fourth Degree."
The statement about ceremonial swords remaining as part of the new uniform was not made until three days after the initial announcement of the retirement of the old regalia. Sure, one could argue that three days is not an egregiously long interval, except that this is the twenty-first century, when social media is a churning cesspool of man's basest instincts. As the late, doomed Douglas Adams reminded us, nothing travels faster than bad news. Within the Knights community, a firestorm erupted on social media about the new uniform; some of that controversy could surely have been avoided if the announcement of ceremonial swords remaining had been part of the initial announcement of the new uniform—which was vigorously promoted through social media—instead of three days later as an afterthought in an e-mail that was far less broadly circulated. Below is a photograph of the new uniform in action at the Supreme Convention. To date, no photographs of the new uniform with either a sword or a baldric have been made available.


Charity & Patriotism
So, what's eating The Last Angry Man? Two things. The first is the new uniform itself. The blazer, necktie, & slacks, while less than ideal & inferior to the existing tuxedo, are not so bad. Some have mocked the size of the crest on the blazer as excessive, even enormous, but I think it perfectly reasonable. After all, the purpose of the uniform is to be obvious in & identifiable as who we are. No, the deal breaker is the beret. The beret is unacceptable. The beret is a horror show. The beret fails the fundamental tests of a hat, to protect the wearer's head from the elements. That beret is not going to keep the sun out of anyone's eyes on a sunny day, such as Memorial Day, which yours truly habitually spends out of doors, in the blazing late-May sunshine, standing post in my cape, chapeau, & sword, honoring the glorious dead at Flint's Old Calvary Cemetery. Plain & simple, I will never wear that beret. But beyond my personal distaste for the beret, look at the photograph above, a photograph taken at the Supreme Convention & furnished by the Supreme Council itself. Look at those men, chosen specifically to showcase the new uniform. No two of them are wearing the beret in the same way, the exact opposite of a uniform appearance. Some have the beret folded crisply to the side, others have it floating vaguely to the back. If Supreme's chosen exemplars cannot evince a uniform appearance to their uniforms, what hope have we poor yokels out here in the provinces?

Opposing change simply for the sake of opposing change is a bad old vice of mine, one I've endeavored mightily to give up, & I hope that's not what I'm doing here. Is there validity in the assertion that the now-retired cape & chapeau are dated, possibly even outdated? I believe there is. But the counter argument is the long history of the cape & chapeau; the very longevity that makes the regalia outdated in the eyes of some makes it cherished tradition in the eyes of others. Look back at photographs of Sir Knights from the 1950s, the '60s, the '70s, the '80s, the '90s, & even into this present third millennium, & you will see generation after generation of Knights standing publicly for Our Blessed Savior & His One, Holy, Catholic, & Apostolic Church. The true Faith they stood for then is the true Faith I stand for now; the uniform they wore then is the uniform I wear now, & I am proud to be part of such a lineage. I did not purchase my cape, chapeau, & sword, they were donated to me by a Color Corps veteran who after many years of dedicated service to Holy Mother Church & the Order is too old & too sick to stand post. It is an honor to stand in his stead, to give him peace of mind that he can rest, that another will stand in the line for all those who cannot stand for themselves, just as he did faithfully for so many years. The new uniform is more up-to-date, but it does not have—it has not earned—the cache of the cape & chapeau. We ought not cling to past practice simply because it is past practice, but nor should we presume that past practice ought be discarded simply because it is past practice. What was the intended virtue of the past practice? What value does it still retain in itself?

The new uniform is more up-to-date, but I also fear it is too much of-the-moment. The beret especially invokes the wars of the past two decades, especially the years 2001-2011 when the United States Army mandated berets for all soldiers, not just elite units like the Rangers & the Special Forces, the latter more commonly known as the "Green Berets." (The Special Forces, as a distinct unit, ought not be confused with the many different units of special operations forces, as too commonly happens in the popular press.) The Army later reverted back to other forms of headgear, like the patrol cap & the boonie hat, once the inadequacies of the beret for everyday field use, such as those I groused about above, became overwhelmingly clear. Yes, the Army still retains the beret for many forms of dress uniform & the Fourth Degree uniform is intended for dress occasions, but the Order is still associating itself with a very specific martial era. How many decades will it be before the new uniform appears outdated? Rather fewer than more, I suspect. My intuition tells me that the new look will not stand the test of time as well as the cape & chapeau, & certainly not endure for four score years.

Unity & Fraternity
But more than the deficiencies of the new uniform, what's eating me has been the reaction among my brother Knights. The tenor of the online discussion has been hysterical, suspicious, accusatory, & in some cases even obscene. More than a few Sir Knights have thrown around loose talk of giving up their membership in the Fourth Degree, some of quitting the Order entirely. Nothing I've seen has been outside of the norm for the degraded tone of most social media discourse, & that's the problem. If Christians behave exactly the same as pagans, are we even Christians?
"This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
— The Christ (John, 13:35)
I understand that the cape & chapeau a cherished tradition. I called them so above because I subscribe to that very position myself, but the acrimony & scorn that have been directed at the Board of Directors since the announcement of the new uniform has been beyond the pale, the motives ascribed simply scandalous. It has been a bad week for the Knights of Columbus, less so due to the possibly misguided decisions of the Supreme Knight & the rest of the Supreme Council than to the intemperate, ungentlemanly reactions of so many rank-&-file Knights. I am proud to be a Knight of Columbus. I am proud of the many charitable works that we do, proud of our consistent stance to defend & aid the most vulnerable, most marginalized members of society—the widow, the orphan, the homeless, the hungry, the unborn. But this last week, confronted with the irrefutable evidence of how superficially so many of us have learned the lessons of charity (First Degree), unity (Second Degree), & fraternity (Third Degree), I have also been ashamed to be a Knight of Columbus. I'm not condemning any of my brother Knights & it is certainly not my place nor my intention to sit in judgment of anyone. We have all fallen short of the glory of God (cf. Romans, 3:23), & always shall this side o' the grave. But that said, admonishing sinners is a spiritual work of mercy, alongside forgiving offenses & bearing patiently with those who wrong us. This past week, too many of us have been far too quick to point out the splinter in a brother's eye, ignoring the plank in our own eye (cf. Matthew, 7:3).

The introduction of the new uniform means, practically speaking, the end of the road for the Color Corps of Assembly 510, the end of the Color Corps in the greater Flint metropolitan area, because my brother Sir Knights of the Color Corps & I are agreed, unanimously, that we do not like the new uniform & will not shell out $510.00 per man (plus tailoring expenses once the individual pieces arrive from Italy) to own it. The introduction of the new new uniform also occasioned deplorably uncharitable behavior in men who have publicly dedicated themselves to the imitation of Christ, & that above all else is what's eating The Last Angry Man!

God's Comic
Eye of the Tiber parodied the controversy with the headline "Swiss Guard to Modernize Uniforms to Hipster Jeans & Beanies:" Tiber-link. This seems an auspicious time to recall the Hipster Jesus: