Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Seventh Day of Christmas/New Year's Eve
Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, "Auld Lang Syne" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Auld Lang Syne" is the one concession to secular music we make in the choice of the R.B.D.C.S.O.T.D. during the Twelve Days of Christmas.

"Should old acquaintance be forget
And never called to mind,
Should old acquaintance be forget,
And days of auld lang syne,
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne."

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Sixth Day of Christmas
Duvall, "Jesus Christ" from O Holy Night (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Unlike the other Christmastide classics on O Holy Night, "Jesus Christ" is an original composition.

"Jesus Christ was born today,
Jesus Christ was born…"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Victors

Kansas State 31-14 Michigan
7-6, Big Ten 3-5

The worst part of last night's/this morning's embarrassing defeat at the hands of the epithetless Wildcats was how utterly unsurprising the whole debacle was. We looked exactly like you'd expect a Brady Hoke-coached club to look: the offense was impotent, the defense was at sea, & the coaches had evidently not spend a single minute watching game film of K-State football. The most typical play of our defense all year is the missed assignment, the sight after on opponent's touchdown of two defensive backs pointing at each other, unaware of which of them (if not both) had completely missed his assignment. On the offensive side, we had no running game against a sad sack run defense, leaving the entire game in the hands of a true freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start. Anyone foolish enough to have gleaned signs of a bright future from our loss to Ohio State (42-41 is still a loss, folks, & "moral victories" are children's fantasies) was slapped in the face with the cold, hard reality of Michigan football under Brady Hoke. We are a bad football club, & we're getting worse. The offense simply does not work, & no dreams of "the right recruits" is going to change that. For all defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's success in the N.F.L., the defense blow more assignments than they make & appear generally hapless & lethargic. We finish the year 7-6, but even that is misleading, as by rights we should have lost to both Akron & Connecticut; those hypothetical losses would have made us bowl ineligible & we should have finished this year's campaign at 5-7. I will repeat myself, for emphasis's sake: we are a bad football club, & under Brady Hoke we are becoming even worse.

Brady Hoke must be fired. Those who counsel "patience" are deluding themselves. There is not a raft of superstar recruits set to arrive who will save us from the basic facts that Brady Hoke & his staff are outcoached at halftime by every opposing staff they face. The best players in the world cannot succeed if they are not properly coached, & the lazy, stupid players who currently disgrace the name of bear the torch for the valiant Wolverines are not properly coached. We will never uphold the legacy of Michigan football so long as we are coached by Brady Hoke & his bumbling staff. Brady Hoke must be fired.

Next: 2014, another season of rank ineptitude on the field & the sidelines, & endless sadness & frustration amongst the Maize & Blue faithful. I should dearly love to be proven wrong, to be made an object of ridicule for panicking on the cusp of a new golden age, to be made to eat the words "Brady Hoke must be fired." Alas, in a hideous inversion of Coach Schembechler's sacred promise, we will never again by champions as long as Coach Hoke remains. Brady Hoke must be fired.

Go Blue!
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Fifth Day of Christmas
Bing Corsby, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" from Christmas with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, [&] Dean Martin (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Hark! The herald angels sing, 'Glory to the newborn King!'"

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Fourth Day of Christmas
Sufjan Stevens, "Away in a Manger" from Songs for Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Author of Creation not only humbled Himself to be born a man, but to be born the lowliest of men, with only a manger, a trough out of which animals dine, for a crib. That is but one example of how much the Almighty loves you & me, wretched sinners though we be. How we cannot be knocked out of our chairs in astonishment?

"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head,
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay…"

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Third Day of Christmas
Mu330, "I Heard the Bells On Christmas" from Winter Wonderland (T.L.A.M.)


"And in despair I bowed my head,
'There is no peace on Earth!,' I said,
The hate is strong and mocks with song
Of peace on Earth, goodwill to men.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead not doth He sleep,
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail!
With peace on Earth, goodwill to men…"

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Second Day of Christmas/Saint Stephen's Day
Relativity, "Good King Wenceslas" from Joy to the World! (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This is one of two bands I know called Relativity. A member of this Relativity is aware of the other Relativity, a Celtic/"world music" band of the Nineteen-Nineties, which makes the choice of Relativity as his band's name that much more curious, to my way of thinking. Of course, all the members of this Relativity are relatives of one another, surely providing some if not most of the impetus behind the name selection.

"Good King Wencelas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay roundabout
Deep and crisp and even…"

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Christmas Day
The Klezmonauts, "Joy to the World" from Oy to the World: A Klezmer Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This version of "Joy to the World" is instrumental, but there are no more perfect words than "Joy to the World's" lyrics for greeting the Holy Infant on the occasion of this annual celebration of His Incarnation.

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let Earth receive her king!…"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

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

Commentary: Voices so angelic they've almost ruined "O Holy Night" for all other singers. This was also the R.B.D.S.O.C.E. one year hence, in 2012.

Monday, December 23, 2013

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


"I want a Michigan Christmas,
With Michigan snow on the Saginaw trees,
And I want to be home with my family,
A Michigan Christmas is all I'm asking for, please.

"I want the Thumb of the Mitten,
The Mackinac Bridge, a Lake Michigan breeze,
And I want to be home with my family,
A Michigan Christmas is all I'm asking for, please…

"But I know a place that is a special,
Where memories linger as sweet as your dreams,
And I want a Michigan Christmas,
A Michigan Christmas is all I'm asking for…"

Sunday, December 22, 2013


The sound of the explosives that triggered the implosion was unlike anything else I've heard. That was a highly satisfactory morning, replete with brunch with friends, though not those with whom I'd intended to dine—a delightful tale for another time.

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


"O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord!…"

Saturday, December 21, 2013


I am newly returned from the Saturday afternoon Mass, recently rescheduled from 5:00 P.M. to 4:00, so that the largely elderly attendees drive less in the dark. This is the weekend Mass I attend least frequently. I did so to-day because I will be unable to attend either of Sunday morning's Masses (9:00 & 11:00); if all goes well, to-morrow morning I will be downtown with the Guy, the Gal, & Ska Army, watching the implosion of the Genesee Tower(s), a skyscraper that has long sat empty as a sad symbol of urban blight. The Tower(s) is the tallest or second-tallest building in Flint, & is visible on my daily commute up I-475. The demolition of the Genesee Tower(s) will leave the Art Deco magnificence of the Mott Foundation Building with much better sight lines from the east & the north. Plus, I've never seen an implosion before, not with mine own eyes. At worst, the experience should be novel; at best, it might well be a memory that lasts a lifetime.

Actually, at worst I could be smote by flying debris from an implosion gone awry. But even then I'd get a jump start on the very, very long time I'll spend in Purgatory, in the ranks of the Church Penitent, purifying my soul before joining the Church Triumphant in the glory of Heaven.
The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Nat King Cole, "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

"Everybody knows, a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright,
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

"They know that Santa's on his way,
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh,
And every mother's child is gonna spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

"And so I'm offering this simple phrase
For kids from one to ninety-two,
Although it's been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you!"

Friday, December 20, 2013


Acting impulsively, I trimmed my whiskers late Wednesday night. I had been intentionally growing out my whiskers, but the sense was mounting that I'd let things go a bit too far, get a bit too wild. Wednesday, that sense crystalized into impulsive action. I trimmed my whiskers a little too short, which is interesting, because they remain at about the same length at which I'd start to think about trimming them during this last summer's too-short phase. Fear not, gentle reader, by this time next week, everything will be right as rain. My preference has changed, I hope for good—in both senses, permanence & quality.

Having whiskers is an everyday adventure, not an epic worthy of song, but still an adventure that happens every day.

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Robert Goulet, "Jingle Bells" from Songs in the Key of Springfield (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Jingle Bells," the track, is forty-six seconds long, of which Robert Goulet singing the schoolyard lyrics of "Jingle Bells" takes about ten seconds. The rest of the time is a bittersweet reminder of the grandeur of The Simpsons in its heyday.

Robert Goulet: "Hi, you from the casino?"
Bart Simpson: "I'm from a casino."
Robert Goulet; "Good enough. Let's go."

Mr. Smithers: "I'm afraid Robert Goulet hasn't arrived yet, sir."
Mr. Burns: "Very well. Begin the thawing of Jim Nabors!"

Bart Simpson: *grunts of physical exertion*
Robert Goulet: "Are sure this is the casino? I think I should call my manager."
Nelson Muntz: "Your manager says for you to shut up!"
Robert Goulet: "Vera said that? Hmm.

"Jingle bells, Batman smells,
Robin laid an egg,
Batmobile lost its wheel,
And the Joker got away. Hey!

"Thank you, thank you very much."
(Sound of a microphone spinning rapidly at the end of its cord, & striking Milhouse.)
Milhouse Van Houten: "Ow!"
Robert Goulet: "Oh, I'm sorry, kid."

Thursday, December 19, 2013


If this post was a nineteenth century novel, which as often as not had not one but two titles, it would be The Squealing Belt; or, Everybody's An Expert. A few weeks ago, I had the Lumi's timing belt replaced, after signs of wear were detected during a motor oil change. Shortly thereafter, a high-pitched squeal was heard to emanate from the Lumi's engine bay, but only upon occasion. I waited & I listened, trying to discern a pattern to the squealing, but none ever emerged. The squealing was most often to be heard early in the morning, or anytime that the Lumi had sat dormant for a time, but more often than not she started up & sped off without the noise. It was most often to be heard during stops, such as at traffic signals or stop signs, but this too was erratic & unpredictable. One passenger, a C.R.H.P. brother in whose wedding I will serve as an groomsman, opined that my alternator was on the fritz; I mentioned my theory that the problem lay in the timing belt, but he dismissed this authoritatively & reasserted his alternator hypothesis. Another passenger, a brother Knight, suggested that the water pump was on the verge of failure. Despite spending interminable hours in my youth hunched over the engine bays of various Chevrolets as my father's apprentice, & despite being an avid latter-day reader of both Car and Driver & Road & Track magazines, there is yet much about motorcars that I find mysterious, even perplexing. So, while I was dubious of my well-meaning passengers' aural diagnostic skills, when at long last I piloted the Lumi to my default mechanics' shop, I put forward all three hypotheses: the alternator, the water pump, & the timing belt. I posited that it was too great a coincidence, the timing of the squeal's emergence, not to be connected to the replacement of the timing belt. The alternator checked out A-O.K. The water pump checked out A-O.K. The timing belt tensioner was found to be cracked; it remained functional, but complete failure was only a matter of time. If the belt was not always properly tensioned, that could well lead to the squeal that I had heard but which the greasemonkeys (a term I use affectionately) had been unable to induce. (Periodic malfunctions are the most difficult to diagnose.) Some years back, my supervisor at Delphi described me, on a performance evaluation, as possessing, good "mechanical attitude;" I've always presumed me meant "mechanical aptitude," an evaluation with which I disagree. I might accent to possessing an aptitude for logical reasoning (induction, not deduction as is commonly misunderstood). Why is it that my brothers were so outwardly confident in their hypotheses? Is it that they are men? Michigander men in particular, descended from generations of blue-collar auto workers? They meant well, of this I have no doubt, but they were still incontrovertibly in error.

A positive consequence of this episode is that I am resolved to change the Distaff Son of the Mousemobile's motor oil myself, as I used to do for the Mousemobile. I will likely burn myself at least once, & I shall have to sort out the proper means for disposing of the used oil, but having previously performed this maintenance procedure I know it to be within my abilities. I am capable of changing my motorcar's oil & have frequently inherently sketchy oil change shops only out of laziness; this must cease. The war against sloth is not won all at once, but day by day, choice by choice. I choose to change my automobile's motor oil myself.

Yesterday, I installed new wiper blades on the Lumi. My least favorite part about winter is not the snow, but the minute spray that comes off formerly snowy roads & reduces visibility through the windshield to virtually zero, especially when the Accursed Sun hits it at just the right angle. I must begin keeping a log of repairs & maintenance; I should replace the wiper blades at least every year.
The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Susan Egan, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" from Winter Tracks (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I've adored Susan Egan's voice since hearing her both speak & sing the rôle of Megara in Disney's animated Hercules, a motion picture of which I'm fond despite its mutilation of Greek myth & my usual antipathy to Heracles.

But I digress.

"So be good for goodness sake!"

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Objective ZED OMEGA

Registration is now open for the Jeopardy! online test, the first step to becoming a contestant: Adult Online Test-link. Or, as Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi said, "your first step into a larger world." My mother has already completed her registration, so what are you waiting for? Alex Trebek might be my archenemy, but I am still a tremendous fan of Jeopardy! & will do everything in my power (& within the bounds of propriety) to aid anyone reading these lines in their own quest to be a Jeopardy! contestant.

Straight & Narrow
I am a fount of trivial knowledge, & while there are definite limits to my expertise, I knew enough about a wide enough variety of topics to earn my way onto the show & on another day, with another random collection of categories, I would have been a Jeopardy! champion. I off my services as coach/mentor. This could range from tutoring on a wide variety of subjects to sharing the strategic insights gleaned from my appearance on the show. Learn what I did right & what not to do from what I did wrong. Help me vicariously to relive the Jeopardy! experience through you.

What are you waiting for?

As a previous contestant, I am eligible to take the online test only "for fun." You know what would be really fun? Destroying that snake-in-the-grass Alex Trebek. Join me in my mission of righteous retribution, help me to repay Trebek for the haughty disdain he has shown to many a past contestant. I do not seek revenge, only justice. Interested? Together we can plot the means by which Trebek's public shaming & downfall will be effected. An inside man could be invaluable. I promise not to destroy Trebek 'til after your episodes have aired.

What have you got to lose?

My next weigh-in is not for another week, but just to-day I had to tighten my belt by another hole to keep my pants in place. (For a fatty fat fat, my arse is very flat, too flat to provide a ledge upon which to perch my pants.) I've never before used this hole, not in all the years I've owned this belt. It is possible that my waist is not constricting, that instead the leather is becoming more elastic as it wears; the merciless scale will tell the tale on Christmas Day.
The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "The Night Santa Went Crazy" from Bad Hair Day (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: For more murderous Yuletide mayhem, see Blue Tree Whacking Films's Smith and Winkler Save Christmas.

"Down in the workshop, all the elves were making toys
For the good Gentile girls and the good Gentile boys,
When the boss busted in, nearly scared 'em half to death.
Had a rifle in his hands and cheap whiskey on his breath,
From his beard to his boots, he was covered in ammo,
Like a big, fat, drunk, disgruntled, Yuletide Rambo,
And he smiled as he said, with a twinkle in his eye,
'Merry Christmas to all, now you're all gonna die!'…"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXI

Neuschwanstein Castle, the fanciful vision of the "Mad King," Ludwig II of Bavaria.

Commentary: There are summertime photographs o' Neuschwanstein Castle aplenty, but to your humble narrator the world is at its most beautiful beneath a light blanket of snow. 'Tis the season!

The Victors
28 December will see the valiant Wolverines pitted against the epithetless Wildcats of Kansas State (widely known as "K-State") in the (tasteless sponsor) Bowl. Should the valiant Wolverines play as they did against the hated Buckeyes, they will have a fair chance at victory. Should the valiant Wolverines play as they did most of the rest of the season, we will have little to no hope of victory. Win & the valiant Wolverines will finish 8-5 on the year for the second consecutive season; lose & we will finish a disgraceful 7-6. Win or lose, Brady Hoke must be fired.

Go Blue!
The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Barenaked Ladies, "Green Christmas" from Barenaked for the Holidays (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: After all, what would vapid, commercialized secular Christmas be without a little misery? The titular hue in "Green Christmas" refers to that old green-eyed monster, envy.

"Green, 'cause of everything I miss:
All this mistletoe, no kiss;
And with every Christmas wish,
There would be no greater gift
Than to have this envy lift…"

Monday, December 16, 2013

By my count, I brushed newly fallen snow off the Lumi, the Distaff Son of the Mousemobile no fewer than five times on Saturday: before dawn, on the way to Breakfast with Santa; midway through Breakfast with Santa when I needed to run home to fetch something; after Breakfast with Santa; when I went to the K. of C. fundraiser; when I left the K. of C. fundraiser. Total accumulation was no more than four or five inches, but it fell steadily over an elongated period.

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Michael Bublé, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" from Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

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

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
The Puppini Sisters, "Here Comes Santa Claus" from Christmas with the Puppini Sisters (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I had planned on "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" as today's R.B.D.C.S.O.T.D., but I was awake & out of the house before dawn, preparing for the K. of C.'s annual Breakfast with Santa. The Kinder loved it!

Last week, I had the misfortune of hearing a little bit of N.P.R.'s wretched
A Prairie Home Companion, featuring a musical act that had butchered the lyrics of "Here Comes Santa Claus" to advance an aggressive secularist agenda. For shame! The fiends had changed the line "Santa knows we're all God's children" to "Santa knows we're all good children." The American Santa Claus is derived principally from the Dutch Sinterklaas, who is in turn based on legendary tales of the historical Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas, a Christian saint & champion of Trinitarian orthodoxy against the Arian heresy, knows that we're all good children, but not God's children? If you want to argue a secularist or even an atheist agenda, such is your right, but please do so with a modicum of intelligence.

"Here comes Santa Claus,
Here comes Santa Claus,
Right down Santa Claus Lane.
He doesn't care if you're rich or poor,
He loves you just the same;
Santa knows that we're God's children,
That makes everything right.
Fill your heart with the Christmas cheer,
Santa Claus comes tonight!…"

Friday, December 13, 2013

On the one hand, 'tis Friday the Thirteenth, a coincidence of day & date often viewed as spooky if not downright malign. On the other hand, 'tis Advent, & despite the line in "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" about "scary ghost stories," A Christmas Carol is the only scary ghost story commonly associated with this time o' year, & even that ends up being, ultimately, a cheerfully redemptive tale, not what one expects from a ghost story; so, methinks this is not the ideal time of year for supernatural horror, thrills, & chills. On the gripping hand… is there a gripping hand in this instance? On the one hand, malevolence, on the other hand, benevolence. What "—volence" is left for the gripping hand? A puzzlement.

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013


On to-night's episode of Jeopardy!, a clue was given about a pair of animals donated to the San Diego zoo by Australia in the 1920s (or '30s). The obvious guess is koala. The contestant who rang in answered, "What is the wombat?" Jeopardy!'s host, Mr. Alex Trebek, informed her that she was incorrect, that the correct answer was the koala. He then added the admonishment, "Remember, Australia." Wait, what? Wombats are native to Australia, Trebek! The wombat is a marsupial, just like the koala, & native to Australia—Australia & only Australia. The wombat is native to no other part of the world, Trebek, so what exactly did you mean by "Remember, Australia"? In an instant my eyes were opened to the truth that had long resided in my heart but never quite filtered up to my magpie mind: Alex Trebek is my archenemy.

I haven't had an archenemy since high school, when I decisively defeated Sean Dale through the implicit threat of physical violence. I've rued not having an archenemy lo these many years. How did I not see what was before my very eyes? Trebek. Always Trebek. Smug, condescending Trebek. Of course! I will destroy Alex Trebek. I must. I don't yet know the means, I don't yet know the hour, but Trebek will be crushed beneath every last ounce of his well-earned comeuppance.

As I sat down to type these lines I recalled that I'd never actually explained the confrontation I'd had with Trebek when I appeared as a contestant on Jeopardy!; I made reference to it, but wrote that the tale would keep "for another time" (Wayback Machine). That time has come.

I entered "Final Jeopardy!" with approximately two-thirds of the scores of the returning champion & the other challenger, who were very close together. I was the only contestant not to have landed on a "Daily Double," which was vexing because the returning champ landed on one & then got it wrong. As I was standing next to him, I was screaming in my head, "Manuel Noriega! Who is Manuel Noriega? It's Manuel Noriega! Who else could it be? Noriega!" (The answer was Manuel Noriega. But I digress.) For "Final Jeopardy!" we were presented with a picture portrait & asked to identify both the subject & the artist. All three of us correctly identified the subject as Vincent Van Gogh, but only one of us, my fellow challenger, correctly identified the artist: Paul Gauguin. I guessed Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a shot in the dark; I forget whom the returning champion guessed. At the end of the show, the host & the contestants gather in the space 'twixt his & their podiums & chit-chat under the scrolling on-screen credits. This was when Trebek admonished me & the returning champion, excoriating us for not recalling the friendship 'twixt Van Gogh & Gauguin. I didn't so much mind the money I'd not won—easy come, easy go—but I am a competitor & had just lost the most high-profile competition I'd ever contested. My blood was up. The last thing, the very last thing I was of a humor to suffer was some pampered dilettante with a paid research staff (!) & the answers printed on notecards (!) lecturing me about what I should or should not have known. In that moment, any & all respect I might ever have had for Alex Trebek died. So, in a fit of pique I shall never regret, not in the slightest, I looked him square in his supercilious mug & said, "You should do this for a living."

Yet to destroy a man over a single slight would be petty & not a little bit mad. No, that would be simple revenge, an unworthy & self-destructive indulgence. I can forgive what Trebek said to me. But consider to-night's contestant. "Remember, Australia." She had named an animal found nowhere else in the world but Australia, but answered incorrectly. Was the sting of failure not enough to satisfy Trebek? She'd also lost points (represented by money, but not corresponding to monies to be claimed as a prize). Had she not suffered enough? No, such is Trebek's villainy that he felt it imperative to humiliate the woman by mocking her failure. His mockery wasn't even correct! His mockery was counter-factual nonsense, presuming as it must that wombats are somehow not as native to Australia as koala. So, a hypothetical defender of Trebek's craven & cruel behavior cannot even claim that it had a pedagogical motive. What he said to that woman was just mean. Mean & petty—& wrong, both factually & morally. To end his reign of smug superiority, I must destroy Alex Trebek. I will destroy Alex Trebek.

This drawing is titled, "Combat Wombat."

Code Name: CHAOS
The ultimately successful quest to be a contestant on Jeopardy! was code named Objective ZED ALPHA. Had I not been accepted as a contestant on the first attempt, the second, third, & subsequent attempts would have been Objective ZED BETA, Objective ZED GAMMA, & so on. Drawing from that same vein, the quest to destroy Trebek, to end his reign of televisual tyranny, will be known as—Objective ZED OMEGA!


Since the last ÖSTERREICH post (Wayback Machine), I have reduced my weight by an additional seven pounds. I missed my Wednesday weigh-in, but made up for it this morning. Thus, in the last twenty-nine days I have reduced my weight by twelve pounds (that's nine-tenths of a stone). It is not my intention to boast. If I am at long last to stop making a hash of Operation ÖSTERREICH, accurate recording & reporting are imperative.

As to means & methods, my diet is not yet as spartan as might be wished, but I have found success & indeed satisfaction by following a tip from Comrade Coquettish, who is in ridiculously, intimidatingly good shape. (Seriously, her stomach is hard as stone. She is a tiny waif of a creature, but fierce & perpetually in fighting trim.) Her advice? Eat only two meals a day. This dovetails nicely with my parish priest's, Father Anderson, recent enthusiasm for fasting. Gluttony is a sin with which I have long fought a losing battle, & trying to eat better produced only sporadic results, so a change of tactic seemed prudent. If I cannot eat better, I can at least eat less. So far so good.

For best results, I need to twin this new, ramshackle discipline with an increase in my caloric burn, re-activating the other half of Operation ÖSTERREICH.
The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
The Puppini Sisters, "Jingle Bells" from Christmas with the Puppini Sisters (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Puppini Sisters sing a crackerjack rendition of "Jingle Bells," driven by relentless drums & punctuated by a ripping horn straight out of an old time dance hall. From stem to stern, from the opening "Step Into Christmas" to the closing "Jingle Bells," Christmas with the Puppini Sisters is a firecracker of an album. Plus, they sing scat like a trio of infinitely more alluring Cab Calloways.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Victors: Project OSPREY

Saturday, 7 December 2013
(№ 22) Michigan 107-53 Houston Baptist
6-3, Big Ten 0-0

I finally had time this evening to watch last Saturday's shellacking; blowouts aren't as amusing as tight games, but there is no way not to have fun watching your club score over a hundred points. What was there to learn from such a "glorified practice," as the commentators repeatedly called the uncontested contest? Two things. One, the valiant Wolverines placed clear emphasis on playing as a unit: on making the extra pass & on garnering assists. Such is the John Beilein offense, so if the valiant Wolverines are to have success going forward they will need to play as a club, not simply as a collection of talented individuals. In Bo Schembechler's immortal words, "The team, the team, the team." Two, I don't care who the competition is, holding a basketball club to less than twenty points in a half is a superb feat of defensive basketball; the epithetless Huskies scored only nineteen points after halftime. The valiant Wolverines have a long way to go to achieve the defensive mastery sufficient to compete at the highest level of college basketball, but Saturday's effort was a step in the right direction. The valiant Wolverines had a lot of fun & were a lot of fun to watch on their way to scoring one hundred seven. Woot!

Next: Arizona, at the Crisler Center. The epithetless Wildcats are the № 1 club in the country following the dastardly Spartans' thorough defeat at the hands of the epithetless Tar Heels. The valiant Wolverines dropped out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll on the Monday following the Houston Baptist game. Michigan is still ranked, № 25, in the Coaches' Poll, but we here at The Secret Base have a long-standing practice of subscribing to the A.P. only, ignoring the "U.P.I." as the vapid beauty contest it is; I will not favor the coaches just because they happen to hold the valiant Wolverines in higher regard that the sportswriters, for to do so would be to engage in the most vile fair weather faithlessness.

Go Blue!

Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day

My cheerful demeanor masks a deeply entrenched misanthropy, the product of decades of interactions with my fellow man. In turn, that misanthropy protects a warm & fuzzy core of not merely sentimentalism but outright sappiness. I am a sap, a hopeless romantic. (A dateless loser in R.B.F.'s sympathetic & sensitive reckoning.) To that end, I have been endlessly pleased by Jess & Nick's courtship on New Girl; my only complaint is that Nick Miller is the most frighteningly close portrait of me I've ever encountered on network television, so how did he end up with a Jessica Day? Curse you, television, & your better-the-real-life promises of a life better than real! But no matter, the vast, vast majority of me is tickled pink every time Nick & Jess overcome an obstacle.

Also, my hearts breaks a little bit every episode that Schmidt & Cece aren't together. Yankee Kilo Mike, writers: You're killing me!

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

Commentary: A Very She & Him Christmas is for the most part a great big depressing downer of an album, the soundtrack of the least jolly Yuletide imaginable. "Little Saint Nick" shows a little bit of life, a little bit of whimsy.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
The Brian Setzer Orchestra, "The Nutcracker Suite" from Elf: Music from the Major Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Every year I mean to make an effort to get more into the music of the Brian Setzer Orchestra, but as I have only this solitary song in my library, every year as soon as Christmas comes & goes the idea flies right out of my head. Nth time's the charm, right?

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Christmas Song of the Day
Catherine O'Hara, Danny Elfman, & Paul Reubens, "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Not much of a Christmas song, really, but as we were decking the halls yesterday I found myself singing the line, "Kidnap the Sandy Claws…," & humming where I didn't recall the words. The Nightmare Before Christmas is apropos, methinks, for any time 'twixt All Hallows' Eve & Christmas Eve.

"Kidnap the Sandy Claws!
Throw him in a box!
Bury him for ninety years,
Then see if he talks…

"Kidnap the Sandy Claws!
Beat him with a stick!
Lock him up for ninety years,
See what makes him tick…"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXX

The life & art of Gustav Klimt (1862-1918).

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Second Sunday of Advent
User name: dgalster, "The King of Glory Comes" via the YouTube (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The iTunes Store has been useless; it does not seem to have a single version or rendition of "The King of Glory Comes" on offer. Compared to today's R.B.D.S.O.T.D., there are longer, musically superior renditions of "The King of Glory Comes" available via the YouTube, but they are instrumentals that skimp on the song's essential lyrics. Thus, "dgalster" (which I would surmise is meant as "D. Galster," but with the interwebs one never knows) gets the nod: "The King of Glory"-link. Much obliged, stranger.

"The King of Glory comes,
The nation rejoices!
Open the gates before Him,
Lift up your voices!
Who is the King of Glory?
How shall we call Him?
He is Emmanuel,
The promised of ages!"

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Last week, I acquired a new pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars; they were sorely overdue, as my previous Chucks had both torn at the heel, the canvas body ripping & pulling away from the rubber sole. This was a unique structural failure in my twenty years' experience of wearing Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Yes, dear readers, as I purchased the shoes in November, still part of the fall, it dawned on me that Fall 2013 is twenty years after Fall 1993, which is when I began high school, & began wearing All-Stars. Facing the epoch of high school, I had decided that I needed a new look. For me, that meant a new haircut (wearing my hair shorter than ever before [the haircut I still have today, actually, minus the whiskers]) & new shoes. I aped my sister, The L.A.W., & chose Chuck Taylors. I have worn Chuck Taylor All-Stars ever since. I have always worn the classic black & white scheme; I've entertained the idea of different colors, but push come to shove I've always plumped for the classic design. I have in recent years branched out from the classic high tops into warm-weather-friendly low tops, but still in black & white. I don't get to wear my Chuck Taylor All-Stars every day of the week as I once did, but the perfect fit of the new pair reminded that I am a fool if I don't wear All-Stars at every decorous opportunity. I've been blessed with twenty fabulous years of going abroad shod with Chuck Taylor All-Stars & go forth in hopeful expectation of another fabulous twenty years ahead.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of This Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah" from Pin Points and Gin Joints (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The first time I heard of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, years before I first heard them in the magical Summer of Ska (1997), was in the early '90s, in an advert for Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars that the then-teenaged The L.A.W. had ripped out of a magazine & taped to the wall in her bedroom. In the advert, Dicky Barrett was explicitly stated not to be the lead singer of the Bosstones, but rather the lead vocalist. (Dicky used to do a lot more screaming, when the Bosstones were more heavy metal-influenced.) On this arbitrarily-chosen day when I commemorate twenty years of wearing All-Stars, who else but The Mighty Mighty Bosstones could supply the R.B.D.S.O.T.D.?

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Electric Light Orchestra, "Mr. Blue Sky" via the YouTube (Doctor Hee Haw)

Commentary: V.W.-link. I would have loved to see this commercial developed into a television drama (or maybe a dramedy, with screwball elements) about protagonist Mr. Bill Briggs & the prison that modern life can so easily become. "Mr. Blue Sky" would have of course been the show's theme song.

My thanks to Doc Hee Haw—who is either the single best thing about the Sunshine State ("America's Wang" in The Watergirl's memorable phrase) or the second best thing, after Less Than Jake—for nominating "Mr. Blue Sky" as a R.B.D.S.O.T.D. in response to Monday's R.B.D.S.O.T.D., "The Rubberband Man." I trust my favorite sawbones, always a good-humored fellow, not to be offended by my ambivalence.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXIX

The Arian Heresy, Part III: Saint Athanasius, oft-exiled Bishop of Alexandria (296-373); the chaotic & dueling Councils of Rimini, Seleucia (both 359), & Constantinople (360); & the ultimate triumph of Trinitarian orthodoxy at the First Council of Constantinople (381).

The Victors: Project OSPREY

I had reasons to be on my church's campus on both Tuesday & Wednesday nights, but from the time I returned home to the time I retired to bed my attention was dominated by the Big Ten/A.C.C. Challenge, which ended in a 6-6 tie betwixt the conferences for the second straight year. The graphics rendering the event as the B1G/A.C.C. Challenge were useful, in that they reminded me of how deeply I dislike the "B1G" logo. I was grateful that in other instances the Big Ten's name was written out as "Big Ten."

Friday, 29 November 2013
(№ 22) Michigan 87-45 Coppin State
5-2, Big Ten 0-0

Two notable items gleaned from the Coppin State game. One, the excellent three-point shooting of freshman forward Zak Irvin was most welcome. Irvin was "Mr. Basketball" in the State of Indiana last year, so his recruitment out from under the noses of both the wily Hoosiers & ill-starred Boilermakers (both schools are located in basketball-crazed Indiana & are traditional "roundball" powers) is another major coup for Michigan head coach John Beilein. ("Happy days are here again!") Two, Coppin State's head coach is named "Fang" Mitchell. That is too, too cool.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013
(№ 10) Duke 79-69 Michigan (№ 22)
5-3, Big Ten 0-0

Crumbs! This author certainly hopes that sophomore forward Nik Stauskus was stymied by the lingering effects of an ankle injury he sustained against Charlotte, because otherwise the dominance of the Duke defense over our leading scorer augurs ill for this season's prospects; Stauskus was held without a field goal, scoring all four of his points from the free throw line. The good news for the valiant Wolverines, despite the loss, is that they played the epithetless Blue Devils even in the second half, even without Stauskus's normal offense. Sophomore guard Caris LeVert was far & away the most energetic valiant Wolverine, leading the charge with a career-high twenty-four points. Sophomore forward Mitch McGary scored fifteen, even though he is still getting up to speed after missing time due to a back injury, & freshman guard Derrick Walton Jr.'s development continued ('tis no easy task, filling the shoes of the departed Trey Burke). Irvin fell back to earth, after a stellar showing the week before against Coppin State.

I counsel patience to those who are rending their clothes & gnashing their teeth of this year's squad of valiant Wolverines. Yes, three losses already by this early stage is disappointing, especially in light of last year's school-record winning streak of sixteen games to open the season, but the squad that represents the Maize & Blue is yet very young, boasting only two upperclassmen on the whole roster. Plus, there is no easy way to replace last year's two leading scorers, Burke & Tim Hardaway Jr., now both moved on to the N.B.A. They are still finding their identity, whereas last year's squad was a continuation of the '11-'12 effort. I, too, am concerned that sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III might never live up to his prodigious potential, but let's not give up on him just yet. Big Ten play is still almost a month away, so there is plenty of time for the valiant Wolverines to find their form.

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

Commentary: Hanukkah ends to-day at sundown. This less than gentle & genteel Gentile failed utterly in his goal of spending a little time each day of Hanukkah reading from the First & Second Books of Maccabees. Curses, foiled (by himself) again!

"We remember how Maccabees
Fought so all of us could be free…"

Mittwoch, 4 Dezember
Christina Perri, "A Thousand Years" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Apparently, this song comes from one of the later Twilight motion pictures. While that is deeply unfortunate, don't get hung up on it; "A Thousand Years" is a pretty & pretty sappy little ditty, ultimately harmful to no one.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I first heard the B.B.C.'s reporting about this research last night, as I was retiring; my response was, "Well, duh": brain/sex link-link. My favorite line was uttered by the study-in-question's author, a Doctor Gur, who said, "It's quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are." Quite striking, indeed! I have to smile whenever brilliant researchers on the very cutting edge of science spend years conducting detailed investigations that "reveal"— usually to their shock & occasionally to their dismay—self-evident truths accessible to anyone who bothers to gaze upon the subtlety & beauty of Creation. Women & men are complementary. You don't say!

The social scientists like to say that gender is a social construct. You know what? They might be right, gender might well be a social construct. Sex, however, is another matter entirely. Sex is a biological fact, accessible to us through anatomy, genetics, & now neuroscience.


The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
They Might Be Giants, "Brain Problem Situation" from Cast Your Pod to the Wind (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Autobahn | Urbi et Orbi

Now that Advent is upon us, the Lumi, the Distaff Son of the Mousemobile is festooned with a magnet, a heart containing silhouettes of Our Lady & Saint Joseph kneeling over the manger & emblazoned with the words, "This season, remember the reason." I would never have acquired such a thing of my own volition; 'tis a gift from one of my brother Knights & his wife. They mean well, but I find their intense interest in my life to be intrusive, & thus irksome. (I'm not private, I'm secretive. There is a difference.) We are not meant to keep to ourselves, we are meant to be part of a community, but this is a new way of living to me, one with which I am far from accustomed. 'Tis a gift, & I could not refuse, all the more so since I share the magnet's sentiment. The magnet is attached to the Lumi's driver's side "C" pillar as 'tis too large to attach to the rearward-facing, vertical surface of her trunk & the suitably-sized bumper is non-metallic.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Spinners, "The Rubberband Man" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "The Rubberband Man" goes on for nearly seven & a half minutes & never once in that stretch does is fail to be anything less than completely captivating.

"Hey, y'all, prepare yourself
For the Rubberband Man,
You've never heard a sound
Like the Rubberband Man,
You're bound to lose control
When the Rubberband starts to jam…"

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the First Sunday of Advent
The Civil Wars, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" via iTunes, (free) Single of the Week (***distaff, code name pending***)

Commentary: Curse me as a liar for violating my promise not to feature Yuletide music for yet another week, but only to-day did I remember the tradition begun just last year of featuring an sacred song on each Sunday of Advent. Pray pardon my inconstancy, but if you cannot then I accept the blame, & wish you to know that I am content to be condemned as perfidious as I transgressed into perfidy only in order to honor the coming of the Christ Child. Advent is upon us; rejoice! rejoice!

"O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel…"

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Victors

(№ 3) Ohio State 42-41 Michigan
7-5, Big Ten 3-5

Holy smoke! Never in a million years did I suspect that we would be able to hang with the hated Buckeyes in the second half. I disagree with the decision to go for the two-point conversion (& the lead) after the final touchdown & I would prefer to have seen us kick for the tie, but I respect the aggression behind the decision to chance the game on that one play. The play called was foolish & never had a chance of succeeding, but that is a discrete issue from the decision to go for two instead of kick for the tie. That the valiant Wolverines were even in a position to make that decision—high-probability play for the tie or low-probability play for the tie—is astonishing. A loss is a loss, & I hate losing to the hated Buckeyes, but this loss does not sting nearly as much as the loss I was anticipating. I honestly thought that we would be run right out of the stadium. The beauty of being a pessimist is that you are often pleasantly surprised when things aren't as bad as you'd thought that would be. I cannot cheer a loss, but I'm not as down in the dumps as I'd anticipated.

That said, even though we were within one play of potentially beating the hated Buckeyes, I still maintain that Coach Brady Hoke must be fired with immediate effect. If we had managed to play this well in our losses to the dastardly Spartans, the unwelcome Cornhuskers, & the tenacious Hawkeyes, we surely would not have lost all three of those games. If the valiant Wolverines had played this well in their triple overtime time victory over the plucky Wildcats, they would have on that game in regulation time. That we played as well as we did in to-day's loss is a damning indictment of Hoke & his bumbing coaching staff. They either could not motivate their players for any game other than Ohio State or they were not able to devise a successful game plan for any other game. Or worse, both. In any event, there is clear evidence that whatever Hoke's achievements as a recruiter, he is simply not a good enough game day coach for us to thrive as Michigan should, for Michigan to contend for the Big Ten championship. Competing for the Big Ten title is the standard to which Michigan coaches are held, & we dare not accept anything less. As long as Brady Hoke remains at the reins of the valiant Wolverines, we are accepting a lesser standard of excellence, & that is not Michigan football. We have lost five games on the year, including four of the five games we contested in the month of November. That is unacceptable, & heads must roll. Brady Hoke must be fired.

I still love "the Game"!

Next: An undetermined bowl game, probably not on New Year's Day.

Go Blue!

The Victors (Halftime Report)

Michigan 21-21 Ohio State (№ 3)

Well, that was unexpected. There were moments in the first half when the valiant Wolverines' offense looked as ill-conceived & poorly-executed as one would expect from a unit under the buffoonish Al Borges's coordination, but there were also moments when that same offense looked, dare I say it, competent. Able, even! The hated Buckeyes' legions of fair weather fans were surely wetting themselves through much of that first half, as they anticipated (as did I) that their club would run away with this game from the opening kickoff. That alone, imagining their dismay, makes this day worthwhile. We will be overwhelmed & beaten down in the second half—remember that Coach Brady Hoke & his bumbling staff lack the mental capacity to make the halftime adjustments that are de rigueur for a major college football club—but for thirty minutes at least the underachieving valiant Wolverines played the much-lauded hated Buckeyes dead even. That alone will be enough to guarantee Coach Hoke another year at the helm of the Maize & Blue &, alas, might be enough to buy the buffoonish Borges another year too. I love "the Game"!

Go Blue!
Go Blue! Beat Ohio!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day of the Game
The University of Michigan Marching Band, "Varsity" from A Saturday Tradition (T.L.A.M.)


"O Varsity, we're for you,
Here for you to cheer for you,
We have no fear for you, O Varsity!"

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Victors

About "the Game" & the rivalry 'twixt the valiant Wolverines of the University of Michigan & the hated Buckeyes of THE (Ohio State University)—or "the University of Ohio State" as it has been known to some of its most lauded recruits—let me just say this: There is a some sung by some Buckeyes, a reputedly humorous little ditty that serves as both a clever skewering of the foibles of sacred Michigan (the state, not the university specifically) & a persuasive acclamation of the myriad virtues of the Ohioans. It goes as follows:
I don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan!
The whole state of Michigan, the whole state of Michigan,
I don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan,
I'm from Ohio!
How is one to respond in the face of such poetry, such deft lyrical pulchritude? It is interesting to note that there is no similar Michigander song about Ohio. While many valiant Wolverines, your humble narrator amongst them, certainly harbor a deep & abiding loathing for the hated Buckeyes & indeed the whole State of Ohio, this is not paramount in our view of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. We praise the valiant Wolverines before we condemn the hated Buckeyes; we think first of ourselves & only after that to the external enemy. To the hated Buckeyes, the external enemy is all but all there is. They define themselves by opposition, by against what they stand, not for what. Note that in just four lines the word "Michigan" appears four times, the word "Ohio" but once. Ohio, which became a state in the Union over three decades before Michigan, which boasts a larger population than Michigan, & which plays a more determinative rôle in our national electoral politics than does Michigan, nevertheless harbors a collective sense of inferiority to Michigan. This is right & proper, for Ohio is inferior to Michigan & Ohioans are inferior to Michiganders, yet it remains remarkable as an almost singular instance in which reason & truth have been able to get through Ohio's proverbial thick skull.

To-morrow, in the friendly confines of Michigan Stadium, the "Big House," the valiant Wolverines (7-4, Big Ten 3-4) will take to the gridiron against the hated Buckeyes (11-0, Big Ten 7-0). The outcome of the contest is in little doubt, though as the old saw says, any club can beat any other club on any given Saturday & that is why they play the games. Win or lose, the valiant Wolverines will take the field in the defense of the light, in defense of knowledge & wisdom against ignorance & foolishness; the cause is worthy even when we are not. Win or lose, the magnificent Michigan Marching Band will stay play "The Victors."

Go Blue!
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Screamin'Jay Hawkins, "I Put a Spell On You" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "I Put a Spell On You" was written to be performed straight, as a blues ballad, & only became as gloriously weird as it is because of the copious imbibing of libations during the recording session. Thanks, alcohol!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of Thanksgiving
Maurice Chevalier & the M.G.M. Studio Orchestra, "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: From the triumph of cinema that is the motion picture Gigi.

"Thank heaven for little girls,
For little girls get bigger every day,
Thank Heaven for little girls,
They grow up in the most delightful ways…"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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

Commentary: I promised no more Christmas music for a fortnight, not no holiday music of any stripe, & after all, Hanukkah began to-day at sundown. Happy Hanukkah to all this Gentile's Hebrew brethren!


In the last fortnight, I have lost five pounds (0.4 stone). This despite engaging in only minimal exercise & snacking way, way too much. I say this not to boast of my ability to lose weight without really trying (far from it, because I have so much weight to lose that it will require trying very, very hard), but to emphasize the importance of quantification. Heretofore, I've often said that I need to lose weight & even identified a target weight—two hundred eleven pounds, or fifteen stone—but I've weighed myself so periodically as to make any measurement of weight loss or gain all but meaningless. As with my annual Mass attendance goal, the numbers are not themselves the objective. Attending Mass fifty-two time per annum would itself be meaningless, but as I've discovered I cannot attend Mass that often without it affecting my life in other ways, without becoming more conscious of the Christian duties of charity & generosity to my fellow man. In the same way, tracking my weight is a means to an end, not an end in itself. What matters are the dietary & exercise reforms I undertake to achieve the target weight, not the weight itself. I intend to weigh myself at least fortnightly, if not weekly, going forward, because I shall need that pool of data to know what it & what is not working.

Thanksgiving & the Christmastide are going to be severe trials, but I know that if I simply wait 'til after the new year to start regularly weighing myself, then I might as well wait 'til kingdom come. He who hesitates, as I have so very, very often, is lost. Five pounds down, a great many more to go.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Savage Wars of Peace

Regarding the recent fruits of negotiations in Geneva over Iran's bid to develop the atomic bomb, the Iranians came away from the table insisting that the agreement guarantees their right to enrich uranium, the Russians came away from the table insisting that the agreement guarantees Iran's right to enrich uranium, & yet Secretary of State Kerry came away from the table insisting that the agreement does not guarantee Iran's right to enrich uranium. Iran & Russia share one interpretation of an international accord while the United States holds a dissenting view. That sounds oddly familiar. Hmmm, where else could we have seen that recently? Ah, yes, Syria. For over two years the White House & Foggy Bottom huffed & puffed & threatened to blow "President" Assad's house down; "Assad must go" was the refrain, the rebel Syrian National Coalition was recognized as the country's legitimate government. Yet, push come to shove over Syria's atrocious use of chemical weapons, Iran & Russia both insisted that Assad must stay, must retain his grip over Syria---& the U.S. agreed, relegitmizing the Assad regime in the agreement to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons infrastructure & destroy the country's chemical weapons stockpiles. The Americans said one thing, the Iranians & the Russians said something else, & in the end the Iranian & Russian position prevailed. So, in the case of Geneva, the easing of sanctions, & the "freeze" of Iran's nuclear weapons initiative, the Americans say one thin, the Iranians & Russians say something else. Whose position do we really expect to prevail?

Oh, yes, & while all this goes on, the slaughter in Syria continues unabated. Assad remains in power, at least as much as he has since the uprising became two & a half years hence. His forces continue to be bolstered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps & Lebanon's Hezbollah militia. The "Geneva II" peace talks are scheduled to begin in late January, still two months away, but to what purpose? The Supreme Military Council (S.M.C.) of the Free Syrian Army, the acceptable "pro-Western" rebels, have announced that they will not take part & that they will not stop fighting during negotiations. So, even if an accord is reached betwixt the Syrian Arab Republic (Assad) & the Syrian National Coalition (exiles, defectors, & diplomats with no constituency in Syria & no power on the ground), what will that matter? The National Coalition exercises no power over the S.M.C. & the S.M.C. is itself being marginalized by a new umbrella group called the Islamic Front. The Islamic Front aren't implacable foes of civilization like the al-Nusra Front & the Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham (the local al-Qaeda affiliate), but neither are they eager to ally with the Western powers like the S.M.C. Assad remains in power & that looks increasingly like not the worst possible outcome of the Syrian civil war. The window for fostering a pro-Western rebellion has closed as a direct consequence of our hesitation & indecision.

I've been prophesying a "parade of horrors" ever since then-Senator Obama's election in November of '08. Never did I imagine the parade would be quite so horrible.

Liberty & Union: Obamboozled
President Obama's foreign policy seems to be predicated on the belief that American power is always a malign influence, & that if only America retreats from the world that goodness & light will reign in our absence. The reality is altogether different, & as America under Mr. Obama actively projects weakness & promotes disengagement, truly scary actors arise to fill the power vacuum we leave behind.

I am undecided as to the best imagery for the president. Is he the Pharaoh Akhenaten, given over to vainglory as he attempts to tear down the polytheistic Egyptian religion & construct a new monotheistic faith with himself as the one god's only representative on Earth? Or is he the Emperor Nero, given over to madness & playing his fiddle as Rome burns all around? Both are satisfying, but which is most apropos? Decisions, decisions.

Operation AXIOM

Ninety-one years ago to the day, 26 November 1922, the archæologist Howard Carter (1874-1939) & his patron, Lord Carnarvon (1866-1923), first breached KV62, the jaw-dropping & nearly unspoiled tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun (c. 1341-1323), A.K.A. "King Tut" or "the Boy King." The tomb is undoubtedly the most spectacular find in Egypt's Valley of the King & sparked a renewed interest in Egyptology. Exhibitions of the treasures & artifacts from Tutankhamun's tomb continue to the tour the world right down to the present day, & continue to draw crowds in their multitudes. The "curse of the pharaohs" is pure hokum, but originated with the opening of King Tut's tomb & endures in our popular culture. The astonishing tomb of the eighteenth dynasty pharaoh Tutankhamun was rediscovered by Howard Cater & Lord Carnarvon, after being buried in the sand for over three thousand years, ninety-one years ago to-day.

Carnarvon: "Can you see anything?"
Carter: "Yes, wonderful things."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Steve Martin & the Toot Uncommons, "King Tut" (live) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "King Tut" was also the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. a scant ten days ago. I have no issue with the same song being chosen as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. multiple times, but less than a fortnight is too close for comfort. What I suspect happened is that I was alerted to the approaching anniversary of the opening of KV62, which brought "King Tut" to mind. To-day, I considered using the other version of "King Tut" in my library, performed by Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, but it just isn't the same as the original, performed by Martin & the "Toot Uncommons" (otherwise known as the Nitty Gritty Band). There is simply no other song for the anniversary of the discovery of King Tut's tomb than "King Tut."

"He gave his life—for tourism."

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Carl Orff, "O Fortuna" (from Carmina Burana) from Summon the Heroes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This rendition of "O Fortuna" was performed by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus & the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The Victors

Saturday, 23 November 2013
Iowa 24-21 Michigan
7-4, Big Ten 3-4

My post-game reaction from the FaceSpace:
Iowa turned the ball over four times, & still won! We had a +3 turnover margin, & still lost! We were shut out in the second half, outscored 17-0! Brady Hoke loves Michigan Football, but he's just not up to the job. Al Borges's offense is impotent, & yet Hoke will take no action. Hoke & his bumbling staff are outcoached in nearly every contest. Brady Hoke must be fired.

Go Blue!
My post-game reactions from the Twitter:
@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Go Blue! #firehoke #fireborges

@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Iowa 24-21 Michigan, & we were outscored 17-0 in the 2nd half! Borges's offense does not work! #fireborges

@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Wolverines trounced in the 2nd half, no halftime adjustments from the bumbling coaching staff #firehoke
If anything, things are even more bleak than they appear. Consider: the valiant Wolverines' three Big Ten victories have been over the wily Hoosiers, the luckless Golden Gophers, & the plucky Wildcats. Indiana & Minnesota are long-benighted programs that are still stumbling toward respectability. Jerry Kill has a record of below .500 at Minnesota, but he is beloved because it is just barely below .500, a feat at Minnesota; Indiana is in the first year of trying to rebrand themselves as the Big Ten's Oregon: all offense & fancy-pants uniforms. Northwestern are the best seven-loss club in the country, but they still have seven consecutive losses, meaning they are absolute masters at pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. Those of the clubs Michigan has defeated in conference play. Also, our four losses should be six, because only by the thinnest or margins & the grace of the heathen football gods did the valiant Wolverines triumph over genuinely inferior competition like Akron & U. Conn.

The tenacious Hawkeyes turned the ball over four times in the course of Saturday's contest, & yet at halftime the valiant Wolverines possessed only a two-score lead. Both of our offensive touchdowns came on short fields, one following an interception & the other a bad punt; not once in the game did we drive from our own territory to score against Iowa. We did not score at all in the second half, providing an all too horribly clear example of how Coach Hoke & his staff of bumblers are out of their depth; they were thoroughly outcoached by their counterparts lead by Iowa's Coach Ferentz. Those who defend Hoke & disagree with my insistence that he must be fired, which I know is still a minority opinion, do so by insisting that all will be well once the valiant Wolverines' starting lineup is filled with Hoke & co.'s own recruits, instead of seniors left over from Rich Rod's tenure. To them I retort: Even once Hoke has the personnel he wants, how does that change his inability to coach to the high level required to compete & succeed in the Big Ten? The tenacious Hawkeyes' coaches went into halftime & came up with a revised game plan to overcome their club's first-half deficiencies, a game plan for which the valiant Wolverines' coaches had no answer. We were both outplayed & outcoached on Saturday. Doom, doom, doom.

Brady Hoke must be fired. It is only a matter of time before everyone, including Athletic Director Dave Brandon & the U. of M. Board of Regents, realize this, & a question of how much damage to Michigan football Hoke & his staff of bumblers inflict before that realization dawns.

Go Blue!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXVIII

The Arian Heresy, Part II: Eusebius of Nicodemia (d. 341), the First Synod of Tyre (335), Arian missionary success beyond the borders of the Empire, & the persecution of Trinitarians, including exile & execution.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Klezmonauts, "Deck the Halls" from Oy to the World: A Klezmer Christmas (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Too early for Christmas music? I agree, but there are special circumstances that render today's choice of the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. palatable. First, the concluding song at this morning's Mass was "The King of Glory Comes," one of my favorites. The fellow sitting next to me, one of my C.R.H.P. brothers, remarked positively, "This sounds like Jewish music," by which he meant, in his own ham-fisted way, that it reminded him of klezmer or other music associated with Eastern European Jewish immigrants to the United States. Inexact & arguably unfortunate though his choice of words might have been, he was right: the composer of "The King of Glory Comes" is listed as being Israeli. Second, I spent this afternoon serving at a distaff potluck at church, the third annual Advent Tea. In addition to the tea & treats, the ladies enjoyed music & a dramatic group reading of the Nativity. To-day is the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday in ordinary time, meaning Advent begins next Sunday, preparing the way for the Christmastide. You'd have to ask the ladies why they had their Advent Tea to-day & not next Sunday, Advent Sunday, but for to-day, when Advent Tea is combined with "The King of Glory Comes," I'm of a humor for some Christmas klezmer, which means the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. could only have come from the Klezmonauts.

There won't be any more Christmas music for a fortnight or more, I promise.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The other day, I espied a Mini Cooper S bearing the vanity license plate ZIPPY. Well done, sir! The marketing folks at B.M.W. must be very pleased. "Zippy" was replete with racing stripes; the Mini Cooper is so preposterous looking in any event that it is one of the few vehicles that can pull off racing stripes without the owner coming off as a complete buffoon.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Summon Monsters" from GNV FLA (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Initially, two songs suggested themselves as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. Musically, I was drawn to "Summon Monsters," but lyrically, I was drawn to "Harvey Wallbanger" from Greetings & Salutations from Less Than Jake. I listened to both, at which point "Summon Monsters" (which I persistently mistake as being titled "Summoning Monsters") became the clear choice.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Operation AXIOM

Fifty years ago to-day, 22 November 1963, C. S. Lewis (born 1898) & Aldous Huxley (born 1894) both died. The lamentations for the passing of these two literary titans were somewhat muted due to the magpie nature of men's minds; elsewhere on the same day, something shinier had happened & captured all the world's attention. Lewis was most famous for his heptalogy of children's high fantasy novels, The Chronicles of Narnia; Huxley was best known for his dystopian masterpiece, Brave New World. I read most though not all of the Narnia novels as a boy; as an adult I've read The Screwtape Letters & I wish to read more of Lewis's apologetics, such as Mere Christianity & God in the Dock. Despite enjoying (by which I mean being profoundly terrified by) Brave New World, I've never felt the least inclination to read anything else by Huxley; this is likely at least partially a product of my contempt for the intellectual deficiency ('tis indulgence in laziness & hucksterism) of seeking the divine through the use of mind-altering drugs. Aldous Huxley & C. S. Lewis perished, fifty years ago to the day.

Requiescat in pace.

I prepared & scheduled for robotic publication today's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. post last night, before I retired, knowing that this morning I would be harried & rushed to leave the house. When I awoke & dressed, I was confronted with the coincidence that with the pirate shanty "Shiver Me Timbers" as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. & the commentary to same making mention of the forthcoming television series Black Sails, supposedly a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of pirates & buried treasure, Treasure Island, that to-day's boxer shorts should be one of the three pairs I own featuring a skull & crossbones pattern. I leave ye with the words of plain, simple Garak, "I believe in coincidence. Coincidences happen every day. But I don't trust coincidence."
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Real Can of Yams, "Shiver Me Timbers" from CODENAME: Koala (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I cannot say that I am excited by the prospect of the new television series Black Sails, both because Starz does not have a reputation for producing programming of quality & because Treasure Island is one of my favorite novels, prompting justifiable fear that this "prequel" series will be an abomination. I can say, however, that I am excited by the promotional image displayed below, a photograph of a man cleverly manipulated to look like the skull & crossbones of a pirate's Jolly Roger.

"A pirate's life for me!"

Thursday, November 21, 2013


After over a decade of yeoman's work, my trifold wallet, distinguished by the white skull & crossbones emblem on the black leathern material & the small chain connecting it to my belt, has given up the ghost. Signs of wear & tear had been accumulating, but the end did not come 'til the loop in which the chain was anchored tore irreparably. I liked the chain, though the occasions on which it could acceptably be worn were growing fewer with every passing year; I loved the skull & crossbones, & did not give a hoot if it looked infantile in the eyes of others. I had known this day was coming, & had prepared. The part of the old wallet I no longer liked was its trifold construction, so the new wallet is of a much slimmer bifold design. My new wallet, composed of fabric with a leathern lining, sports a fetching gray & black plaid pattern; the style is not as dynamic as the old skull & crossbones, but it is less provocative, less showy. I could have searched for a more like-for-like replacement for the old stalwart, but I knew that the time had come to make a change, even if I could not force myself to make it 'til that old stalwart had given everything it had to give.

This is not a matter of conformity; I did not need a more adult wallet just because of my advanced age. This is a matter of signaling, of how I present myself to others. I cherish my younger self's rants & raves against the pernicious, degrading influence of conformity for conformity's sake. To this day I do not disagree with his critique. But that critique was incomplete, for he was blinded by his arrogance & his sense of isolation; so much of what he said was not merely defiant, but indeed defensive. We are social creatures. We are meant to be social creatures. What did Cain say? "Am I my brother's keeper?" We are meant to be, if not our brother's keeper, then certainly our brother's caretaker & his guardian. I know what the skull & crossbones on my old wallet meant to be, but in my pride I ignored, I openly disdained how it might be perceived as others, & how those perceptions, however wrong they might be, might prevent me from discharging my duty to care for the needs, both physical & spiritual, of those others. Conformity for a sake of conformity consists of an unhealthy denial of the self; at the same time, nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity is an equally unhealthy denial of the self, because it likewise leads to the external determination of one's actions. The plaid of my new wallet is pleasing to mine eyes, & less ostentatious than the skull & crossbones of the old wallet. The bifold design is superior in function to the old trifold; the plaid design is,if not superior, at least more appropriate in form than the old skull & crossbones.

None of this should be viewed as a repudiation of my beloved skull-&-crossbones motiff. The skull & crossbones inked on my left forearm is a daily source of delight & satisfaction. We can all use a daily reminder that this life is finite, that death is not something strange & foreign but the constant companion of life & the fate that awaits us all in the fullness of time. These fleeting lives we lead, be they showered in shame or glory, lead but to the grave, lead but to the conqueror worm & bones bleached in the death rays of the Accursed Sun. All is vanity. Wishing to put a little more skull & crossbones back into my life after the demise of the old wallet, I stuck a cartoony skull & crossbones sticker to the back of my mobile 'phone.

Operation AXIOM
Have I mentioned how happy I'll be once the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination passes & is behind us? My mother is of the perfect age & disposition to have bought the myth of the "White House Camelot" look, line, & sinker. She was a ten-year-old Catholic schoolgirl, the daughter of trades-union-member Democratic parents, when President Kennedy was inaugurated in January 1961. The first Catholic president! So young & so handsome! Jackie was so glamorous! Little kids in the White House! (Of course, nothing in his life became President Kennedy so well as his death, which erased from history at a stroke the rancor & the corruption of the 1960 presidential contest, the disastrous arrogance of Robert Strange McNamara & his "Whiz Kids," & his inability to shepherd any of his major policies through a friendly, Democratic Congress. Kennedy had more success as a martyr, when President Johnson forced through Kennedy's major proposals in the years after the assassination. But I digress.) The myth of Camelot! Worse, moving beyond my mother back to the broader popular culture, conspiracy theories & the grassy knoll! I will be only too happy once we can say good-bye to all that. I might even do a little happy dance. Yes, I rather like that idea. I will do a little happy dance was all this fiftieth anniversary of the assassination ballyhoo is behind us.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Devil's Night Out" (live) from Live from the Middle East (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I started thinking about "Devil's Night Out" last night, as I made my way home from catechism class. Thoughts unworthy of a Christian? Methinks not. One, the song is meant as fun, as recreation, not as serious theology. Two, despite being called, & pray pardon the language, "that evil motherfucker," "the Devil" in "Devil's Night Out" is clearly not the actual Devil but a frivolous, cartoon caricature of a devil. As was so eloquently expressed on Sports Night, "You've got to learn to separate the stuff from the stuff."

"…But the Devil is back, so girls, dry your tears.

"In his favorite club, in his favorite seat,
I saw the Devil, wingtip shoes on his feet,
Porkpie hat on his head, he was digging the beat,
And the band ripped like demons when he screamed, 'Turn up the heat!'

"The Devil was drinking and dancing up a storm,
The band was so hot my beer got warm,
Just when I thought it would all cool down,
That evil motherfucker screamed, 'Burn this place down!'"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Tom Jones & Johnnie Spence, "I Can't Turn You Loose" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Most persons know "I Can't Turn You Loose" as an instrumental piece, the introductory music for the Blues Brothers. The song was written & first recorded by the late, great Otis Redding. Being used to "I Can't Turn You Loose" as part of the Blues Brothers Rhythm & Blues Revue, Tom Jones's version seems almost surreal, like quite a lot of things about Tom Jones, now that I think about it.

Dienstag, 19 November
John Williams featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir & the Utah Symphony Orchestra, "Call of the Champions (The Official Theme of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games)" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I disdain the Olmpics, but I revel in the music of John Williams.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Queue

I found much of value in The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, but also much that I will not call useless but which I will call irksome. I would like to say that The Four Signs was written in an occasionally grating "self-help" style, except I've never read a self-help book, nor have I read much about them, so I cannot comment with any accuracy upon the comparison. Nevertheless, there was much of value, especially the recurrent theme of intentionality. Also, those four signs? Prayer, study, generosity, & evangelization. I'm working on being a more dynamic Catholic.

The Evils of Revolution appears to be comprised of excerpts from Reflections on the Revolution in France. I've never read Burke, but everything I've read about him supports the idea that I am indeed a conservative in the Burkean mode. (By this I do not make any claim to his intelligence, grace, or kindliness of disposition.) Reading Burke strikes me as the best means to discern the truth of this supposition. Positive signs about, as the cover features this quotation, presumably for somewhere within this slim volume: "What is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils." To-day's world champions liberty without wisdom, & nakedly disdains the idea of virtue. Plain for all to see, evils abound.

Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" & "Rip Van Winkle"
Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics
Matthew Kelly, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World

Edmund Burke, The Evils of Revolution

F. J. Sheed, Theology for Beginners
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Swords of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Synthetic Men of Mars
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Llana of Gathol
Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter of Mars
Richard Price, Clockers
Sir Richard Francis Burton, translator, "Sinbad the Sailor" from The Arabian Nights
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill ***shelved***

Urbi et Orbi | Lies, Damned Lies, & the News
This morning, I heard a startling story on N.P.R., about the enduring faith of those in the highly Catholic Philippines, faith that endured & in some cases was even strengthened in the wake of the typhoon's devastation. I posted the hyperlink to the story to the FaceSpace. I would republish it here, except that the comment following the story are truly frightful. The survivors are mocked & attacked for their faith, & their Catholicism is held to be the cause of the disaster. The comments are disgusting & I cannot in good conscience post their vile hate for all to read. A pal of decidedly left-wing sensibilities & no religious convictions shared my disgust, writing:
As for your disappointment with [the] commenters, I wholeheartedly share it. A reporter with The Detroit News I used to work with in my last job once told me that online comments for stories really ought to be set in a separate page, otherwise, those oft-vile comments are given same billing to a story that took hard work to create and publish.
My compliments for N.P.R. for the story, which neither endorses nor denigrates the faith of those it covers, but reports the facts of the situation & the reporter's impressions. I would hope that they would also find newsworthy the horrific lack of sympathy & basic human decency in the overwhelming number of their website's commenters.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Go Sailor, "Windy" from Go Sailor (T.L.A.M.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXVII

The Arian Heresy, Part I: Arius (256-336), the First Council of Nicaea (325), & the Nicene Creed.

Commentary: The Wikipedia's use of "Arianism" instead of "the Arian Heresy" is distressing, though hardly surprising. Calling that strain of anti-Trinitarianism "Arianism" smacks of relativism, of according Arius & his fellow-travelers' views with a credibility they do not deserve. If it is Arianism, than it is just an alternative interpretation of Christianity, implying that any one of the numerous strains of Christianity might all be equally true. The logical fallacy there, one that lies at the heart of all relativistic thought, is that if all of the competing, mutually exclusive theologies of Christianity are equally valid, then none of them can possibly be true. The vast majority of Christian opinion for the better part of two thousand years has been that "Arianism" was & is heretical, a crime against orthodoxy. To title the page "Arian heresy" would not necessitate that the editors of Wikipedia agreed with orthodox Trinitarianism, merely that the prevailing, orthodox Christian view is that those teachings are heretical. Alas, reason is in short supply these days & for all its usefulness, the Wikipedia is in the thrall of any number of anti-intellectual vanities that cannot stand up to the light of reason.

"The Arian Heresy" will be a three-episode series.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
William Shatner featuring Henry Rollins, "I Can't Get Behind That" from Has Been (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A line from "I Can't Get Behind That" came to mind repeatedly yesterday morning & afternoon as I corralled the fallen leaves with our leaf blower. A specialized tool that is used but once or twice a year, 'tis held together by Red Green's & the MythBusters' favorite material, duct tape. The line, spoken by the great Shatner with a voice full of angered consternation:

"The leaf blowers: Is there anything more futile?"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Victors

Michigan 27-19 Northwestern (3 O.T.)
7-3, Big Ten 3-3

I've had enough. Earlier this evening, I posted the following to the FaceSpace:
Brady Hoke must be fired with immediate effect. Fourth & two inside the opponents' five yard line, an ideal situation in which to kick a field goal to tie a low-scoring the game, & Hoke orders (or allows to be ordered) an ill-conceived running play that fails to achieve the necessary yardage. Yes, through a combination of ineptitude on the part of the plucky Wildcats (a club in the midst of a six-game losing streak) & excellent special-teams execution by the valiant Wolverines those same valiant Wolverines were eventually able to tie the game, & prevail in three overtime times, but that does not change the fact that Michigan should have tied the game earlier & that the literally last-second field goal should have been game-winning. Michigan will never win the Big Ten championship as long as Brady Hoke remains our head football coach. Brady Hoke must be fired.
I followed this up with a ranting trio of "tweets" on the Twitter:
@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Brady Hoke must be fired with immediate effect. Going for it on 4th & 2 in an all-field goal game? #FireHoke

@DaveBrandonAD @umichfootball Firing Al Borges is no longer enough. Brady Hoke must be fired immediately. G Blue! #FireHoke #FireBorges

Cato the Elder said, exceedingly often, "Carthage must be destroyed." I will similarly persist. Brady Hoke must be fired. Go Blue! #FireHoke
Nine points & zero third-down conversions in regulation time is not Michigan football. How much more obvious could it be that Coach Borges's offense has failed? Coach Hoke will not fire Borges, so Hoke himself must go. So long as Hoke stays, we will never again be champions.

Next: Iowa, our second consecutive road game. Fun fact: Brady Hoke has a losing record in Big Ten road games.

Go Blue!

Urbi et Orbi

Yesterday, I rose before sunup & attended confession before morning Mass (availing myself of the Sacraments of Reconciliation & the Eucharist). That marked the fifty-second time I had attended Mass this year, Anno Domini 2013. At long last, I achieved the attendance goal I first set for myself in '08 or '09; I set a new personal best for annual attendance approximately ten Masses ago in September. I was greatly aided in the achievement of this goal by the first weekend in October, & another earlier in the year, during which I attended all four of the weekend Masses at my parish, Holy Redeemer, in order to promote membership in the Knights of Columbus, but as I have always said, measurement is not the aim in & of itself. These two weekends were amazing experiences, as spending so much time in the presence of a miracle like the Eucharist can't help but have a profound influence on one's thinking, on one's dedication to holiness. I am a wretched sinner, in many ways the same wretch I have always been, but I am also a child of the Lord, the same child of the Lord I have always been. Getting to Mass with greater frequency & greater regularity has had the salutary effect for which I hoped. I am more cognizant of the Lord's calling, more intentional in my adherence to His Will. This morning, I again rose before sunup & attended a Bible study/prayer group called Saint Joseph Covenant Keepers. The work continues, to arm & equip myself to be His instrument in this world of woe & sin.

Fifty-two Masses, & counting.

"And now for something completely different."

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Steve Martin & the Toot Uncommons, "King Tut" (live) via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Champions of Breakfast, "Tame the Wolf" from Pleasure Mountain (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Victors

Saturday, 9 November 2013
Nebraska 17-13 Michigan
6-3, Big Ten 2-3

We now have a losing record in the Big Ten, & for the second game in a row had negative rushing yardage, meaning we lost more yards on sacks & tackles behind the line of scrimmage than we gained on successful rushing plays. Yet, despite this obvious offensive futility, Coach Borges (offensive coordinator) persists in the same misbegotten game plan & Coach Hoke (head coach) continues to place his & the valiant Wolverines' fate in Borges's plainly inept hands. Jason Segel put it well in his song "Dracula's Lament," from the motion picture Forgetting Sarah Marshall:
It's getting king of hard to believe things are going to get better,
I've been drowning too long to believe that the tide's going to turn,
And I've been living too hard to believe things are going to get easier,
I'm still trying to shake off the pain from the lesson I've learned…
(The song then goes into a elaborate revenge fantasy about Professor Abraham Van Helsing, which is less pertinent to our discussion of the sorry & worsening state of Michigan football.)

Under Hoke, the valiant Wolverines lost two games in 2011, five games in 2012, & in 2013? The sky's the limit. We have been awful on the road (the demoralizing loss to the unwelcome Cornhuskers was the first home loss of Hoke's tenure), making the visits to Northwestern & Iowa particularly perilous; we have lost two games in a row, we face two consecutive road games against desperate clubs, & then we host the as-yet-undefeated hated Buckeyes in Michigan Stadium. This shouldn't be a murderers' row, but playing as we are it certainly looks like one. I am searching desperately for some sign that this year's valiant Wolverines have not given up, aren't the quitters that their shellshocked play against the dastardly Spartans & the unwelcome Cornhuskers signaled. On the verge of panic, I am looking for some small sign of hope, & the joke "Hoke springs eternal" isn't cutting the mustard anymore.

Go Blue!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Cake, "Comfort Eagle" from Comfort Eagle (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013